How Happiness & Mental Health Affect Your Creativity   |  SEAN HAGWELL: THE PODCAST

How Happiness & Mental Health Affect Your Creativity | SEAN HAGWELL: THE PODCAST

– It’s like a first time
thing, I don’t know. – Have you not done an episode yet? – No. – Nice. – You’re my first. – I’m a guinea pig. So what’s your plan what are you gonna do? – Are you talking with this? – Um-hmm, the graphic looked great. (laughing) The graphic looks great. – You mean the picture of myself. – It was like, fuck yeah,
I’ll listen to that. (laughing) – Okay, so you gotta pull that microphone closer to you first of all. Second of all, I actually have no–
– You have no outline here? – No outline, there’s no fancy–
– Great. – Intro music, I don’t have any sort
of like lead into it. – Yeah. – I just wanna pick up on
what we started talking about in your whisky room the other day. Which was–
– What were we talking about? Oh, internets. – Yeah, but also the approach because we’re in two different
sides of the business in terms of entertainment
and creative stuff. But really having a drastic approach of you being kind of hands-off when it comes to the internet, or not sharing anything and
then me adopting this new, over the last few months of
just fuckin’ post everything and share everything and
give every secret away and start ranting on Twitter and shit and yet behind the scenes we’re actually very much the same person. – Right. – Like we wanna stay home and chill.
– Do nothing. (laughing) What’s your luck?
– But you, you told me that you see
it, not myself personally, but the people who are
out there all the time like ranting and raving and pushing is like a negative thing for you, but I don’t know why.
– And so talking about that? – Yeah.
– Idea. – I don’t know why that feels negative to you–
– Okay. – Like what that does to you personally. – So like how do you wanna start? Do you wanna like give context to the conversation, or?
– No. Just roll. – Cool, no I just don’t wanna be, I don’t want to be a brand or a persona. I don’t, and that’s usually
what bothers me about it and what doesn’t bother me, doesn’t. What doesn’t bother me about you, I know you.
– Right. – And you’re just being
completely yourself. Like I don’t feel a divide
between Sean on Instagram, or Twitter, and then hanging out with you. I feel like for a long
time I was very sharey. I was in, like, for my teenage years I was so opinionated and like, what are you talking about kid, like you don’t know anything. So I’ve been very ranty and
I’ve been very over sharey and I think the danger of that is like this idea of like, live by the sword die
by the sword of like. I think there has been moments in my life that have been really terrible and painful and everyone still feels the same access and permission to you in those times as they do in the times where you’re like freakin’ crushing it. – So letting people in means
they have full-time access. – Yeah, and so I think I just wanna be choosy–
– Yeah. – About what I share. So now I just share the work. – And that keeps you inspired? Keeps you motivated? – I just don’t want it to have anything to do with anything, social media. Like I don’t, I feel like
it had so much weight for a long time.
– Yeah. – And I don’t want it to
have any weight on the work, on my feeling towards the work. I just, that’s just what I
want people to know about me. Like what really threw me off, and it sounds dumb, but
I was on tour in Oregon and I was playing guitar
for this, you know, singer-songwriter, it wasn’t a VEAUX trip I was just a hired gun and, but someone knew that I
was playing for this guy. And I, this fan of VEAUX comes
to the show just like, oh my gosh, how’s your new
house, how’s your wife, how’s Kingsley, how’s all of this stuff, just starts listing
off all of these things that she knows about me. And I wasn’t mad because it’s stuff I’m giving.
– You’re sharing, you’re giving.
– Yeah, I’m giving it out to the world, but as soon as she walked away I just felt violated, I was just, in the sense of you knew so much about me and I knew nothing about you. – Yeah. – Nothing, and it’s still that way. Like you know, you know my life.
– Yeah. – And so I think Jen and I just made a very conscious decision of I want you to know nothing about, I want the world to know nothing about how my marriage is, nothing. Like I want them to know that it exists, that it’s there. It’s just as hard as every other marriage, it’s just as fallible
as every other marriage, it’s also awesome, like, it’s also freakin’ awesome, you know what I mean?
