Being a full time musician is a lifestyle. We (myself and my husband Nathaniel) take it very seriously. Serious enough to give up practically everything we own, everything we know, and jump head first into freezing cold water (aka the world via New York City), and at the same time hold enough faith that we will survive and make it back to shore stronger, refined, and not only better people but better musicians in our band The Bergamot.
This career is a lifestyle in which one must be resilient and completely out of your mind. Seriously, though you see we don’t go to a job where we have the reliability of knowing when we work X amount of hours we will be paid X amount of dollars. To take it a step further because of the nature of our business we never stop working.
But I chose this, we chose this lifestyle and you know what sometimes it’s extremely difficult and it sucks. I am just being real with you. I understand that we all have hard ships and it feels good to be real with you. For our highs are super high and the lows are super low. Somehow they level out which is why we still do this. Just to reiterate I am not writing this as a complaint however I am writing this to bring clarity and realism as to what a normal musician goes through and gives up to pursue our God given talents in order to create beautiful art.
When your a full time musician your life goes more like this. You wake up look at the ceiling and can’t remember where you are. This moment is a by-product of touring and waking up in new cities every other day.
It can be disorienting to say the least. Once your up, you almost instantly start working. You check emails and brush your teeth at the same time. After you brush your teeth you reach out to new potential clients while using your other hand to grab a cup of coffee. Intermittently you are opening up your bank account and then after looking at the numbers you say, “oh S%*$”. Then you grab the container of oats off your shelf.
After a few minutes you start thinking about what you are going to post up to your Instagram,Twitter, and Facebook accounts, then you remember to pour your un-cooked oats with water into your pan then continue to bring them to a rolling boil.
While the bubbles form in your pot of oats you yawn and then see a letter on your mantle and realize you are late on paying your landlord Joe. It is a whopping sum of money that could easily afford you a brand new Gibson Acoustic J-45 custom Vintage Sunburst Guitar each month every month till your lease is up. Heck, by the end of the year you could have twelve new Gisbon’s.
But, no you quietly remind yourself that you exchanged material possessions in the name of creating music that can connect your story with others in hopes of creating a community that makes everyone’s lives more enjoyable. Or at least that’s what you keep telling yourself as you slop down some cooked oatmeal into your white ceramic bowl. You know the bowl you bought at the Ikea store off 1 Beard St. Brooklyn, NY almost a year ago to the day.
You seem to be having a lot of epiphany’s this morning and it strikes you as you say to yourself, “this sure is an all or nothing career isn’t it”. You then thank God that you are making it happen and that you get to make this crazy, delusional lifestyle happen with someone you are head over heals in love with.
You try to imagine what it must be like going it alone, carrying that heavy ass keyboard up three flights of steep stairs, going to bed at 4 AM only to find yourself cold because the heat is not working in your apartment, or how it must feel to drive 15 hour’s by your self only to get to your next gig that may or may not be well attended.
Oh, goodness you can’t bare to thing about it any longer. Now you know why some of your musician friends are drugged up.
Then your phone buzzes you have a text from you friend Court she says, “hey girlie are we still on to meet up at Toby’s Estate at 1PM?” You think to yourself, “Oh crap that’s today and I am so behind on my emails and still have to figure out how to market our new album but I love Court and will find a way to make it work”.
While your dreaming up a new plan to get yourself out of this mess called “life” you almost start to cry because you notice the paint is chipping off of the wall in the bathroom again, and as you making your way to grab a pair of clean socks so you can go to the gym and work out the grey curtain rack comes tumbling down from the wall onto your hand. Leaving a cut mark the size of half a dime on your left index finger. You proceed with one foot in front of the other saying at least two, profanities out loud.
As you make your way back to the bathroom (where you first saw the paint chipped walls) to put Hydrogen -Peroxide on your bleeding finger. You look around and notice almost in slow motion how your apartment is half a mess with half drunk coffee cups on your red end table, guitars laying on the ground, coats strung about on your old neighbors cream sofa that she gave you before she moved away nine months ago, and right then your eyes connect with the large white piece of paper you hung up on the wall and your eyes re-trace each letter, “Action Plan, 2015 -“Become a Sustainable Thriving Independent Musician.”
But then you look below those works and it seems that those nine words were all the words you had time to write. It reminds you that you still need to write down the actionable part on the white piece of paper. Just as it seems thing are surmounting into one giant overwhelming mountain. You sigh, and the pain in your finger begins to bubble back to the surface just like the oatmeal boiling on the stove.
Your mind snaps back and forth between the pain in your finger and the white piece of paper hanging up. You know in your heart of hearts the only way to create financial freedom is to write amazing songs, run a 40 day Kickstarter campaign so you can record them, create a www.patreon.com account, create more, consume less, produce more, and then go out into the world and sell products people want to buy. Finally you must tour your ass off at least 150-200 dates a year on a self booked tour (ideally not-self booked but hey you gotta start somewhere) that took three – five months to book and route. Plus you have to find the money to get a reliable touring vehicle.
You will most likely tour in a rented white twelve passenger van with a hitch or you will tour in your 2002 Volvo hatchback that has over two-hundred and fifty-thousands miles on it. The car you have been touring out of for the past 4 1/2 years. It is the same car that has seen you at your best and worst. Then you think, “perhaps it is time for a new car”.
Oh, what the heck… as you muddle your way to the bathroom to fix up your finger you trip on a cord and say, another profanity under your breath.
Then you notice foot steps coming closer to you and a warmth on your right-side. Your husband (you know the guy your in love with, who you do everything with) appears from who the heck knows where. As he put’s his hand around your waist he kisses your cheek and says “are you OK babe?”
You look back at him with sad puppy eyes and he saids, “It will be alright, and you know what, your so beautiful when you make that sad, pathetic face. I don’t even know how you do it but its really sad and cute. Now let me see your finger.” he says that last part while he pushes the hair out of your face.
Now you are truly on the brink of crying. You feel like running away from New York City and heading off to live on a small farm just north of San Diego, thirty minutes away from the beach. But you realize that your tired of running all the time and maybe you just want to be balanced and stable for a month, or heck a few months without have to be moving on wheels and packing up everything you own and dumping it out, then doing it all over again.
Then as he holds you, you pause, take a breath, and realize this life really is amazing. I have a roof over my head, a loving husband who is a killer musician, we are healthy, safe, and loved.
Things don’t go as planned during this journey. You cut your finger, stumble over a cord, get a ticket for taking a left turn on a Red light off the BQE but you know what there is nothing quite like sharing our love and dreams together. Sure, It is not perfect but oh what a beautiful adventure it is. Oh, what a beautiful adventure it is. ❤
Shine ON from a paint chipping apartment somewhere in Brooklyn New York,