How to Love: Divine Orchestration

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March seemed to fly by with anxiety and anticipation. My mind was filled every moment leading to the 19th, when Andreos Chunaco and I would fly from Nashville to Los Angeles. As soon as we began to cross the country’s airstreams, it dawned on me that what had been dormant for months in my thoughts was finally waking from its slumber and looming over my entire being. Investing so much into a single project began to take its toll on my heart. I could feel the weight of what was to come begin to sink deep into the bones of me. I should have already known that God would show His hand in my life as He always does.

A week before takeoff, Andreos (my friend and director for the project) and I took an opportunity to try filming a series of scenes at a location in Nashville we thought would suit the video, even though we planned on filming the rest in Los Angeles. Andreos reached out to another filmmaker he had met on a few occasions, Dave Altizer. Dave has had experience in low-budget, indie-style music videos of the same realm that we set out to make. He gave priceless advice as to camera selection, style choice, and gear options. Little did we know this advice would glean a much greater return than a good day’s shoot.

Andreos and I began scrambling to iron out the details of our trip to Los Angeles: itinerary, locations, gear rental, talent and extras, lodging, food, and a million other particulars that we never seemed to remember when we needed to. As days began to close in on the trip, Andreos came to me with the subject we continually wrestled with: to approach this video correctly, we needed to hire a small film crew. A director simply can’t film, and direct, and produce, while still maintaining a high quality of work. However, to stay at a budget close to that of someone who can’t even afford his own room, we were being forced to pass on elements that were going to take the video from simply being completed to actually being successful. We came to a crossroads, with only forty-eight hours until we reached Los Angeles.

That same night of our financial–practical reckoning, I happened to run into Dave at my day job. He flagged me down with a huge grin, introduced me to his wife, and we talked for a moment. He had really helped us out the week before, so I made sure to let him know how valuable his time and assistance was. Dave asked how the project was panning out, and, despite my feigned smile, I’m sure he could see through to the fear beginning to grow in my heart.

The sun began to conspire against us, as time passed faster than ever the day before we left. My phone rang at work, and a text followed that said, “Call me ASAP.” Andreos picked up and said a series of unbelievable statements: he had randomly thought of Dave that morning, so Andreos called him and asked if he was interested in going to L.A. with us. Dave told Andreos that he was actually thinking about moving out there in the future, and had been looking for an opportunity to check out the city. Dave also happened to be free for the weekend, and wanted to help out with the video for much less than what he should have charged. Sitting on my break, my head spun and something Andreos had said to me before formed over the ringing in my ears: If we were going to fly to Los Angeles to make my vision come to life, we better be sure we’re doing it right. Just like that, I bought Dave’s ticket, and he met us in Los Angeles the following night.

The filming hadn’t even begun, but we had acquired a Director of Photography that had knowledge of the camera we were to use, had gear he brought along, and experience filming videos of the same quality. The facts that I had seen him days before, that he had been wanting to check out L.A., and happened to be free for the weekend all pointed to a divine setting of the stage. It’s not normal for me to be able to see God’s work in my life, but this was too clear to ignore. Anxiety, like morning clouds burned away by midday sun, began to subside. Los Angeles held a weekend of adventure and creation.


Photo by Andreos Chunaco.

How To Love: Music Video Pre-Production

As I set out to make my first music video, I wanted to do something that would speak more than the message of the song. The most memorable and moving videos I’ve seen were those that told a story, captivated, and made a statement on their own right. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of guy – I settle only for the best so far as I can affect it. As my first foray into the film world, this was obviously a daunting task, yet one that I wanted to throw myself at. Thankfully, I had friends there to support and dream with me.

Months ago I sat down to create. I attempted to walk the tightrope between creation and reiteration. The original message of the song was obviously at the forefront of my mind, but I set out to reimagine the feeling and emotion I had in the process of writing that song, so as to give a new and broader look at what the song could encapsulate. The process required focus and creativity on a new level. I am a lover of film, and love to analyze everything I watch, but to approach for a second time the inception of my song through an entirely new and foreign lens was an exciting process.

