It was a challenge being in front of a camera. I don’t really enjoy having pictures taken of me, so being filmed in front of a camera with an enormous lens looking directly into my eyes was very uncomfortable.
Otherwise, what a blast – we booked out a day at the studio for everyone to drop in at different times, hang out, and shoot their parts. It was a lot of coordination and effort, but the people involved made it painless and fun.
Was this your first time working with Director/Producer Courtney Collins?
Not my first time, no. We had a live outdoors shoot in November of 2017 where she filmed a short set of music. It was very different from filming the music video, though. We also worked together for our first photo shoot as a band.
Tell us about your music. How would you describe your style? Who are your influences? Is there anyone who you'd love to collaborate with one day?
I would describe my style as “varied,” but Max (guitar) describes my sound as “progressive singer-songwriter.” I try to actively avoid falling into a genre of sound. Exploring different types of music and different soundscapes brings me a lot of joy; the songs on the album range from quiet acoustic-guitar driven folk rock all the way to jazz fusion and alt metal. I do my best to put a fingerprint on each song so they don’t feel disparate – rather, each song is just an exploration of genre within the context of my voice.
I draw deeply from classical music (Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff), but I also listen to jazz and rock (Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley). I don’t really have training by way of any of that, though, so I’m taking the sounds and putting my own take on them.
I would love to collaborate with Thom Yorke. I think he’s busy, though. I’ll shoot him a message and see if his schedule opens up at all, but I get the sense that he’s busy. Also, I don’t think he knows I exist.
What was the inspiration behind your debut album American Ghost? How do you hope people will feel when they listen to it?
A lot of lonely nights went into writing the songs on American Ghost, but there is an equal measure of wanting to connect with people and actually making those connections happen. There is no hidden inspiration to the album. The album was a necessity – it just needed to happen, no more and no less. It’s a snapshot into the fiber of my existence at a very specific and transitory moment in my life.
I hope that people listen to the album and feel camaraderie with their neighbors. I hope that sad people listen to the album and know that someone shares in their pain. I hope that lonely people listen to the album and feel a little less alone in the world. I hope that happy people listen to the album and recognize that there are people in pain around them. And I hope that people who have lost all hope listen to the album and walk away feeling renewed.
What has your personal journey been like? When did you discover that you loved music? I read that you were a teacher at one point. What did you teach, and do you find any similarities between teaching and making music?
I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember. Music always made sense to me.
Numbers and figures also made sense to me, so I thought I was going to be a doctor – since a career in music is for the irresponsible.
Turns out, I’m also pretty irresponsible. I was a middle school math teacher for about 3 years, and at some point along the line, I realized that as much as I loved my students and loved teaching (something else I’ve always enjoyed), I was completely miserable not making music.
And of course, there are connections between teaching and making music. For me, that connection is about finding the best way to relay information and sentiment to another person. Each song, like every good lesson, has a hook, an introduction, a development, and conclusion with a clear goal in mind at each step of the way. It’s a bit murkier with music, obviously, but the connections are there.
The most useful things for me, though, have been the organizational skills, the work ethic, and the ability to visualize various scenarios and think up contingency plans – all of which I developed as a teacher.
What do you think of the music scene in Hoboken/Jersey City?
I love the community. My first time stepping up to deliver a live performance of my own music was just 2 years ago at a local open mic. I still can’t believe I only met these people between 1-2 years ago. I feel like I’ve known them for ages; I feel like I’ve found a family, and they’ve taken me in as one of their own.
It’s vibrant, supportive, and filled to the brim with love and talent. You won’t find that in many other places, if at all. I know I’m new to all of this, but I know there’s something special there. I’d like for more people to be aware of it.
Do you have any shows coming up?
Yes! We’ve got our first little tour put together. 8/15 we’re at The Fire in Philly, 8/16 at The Brighton Bar in Long Branch, 8/17 at The Pompei Lounge in Staunton, VA, 8/18 at Roofer’s Union in DC, and 8/19 we’re settling down in Abingdon, VA to connect with some friends.
Where can people find you online? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, YouTube, etc.?)
People can find us here: