We had the pleasure of interviewing Steven Dayvid McKellar over Zoom video.
South African-born but Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Steven Dayvid McKellar recently his new EP One and Zero. A product of the last two pandemic years, this EP proved...
We had the pleasure of interviewing Steven Dayvid McKellar over Zoom video.
South African-born but Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Steven Dayvid McKellar recently his new EP One and Zero. A product of the last two pandemic years, this EP proved to be a cathartic creative outlet for him. Bringing together introspective and personal observations of the intrinsic world of isolation with the larger cultural context that the polarized socio/political environment has bred in this country, One and Zero is at once an individual reflection and a social commentary. “It’s both the times we’re in and then the questions I’m asking myself. I think the intimacy comes from the desire to be more vulnerable and honest with myself and with others,” he continues.
Minimalistic and introspective without pretense or artifice, One and Zero explores the isolation that the pandemic brought on. The former lead singer and primary songwriter for popular rock band Civil Twilight, McKellar dives deep into the subconscious and unearths melodies that strike the gut, eliciting deep seated emotions of heartbreak in his minimalistic electronic style. The title track tackles the stasis and stillness of being that the quarantine brought.
The EP is rounded out by the contemplative “Fading In, Fading Out” and a live version of “The Promise?” from his previous album ETHIO. “I am in the middle of my life (most likely) and so the natural question that pops up is, am I fading in or am I fading out,” he asks in reference to the aforementioned track. “I’m both, at the same time, all the time.” Regarding the live take on “The Promise?” and why he opted to revisit that track from his 2020 album, he replies, “That song, and ETHIO as a whole, never really got heard or liked. And I’m really proud of that record and wanted to show another angle. My dear friend Daniel Shepherd filmed me while I played songs from that album outside in a parking lot on the bed of my truck. You can hear birds chirping in the background and I like that.”
With Civil Twilight, McKellar had seen life on the big stage, having led the South African rock band through a very successful run, sharing stages with Jimmy Eat World, Silversun Pickups, Smashing Pumpkins and Florence + the Machine amongst others. Civil Twilight’s songs were placed on TV shows such as One Tree Hill, House, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Now solo and focusing on releasing music on his own terms, he’s thankful to continue being creative.
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Hello! It is Adam. Welcome back to bringing it backwards. A podcast where both legendary and rising artists tell their own personal stories of how they achieved stardom. On this episode, we had a chance to hang out with Steven Mackellar over zoom video. You might recognize Steven or his vocals from the band he played in for a number of years called civil Twilight, which we talked about during the interview. We talk about how he was born and raised in Cape town, South Africa, his mother was a classically trained pianist. So he talked about having her in the household, just playing piano. He wasn't a piano player. The funny story or way that really civil Twilight was formed based off of a friend of theirs band, having a gig and they needed an opener. 3 (1m 58s): So he is like, you guys should, you know, open. Meanwhile, Steven had never sang. They don't have any songs. His brother had learned a couple chords on guitar, but that's how it all began around 21 years old. They decided it's time to, to move to LA if we're gonna try to pursue this music thing. So the band ends up just getting on a plane, heading to Los Angeles, knew a couple people there and, and tried to make this band thing work in the United States that eventually took 'em to Nashville. They were signed to a record label, had an album, but it wasn't really doing anything yet. They find out that one of the songs is getting some airplay on the radio in Texas. 3 (2m 42s): And that was the song letters from the sky. So they go to Texas and as they get to Texas, other radio stations are adding the record. So they are on a tour basically a year and a half. I think you said, just kind of riding the success of the letters from the sky record and that debut self-titled the album. He talks about putting out the other two records with civil Twilight, a massive moment in his life when the band kind of split up and he decided to pursue a solo career, putting out his first solo record, moving from Nashville to LA and writing and releasing this brand new EP, which is called one and zero. He tells us all about that as well. 3 (3m 24s): You can watch the interview with Steven on our Facebook page and YouTube channel at bringing it backwards. It'd be awesome if you subscribe to our channel like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok at bringing back pod. And if you're listening to this on Spotify, apple music, Google podcasts, it would be amazing if you follow us there as well, and hook us up with a five star review. 4 (3m 46s): We'd appreciate your support. If you follow and subscribe to our podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts, 3 (3m 52s): We're bringing it backwards with Steven Mackellar Hey, Steven, what's going on? 5 (3m 58s): How much man? How you doing? 3 (3m 60s): I'm doing well. I'm doing well. I appreciate you doing this. 5 (4m 2s): Thanks for having me, man. 3 (4m 4s): For sure. My name is Adam, and this is about you, your journey in music. And we'll talk about the EP. 5 (4m 11s): Cool, 3 (4m 12s): Sweet. I did read that you moved to LA from, from Nashville. I know, obviously you weren't born there, but I I'm curious that you recently moved to LA from Nashville. 5 (4m 24s): Yeah. Two years, two years ago, like right in the middle of the lockdown. 3 (4m 29s): That's so funny cuz we, I moved I'm originally from San Diego from there to Nashville. 5 (4m 34s): Oh really? Okay. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, you're part of that migration. 3 (4m 38s): Yeah. Which I didn't even know was happening, which is so crazy. Yeah, 5 (4m 42s): Yeah. Yeah. It's crazy. 3 (4m 45s): So you've probably witnessed quite a bit of that. You're like one of the few people going the other way. 5 (4m 51s): Yeah. People are like, wow, what are you doing, man? Getting the wrong direction. 3 (4m 57s): That's funny. Right, right on. So I guess we'll just start off. We born and raised. You were born in Cape town in, in South Africa, correct? 5 (5m 7s): Yeah. 3 (5m 7s): What was it like growing up there? Tell me about that a little bit. 5 (5m 11s): Well, it was, I was born in 83, so okay. Yeah. Growing up in the eighties and nineties and in South Africa, I was, it's very interesting. A lot going on. 3 (5m 22s): Okay. Yeah. I'm we're the same age now that you told me what year you're born. So I'm just curious. Yeah. But what was it like? Well, you said it was just a lot going on there in, in the eighties and nineties. Correct? 5 (5m 37s): A lot of change. Yeah. Very interesting time to grow up in that country. And then to see it, you know, in my teens to experience the, the, the country coming out of apartheid and into a new era, sort of being introduced to the world slowly was fascinating, fascinating place to grow up. And it was very unknown at the time. It's more, you know, it's more, it's more known now and it's more of a destination now, but at the time growing up there was just nobody there. So it was very, and it's the standing place. So it's just like this insane beauty that felt very undiscovered and it was very special. 5 (6m 21s): Yeah. 3 (6m 22s): And you grew up in a, in a musical household, right? Your mom's a piano player. 5 (6m 26s): Yeah. A lot of opera and jazz around the house. Yeah. She, she, my mom would come and to my room, I actually had a piano in my room growing up with a little piano. Wow. One of her pianos that I never played, I never learned to play growing up. She would come in and play in my room every, every week or so. And that was very special. She's very, very beautiful player. 3 (6m 56s): So she would just come in every once in a while to play your piano there wasn't, was there another piano in the house that she played as well? 5 (7m 2s): No, there was just that one and I dunno why it was in my room. It was like a small AppRight piano interest. She would just come in and sit down, start playing and sort of improvised. And I loved it. I mean, she'd play for like an hour and I'd listen to, she's got a beautiful touch 3 (7m 22s): And just you never, but did you ever learn piano or 5 (7m 25s): Just that? Not, not really. No. I eventually picked it up. When I moved to LA, we were bouncing around a lot bumming around, you know, and we were house sitting a lot, trying to find places to stay and it's one house had a piano and I started playing. I started just playing around and messing around and I really loved it. And, and then, but I haven't taken anything. I haven't taken any formal lessons or anything. I just, I still, I still very a black, when it comes to, 3 (8m 0s): I mean, coming from a household with your mom being such a talented piano player, did you, were you put in any sort of lessons for music at all? 5 (8m 9s): I was not. Hey, that's, that's another thing that I think contributed to my curiosity. I was never, it was never part of the curriculum. You know? It was, I, I discovered it completely on my own in my own timing when I was about 13, 14. 