As the storyboard reached its crude completion, I sent it to a dear friend of mine who eagerly and graciously partnered with me. Andeos Chunaco was easily the most integral part of the entire process, and I couldn’t have accomplished anything without him.

Months of planning with Andreos finally gleaned a film plan. Flights were purchased, ideas took form in locations, and everything began to line up. We were going to make a music video. Despite my nearly absent budget and knowledge, we set out to explore the universe as children again.

One Year Nashversary

In the dead of winter, a young man and his father left home in a van purchased only a few days earlier. Carrying his most important gear and memories, the van was filled from floor to ceiling with guitars, trunks, a harmonium, records, clothing, speakers, and non-perishable food. The trek would take them from Portland, Oregon, to Music City itself: Nashville, Tennessee.

The last year has been crazy. I can’t even believe it’s been one year already. We celebrate our one year Nashversary this weekend. It’s just insane. I wanted to let everyone know some highs and lows from the last 365 days, and look forward to another great year in Nashville.

Lowlights. Bad stuff first. The biggest bummer since living here (other than missing family and friends, of course) has been that I didn’t reach the goal I had set for my first year in Nashville. Preparing for the trip east, I had figured a challenging but approachable goal would be to get on a short tour as an opening act within the first year. In the process of moving to a new city and trying to gain networking connections, I’ve discovered I’m terrible at networking. Terrible. It’s been very difficult for me to get that part of my music going, but I’ve began searching for others who can assist with that and help make connections on my behalf.

Highlights. After speaking with so many friends at home about my experience in Nashville, I’ve realized that I have learned most about myself and music from being dropped into the middle of the city’s musical ocean. There is a much greater standard of music that I was unaware of before living here but have now become accustomed to. It’s not like I’ve been practicing until my fingers bleed or anything near that extreme. The standard must be internalized or you merely sink under it. It’s crazy. I’ve asked lots of friends back home if they’ve noticed any change in our playing, and they all report a solidness that wasn’t there before. We haven’t really practiced my music any astronomical amount; I think we’ve learned to grow from bands we see, those we talk to, and life we live together. The standard has been observed, theorized, and is beginning to  be internalized. It’s an exciting time to journey together.

2015. I’m excited to announce a lot of new endeavors that I’ll be running toward this year. Music videos are the most immediate project, and I’m aiming at rolling out a few in the next six months. Right around the end of that goal, the goal is for Joel, Joseph, and me to drive out west and record another record! I’m pumped. Accompanying this process will probably be the acquisition of some PR and management companies to help push the record and gain some hype before the release. It’s going to be an exciting year. Expensive and challenging, but the most exciting yet.

For you: To celebrate my first year in Music City, I’m giving away my album for free this week. Tell your friends and family, and enjoy my first album! Hopefully I’ll have another one to give away very soon. Thanks to everyone for supporting me through thoughts, prayers, posts, texts, and tweets.


Love you all,

Jared


Link to download Let Go & Forget for free.


Photo by Andre Chunaco.

OREGON SHOW SUMMARY, Pt. #3: SATURDAY, PORTLAND HOUSE SHOW

One of Joel’s friends graciously hosted a private house show for close friends and family. There were about 25 people who came, and it was so awesome to catch up with friends and family. Having an opportunity to share more about the writing behind my music with people I love has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. The only hitch in the evening: after three days of straight performances, my voice was feeling raw. Real raw. Throughout the day I was warming up, hoping to slowly convince my voice to work for me. I was at its mercy.

The highlight of the evening was having Joel begin the show with several of his own songs. His writing is fresh and unique, but also familiar enough to be easily listened to. A mix of poetry and storytelling are applied to colorful acoustic harmonies. His music is hauntingly beautiful. It was an honor to share the night with him, and so incredible to hear him explain and perform his music.

A fifteen minute break separated Joel’s performance and mine, and a lot of internal coaching was occurring. At some point, your vocal chords can be warmed up no more, and it’s a mind-over-matter situation. I knew I had to coerce my voice into performing, but it was simply tired. The high falsettos I could normally hit were not as easy or clear, but time was up and I had to perform.

Sharing the “stage” in the house with me after Joel’s performance was Joseph, Joel, and my sister Lauren. We started with a new song, “Time That I Have,” which starts pretty low and mellow, but ends in a much higher range. I figured I’d ease myself into the first song and hopefully my voice would accompany me.

