At face value, Kentucky seems like a terrible place to start a platform that promotes rap-leaning artists. When you look up “famous artists from Kentucky”, your results will be heavily saturated with country stars and a sprinkle of rock bands and folk singers.
Despite what is seemingly a disadvantage, Soul Serum utilizes their roots as a tool to set themselves apart from their contemporaries. Even though they’re now based across the river in Cincinnati, much of their staff is from Kentucky. While all of the acts that they promote are certainly influenced by rap, all of them operate on its cutting edge, weaving in and out of the genre’s constraints.
Their artists range from Jack Kays, who occasionally flirts with rap-influenced flows but leans more towards angsty alt-rock to Killbunk, a frontman of the new Soundcloud wave.
Soul Serum was created in 2018 by childhood friends Tanner Moeves and Conner Seither. At the time, the two attended Northern Kentucky University which had no music industry classes and seemingly no music scene to latch onto. This forced Moeves and Seither to dig deep and create their platform from nothing.
“When we launched, we were a blog/highlighting artists, and throwing shows. At the most entry-level [point] ever…I had no idea what the fuck I was doing,” Moeves explained.
The first year saw Soul Serum slowly garner a buzz through throwing shows in the area. But just as their buzz started to grow, the pandemic forced them to put shows on hold. If you ask Tanner, this was a blessing in disguise.
“[The pandemic] made us focus on content and the videos way more and that’s when I was like ‘alright we need to go hard on the music videos and….see what happens,’” Moeves stated.
Four months into this new endeavor, Soul Serum struck gold: Jack Kays.
“We found Jack Kays in like may of last year and I heard “Morbid Mind” and I was like ‘this is crazy’ and we went and shot a video with him. Then, like two weeks later he starts blowing up on Tik Tok and just starts skyrocketing and our Youtube just got more views and more subscribers than I’d ever seen,” Moeves said.
Kays frenetic singing and director John Buchanan’s gritty yet pensive style blended perfectly. The track would land Kays a record deal with Columbia Records and Soul Serum a swath of new fans.
“It felt like everything we’d done was finally paying off and it was somewhat of a rebirth for Soul Serum…it was a realization that we could do this,” Moeves recalled.
Soul Serum would go on to do videos for some of Jack’s other songs like “Tired”, “Gin N Juice” and “Bottom of the Bottle”.
Since the rise of Jack Kays, the platform has helped launch the careers of Je$$e, Killbunk, Ducey Gold, and Elko. All of these artists operate in vastly different parts of the hip-hop spectrum, as is Soul Serum’s M.O.
With as much success as they’ve had in only three years, the future looks bright for Soul Serum. Moeves stressed that the platform wants to continue working with up-and-comers and artists who are fans of the Soul Serum.
“I wanna work with people who wanna work with us. I know the bigger artists will come in the future,” Moeves emphasized.
Keep an eye out for more from Soul Serum and check out “Morbid Mind” below!