What's the happiest time you remember?
Maybe it's lame, but I feel like the happiest time is currently, now. I'm trying to really focus on the mantra, “Where I am is perfect and right where I am supposed to be.” I guess I could look back and think, “wouldn't it be nice to be 21 again, get a fresh start in music and learn more when I was younger” I do think about that, but then I think if I hadn't taken the path I've taken, I wouldn't be where I am today and who knows what my life would look like. I could always hope for more of this or more of that, and there are a lot of things with my music that I would change but at the same time I do try to be happy... I am happy! I love my little house, I love my husband, I love my pets and I am happy with where my music has taken me... I'm happy now! I mean, I guess I could say childhood at Disneyland, that's probably the next best thing.
What would your eight-year-old self say to you and say about your life?
Oh, that's a toughie. When I was eight I was riding horses and I thought I was going to be an Olympian. My eight-year-old self would say, "Hone your artistic side. You know how your parents are begging you to take guitar lessons and piano lessons, take those, you'll appreciate those later down the line.” She would say, “Of course you went the path your parents did!” My eight-year-old self was going a different direction, so she would be surprised I am in music. I was shy and a little intimidated about being a showman. I think she would say, "I thought you were going to have babies and be in a mansion and on a farm with a million animals by now!" I know when I was eight I thought 30 was so old. Life definitely moves at a slightly slower pace than I thought, so I think she would be shocked that there isn’t more established or that I am still discovering myself.
Who are you most proud of?
I'm very proud of Ron, my husband. He is just so smart and always learning and picking up new things and I really admire that. I find, as an adult, to pick up new things and learn something new and immerse yourself can be a real challenge. We are not childlike in the sense of a sponge soaking things up and he's just kind of a savant that way, he picks a hobby or a new field to learn and he absorbs it all, and it's amazing. He redirected his career path in the last few years and he dove into the deep end and is thriving and doing so well. So, I'm really proud of him.
Who's proud of you?
I would say my husband and my parents are probably proud of me too. I think I got a later start in music…people keep telling me to stop saying that. I didn't understand the path of a musician. I know I shouldn’t think, “where I'm supposed to be” and it is more about, “where I am now.” But I do feel I've got a little of a later start. I was around 26 or 27 when I immersed myself in music and started to write. But back to the question, I think my parents are proud of how much I'm still chugging away because the industry is so brutal. They both were musicians and they know what they went through and they both think it was way easier back then to be a professional musician and actually make a living doing it. You know, before the horrors of streaming music, you could make a living. I think my parents are super proud of me and I know my husband is very proud of me because he supports me [laughter]. But yeah, I think my parents, they love that what they did as musicians has influenced me and how it's put me where I am now.
What stops you?
[Laughter & a smile] What stops me... I self-sabotage. I procrastinate with my writing. Writing has been my biggest struggle. I enjoy doing it, but I wouldn't say it's an easy passion. It's not something that comes very easily to me. I try to write with other people which is difficult because I have to make sure that person knows every facet of how I feel so I can get everything I want out of the writing session and the song. I've learned in the last few months as I've written more and more, that I'm probably going to be my own best co-writer. But then I had this crazy realization, I have to sit and write by myself, which is facing my fears and there's no one to bounce ideas off of. I get this raw thing and I question myself, “It’s horrible! It’s amazing?!” It’s horrible.” I self-sabotage and then I avoid writing. I'm trying to get better with that. It's just so raw and emotional, but I have to share it and be vulnerable. It’s scary. So, I stop myself.
What's the hardest thing you have ever done?
The hardest thing I've ever done... very generally speaking, be a musician. [Laughter] I make jokes sometimes and say "I wish I wanted to be an accountant. Take more of a straightforward approach to a career. I could have gotten a degree and worked for a company or however it works because the music industry is rough and there's so many ways to approach it. I think the hardest thing I've ever done is pick to be a musician. But then again, I say “pick” even though it was inevitable for me and there was no avoiding it. It's the hardest thing I've ever done but there's no denying I have to pursue it.
If you could ask a question to anyone, who would you ask and what would you ask?
I have to go with our girl Oprah. [Laughter] I mean, I'm not like one of these Oprah followers, I never have really even watched the show. But you have to admire her life in some aspects. I would have to ask Oprah how can I seize my life from here on out. Like what steps do I need to take to really... she's not an artist per say, but I think she gets the artsy side. She's a businesswoman but she's the first person that came to my mind. Musicians are so flighty and weird that I don't think I would go to a musician. So, I have to go to someone inspiring [laughter]Oprah, our modern-day Buddha, Oprah! [More laughter]
At 85 years-old looking back at your life, what is one thing you have to of done?
Travel for sure. I've done a little, but not a ton, so I definitely would like to do more. I want to feel confident that I got to go to other places and see cultures and different ways of living. And I also want to have a farm. I really… I want to have a farm at some point. One of my dreams in life is to have a rescue, a sanctuary, and have every different kind of animal that's unwanted and take them all in and love them and have enough money to maintain that. The farm is a big one and I would maybe make some kind of cool artisanal jam on my farm.
If your music could speak, what would it say to you?
It would say, “More horns. I need more horns.” And my music would say, “You need to write more up-tempo song.” I've been writing a lot of downtempo stuff lately which is great and fine but I feel like my personality is a little flashier and I love a flashy stage costume. I was just thinking the other day about performing these sad songs I have and it's not going to look connected wearing a sequin leotard. I mean, I will make it work because that sequin leotard is not going anywhere. But I think my music would also say, “don't be afraid to really let it rip and expose all the emotion.” It can be hard to let it all out, especially when I write with new people. It's hard to meet a new writing partner, have lunch and be like "OK, we're going to go write about all my emotions.” I have to open up quickly. It's almost like being on a date and having sex in the first hour, it can be weird. So, with that said, my music would say, “Open up and more horns.” “More mariachi sounds.”
