“Dig it While it’s Happening”
J: Welcome to the first Procreative Podcast live, ever, at UMS 2019. My name is J Marz. I’m the host of Procreative, a parenting podcast based in Denver. And I just want to quickly thank Denver Arts and Venues for their Imagine 2020 grant that is funding this project, this first live podcast for Procreative. I’m just going to go ahead and introduce my guests today. I’m joined by Greta Cornett of the Bohemian Foundation; Kate Perdoni of Spirettes and Rocky Mountain PBS; Eric Halborg of Dragondeer; and Joshua Trinidad with a variety of bands including his own Joshua Trinidad Trio. So today we’re here to talk about what it’s like to be an artist, a musician, and also to have children. I’m going to let you guys introduce yourselves, and what your parenting situation is, and see where we go from there.
Greta: My name is Greta Cornett and I am a trumpet player in a couple local bands up in Fort Collins. I met my husband through the music scene, so he’s also a musician. We have two kids — we have a six year old and a two year old — so we’re currently going through the potty training phase. It’s a little challenging.
Kate: I’m Kate Perdoni. I play in a rock band, Spirettes, and an ambient duo, LiteLvL. I’m a television producer with Rocky Mountain PBS. I have an eight-year-old, Lio, he’s right over there, and we live in Colorado Springs. Lio’s dad and I split up when he was about four, so I’m a single mom.
Eric: I’m Eric Halbord from Dragondeer. I have a son, Jude, that’s ten, playing pinball around the corner right now. And Eve is eight. We live in Denver.
Joshua: I’m Joshua Trinidad, and I have two kids. One is two, about to be three. And I have an eleven year old son whose name is Joey. My daughter is taking a nap right now! She was just taken to my parent’s house for the day.
J: Cool, well thank you guys all for being here. So I want to talk first about what you’re working on, and how your creative process has evolved. You know, when you don’t have kids, time kind of expands infinitely out, except for work or whatever you have. I personally have to kind of fit any time to write music or mix or do whatever, into an hour block or whatever it is. And in a lot of ways I kind of resisted that at first, but personally now find it very helpful. So yeah, I’d like to hear how your creative processes changed.
Eric: I always say that I’m ten years sleep deprived, since Jude came. And I’ve found that I can sort of sleep in the gaps. I’m usually a night owl, but then I also have to wake up at 7 a.m. or whatever it happens to be to get the kids going. So I’m functioning, not all the time, but a lot of times, on like four hours’ sleep. Or I’ll be like, Oops, I didn’t sleep tonight… and then I will, you know, maybe get them off to school, and then be sleeping in the gaps. Sort of similar to the creative times, where it’s just like, you fit it in wherever you can. I’m like playing harmonica in the car, or I have this little travel electric guitar that I have with me all the time, and it’s like, drop them off at karate, and I’m sitting in the car with the AC on running scales or whatever. So it’s just like, unorthodox times to be creating. And fitting it in. And it seems to work.
Kate: Yeah, I can attest to the unorthodox times to create. When Lio was a baby, his dad and I were recording our first album, and we could only pretty much record when he was sleeping. Sometimes that would be for five minutes, sometimes five hours. And we would cram as much as we possibly could into those minutes, and every minute was precious. And so now that Lio is older and can kind of fend for himself, I think I’m like one of the most efficient people on earth, as all parents probably are. My productivity and the quickness and swiftness with which I get things done at this point in my life, regardless of distraction, are like off the charts. So I can thank Lio for making me more bionic.
J: He has headphones on, he can’t hear you.
Joshua: Yeah, I would piggy back off of that. I think, you know the moment I had kids, I realized that my creative time obviously was less, but each minute mattered so much more. In the past I could just kind of be loosey goosey with my time, and rehearsals could be unproductive. It could turn into like a night of drinking, or whatever. But now that I have a family, when I go to rehearsal it’s like, this one hour means so much, and this is all I’ve got, so we’ve got to make it count. Same with practicing at home. With my bands, I try to schedule it when my kids are napping or at some kind of function so that when we have time to be as a family, I’m there. So I think that that’s most important. And then with practicing, it’s actually my wife. She’s like 80 percent of the success of me being able to do what I do. She’s a lawyer, and I’m also an assistant principal at a school, so we’re super busy. And she just finished law school, and I finished my doctorate. You know, time is so important. I would really say that every minute that we have has to be valuable. And so I feel like I’ve been more productive because of having kids, to be quite honest. It’s been more focused.
Greta: I can attest to everything y’all have said. Definitely once we had kids, we became really organized, especially for musicians, because with both of us being musicians, it was like, okay, what what days are we practicing, what times are we doing things? And I also sometimes think about it in a way like, I get in these manic modes, especially, you know, I do FoCoMx up in Fort Collins, and that’s a manic mode all of its own. But I will think back on times where I’ll be running around, and then either my mom or somebody would pass one of my kids off to me, and I’d be like, breastfeeding them in the car before I played a set because I’d be like, this is the only chance I get to do this. Yeah, it definitely makes you a little more crazy. I’m not sure about what your situations are with your band mates, but one thing that’s been really helpful for me too is that most of the bands I play in, we all have kids, and so it makes it really cool. Like we can bring them to practice at this stage, with a six-year-old and a two-year-old, and they can kind of all play together. And some of my band mates’ spouses or significant others will hang out watch them. It makes it more like a family-type thing.
Kate: Yeah. No one else in Spirettes has kids, but Lio gets to come to band practice every Sunday and hang out with four super badass women who are like his aunts. So having that support system as my band is pretty incredible. And Lio gets to learn about women, from women. It’s a super positive example.
Eric: Yeah I always think of two images of musicians with children. One being, there’s like a classic picture of Bob Marley playing acoustic with maybe Ziggy on his shoulders. And then there’s like a tour bus photo from the Allman Brothers where it’s like, there’s just kids everywhere. Maybe when you were younger, you look at that photo like, is the music not happening? Am I just like, too square to appreciate this? Can you even do this? Can you swing it? And when I think of those type of images, like you were saying, it does feel like family. It’s home. My bandmates and my kids. It brings it down to earth, and it’s not some sort of cliche rock and roll thing. It’s family, like, this is what we do. We’re reproducing and we’re still creating.
J: Yeah, I think that’s something that I had to work at, and something that kind of came out as soon as I recorded the first episode of Procreative, with Erin Roberts of Porlolo. I actually ended up calling it “Two Separate Worlds,” because as soon as she said that, I was like, oh my god, I’m not the only person who sees it like that. It kind of feels like you’ve got your band friends, your music scene friends, people that you see, you know, walking around UMS, and then you come home and you’ve got like this family situation, and they don’t necessarily feel like they always go together. Unless you kind of work at that, and have the right people in your life who you see you in these dual roles, and don’t just see you like somebody who you drink with or party with, or like a rock god. That you also have this vulnerable side that cares about this little human. I kind of would be curious to hear how you guys feel, whether those family and kind of music scene have always blended together, or whether you’ve had to work at that.
Greta: I know for me, ours just kind of happened that way. When I first had my my oldest, who’s six now, we didn’t really know any other way. So we would bring our kids to everything. Her first concert was when she was two weeks old, and her dad played in Fierce Bad Rabbit at the time, and they just released an album, and so we brought her and she had her headphones on. Not that we meant for it to happen, but we kind of sprung this like headphone-kid thing up in Fort Collins. We would start seeing more people bring their kids to the concerts with their headphones. We’ve always just kind of incorporated them, only because we didn’t really know what else to do. It was mostly out of necessity, like either they come, or we don’t get to do this. So they would come with us for everything. And luckily we live in a community that was super accepting of that. And now, like you’re saying too, it’s like a separate world. Because this year my oldest went to kindergarten, and so now it’s like, PTA meetings, and all these things that are super over my head. And I’m like, wow, maybe I’m doing this motherhood thing completely wrong! Like when I see these other moms that are just like, you know, super deep in a different kind of organization. It’s, I guess, mind opening.
Kate: Similarly, Lio started touring when he was… I think the first time we went on a little run he was about a month old. When he was five and a half months old, his dad and I did a three-month tour out of a motor home with him. So, similar. We knew we weren’t going to stop making music, that’s our passion. At first when we became pregnant we thought, we’re going to have to get a mortgage and stay here in this town, and we’re not going to be able to… continue. And then, over time, we kind of, thawed out almost, and recognized that we could incorporate Lio into our lives instead of stopping everything and becoming different people. And like, who are these other people that we thought we were going to be? So yeah, he grew up on the road. By the time he was two and a half he’d spent something like half of his life on tour or traveling in some form. And it was really hard at first because we weren’t in one place, in one community, with people to support us and love us, who got what we were doing. We were traveling around the country in a motor home with a baby with people who looked at us like we were fucking crazy. And our families, too, you know, they thought we were crazy. Adventure is a lot sexier in hindsight. When it was happening, everybody thought we were nuts. But now everyone thinks it’s like, the coolest. “Wow, Lio got to grow up on the road!” And. There wasn’t always a lot of moral support at that time.
