I wanted to tell you a story.
I’ve been through a lot over the past long while. Some of you have been following along and know a few of the details. But I’d say that most don’t know the behind the scenes of what’s happened with me since I got off the road with Mutemath 3 years ago.
Most of you know that Mutemath is my favorite band out there. MM is my favorite band and DJ Shadow is my favorite artist & DJ. So doing anything with them is a big deal. It was a dream come true to tour with MM in 2012 and then tour AGAIN with them in 2015.
You have to understand: I’m not a trained musician. I’m not classically trained. I have no certification. I’ve been a DJ for a long time but “they don’t got no award for that.”
I got to where I am now by just trying stuff. Just messing around with making some beats. Just putting up some tracks online. Just booking some shows. Just posting some flyers. Just doing what I could.
And it worked! All of a sudden I’m opening for (in my opinion) the best band in the world! Touring North America! Crazy!
Towards the end of that tour, I decided to get brave and I asked Paul Meany (of Mutemath) to produce my next record. Paul has been a longtime hero of mine. Paul and DJ Shadow are kinda like my musical fathers.
Two Dads. Musically. But whatever.
So he agreed! And I finally felt like I was on the verge. He verge to finally having the building blocks for a foundation to doing this music thing for real!
I’ll always remember what happened next.
It was the last day of the tour. Had a show in Portland that night. But we were still in Seattle. We went to Starbucks. I remember it well.
I wasn’t a coffee drinker yet. (I am now! Shout out to Sip Cafe in Nashville!) I got a chocolate chip cookie. Paul sat me down and told me the news. He couldn’t produce my next record. Why? Because I wasn’t ready.
I’m not going to share the intimate details of the conversation. Just know that in the moment, I believed that he was right.
How on earth did I make it this far? How did I trick everyone into thinking I deserved to be here? I was just a broke temp worker pizza delivery guy with DJ dreams. When the tour was over, they would continue to be famous touring musicians. And I would go back to struggling late 30s dude trying to make it.
The conversation really wrecked me. I was inconsolable. I thought, “of course, I haven’t blown up. I was never good enough. And everyone was too nice to tell me.”
You ever feel like people are just too nice to tell you the truth?
So I was pretty depressed. I’m getting older. It seemed like everyone else my age had great jobs. Had fulfilling romantic relationships. And everything was great. I mean just LOOK AT THEM ON INSTAGRAM!
So, I was gonna quit. I was going to just quietly bow out of music. I was gonna focus on another passion of mine, acting.
(By the way, now that the film is done with festivals and there are no more public screenings. I can finally post the film “The New Mister Princess.” Here it is.
Password is: princessbusiness
It’s about 8 minutes long. Okay back to the story.)
Acting! Something I could do a little more behind the scenes while I focused on all the “adult” things. You know. Paying bills. Getting a good credit score. Having a place of your own. So you don’t have roommates who let their alarm go off all morning and somehow sleep through it when it’s right by their head but it somehow wakes you up even though you need to sleep because you worked all night and and you’re trying to do something special in the world when all they want is…
WHOA where did that come from?! I digress.
Something funny happened while I was trying not to focus on music. I got inspired to book a 10 year anniversary show. I also went on tour with my friend’s Spoken Nerd & Isaac Stinson.
And right smack in the middle of all that, I opened for DJ Shadow when he came to Nashville! What?!
I’ve written about this show before. But I didn’t tell you what happened after the show.
I got to meet him!
I was backstage and I was listening to him talk. He was asking me some questions, trying to ease me into the conversation. It was pretty awkward because what do you say to a DJ-GOD-GENIUS?!
I finally blurted out “I’ve waited my whole life to meet you! But now that you’re here, I have no idea what to say. I guess I didn’t think I’d ever really get to meet you. Not until I’d gone through a few things first.”
And what he said back to me, I’ll never forget. He said, “well, you got this opening gig. You must be doing something right.”
DJ Shadow said I was doing something right! Y’all couldn’t tell me nothing after that!
I didn’t bring up my previous conversation with Paul up to a lot of people. I didn’t want it to seem like he had purposely tried to hurt me. Paul is still my guy.
He actually did me a favor. And he told me what he did out of love and because he deeply cared about me and my art. And he spoke from his experience. That’s all I could ask.
I didn’t want to tell this story because it was so personal.
So I felt invigorated. I did the tour. I did my anniversary show. I started thinking about how I could do both music AND acting.
I started working out. Losing weight.
I started really hustling again. Doing some inner work on my mindset and beliefs. Sometimes you gotta let things sit in the oven for a while.
Ok so after some time had passed. I got a chance to see MM again. And I spoke to Paul. And you know what, it wasn’t about me impressing him. I had done some inner work, and I realized: I am enough.
What you’ve done up to now and where you are now is enough to move forward! I finally believed that.
And it’s so weird that with all the tours and shows and things that I didn’t believe it before.
So I spoke with Paul as a new man and I mentioned all the stuff that he’d said before. About not being ready.
He doesn’t even remember saying all that stuff. Can you believe it?! I was beating myself up for nothing.
He was just very proud of me for not giving up and still going and he was excited for me.
For me, that was just as big as what Shadow said. I realized the truth. Nobody cares about your passion more than you do. And you just have to keep going.
And if you’re still here, you’re probably doing something right.
Real talk: I turn 40 next month.
I’m throwing my own birthday party because I’m a self indulgent Leo prick 😂
If you aren’t in Nashville (or if you are!) and you want to be a part of what I’m doing I want you to check out THIS.
I love you all.
I’ll never give up.
Thanks for reading all this.
Much love & respect,
Greg / QE