What do you wish you had?
More time. I wish I had more time because as a woman I feel my biological clock is ticking. I do want children and I don't want to be 45 when I start to trying. So, I wish I had more time. I wish I could go back and learn instruments, which is something I don't like saying or I regret, but I wish I'd focused more on learning an instrument when I was younger so I could feel more confident. I think it would assist my writing and obviously make me more experienced as a musician. So, time…time for sure, 100% more time.
If you were to teach people how to have fun what would you say?
That’s trickier than it sounds. To teach people how to have fun… hmm… care less. Care less about what people think and be freer and dance more, as lame as that is. You see how children have fun and they're carefree and they're not thinking about people judging them or watching them which is something as adults we obviously do. So, I guess just to be more free and more open minded and less judgmental. Try to let go of things so you can just experience.
Is there something that you are afraid of?
Yeah, failure, I’m definitely afraid of failing. I know I'll always have music, it's not something I need to ever actually quit, it's something that will always exist and be there. I believe in myself and I'm going to do whatever I need to do to make it happen...but failure, I'm afraid of failure.
What is the happiest time you can remember?
I would say just off the cuff is when I first met my husband, Christian. It was so fun. I was unencumbered, we were in love and discovering the city and it was great. I was already living in Los Angeles, but when you're in love you see things through a new lens. To be able to see someone’s life and how they live it and the way they experience the city; that was great for me. He is like an outlier and very different. He is a different kind of human being and I was fascinated by him, I just thought he was so interesting. He had his own sort of unique way of doing things and I never met anyone like him. It was like Boom… it was so sweet… wow it was fun. At the time I was so done with these gross, just gross guys out there, so when I met Christian there was never a doubt. We both knew we were going to get married like the first month or week we started dating. "Yeah, I'm going to have kids with you”, and he's was like “yeah, we're doing this." Obviously, there's plenty of times that I've been happy in my life but this time was so fun. I had never met anyone like him before.
I there anything you wish people knew?
You know what I wish people knew and this doesn't have anything to do with being an artist, it has to do with relating to people, I am guilty as the next person and sometimes mess up too, but I wish more people knew how to communicate with kids. Communicate in a way that is healthy and proactive for their growth. I feel like I encounter so many people who... you know... it's hard to listen to people talking to kids sometimes. I wish more people could communicate in a positive way with children.
At 8 years old what did you think your life would look like?
I was desperate to be the next Joan Crawford. I desperately wanted to be her. I was obsessed with actresses like Carole Lombard, Joan Crawford and all the actresses of that time. To me they were the epitome of femininity and that is what I wanted to be like. I thought “that” was what it meant to be a woman. It was a beautiful kind of confidence. Like Katharine Hepburn; confident, beautiful, stylish and controlled, that's what I wanted to be. My mom was a force…she “is” a force. She's very feminine, she's beautiful and at the time was certainly very fashionable and had a strong personality. I was immersed in that world and it seemed natural that those would be the sort of icons I liked. They were fabulous and it didn't seem a far stretch, it seemed attainable. So at 8 yrs old I thought, [Laughter] “Cool, I am just going to be the next Joan Crawford, [ Laughter] just a little less abusive towards children.” [More laughter]
If you could ask a question and get the answer, who would you ask and what would you ask?
That is a very intense question. These are questions I never thought I would be asked in my whole life. Can they be living or dead
I might ask my dead grandparents a few questions about how they raised my parents. Questions like, “what was she like as a child or what was he like as a child?” I never got to do that. I would inquire as to what my parent’s natures were like as kids or what they dreamed of or what their temperaments were like. I am fascinated by it. It's interesting to me to get the backstory and ask "What were they like? Were they good student...etc.?" I think the lens is different, because when you ask your own parents what they were like as a child their view is going to be different obviously. I would really like to know that sort of thing.
What would you do over?
Make a bigger push in my photo career before having kids. Not that I wasn't pushing myself before children but I would have upped the ante by like 20 and gone into crazy career driven mode. I've always been very motivated but I would have hunkered down [laugher] and just taken that time afforded me to make the effort. I am not saying that now it's too late or anything like that, what I am saying is, if you really love something, you're passionate about it and you're fortunate enough to discover it early in life, seize the day and go for it, because distractions can come into play and it can be hard to balance everything. I feel if you can afford yourself an amount of time in your life where you're just dedicated to "that" it can be really, really amazing and beneficial.
At 85 years old looking back at your life, what is it that you have to have done?
I would like to have made a few shorts, a few film shorts and I would like to have my daughters be good people, who are healthy emotionally and happy. Hmmm... what else.... there's got to be at least one more thing… God, Sienna! [laughter]. I know this is such a cliché, but I would like to master a language, I would like to really hone in on my French and have a conversation that doesn't sound like I'm two years old.
Is there something you're absolutely afraid of?
The ocean... the ocean. I don't like swimming in the ocean, I do not enjoy that. The ocean is a huge powerful force and that's scary. I don't want to do any recreational activity where the odds are stacked against me. The funny thing about this fear is I grew-up at the beach.
How do you want to be known?
I would say I would like to be known as a good listener, someone who is supportive and loyal. I would like to be known as someone who can bring a little levity to situations where we're not all so burdened by the drudgery of daily life, make people laugh. I like making people laugh. I like lightening loads a little, so I’d like to be known as joyful and funny. I don't really care whether people think I'm smart or not. That doesn't interest me, it's not something that is on my radar [Laugher]. I'd rather be loyal, a good listener and someone who is fun. I would also like to be respected for my work, be known as a hard worker and someone who does beautiful work, beautiful photography. So yeah, those things.
To contact Darcy Hemley directly go to www.darcyhemley.com
Visual Artist – Illustrator
If your art could speak what would it say to you.
The first thing that comes to minds is, "make more of me" or “keep going” or “Sit down and do this”. I read a lot about art and one thing that I came across that was really interesting was from a high school AP art class syllabus. It was very dry and a little corporate. It had bullet points and it was very structured. The point of the program was to identify what you do well. I liked it because it's nice to think about doing work and then try to identify what’s good about it, instead of what you “fucked up” or how you fell short of your goal. It’s this thought, “So, you did this thing, what worked?” It's the idea of making something but ending up in a different place, somewhere you didn't expect; and that can be a good a thing...it's like a surprise.
I want my art to express something that is meaningful and accurate. I feel like another thing my work would say to me is “focus.” I don't think I have a style. Other people have told me I do, but I don't think my art needs to look a certain way because that's the way I do it. So, there is a lot of freedom, but there is almost too much freedom at times. And it's why this AP syllabus made so much sense to me because it was speaking to these two things; focus and intention but also freedom. It was positive. I am hard on myself and I am very negative about my visual art. I come at it from, “if it's not perfect then it’s a failure and it's not worth doing anymore.” So, the work is saying to me, "Just keep doing it and see what happens.”
What's the happiest time you can remember?
This makes me think of different types of happiness. Happiness of a moment or the happiness of a time. A while ago I was thinking about going back to school for medical researching. At the time, I was thinking about what I thought interesting and compelling and I came to a point where I realized all the questions I was asking myself was about science; biology, chemistry and construction of life and physical things. So, I went to school and studied biology, anatomy, physiology and I was studying that with the intent of becoming a medical illustrator. I experienced a deep satisfaction because I was in a place to get answers to some of the questions I had and it brought me happiness. I could ask questions more specifically. It was like learning a foreign language and the more I understood the more and more I could understand complex topics and the more and more I understood poetic, nuanced and beautiful things. So, by learning the fundamentals of chemistry and biology it opened all these new areas of intrigue and it gave me a language to converse with all the questions I had. I could go deeper and the pictures became more full. It was abstract and real at the same time and it was that much more compelling.
What is it you wish you had?
More time… just more time. I have felt, for the last 10 years, that I am running out of time.
If you had more time, what would that give you?
I would work more.
In every commitment, there is a sacrifice. So, I am not a medical illustrator and it's because I decided not to pursue that and go in a different direction. I made a commitment to something else and I sacrificed not to become a medical illustrator. I can only do one thing at a time and I want to be able to give myself to what I am doing (visual art) so that I can do it well. It’s the realization that there are only so many hours in a day and I have only so many days to do it.
What would you do over?
This is a question I have asked myself a lot… I wouldn't do anything over, because you can't. I can get caught up in that thought process and it can take up all my time, but in the end, I don’t get anything and I just feel bad.
How would you teach people to have fun?
1st of all I would say “it's okay to have fun.” I would say, “it's a state of mind and a permission you give yourself.” “You don't have to be serious or proper or perfectly behaved, you can just have fun and that's okay.” I would also say, “give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling and enjoy it.” It's not about a specific set of actions, it's an attitude and a certain amount of self-acceptance.
How do you want to be known?
I guess what comes to mind is I would like for people to think of me as being a kind person. I value kindness and I think it goes a real long way. I think it is one of those fundamental ways of engaging with people you meet; your friends, family, yourself and your community. It gives space for nice things to happen, for connections to be made and for things to grow. Right now, it seems like kindness isn't being well practiced on a big scale, but I think it is a powerful thing.
Is there anything you wish people knew?
That's a huge question. What I am hearing is, if I had the power to put a thought into everyone’s head what would it be? That is an awesome responsibility.
I think it would be something along the lines of what I was talking about with kindness. In my experience, I think anger is destructive and… well… I guess everyone thinks anger is destructive. So, I guess the idea to impart on other people, if I could, is the strength and power of kindness. Kindness is strength.
For more information about Ted Ridgway art work contact: email@example.com
Artist - Musician
What's the happiest time you can remember?
This weekend was pretty good. I just went out to the woods with the family, we were camping and I was pretty happy. A couple of times, I was really happy. My daughter, she was in a big pair of boots, a diaper and she had soot all over her face. She had a runny nose and she had just eaten some chocolate. Her hair, it was just a mess because we didn't bring a brush or anything. So watching her tromp around the campground made me happy. And also my son, he was in a creek on this giant log with a big stick like Huckleberry Finn just rowing around. The pool of water was ice cold, it was so cold and there he was out in the middle just really precarious, risking it. So that made me happy watching him. Another thing that made me really happy is when an artist I really respect asked to produce a book of my artwork; that made me happy too. I don't want to talk too much about it…I don't have the book yet. Happiness is definitely something that just comes and goes. It's not every day but most weeks I have moments of happiness, of real happiness.
What do you wish you had?
I wish I had more money so I could just focus on making art, pay my health insurance bill… I could get a decent car…I would like to travel with my family. It is really important to me for my kids to see the world. It’s kind of silly, but I think I'm pretty fulfilled otherwise. I think the reason I don't have more money is because I haven't really sacrificed much for it. I have made other sacrifices, but I haven't really sacrificed my desire to make art. I would like my artwork to actually be something that can sustain me and my family because that is what I've invested my life in. Someone once told me if your only problem is money, then your problems aren't that bad.
If your art could speak to you what would it say to you?
It would say, “Why the hell are you doing something else?! Get over here.” It's like when you don't walk your dog, you get dog guilt. That is kind of how I feel with creating sometimes. Sometimes when I haven't painted a painting for a week it is definitely beckoning me.
What would it say to others?
It would say, "You may not think like me, but think." That's what it would say. There is no definite conclusion, you've got to figure out one for yourself. It's making a statement rather than preaching or telling someone what to think. My art is just raising questions and I think it's up to the individual to answer it for themselves.
How do you want to be known?
In my visual art, I wouldn't mind being known as the guy who makes art for everybody and not just for the art educated. I've found that that the soul of a painting translates to the art educated as well as the art not educated. And when there's a painting that only rings to the people who are art educated it means that some of the soul of that work is missing. I guess I want to be known as authentic.
At eight years old what did you think your life would look like?
I think from a very early age I was geared towards art. I have some sketchbooks from elementary school and they're really good. Maybe I wanted to be a knight or something like that because there are a lot of drawings of battles. I don't think I really understood how scary and harsh violence is at the time. But there were lots of violent drawings of battles around that age. I think I thought the world was like [my] world. When I was younger I hadn't gotten to travel all that much so once I started traveling I remember realizing wow, not everyone lives the way that I live?! I mean, I don't really remember specifically what my dreams were at eight, I think more at around 11 and 12. I definitely knew I wanted to be a musician.
I never really faltered from that. When I went to college, I knew I wanted to be a rock and roll musician so I didn't really feel like college was a part of that. I studied liberal arts and I dropped out after a year and a half to pursue music. I moved to Seattle to try and join a band. It was at the time when Nirvana was just coming up and Tad and Mud Honey; I literally went to Seattle because I figured I could find a band there. That didn't go so well. [Laughter] I ended up moving to New York and getting some musical projects going but I left because nothing really great was happening and then I came to LA and started playing in bands. I was like a horse with blinders on from a very early age.
My older sisters, they corrupted my youth for sure. I mean I know for a fact I started smoking weed when I was 11 because my sister would get me stoned. She was only 14 at the time.
But I was always a good kid regardless of my drinking and drug use. I think my mom instilled in me to be a good person. I've never got off on any friends or anybody who was rude or mean. I had some friends that stole, that robbed people, I thought those guys were screwed and I bailed on them. Through all of my young life and my party years, I was never a mean person. I feel pretty good about that because there were a lot of kids that weren't nice people, there are a lot of people now who aren't nice.
If your 8-year-old self was here what would he say to you?
“Be a solo musician.” [Laughter] He would say, “Be truer to yourself at a younger age.” Musically, when I was younger I really took a lot of initiative but as soon as I got around stronger personalities I would let a lot of my songwriting defer to the other person. I think creatively I should have been more honest with my direction. I was reading an interview with Neil Young and he was talking about how Crosby, Stills, and Nash would get pissed at him for bailing and doing something else, but then Crazy Horse would go on hiatus for five years because he was doing something else. It made me realize that I've always been a kind of monogamists musician with bands. Part of me feels like I should have bounced around more and kind of explored different avenues, followed different paths at a younger age. I think I'm doing better at that now.
I think my eight-year-old self would really like to hang out with me. I think we'd have fun. My eight-year-old self would say something like, “It took you long enough to figure out your own thing.”
Who are you most proud of?
My wife, it would be Beth Ann. I am most proud of her. I think she's just incredible. She has this selflessness about her. Sometimes it can be a curse, I have to force her to take care of herself. I'm proud of her for staying strong. Working hard at her job, at a job she does so well, she is a wonderful mother and she takes care of her own mother. She is someone I would aspire to be as genuine as. I am proud of her.
Who's most proud of you?
My mother is definitely proud of me. I think she definitely is. I think my family in general. I am sure if you ask Beth Ann she would be proud of me. Not only is she proud, she is so supportive, especially of my art. I have always made art and I've been thinking about what I want to do other than music because I'm a bit disenchanted by music; not by the art form, I love the art form but by actually trying to eke a living at it. I'm tired of splitting a check six ways, tired of making an album in this modern day. In an age of Who cares about an album. So I'm thinking what else can I do for another career? I went to Beth Ann and told her I wanted to focus on my visual art and she just said, “Yes.” and I am like, “That seems like the most stupid thing to do, I am not making money as a musician, Hmmm, how else can I make money? I'm going to be a visual artist.” [Laughter] “That's money the bank!” [More laughter] She has been so supportive and she thinks I'm less crazy than I think I am.
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What is the happiest time you can remember?
Getting married was pretty cool. I was pretty happy when we got this house. It was a relief coming to this place. It’s when I started actually liking being out in California. I was comfortable again. So those two things are up there. Maybe getting my first ad, the first time I saw myself in a magazine, I think that is pretty cool too. Generally I'm pretty happy all the time.
What is the hardest thing you've ever done?
Probably moving to California from Arizona, I left my comfort zone entirely. And although it was not my choice, leaving England for the United States. Those are two pretty big uprooting that have happened that have kind of scared me and shaped me a little bit. The situations I was thrown into after both moves kind of kicked me into gear. When I was younger, moving to the States and moving into a new stepfather's house and trying to figure all that out. I was 8 then and then at 25 I moved here [Los Angeles] I had to figure everything out and replant my roots. I first came here by myself because I felt like I needed too for skating. And then once I was with Amber, I wanted to be here. This place [Los Angeles] has always seemed so super superficial and plastic and not anything that I wanted to do or be associated with. So it was hard to bite the bullet and say that I'm a part of the whole system out here.