3 (8m 30s): Okay. 5 (8m 31s): I was, I hadn't played any, anything. I hadn't sung. I hadn't done anything. And there was this band in town that was planning a show in two weeks time and they needed somebody to open for them. And so one of the band members said to us, why don't you guys just form a band and just start and just play, you know, and just write a few songs of play. So we're like, okay. So we had, none of us had played before, had written before and we wrote like five songs and I sang for the first time and I actually loved it. I, yeah, that was my introduction to music. 3 (9m 14s): Somebody. Yeah. Just telling you, Hey, we're playing gig. We want, you should open up. But like you must have had like, did your brother play? Cause I know he was he's in your, was in the band and another friend must have had a musical. 2 (9m 28s): Oh we could, we could fly. This is your summer. That means six flags in the taste of an ice cold Coca-Cola we're talking thrilling coasters, delicious burgers. Yes. Real moments together. And this Coke is summer refreshment when you need it most. So you can hop on another ride or race down a slide at the water park, six flags, and Coca-Cola come make it yours. Visit six flags.com/coke to save up to $20 on passes. Plus daily tickets starting at 34 99, 6 (9m 59s): Hey, there's something different about my mango pineapple smoothie. 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Visit six flags.com/coke to save up to $20 on passes. Plus daily tickets starting at 34 99 3 (10m 59s): Knowledge of some sort like how do you the kids have no, no. Don't know what they're doing at all. Learn how to play some. I 5 (11m 8s): Know it's wild. I think my brother was, he knew like maybe three chords or something. 3 (11m 13s): Okay. He could fumble around enough. He could 5 (11m 16s): Firm around. Actually. I remember, I remember my brother and Richard, the drummer arguing over who was gonna play drums cuz they both wanted to play drums. And I think they actually drew straws and, and Andrew ended up playing guitar. And I, at the time it was just guitar, drums and vocals. I wasn't, I hadn't started playing bass yet. So I was just up there singing poetry that had written something about a lot of, it was just about way like the ocean and waves and stuff. That's 3 (11m 52s): Cool. 5 (11m 53s): Yeah. And from there it was very quick. It was like a very quick falling in love within the next like two years. I was like totally in. 3 (12m 1s): Okay. I was totally in how was that show? Do you remember? 5 (12m 5s): Yeah, I remember, I remember wanting to throw up before I went on stage and I remember being in my memory, it was, it was huge, you know, my memory in my memory, it was epic, but I think there was probably only about 40 people there. 3 (12m 19s): That's a pretty good number though. 40 people. 5 (12m 21s): It's a pretty good number. Yeah. You know, considering. Yeah, it was, yeah, it was awesome. I remember just like, it was totally thrilling. I threw up before the show. I think I threw up after the 3 (12m 34s): Show. Oh man. 5 (12m 36s): But it was so such a rush and I just, you know, once you get that, when at that age too, when you're so young, once you get that rush of like, I'm seeing something that I wrote and it wasn't even a matter of whether people were liking it or not, it was just the simple, active expression on, on a platform, on a stage that was like, I can actually do this. Like, and there were, then nobody was doing it. I mean, it's, you know, growing up there, the scene was tiny. I mean, it's, it's a very, it's kind of a small country and there was just nothing going on. So it was like, and there wasn't a, there wasn't any infrastructure for you. 5 (13m 19s): Couldn't Google how to be in a band, you know? 3 (13m 22s): Sure. 5 (13m 23s): There was just like, and, and as well as like South Africa was so far behind at that time, we're talking like 90, this is like 95. So apart just ended and everything was opening up, but it was still so isolated. So there wasn't a lot of outside influence yet. And so yeah, it felt very, very new and exciting and dangerous and, and not, not recommended. And naturally as a kid, you're like, when