What inspired you to become a Soul/R&B Musician/Hall of Fame Songwriter?
It stems from the most impactful man in my life, my father Phil. For those who have met him/heard him perform, it’s no surprise how much he’s influenced me. As his son, I grew up listening to one of the most soulful and tasteful singers in the history of the world ever (there’s absolutely no bias involved in that statement, haha!).
Some of the most influential situations I can remember weren’t when he was on stage though, it was when he and his buddies would sit around a living room with a couple acoustic guitars and trade songs, singing harmonies with each other, and just being in the music with so much effortless comfort and joy. It really made me fall in love with and understand the true power of music. He and my mom introduced me to so much incredible soul/funk music as well as so muchc beautiful songwriter/folk music too. At the same time, my sister was showering me with all of the 90’s hip hop and R&B I could get my hands on, which really grew out of the soul/funk movement. It became a really cool connection for my father and I too, as I would turn him onto folks like D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, and the neo-soul and soul/hip-hop movement, and he would turn me onto the folks they were sampling or inspired by. As I started to develop my own desire to make music, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by friends that were equally, if not more, passionate and experienced. I didn’t really start making music until I was 16 or 17, but once I did I serendipitously reconnected with my childhood best friends, Dan Boyden and Pete Genova (us three started Model Airplane a couple years later). Our high school/early adult parties were always surrounded and driven by music (I mean… they still are), and alongside our close friends Billy Libby, the Cambiata boys, and the community of incredibly talented and encouraging musicians that would circle through, it was first-class, one-way ticket to creativity. Billy was the first friend who’s songwriting truly blew me away and he quickly became one of my favorite songwriters ever (still is). As I expanded my community, hearing the limitless creativity of friends like Dave Gutter, Nigel Hall, Tony McNaboe, and Chris Moulton showed me that anyone had the potential of expressing themselves in ways that would and could resonate with people. This was the groundwork, and once I caught the bug, it’s been a nonstop affliction, ha! I’ve been really blessed to be surrounded by amazingly imaginative and passionate friends ever since, no matter where I’ve lived, so the desire to create has only grown, matured, and will continue to for as long as I can make noise.
What do you like to do outside of music that contributes to your innate musicality?
I thrive on and strive for experience, knowledge, and reflection. I love conversation, adventure, trying new things, and putting myself in situations conducive to growth. I have been blessed to be surrounded by outgoing, open-minded, passionate, empathetic friends and family who share my love of the human condition. I can’t get enough of the path toward understanding the human condition within such a crazy and ever-changing world. On the other side, I love secluded studying of the same things. I love exploring the lineage of music, musicians, and the cultural impacts of the writing and reaction to the music, as well as reading, learning new skills, and pushing myself to be more of an independent, well-rounded human. Without the desire to grow as a person, you can’t grow as a musician/songwriter. I’m learning to meditate, increasing my exercise, and finding routines that allow me to stay in touch with myself and create a better body/mind/spirit relationship, as well as learning new ways to be creative in areas outside of music – cooking, building, problem-solving, etc. It’s always a process, and that’s really exciting to me because it means that there’s no limit to what we can do or achieve.
What are one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your journey as a musician?
This is not an easy lifestyle, and you sure don’t get into it for comfort, stability, or routine. But, in a sense, that’s what makes it even more rewarding. There are so many small achievements that, as long as you keep in touch with yourself and stay realistically positive along your journey, those achievements can encourage the desire to keep you constantly reaching for your ever-growing potential. When you’re not in your best state of mind, however, it can be spiritually crushing. I think that’s where the biggest challenge comes in. When you’re doing something so vulnerable and self-exposing, it’s easy to feel not only like a failure when it’s not working, but like an imposter when it is working. It’s been interesting to start arriving into a place where my music is being heard by more people, when I see articles written about me, and starting to create relationships with musicians that have inspired me for years. It’s difficult not to ask myself, “why do they even want me here?” or tell myself “I don’t belong here with these people, I’m not on their level” when I’m not feeling confident or the best version of myself. It’s been really important to check in with myself about that, and analyze what parts of myself allow me to sink into that state of being. I guess one lesson that I’ve learned stems from the reaction to that challenge. I’ve been able to slowly get myself to a point where I take that questioning and use it as inspiration to keep growing. To use my ears and my intuition to grow that much more. To take advantage of the opportunity to be around these incredible musicians/people and absorb the genius that I see in them. To ask questions about their process, listen to the way they approach their own music/lives, and do my best to take those ideas/concepts/techniques and see how they apply to my own journey and voice. No matter what we do, no matter who we are, we are a superbly screwed up and stew of our influences and experiences. There’s no use in questioning why I’m where I am… I am where I am, so what am I going to do about it, so it’s really about asking myself, how can I learn the most from my present in order to best shape my future?
What are your top two LD barefoot, on-stage moments?
Best Barefoot On-Stage Moment: My favorite barefoot on-stage moment would have to be the first time I played at Red Rocks in July 2016 – one of the most legendary outdoor venues in the country, if not the world, built in the side of the mountains in Colorado that holds 10,000 people. Not only was it my first time ever seeing the venue, but it was also my first time playing for my new band (The Motet)’s hometown fans. It was a sold out show and may have been the most momentous show of my life. It flew by in an instant, but I will always remember the moment I came out, introduced myself to my new fan family, and was able to experience something so rare and inspiring.
Worst Barefoot On-Stage Moment: This came maybe a month before the aforementioned Red Rocks show at an amazing festival called SummerCamp in Illinois. At this point, this was the largest crowd I had ever played to, around 13,000 or so. We had a crazy weekend already, traveling to 4 different states in 3 days with very little, if any, sleep along the way. We were also playing right before George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. We had our usual 30-minute festival changeover to get the band before us off, and us on and sound-checked, and we had 4 cameras ready to record our first couple songs for some high quality live-show media for the band. We had to hurry because we were running a few minutes behind, so I ran backstage, kicked my shoes off and came back out to get things started. As I hustled to the front, spread my arms wide, and welcomed the seemingly never-ending crowd with 2 giant cameras right in front of me, a fire shot through my entire body from the ground up. It turns out, a black stage absorbs the scalding summer sun quite well, and on this 95 degree day when the sun was setting directly on the stage, that stage decided to share all of that heat with the soles of my bare feet. Needless to say, my feet have never moved so quickly, and never hurt so much. There were blistered burns and plenty of painful traveling experiences in the following days, but the show went really well despite it, and I even got summoned by George Clinton himself so he could express how much he dug our set.
If you could write one song for any brand, what brand would you choose?
American Roots. My not-by-blood brother and sister, Ben Waxman and Whitney Reynolds, are working nonstop to create a fully American-made, American-sourced, American-worked line of clothing. They have created programs and possibilities to give members of the Maine community a chance the thrive and support themselves, their families, and their communities. It’s a company built atop a foundation of love and desire for good, and I will support them and spread the word about them and their message to any and all. Our country’s business owners could learn so much from them.
What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?
Intelligence is Intuitive,
You needn’t learn to love,
Unless you’ve been taught
to fear and hate.
-Saul Williams, poet
In one word, describe yourself:
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