Eric: I think there’s something that the kids get from sort of being on the run. And changing situations, and not having, you know, maybe the same crib, or the same bed, or to know where your socks are. I think there’s like an adaptability that that is in both of my kids because we brought them all over the place. Not just in rock and roll, but, you know, road tripping. And you know, here’s a new bed, and we’re setting up your crib next to this bed, and you’ve never been in this state. So they seem like they roll with the punches because of that. So I always found that to be a benefit, from being a bit of a gypsy.
Kate: Totally, totally.
Joshua: Yeah for me, I actually grew up around musicians. And specifically, in my family, there was a band here in town years ago called Love 45, and my cousin Paul was in that band. And so when I was a young kid, I saw him grow up being this rock star. He was like in a hair band when I was little. And then I saw him as a parent as I was growing up, and I was like, Oh, so you could be a musician and still have a family! And so I grew up with that. And he would always like sneak me into shows. And I saw that things were possible. So when I got older I said, well, I watched my cousin do this, like it’s totally possible. You know I’m pretty grateful to be to have somebody like that my life, to show me that there is a template you can follow.
J: Yeah, that’s super important, because I definitely didn’t have that. In a lot of ways I actually felt like my parents — and in a way, they kind of idolized it — like, we gave up everything to be parents! And you know, I never saw anybody be an artist and be a parent, I actually didn’t have any artists in my family, let alone trying to do it with kids. It actually wasn’t until meeting people doing this show and doing these episodes that I kind of saw myself in other people, and that it was kind of a common experience. Did you guys have anybody in your life that showed you the way?
Eric: I certainly didn’t.
Kate: Not really. I remember one of my menotrs and college professors being a single mom, and babysitting for her, and also definitely meeting like, moms that I came to see as what I could potentially see myself as, as like a parent? And a creative. And just an artist. But, no, I think because there wasn’t a framework for it, that’s where like, the headstrong, kind of like stubborn piece comes in, where you kind of just have to be super perseverant, and say, I guess I’m just going to do this. There isn’t a road map for it. I just have to keep going.
Eric: Yeah and again, I think if you if you didn’t grow up having seen artists create, and having that in your family, like, I only knew it from pictures, you know. Or like that classic ’68 picture of the Grateful Dead where they’re under a tree, where there are kids all over the place, playing around it. That’s what I hoped for. And it does have those feels. We played at Arise Festival last year, and we went all three days with the kids, and there was like the kid zone at the Arise Festival! I mean it was huge. They had like five different stations, kids could come up and sing, and they had costume tents. It was this whole thing. And that really lent itself to being like, I can be out in this and there’s a ton of us that are that are bringing our children to experience these things! And we’re going to kid and family yoga, at the rock concert, and they’re backstage eating my celery and carrots. And it’s cool!
J: I think that it’s not immediately obvious that you can live like this, because the things that are good for family, on a surface level, aren’t good for art. I realized in a way, too, like, I had this expectation from the artists that I love, that they were kind of like mentally unstable, or kind of like a like a wildcard. Like, you never think about like, the vulnerable side of Jim Morrison.
Eric: Right. Or like, Lou Reed with a baby on his lap. You’d never see that.
J: We like our artists fucked up, in some ways. Maybe that was the biggest reason why I thought that I couldn’t continue down that path. Because I thought, to access songwriting, that I had to have this kind of like baseline level of mental illness. Which is like kind of fucked up to say out loud. I really uncovered that that was what was true for me, that that’s where creativity had to come from, was like unresolved issues, and like kind of working out your inner demons in front of people. And in a lot of ways, you do, because they’re never fully gone. But part of being a parent and really owning that role was learning to access creativity from different places. So it doesn’t mean that I’m writing about you know like Barney or something. It’s just digging deeper in yourself, and finding new places for new parts of your personality to come out.
Eric: And you can still be twisted and feel weird and express it and have kids!
