Ra Sol Greater Minds is a new organization that strives to increase the visibility of student artists on campus. RSGM hosted a concert Sunday with Pulse Magazine to promote the release of a mixtape that showcases the Northwestern musical community. Bienen and Medill sophomore Thaddeus Tukes, the president of RSGM, spoke with NBN about the impact this group hopes to have.
1) Why did you start Ra Sol Greater Minds?
I know a lot of music students and students who play music, and everybody was upset that there was no community, no avenue for people to share their music and to meet other musicians. And then I saw that it wasn’t just music kids. It was that musicians didn’t know videographers, or set designers or other people. I wanted to create something that no matter what you’re interested in, you can find a space for yourself. We’re starting with music because that’s what we had the easiest access to initially, but we want to do film, we want to do dance, we want to do poetry, we want to do everything. And then we want to help people who are interested in artist management and artist design too, to help people design sets or redesign concert halls so they are more acoustically nice. So I really wanted there to be a very inclusive group for Northwestern students to produce art and culture.
2) What sort of things will you be doing?
We’re going to provide a space for people to create. Hopefully soon that will be a physical space, but it’s definitely a creative space right now, to help people promote their work, get gigs and shows and work with different other organizations to push student work through these different avenues. We also want to branch out into Chicago and Evanston. Northwestern has so many talented people and people outside of campus should know that. And you hear about people from some other colleges that are doing these things in the city that we could definitely be doing. I mean, just look at the sheer talent that we have at this school. I want students to feel safe in creating art and being willing to share it, and I want other people to realize we’re doing some great things.
3) Why do you think the arts community is disconnected from the rest of Northwestern?
I just think it’s the nature of Northwestern. I mean, everyone is in separate schools. And I know this for a fact because I am in two schools, and those two schools have no idea what’s going on in the other schools. Also, everybody is trying to do their own thing and we don’t give ourselves the time to know other types of people, maybe because of the course load; we don’t really see what’s going on in other spaces on campus that we don’t usually go to. My thought was if I create a space for everyone, maybe that will encourage the arts community to connect more with everyone else. I can’t guarantee it, but I want people to know that it's something that is now available. The way Northwestern is set up doesn’t allow us to communicate with each other as well as we possibly could.
4) Where did the name “Ra Sol Greater Minds” come from?
I’ve been trying to conceptualize this group for like a year now. And we were just tossing around names. “Ra Sol” was initially a joke because it sounds cool – you know, like the sun god Ra. But we actually kind of liked it. And “Greater Minds” is kind of what the mission is, because it’s about enhancing your experience as a person through intellectual discourse, which in our case is provided through art. I think the name is really good for who we are because we’re trying to do something serious like sharing culture, but at the same time we’re still fun. I mean, it’s fun to say we’re “Ra Sol.”
5) What impact do you hope RSGM will have?
At Northwestern, I want it to be the place that you go if you’re interested in any form of artistic expression. I want that name to carry so much weight. I want NU to see this as a group of students who do such positive things for our community, and we want people to be a part of that. With art you have freedom. And we want to help you. And then outside of Northwestern, I want people to be like, “Wow, look at what these students created.” I want to change the norm people believe that says in order to perform you need to signed by some big label. That’s not true. We’re in an age where you can do a lot of things yourself. And luckily, through sponsorships with media organizations and venues, you can literally make the things you dreamed about become a reality. Ideally, it would be like a counterpart to A&O and Mayfest. They bring groups and artists in, and we’re trying to push groups and artists out. We want to work hand-in hand with them in the future. I want people to know that Northwestern students aren’t just academically excellent but we are so super talented.
The first single of RSGM’s debut mixtape was released on May 22. The entire musical endeavor is now free to all students via their SoundCloud page.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.