Vast
Vast Coming of age in the Bay Area in the mid 90s, VAST front man Jon Crosby was exposed to an eclectic mix of alternative music, global consciousness, coffeehouse culture, and the Internet. It was in this atmosphere he began experimenting with mixing electronic, world, classical, metal, and pop to create a sound that music critics found impossible to classify.

“I felt when I started that I wanted to explore new ground,” Crosby says. “I figured every genre came from somewhere. Sometimes it’s just a matter of mixing different styles, and sometimes it’s just a mistake. Either way, it’s exciting.” Through a series of demos and shows, VAST was signed to Elektra and in 1998 released their self-titled debut, which has since become a cult classic. However, the sophomore release, Music for People, while expanding VAST’s fan base, wasn’t a huge commercial and critical success by the label’s standards. “I love that record, but I’ve found over the years you have hits and misses. I think that record might have been self-indulgent in the wrong way (laughs).” It became clear at this point that when it came to VAST’s future, Crosby and Elektra had disparate visions.

Crosby left Los Angeles to seek solace in the Southwest for a year of reflection. “I was signed at 20, and even by then had been working for years on music alone,” he muses. “At that time, I was 26 and between recording and touring, I hadn’t had a chance to live life.” His sojourn in New Mexico ultimately resulted a series of online downloads titled Turquoise & Crimson. This move marked a unique method to release music directly to fans, bypassing big retailers and other sources. The true entrepreneurial breakthrough was selling only bundles of songs, rather than single downloads. “I didn’t want people listening to one song,” Crosby says. “I wanted them to hear where I was going.” Select songs from Turquoise & Crimson were later compiled and released as the c.d. Nude in 2004 through 456 Entertainment.

“Releasing Nude on 456 was a nightmare,” Crosby says. “There were so many problems dealing with them on every level. I feel we made a big mistake not believing in ourselves enough and doing it on our own.” Borne out of this experience was Crosby’s own label, 2blossoms Records & Media. The first CD. was be released in stores in May 2006. “Running a label is whole different experience. But it’s the only way I can make sure my vision is intact and I can live up to the high expectations of our fans. The days of the aloof rock star are over; now more than ever doing new things is important, and if you can’t keep up with what’s going on, you’re left in the dust.” Moving forward also meant the addition of new band members. Michael Austinmoore (bass) of San Diego came on board just prior to the 2004 tour, and Austin native Ben Fenton (guitar) joined VAST in early 2006.

In response to the growing demands of fans, VAST released the download April, an acoustic project that showcases Crosby’s songwriting abilities. The wide release is slated for April 2007. “I feel like for the first time I have found my niche and my voice,” Crosby says. “I feel that people are finally beginning to understand me. It feels right and earned. I think the future is exciting, and I can’t wait. But I’m mostly excited about today. Now is where it’s at.” VAST will tour this spring and summer and are selling tickets directly to fans through their website, once again proving they are on the forefront of a new movement of musicians who are taking their business and their art into their own hands.

Although critics have compared VAST to a number of commercially successful bands throughout the years, Crosby’s unique songwriting and production style continues to cleverly evade niche appeal. “When people hear our debut CD for the first time, they think it was recorded recently,” he says. “It was recorded in 1998! I’m proud of this, and I think it goes to show that there is light at the end of the tunnel when you focus more on growing artistically and less on growing financially. People do notice the effort someone puts in to making something special.”