you're told that something's like not recommended and risky and like, especially when you wanna try and make it into a living and everyone's saying, no, no, no, no, you can't do that. 5 (14m 3s): You'll BU 3 (14m 6s): Then you just go full force. Yeah. I'm so, so from there, cause then the three of you ended up turning it into civil to Twilight. Right. So it started that young at 13 in that first show. 5 (14m 27s): Yeah. Isn't that crazy? Yeah. The same people. And I played in, I discovered bass, the depths of bass and I, and I, and other styles of music. And I played in a lot of different bands and jazz bands and stuff for many years in my teens, but the band kept going. I don't really know why. I think it was just curiosity and we didn't play a lot of shows, but we just jammed a lot, you know? And eventually, yeah, I it's crazy. You know, you know, when you think back when you're younger and you think why, how did I have the guts to do certain things or like, 3 (15m 5s): Right. 5 (15m 6s): Yeah. I think what was I thinking? I don't think, I, I don't think I was thinking, but what drove me to this point and it's just, it just pure excitement 3 (15m 16s): And it's almost being naive. Right? Exactly. You're like, you don't know that when you're older, you're like, oh my gosh, like I'm gonna look like an idiot or I'm gonna do this or that like, then you're just like, you don't have that thought process yet and go for it, whatever. 5 (15m 33s): Yeah. Let's just, let's okay. Let's give ourselves three months, save a bit of money. Let's pack our bags and go to Los Angeles. We know two people there that we can stay with for at least two weeks. And then we'll, and then we'll go from there. And for some reason, our parents, I mean, they, my folks are just incredible and I wouldn't have been able to, I wouldn't be here without their, without their support obviously. And it's like, I dunno what they were thinking. Either sending your 20 year old, 21 year old kid across, across the ocean with a suitcase, like, well, we may see you in three years might be a year. I don't know. 5 (16m 14s): It's nice, man. 3 (16m 15s): They knew, but they probably, they knew that, well, you were going with your brother at least. Right. 5 (16m 19s): I was gonna my brother that that's, that, that I think that made all the difference. And the three of us together, we were pretty tired. We're very tired. And we, we knew that we were gonna be okay. 3 (16m 29s): Yeah. And if, if, if it went sideways, they probably assume that you guys would, one of you would call home and be like, yo, like we need to get, we need to get back. So you gotta convince Steven to get in the, get in the airplane and head home or, you know, vice versa or whatever it was 5 (16m 44s): My brother, my brother would've been that guy. He was way more responsible than I, than I was. I, I don't think we definitely wouldn't have been able to do the things we did with that. His, his intelligence and awareness. Cause that was not either of those things the time. 3 (17m 5s): So you came out to LA, you knew, you said you knew two people, but was the, did you have like some momentum in, in South Africa with, with the band at all? Or was it like, we know we have something cool here LA is like the, a music, you know, place. Let's just go there and see what happens. 5 (17m 26s): Yeah, because we we'd had a little, we'd grown a little following in Cape town and, but we'd, we'd also seen the trajectory of a lot of bands, south African bands, the time that would just, cuz it's such a small scene and small country, you, you, you, if you take, if you just take, if you take over the whole country, it becomes the superstar of South Africa. You, you meet to hit a ceiling. And we, we saw that whether we were gonna, we just thought we didn't wanna attempt that and then have to like, I don't know, just go backwards. You know? So we thought let's just skip that whole attempt and let's just go straight to where we know we wanna be and where we can really grow and which at the time we, we just wanted to like, that's all we wanted to do. 5 (18m 15s): We wanted to like play lots of shows and be in America. Then America was like the place to do that. So, 3 (18m 25s): So guys came out to 5 (18m 27s): Came to, and then from there, man, it was just one big adventure. It was like years and years of waiting for visas to come through for management and slowly, slowly getting familiar with it. And then eventually we moved to Nashville actually through a, we through a bunch of weird circumstances and even, and that that's, that was four years after we'd moved and there was still, we still didn't have anything really going on. 3 (18m 59s): Really. So when you got to Nashville, the band hadn't, you hadn't had the, the success obviously as you, once the first record came out and everything. 