What would your 8-year-old self say to you about your life?
I don't know. I think he would be pretty stoked. I kind of move pretty freely and do what I want. I think the 8 year old me would be pretty excited; I get to travel and just be out in the world with my friends and kind of just do whatever I want for the most part. I think that's kind of what everyone wants to do, but few do. So that’s pretty exciting. I did not think I would be where I am now, not even five years ago to be able to sort of coast. I’m sure it’s making Amber’s blood boil to hear that I am coasting. I mean sometimes I feel like I'm struggling but it could definitely be harder. I could definitely have to work way more and I could have way less. I don’t think coasting is necessarily negative but it's definitely easy. I don't know if there's anything wrong with having it easy but maybe some people think there's not as much passion having an easy life or something like that but that's not what I think. I'm pretty passionate about everything I do. I'm dedicated to what I do; it's not a free ride. I had to do things and for a long time to actually be where I am now, it’s just not that big of a deal. You know what I mean? It's not like I'm a refugee or I've been through a lot of crazy shit. I got into skating so it's like a big joke in the end but I work hard towards it.
How is it a big joke in the end?
I mean it's me and my friends playing with our toys, that's what it is, it's why we started doing it. So you can't really take it that seriously you know. I take it seriously, but it's, it's not the end of the world, it's just skating. There are people working way harder doing way crazier shit everywhere that have nothing …It's a blessing, if you know what I mean?
What stops you?
Just in general? Myself, sometimes feeling guilty that I get to do whatever. I don't know, maybe not really much at all. For the most part, probably just physical injury where I literally can't do anything, not just with skating but it keeps me from wanting to do anything because it hurts or I'm stiff, stuff like that. Most of my body has been hurt at some point. Maybe being scared of the unknown? Like leaps of faith; you know what I mean? Career moves and life moves and stuff like that. I don't jump right into things very often and I usually mull things over for quite a while. And sometimes that can stop me and be a bad thing when I think too much. I think too much. It probably seems like I don't think much but I think a lot. I'm just not outward with my thoughts most of the time.
Who are you most proud of?
I don't know... a lot of people. I'm pretty proud of everyone close to me and I know most of the people that I associate with work pretty hard for what they have. Some of them have worked from being in the red back up to the top, Amber, my mom. That's probably it, my brother.
Who is proud of you?
I'm pretty proud of myself. I don't know about other people. I think my parents are? They are proud that I …I don't know if they're specifically proud of any individual body of work or anything that I've done, I think they're probably proud that I'm just living my life. And I guess I'm pretty proud of that too. And then there are certain accomplishments I'm pretty proud of. The status and level I've gotten to. I just didn't think it was something that I was really going to do. I thought it was just something fun to do and I would have a restaurant job forever. When I started skating it was to get me out of my parents house to be able to focus my energy on something else. I didn’t think I would end up in the magazines I was looking at or anything like that. It was just something I was doing anyway, so I like the fact that I get to see myself in magazines, hang out with the people I use to play in video games and who were hung up on my wall. It's not very monetarily gratifying but it still means a lot to me. I'm pretty proud of all that stuff. It's not a fame thing; it's more of a self-worth thing for sure.
If your art could speak to you, what would it say?
I have no idea. [Laughter] “Slow down.” Sometimes I just go full speed ahead and then I run into things real fast. And “try harder.” Sometimes I'm pretty easy to give up, my own thoughts will overcut whatever I'm trying. If I didn't have that I think I would be capable of a lot more. I think the dudes that you see in this industry that have all the money and win the big contest’s is because they are absolutely fearless. That is the biggest thing holding a person back on a skateboard is fear. Its literal fear of I’m going to DIE if I try this.
Do you think those other skateboarders are truly fearless or just don't think about it?
I think they have Adderall prescriptions...
I think the way you grow up skating or who you grow up around affects your mentality with that whole thing and some people are just fearless.
If you could ask anyone a question, who would you ask and what would you ask?
I probably would just ask the person closest to me what they want to do for lunch. I don't think too far into things, which I guess is also a problem. But I would have to see the person; I can't just come up with that on a whim. I mean sometimes I think about … I don't care… at the end I'm here now where we are. So whatever.
At eighty-five looking back at your life what is one thing you have to have done?
I don't know. I don't know if there's any specific thing. It would be nice to know that I have done something that's inspired someone to do something for them self. It could be raising a kid to be a good person. It could be a body of work, like something back in the day that made me want to skate. It would be cool to do something influential. It could be someone that I am related to or someone on the other side of the world. Either way I don't need to be rich or anything like that. It’d be cool to do something meaningful, to know I've done something meaningful. I don't really need the acknowledgement from the other person, just to know it myself, even if they weren't outward about it, if I could see it in the person or thing that would be cool. When I have met kids on skate trips or in parks and stuff like that and they tell me that they're actually really excited and they want to skate because of what I have done, that's pretty cool. It's really validating, especially if I feel broke or if I am broke or feel unworthy for any other reason it's instant gratification.
Is there something you are absolutely afraid of?