– Yeah. – Like it is every bit everything. And to have people commenting
on a picture of Jen and I, and be like, oh, couple goals, it’s just like, you have no idea.
– Right. – We could be miserable. – So my big thing is a lot
of people say that shit because it’s trendy. – The anti-social media–
– Couples. – The couples goals–
– Oh, yeah, yeah. – And all that kind of stuff, is you’re stepping away because
you’re an artist (mumbles) and I don’t think that’s your thing at all–
– No. – From our conversation. The thing that interested me the most wasn’t the social versus not, or putting your work out
there, or life out there versus staying very, very private. It was the, the health aspect creatively.
– Yes. Yeah.
– So like for me I found that the healthy
side, the constantly shoot it, because my job is
literally to create content for tons of people. – Right. – Portraits and music
videos and short films and commercial stuff. So to be engaged and to
talk to other creatives and to constantly be on the go and push other people. ‘Cause I don’t throw up
something on Twitter, Instagram, because I want
people to keep coming back to me to get filled up on motivation, that’s not the point. – Okay. – I wanna be surrounded by people–
– Who are motivated. – The 16-year-old photographer
who’s gonna push me that listened to something
I might’ve said randomly, and 10 other people, and
then went and did some shit. – Yeah. – And then made my–
– Like, oh my god. – (voice covers voice) Better, yeah. And that’s sort of, I think
that’s a little bit of vanity, and a little selfish,
but I get nervous when… I had a meeting the other
day with a photographer, a really great guy, and he goes, do you, can I ask you, do you
mind how you light things? I’m like, holy shit, you’re telling me that other photographers
have basically told you, no, or not responded to you when really–
– Yeah, who cares. – Who cares, you should
give everything away. – Just because someone can light something–
– Right, they’re not gonna take your job and if they do–
– That’s silly. – You’re doing a shit job–
– Yeah. – If somebody else can come
in and just take your work ’cause they figured out
where your light goes. (voice covers voice)
– Your preset, yeah. – Same with you, if you have a drum sample that–
– Right. – Is gonna cost you all your work are you really that good. And that’s kinda what I mean.
– (voice covers voice) is just that good.
– Yeah. – Yeah, yeah.
– And the health for me is I am more motivated, I am more excited to get up and work.
– Okay. – I started doing, I
started investing money in personal projects because
the feedback from going, Tweeting, hey, get off
your couch and do some shit we’re all just trying our best. – Yeah. – The feedback was,
well, I need to do more because I can push the industry forward a little bit.
– Sure. – At least my circle.
– Yeah. – Good for you.
– And I think for me it was just going, I think one, my personality, I think I just, I crave
affirmation and attention, like crazy, it’s terrible. And so it does something to my psyche to just constantly be feeding
that monster within myself. – Right. – Because I’m just, I’m looking
for it in any cheap way. So like Jen and I realize like, oh, we’re posting these cute pictures of us doing whatever adorable
thing, on whatever date. – Yeah. – And that wasn’t necessary. Like it kinda just took away
from us being here right now in order to feed a thing
in me that should die. Like that ego in me should be dead.
– It’s purely self-serving. – Yes, like I’m feeling
a love deficit right now rather than putting out
something into the world that I feel like needs to be there. And I think that putting
pictures of your relationship up, I have nothing wrong with that, but for me to get to the
bottom of myself and be like, I’m not doing this to encourage
people’s relationships, or–
– Right. – To let people know that Jen and I have a great relationship, I’m doing this because I need attention. So it really is that,
like that mental health point of view for me of I’m
trying to find the balance in what is me actually, serving the community around me, serving–
– Using your healthiest tools that (voice covers voice).
