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Team Bear Club Throws the Best Raves in Kansas

Meet P. Morris and Tom Richman, who are "dragging the kids kicking and screaming into the future."
February 12, 2014, 10:00pm

Tom Richman (left) and P. Morris (on the mic) at Team Bear Club's Goombarave in Lawrence, Kansas Everybody's talking about P. Morris right now. Formerly known as Morri$, the R&B enthusiast is one of the few Stateside affiliates of London's Night Slugs label, and one of the star artists at sister label Fade to Mind. He makes awesome slow jams, whether they're his originals and instrumentals or his clever remixes and bootlegs—like this Bieber flip that came out on the recent Folie Douce compilation. He also produced "Go All Night," one of the deepest ballads on Kelela's 2013 Cut for Me mixtape. The other thing we know is that he hails from Kansas—and only recently relocated to sunny Los Angeles.

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But we keep hearing whipsers of a Midwestern clique known as Team Bear Club, or Bear Club Music Group, or simply, The Goombas. When Morri$ first appeared in our timelines he was always tweeting about his party called Goomba Rave (whatever that means), and when the Facebook photos started circulating we worried they were having more fun than us… all while paying a fraction of what we sorry New Yorkers fork over for rent.

This week, Bear Club co-founder Tom RIchman released his new record, "Dro Montana" (stream below), which features remixes from an insane roster that includes Ryan Hemsworth, Obey City, Huerco S and Sweater Beats. We had a bajillion questions for these dudes about raving in Kansas, the Goomba manifesto, and how they managed to make so many friends, so we called 'em up and got some great answers.

THUMP: Hey guys what are you up to right now?
P. Morris: I'm currently living and writing in sunny Los Angeles, California. After a long time living in Lawrence, Kansas, I felt like it was time to spread my wings and take myself and the brand further into the wide world. I got here and finished up my debut mixtape, as well as a full length, all of which should be arriving over the next few months via Bear Club Music Group. Aside from working constantly on my own P. Morris project, I've been writing and recording with Kelela and a few other special projects which should be reaching fruition toward the end of 2014. Really exciting times for myself and for Bear Club Music Group!

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Tom Richman: I'm currently living in Lawrence, Kansas, writing and finishing film school this spring. I'm currently scoring an independent movie which will also be finished this spring. I'm very excited to have started work on scoring films, and I hope to have more work in film. You can see the trailer for that here. I'm working on a lot of personal projects, working out the final details for those releases as well. In the mean time, I'm looking forward to the vinyl release of "Dro Montana," coming soon.

I know a lot of us know P. Morris—but a lot of people don't know about Team Bear Club or Tom.
Tom: I'm Tom Richman, and I co-founded Team Bear Club and Bear Club Music Group (BCMG). I'm a DJ, producer, and composer, amongst other things. Team Bear Club is our brand and family. We started Bear Club as a way to start throwing parties and organize projects with friends—other goombas. Ultimately, we want to get our ideas out into the world on a global scale. We are now making our first strides operating as a label.

It seems like Morris has been repping Team Bear Club from day one right?
P.: From day one I've been repping Team Bear Club/Bear Club Music Group and trying to figure out a way to underline my association with the hometown team. Early on, I always realized that everything needed to feed back to where I come from. Speaking on some of the pit stops I've made along the way, obviously there was a great deal of common ground between myself, Kingdom, and Bok Bok. The intersection between our cultures definitely made for an interesting meeting place for the goombawave and the larger club scene that those guys are attached to. However, I feel like Tom, [fellow Bear Club member] Maal a Goomba, and I have a lot more overlap in terms of taste, and certainly have very similar viewpoints on the context for what we're trying to do. Our music exists more so in the space between leaving the club and getting home. Perhaps we are a more fitting soundtrack to the ethereal moments surrounding the drive home in your luxury vehicle, or the more subtle emotional implications trailing club encounters.

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Tom where do you live?
Tom: At the moment, there's about ten inches of snow on the ground outside, and under that an inch of ice. My car can't drive in this weather, and I don't want to leave anyway. Looking around my office, there's art, records, and keyboards strewn about; oil paintings leaning against the wall waiting to be hung. My desk is becoming cluttered with change and watches needing wound—there's a wooden train whistle left behind by Maal a Goomba. Behind me, there's an Eames chair covered in leather jackets and winter coats. There's an irreplaceable energy here, though. So much has been created in this room—music, memories, ideas. For me, this is my zone. For now, this is where I live. I'd be paying a lot more for this in LA. It's very beautiful here if you know where to look.

