Monday, May 17, 2010

The ArchAndroid

First off, I want to say something really important here. I am BLOWN AWAY by the response to my last blog post. I am so sincerely touched by all of it. The feelings and stories that you all shared with me were so remarkable. I have never been more thrilled to have this blog because it opened up such an important conversation and got so many people thinking. Thank you to everyone who responded and thank you to those who posted about the blog on various websites, twitter accounts, etc. That kind of response was truly the last thing I expected when I wrote the blog. I am so happy that it created a discussion.

I now feel like I have to write profound, passionate blog entries every time I post! :) The truth is you'll probably get a lot of "Funny" blog entries with SNL clips attached and quick updates about what's happening in my life. However, I have realized just how much a simple blog entry can say. I will most certainly make an effort to post my feelings on here about important issues if something strikes a chord in me like the boy being bullied that day did.

Thank you again for your stories and for your thoughts. I cannot say that enough.

Now...on a completely different note...

Tonight is sort of like Christmas Eve for me. As many of you know, I get a little obsessed with music and become a crazy fanboy over certain artists. Music is my greatest love and when I feel like there is something great on the rise, it's like santa clause is real. Tomorrow Janelle Monae releases her first full length album, "The ArchAndroid."

When I first discovered Janelle Monae I posted about her on here immediately. I have mentioned her non-stop on my twitter and I have fallen deeply in love with the music she creates.

Janelle is a bold and beautiful artist. She's doing incredible things with music and I could not be more in love with her. Her sound could not be more brilliantly eclectic and daring. She's having a blast with what she is doing and she isn't afraid to throw anything at the wall. She is a perfect mix of everything that I love. She writes brilliantly, she has a frighteningly soulful voice, and she plays around with every beautiful little idea that pops into her head.

Yes, I'm in love. So I'm a bit biased. I guess anyone who creates a concept album inspired by Metropolis (a 1927 expressionist film by Fritz Lang that changed film completely) wins me over. Even her recent collaboration with B.o.B on his fantastic cover of "The Kids," blew me away. Her voice comes in and melts me. The only way I know how to describe Janelle's voice is that it's Judy Garland mixed with Lauryn Hill...I mean...How could I not love this woman?

I get excited about musicians that create from their gut. I love music when it's bold and free and when I feel like the artist has had the time of their life creating it. Or at least has had the need to create it. It's inspiring! It makes me want to get up and do the same.

Buy her album. I understand that it may not be right up everyone's alley but I think it's remarkable work regardless. I can't wait to have a solid copy in my hands tomorrow! Make sure you pick up her first concept EP "Metropolis" as well. INCREDIBLE stuff.

LA Times Review

Video of "Tightrope"

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Today, I witnessed something that broke my heart. Every day, I walk by the many kids that go school here in Midtown Manhattan. I see bullying and name calling all the time. For the most part, it seems relatively harmless, especially when the kid being picked on can fight back a bit. I usually roll my eyes and keep walking, avoiding the after school energy of these 13 and 14 year olds. Today, however, I witnessed bullying of a different kind. The kind that churns your stomach and makes your truly angry. I was walking out of my building when I saw a group of boys throwing around and singling out another boy. When the victim tried to walk away, one of the others spat at him and called him a "faggot." I yelled to the kids the only thing that could come to my mind, "Don't use that word. Back off!" I wish these words had helped the situation, but the poor boy who had been harassed seemed to be more embarrassed than before. The look on his face hasn't really left me since that moment.

The sad part is, the story I just told is so common, it almost feels cliche to write about. Somehow bullying has become something that everyone simply accepts. We're told not to write about bullying in our college essays or papers because it's too "typical" no matter what kind of an impact it's had on our lives. I don't believe this is an issue that can be belittled so easily.

Perhaps the main reason I was so deeply affected by what I saw today is because of what I went through in my own childhood. Believe me, I'm not writing any of this for pity or for reassurance. :) It was a long time ago and I'm doing fine now! But for anyone reading this blog that has either been a victim of bullying or has ever bullied someone else, I feel the need to write a bit of my own experiences.

When I moved to San Francisco, I was 12 years old. I left behind many friends and a huge public school to move into a much smaller community. Much smaller. There were 12 other boys in my grade. All of them had known each other since kindergarten. The situation was hardly ideal.

At the time I was your typical over-wheight, pimply, awkward pre-teen with braces. An image that I only became aware of when I entered a class of boys that didn't even want to relate to me. They skateboarded, I painted. They listened to all the "cool" bands, I thought Ella Fitzgerald's music was the coolest thing I'd ever heard.

To make a long story short, I have never been more miserable. They were cruel in ways I didn't think were possible beyond the text of a bad teen movie. I never once heard my name, only the words "faggot", and "bitch." I was beaten up regularly. Once, I left class to get a drink of water, only to be beaten out-cold with a text book by a class mate of mine. Over the years at this particular school, I withdrew from everyone around me including my family. No one could help. If I tried to be like them, I was a "poser." I remember I bought a pair of baggy Jenco jeans and skateboard. My classmates laughed at the jeans and stole the skateboard. If anyone tried to help me, I was made fun of for needing the help. The sad part was, most of the time, no one helped. The day I hit rock bottom was when a group of boys continuously spat on me in front of my PE teacher. The teacher chose to blatantly ignore it, the more disgusting the behavior became.

