Where you grew up and where you live now.
I grew up in Hesperia, CA, but was born in West Covina. So I’m kind of a native of Angeleno, sort of, basically East Side. Growing up, I just knew, “This is not the place for me to grow up. This is not the place for me to do what I’m supposed to do, or what I wanted to do”, which had to to be a creative force in the industry. I just got back to LA and went to school at the Art Institute of California. I ran with my skills, which were always creative on one level or another. This allowed me to flourish in the city.
Your first musical memory.
My muses have always been Without a doubt, green day, Alanis Morissette. I was raised in the ska grunge punk era. It really influenced my fashion and influenced my outlook on life. I’ve always been kind of a limitless person. My ambition came from the idea that you never know until you have tried. I’ve always been a bit fearless in that aspect. Win or fail, I always knew. If you never try, you automatically lose.
Your first concert and what you remember.
Without a doubt, and it was in someone’s backyard. I’m obsessed with Gwen Stefani. She was sort of my fashion muse. And then being able to see that transition and that growth, and how you can be a bit of everything and still be yourself, that was a big influence for me. I just remember being blown away by his energy on stage. It’s funny in the LGBTQ community, especially gay men, we all have this female muse for some reason. Usually people choose Cher or Britney or whoever. And I’m the oddball with Gwen Stefani, but I’m happy to be the outlier. Because I always felt like I never fit in anyway. So that definitely influenced who I am and how I approach the world. I think it also allows me to get along with everyone.
Your favorite band/musician and what you like about them.
Gwen Stefani and Without a doubt would definitely be my favorite. But I also loved house music in the 90s. I never said “Oh my God, I have to go see these DJs” because I couldn’t get into the clubs. I was a kid and it was easier to get into the shows because it’s for all ages. But as soon as I started clubbing and exploring what LA had to offer, I immediately became obsessed with the nightlife culture of DJs and people like Felix da Housecat, Bad Boy Bill and people from that era like Tiesto. I was all about it. Those artists are influences that I look to now because in music production, there’s so much you can do with electro. You can hear something from someone, like a Gwen Stefani, and recreate it, and give it a totally different take and new life to a song by remixing it. I really like it because in a sense you’re recreating art that someone has already made and giving it new life.
How do you get your music these days.
I love SoundCloud because I think it’s really for that kind of creator. Sometimes I just go to Google and type in “remix for x”. I follow a lot of people there. I listen to their musical selection, what they listen to, what they have reposted, and it’s great to find these gems. I also do a lot of research on my favorite great artists. There are a few websites that show what songs are playing in their playlists. I feel like it’s a little more organized that way, because what I’m trying not to do is go to Beatport Top 10 and download whatever everyone else has in the crate. I want the weird, obscure stuff that you know is going to blow somebody up. A lot of DJs that we were able to bring in our pack, they will also send me very interesting things. I have a pretty good library of stuff because of that, research and kinship with other DJs.
Your favorite place to see a concert.
I like hollywood bowl, but I don’t like going there because it’s getting so crazy. I like outdoor sites probably the best.
Your favorite music video.
I love the whole music video from the early 90s. I feel like the artists were creating art in the music video as well. I don’t watch music videos anymore because they’re too basic, but I loved the Radiohead videos. Even the bands I talked about, I remember Alanis Morissette “Ironic” video, it was so simple, but it was so effective. I loved the personality game in this video. He told an interesting story. I didn’t like the whole idea of “The video killed the radio star” but somehow because in my head I was always imagining something different for the songs, and then if I saw it and it didn’t live up to the expectation, then I would think, “Oh my God , it just killed the song for me.” I think thinking of Björk and Radiohead music videos, that late 90s/2000s video era was the best.
Your favorite music-focused TV show and/or podcast.
I don’t listen to podcasts too much. If I had to say something about TV, I love keeping music on HBO original programming, like the show hacks. They have such good musical direction. I’ll hear a song I forgot, or I’ll love a new jam I hear. If there’s anything to be said for TV, it’s the kind of music curation that happens on HBO Originals.
