If You’re Here, You Must Be Doing Something Right

quiet entertainer mutemath basement east nashville

photo credit: Jay Kim

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.
https://vimeo.com/226755182

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.

kinobody transformation quiet entertainer

don’t click this pic unless you want to see
a shirtless selfie of my transformation!
(still a work in progress!)

 

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 😂

Quiet Entertainer Festival Cobra Nashville

Click to buy tickets! $5 in advance, $10 at the door

If you’re in Nashville or want to come to Nashville get your tickets here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/quiet-entertainer-festival-2018-tickets-47734511208

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.

New Music. New Shows. New everything is coming.

I love you all.

I’ll never give up.

Thanks for reading all this.

Much love & respect,
Greg / QE

MUTEMATH – Monument (Quiet Entertainer Remix)

mutemath monument quiet entertainer remix

MUTEMATH recently had a remix contest for their song, ‘Monument’. Pretty great song.

They had released it with a couple of pretty decent remixes. They dropped the LaLa remix which appears in the video above. Also, the Tim Gunter remix that came with the contest announcement. I heard a lot of pretty great remixes, including the eventual winning Disero Remix and more recently the new Kasbo Remix. I wanted to let you all hear my remix in case you missed it. No I didn’t win but I still like it and I hope you like it too.

I did use a sample from a certain song but then also did some vibey stuff and added some scratches and I was channeling some chillstep. You can download the remix from my bandcamp. Let me know what you think.

The Only Way To Save Your Music Scene As A Musician

Photo by Amanda René Photography

Photo by Amanda René Photography

Here in Nashville, I try to stay as connected as I can to the music scene. I go out to see as many shows of different genres as I can. Because of that, I meet a lot of different artists and bands. I do pay special attention to the hip hop scene and also the electronic music scene, since those are the pockets that I mostly easily fit into myself as an artist. Within these two scenes, I’m often asked my thoughts on what we can all do to make the music scene better.

I try to entertain these discussions as best I can. However, I have experienced a philosophical shift in my own music scene beliefs. Let me explain. Here’s how most of these conversations go.

  • “Man, we need to have more unity!”
  • “We need to come together!”
  • “Artists need to support each other!”
  • “Venues need to book different artists!”

Maybe some of this is true. However, I think we’re missing the point. We’re especially missing it as artists, musicians, & DJs. In addition to the music scene here in town, this blog attracts a lot of DJs, rappers, musicians, bands, and producers. They all have similar questions about what software to use or how to get started & mainly how to impact their music scene immediately.

I try to answer whatever I can, but I think this is a great chance to sum up what I think is the greatest thing that you as an artist can do for your music scene.

You ready? This is the secret!

(This probably can extend beyond music scenes and just apply to life as well.)

The #1 thing I think all musicians, DJs, producers, rappers can do to change their music scene is…

Be Awesome.

That’s it. Change lives. Create an experience. Blow people away with your awesome awesomeness. Be freaking awesome.

Only after you are awesome will your music scene change. Let’s examine the artists’ cry for unity. When I hear that “artists need to support each other” I hear “they need to support ME.” When I hear that “venues need to book different artists,” these artists just mean “they need to book ME.” But all the unity, support, & promo in the world won’t help if the music, bands, or artists aren’t awesome.

Or if they suck.

And I didn’t say “Be mediocre.” Mediocre is everywhere. Don’t waste your time or other people’s time by doing the same thing everyone else is doing. I understand that this is subjective, so…

6 Ways Musicians Can Be More Awesome

I’ve been thinking about how I can apply this very simple yet complicated principle for my own life and my own music career. That’s right, this advice is for me too. No one is safe. No one is exempt. So few musicians, bands, & DJs do this; the ones who do will stand out very quickly.

I have come up with these after considering my time in the music scene here in Nashville (Music City) plus my time studying music business, and additionally my time on the road touring with Mutemath.


Make Awesome Music.

Yes, those other things absolutely matter, but only when you make the music as good as it can possibly be. If you have great music, than great branding, design, &social can give you a huge advantage and push you to the next level. It can help you stand out from the crowd and make it easier for you to become popular. But without great music, the best marketing, branding, or even meetups won’t matter at all.

quiet entertainer music

P.S. all my music is here. Click the pic 😉

I’m not saying you should start out without thinking of marketing. If you have time and resources to make videos, get merch, & get all the other stuff right, then do it all. But if you only have time to do one thing really well, there’s no question you should be focusing on your music.

The same goes for promotion. Once you’ve created something epic, you need to make sure other people find out about it. But if you really write awesome music. It won’t take much effort on your part to get the word out. Your new fans will do most of the work.

I’ve seen it happen here locally with people like Wick-It or Cherub or Mike Floss. Every time I’m tempted to get down in the dumps about how I am not getting the gigs I should get, then I have to look in the mirror and ask if I’m making awesome music.


Perform Awesomely Live.

Don’t mistake length of your set or how much time you put into it for how awesome something truly is. I’m sure you’ve seen the way-too-long-and-completely-boring sets out there. Awesome doesn’t necessarily mean long. It also doesn’t mean how many people are on stage at once. I’ve fallen into this trap before. Every time I’ve been inspired at a show, it’s because the performer showcased their skill in a way that no one else can. Blow people’s minds. Look at this KDSML video below. No one else can do this. So he stays booked. What can you do that no other performer can do?

 


Throw Awesome Shows.

I’m not even talking about your set anymore. I mean the experience you create at your shows. Are you booking your own shows to build credibility? Great. Now who is doing the show with you? What’s the vibe you’ll create? What’s the venue? Can people really hear your music there? Can they see you? Is it well lit? Is it a raised stage? Is it all ages? 21+? Can people easily park there? Do people need to BYOB?

Don’t make the mistake of trying to throw awesome shows without outside inspiration. Get out there and go see some shows. Get inspired yourself, then infect your music scene with that inspiration. Locally, This is Art does this very well. I’m going to see his show tonight.

 


Use Awesome Professionalism.

You might not have to be professional if you are strictly booking your own shows and they are all house parties and you never have to deal with people who are doing business. But chances are, you’re going to have to work with other people. I’ve found that in my own music career; it’s been much better to be courteous & on time whenever possible. Not only that but also if you’re in charge of a show, you have to make sure everyone knows what they’re expectation is. Let people know how long your set will be. If you don’t know, ask. Is it a paying gig? If you don’t know, ask. If you know it’s not paying, tell them. Do you not have a huge draw? Be realistic about the show expectations. Or be honest if you don’t plan on promoting. (Psst… why aren’t you promoting?)


Have an Awesome Web Presence.

We can’t be everywhere at once. Having a web presence is the next best thing. Do you have your own site? Your own place to let people know about shows? Your own spot to host your music? Your own place to spread your ideas? You can’t just rely on Facebook. What about other social media? Where are you? Where does your music scene hang out? You should be there. But really, it’s not the one social media site you’re using. It’s everything you’re doing.


Have an Awesome Mindset.

This is the one I struggle with the most. Yet it’s the most important and it’s the one from which all these others will spring. Your mindset will absolutely determine your actions. Your belief in yourself and your music scene will inform and inspire all the moves you make and also informs what the rest of your scene will do. It’s hard to try and get everyone on the same page about what you want to do for your music scene but then when you get together, all you do is complain. I’ve done this and I have seen this especially in hip hop and electronic music. Guilty as charged. No one wants to get behind cynicism. People only will get behind awesomeness.


The next time you start wondering why you aren’t getting tons of fans or people at your shows, the next time you wonder why no one is sharing your stuff, don’t start looking to Twitter or Facebook for the answer. Instead, start by asking yourself one simple question:

Am I being awesome?

A big thanks to Corbett Barr who inspired this post many years ago with an epic post of his own.

Follow me on Twitter @qentertainer

  1. Make Awesome Music
  2. Perform Awesomely Live
  3. Throw Awesome Shows
  4. Use Awesome Professionalism
  5. Have an Awesome Web Presence
  6. Have an Awesome Mindset

 

 

On Tour With MUTEMATH Again!

instagram_qe_mutemath

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind and I haven’t had a chance to really update you on all the happenings. Something that just kind of happened out of nowhere was that I was asked to come out on tour with MUTEMATH this fall!

This is my second tour with these guys. They are the hardest working musicians I know; plus they are in my opinion the best band around plus my personal favorite.

We play in Chicago tonight. I am writing this from a hotel in Milwaukee as we played here last night. So far, the response has been magnificent! I’ve been playing a nice blend of my own original music mixed with other songs that I have either remixed or just some songs I like. Each set has been a little different as I’m trying to add or tweak things as I go!

instagram_qe_mutemath_2

The shows are all already sold out! So I haven’t really even had to promote the shows or anything as all tickets are gone but I just wanted to let you know how awesome this is and how very cool things are going right now!

What else? I’m taking some of the vibe and response from this tour and hoping to channel it into new music very soon! So just hold me accountable. lol

I’m so exhausted but I’m really happy about all this. It’s time to roll to Chicago and put in another full day/night! I’ll talk to you soon.

Quiet Entertainer Orchestra at FooBAR Too w/ Undiscover, Hobbledeions, and Rain

quiet entertainer orchestra  foobar nashville

The show is tonight! I’m very excited to finally do this show. It will be my first time doing a headlining show with the live band, Quiet Entertainer Orchestra. As you’ve seen, Q.E.O. is just a  live interpretation of my previous DJ tracks. We’re playing tonight at Foobar Too which is the venue side.

Also performing are Undiscover. Kind of a party-core, rave hip hop group. Similar to Die Antwoord.

Hobbledeions is hard to explain. He’s kind of a noise rock drummer playing hip hop beats both on a sampler and a drum kit. I’m excited to see him.

Rain is an MC in town. He kind of sounds like Tyler the Creator to me but he does a lot of cool things with his voice too. On the low, he makes killer beats too! Better than mine. 😛 I wish I were kidding.

This show will be great! Come on out to FooBAR too.