Seun Erinle is a tour-de-force of innovation in Chattanooga’s technology and music scenes. She’s a business owner specializing in website design and coding, but what sets her apart from others is her passion for teaching these topics to children. One of her companies, A.I.R. Labs, is a Chattanooga–based after school code program teaching web development to 12-18 year olds. She also began to learn music at a young age with piano and classical guitar lessons before she started to write her own music. Her longtime love of music blossomed with new friends and new projects when she started experimenting with electronic music production. A.I.R. Labs launched a workshop called Rhythm Lab, where they teach middle school and high school kids how to make beats. Seun also recently co-founded Hip Hop CHA, a hip hop collective focused on bolstering the vibrant hip hop community in Chattanooga.
Of your many projects, which are you most passionate about?
Seun: Right now, it’s music production and teaching it. I’ve always loved teaching kids, even when I was a kid. There’s something special about teaching someone a new skill and seeing the moment when everything clicks. I also enjoy finding new ways to explain things and coming up with analogies. Everybody learns in different ways.
Have you found it difficult to adapt to different teaching styles?
Seun: It’s become more natural over the years. The more I teach people, the more variety in teaching styles I encounter, and the better I get at it. Teaching different types of learning styles also helps me hone my craft because it gives me the opportunity to know all aspects of my project so I can best help them understand it and lead them to the best resources.
What is Hip Hop CHA and how long has it been around?
Seun: Hip Hop CHA is a way to support the local hip hop community. This includes everything from fans of old school rap, fashion, DJs, emcees, culture, and more. It covers the whole gamut of hip hop culture, its history, and its effects on the community. Hip Hop CHA started very recently, in October 2016.
Why did Chattanooga need this?
Seun: My fellow founders and I thought that there were spotlights and platforms for other genres of music in Chattanooga, but not really for local hip hop artists and fans like us. We thought we would create those opportunities to perform and grow ourselves.
What other local organizations have you worked with to grow your group?
Seun: Our biggest partners recently have been the Hush Lounge and Revelry Room. The owners of Track 29 have been a huge help in getting us started there. So far we’ve had two shows at the Revelry Room; one was during Mainx24 and one was the weekend after the New Year. We had less than half of Revelry Room’s space during Mainx24 because we were situated in the Hush Lounge, yet the owners loved the crowd that we brought and invited us back. The next time they gave us the whole space and we attracted a lot of people in Chattanooga to brave one of the coldest nights of the year for the love of hip hop. People came out to support and we wanted to continue to feed the need.
What is your role in Hip Hop CHA?
Seun: There are five of us; Sammy Lowdermilk, Fernando Martinez, DJ MCPRO, DJ D-Whit, and I. We’ve become more of a collective in that we each brainstorm ideas and build off of each other, rather than each having one designated role. We figure out what we want to bring to Chattanooga, what works well in other cities, what we want that’s different and new in our city, etc. We’re actually growing to the point that people are contacting us through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to ask us how they can get involved. One of our programs is called New Music Monday, where we had just eight people come to our first event, but we held another one on January 23rd and had almost 60 attendees. It’s crazy how much it’s grown in such a short amount of time. That type of turnout proves that this is something our community desires.
What are some upcoming projects for 2017?
Seun: On February 9th, we are having a Beat Makers, or Beats for Beginners, class that is a workshop for 18+ year olds where we will be using Native Instrument’s Maschine Mikro to teach them how to make beats and introduce people to the basics of production. We want to do a lot of educational classes and panels. We also want to have a beat making battle in the near future. We will continue to do New Music Mondays and Hip Hop Lounges, so keep an eye out for those. We also want to screen more documentary films focused on hip hop history, culture, art, dance, and graffiti.
Of course, we’d also like to figure out how to make money. Not for the purposes of paying ourselves, but to be able to host more events to support the community and even go into communities that aren’t as involved in the city. We’d like to do more events in those places and invite those community members to be a part of what we’re doing. If we’re able to provide a platform for people in need of one, we’d love to be able to do that.