– Yeah, and I don’t think I figured that out. Like I think at the moment it has, in the last few years it’s
distracted from the work rather than added to the work. Also from the standpoint of just seeing what other people are working on it wasn’t inspiring me in good way. It was like I was bending my art because there’s just like oh, all these national pop people are doing this cool thing. – Successful ones in music.
– Yeah, ta-rap-hap-son snaps and all that stuff, and we did that. Like you’ve been a part of that. And you were very kind and
gracious when we started VEAUX like you guys should
like work on the music before you decide what this is. And we’re like, no, it’s cool man we’re just gonna do like
what everyone else is doing and then it’s gonna work.
– Right. – And it didn’t work.
– Right. – Like kind of, sort of. We got the cheap affirmation side of it. – Now you’re back to this balance of–
– Yeah, I think it was learning and
I think we’ve learned a ton and we learned how to make
really slick sounding records and kind of fit into the
mold of what was happening, but we came to this realization that it was just a black hole. Where if the song–
– Never ending. – Sounded good and they
checked all the boxes you would get the hype for a week and then no one cares ’cause you’re not saying anything.
– Right. – And so a lot of that was my anxiety surrounding social media of like, I don’t know, just
engaging with this thing and feeling like I needed to be something, or I wanted to be at the level of whatever Nashville Pop-Tart was doing. And as soon as I, I,
my wife has a password on all my social media
in the sense of like, after I think 30 minutes of use it just shuts me off. (laughing) There’s parental controls on it because I won’t stop, like I’ll just keep feeding the monster. – Okay, so take that a step further. So you, at the core, you
figured out yourself. – Yeah. – You figured out–
– I’m terrible. – That you are using social for cheap affirmation–
– Yeah. – And attention.
– Yeah. – You didn’t feel like
you were giving back. – No. – Once you figure that out what does it do creatively? Do you find that you make better shit when you–
– Yeah. – Okay.
– Yeah. – As opposed to being, there are guys who literally can go out all day, have lunches, meetings,
collaborate, blah, blah, blah, and their work that’s how they–
– Yeah, that’s how they feed. – Push forward, yeah.
– Yeah. – But–
– No, I think I’ve been making the best stuff I’ve ever done for myself and for others because I’m not worried about it anymore.
– Yeah. – Like I think the last two VEAUX tracks that we shot videos for with you I don’t, it doesn’t feel
like they’re super trendy, but it just feels like, oh man, that’s just the guys.
– Right. – Like that, it just feels so good.
– Yeah. – There’s a feeling about it that just feels honest and it feels, doesn’t feel like we’re
trying to be anything. – You notice I wasn’t,
we didn’t shoot together for a long time–
– Right. – When you were just fuckin’ around and making stuff and
nothing resonated with me. – Yeah, it wasn’t bad it was just like… – It didn’t, it just
wasn’t, it didn’t seem like it was a good use of your time, or mine, to go create–
(laughing) – When I knew you were just
throwing some shit together as best you could to keep up. And then as soon as you started
to do it with “Heart Right”, and “You Make My Heart Go”, which is–
– Yeah, accident. – Yeah, total accident, but those two videos we went, okay cool, this feels much better. – Yeah. – And then the visuals
we create around them everyone can get excited so. – And they came really easy.
– Yeah. – It didn’t feel like a labor. And I feel like before
everything was such a labor because just within
having a cell phone now you can become a brand. You can start when, you
can download a couple apps, you can sign up for an Instagram profile and you’re off.
– Right. – And what I realized is that it was taking my focus, my ability to make something look good, or look cool, or be good with words, is I’m just branding
myself without actually, it’s not, it’s commerce first, not art first.
– Right. – And I would grow up listening
to like my favorite bands in an interview saying like,
always put the art first. And I’m like, well,
that’s easy for you to say you’re a freakin’ radio head. Like, yeah, do whatever you want. So like, there’s no, it doesn’t
feel like there’s any risk and that’s not true, it’s all like just a scale.
– Sure. – But I just wanted to be so important and so valuable to people
now and I, I feel like, I’m not embarrassed by
anything VEAUX has done, but I do feel like some of the
stuff that we put out first is still like looking for an actual voice.