Joshua: Yeah, I think technology is interesting, too, these days. We’re able to look at just so many artists’ lives because of social media. I think my preconceived thought was always that all my favorite artists were fucked up, you’re right. And then I start to see these these posts of like some of my favorite trumpeters like out, like at a theme park and shit, you know. And I think it actually exposes the vulnerability of us as artists and parents, and that this is truly who we can be. I think it takes away some of that mystery and that preconceived notion that you have to have like this, chip somewhere on your soul to be able to be so good. And for some of my favorite artists, some of them are actually some of the best parents, to be quite honest.
Eric: Compassionate. I think also, it’s exciting to include them in it, and see their little minds open up to it. And you know like I was saying before, you’re filling in where you can rehearse or practice, and you know I’m sitting in the car and I’m running like vocal exercise things, and I’m like. ‘Ready, everyone? Ooooooh’ And they’re like, “Oooooh.” It’s cool that they get like, excited for that kind of stuff. Or they know I’m not much of a movie watcher, and my wife and the two of them love it. And I’m in the room, and I have my little travel guitar, running Dragondeer songs behind them in headphones. And they’re like, that’s just what Dad does, he doesn’t have the focus to watch a movie apparently.
J: Yeah, I find myself really inspired by you guys and other people, because of like what you said about social media. It’s kind of like a more behind-the-curtain look at people then you used to have with Lou Reed and Jim Morrison, you know whatever artists had kids back in the day like Paul McCartney, Bowie. You know we didn’t really have that kind of window into their lives the way we do now. And I guess now you have the choice of like, how much do you want to share about that.
Eric: I keep my kids off all social media. I never have them on Facebook, I don’t have them on my public Instagram, certainly not the Dragondeer Instagram. I have a private Instagram for them. Right when I got Facebook was right when I had Jude, so like ten years ago, and I had some random guy hit me up who was a fan of my old band who was using Jude’s name to me. I was like, Who are you? That really creeped me out. And I stopped. For safety reasons, myself, I just don’t want to share that part. My friends who know them have a deep relationship with them, but then I’m pretty private about them being online. That just feels safe to me.
J: I want to move to what I think are the biggest challenges — of trying to make your main living, or at least some kind of living. Because you know we do have these financial responsibilities of school tuition, or you know whatever your kids are involved in. What’s been the trajectory for you as far as doubting your ability to make money and have kids and do art, and kind of where you landed now?
Joshua: For me, when I got out of school, music school, my professors didn’t tell me that I had a high probability of being evicted just doing music. Which I did, I got evicted like right out of college in my first apartment. Because I thought, you know, I could just make music, and get paid a living. And I found that out real quick. I remember my older sister was like, you should teach music. And I was like, I don’t know, I’m kind of a get up at 1 pm kind of guy. And she was like, you know, your friends aren’t up until 1, by then you’ll already be done with work. So you might as well do it. And I was like, yeah, good point. And so I went and I was like, I’m just going to do one year of teaching, and then I’m done. And I’m in my 15th now. And somehow I’ve been able to create a balance of living this kind of life of teaching in the academy, and still having the opportunity to tour and record, with honestly like again so, so much support from my wife. She’s been my rock to be able to be nimble. But I think we both kind of give each other that support. The nimble part is like, sometimes I have to call into work and say I’m sick, but really I’m going on tour with Flobots for a week or two! And then I come back and sometimes, yeah, it’s a little tricky. But you know, I’ve made it 15 years of being in and out of jobs. Something that nobody can take away from me is my education, and when shit gets tough, I can always do that, and recreate, and just kind of have a new plan and find myself again. But I definitely lived the evicted life before.
Greta: For me, I actually had kids much later in life, so I feel like with my touring and everything, we did that, you know, when we were in college. We toured all the time, like the 300-days-a-year type stuff. I was doing music full-time, but I had already started going more into the business side. What parenthood forced me to do was think about things like insurance, and stuff like that, that I didn’t actually think about before I had them. Like I when I had my first, I was working from home, which was awesome, because I had no idea how much daycare cost at that time. I was without insurance so it forced me to look at the job I was doing, which I loved so much, but I wasn’t able to get any kind of stability in that sense. And so it made me change jobs. So then I started working in Boulder, and I was commuting to Boulder, and then I got pregnant with my second kid, which made me also think, well I have insurance, but I’m commuting like three hours a day. Is the life I want to have with my kids? And so at that point, I took the job in Fort Collins. In hindsight, it’s a good trajectory for me personally, and I’m still able to play music with the bands, because they’re all still in Fort Collins as well, and you know, we do more like the weekend warrior stuff, mostly because we’re all older at this point and we do all have kids, but you know we’re still able to play music, and I feel really thankful for that.