5 (19m 10s): No, we still, we had one record we made and, but we were, and we were actually signed to an independent label out of New York, but, but they, they back shelved us for like a whole year. Cause they didn't know what to do with the record. So wow. It was a different time too, you know, it was like totally different. So we did, we just sat around thinking this may happen, that may not happen. And then one day we got a call saying that to our radio station out of Texas is starting to play one of our songs and we should probably go out, out there and play for the radio station. So we got on our van, drove out there and there was literally like, we didn't come back for like a year. 5 (19m 55s): We just, after that, it was like the next radio show and the next radio show. And then it kept adding on the song, got more momentum. And then we were, I think we were out on the road. We we'd be home in Nashville for about two months out of like two years. It was just solid, solid touring. 3 (20m 13s): Wow. Cause I'm from radio. I did radio pretty much up until the pandemic when my, this, this podcast took off way quicker than I ever anticipated. It just, I mean, due to circumstances of everybody at home, but 5 (20m 28s): Yeah. Yeah. Well come Congress on that, man. Well done. 3 (20m 31s): Thank you. It was just mainly for a fun hobby and, and to do what I love to do, but I was I've did radio for 17 years and I remember when we were playing, it was letters from the sky was what we were playing in the station in San Diego that, that I, that I worked at and 5 (20m 47s): Oh yeah, 3 (20m 48s): You might've done something with us. I wanna say you guys played, like, because I worked for a station that was like online also and it was video oriented. This is before I went on to 91 X, which we also played you guys on that station in San Diego, but you guys did like a show. We, we had like this garage in the back and it was like filmed. I don't, if you can remember this. Yeah. 5 (21m 15s): Were there people were there like an, was an audience there? Yeah. 3 (21m 18s): Yeah. An audience came. It was like in this little strip mall next to like an in and out burger. It was 5 (21m 25s): Bizarre. So many places like that. But I, if I, if I, if I touch like this one little detail, I could probably remember it. 3 (21m 33s): Yeah. It's all good. But I remember that it's wild to think that you guys were, had been here for so long. I mean, at least in the states and then were living in Nashville and the fact that this one station in Texas started playing you and then just kind of became this trickle effect, I guess that's just how it happened. And it just takes one, one bigger radio station to, to play it. Then everybody's gotta get on board. I mean, if you that's, I guess that's the, what the, the radio promotion people do. It's like, well, K Rock's on board, so you should be, but that was, yeah, that 5 (22m 3s): Was the toll back in the day. Yeah. Mans. So funny seeing that happen, like, yeah. You're very, you're very right in that. So 3 (22m 11s): Funny, but that's cool. Like, do you remember where like the station that started or what, what I'm sure you have to remember where you went in Texas. Was it part of Texas? 5 (22m 21s): I think it was out of 3 (22m 23s): Houston. Maybe 5 (22m 24s): Was at Dallas in Houston. Yeah. 3 (22m 27s): Okay. 5 (22m 27s): Yeah. It was one of those like rock stations, you know, 3 (22m 30s): And you, what just were like, okay, we should go do that. And then it was just slowly kind of getting picked up across the country in different markets. 5 (22m 38s): Yeah. Very quickly. It, wow. It's. Yeah. And I think at the time we had never done, we'd never toured. I mean, we toured like on our own, but never like a big national thing and, and we'd never done radio promotion. So we had, we had, we, we didn't know what was like expected of us. So we would come into radio station with all our gear drum set, you know, and pile into these people's like tiny little booth and just rock for like half an hour and, and give it everything we have. I mean, we were just, yeah, I think that made a huge difference because later on we discovered like that's just the big pain in the ass to do if you're gonna be on the road for years and years. 5 (23m 20s): And like it's, it's exhausting, you know? So to carry all your gear into a place and set up and, and do that, it's a lot. And so not, not a lot of people were doing it at the time and I think they made a big difference, man. 3 (23m 34s): I agree. Yeah. 5 (23m 35s): Excited. 