Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chicago artists launch project pairing new music with green tea

By Melissa Bordeau

Andy Angelos & Phil Lomac
Remember the days you would get so excited to purchase a newly released CD? You’d listen to the music as you flipped through the album artwork, amazed by the beautiful cover art and photography? Today, the popular way of obtaining music is to go onto iTunes and hit purchase; the artistic format that once was there is diminishing. But thanks to Chicago-based Andy Angelos and Phil Lomac there is a new way to obtain your music that keeps the artistic value alive.

Angelos and Lomac created Tea for Tyrants, an innovative idea of distributing music along with tasty green tea and a collectible tea card.

The Tea for Tyrants project was launched on January 14th, with around 20 days currently left to reach its $7,500 goal via Kickstarter in order for the initial product run to take flight. 

In the meantime, find out more information about the project in our interview below with Andy Angelos.

WCR: How did you come up with the idea of pairing tea with music?

AA: Phil Lomac and I are both life-long musicians and were preparing to launch a new EP last spring. The typical approach to launching an album had been 1) Make downloads available online 2) Host shows or tours 3) Hope to gain some traction via iTunes, Spotify, etc and collect some paltry royalties. This method is really frustrating and usually demonstrates the predicament of independent musicians – the supposed “ease” of information distribution online is countered by an abundance of choice and scarcity of attention to make developing an audience difficult.

So the idea stemmed from frustration with current options and a desire to attach music to a product that people would purchase regardless of their familiarity with our music. Just get the music into their hands. Tea was a logical product since we both had experience as consumers and connoisseurs of the product.

Kickstarter seemed to be a good platform to gauge interest and raise some funds for the initial product run (tea and packaging).

There are four other bands (5 total) included in the initial run of the Tea for Tyrants project. How did you find choose the 4 other bands?

The other musicians are primarily from shows we’ve played in the past few years. Also – we reached out to a few bands that we thought aligned with the connotations surrounding green tea – smooth, relaxing, etc. We believe our own music is in this category of folksy, roots rock with thought provoking lyrics. Phil’s official label is “Mountain Brewed Garage Folk.”

In the future how will you connect with other indie bands that want to be apart of Tea for Tyrants?

We plan to curate artists based on the types of tea we are selling, but are hoping awareness spreads enough to provide a wealth of awesome bands to pair with our product. The potential audience will grow with each additional sale, so we are hoping our product becomes more and more valuable as a method to gain new audiences.

Interested parties can send links to their music to and they can also help spread the word about the campaign to their own networks.

Why do you want to raise the money for Tea for Tyrants by February 14th, just one month from the start date?

We did not want to make the campaign too long based on feedback from friends that had run Kickstarter campaigns in the past. And we are hoping that a “donation to Tea for Tyrants” replaces chocolate as the most popular Valentine’s Day gift. :)

Why do you feel that it is important to keep the art of making a record alive?

Personally, I would like to live in a world where new music was an expectation with everyday purchases. Products are increasingly coming with an attached personality and music can help clarify that personality for consumers. This would also save me some time from stalking friends on Spotify and reading blogs to discover new music!

With each purchase of a 2 or 4 oz tin of tea, along comes a Tea Card. Who does the artwork?

The artwork will take the form of a “tea card” which is essentially a trading card that conveys information about the tea and the musicians. Tea cards were prevalent in the U.K. throughout the 20th century but their cousin, the baseball card, was more prominent in the U.S.

For our EP release, we worked with printmaker Jeremy Cody of Print Zero Studios. Similar to producing full-length albums – printmaking is often lumped into the “under-appreciated arts” category so we are happy to have talented craftspeople adding an extra element to the product.

Your tea source is from Japan. How did you choose this specific source?

I have been buying loose-leaf tea from Japan for a number of years, specifically Gyokuro. We contacted the seller and inquired about wholesale purchase, which informed the amount of our Kickstarter project!

Anything else you would like us to know?

Tell your friends! This only works with support from the community of musicians, music lovers, and tea enthusiasts we know exists.


  1. Great Article and very interesting and creative way to launch a new album from an independent artist, I love the concept and call to action!

  2. Thanks Dave! Glad you enjoy the project and we are looking forward to helping other musicians get distribution through a purchase other than CD, vinyl, or download, etc that they sold themselves. Tell your friends!