– Yeah. – It didn’t have it. Now it has it. And that doesn’t mean that
it may radically change, like we still may put out, you know, songs that sound like whatever, but at least it’s not, the barometer isn’t
keeping up with so-and-so that just got on some Spotify
playlist here in Nashville, it’s like, who cares? – You create more value when
you’re honest with branding then you do when you’re trying to keep up. I don’t think–
– (laughing) Yeah. – You listen to any
Spotify playlist right now and there are a hundred songs–
– Yeah. – That sound like they were mixed and produced by the same person.
– Right. – Sometimes it sounds like the same artist.
– Right. – And, you know, 10 different people that have all created the same stuff. They’re not, the value they’re
bringing is negligible. They’re not adding anything to the, to the people around them
or to music as a whole. – Yeah, yeah. – It’s really… – Well, and you have to wrestle that down. Like I think for me I spent a long time just like making whatever I wanted.
– Yeah. – That’s when we met, and MEDIC, MEDIC just whatever we wanted. We’re gonna have three-minute pop songs, we’re gonna have six-minute
ambient art-rock songs, we’re gonna like, we’re just
gonna do whatever we wanted and I think that band ultimately, like, I think I got my feelings hurt by it because it never generated the buzz. We were never the cools kids we were just these dudes making stuff. And I don’t think I realized how much we actually did have going for us.
– Yeah. – So when we moved to
Nashville, rebranded, started everything new, I was just like I, I just wanna be in, I
wanna be in on the thing. Like everyone here’s doing cool stuff and so you just get, your
focus just gets so just shitty, it’s just gets so out of whack, mine did, because my anxiety was like, well, I moved to Nashville,
all of my friends came with me, we’re here to, you know,
make a career out of this. – Yeah, you’re the one
who got us to move here. – Yeah. (laughing) Yeah, like, and I think I felt a deep responsibility to like
– Yeah. – All right let’s just (fingers snapping) get shit popping.
– Right. – And, where as I do think it
was a great learning curve. I do think it distorted my voice a bit. So, due to many things, you’re, I think just mentally I
couldn’t handle it anymore. There was just a point where just like I’m so exhausted.
– Yeah. – Like literally to the point, literally to the point where I was not getting out of bed for days. Like, you just crumbled.
– Yeah. – It’s not who you are, it’s not.
– You aren’t built for it. – No, no, like I, I think I listened to another podcast, And The Writer Is, Ryan Tedder was on.
– Yeah. – And he said something,
he was like your only shot, your only shot is to be completely and uniquely yourself and to just like crush it. Like go deeper into it
until you just crush it. And I think in art there’s always principles to learn, right? Like if you’re gonna be a master painter you study under another master painter and you figure out the
techniques and the strokes. Just like a photographer it’s just like, well, how do you light stuff? What are you editing with? That stuff is all helpful, but it isn’t your voice.
– Sure. – Like Sean, the Sean Hagwell voice that creates those pictures
can’t be duplicated. There’s something about it
that can’t be duplicated and that’s the intangible stuff. – That’s interesting though ’cause you’re, the idea of your shot, your
one shot as a whole career defining thing.
– Yeah. – You have, when you’re being
honest, I think personally, when you’re being yourself and you’re as crass, or as reserved, or extrovert, introvert, as you wanna be, as long as you stay true to that you have unlimited shots. – Yeah, sure okay.
– You have unlimited chances to keep going, and Tedder’s right, you have one shot in terms of–
– In your life. – Your entire career. – But–
– Yeah. – To go, to fail over and over again can you imagine not being
authentic to yourself? Failing over and over again–
– Yeah, I’ve done it. – Trying to get at something.
– Yeah. – I mean you’ve done it.
