Since I moved back to Portland in 2011 from college, I’ve learned a lot about art, and what it means to be an artist.
I have been really hurt to see so much of the creative spirit of Portland shift, due to high costs of living, and many other hardhships creatives have had to endure since Portland became an influx hotspot for hip dwellers of all areas around the country. But in every pain comes with some silver lining.
Since back, I’ve befriended some killer groups, largely due in part to some key players. First off, I learned that if you want to be a musician for a living, you absolutely have to embrace it as an entrepreneurial endeavor to a point, or it’ll never be more than a hobby. As I was learning this I started The Heavy Hustle, and entered pseudoboss, a rock and roll band I was a fan of since 2008 then had a chance to drum in around 2012 or so, and was so stoked. Being in that band, and being a part of it ending has taught me that even the best, most promising of things come to an end unfortunately, and to try to have as much fun with it as possible while you have it, don’t take it for granted.
Through pseudoboss I met Jason Fellman, of J-Fell Presents, and he showed me that you can actually make a living off of music if you approach it like a businessman, and also that game theory and principles of poker funny enough are great lessons on how to approach your business as an artist. The biggest lesson from him I’ve learned is if you’ve got a good hand, play it for all it’s worth, and minimize your losses elsewhere.
From Jason and my old friend Vincent from college, I met the guys in ADDverse Effects (Vince is their guitar player), as we all shared a bill and gigged at Mogo Music Festival together. The ADDverse guys are incredible. In particular Boyd, their drummer. Being a drummer, a rapper (in reality a full blown multi-instrumentalist), and in my eyes a true artist, he was never afraid to do what the song needed. As I listened to the group I was always amazed at the fearless character voices Boyd would put into his songs. At first I thought it was a bit silly but enjoyable, but then I realized it was true art, just shamelessly, unapologetically putting yourself out there.
Finally Skull Diver showed me that you can embrace all the weirdness you want, and just throw it out there. I first met Mandy at a David Bowie tribute show that The Heavy Hustle and her friends band The Breaking were all playing at. It was put on shortly after David Bowie had passed, while at the show she explained to me that she was in a doom-glam group. At first I was like…. the hell is doom-glam? After seeing them play live, I instantly felt they most accurately represented exactly what I would have imagined doom-glam to be, and in addition to that, they have the most amazing outfits, comically mentioned as the ‘disco-fish’ outfits. Mandy and her sister Ally are fearless to express themselves through their look and their outfits. Years later they had an event called the Sparkle Bitch Ball, at which the MC, Buckmaster, was so thankful to work with them because they gave him an opportunity to really be as weird as he always wanted to, without judgement. Hearing him speak so passionately and sincerely about the bands encouragement really meant a lot to me, also put into words what I really appreciated about them as well.
It’s honestly completely refreshing to have met people who have taught me so much, without even really trying, just from them being themselves.
This week Boyd passed away from a biking accident, and it got me thinking about the influence and motivation he had on me as a fellow drummer, performer, and musician, and it led me to realize that he and others have really taught me a lot. Rest in peace my man, you will be dearly missed by our friends in Portland and back home in Oaklahoma. Thank you for the lesson you gave me, for the short time I was lucky enough to know you.
In the end, perform how you want, look the way you want, and when the going is good, take it for all it’s worth, unapologetically!