t.s the solution

‘I want to be the person I wish I had’: T.S the Solution

When I walk into Panoramic Dreams Studio, Devonte Pearson, Spokane hip-hop artist and audio engineer known in the music scene as T.S the Solution, is there, wearing a black hat with the word “Dreams” embroidered in cursive, gold thread. He welcomes me with a handshake, then immediately turns my attention to a display of shirts and hats in the lobby, from local apparel line Alpha Grand.

T.S the Solution. Photo by Erin Peterson
T.S the Solution. Photo by Erin Peterson

Pearson says he wants to feature local brands in the waiting area of his studio, and he hopes to bring in others. I’ve only been with Pearson for three minutes, and already I know he’s the kind of guy who wants to uplift the people around him.

This spirit is apparent in the way he talks about the studio and his own music. Mentorship and bridging gaps for others are clear drivers of his purpose. “I want to be the person I wish I had when I was coming up in music,” he says. He wants to help other musicians navigate an industry that can be confusing and separated into pockets. “Making music a career is not a one-man band,” he says. “It takes teams upon teams.”

The Creation of Panoramic Dreams

Founded by Pearson as an independent record label in 2015, Panoramic Dreams is now a recording studio that recently opened at a new location in East Central Spokane. While Pearson has started taking clients, a grand opening is still forthcoming. The studio can cater to musicians across genres, but its main focus is on hip-hop and its sub-genres.

“What I noticed is, there wasn’t anything central, and we want to facilitate collaboration. We’re already doing it internally,” Pearson says, referring to his work in-studio with D.J. Spicy Ketchup, “and we’re hungry enough to bring in other people and say, ‘What do you have going on? We’d love to sit down and chat about your project and bring in new perspectives.’”

There are a lot of creative people in Spokane, and Pearson sees his role as a kind of bridge that helps people connect in a positive and safe environment. He points to bars as places where people find connection, but he wants to offer an alternative, where people can collaborate without being around alcohol and the club scene.

We tour the building, which hosts a few other audio engineers, three studios, and a conference room with a large table set up in the middle. Pearson says this room is his favorite because it’s where he gets to hear about other people’s dreams.

Pearson is a man who is service-minded and dream-oriented. He’s always thinking about the other people in the room. He is encouraging and ready to help. He’s got the table, and he wants you to join him.

T.S the Solution’s latest single, “Eternity”, released in late 2021 and produced by Trenton Latrell, articulates this sentiment. Over an easy tempo, with melodic background vocals supporting him through warm, wide-space reverb, T.S the Solution says: “Got all my people at the table, I’m just here to cater / I’m serving game that you can savor / I play chef and waiter.”

Inspiration

At his table in the conference room, Pearson mentions that his twins, who are homeschooled, sometimes do their homework here. Pearson and his wife, Lydia Pearson, are both entrepreneurs who see parenthood as an invitation to build their dreams, rather than a stumbling block to being self-employed creatives. “My kids will be the reason I do accomplish something, not the reason I don’t,” he says.

The kids will be ten this October, and they are Pearson’s biggest inspiration. He describes himself as family-oriented, and the way he talks about his wife and kids demonstrates this. When I ask him when he moved to Spokane, he pauses and thinks. “The kids were…almost two,” he says, measuring time by fatherhood.

He moved to Spokane in 2014, from the Westside, though he was born in Long Beach, California. He took a year to settle into the city and listen, and in 2016 he released Purple in Spokane, a four-track E.P. that established him as a Spokane artist. From its first track, “Visions”, to its last, “Comfort Zone”, T. S the Solution tells his story of moving out of his comfort zone and dreaming about the future he wants to create for himself and his family.

As a kid, Pearson remembers riding around in the car with his mom, sisters, and aunts, listening to 90s R & B. The soundtrack of his childhood was the music they were listening to: Mary J. Blige, Avant, Ginuwine, and Immature. He woke up in the morning to R & B playing in the house, he drove around to it, he played video games while listening to it.

He smiles when he talks about being raised by women. “I got comfortable with a lot of emotions,” he says. And he says this comes out in his own songwriting—he is able to channel his own emotions through music and storytelling.

That’s a hallmark of T.S the Solution’s work. He writes about his own experiences and he builds rhymes that echo the themes he talks about—dreaming, unity, overcoming, inviting people to his table. As he got older, he listened to rappers like 50 Cent, Ludacris, and T.I., who were open to talking about their own real-life stories.

As a young musician, Pearson looked up to his cousin, who was a major male role model in his life. “He was a very smart dude,” Pearson says, “but he would run the streets.” Under the moniker T. Savage, Pearson began to follow his cousin’s path. “I thought that was the route, but the more I did it, I realized I’m either gonna be dead or in jail.” He says he turned away from the street lifestyle, but this left him moving in a different direction than his friends, and for a while, he felt alone. Shifting from the identity he had crafted as T. Savage, he went by the name Tey Solo before eventually adopting a name that encompassed all of his pasts: T.S the Solution.

T.S the Solution. Photo by Erin Peterson
T.S the Solution. Photo by Erin Peterson

Becoming T.S the Solution

Pearson took it upon himself to become a mentor for others. Representation matters to him, and he says that kids coming up now deserve to see people like themselves in the industry, onstage and behind the console. Pearson wants his studio to be a place where musicians like him—people who’ve experienced what he has, like moving away from the streets, people who are young parents, young Black men—can feel understood. He says that an important element in bringing a song to life is the level of trust between artists, producers, and engineers, and relatability can help build that trust.

But Pearson also sees value in reaching out across genres and working with people with different musical and life experiences. “I’m not afraid to go outside the box. I’ll reach out to Water Monster or Vanna Oh!, or whatever the vibe is. I love collaborating across genres—that’s what hip hop started out as anyway, a blend of different genres, and that’s what makes it cool.”

These days, Pearson tells me, he is listening to introspective music and chillhop like Mick Jenkins, J. Cole, and Kendrick Lamar, but he also takes this moment to hype up the local scene. He points to local musicians Chuck Vibes, John MF Ward, Jinx, ExZac Change and Matisse, and Jango. He’s listening to Spokane.

As for his own music, Pearson is currently working on Purple in Spokane II. He says this will be his most musical project. He’ll produce beats and lyrics, but he’s also going to bring in more instrumentalists. He’s ready for more collaboration.

Purple in Spokane II will act like another kind of bridge, an album that takes us from T.S the Solution’s first years in Spokane to now. And, really, so much of Pearson’s work is about bridging—creating paths between sub-communities, using his own life experience to build positive community connections, and extending opportunities to others through mentorship.

“I’m all about dreams,” Pearson tells me. He’s looking toward possibilities, and even his name is a kind of hopeful extension. If dreams are another way of finding a way forward, of taking what’s already here and imagining new ways to connect and build, that is clearly what Pearson is all about. “T.S is who I am,” he says. “The Solution is who I want to be.”

Liz Rognes

Liz Rognes (she/her) is a writer, musician, teacher, and mom. She is a songwriter, a composer, and an essayist, and she co-founded Girls Rock Lab, a youth music program that amplifies the voices of girls and queer kids. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University, where she is now a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Philosophy.

READ ALL OF LIZ’S ARTICLES HERE.

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