– Yeah. – And I’ve been there too and it’s like, when you’re being honest
it’s so much easier to go, okay, I fucked that up–
– Yeah. – I’m gonna try again literally right now, tomorrow, next week, and
it’s easier to get back up when you keep pushing for the thing you really, really wanna do. – I feel like you’ve always
been good at that though. Like you’ve always been, I was explaining this to a
photographer the other day, talented photographer. Worked with this person a couple times and they always wanna work together, but working with them is so complicated because it’s just like well, um, I’m gonna charge you X
amount of dollars for this, but then like if you
use it as a profile pick then I’m gonna give you a licensing fee that I’m gonna tack onto this. And then if you decide to do this with it then you make sure that
like I get paid for… And it was just like I
won’t work with this person because they’re so complicated.
– Right. – I don’t know whatever
that is and I’m not saying that there isn’t a business element to it, but that’s never been
yours and I’s relationship. – Yeah. – Like most of the time it’s like, hey, are you free today, you wanna come over and shoot.
– Yeah. Money is a never thought. – Since we’re friends, right?
– Well, how, how do you get there though? Like to a photographer that, there’s so many
photographers that follow you and want to be you and just assume that you’re making a
million dollars a shoot. How did you get to that place? Were you making money at first? Was that a concern at first or from–
– No. – The get-go was it just, I’m going to just shoot stuff? – I was more, to my own
detriment as a business person, and knowing that if you, sure if you’d sit there and
bicker about licensing and stuff my priority was always I
can make money other ways if I need to. Fortunately things–
– Like getting another job? – Yeah, and I can’t, my priority is to basically be able to say, I want to photograph this person so the, working with me is so easy and so uncomplicated–
– Of course. – For a label even if
they have a huge budget, or you who’s just basically doing self-funded indy stuff.
– Right. – I’d rather be making
content and not get paid because it pushes me forward. Then–
– But how do you explain that to the budding photographer when they’re like, I need money? – Okay.
– Like what would you say? – Yeah, go get a fucking job.
(laughing) Until you can make it sustainable. And I now, I’m very open
and honest about this, I do full production budget stuff. We’ll do large-scale music videos–
– Right. – Short films and all this kind of stuff, but I will still, if somebody
sends me a song and goes, I really need a music video for it, I have $300–
– Right. – Can we figure it out? Great, you’re not gonna get the crew. You’re gonna get myself
and Kirsten with a camera and I will make it look as good as I can–
– Right. – But it’s Thursday, it’s Thursday, I have nothing else to do. I am more than happy to
make content and help you share what I think is a
good piece of content. So if you’re song’s really
good that’s the priority. If the song’s good enough I don’t care if it’s gonna blowup, if it’s gonna be a number one single, or if it’s gonna get lost
on a Spotify mix, you know, a hundred songs down.
– Yeah. – It’s, the explanation to a photographer, if you fucking love what you do you will do it paid, not paid, and you will find a
way to sustain yourself in the intermediary time.
– Yeah. – So if you have to get a part-time job and work five hours a
day, four days a week, every minute you’re not working that job you should be out shooting something–
– Yeah. – Making something,
and eventually, listen, there’s so much work out there, and you know this as a producer, there are dozens and dozens of people that need photos a week, that needs songs a week–
– Sure. – We are cranking out content faster than any other generation in history. There’s work you just have to be willing to A, not fucking annoy a
creative director and go, yeah, I can do that shoot for you, but licensing for this, this, and this, is gonna be this set price. They don’t wanna deal with that, and that’s not the market anymore.
– Right. – A photo goes on Instagram they don’t wanna pay a licensing fee every time it goes on Twitter–
– Right. – Or the artist’s on-line store. – As soon, and there’s a
couple photographers like that that I’ve run into.
– Yeah. – I just glaze over.
– Yeah. – I just can’t, I can’t keep
it straight, like I mean. – I think you lose sight of the fun when you start–
– Yeah. – Nickel and diming your self creatively.
– Yeah. – Cause then you go, well,
I’m only gonna try this hard because they’re only paying this much.
