Bear the Astronot
Bear Cole is known to music fans as Bear the Astronot. The Astronot is based out of Flagstaff Arizona currently, but has lived and made music all over the state. Bear the Astronot makes music that matters. If someone were to be raised in an experiment in science and the human psyche it would be him. Step 01: Take a young American kid, who like most American kids knows little about his ancestry except that he’s Irish, Arapaho, Romanian, and German. Have him grow up in The Grand Canyon National Park and on various Native-American reservations. Step 02: Have this child’s parents name him Running-Bear. Step 03: Have this child consumed by music, encompassed by the fresh and newly born sounds of hip-hop, drenched in funk, 60’s and 70’s rock, raised by the dreaded icons of Reggae. Step 04: Mix in a dab of Electronic and Spoken Word. Step 05: Step back, and see what it sounds like!!
The sound you hear will be a window into the past and a freight train straight into the future. It will echo deep and wrenching emotions, yet settle into positive ideas, wit and sarcasm. It will reflect the raging political tides of the world around us, and the ever-changing voice of modern music. You will be able to make out the bubbling energy of Underground and Indie music, while still catching contagious melodies and a moving undertone of popular music sensibility. Shhh, listen….Now you know what Bear the Astronot sounds like.
Take what you know about music and smash it into fragments and pieces. Bear the Astronot is a rapper who grew up in The Grand Canyon National Park? Bear is his real name not a catchy band name, it’s actually short for Running-Bear, and he plays the Harmonica? He mixes Lyrical Conscious Hip-Hop with Country Music and Banjos? When you’re Bear the Astronot, you answer quite a bit of questions, and do plenty of repeating yourself.
Remember how we broke music into tiny pieces? Lets put it back together as a team, very slowly, okay? Bear Cole began his journey as a musician at a very young age. He recorded his first Mixtape to Cassette at the age of 13. He was a professional DJ for over a decade, he toured, he rapped in some Metal Bands, and even got his first degree in Audio Engineering and Studio Recording. Yes, I said first degree. A starving artist with multiple degrees, nothing to start writing a life changing music review or artist story about yet. I think if we keep looking together, we will find that artist story, just stay with me.
Bear has spent a lifetime in music, and is still in his 30’s. He has worked just about every job in the industry. Here is where we start picking up the pieces. How many musicians can you classify into more than 3 genres? Think about it for awhile……. Maybe you thought about a couple? Bear the Astronot’s music can be classified into too many to count. This allows for an amazing sound, but is also a point of contention where in Bear has turned down multiple record deals to stay in control of his ability to explore genres. He is a strong believer in DIY and Independent music. He respects the power of bands like Sublime, Linkin Park, and Twenty One Pilots to combine genres into something new. The difference is Bear is a one man band most often producing, writing, and performing the songs he releases. The other difference is that Bear the Astronot has a strong Hip Hop base but experiments in the sounds of Folk, Country, and Bluegrass even more often than Rock or Metal. Bear the Astronot is often compared to Yelawolf since the Slumerican Founder released his album Love Story in 2014.
Bear the Astronot knows Hip Hop music. His accolades as an Underground MC come from years as a fan, a DJ, and a collector. He can explain how KRSOne made the genre change course, and how Sage Francis and Atmosphere were able to use Anti-rap to be successful. He studies the craft of wordsmiths from Sage Francis to Chuck D. His own lyrics and performance won him the Best Hip Hop Artist in Arizona from the most Noteworthy music and lifestyle magazine in the state. Not easy for a Lyrical Underground Rapper against much more Main Stream competition. Here is the thing though, Bear the Astronot could never settle into just being a Rapper. He had a much easier time packing shows playing with Authority Zero than he did opening for Ice Cube.
Bear has an appreciation for music in it’s entirety. Bear the Astronot knows music. He might spend an hour with you explaining why the problem with Country Rap music is that Colt Ford and Bubba Sparxxx can never be compared to Willie Nelson. He has idolized Waylon Jennings and Andre 3000, while working to perfect his craft of Songwriting. Oh Yeah, and you might catch him at a show playing the Harmonica over 808 Hip-Hop Loops. Or plucking a Banjo in between rhymes and verses. You see all we needed to pick up the pieces of music, was Bear the Astronot.
Now when we piece this thing back together we have to make it easy on the senses. Many have concocted a Modge Podge Traffic Wreck of opposing genres, searching for a way to reach a new audience or set themselves apart from the pack. Bear the Astronot has a much more subtle approach. You might not even notice you are listening to a rap song about camping, and you might not recognize the switch from Country Rap to Singer-Songwriter. This is where Bear the Astronot finds his niche. Not among the rappers flaunting money and cars, and not among the Country Rappers puking out cliches about Pickup Trucks and Budweiser. Not with the whiny wrist cutting self loathing Singer-Songwriters, and not with the Merica Loving Pop Country elite. Bear the Astronot has pasted something new and different together, with a few of the pieces of each, and you will never be able to tell where one piece ends and another begins.
