Joseph Prielozny on IVAV Name; Signing Steven Malcolm & Ty Brasel
Joseph Prielozny is a man of many hats. One bears the name of ‘Grammy-Award winning producer’ while another says ‘A&R’. Yet another hat reads ‘VP’ and one says COBRA’. Regardless, of what he’s got on his head, the IVAV leader is one busy guy.
Just a few years ago, Joseph found himself as a producer, A&R, and project manager for Reach Records. It was during that time that Reach hit it’s biggest stride in terms of music, placements, and overall artistry (More on this in part 2).
After nearly a decade of doing that, he moved onto major label WORD. At the time it was a joint ownership between Curb Records and Warner Records. After eight months, Curb completely bought out Warner. The staff was in disarray as jobs were combined, people were let go, and others left. That’s when Prielozny starting “collecting” his other hats.
“I was there for IVAV,” he explained. “For King And Country had always been close friends and their A&R left, so it seemed like a natural fit [to step in]. I was handed more artists because of that.”
“I’ve just been slammed honestly.”
At the end of the day, he has no complaints because “I still get paid to make music and try to influence and impact people. It’s just a great day.”
For Joseph Prielozny, IVAV (4 Against 5), was just trying to be his most authentic self. He wanted a no-frills record label where artists with a message can stand for something in a creative way. It became more than that.
“I came here and wasn’t trying to start another movement,” said Prielozny. “I wanted it to be a record label. I’m not trying to force any artist to link up and work, but rather just a movement of people. The exciting thing for me is we believe we are going to win because God is with us. It’s not a victim mentality, it’s this Martin Luther King ‘I have a dream’. Seeing people relate to it, that has been the cool thing for me.”
There has been a lot of talk about what the 4 Against 5 name means. Musically, it’s a weird polyrhythm that can be played on the drums. A polyrhythm is ‘two or more rhythms played simultaneously’. However, the term has nothing to do with music.
“The name was a God-given thing,” he said. “Really, people resonate with it. When people get tattoos, you think, this better work!”
Prielozny said some people think it’s a basketball term. It has this underdog feel – they are always outnumbered, four against five. That’s not it either.
“The original idea had 200 names on a list. We sent out a name that I wasn’t 100% on to get trademarked. It bounced back and we couldn’t use it,” Prielozny shared. “I went to my pastor and he asked me, ‘What can I pray for’? and I said, ‘I really just need a name’. I went home the next day and was reading through Genesis 14. That’s where Lot gets kidnapped and Abraham goes and rescues him.”
“Four kings, Amraphel of Babylonia, Arioch of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer of Elam, and Tidal of Goiim, 2 went to war against five other kings: Bera of Sodom, Birsha of Gomorrah, Shinab of Admah, Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (or Zoar).”
He continued, “The problem was the four kings were bad and the five were good. I like the idea of David vs Goliath or Martin Luther vs the Catholic Church – the person who has the belief that they can change.”
The team has left the name “intentionally mysterious,” so this marks one of the first time’s talking about it.
“It’s crazy seeing merch worn around by people and they have no idea what it means,” he said laughing.
Steven Malcolm & Ty Brasel
Right now, his IVAV are Steven Malcolm and Ty Brasel. Both are growing and maturing with the label.
“Some people measure success by number one songs, for us, it’s looking at the artists’ career, their strengths, their digital footprint, and as long as everything is in the upward trajectory, we’re happy with where they are going.”
Malcolm appealed to Prielozny because of his hustle and talent. In baseball, they’d call him a five-tool player. They do a little bit of everything well.
“I saw the video that Steven did of a Canon contest and was impressed by how clean he spit Canon’s verse and the creativity of the video,” he said. “I hit him up and he was a humble guy and working hard booking tons of shows by himself. He’d do a track and send it back the next day. He’s cut from the old cloth of Christian hip-hop in my opinion where he loves the ministry aspect of it and loves being on stage talking to people about Jesus. He’s the whole package.”
As far as Ty Brasel coming over to IVAV, it’s a long, funny, story.
“Literally the first day I got here, Chris Chicago hit me up and told me to check out Ty Brasel. When I got here, I can tell they were listening to a John Givez song so I asked if it was new, and they said it’s a feature for a Ty Brasel song. So that’s two times in one day,” said Joseph. “When I moved back to Nashville, we had to work on the house. I’m demoing with these guys and they were from Memphis, had grills and tats, and were gang-affiliated. So I started playing some music, and they said, ‘You’re into that gospel stuff. You want the realest gospel rapper there is? There’s this kid from our hometown named Ty Brasel. He’s the realest rapper we ever met’.”
He continued, “Ok, so Ty has the respect from a legend like Chris Chicago and the ear of the streets of Memphis. I hit him up on twitter, and we started to build – reading books, chopping, and dialoguing. He came and did a showcase and it was a total disaster. Despite that, I’ve always loved his heart and his big view of God. He had a unique voice and pattern, you can put on a Ty Brasel song and know it’s him.”
“I’m really proud of both these guys.”
There is a third artist on the radar. They are talking contracts right now. Joseph said he discovered him three years ago leaving a comment on a Rapzilla article. he checked out his page and has been building since then.
“I like finding acts that no one knows about. It’s easy to find the person who’s popping,” he exclaimed.
In fact, there have been others close to signing with the label. One such artist was Zauntee. In this case, like a few others, the fit just wasn’t right. That’s something Prielozny and his team is honest about with artists. “Just because someone doesn’t sign here doesn’t mean we are against them. I’ll support them even if it doesn’t work like Zauntee.”
That is part of being an A&R. It’s trying to make all the puzzle pieces fit. In addition to his two rap artists and For King and Country, he has a bunch of other CCM and worship acts he presides over.
“The A&R side, it’s not completely objective. What you think is a hit song, might not be a hit song. ‘Hey, I need this much to cut a record’, now there’s paperwork,” Prielozny said. “It satisfies the right side of my brain as far as being business savvy. Both sides are creative, both have room for being wrong. Also, there’s the satisfaction of putting stuff in an excel sheet that balances out my brain.”
Joseph also has to be aware of the trends and figure out what the future of music looks like. He believes the future of Christian music is in worship.
“I think it’s more natural for Steven to work with a worship artist than a CCM artist.”
He continued on about CHH and worship, “No one is at the forefront, but we’re working on it. Steven’s song ‘Even Louder’ is a good test to those world’s colliding.”
Last but not least, Cobra (Joseph, Dirty Rice, JuiceBangers) has a lot coming.
“Dirty and Juice have been in the studio with huge artists. Dirty Rice is just killing it. He’s always playing me new beats. Those guys are crushing it sonically. Dirty and Juice did a majority of Ty’s record too.”