– Right. – I’ll do the best fucking job I can within the budget you give me. – Right. – I will spend every
penny if I really love it. So I think there’s a huge misunderstanding with photographers, directors, producers, musicians, that go, well, when I grew up everything was licensing
and you got paid for this. And these, you know, Annie
Leibovitz and Mario Testino, they got huge paychecks for
showing up and licensing. You’re none of the people, first of all.
– Right. That’s like the main thing. – And this is a new era. – Right. – You can, half these people
can do it on their iPhone if they really need to. They don’t need you, but if you wanna be in the room–
– Yeah. – With X then just fucking take the job and use that–
– Right. – As leverage. I think the payment now is, well, I worked with them–
– Right. – We got along really well.
– Right. – They know so-and-so so I’m gonna get to be
in the room with them and create something and it’s not about the money.
– Right. – It’s about like–
– Like what are your conversations to get in
the room with Robin Williams? You shot freaking Robin Williams.
– I know, it was literally hitting up
the publicist in California who I had talked to before.
– And then did you explain to them your rates and your licensing fees? – I literally said–
(laughing) If you give me five minutes–
– I will pay you. – Well, yeah, I literally.
(laughing) – He was in Boulder, I said look, he’s coming through this is a long shot, if I can have five minutes you can have all the images in perpetuity use ’em for whatever you want.
– Yeah. – Right, they go, we can give you an hour and I said, fucking
right, I can do an hour. Obviously I shot in 11 minutes, I’ve talked about that a long time and then I let him get on with his day. But the financial side of
it was never a question and then over the years… – That’s paid for itself. – It’s paid for itself many times over. – Well and that’s the thing is for me I’m in the process of
recalibrating my soul so I’m just not interested
in feeding whatever I perceive as a black hole of creativity. So for a photographer it’s like, for Instagram models it’s just like, dude, we get it like we get it.
– Right, yeah. – Go do something real. Find a really great photographer instead of your little
brother with a phone and taking pictures of yourself in a bikini–
– Right. – Like do it, go into the thing, hire a stylist, put
together the shoot yourself, hire the work and get amazing photos.
– Right. – Like be a, we can do that now. On my end it’s TV film. Every writer in Nashville is like hey, you wanna get together and write for Sync? I’ve had a couple years
where it worked for me. There’s just only so many
songs I can do that say, like go, fight, win, in the chorus. Like it just doesn’t–
– Right. – My barometer, again, and
that was part of the thing, of just trying to keep up with so-and-so and write a song that just like smashed and whatever could be in hockey arena.
– Gets you motivated for like 30 seconds.
– But that’s not who I am. You know me that’s not who I am. Where’s their cool? You and I both know people
that are doing so good at it, so I’m not knocking on that, but–
– No, that’s their vibe. – But what’s happened is
we’ve all seen those people, there’s like five people in town that are crushing it.
– Yeah. – And so everyone else is like, “Oh, let’s start a sync project” and it’s just like yeah, cause it’s that easy?
– Right. – We just all happen
to know the five people that are doing it really well it doesn’t mean that it’s easy and that it invalidates the
work that they’re putting in. It obviously is really hard.
– Right. – And so for me it was like I’ve had a couple years that
I’ve done pretty well in Sync, but ultimately you’re just like, when I die and my children
are going through my computer and my hard drive I
don’t want them finding a bunch of songs of me trying to get on a Yoplait commercial.
– Right. – I want them finding, oh my gosh, dad never released this? And it’s like–
– Yeah. – But also what started to bother me is no one was putting anything out because we don’t wanna
put out the Sync stuff. We wanna put it out–
– Right. – If it lands–
– Yeah. – And gets us like a massive spot and make it look like we’re crushing it.
– Yeah. – So wait, it’s like, so we just spent a bunch of time together writing the song, it’s
going into this black hole of whoever you’re working with, and we’re not putting
it out because we’re, if we’re honest we’re a
little low-key embarrassed by mostly the lyrical content here, we’re not saying anything.