Kate: I don’t think I ever thought the life that I have now was possible. Especially in the early days of parenthood, I think I thought I’d always be poor and struggling. And honestly, looking back, I have no idea how I even made it through my twenties. I just really was scraping by, as a musician, and was totally happy to quit college multiple times to go on tour or whatever, and live that life. And just like you guys are saying, it sounds like parenthood kind of organizes artist types to a certain degree — or, it can. It has the possibility and the capability of kind of like, snapping us into shape. I really don’t think I would have stopped my wild ways if I hadn’t had Lio, and so I owe a lot to that experience. When he was a baby, we just chose to be poor. We had part time jobs, and were always going back and forth, in addition to shows and touring, in jobs where you’re made to feel like a criminal if you ask for a day off. And you know, you have shifts, so you’ve got to find someone to cover your shift. And just the whole schema of that does not lend itself toward child care, child rearing, being a parent, or really doing anything! Not just being an artist, but like really any kind of anything. Luckily, when he started preschool, and then got into the school years, that really kind of dovetailed with my entry back into the work force. I did a lot of freelance work when he was young. And as he got older, I was able to take him to more things, and then he was at the age where I could take him to literally everything. Meetings, board meetings, you know, any events I had going on. He comes with me, and that is acceptable in our community, which is really cool. And now I feel really fortunate that I have a job that is super happy that I have a kiddo, and is very like, family oriented. And I’ve got like four and a half years of this job under my belt and I have been slowly able to like, rise in my career as he’s gotten older and been able to do more with me. So thanks, Lio.
J: I think you have a cool situation, now that I’ve seen it. The people in your work at PBS even more so think it’s so cool that you have a rock band and a kid. They think you’re the shit.
Kate: Aw. That’s the thing, too. Is that I didn’t think I could merge these worlds. I thought I had to keep weird, like, rock n’ roll Kate separate from PBS Kate. I didn’t think that would mix. I was like, hiding my tattoos when I first started working there, because I thought they were going to think that was wrong. And then eventually I started hosting this show. And I’ll never forget when the CEO of our company came up to me at an event, and she said, ‘Don’t let wardrobe cover up your tattoos! I want you to show your tattoos, I want you to show who you are, you’re an artist. And you’re hosting our arts show because you’re an artist. We chose you because of the life you lead.” Like, not in spite of it. And my mind was blown! It’s kind of hard to wrap your head around being accepted for those things.
J: Right, you think you have to hide them, keep your identity separate. Like, are they going to think I’m some weird fuck up because I’m in a rock band with a kid and tattoos?
Eric: So I worked in graphic design for years, and worked for a few different graphic design firms in Denver before I had kids. And I started going freelance maybe a year before Jude came, so I was kind of working mobile, and that was working out nicely with being in bands where I was you know, laptop in the back of the van, or just sort of working in the gaps. And I had some pretty consistent clients. And then Jude came, and it was like more part-time design. I was the main caregiver for Jude, and then I would go on tour. There would be help with my wife’s family or you know, babysitters. We would definitely have to be scheduling coverages quite a bit. But I was working as well, and it was it was challenging to have deadlines but then to have like, biological needs that had to be met. And it was again, working in the gaps. And then when Eve came two years later, I was still trying to do the band, watching them, plus freelance. It would be like, you know, five in the morning, sun coming up, and I’m laying out like an Airwalk catalog or whatever, like, shaking! And I was just like, I can’t keep doing this! And luckily, that sort of coincided with Dragondeer being a bit more financially viable. And yes, it’s a balancing act. And it is, still. You know, I’m not making a killing, by any means. But it’s sort of, if you stick your nose in and keep going, it seems like it makes it a little bit easier as it goes along.
J: Yeah, like Kate, you just said, parenting is the possibility of organizing artists. If you’re inclined. Probably not for everybody, but at least for us sitting here, that seems to be the case. At least for me, it forced me to kind of dig deeper in different skill sets that I had, because I was super narrowly focused on my rock band until Jette came. And that’s what I wanted to do, and it’s still what I want to do. But it really forced me to think how else I could make money and spend my time in music that wasn’t, you know, playing at Syntax or the Hi Dive or wherever else. So at least for me I started getting deeper into audio engineering. And it’s actually insane to think a few years ago, I really didn’t know that much about it, and I work at a college now in the studio. It just seems impossible. But a lot of that, definitely, in retrospect, is related to kind of listening to the universe, to the ways that I’m being pushed. I don’t really know what force it is, but I felt kind of like, guided in that direction. And I really, I don’t know. Like if I didn’t have her, would I have ever moved to Denver? Would I still be like really focused on the rock band thing?
