New Eyedea Documentary Will Answer All Questions

It's sadly been almost five years since the world lost Michael Larsen, better known as the prolific and innovative multi-genre musician Eyedea. The legacy of his music has continued to find new listeners to a passionately devoted degree.

So much so that when south Minneapolis filmmaker Brandon Crowson launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund his documentary The World Has No Eyedea, its $6,000 goal was met within 24 hours. With that goal now doubled, we spoke to Crowson about why he's making the film and what impact Eyedea's music has had on his and other listeners' lives.

Do you recall the first time you heard Eyedea's music?

The first time was the track "Gotta Love Em" he did with Slug. I want to say I was maybe 17, 18, something like that. I think I was at someone's house and they said, "Hey, you gotta hear this track." I think it was close to 2000. I really dug it to the point where I tracked down his other stuff. Before First Born came out, I had already gotten my hands on an a cappella recording of "Even Shadows Have Shadows." From there I fell in love with him as an artist and whenever he'd drop something, I'd buy it.

Following that, do you remember your first time seeing him in person?

I've never actually met him in person. I did see him live. I was in Flagstaff, Arizona, on a vacation with a girlfriend of mine at the time. I'm not too into concerts, but I'm a film geek. I went to film school. We were eating at this Thai restaurant and I read that right around the corner, Eyedea was going to be performing at a small venue, so we went and checked it out. He asked during the performance if anyone was from the Twin Cities, but I didn't want to come across too starstruck so I didn't tell anybody. That was the only time I saw him live and it was right before he passed, in 2009 or 2010.

Being a film guy, what inspired you to want to make an Eyedea documentary?

Well, for one thing as a diehard fan I was always really curious. I have a few friends who are into underground hip-hop, and the word going around [regarding his death] didn't seem right to me. I wanted to know, and you're not going to know just by going around asking the rumor mill more or less. I was curious about the whole story, and my audio engineer, her and her mother are really close with Kathy Averill, [Eyedea's mother].

So for a while, for ads I'd done, when we recorded voiceover work, we'd do it in the studio he recorded all of his music in. As a fan, I was really geeked out about that. At one point Kathy asked me to transfer some old concert VHS as a favor. I was looking at some of the stuff she had and said, if you interviewed the right people and spliced it together with some of this footage and submitted it to festivals, you would have a legitimate feature-length documentary that would have a huge following because everyone wants to know what was going on behind the scenes. She gave me the green light and we started moving from there.

Have you started doing any interviews?

Yeah, I got a few interviews done. The footage from the campaign video with Carnage is part of a 45-minute interview I had with him. I grabbed a couple interviews with people who knew [him] personally before we head to SXSW where I'm interviewing everybody on Crushkill [the label Eyedea founded] personally.

Jumping into a project like this, what is something you're really hoping to capture with the documentary?

To me, it's more about I really like this guy's story. I like his music. If you really analyze someone's catalog, you can pinpoint a general message every rapper has, and I think Eyedea's was "You're weird, that's OK, because a lot of us are." There's a ton of underground hip-hop artists who have that same message nowadays, but I think he was one of the first.

The fact that his music has such a positive message and inspired people in so many ways, I really wanted to get that message out. I'd like to capture that feel of how many people that message impacted. Since the campaign kicked off, I've had a whole bunch of underground rap artists from around the country in my inbox telling me how he was such an inspiration, and that's the story I want to tell.

Is there a particular moment when you realized how much support the documentary has?

Yeah, we made our goal in under 48 hours, and it was literally that first day. We got an email notification every time we got a donation, and I had to turn my phone off to go to sleep that night. Before we made goal, we were clocking in $100 an hour, and I've never made that kind of money. People were asking why we were only asking for $6,000, and I figured we'd break six grand, but I didn't think we'd break it in under 48 hours and we've already doubled it, which is mind-blowing to me. I'm loving the support, and I feel he did what he did an an indie artist for the love of his art to get his music out there. Now that I'm doing [art] as a living, I'm approaching it in the same way.

More on The World Has No Eyedea here.

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