– Yeah. – We’re saying a bunch of buzz phrases. I’m not saying that for everybody, but I’m saying like a lot of us that misperceive what’s actually going on, that’s what we think is happening.
– Right. – So we write this very boring song.
– Yeah. – And we’ve made, I’ve done on the money production tricks, but nothing that came from anywhere.
– Right. – You know what I mean? And so for me it was just like I don’t wanna feed that, that’s a black hole to me and it’s not who I am. You talk to a guy like Dustin Burnette.
– Yeah. Zayde Wolf, crushes Sync.
– Yeah. – But he loves it, it makes sense to him.
– Right. – It’s who he is, he’s into it.
– He’s a rock and roller. – I am not.
– Right. – I’m not, I’m not into it. I don’t, the type of Sync that I like was back in the early 2000s when, “I’ll Follow You Into The Dark”, by Death Cab For Cutie came on the thing.
– Yeah. – And that’s not, they
didn’t write that for that, but it just happened to fit the thing and so for me I just had to
set that desire on the shelf. I think it’s good music business hygiene to submit your songs for TV and film.
– Sure. – You should, but for me
it’s just not something I can chase and stay healthy as a writer and as a creator. And so that’s one black hole. The other black hole
is the Spotify playlist black hole–
– Yeah. – Of how can we get
this song on a playlist? – Which everybody loves. – You can’t control that.
– Yeah. – I can’t control what TV
show my songs get placed in. I don’t think I’ve been
in a single TV show that I’ve liked.
(laughing) Period.
– Yeah. – I’ve been in a few and
none of ’em have been shows where I’ve been like, oh my god, I watched that.
– Yeah. – Like I watched the
episode that my song was in because that’s exciting,
it’ll never not be, but… And then the Spotify playlist thing it was just like I can’t
control that anymore, I just can’t, I’m done. It’s bad business practice to be so concerned with
something you cannot control. I know no one at Spotify. – And to chase that. – Yeah, I know no one at Spotify. Sometimes songs we’ve written have gotten on massive playlists, sometimes they haven’t. I, great, so for me it has to get back to, I can pretend like I
have strategies all day in my music career, the
honest truth is, I don’t. I’m a good songwriter
that’s the only trick up my sleeve right now.
– Really good songwriter. – Thank you, I appreciate that, sometimes. But also I write, I’m writing
five or six songs a week, one of them is okay, and
the next week I’ll write another five or six songs
and one of ’ems like, oh, we’re onto something. And then the next week we’ll
come and I’ll write five or six and something will happen
where I take a piece from week one, week two, and something that I wrote seven years ago and it all comes together–
– It just works. – In week three to be
something really cool and you get something like,
“You Make My Heart Go” which the other day just
randomly got on a playlist and has been getting 2,000 streams a day. But I, and then I just
put ’em on dis-tro-caid and put it out. Like there wasn’t a PR
campaign, it just was, you know. So I think for me I realized is like I can pretend to have strategy all day, but really I can write a song, I can produce a song, I know people that can
mix and master me well, I know you.
– Right. – You and I are probably
gonna shoot for it and create a video for it. And I have a (mumbles). And that, and those things, those things have made my career entirely. And it’s those things
that have got me work and continue to pay my bills as a producer.
– Right. – Like I don’t make any money as a writer I make my money producing
tracks for people, but it’s usually on the
tracks from my bands, MEDIC VEAUX, before them
Saving Daylight, huh? I wasn’t getting anywhere out of that. But it’s usually like a track that people are like, this
is awesome, who did this? And most of the time it was me. – For, you asked me earlier, for photographers what would you say? You’re talking music side.
– Yeah. – So for anybody who’s producing, writing, how do you justify doing the opposite of what could make you a very well-known, like cocktail party conversation producer because you, all you’d have to do is deny your mental health.
– Sure. – Fucking promote yourself 24/7 and run ads on Instagram.
– Right. – And be handshaking with this person and that person.