Something so unique about music is how our bodies resonate with it. When you are really into a song or can identify with what someone is singing, music almost takes you to a different state of mind. It transcends normal physical confines, as something temporal connects with your soul. It’s remarkable. As I began to dive into the song mentally and put myself in a place to connect with the song and communicate with my performance, my voice was right there with me. It’s remarkable how a mental or emotional connection can almost force the physical to accompany. My voice wasn’t quite as sharp as normal, but the transcendence of music brought my voice life and shape.

The set was killer. We got to play some brand new songs, I had the opportunity to share what they’re about and how they were written, which is something I love doing. And my voice even held out for the whole thing, which was a pleasant surprise.

This night in Portland was so special to me, and I’ll never forget it. I’m finding more and more that house shows are exactly that…very heartwarming, intimate, and special. There’s something about sharing music in a small space with friends and soon-to-be friends that creates immediate community. I believe that music is supposed to connect with people and help people connect with each other, which is precisely what a house show does on a highly tangible level.

Photo by Joshua Womack.

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OREGON SHOW SUMMARY, Pt. #2: FRIDAY, THE AXE & FIDDLE

It was a foggy drive down to Cottage Grove on January 11, but we made the two-and-a-half hour trip from Portland without incident and full of brotherly arguments and stupid jokes. If you ever find yourself looking for somewhere to stop on I-5, Cottage Grove is just off the interstate near Eugene, and The Axe & Fiddle is well worth the stop.

As you pass the bar in the middle of the city’s downtown blocks, you notice it has a very small storefront and shares a space with a book store and bakery. When you walk in, the shared space is enhanced by an abundance of wood furniture, chalkboard signage, and extremely friendly people. The low-ceilinged bar area opens up to a large dining area, with stairs up to a balcony for additional seating and billiards. And that’s just what you see.

The stage, settled in the end of the room through the bar and dining area, had ample space for our four-piece band, and produced one of the best sounds that we’ve been fortunate to have.

Before booking the event, I was worried we wouldn’t be able to get anyone to show up. Certainly very few of our Portland fans would want to drive two hours and some change down to Cottage Grove, and I simply wasn’t sure what our draw would be like that far from our hometown. We arrived a few hours before the show would start, and the place was empty. Needless to say, this had me worried that we’d be playing for an empty room come ten o’clock. On top of that, the sound man hadn’t arrived yet, and was reportedly to arrive an hour before showtime. I was stressed.

T-minus an hour and a half until showtime andmy good friend and gear tech for the day, Jeff, helped relieve some stress for me. He started running through gear to make sure everything was working correctly (even though the sound engineer hadn’t arrived yet), and gave me his reassurance that it was going to be a great night. We got our monitors worked out, we setup merch, and Jeff provided me with the best solace: he suggested I get a beer. I did. And it was delicious. 

After some time of relaxing and meeting with the other openers for the night, the sound engineer showed up and blew my mind. Seth introduced himself to me with a grin, and asked how he could help. He received each need of ours with a smile and a nod, and was enthusiastic about helping us with our complex setup. For a sound tech, his willingness and enthusiasm was off the charts, it was such a unique interaction. The night was starting to shape up.

About ten minutes before the first opener, Sam Densmore, was going to begin the night, my fears were relieved in a moment of reuniting: a herd of my friends bombarded me as they entered the room. Friends from Corvallis, Eugene, and even a few stragglers from Portland. It was such a reassuring moment to see familiar faces, and I knew we were on our way to a memorable night. The room wasn’t quite filled, which still had me worried, but it is always going to be a good night if shared with friends.

Sam did a great job opening up, providing some very story-centric songwriting with a unique / Portlander sound. 9:30 quickly came around, and my friends in Samsel & The Skirt took their turn on the stage. If you’ve never heard of them, Carey and his wife are a duo to be reckoned with. Their songwriting is fresh and on point, while their voices are both a combination of unique yet familiar, and flawless when paired. They brought a great set, and there was a buzz in the room after their performance. The feel was there, but there were still a lot of empty seats. Not the worst problem, all things considered, but definitely a bummer we wouldn’t get to meet any new fans.

