Nine years after the hit, “Handlebars,” was released to the world of progressive rap, Flobots are still making waves in the Colorado community. Before the local act made it big, they wanted to give back to the community. Flobots had this idea that all young people, including those who are at-risk, should have equal opportunities. That’s when was born, which was later called Youth on Record. Through both Flobots’ music and their nonprofit, they shape the students and listeners to make positive life choices that will allow them to succeed in today’s world.
303 Music Vol. 1 includes an exclusive song by the Flobots titled “May Nothing Disturb You” and 80% of the proceeds of the sales go towards Youth on Record. We talked with Stephen Brackett about the new song, Youth on Record, and more.
303: Can you tell us more about the Flobots’ exclusive song “May Nothing Disturb You”?
SB: We were working on our album Noenemies, we decided to work on the album as if it was telling one story. So — what is the beginning? What would be the intro? What is the sentiment that we’re feeling like we’re trying to start with? We’re talking about this album, Noenemies, which we named as a challenge to ourselves because when we were working on the album there’s so much energy going through the country. It was us versus them. That concept doesn’t work if you’re really working on a concept of a “we” or a country and as long as we can demonize one side of the argument, then that means we’re not actually talking about “we” we’re just talking about, the justification of us. So we actually wrote out what we saw as different chapter headings of a story, like if the album would be a novel.
We thought it would be nice to start with whole forgiveness. Forgiveness is where we need to start. We need to forgive ourselves, first of all, for not being perfect. If we could do that, then we can communicate our imperfections to other people because we’re starting on a common ground. We all have things to work on. We can work on things together. So in “May Nothing Disturb You” the beginning words are, “Open the gates of forgiveness.” It’s cool that we were asking for forgiveness from people that disagree with [us] and from ourselves. That’s why it started, but then at the end of the day when we were finishing the album, the song didn’t necessarily fit with the rest of the songs. So it was a song we had that didn’t make it to the final album. We felt like we had a song that we were really proud of, but it just wasn’t fitting with everything else. And in a way it so much represents all of the work that we do at Youth on Record. In some ways it kind of encapsulates the work that we’re doing within our own communities. Everybody should have a chance. In “May Nothing Disturb You” we’re not going to be disturbed by the differences in our community. We’re just going to open up the gates and allow our differences to be our strengths, which is a core operating principle of Youth on Record.
303: What have the kids of Youth on Record taught you?
SB: I don’t want to go to a huge long answer, but the thing is like before we got signed, before we became professional musicians, I was a full time elementary school teacher. One of the things that I loved about that job is it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I think if you were a teacher that listens, you learn too. The cliché is true. Like you learn more from them than they learn from you and Youth on Record is no different because every child, every person who comes into Youth on Record they’re not just a student, they’re a peer. There’s somebody else making music and with that kind of view and mind a lot of times these young people are fearless in their music making, they’re fearless in their music production and they can’t help but be modern, they can’t help but be up to date and they can’t help but to have approaches to forms I would not have thought of. They don’t how to play it safe yet. They haven’t established their patterns, they haven’t even found their creative ruts or anything yet. The lines don’t even exist for them. So anytime I sit down with a young person, they play me something [and] it’s deeply inspiring.
Another reason we created Youth on Record was to elevate the musical conversation in the city, period. Both for new people, who are defining themselves recently as musicians and for folks who have been calling themselves musicians for a long time. We need to create an actual space, a location, where people can continue that dialogue and refine their vocabularies.
303: What sets Youth on Record apart from other programs?
SB: What I feel makes Youth on Record unique is that it started with musicians. It actually started as  This is when we’re still local and all the members of Flobots were the people teaching the classes. That’s legitimately how Youth on Record started. We were the board and the employees. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but we built up enough goodwill amongst community partners and other folks that we were able to attract more competent people — people with incredible vision. We were like,“how can we give back?” and that was the initial impetus behind which has become Youth on Record.
303: That’s amazing the Flobots personally taught the children. I bet you all learned so much.
SB: Yes, it was amazing. In some ways it was kind of difficult because when the band got big we had to quickly find other people to teach the classes because we were gone. That was actually a very tough transitions for some of the children because we built up a rapport and relationships with these people, but thankfully we had enough people around us to make that transition so it wasn’t abrupt.

303 Music Vol. 1 is available for presale now with an official release date of May 18, 2018. The release coincides with a release party at The Church Nightclub the night before (May 17), featuring a local music artist showcase and access to the early purchase of the record.

Go here for presale.

Go here for the Facebook event where we will keep you updated on release details, the release party and more.

Go here for $15 early bird tickets to the release party, 303 Music Fest.

All photography by Kyle Cooper. Flobots will perform at the Gothic Theatre on April 21.