We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Gustafson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mark, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
It’s a little odd that I ended up pursuing an artistic career because while music has been a passion my whole life there was a time that didn’t look like Awesome Up was the direction things would go. After college I was in medical school where I decided I didn’t want to be a doctor. I needed to try a different path for my life. Long before that, my father was a pastor and I grew up playing music in churches. By the end of high school I played guitar, piano, bass and drums. Personally, though, I was into a much wider range of music than I was performing on those stages so I started an alternative rock band and began lessons in Delta blues guitar. My finger picking style awarded me a classical guitar scholarship and my singing got me into the Norseman Choir when I went to Luther College. Then things shifted and I became super focused on my academic life. I double majored in Biology and Spanish with a minor in chemistry before entering medical school to become a doctor. It wasn’t long before I was tired of the seemingly lifelong grind and wanted something a bit more freeing to pursue in life. EDM was just coming into the mainstream and while I had played with some music production software on the computers I’d built in high school, the technology had advanced so much since I was a kid. After hearing early artists like Pretty Lights, Blackmill, Minnesota, Opiuo and others I was amazed by the sounds and the music I was hearing. I remember seeing a Griz concert with my girlfriend and thinking “I can play almost all those instruments on stage…why don’t I make my own songs now?”.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Things have definitely not been easy trying to make in the music industry. In today’s world, you have to bring something to the table and it can be hard to get a following that gets you noticed. That’s why I started Real Lit Music Collective where up and coming artists can get their music out to a wider audience than they would be able to just on their own. The success of Real Lit with fans has also helped us get into some amazing venues in Colorado so I can’t wait for more.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Colorado Springs and there are a ton of great thing to do here. We throw bass shows Real Lit Music Collective at The Jazz-Funk Connection, a venue with great live sound, drinks and some of the best barbecue in the city. If you’re into outdoor activities definitely check out Garden of the Gods or Palmer Park for cool hiking, climbing or biking right in the city. Metric and Brewery always has great pints and C.O.A.T.I. is a chef collective space and a must stop for a wide variety of great eats. You can’t go wrong with the 20+ breweries and 200+ food trucks around the city either.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
A ton of credit in this story goes to my parents. My mother made sure that when I was 5 years old and wanted to play the drums that I got promptly enrolled into classical piano lessons. Guitar came from my father who played and I eventually wanted to pick his up and learn. He was a pastor but for some reason he had one B.B. King cassette tape lying around that I couldn’t get enough of.

Website: producertheory.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/awesome.up/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AwesomeUpMusic

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AwesomeUpMusic

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH5xzohl4n0BdMaI2oqO5QA

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.