I’m not one for regrets. But if I were to claim any, I think I could’ve had more fun with music. I grew up playing violin from age 5, and it was all very serious and competitive. Then I moved on to the strange, often sick but highly entertaining world of college a cappella, where really the whole point is to get drunk with college buddies and revel in the absurd micro-stardom of crooning 80’s pop songs over a team of pealing doo-woppers (what can I say—the chicks loved it. . .). You’d think this environment would’ve finally relaxed me into simply enjoying the experience—but no, I took it far more seriously even than the violin, and so spent most of my college career barking at underclassmen for singing off-key.
Then came Fooled By April. Needless to say, since the four of us in the band were staking not only our long-held musical aspirations on the endeavor, but also our very livelihoods. . . well, let’s just say I was never what you’d call “laid back” about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had countless amazing experiences in all my musical exploits: some fun, some hysterical, some profound, some transformative. But at the heart of it, I think I’ve always been too quick to forget how damned lucky I am to simply be making music whenever some minor (or sometimes major) stresses would enter the picture.
So this year in London, I’ve been determined to bring the pure enjoyment of music into the forefront. I am still hoping to make an actual living at this, so I’m still hustling and thinking of how to make a buck in a highly disorganized and often unfair industry. . . But even success in music won’t mean anything if I can’t appreciate the sheer joy of what playing music is in my life.
Why the diatribe? Well, I actually made a big step towards this recently at a show right in my residence hall. It was just an acoustic show, but I invited some friends at Goodenough to join me on a few tunes. I wrote a cello part for “Only One Girl” and my good Kiwi friend, Dr. Sarah, played it. Then on “Nobody Knows” I was joined by the soon-to-be-mega-famous and immensely talented Scott MacIntyre. And then just to be uncharacteristically spontaneous, I finished a new song, “Lonely Days,” two days before the show and had both Scott and Sarah join me on a sort of improv outro for the tune.
It was one of the most magical music nights I’ve had. Not because of a huge crowd (although the turnout was quite impressive) or a big paycheck, but just because I was playing music and loving it.