Is Team Bear Club behind the Goomba Rave?
P.: Goombarave was our first major outting as a full team, an all hands on deck type effort. From top to bottom, Goombarave was our child, truly a diamond in the rough in the midst of a cultural vacuum. It was a direct offshoot of our club series, Bear Club Rave, but we placed more emphasis on creating an intimate vibe in a huge space. I think the venue comfortably held 500 people, which we accommodated regularly but we really had to focus on creating a warm environment for that many people on a regular basis. Bear Club Rave had so many people in attendance that the Bear Club vibe had to take a backseat to the full intensity of being in a room smashed with over a thousand people.

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For the duration of 2013, we threw Goombarave every Thursday and made a lot of fantastic memories with our friends. During that time we brought in a lot of friends and family: Riff Raff, Mykki Blanco, Helix, Clicks & Whistles, Huerco S., Beta Librae (of Bossa Nova Civic Club). Unfortunately all good things come to an end, and we extinguished the party last spring. Since then, we've been spending more time focusing on the label side, but we've been doing one off raves in warehouse spaces in Lawrence. 2014 will hopefully find us spreading our reach a little further than Lawrence, in terms of Goombarave-type events.

What is it like throwing a rave in Kansas?
P.:Throwing raves in Lawrence is a really rewarding experience because I feel solely responsible for dragging those kids kicking and screaming into the future. It's totally one of those "if you don't know, now you know" type moments. With the correct amount of drugs and alcohol, college kids can be coerced into just about anything and our parties are no exception. I think really quickly we established that we were the only people operating in our lane, we are the go to in Lawrence in terms of music culture. In Lawrence it's either shitty emo core bands, rockabilly, jam-electronic festival stuff, or us. As things have started to blow up nationally in our scene, it's made us a go-to in terms of local support as well, so when someone like Shlohmo comes to Lawrence we're already on the top of the list.

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Tom: This past Halloween for example, we teamed up with a local art studio that operates out of a warehouse. We brought in sound, lights, some fog, played good music and boom—we had a line three blocks long. 2,000 people dancing and the entire city buzzing. It's great to be able to have a cultural impact on a city, especially when you can see it happening in front of your eyes.

What is the general sound and concept behind Team Bear Club?
Tom: Bear Club's sound is goombawave. It was something that just developed naturally with everything else that we were doing. Phil (P. Morris) and I were going back and forth a lot with ideas and concepts, unofficially competing to one-up each others' beats. Meanwhile, Maal a Goomba was developing new vocal techniques, experimenting a lot with his voice and creating new sounds. We were all bringing in these separate experiences and influences, and we needed something to identify this unique sound that we were creating as a result. Maal coined the term goombawave, and we ran with it. In a way, goombawave parallels the lives and experiences of our generation—it's modern and free thinking, and will continue to grow and develop.

Have you ever seen an actual bear?
P.: I have not seen an actual bear, nor am I trying to.

Tom: I've seen plenty of bears. Once during a family vacation, my mom was literally praying to see a bear. That night in Colorado, I looked through a window to my left and locked eyes with a bear, no more than a foot away from my face—and this was not a thick piece of glass by any means. My dad scared it away with a flashlight. We proceeded to see two other bears on that trip. My mom stopped praying to see bears.

WTF is a Goomba?
P.: Maal a Goomba said long ago, "A goomba is just a nigga in nature" I feel 100% connected to this statement. As a Kansas boy, a nature boy, I've always felt very connected with the wilderness. There is definitely something to be said for the moody emotional nature of the wilderness, and—risking sounding completely cliche—I definitely feel like we are sort of connected with those sentiments. I think beyond that though, we are really interested in soundtracking the moments between all of the high impact club encounters that EDM and rap music romanticize. Tom and I both have a love for driving and cars, so I often picture myself soundtracking rides through exotic locales. For me personally, I often think of my music as a companion to a larger experience, which is why sometimes people draw the comparison between my music/videos and advertisement.

Tom: Definitely. Driving, boating, water, and nature all heavily influence my music. Working on music outside on the boat, previewing tracks in the car, these environments lend heavily to the end result. I can confidently say, in a car and on a boat are two places that Goombas feel very comfortable. For me, a goomba is also one of those people that you just click with. Right off the bat, you can cut the small talk and get real. You can get real with a goomba. And to expand on what Phil said, nature is definitely a strong contributor to who we are. Boating is one of my favorite hobbies, and I can confidently say that goombas like boats. I can't remember a better time than all of us chilling on the boat (which is named, in proper fashion, "The Goombawave"), getting out on the water, previewing new music, engine roaring, the Mayor almost drowning—truly great memories. This reminds me of pulling Sinjin Hawke on a tube that looks like a hotdog, but that's for another time.

Connect with Rom Richman on Soundcloud
Connect with P. Morris on Soundcloud
Connect with Team Bear Club at their homepage