On a lively stretch of E. Broad sits a brand experience shop that boasts a bold name and even bolder ideas. Release the Hounds, which offers advertising and graphic design led by John Mills, is known for its street-level window display that has featured everything from art to pop-up shops over the years. This fall the coveted window space morphed into a unique, live music experiment.
“The SoundView Project was designed to give the public a glimpse inside the songwriting and recording process by challenging a musician to expose their methods,” explains Mills, who wanted to see how public exposure and street energy would impact the music.
To make the experiment possible, Mills partnered with Egghunt Records, a Richmond based label known for supporting a tightknit – and successful — network of local musicians. Founded by Adam Henceroth and Greg Gendron just two years ago in a home studio in Midlothian, Egghunt has quickly gained national attention for representing some of the area’s most talented acts like Lucy Dacus and Clair Morgan.
Together, Mills and Egghunt went to work, determined to push the boundaries of a project that would explore what happens when an artist attempts to write and record five songs “in public” over a set period of time. Troy Gatrell was the first musician to participate in the initial, month long experiment. Gatrell is a drummer for Egghunt band, Clair Morgan and solo artist in Way, Shape or Form.
From setup to final mixing, Mills documented the entire project on Facebook and Instagram so that Richmond could follow along on social media to get alerts of when Gatrell was in the space creating in full view of the public.
During the project, the team at Release the Hounds collected donations and lightly used instruments to distribute to children and music programs in need. To facilitate the giving component of the experiment, Mills partnered with Music 4 More, a 501c3 charity that works with schools and Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals around the country.
“The deeper purpose of The SoundView Project was to raise awareness for the importance of youth music education in our city,” explains Mills, who is also a musician.
Along the way, the live-art experiment has also led to the realization that the highly visible storefront could serve as a permanent location for artists to record in full view of the public. Mills plans to lease the prime window space to Adam Henceroth, founder of Egghunt Records, a local label behind Richmond musicians like Lucy Dacus and Clair Morgan.