When you're 13 and you truly believe that there is nothing you can do to be happy, it's a very scary place. At that age, you don't have the maturity to know that there is so much more to look forward to. With the help of my family and the finding of a new community, I was fortunately able to move forward. In many ways, I believe that theatre saved me. I found something new, I found people I could relate to, and I found my passion. When I hit high school, I stopped caring about what others thought (and went through some pretty wild stages of styles to prove that...really...) and often got myself into trouble calling out other students and talking back to teachers when they would try to make an example at another student's expense. This trait has followed me today. I have a big, brutally honest mouth and a very low tolerance for what I like to refer to as "bullshit."

The point is, you need to trust yourself. I knew that I was going to be fine as long as I went after the things I wanted. To this day, the moments I am most unhappy are the moments I doubt myself and listen to any one's "bullshit."

It's so easy to get caught up in bullying. Everyone is guilty of it. It's human nature to put others down to raise your own status. Speaking from experience, this is so damaging to the person you are putting down along the way. It's a sad game.

As the boy walked away with tears in his eyes today, I wanted to call out to him. I wanted to tell him that it was going to be okay. That everything he was going through was bullshit. That none of it mattered. I've been so upset since that moment because I know that no matter how many times people said all of this to me when I was in his position, I refused to believe it.

It is true. I don't care who you are, there is a community and a passion out there for you. There are people like you who will relate to you and support you. I am painfully aware of how cheesy all of this sounds but for god's sake, celebrate your individuality! Own it! I promised myself I would move to New York and do what I am doing. When I realized that everything else along the way was bullshit, I refused to let myself down. I don't give a flying fuck what those kids thought back then, I was a cool dude. Yeah, I had man boobs and haircut that made me look like I was Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber, but I was having a great time until I let someone tell me not to. I'm sure the boy that walked down 9th ave today, so upset, has something very special to offer.

I know I'm being preachy, and I'm sure this entry will be met with rolled eyes by a few people who read it. But if you're reading this and you can think of a person who may be hurting from any kind of harassment, try to reach out to them. Trust that you don't need to put other people down to raise yourself up. That's bullshit. If you're someone who is dealing with this kind of harassment and is wondering if it will ever go away, know that it will. This is just one moment of your life. Own whatever "quirky" or "strange" traits you may have. I promise you will be so much happier for it.

Monday, May 03, 2010

More To Come

Hello everyone!

I finally have a moment to really sit down and write a blog. I've been swamped with a lot of things lately. I'm happy to have a nice, relaxed month ahead of me.

First off, I want to thank everyone who came out to the Joe's Pub shows on the 21st of April. It was pretty crazy putting the whole thing together and a lot more hectic than my last gig...but ultimately it was all worth it. The 7:00 pm show was solid and the 11:30 show ended up being a lot of fun and much more relaxed. We cut a couple of songs which allowed some time for me to speak a bit more and play around a bit. It was a great success overall and I was really happy with the outcome. I am definitely looking forward to the next part of the process which is simply turning the concept that was introduced that night into an actual album. SIMPLE! Right!? Well...not so simple...but possible none-the-less. In the next month, we will begin to approach investors and hopefully make it all happen this year.

Life remains exciting right now. I'm looking forward to the summer and looking forward to whatever project I may end up in next. Things change daily in this business. No one could predict this theatre season and no one can really predict next season either. That being said, I do think we will see more original work next year. It's no secret it was a lackluster year for the "new musical." Aside from a couple new hits that came in, there was very little original work that hit broadway. It was a rather conservative year. This usually means that the season that follows will have a lot of interesting new pieces. I'm looking forward to this.

I start my (very exciting) reading very soon. I can't wait. I doubt there will be a press release on it at this point. If there is, I will post about it here. I'm getting butterflies thinking about it all. I have never wanted a project more than this one. It's going to be a real joy...even if it only lasts a week.'s time to REALLY talk about Feinstein's on the 26th of July.

The show is actually happening and I can really focus on it now. The most important thing I can say about it is that it's quite an honor.

I'm going to be working on a jazzier, more eclectic sound. Everything will come a bit more full circle for this show. I will have a couple contemporary soul songs and new musical theatre pieces, but I want the feel of the show to be more appropriate for this wonderful venue. I want to rearrange some rocks songs and really explore a more Cole Porter driven universe. I want to do several standards in a contemporary way. I also I have a lot of quirky ideas such as taking "Mr. Brightside" and completely rearranging it...or perhaps even exploring "Bleeding Love" with a unique perspective. I hope to be joined by some very talented friends of mine. I will most likely be debuting some original work as well.

I really think it's going to be a fantastic show and am already enjoying the process of putting it together. It may be a few months off, but buy your tickets! I will start promoting the crap out of it from here on out!

I'm sure I will be announcing guests and more material soon! In the meantime, you can purchase tickets on my rather lackluster page here

There will be much more to come on all of that!