3 (23m 36s): Yeah. And just having that F yeah. To see that happen. And you totally capitalize on the fact that this, this song is doing something and being excited about it and wanting, because yeah, I'm sure that doesn't happen all the time. I know it doesn't actually working in the in radio 9 (23m 53s): Membership piece apply after free trial, cancel time. 10 (23m 56s): Can I be real for a second? That goal, you have to exercise and eat better. You really can do it, but nobody is gonna do it for you. 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I mean 3 (25m 47s): All those records, I mean those first three albums you guys did were all like, they all did well. I mean, like once you, you have that record that you said that kind of got shelved that for a minute after you had wrote it, then, you know, you, you, you put out holy weather. Is that something that you were like, oh, were you guys concerned going up into that record at all? Or was it like, you know, let's just do what we do best and carry on or were, was it like, okay, now people are paying attention. Did you have that weight on you at all? 5 (26m 17s): No, not, not so much. I think we just, we were so over. I don't, we just wanted to do something a little different. And I remember we we'd been touring for so, so long and we didn't actually have time to sit and do what we usually do, which is just like sit in the room, the three of us and just jam for a long time. I think we were all so tired anyway. So we got back from the road. I had like a two, three week gap and the label was like, looks like we need to make another record. It's it's about that time. Do you guys have any songs? And we didn't have anything. So I just wrote a bunch of stuff. 5 (26m 58s): I just, I just got given a computer and I was introduced to garage band. 3 (27m 6s): Oh, 5 (27m 6s): Wow. Never done that before on my own. And I made all these demos on my own and we sent them to like a few producers and they really liked them. And so we just, so we dove in without ever rehearsing any of the songs, which was very, we just never done that before. So the record was, came out a little different and yeah, didn't, I don't think it did as well, but I mean, I'm proud of it. It was really fun to make 3 (27m 39s): I, yeah, I mean it did, but it did it charted and everything. I mean, it was doing well enough, right. It wasn't like, it just totally went unnoticed. You know what I mean? 5 (27m 48s): True. Yeah. I had a little bit of little bit of traction. I mean, I kept this in the road for sure. Kept this far. Sure. 3 (27m 55s): Similar to, well, what you, you are, you know, you just released with your, your EP it, you did that all on your own. Didn't you, wasn't something you did all produced kinda by yourself. 5 (28m 7s): Yeah, I did. Yeah. During, during the, the time we've just had just moved to LA I guess. So it was like, yeah, I, it was, I've become more familiar with working on my own now. And I sent a few tracks to my friend to add some things and he, and doing that was like, I got them. I did that sort of, the last thing I did was sent him, sent him some songs and he played some stuff on it and I was like, oh, I really miss this. I don't think I wanna make another record fully alone. Again, I've made like three or two now on my own. 5 (28m 50s): And I think I'm like ready for collaboration. It's just, yeah. It's like gets, well, one thing I'm just tired of looking at computer screen, you know, like on your, on your own. It's not a very romantic activity, you know, sitting at a computer, moving pixels around and it's not like, I know that's how a lot of music is made nowadays, but it certainly doesn't do anything for me. Okay. It's very, I just feel like I'm at a, yeah, it's just not, that is not, it's one aspect of music, but it's certainly not something I enjoy time 3 (29m 32s): With moving to Nashville, like, or moving from Nashville. So you did you, because you put out a, so record two solar records prior to the EP, correct? 5 (29m 44s): Yeah. Did I? Yeah, I did. Yeah. 3 (29m 45s): Yeah, too. Yeah. So were you, so you weren't living in Nashville up until this most recent recording? 5 (29m 54s): I was, yeah. I, I got off the road. The bands stopped touring instead of ended and, and I think 2017, 16 at the end of the year. Yeah, we were, yeah. We were living in Nashville. I, in, in a two week span, we were in the middle of a tour, like a big tour with a, with a, with a opening up for a big band. And we come off the road for a break and I had, yeah, I had like two seizures, like two, two seizures in a row from alcohol withdrawal. 