Reporting and writing by Laura Lakins

TJ Maclin, a Cleveland artist known as Peachcurls, recently released Meadow – a nine-track album that genre-blends hip-hop, rap, alternative, and R&B – and exemplifies the talent of multiple Northeast Ohio musicians.

When asked who helped make Meadow what it is – other than himself, as he handled all of the songwriting and producing – Maclin highlighted a handful of area artists. His list includes Akron bassist Matthew DeRubertis, Akron trumpeter Tommy Lehman, and mixing and mastering specialist Spencer Martin, whose work originated in Northeast Ohio but is currently working out of South Korea. 

He also listed Cleveland duo Jon and Bri Bryant, who add their powerhouse vocals to the title track, “Meadow,” and Sulyiman, a Chicago-based artist, who adds synthesizer to the track “Born Without You.”

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The interconnectedness of the Northeast Ohio music scene is impressive, especially when you hear about it firsthand. From social media to live shows to word of mouth – it seems that all of the underground musicians in the area have a way of finding one another.

Take for example Maclin’s ties with DeRubertis, also known as SEER Music, which date back to nearly 10 years ago. He connected with DeRubertis at a Dave Hammer’s Power Supply show after opening for the band. This later resulted in him joining Maclin in his band at the time, Thaddeus Anna Greene. 

Even though the bands have taken different routes, the two have stayed connected. You can hear DeRubertis’s deep and thunderous bass lines on the tracks, “Born Without You,” “New Clothes,” “Go Home,” and “Cuban Link.” 

“Our working relationship has continued to grow over time. Matt is one of my best friends.We work well together,” Maclin says.

Not long after, Maclin met Lehman while they both were enrolled in Tri-C’s jazz program. They collaborated together on a project while there, and since then they’ve continued to help each other out. 

“He saw something in me and I saw something in him, from there we just stayed connected. Us working together was natural. I had done some songs for him, and then sent him some of mine. He did it no question,” Maclin says.

Peachcurls is featured on a handful of Lehman’s singles and vice versa. Lehman adds his smooth yet vibrant trumpet to the track “Go Home” on Meadow.

As far as the connection with Martin goes, Maclin credits social media for that. DeRubertis, who has teamed up with Martin himself, had posted an Instagram story of him working on the bass line for “Cuban Link,” one of the tracks on Meadow. Martin inquired about it, and the rest is history. He mixed and mastered all of Meadow.

“We all work together, but none of our individual music sounds like the others. All of us just really love music, and are able to communicate and adapt to each other. The talent level is so high, and I feel like that gets overlooked,” Maclin says.

In past years, Maclin has put out a couple EPs, Missing Piece and Eastside. Both of these showcase his rapping abilities, but Meadow takes it to the next level and showcases both his rapping and singing. 

“I thought ‘What if I stopped compartmentalizing my sound, and allowed myself to just put it all onto one thing?’” Maclin says.

Once he followed his intuition to do just that, Meadow came to life. The album opens up with “See About Me,” a rap track that Maclin describes as “loud, disorienting, and jarring, but also harmonically pleasant, warm, and full sounding.” He then closes with “Meadow,” in which Maclin’s soulful vocals wind down the album. In between the two, you’ll find a good mix of rapping, singing and his upbeat, yet smooth sound.

To support and lift up our local musicians, be sure to check out their work on Bandcamp, which is a music platform that fairly pays artists. You can find Meadow and other music by Peachcurls, as well as work by SEER Music, Lehman, Martin and every other musician from the area that you love. Their music is also available on all other streaming platforms – but ‘tis the season to buy local.

To keep up with Peachcurls you can check out his website, www.peachcurls.com. There you will find links to stream his music and to follow him on social media. Keep an eye out for his latest single, “Past The Point,” featuring Akron’s own Free Black!, available everywhere now.

Laura Lakins is an educator and freelance writer from Akron, OH.

Photo: By Zoë Mountain. Used with permission from Peachcurls.

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