Looking at the new show Sex and the City, one of the reasons I didn’t care was not only because it was a bit forced, but also because of the lack of music. I went back to the original series and was like, “Oh, my God.” There was a lot more depth musically. The new show just didn’t have those moments where there was a quirky part. The music adds so much to what you’re trying to express as an actor. And given the right timing, it could really bring him home. I think that’s something we missed a lot, in addition to the main character’s voiceovers. Audio is so important. It was a bit bland for me due to the lack of musical production in the show.
There is a scene from hacks where John Smart sues her assistant for breach of contract, and she’s all happy to get in the car and say, “Oh, by the way, I’m suing you.” And then all of a sudden it goes to “The female dog is Back” by Elton John. They move away at sunset. The way it cuts is hilarious. It makes you sad for the person, but at the same time, you die of laughter for how successful they have been.
A recent project you are proud of.
Neighborhood evening for future lovers. I didn’t expect to sell in our first year. We were actually a little worried that we couldn’t make ends meet. Obviously we learned a lot from it, but in the end it exceeded our expectations and everyone loved it.
Someone else’s project you admired recently.
There is a producer called ladybug in New York, and they’re doing this festival called Lady Land. They literally started with an underground type event, and they turned it into a monthly festival, which is pretty awesome. It took them a minute, but they did it. They had people like Christina Aguilera big title. It’s one of those all-inclusive style events and I think that’s something they should be very proud of. It’s aspirational for us to continue on the trajectory that we’re going to be able to do this kind of event.
How musicians should approach working with brands.
I think because a lot of artists don’t have business acumen, they usually miss out. One of the things I highly recommend people do is that when reaching out to people, just have an EPK that has all the touchpoints on yourself in one place. When I get submissions from artists, some people don’t even know what their rate is. Knowing your worth is usually a boon to you. Because if you approach somebody with a bunch of scattered ideas, and you’re like, “Oh, well, I’m going to work for 100 bucks,” or, you know, people are just going to grab your foot on the instead of taking your hands. It’s one of those things where if you don’t know who you are, then you don’t know what you stand for. Anyone can take advantage of you. This is something I think people should just walk into a situation knowing their worth. Know what they bring to the table. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people just don’t have that. I think that just comes with the territory of the artist, doesn’t it? Because most artists are driven by the fact that they just want to create and they just want to be artistic. The commercial part is sometimes absent. Being able to compose that is something I would recommend people do.
How brands should approach working with musicians.
I feel like because a lot of brands aren’t connected to the community, they end up looking for who has the most followers. One of the things I would say for brands is, do you have community managers? Or people who are more into the social media sphere? To connect with artists in a more authentic way. It’s hard to say “Create an ambassador position”, but really it’s just a matter of not talking to the same people and mixing up the purse. That’s what I’ve noticed brands tend to do, they find the three people they like, and they stay there because that’s their comfort zone. I think it’s a more complicated situation, because it depends on the activation, right?
If you’re a brand and you need artists to bring people in, then obviously you’re going to go for artists with the biggest followers. Going for someone who doesn’t necessarily have that, and building like we do, can help create someone who can bring pleasure. Bring in those outsiders so you can fill in the gaps. I think that’s what makes us successful, I’d love to see more brands reach out to local communities and underserved communities.
What music can do that nothing else can.
I think music is universal. Mathematics and music are for me the two universal languages that can bring people together. Two plus two will always make four, and sad music and happy music will always make you feel those comfort zones. Music is able to bring people together and has this universal quality. You may hear something in a different language without understanding what it is saying. But because of the tone of the music, it will make you feel the feelings the artist intended.
I think that’s the beauty of it. I hate math, by the way, but that’s the beauty, it’s the same in all languages. You will arrive at the same point.
What you would be doing if you weren’t in the music business.
If it’s not music production, it would definitely be on the graphic/creative side of things, or even fashion. I worked in the fashion industry for a minute, and I love clothes, I love style. I like it all. For me, everything goes together, so it’s easy to hesitate between all these types of careers.