History and Professional Information
Bear Cole is an experienced MC, producer, studio engineer, and audio technician. Bear the Astronot & The Cosmonauts along with DJ ERL were voted the number one Hip-Hop Group in Arizona by The Phoenix New Times and music fans from all over the state of Arizona in 2009. He promoted a successful concert series for local bands called The Grab Bag, which was known for cunningly and effectively mixing genres and music fans. Bear has played to thousands, and played to just the bartenders in venues big and small. Bear Cole is a graduate of the revered Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences, and has studied Music Theory, Music History, and Music Business at several colleges and universities. The Astronot spent 8 years as a professional Disc Jockey, and uses what he learned as a DJ to better his production skills. The knowledge he has gained over the years allowed him to Produce, Perform, Write, Record, and Mix every song on his first solo album entitled “Cricket Songs.” “I am a big fan of Singer Songwriters, and respect the craft of songwriting tremendously. I wanted to try and make a hip-hop album that was also a Singer-Songwriter album. Why not?”
Bear took this idea much further releasing 4 albums at once in 2015. A 3 part album/project titled Grand Canyon after his hometown, The Grand Canyon National Park. Yes, his name is Bear and he grew up in a National Park. (insert Yogi the Bear jokes here.) He didn’t grow up like most Hip-Hop artists. He grew up outdoors, hiking, fishing, riding white water rapids. Even now as an older man, he spends most of his time in the woods and exploring The Southwest. How could he turn this into a Hip-Hop album? How could he take his love for Bluegrass and Country and Small Town Living and make it MAKE SENSE? Well, a 3 part album titled Grand Canyon is his answer. As much of a songwriting album as a head nodding hip-hop project. As much Bluegrass as it is Rock, R&B, and Soul.
Bear the Astronot concocts downtempo electronic, sample filled jazzy record benders, and entrancing energetic dance tracks under his side project “Turntable Kachina”. “The complaint I get most often is that all my music is so different. I take it as a compliment.” Bear has played many instruments over the years, and been involved in many bands, groups, and crews including Eklektraphonik, Nehesh, Dj Bear Cole, Afterbirth, Knob Twisters and many others. “Music doesn’t have boundaries, yet I have created so many boundaries around myself to be able to make it.” In 2009 Bear the Astronot released three E.P.’s. The first E.P. Think Revolution has a jazzy old-school feel and includes production from producers from London, Germany, France, New York & AZ. The hit single from Think Revolution was a song called “You”. “You” was re-released and remixed by UK producer Brother Beatbox on his album Vol.II. Placing Bear the Astronot in the company of some of the UK’s finest underground MC’s. The Second E.P. Vishnu Schist was produced exclusively by Arizona’s Arsenic, and it’s dark, rock, vocal filled grittiness feels right at home for fans of Bear’s earlier work. The last E.P. Emo Haircut is a collection of whatever was left-over, and available free all over the internet.
Bear as a youth was always strongly influenced by the more revolutionary figures in music. Public Enemy, KRS-One, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Rage Against the Machine, and many others all molded his firmly political music. “Musicians have an extremely important voice in politics, and have the distinct ability to change opinions and educate their listeners. I would like to think that my music may in some ways call others to action, and maybe be a small igniter helping to fuel revolution.” The Astronot makes it a point to explore all aspects of the human experience. “Politics are important, but Love, Pain, Struggle, Joy, Companionship, Anger, these are the things that we all share. I hope people with different political views can still enjoy my non-political music.” Bear the Astronot moved into a more introspective and less political minded voice as his music aged.
As he got older he found more of a love for simple music. Conway Twitty, Eric Church, The Boxcars, Waylon Jennings, began to be an influence. As you get older you realize the small details more than you did when you were young and wide eyed. This was definitely the case for Bear the Astron0t. His songwriting style became more introverted and less involved in the world around him. The human experience, emotions shared, well written and delivered, all of these things explain Bear the Astronot’s music. “I’m the artist, but I still work a day job, I still can barely make the rent, I still live the struggle. I hope people who listen can hear that, and take solace in it.” The Astronot makes music for pleasure, music for release, music for contemplation, but most of all THE ASTRONOT MAKES MUSIC FOR YOU. HOPE YOU ENJOY IT.
As Bear the Astronot & Turntable Kachina, an MC and DJ, Bear has performed with numerous artists of every genre, Hip-Hop, Rock, Reggae, Electronic, Dub, R&B, Rap, Metal, Jazz & More…..including…..Afrikaa Bambaataa, Dj Keoki, Kool Keith, Authority Zero, Ice Cube, One Be Lo, Grayskul, Akil the MC (of Jurassic5), Sage Francis, Verbal Kent, Chamillionaire, Young Buck, Bionic Jive, 2 Live Crew, Dj Adrenaline, Foreknown, Cutthroat Logic, Orchestra Records, The Funkler, Input, Broken, N1nth Cloud, JLA, The Skacas, Latino Rebel Band, Dub Nation, Mission G, Ronin Meyer, Optimal, Sulai/Novelty, Herb n Life, Soulafide, Ryan Poulson, Bomb Legacy, O.P.E.X., Terry Allen, Veins of Jenna, Eutopos & Many Many More.