– And for some people they crush that, they do so good. – But how do you, and that’s how it works. That’s how a lot of people,
back in photography, back in the ’90s that’s
how you became huge. Tell somebody that’s
introverted and healthier when they’re a little darker on socials and not necessarily posting every day, to still make that a career.
– Yeah. – Because self-promotion is literally 90% of what we do now.
– Completely. And I think it’s necessary. Like social media’s not going away. I don’t think not engaging with it is the best of strategies, but that’s, for me it’s just
become about the work of. My first year in Nashville I did, I don’t know man, like 50 plus songs, producing and writing with
people and all the stuff and most of it was for TV film, right? Most of those songs never
saw the light of day, never got placed in TV. As a producer this has been one of my most successful
years financially, but it’s always based on,
I heard this VEAUX track and I loved the way you write–
– Got it. – Will you produce me, or… And we worked with a ton of producers, like Jeff Duncan, a-rus-a-lun, a-nor-lov on some of that first stuff so my strength there was not
that I produced those tracks it was that I was the
writer on those tracks, or the singer on those tracks
which is also valuable. But what I realized is,
I sat with a manager, a really great manager
out in Portland, Oregon, and what he told me, and
there’s some caveat to it, but it’s everything’s data,
the data will never lie to you. And that changed my life in the regards of the fruit in my life,
the success in my life, was all coming from VEAUX
which doesn’t make me money it puts me in the hole.
– Sure. – Touring is expensive. Putting out videos is expensive. For all the thing, it’s a business–
– Yeah. – It’s just a business. Producing tracks makes me money that’s what brings in my income. So it’s like I’ve made 50
plus tracks for TV film that aren’t seeing the light of day, for whatever reason
they’re not getting placed, some of ’em are, every once in awhile, but I’m getting to be with these artists that are really cool and
really have something to say based on what I’m doing for free.
– Right. – And actually losing money on it.
– Yeah. – I’m losing money on VEAUX. So it’s like I came to this realization if the data is telling me that
if I put out 50 VEAUX tracks, are you kidding me, my
soul would be fulfilled, I’m making stuff with my friends, with you, Dominic and
Drew, and Jen, my wife. And I’m probably gonna get a ton of work. – Based off of–
– That’s just what – Doing something that you love to do.
– The data says. Yeah because the song
writers that I work with are like, make me sound like VEAUX, and it’s just like, I can do, that’s me, I am that. Instead of like, oh make
me sound like Zayde Wolf, which is like I can’t. That dude is so good at, I
have gone up against that dude for Xbox commercials or whatever and his track just undeniably sounds–
– Just steamrolls you, right? – Yes, like there’s no way
that I’m gonna even hit, hit the mark–
– Right. – Because it’s not who I am.
– Yeah. – Like it just sounds like
Kroger brand Zayde Wolf and no one wants Kroger brand Zayde Wolf they just want–
– The real deal. – When we’re coming from, him and I are on the same licensing house so it’s like when we’re
coming from the same place, and we’re getting sent in
the same email together, I lose, I lose. So it’s just like I’m gonna
stop playing your game, if we wanna call it that. I’m gonna stop playing your game I’m gonna play mine and I’m gonna write whatever it is I wanna write which is usually very
minory and slow stuff. That’s when my voice sounds the best on, that’s what I, I don’t know. So for me what I’d tell
a producer is like, and you’ve said this on Twitter as well, is how can a client trust you if they don’t know what you would make when you’re left to your own devices. Like VEAUX is what I make
when I wanna make something and so when a client hires me they know exactly where I’m taking it. They’re like, oh man, I friggin’ love it when you do this.
– Yeah. – Because they saw me do it, they saw how it worked and that’s that’s how I sustain my life, you know what I mean? So, so for me the pullback
in all of this was, I would rather do 50 VEAUX tracks and go financially underwater
and see where that takes me, that’s the game I’m playing right now. – And that’s it.
– Yeah.

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