Eric: Yeah, because it’s like, you can squeak it out. You know when you don’t have other mouths to feed, you can squeak it out. You know, you’re like, oh yeah, I’ll live in your closet for $200 a month, that sounds great! I don’t really care, if my bass fits in there, too! That sounds great! And then all of a sudden it was like, you can’t drive that 91 Toyota pickup truck anymore that you’ve had for 15 years or whatever. You’re going to need a back seat! You’re going to be a dad!
J: I remember two summers ago, it was so hot. And Jette was back in her car seat, and I didn’t have air conditioning, and my car’s a total shit show. I’m like, what am I doing? This seems unsafe…
Kate: Mine was an 85 Toyota Tercel station wagon that I’d driven into the dirt. The front wheel had fallen off and been repaired twice. Lio’s dad asked me to sell it before Lio was born.
Joshua: I think it’s interesting, just hearing our collective responses, that, you know, we’ve figured out a way to be nimble in our lives, to do what we love. And I want to pose a question to everybody here, like, what do you want to do with your music, still, as a parent? I think about how much my goal in music has changed from when I originally started. And I remember when I first got married, my wife said like, okay you’re going top put out this album, like, what’s the goal? And I couldn’t answer her. I was like, I don’t know, everybody else does that. They do their CD release party. I don’t know! And she was like, okay, maybe you should really think through that. And that really reshaped the way that I put my time into music. And so you know, I want to ask you guys that. When you are creating your bands or your music, like, what are you working towards? And how do you do that as a family? Because for me, you know, I give it up to people that can be on the road 200 days a year, but then you’re also sacrificing something on the other side. And I’ve always been told like, in order to go to that next level, you have to get out of the city, which is true. But is that important you guys? I’m interested to know.
Eric: We’re starting to tour more than I ever have being a musician. It does require me to be away from the kids. And, I don’t know. Maybe at some point it’s going to get to get to the point where I feel like it’s a drag on me growing with them. But at this point, I’m like, I’m up in their face all day long for some majority of the year. If I’m not there for three weeks, you can Facetime, and like, I think that’s okay that they get a little bit of a break. But to speak to your question, like, what does it mean? Things get weightier. Don’t they? Cos it’s gotta be soulful, can’t be just like, I’m getting my kicks and wearing my tight pants and getting wasted! Right? I mean, not to diss that awesomeness. But there’s definitely like, like we’re all saying, this moment better count, you better mean it, you better be full force. Your family is making sacrifices for you to be an artist. And, you know, if you don’t execute and grip it every time, then what are you doing? Because when we’re out on tour, there’s times where like, last year when we played three shows at the Telluride Blues Fest, right? On the first night we got there, we’d driven from Flagstaff, we drove straight from Flagstaff to Telluride, and the rest of the dudes are like, I’m going to cut loose right now! And it was like midnight, and we had like a show at 10 a.m. And I was like, I sing! I’m going to bed! I have to pick and choose. Where before I get like a thimble of tequila in me and it was over, you know? And now it’s like, okay, I’m going to have a beer with you boys, we’re going to talk, and then you guys will get weird and I’m going to go steam my voice and maybe do a Facetime with the kids! And I’m gonna crash, because otherwise I’m going to be hoarse, and crappy, and hung over tomorrow, and I can’t do that. Not to me, not to the dudes in the band. And to the family! Like, it has to be good, or what am I doing?
J: Yeah, being out there, is no longer by your own volition. You have to have support to be out there. So that has totally put it in a new perspective. Personally, I know that I’ll be back out there, but it’s not until it really is for something. I have very little interest in doing a dive bar tour ever again in my life.
Kate: Yeah, that’s where I’m at, too. Making everything count. I don’t want to be out on the road, away from him, or — I don’t want to be spending any moment of my life in a non-ideal scenario! I love sleeping on floors and playing in dive bars, but now my expectations are a little higher for the situations I want to be in. I’ve got health I want for my body and for myself, and my wellbeing. And if I don’t want to be a fucked up crazy artist, than I have to take care of myself!
J: Right, you know, it’s not like, you know, to throw shade on — you know, because like in a lot of ways, you do have to go through that. It’s just that I feel like I’ve already run the gamut on the dive bar tour, and it’s not really bringing anything else to my life or my family.
