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Muck Sticky makes Memphis smile

By Samuel Prager
On February 28, 2013

Memphis music presents itself in all different shapes, sizes, colors and sounds, however, very few artists, Memphians or anyone else, have met the level of eclectic-notoriety that the high-pitched Memphis born-and-bred posi-pop figure that is Muck Sticky set. Muck Sticky, born as Justin Osburn, is a Memphis musician who has been gaining recognition for his unique style of music since he started the project in 2004. The often strange, yet captivating, sound that is the 'Sticky Muck' is a mash up of profanity-ridden hooks and happy-go-lucky lyrics, all wrapped up in a fun catchy beat.
"Music has been around my whole life, but I didn't actually start making my own music until I was in school at the University of Memphis," said Muck Sticky, a former student of the University. "I started recording my own little quirky songs, which led to recording CDs and here I am 12 albums later."
Sticky attended the University in the late '90s. He majored in psychology and cites his studies in the subject as a core influence in his musical endeavors as well as life in general.
"About the time I got done in school I decided I didn't want to sit behind a desk and be a psychologist," Sticky said.
"I started making music that I felt took some of the things I learned in psychology, how to be happy and enjoy life, which is what everyone goes to a psychologist for, and here I am."
Muck Sticky's positive voice is a fresh breath from the negative vibe that is generally associated with Memphis musicians who mention illicit substances in their songs.
"I grew up listening to the gangster rap music around town, so it influenced what I do for sure," Sticky said. "But I was always asked, 'why does it always have to be so angry?' I'm kind of a happy dude. None of these dudes are talking about happy stuffIt would be cool if people were talking about happy stuff, but still rapping, so I thought that's what I'll do ­- be the guy who does the happy stuff."
Sticky, who is also referred to as Mervous Thrifty, has over 3 million views on his youtube channel, MuckStickyTV. He is continuing to make music videos to promote his 12th and most recent studio album, Hullabaloo.
"I have fun with what I do-I'm able to wear pajama pants every day. I don't have to do what the boss tells me to do, and I go to sleep when I'm tired. I follow my own clock," Sticky said. "I talk about a bunch of controversial stuff, and people have certainly told me I'm going to have a tough time doing that. I can't say it's been the easiest road, but I'm still here."
Muck Sticky is recognized for his unique full-time appearance, clad with pajamas, one stretched (gauged) ear and an odd assortment of hats and accessories. He is also just as notorious for his stage presence which consists of circus-esque antics and all-star-crew of fellow oddballs, fully equipped with potty-mouthed stage talk and six foot torches disguised as joints loaded with extra smoke machines.
"The energy of playing a show where people are interacting with you, singing words to you, that you wrote in your own private time, when no one was listening, it's indescribable in how it makes you feel," Sticky said. "It's better than any drug I've ever done, and I've done a lot of drugs. You could pay me all the money in the world, and that would be so valuable to me."
The always nifty Mervous Thrifty's most recent endeavors include his new movie, "Muscadine Wine," which will have a free screening at Studio on the Square tonight at 7, 8:20 and 9:40 p.m.
"I've always directed my own music videos, and we had a music video called 'Cool, Calm and Collective' off my newest album which has the Hammerheads, the family that star's in the movie, in it," Sticky, who serves as the movie's director and writer, as well as the movie's hero, said. "They lure my Muck Sticky character and kidnap me. The movie kind of evolved from it."
The movie is a classic hero tale about a man in love, rescuing his damsel in distress, completed with an incest-suspected family and an array of absurd obstacles.
"It's about a family called the Hammerheads that live on the outskirts of town-they're kind of a 'bad news family,'" Sticky said. "Nobody really likes them because they're bullies and they take what they want, including my character in the movie's girlfriend. My character decides to head out to rescue her; it follows the hero's journey."
With more movies in mind for the future and another CD on the way, Muck Sticky is keeping himself busy producing more work than ever before, continuing to make music that makes people laugh as well as dance and furthering his independent film career.
"My ultimate goal is to continue to be able to hear from people that have rough times in life, that when they're having a bad day they can put on my CD, and it makes them smile and feel better until they're back to their right state of mind; their true self," Sticky said.
"That's what life is, we're all going to have bad days and tough times," he said. "If what I can do and continue to do is help people get out of that bad mood, then I'm fulfilling my life's purpose."

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