Spiders, is that okay? Amber can attest to that. I have meltdowns with spiders. I just don't like them. Daddy Long Legs are cool, the rest of them are straight from hell. Spiders and letting people down, I really try not to let people down, but sometimes it's just unavoidable. Whether it's cooking dinner and I don't want it to come out shitty or skating. Bringing people out to film a trick and in my head I’m thinking, “If I don't pull off this trick, I'm letting all these people down”, “I've wasted all their time”, things like that. Or my wife wants to go on vacations and I’m like, “fuck I have to find the money”, so I'm not letting her down. You know probably just that.
Tell me a little bit about your cooking?
What about it? I mean I have always been in a kitchen. When we were kids back in England my older brother and I lived with my single mother, so after school she still had to work. We would go to my grandparent’s house. My grandparents are Greek Cypriot; Greek Cypriots have a giant food culture. After school I'd go directly to their house and then my grandmother would make us food. So I was always sitting in the kitchen just watching people cooking. It just became part of me to cook; to cook my own food rather than going out and getting it and it just went from there. Everyday at 3pm I stop thinking about the rest of the world and I start thinking about what am I going to do for dinner. I start planning in my head all the way up until I'm cooking. I'm pretty good at it. I MacGyver dinners out of whatever random stuff we have in the fridge or the cabinets. I think I've watched enough Chopped to where I can throw stuff together.
What is one of the most MacGyver’d meals you have made?
I don't know. Shit. [From the other room, Amber yells, “A peanut butter quesadilla”] I wanted donuts one day and I literally had none of the ingredients and I was trying to make it with everything else. I made mashed potato doughnuts.
What is the most special thing to you in the world?
I like my wife and my cats a lot. Maybe something that's come from [that] is the bond. The ability to bond is pretty special. To be able to make friends and connect with people, that's pretty cool.
Musician, Songwriter, Maker of things
If you could ask one person any question and get the answer, who would you ask and what would you ask?
My mom - I feel like I didn’t get enough knowledge about her life. I would ask, "What was your life like?" I know it sounds crazy, but it would be a conversation, because I don’t really know and I want to. I know bits and pieces and I’ve heard things here and there but I didn’t think to ask many questions because I think I thought I had a lot more time. With my daughter, I tell her all kinds of kid stories for this reason. I never had that with my mom and it is a pretty big regret.
How would you tell/teach someone to have fun?
Surround yourself with your favorite people because that kind of guarantees fun. A “laugh with me” makes a community.
What was the hardest time in your life?
Trying to navigate losing my mom. How to do “that”? All The different hats I was trying to wear. I was a new dad, I was losing my mom, my dad was kind of a “shit-show”, I was really making a go with music and things were going well. I had all these different things that all needed the majority of my attention to be able to do them well. It all happened at the exact same time over two years that was the hardest because I didn’t know how to go from one thing to the next to the next and in the end it all went to shit anyway.
What makes you nervous?
Two things came to mind, uncertainty. It makes me nervous and excited at the same time. The thing that makes me most excited is “possibility” and also in possibility there is not knowing so it’s tricky. I get nervous if I don’t know where I am going or don’t know the rules to something, I get a lot of anxiety if I feel like I don’t know what’s going on. But when I am most excited and happy is when there are different possibilities and it doesn’t really matter if it’s realistic or not. It’s almost like a manic thing, I can go days and weeks, it’s almost like a high. Whether it’s a new song or a project or a new job, and it’s the same with the negative stuff, if it’s something I don’t know the rules to or I don’t really get what’s going on I feel lost.
If you could go back and do something over what would it be?
If changing anything would change what I have with you and Scarlett I wouldn’t change anything, but with that said If I could go back to the hardest time in my life, when my mother was dying, I feel like I could do it better because I would let go of doing it “right” and just do it. To be stressed about changing everything, changes nothing, and it’s just stress……. but if we want to go less big – I always wished I played basketball as a kid.
If your photography could speak what would it say to you?
The last body of work I did, the disambiguous, post mortem stuff, I would say was a lot about perspectives. Each image after looking at it told me, "It could be worse". So there was a light heartedness to it and pretty much the past two years has been focused on that. My work would say, “Perspective, it could be worse”. It started off very morbid and has transitioned, there is sarcasm to it. I put myself in these really terrible situations and I get to see myself in them, but it is not real life. People who know my personality were thinking it was coming from a very dark place, but really it is just the aftermath of me being in a very dark place. Prior to this work, I would say for about 5 years, most of the work was about loneliness, it was expressing my loneliness. I think it only spoke back to me once I stopped being lonely. The way I look at it now is I will never be that alone again. I don’t think I really appreciated the work or looked at it as saying anything until after I was able to reflect on what I was actually going through. When I look at it, it puts me in a better place, even though it actually breaks my heart to see where I was at. Now when reflecting, it really does tell me, “I will never feel that way again” so it’s a very happy place. I don’t think I was looking to express myself it was just leaking out of me, unlike the work I do now, I am actually trying to express something. There is a goal, where before it was unintentional, it was just seeping out of my bones. ‘Seeping out of my bones’, that’s a good line [laughter] that could be the name of my next series.
What’s the hardest thing you have ever done?
Separating from my twin sister, Ashley. Work wise, moving away from her and just deciding we needed a break as humans. It beats even being ex-communicated. It affected every single thing I did. At the time, it was never discussed and it was all very misunderstood. There was this anger that we weren’t in the exact same place. Growing up we did everything the same, even at church we would eat candy at the same time. If she would eat one, I would eat one. If she ate one before me, I would be like, “You didn’t tell me you were eating one!” Everything was at the same time. So when our stuff started to happen not at the same time, neither of us knew how to treat the other, we weren’t prepared for that. We are almost back to normal now.
What was the happiest time you can remember?