Eric: When it’s like, you know, I’m pretty good at getting drunk and partying, check! Now let’s get good at this instrument, or song writing, or entertaining folks. Like that, you know, that takes priority.
Greta: My goals… I feel like, because there is so much of a time like when you first start your band, and you’re like, we’re going to make it, we’re going to be awesome — like, if you weren’t doing that, you’re probably not in the right profession because every musician thinks that they’re awesome and that their band is awesome. And there’s a possibility they you might make it. But let’s be realistic, I’m in a ska band with like eight people. Even if we make a $1000 that’s like $100 a person. So, we have to put a lot of things in perspective. And we did a huge amount of touring for a long time, and then, were like, you know, maybe we’re not going to make it. And maybe what we’re doing is just having a lot of fun playing music with each other, which we absolutely are. But my goal right now — in addition to being a band geek, because I’m a trumpet player, so I totally geek out on everything music — but my focus has kind of shifted, like, I look at it a lot as, is this worth my time? Like am I having a really good time doing this? Is it something I enjoy, something I love? When I play music, the answer is always yes, because my soul needs to play music. And if I wasn’t having that outlet, I think about it like, people that work out. They’re like, oh god, I need to work out every day, like if I don’t work out I’m an asshole, or whatever. I feel like that with music. If I’m not playing music every day, I become somebody that I’m not, really, and that I don’t really like. So I need that. But at the same time, I’ve also shifted a lot, too. Like one thing I love is local music and supporting local music, and I put a lot of my energy into a lot of volunteer work, like FoCoMx and FoCoMa, and trying to give back to my community. And before I had kids, I always thought of that as my baby. I’m like, oh, I’m going to take such good care of this, and then you know, your time kind of shifts. But those are the things that really matter to me.
Eric: That made me think of something. If when the kids came into your life, you decided, like you know, I need to settle down, and I need to stop creating art, or stop creating art in the in the way that I do, I feel like that would be a detriment to them. I think they get excited, being like, you know, Dad’s going for it! He’s like, kind of crazy, but he’s going for it! And there’s like something exciting to be like, guess what? You can follow through. And I’m still here for you, and I’m here for your mom. And I’m still like, you know, creating and living like sort of a mad man! But I think they look at that, and I would hope that they’re like, awesome, he’s going for it! And there’s also weight behind it, like I was saying before. You have to succeed, in whatever form that is to you, to show them that you’re not just like, Oh, I’m going to wing it. Nope! To the next, to the next, to the next.
Joshua: When my wife asked me that question, what do you want to do with your music, I kind of explained to her about all these trumpeters that I really looked up to. And she said, it sounds like you have to this. So I invested a lot of money to get myself on this record label in the UK. And that happened, and then when that happened, I was like, is that making it? Going back to the making it question. And I’ll ask all of us to define what that means. To me, I was like, I’m on a record label right now with all the people that I’ve always loved, and I’m able to still be a dad, you know. But it’s funny because like when I got to that level, I realized, I looked up, and there was still another mountain to climb. And that mountain required much more sacrifice than I think at this time I’m willing to give. And I think to some of my favorite musicians, I’m like, Wynton Marsalis has four kids? Like when does he see his kids? And that’s that top of that mountain, and I’ve realized like, there is that sacrifice. That if you want to reach this global, constantly touring, not bar touring, status, that there is a level of sacrifice. And I think there’s also a level to be OK with where you are, but to still work towards something. It’s just cool to now exist in some of this world with other people, like yourselves, and to know like, we could still do what we love and be good parents. But that’s a question I want to ask you guys. Like, have you climbed up to the certain point and then seen another tier, and said like, I’m going to have to make a choice at this point?
Kate: That’s like the weird thing about being in your own life, is that you’re perpetually like, seeking, and there’s not — there might be a plateau where you’re like, cool! That last year was really awesome! But then, you’re yet — your only experience is yourself, and so, you may not even really recognize how far you’ve come until a really long time has passed. For me, too, I think about that in relationship to the music business, and the music industry, and how it’s really never done, it’s never enough, you can never stop climbing. And that to me was like a perpetual dissatisfaction of all of the label-backed touring and that kind of thing, was recognizing that it was incredibly exhausting because it was never enough. There was no point where they were just going to say, cool, you’re done now! Or, you’ve made it!
J: I want to speak to that because it’s such a desire and concern after Jette was born, about what making it was, and I think, initially flung too far in that direction, and became kind of obsessed with it, like it was going to validate the fact that I was trying so hard and sort of miserable at times about trying to dad and music at the same time. Until pretty recently, I looked at what that does to yourself, and the energy that puts off to other people, that I’m going to call it, like, trying energy. It’s like this thing that wants to be self-promotional all the time, and you have to sell yourself all the time, and be concerned with presentation. So recently, even though I still have mountains to climb, it’s also kind of brought me recently back to just the enjoyment of playing. Like I’m actually just the most happy playing shows. Like that’s just like that baseline awesome thing about being a musician no matter what. And there’s always places to go with it, but trying all the time kind of puts off this energy that I see in other people, and then it like reflects it back to me, and I’m just like, oof, I guess I’ve been doing that.
Eric: Even outside of parenting, I think you just come to a point where you’re like, I always describe it as, what’s the nectar, what’s the like ultimate like sweet spot of what you’re going after. And if any of it has anything to do with, like, the weirdest business ever, then you’re going to get disillusioned and freaked out. But if it’s like, I need to get better at this instrument, I need to get better at songwriting, I need to get better at being entertaining. Those things are never-ending, and there is no mountaintop. And if you ever get to a spot where you’re like, oh, I really did it on guitar, there’s of course five million people who are way better than you. But I think that’s exciting, there is no goal. Just to dig it while it’s happening. And all of the nuances and all of the pitfalls and all of the triumphs. I used to think, dude, if I just play a festival, it’s on! There’s going to be so many people there! But really, it’s like, you play a festival, and they’re like, yeah, nice work, next! But was that festival that you played with your friends like, soulful? Did you touch the nectar for a second? That’s the gold.
Kate: Dig it while it’s happening. There’s your podcast title.
J: Dig it while it’s happening. All this way, to get to the point where you’re just like, am I digging it?
Kate: You can get so bogged down in the admin side of the music business, that it can really detract from the creation. Everything you’re talking about, for me, those are my goals as well. The actual pure joy of creation, and all of the stepping stones and cool ways to get there. And just celebrating that creative being, and being around other people who are speaking another language; you know, we’re not just talking with words that are fairly communicable and not super representative of how we’re actually feeling; we’re painting something, together. And sharing this other human experience. And that’s it, that’s my goal. I have no like, monetary or career goal, like my career goal is to be happy.
Eric: Yeah, totally.
J: Which is funny to come all this way, just to like, figure that out. Which was basically known all along, but you kind of had to go through this, letting the ego kind of run its course, do its thing.
Eric: Yeah, and kids make you happy! So you can kind of have both, coinciding. And not have it be a detriment on either end. And if dad’s happy, then he’s being cooler at the house. When I came back from this last three-week tour, I was like, what’s up guys, what are we going to do you? You want to play Legos? I’d been away for a second and was happy and wanted to be with them and share that with them. If you aren’t allowed to create as an artist and you stifle it somehow, it’s going to trickle down into everything. And if you’re feeling satisfied in your life because you are on an artist’s path and you have to do it, and you are fortunate enough to be able to do it, then the vibrations that come from that are going to pass to your kids.
Joshua: I really think we’re more privileged then we are in a situation where it’s very difficult to live our lives. I think we’re so lucky to have children, first and foremost, and then be artists? Like this life that we have been given, or fell into, it’s like, man. Not a lot of people get to do that because of all these reasons, that they feel like there’s either this direction or this, or maybe people can’t even have kids for whatever reason. And I feel like this conversation is really around our privilege, to be able to to have it all. I think we’re so fortunate. I was in a band like ten years ago, and I was like, I think I want to get married! And the singer said to me, he was like, why would you fuck your life up like that? I’m like, what are you talking about, I love this woman! And he was like, dude, you are fucking your life up, let’s see what you’re going to do with your music. And I was like, it’s not going to be a big deal. And it’s funny because he’s not doing anything now. He’s not actually a musician anymore. So I think sometimes even within our own community of musicians or non-musicians, they can make it seem like we’re in a tough place. But I think we’re ultimately always privileged. We live in privilege.
J: Yeah, Josh got married, and all his music is in 4/4 now.
Joshua: It’s all in a major key.
J: Well, we are about at time here, and I just want to thank you guys so much for talking to me. This is the last episode of the first ever season of Procreative, and our first live event. Thank you to everybody who came out, and again to UMS 2019 and to Denver Arts & Venues for helping us put this together. See you guys soon!