The Mind and Music of Me
After writing my recent post, which talks about Houston and its generous and supportive music community, it was suggested to me that I should write a follow-up entry that discusses why I chose to move to LA. I’ll admit, I sang Houston’s praises so highly that it probably is necessary to explain my reasoning for leaving all of that behind. The other day on my morning hike in perfect 70 degree weather (Hint: there’s reason number one), I came up with what I think are the four big factors that lured me to La La Land. They are as follows:
1. The Window
Sorry guys, that picture was just too funny not to use. Now, let me explain: Houston has been a wonderful, supportive, community for me over the last few years, allowing me to pursue my music, record a new album, and perform constantly throughout the city. In fact, Houston is SO wonderful and supportive, that I think it becomes easy for some artists to forget that there is a great big world out there that, let’s face it, might not be as kind and receptive as the folk are down south. To use a moderately cheesy analogy, Houston started to become, for me, like a really really comfortable room on a rainy day. The likes of which grow harder and harder to leave the longer you remain in them. Do you know what I mean? Those annoyingly lazy days where no matter how badly you need to go to the store and grab that loaf of bread, you just can’t seem to get yourself out of that comfy room, which has drawn you in and basically holds you hostage. Houston had become this to me when it came to my music. It’s so comfortable here – I make great money and people like me and it’s so nasty out there. I think I’ll just stay here.
Well, fortunately, before this attitude sunk in enough to completely consume me, someone came, unannounced, and built a window in this “room” of mine. An old music industry connection of mine called me up one day (old as in from many years ago, not old as in an elderly person…just to clarify). Anyway, he had an opportunity for me to be a songwriter and band member for a new artist who is based out of Los Angeles. I, of course, accepted this invitation, and before I knew it, I was being jetted out to the west coast so often that I could barely keep my cities straight. It was so refreshing to be back in an entertainment-oriented city. To be around people, LOTS of people, who were doing music for a living (or at least attempting to!). To feel inspired by the energy of a city where the odds of success are stacked against you, but that’s half the fun. Things moved in LA. Things were happening. Or at least maybe they were. And it didn’t really matter if they were or not. It was about the energy, the excitement, the possibilities. The things that lie outside our comfort zone (our comfy room) are the things truly worth pursuing. So, in essence, these trips out to Cali were like a window that someone put in my safe, cozy, room in Houston. A reminder that there is more out there. An opportunity to glance outside. These multiple trips out to LA gave me a chance to look out that window often, and to see what might be out there for me. And by moving here, I am boldly choosing to leave that comfy room in Houston, go outside, and see what’s waiting for me on the other side of the glass.
2. To Attend The Funeral.
Have you heard this as much as I have? “The music industry is dead! The music industry is dead!” It’s like, okay people, I get it. But it’s not like God has turned down the big volume knob in the sky and the world has music no more, Amen. The music industry itself may be dying or already dead, but I bet there are some damn talented, connected, and influential people who are hanging around at the funeral. And I want to be there.
Just because the infrastructure of the industry has evolved (which is probably just a nice way of saying collapsed) doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable to meet and connect with people who at one point worked in the industry while it was thriving. A city like Los Angeles is still full of valuable connections to be made, even if “the industry” itself isn’t in its heyday. In fact, these former record company men and women (not to mention talented songwriters, musicians, producers, tv/film executives, music supervisors, etc.) may very well be the front runners in developing new ideas that pave the way for the future of the music business. And I can say one thing with near certainty – my chances of running into any of these people in Houston are slim to none.
YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media are incredible tools for independent artists, and can no doubt be used from any bedroom, basement, or living room on Earth to build an impressive fan base and a loyal following. But somehow, for me at least, relying on that alone would be selling myself short in some way. Rather than expecting my online presence to be the driving force behind my forward-moving career, I’d like my forward-moving career to be the driving force behind my growing online presence. And following the theory that gathering fans and followers via social media can be accomplished from any geographic location, why not set up shop in a city like Los Angeles, where the growth opportunities don’t shut down with the computer. I think it’s an easy trap to simply release videos on YouTube and post on Facebook and Twitter with career updates. Just because it’s out there doesn’t mean that people care, or even see it. Our minds imagine that people are reading, watching, and listening with great interest, when in fact we don’t really know (this blog post included!) I feel like it’s important to be right in the action, where things happen, to give myself the best shot at this whole music thing. I mean, come on – songs continue to be placed in major motion pictures, tv shows, and commercials, gaining major recognition for the artist. And it doesn’t just happen out of thin air – it is someone, somewhere’s job to make that happen. And in a city like LA, I have a much higher chance of meeting that “someone” than in a city, like Houston, where hardly anyone is working daily in the industry.
3. I’m in a band, man.
There are many reasons why I love “doing” music. I love performing. I love writing. And I love connecting with people. In Houston, I feel like I’ve accomplished quite a bit as a performer, however my growth has admittedly become stagnant over the last couple of years. No offense, but there’s only so many times a person can sing Spice Girls before it starts to become a tad bit depressing, no matter how big the tip!! My trips to LA, before my actual move, allowed me to use my talent in a variety of different ways that truly opened me up creatively. It reminded me of the many aspects of music that I love – the writing (of course), the collaboration, being in the studio, etc. This was such an energizing feeling that I knew it couldn’t be ignored. Collaboration and musical growth are so important, and it just so happens that a good friend of mine, Adrian Bourgeois, was also a part of all these LA trips to write for and perform alongside this artist. Adrian and I have long talked about forming a band of some sort, but have always lived on opposite sides of the country. His desire to move to LA certainly encouraged my decision to move, as I knew that we would, at long last, be able to collaborate and potentially form a band. I love performing as a solo singer/songwriter, and have no intention of dropping my identity as an artist in my own right. However, the thought of collaborating and trying something new, under the guise of a band, is extremely appealing and if nothing else, is a ton of fun! Trying new things and being open to growing musically and creatively is so important. This move gives me the best shot I’ve got at exploring my musical options, and writing nothing off as a possibility. (‘Like’ our band, See How They Run, on Facebook, if you feel so inclined).
4. Airplanes and Freeways. Oh, and iPhones.
It’s tough to leave a place behind, especially when that place is your home. Family and friends can never be replaced, and meeting new people in a city like LA isn’t always the easiest task. However, I know that seeing familiar faces is only a plane flight away. Or a VERY LONG, BORING DRIVE away. Either way, no decision is so drastic that it can’t be undone (well, I can think of a few exceptions, but that’s a totally different and extremely odd topic that I won’t get into). I can always call or return home when I need an extra boost of encouragement from the people who love me. Simple as that.
All told, this is the time in my life to take a big risk, to follow my gut, to just be completely confident in my decision to move and trust myself enough to know that it’s the right thing for me. You only life once (insert annoying YOLO reference here). I do stand behind my last post, as Houston has been an incredibly supportive music city for me, in terms of my career. But, like any career, eventually it’s nice to get promoted. And while I’m certainly not receiving a raise (THAT’ll be the day), moving to LA is a way in which I’m attempting to promote myself, hoping that the risk will pay off in the end. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to start packing, as I leave in a few hours for some shows in Houston. 🙂