Welcome to the second edition of Music Shelf’s newest series “In The Aisle.” Last week we were joined by the incredibly talented students of Berklee College of Music and the surrounding Boston area. This week we have the pleasure of being joined by “The CEO of Ska” Skatune Network/JER. Jeremy Hunter through social media has helped bring new eyes and attention to the current ska scene with their online social media presence. On TikTok alone; Skatune Network has garnered almost 500k followers along with 10.3 million likes on their videos. It was on TikTok where Mustard first discovered Skatune Network and they are grateful for that. Because of Skatune Network Mustard and others have discovered a thriving, inclusive, and energetic ska scene.
In 2014 Hunter launched their Skatune Network YouTube Channel which has amassed over 10 million views. Underneath Skatune Netowrk Hunter posts covers, compositions, skits, and so much more. If you can think of it – Hunter has probably covered it. These covers are requested by members of their Patron. Mustard highly recommends you follow this channel as you will be blessed with incredible covers ranging from Harry Styles to Undertale to Animal Crossing. The range and passion that JER has is second to none. They are the CEO of Ska for good reason.
Ska is a polarizing genre for humans. Horns and brass instruments seem to inflict strong feelings from humans for whatever reason. Mustard does not understand this. Nonetheless, as the CEO of Ska Hunter continually responds to comments (both written and in video) defending the genre. There are a lot of misconceptions about ska and Hunter does an incredible job of pointing out how outdated the arguments are. They have created a playlist on Spotify that Mustard recommends anyone who thinks they hate ska should listen to. It will make them realize that in fact – they do not hate ska.
After you have listened to this playlist Mustard recommends you treat your human ears to their playlist “New Ska Music by New Ska Artists.” It features a collection of artists from today’s current thriving scene. One of these bands include We Are The Union who Hunters plays Trombone for. Their album “Ordinary Life” which came out two years remains one of the strongest releases of the past few years.
One comment that Hunter often has to correct is that the “ska scene is dead.” This simply is not true. Ska labels such as Bad Time Records (which JER is apart of) and Ska Punk International have continued to sell out and pack venues. To say that ska is dead is simply untrue. Bad Time Records recently successfully kickstarted a project called “This is New Tone” which will highlight and document their summer tour. They play both underneath the moniker of JER and with their band We Are The Union. If you are able to catch a show Mustard recommends you treat yourself to a show. The energy that JER (along with the other acts) bring to their live performances could replace your addiction to caffeine.
Last year they released their debut album “Bothered/Unbothered” via Bad Time Records. It is not hyperbole to say that “Bothered/Unbothered” is one of the most important ska releases that should be on everyone’s radar. Collectively it was our album of the year last year and for good reason. Mustard believes that Mister Substitute who writes for Music Shelf describes the album best:
“This album, in my humble opinion, is arguably one of the most important albums of the last 10 years. The amount of hours Jer has put into ska music has been the blood that keeps the ska community alive today. Their work as Skatune Network opened so many eyes and ears to the power of ska music, their activism on social media platforms has been the torchlight of how the ska scene has decided to shape itself (inclusive, supportive, loving, but never afraid to point out injustices and take action when necessary). “Bothered/Unbothered” is almost the thesis of Jer as a person: they’ve mentioned it can be seen as a hero’s journey and can be appreciated both from start to finish and finish to start. Both ways support each other, too: starting out bothered, Jer is telling us to look around and stop supporting those who are hurting the scene and others, and then when the album flips and becomes unbothered, telling everyone that Jer is going to be Jer and there is nothing you can do (to dull their sparkle). But the political implications of this album should also be talked about thoroughly: telling the listeners to “Decolonize ur Mind” and songs like “Clout Chasers!” and “Cold Truth” warn us about what a privileged mindset can do and how detrimental it is to the success of the ska community.”
Mustard recommends you do yourself a favor and listen to the album today. Your human ears will appreciate it.
Being the CEO of Ska can lead to new opportunities. Recently Hunter made their voice-acting debut apart of Adult Swim’s “Gassy’s Gas’ n Stuff” which can be viewed below. Hunter plays the role of the two-headed cat boss. They are a natural. Mustard hopes this leads to more opportunities for them as their love of animation is no secret. As Skatune Network they have composed music for the Steven Universe movie and referenced Cartoon Network’s Sparkle Cadet on their song “Nobody Can Dull My Sparkle” from their show Craig of the Creek.
That is not all though; Hunter also composed music for the upcoming indie game “Sunshine Shuffle” where players can play cards with adorable animal friends. The game releases on May 24th on PC and Nintendo Switch.
Nobody can dull Hunter’s sparkle and for good reason. We owe a lot to them. Mustard appreciates not only their talents but everything they do not only for the ska community but the independent music community in general. They are not afraid to call out or point out the injustices within human society.
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