The remainder of my fears subsided when a Cottage Grove local and dear friend of mine, Isaac, came through the door. Originally he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to make it, but when I saw him stroll in I knew everything would go smoothly. He informed me that he had invited a handful of his friends to join him at the show, that they would be arriving shortly. I was pumped.

A song or two into the set, we started playing one of my newer songs, “San Francisco,” in which Joseph has a killer solo for a few bars. After we hit the hook, I looked around and noticed the entire room had filled with locals, who started listening, clapping, and even moving tables around and dancing. The band was locked in perfectly with each other, and the audience was right there with us.

We ended the set on our normal closer, “How to Love,” and, to our amazement, locals didn’t stop cheering – they wanted an encore!

There were probably several songs we could have done for an encore, but at the moment with everyone cheering, we realized they weren’t going to stop, I drew a blank. I didn’t have anything up my sleeve. I never thought that we would need an ace to end the night after our best song. So, after looking around to Joel and Joseph for inspiration, we decided to play a song we’d never played before. Yes, you read that correctly: one that we had never played before. 

“You Don’t Know Love” is the newest song I’ve written, and we had played it only during its genesis, when Joseph came up with the hook and Joel and I jammed it for a bit. I wrote lyrics maybe a month later, and we hadn’t revisited it since then.

To start the encore, we began vibing out on the hook, while I tried memorizing the lyrics I had written on my phone – it was so fresh I didn’t even know the words yet. In between each line of the verse I bent over to see what the next lyrics were, and then jolted up to sing the line in time. It was a good mix of hilarious, energetic, messy, new, and relatable. People loved it. Heck, we loved it.

The night was a blast. We got setup with great food and exquisite beer, got to see old friends, make new friends, dance, and put on a great show. Cottage Grove was definitely worth the drive.

Photo cred:

1 + 3) Joel Evers

2) Jordan Moen

3) Aaron Fuller

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OREGON SHOW SUMMARY, Pt. #1

While in Portland for the last two weeks, the boys and I played a few shows around Oregon. I’ll give you a brief review in case you’re interested to hear how they went.

THURSDAY: VIE DE BOHÉME

On January 10, we played Vie, a super vibey wine bar in Southeast Portland. It had the coolest atmosphere: hanging lights decorated the large, circular room, with strands stretching from the middle to anchors around the walls, accompanied by wooden casks adorning corners, and wine racks bringing a classic feel to the room. The large, open floor plan of the main room made for natural theater seating, with a tier of tables on a half-level about the main floor. The staff was overly friendly and complimentary the entire evening, and it was a privilege to get the chance to play there.

We loaded in a couple hours before the show, and began running into major issues setting up. We brought our own sound board and monitors, planning to run that into the existing house system. This way, we would be able to hear ourselves better and put on a better sounding show. About 20 minutes before the show was to start, we had everything plugged in, turned on, and tuned up, but nothing was working: the sound could not come through to the speakers. We tried troubleshooting cables, boards, instruments, speakers – simply nothing would work. In the moment of internal panic, I recalled the late Freddie Mercury’s sage advice when he sang, “The show must go on.”

We started throwing cables aside, rewiring a few channels, and turned two knobs as we settled on just my voice and my sister’s voice to come through the venue’s simple setup. The set started slow with a halftime intro into “I Will Sing,” and hit the ground running when the bass and drums started driving the first verse. Fans responded with excitement and cheering, and the lack of the larger setup was not even noticed. This showed me how vital flexibility and stellar musicianship is (on the part of my band) when performing live music. All that time practicing in our room at home without any sound system played a huge role, and we performed the rest of the night without a hitch.

Overall, It was a blast getting to see friends and family and share some music with them. A friend of mine, Emily Joy, joined us as the opener for the evening. Emily sang and played with emotion and conviction, a very moving performance. She’s planning on launching a Kickstarter and production on a new album later this year, so keep a watch out for her.

Vie de Bohéme was a great experience for us. Of course, good wine and good food are always great bonuses to add to a killer night.

(Photos taken by my dear friend, Riley Schmutzer).