The band Mental Patients perform at Tone Vendor Record Fair

The Mental PatientsBy Ariel Thomas |

If you attended Tone Vendor’s Record Fair at the St. Augustine Ampitheatre, you might have caught The Mental Patients, a hip-hop group that consists of five members: Devan Simmons, Tyler Howe, Baal Juda, Cosmic Rae and Cali Jay.

“I joined the group recently,” Simmons, 20, says while sitting in the group’s makeshift recording studio.

He ran into Howe and Juda one night, and after mentioning he created music, Howe and Juda were curious to see what he was made of. Now, many of the members list Simmons as one of as their key inspiration due to his passion for the art of rap.

“It’s everything,” Simmons said. “It’s an emotion, it’s an entity. You listen to music you relate to. Nowadays, I feel like people don’t listen to what’s said. And that’s something that I want to do with my music. I want to have fun. You should always have fun, have a good time with what you’re doing.”

The group writes, records and edits all of their music at Juda and Jay’s apartment complex on west King Street. The back-room studio features a desk stacked with two computer monitors, and a closet that holds a mic, music stand and a string of lights that frames the wall. The lights serve as an aid, so that when recording, the artist can see into the audio booth.

Howe, another artist in the group of individuals, says his purpose for making music has a lot to do with his energy.

“Devan and I work on editing a lot of the music,” Howe, 21, said.

“It’s the art itself. It’s all just the way it makes my energy feel. I always like to write and get into the booth, just for that feeling,” he said.

Simmons said making music is also about the effort.

“You can’t just step on the stage and expect people to follow you,” he said. He believes the music should have a purpose. “What are you doing this for? What do you stand for? What do you believe in?”

Both Simmons and Howe have various artists they pull influence from. Howe favors artist Ab-Soul, while Simmons draws inspiration from Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino, and looks towards bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

“I listen to a lot of the new underground people, like Mac Miller and Action Bronson,” Howe says.

In the future, the Mental Patients plan on setting up more tour dates and releasing new music.

As Simmons says, “Music is everything.”

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