Me and Ash (Ashlie) have always agreed on this, the happiest we have ever been is when we are on airplanes. It doesn’t really matter where we are going. Just the idea of being off the ground and everything that is on the ground, on our phones, any texts before we left just doesn’t matter. The happiest most recent time was flying to get married, that time is pretty up there. The actual take off, what it does to your gut. The feeling I get is like a rollercoaster and it validates what I am feeling mentally; it’s leaving stuff behind, it’s I am on my own and no one can contact me, I am untouchable. It’s a very comforting thing not having to answer to anything, deal with any problem that was on the ground. It sounds cheesy or corny, but you are literally untouchable.
I don’t think I have ever heard anyone describe it like that before.
[Laughter] I’ve never said that before.
How do you want to be known?
I want people to know me as being happy. I think I have never conveyed that to anyone. A happy person, joyful, appreciative, and realistic. I didn’t think of myself this way before but a lot of this has to do with being with somebody. I don’t think I ever took the time to enjoy a meal, to enjoy organizing, to enjoy watching a film that didn't teach me something. I never did stuff like that. Everything I use to watch was super articulated with what I needed to learn, who I needed to learn about, it was always very calculated and I have never been a time waster. Now that I’m married and considering someone else’s personality and their likes, which are 80% opposite from mine, I am learning to enjoy things for just what they are. Prior to being married, honestly, I would just see that as a waste of time. So now, it is what are the feelings I am feeling. I am appreciative of what I am going through and feeling the feelings as it happens. If I were to be asked this question 5 years ago I would have said I wanted to be known as successful.
Is there something you are absolutely afraid of?
Heights. 100% heights. I know that sounds silly, but since my early 20’s it has been heights. If I am on top of a high building I have to lie down, I can’t even stand on my two feet. The other thing that Ashlie and I have been afraid of since we could talk, is one of us having an accident and being mentally disabled. That has always been a fear.
What is it that you want?
I want what everyone wants, to be happy and my family to be happy. On a broader scale I would say world peace [laughter] honestly. Another thing that age has brought upon me is this desire for safety. I really want the people I love to be safe, no one harming them, not dying. I think about that stuff a lot. I honestly wake up and have to tell myself, even say a little prayer to have perspective today, "you don’t need to worry, nothing bad is going to happen to your sister, or husband". I do think about those things. I think it is a personality trait, worrying about stuff that worrying isn’t going to fix. It’s the pointless worry, it’s not a precautionary worry, it’s a torture yourself worry. I have always been that person. It all stems from being an anxious person.
I see you as someone who is very solid, logical, calm, consistent ……
No, uhnn uhnn, I am losin’ it inside [laughter]. I do impress myself with my demeanor. I have been told I am a comforting person, I am glad about that but it’s amazing to me. The only people that know that I am a worrier are my sister and my husband. My sister once sent me a text when I was about to go into a meeting that said, “Prepare for the worst. If you go in there thinking you are going to be executed, you’re going to come out in good spirits” [laughter]. That is the shittiest advice [more laughter] anyone has ever given me. But she is the same exact way; she is deadpan, worse case scenario, just like me.
If you could ask anyone a question and get the answer, who would you ask and what would you ask?
I would ask Jesus Christ why did he have to die for our sins instead of just fixing everything? That would be my question. The whole story is that Jesus Christ died for the human race so our sins would be forgiven. My question would be, “Why did you have to do that? You were a perfect being, why couldn’t you just fix everything then and bring humankind back to perfection?” It is really the only question because if it were answered then there would be no other questions.
If you were to teach people how to have fun what would you say?
That is such a good a question. Because really how do you define fun? What a good question. It’s almost like teaching a blind person what color is. The words you use are so important to yourself it’s hard to make them important to someone else. If I were to teach someone to have fun it would be…. fun to me is when I’m with friends, no state of worry, joy comes to mind. Joy is when you are only focused on that feeling, it’s not dampered by "This is going to end soon" or "It is only going to last three minutes." When you don’t have all those thoughts creeping in, I feel like that is a true state of fun. It’s with other people, I know that being alone is important, but honestly fun is with other people. You have to be with your loved ones and family. To teach someone to have fun is to learn how to love people and want to hang out with them and not get bogged down with all the other stuff that is going on in your life. Being able to leave stuff at the door and be in the moment. Being in the moment is fun. Having fun is being in the moment.
What is it you wish people knew?
I wish people knew that everything is temporary. I think a lot of people’s unhappiness comes from this idea that 'It’s going to be like this forever.' When what you are going through is so hard and you can’t see anything other then that, but really everything is temporary, all of it will eventually end. Knowing this has given me happiness.
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Writer - Musician - Composer
What's the happiest time you can remember?
I was 8yrs old. We were living in a condominium. My dad and mom weren’t together but they came together and we hung out. They made artichokes and we sat around this fountain. I think it boils down to the fact that I always wanted my parents to get back together and it was this moment we had together that was like to me, pure happiness and joy. It seems so insignificant but I captured a moment of pure joy out of nowhere and I wasn’t sure why I felt so euphoric. It was a beautiful feeling. I always want to get back to it. I think it boils down to family. I never had semblance of “family” growing up so I was like, “oh this is what family is, comfort and peace”. Feelings like that are so abstract for me, but I think I must have really felt I was in a family. In the town where I grew up I knew, like only three other families who were divorced, everyone else was together. When I would go to my friends houses and see what I thought as these perfect idyllic families, that was what I wanted and seeing my brother, mother and father all together, I just remember we were eating steamed artichokes with mayonnaise. It always stuck with me that this is what happiness is. I always think of it, I see things in color and this moment, when I think of it, I see orange. Whenever I feel happiness or joy I always see bright orange and it brings me back to this memory. That was the first time I experienced those feelings.
