As a man about the Boston music scene since his days as a BU dorm rat in the aughts, Conor Loughman has a rep for having eclectic yet palatable taste and the balls to take risks. As a full-time event production and marketing dude, a sometime booking agent, the talent buyer at Wonder Bar in Allston, and the former force behind Base Trip Records, he’s difficult to pigeonhole. To glimpse into the many facets of his grind, it helps to look into Mind Spray, Loughman’s monthly open mic competition and hip-hop powwow, which celebrates its one-year anniversary this week at Brighton Music Hall.
“Mind Spray works in Boston because there’s a huge amount of talent, but there’s also a huge lack of cohesion or community among the talented artists in the city,” Loughman tells DigBoston. Since its first show, Mind Spray’s offered prizes and incentives for prevailing MCs, with headline spots given to winners from prior months. “The attitude is prevalent [in Boston] that if someone else is doing well, that’s bad for me. At the same time, people who do well, here and in other places, they’re always crews and collectives—Rhymesayers [out of Minnesota] being the best example.”
Loughman has developed his business around friendships and collaborations since the beginning. Lured by a Google ad offering help to “Start Your Own Record Label,” he spent his sophomore year building Base Trip with a roster of friends including psychedelic electronic artist Supersillyus and producer InfinitiRock, the latter of whom is now signed to the Michigan-based Ghostly International as Lord RAJA.
“I knew all of them, so I thought that I could book their shows and do their music,” Loughman recalls. “Nobody else was fucking with them so I started doing everything, from being the booking agent to the guy navigating Boston’s music community.” He continues: “I was in college, so people’s expectations were low. I made so many mistakes, like calling venues that make all their money off alcohol with my squeaky high-pitched voice. I learned how to use email after that.”
Among the other lessons Loughman learned along the way: Though he himself may have varying arcane instincts, eclecticism doesn’t always pack the house. He says about his umbrella company, The Brain Trust, “We’ve always done hip-hop and electronic shows, but we’ve realized that in order for us to really be able to do them the way people want, they have to be separate to an extent. For those who come though, they’re encouraged to build and collaborate. It’s the atmosphere of a community.”
On that familial note, for Mind Spray’s one-year bash heads can expect headliners DJ Real P and Latrell James, who have hosted the event since day one, as well as STL GLD, the project from Hub rap honcho Moe Pope and producer Arcitype, both of whose careers Loughman has played some role in managing. There will also be short consecutive sets from all 12 Mind Spray champs so far—a budding crop including Mr. Fritz and Casso—as well as the debut of the Beantown Bullies Cypher, which Loughman promises will overwhelmingly embody the collaborative spirit of Mind Spray.
“It will be a revolving door, because they all have tracks together now,” he says of the lineup. “I’ve done a lot of different things, but the thing that’s been consistent is that I want to expose people to music I think is great.”
Here’s to another year.
MIND SPRAY 1-YEAR ANNIVERSARY W/ STL GLD, LATRELL JAMES + MORE. SUN 4.19. BRIGHTON MUSIC HALL, 158 BRIGHTON AVE., ALLSTON. 7PM/18+/$15. FOR MORE INFO VISIT CROSSROADSPRESENTS.COM/BRIGHTON-MUSIC-HALL
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.