I am really consumed by the human condition and I am hyper sensitive and stimulated by other people, like when I go to a party I am always aware of everyone around me and what's going on with them and I wish I just didn’t really care and become so consumed. It might come from an introspective point of view, I really just want everyone to be happy. When I am out in public I am consistently trying to figure out what is going on with the people around me. I am so narrative driven and I love story, I am obsessed by it.
What would your 8yr old self think about your life?
So funny you asked this because I was just working on a story last night, where this man was running through an almond orchard and he sees this figure in the distance and as he gets closer, he sees that it’s himself as a child. They have a conversation and then the child says to him, "I love you".
What is the most special thing to you in the world?
Fulfillment - every song writer, every artist wants to feel like they have a voice, have an effect on somebody. I didn’t play guitar until Steven Scott taught me when I was 21 years old. I was obsessed with the Beatles, I was so obsessed with music and the way it made be feel………. Sometimes when a fan of Irving or Afternoons would come up to me and say, “I loved your show” or “I love that song” it was really meaningful. I am not trying to sound like a some Mother Teresa but I am most enriched when I am helping other artists, it’s not that I need any sort of payback or recognition, I just like the idea of having a positive effect. I like the idea of helping. When I was developing bands it was so fun for me. For me to help other people other artists is really fulfilling.
How would you teach someone to have fun?
That is such an interesting question, I was just talking about this the other day with my wife. I don’t know how to have fun anymore. For me I derive enjoyment out of creating things. I will go on Facebook and see pictures of people vacationing in Hawaii and having all this “fun” and I’m thinking what the fuck is wrong with me, I wouldn't have fun there. I see these people, who are so happy and they are living these happy lives, having fun. I don’t really know, maybe I feel like I have had so much fun already, like my fun ran out. “Dude, you don’t get to have anymore fun, make a living and support your family”………. Why doesn’t being on a beach in Hawaii look like fun to me? I would get bored sitting on the beach, I don’t like to relax. I need to have a room where I can do shit. I wouldn’t choose Hawaii, I would want to go to Monterey, somewhere I could get a story so that I would have something to do. Maybe following Ram Dass through India or just solitude. I am not a fun seeker, I’m in-doorsy. A good time is getting to hang out with my family all day. I love the parties we have with close friends, barbecues, watching basketball. Okay, maybe there are things that I think are fun. Close friends, that’s fun for me.
At 85 years old, looking back at your life what is something you have to have done?
Make a feature length film.
PAINTER . DESIGNER . MOTHER
What would your 8 year old self say about your life?
My 8-year-old self was pretty quirky; I definitely have some nerdiness. I am pretty nerdy at my core. She was genuine and a free spirit and really kind to people. I had a very happy and supported early life and I think that is part of why she was kind and friendly. She would be proud of me. 8 is a good age to look back to, I feel it’s an age where you are very much your authentic self. In a weird way I would like to be my 8-year-old self instead of who my eight-year-old self wanted me to be. There wouldn’t be that many surprises. I’m very much an extension of my 8-year old self. She might have wanted me to achieve a little bit more because she had lots of zany ideas. She wanted to be an inventor. I didn’t really know what that was but in hindsight it makes so much sense because I would love to design things and create new things. She had lots of silly ideas.
How do you want to be known?
What is most important to me is to be someone who is comfortable with themselves, kind, considerate to other people, and authentic. I would like to be known as someone who is not self focused but others focused. So I hope to show genuine interest in others. Honestly, I think I come across as a little uncertain, I don’t feel insecure but sometimes I think that is what comes across because I am a pleaser. I think I can do a little better job of wearing my insides a little more upfront and therefor be a little more authentic, which is the goal.
What is one of the hardest things you have done?
The first year of motherhood is really hard, really. It’s a new form of sleep deprivation. It is a type of torture, but really lovely at the same time.
What is the happiest time you can remember?
I had a very happy early life. Now, with having my daughter, I go back to feelings of being a child. A time of really not having to have real responsibility for myself, a time where I looked to someone else to meet all my needs. I think my mother did an exceptionally good job at that, she was very much there for me. Sometimes I find myself longing for a moment where I am totally cared for; your back scratched because you crawl onto your mom’s lap. Sometimes when I am holding my daughter I can see on her face that complete contentment and it is a feeling of home.
At 85 what is something you have to have achieved or experienced?
I would like to accomplish more than I have currently accomplished. I have never really been achievement oriented. I always felt I wasn’t sure where life was going to take me, I like the idea of allowing myself to be blown by the wind. But, I think it is important for me to accept that I am in the driver seat a little more. I guess I always assumed that life was more interesting than something I could ever design and if I was steering the wheel I might stay within a certain box, but by letting the wind blow me I may encounter so much more. The world is so much larger than if I was just making the plan. Growing up there was a focus of a God with a plan and how my young mind processed that, was it’s a good God, with a plan, so I was like I am just going to be me and see where this God intends for me to go. As an adult it looks a little bit different and I do think I am really in the driver seat. I will say, I have had some really neat experiences as a result of being open to the things that have come across my path. I think that philosophy did me really well, but as I get older I start to do the math and it's like wow, I am not sure if that philosophy is really helping me achieve some of the things I do really want, so I am revisiting it. But the achievements I do want are to love very openly, establish deep friendships and maintain loving relationships. I would like to leave something behind that brings joy or is useful. I would like to leave behind something that has value even if just to love ones.
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