3 (30m 36s): Oh my gosh. 5 (30m 37s): And this was like 10 years of pretty heavy alcoholism. And I was like, okay. So I, I, that sort of knocked me into shape and I, so I sobered up and then a week later, the, the label imploded overnight. Oh my gosh. And the band split up. So I had a, we had a meeting and decided to in it. So within two weeks it was like my entire identity, like everything I had built and like yeah. Poured myself into for like 15 years, which all of a sudden, just like a new chapter was actually massively liberating at the time. 5 (31m 18s): Yeah. I was very good for, for all of us. We was like the best band meeting we'd had in a long time actually. 3 (31m 25s): Wow. I mean, I, I, I also, I don't, I don't know if you still, if you drink now, but I don't drink and I haven't for a handful of years. And it's, that, that seems like it would be so difficult. I mean, to go from that and kind of this lifestyle, and then not only that you're watching these other things kind of happen in a row. I mean, you must've been under like a lot of pressure, so. Wow. 5 (31m 47s): Yeah. Yeah. It was crazy. I mean, it was starting over again in every way, but the, so it's been, it's been five years, five and a half years and yeah. Still sober. 3 (32m 7s): Congratulations. 5 (32m 8s): Thanks bro. Yeah, 3 (32m 9s): That's so cool, man. 5 (32m 11s): But the hardest five years, definitely hardest five years in my life. For sure. 3 (32m 16s): Yeah. I was gonna say like, just, I'm glad to hear that you say you're soakers. I didn't know if you're like, and then like, knowing like all this stuff collapsed and then I had to like, you know what I mean, jumped 5 (32m 26s): Back 3 (32m 26s): On. Cause that's what I was thinking. I'm like, did he have to do that? Cuz that seems like it would be not only like quitting drinking, but to see like everything that you knew kind of come to an end over almost overnight with the band and the label and everything else. You're just like, okay, well I gotta start fresh. Like so do, do you start working on a record or like did, were you con kind of confused at where you were at at that point? I mean, I think that'd be so hard to, 5 (32m 55s): Yeah. I had no idea what, what I was gonna do. I didn't didn't know if it was music or what we saved a bit of money, my wife and I, and we traveled that kind of saved me in a, in a lot of ways. Yeah. Did a little bit of bumming around doing a few little gigs in here and there for some people and eventually started writing for a publishing company, which, who is an old friend, just like a, a very small publishing company and who I'm still writing for. And she's just been incredible. 5 (33m 35s): Yeah. And that kind of, then, then, then we, we traveled some more when I wrote the first record while we were in Paris and we were staying, we, we just decided to be there for like three months or something and bounce around and staying a little, little Airbnbs. And so we, I just wrote that first one miles in the road and been a slow, we it's been a slow building of a, of, of truth and identity, you know, after, after many years of, of pouring myself into something, to such a degree that I didn't know who I was actually, that's how I got to that place of complete breakdown. 5 (34m 22s): It's like I had no, no idea what was really inside. It was all just, yeah, it was all BA based on this, on the band, it was based on this idea of being somebody, you 3 (34m 38s): Know? Right. I mean, it's kind of becomes an identity, I would think right. With the band, like, oh yeah. I'm Steven from civil TWI. Yeah. 5 (34m 45s): Yeah. It's so easy to do that. I mean, even the most pure intentioned person, I mean, you'll find yourself it's easily, it's easy to get wrapped up and it's such a wonderful blanket to be wrapped in, you know? Right, 3 (34m 59s): Right. 5 (35m 1s): So when that's gone yeah. Rebuilding, it's been five years. Is that really, really hard, but really good. 3 (35m 9s): Yeah. I mean, I love the record with Ethiopia. The one that you put out prior or part one and two, right. Was put out two EPS formed. That's a, an incredible album, man. I, I love what you're doing. I love it. Did you put that out though in 20 20, 20? You still living in Nashville at the time. 5 (35m 29s): Yeah. 3 (35m 30s): Okay. 5 (35m 31s): Yeah, I was. 3 (35m 33s): And that must've been before pandemic hit. 5 (35m 36s): Yeah, it was right. Yeah. We just, we were actually on the road, my wife and I were touring and we were, we were actually, we were turning that record and she was touring her record and we, we were in Seattle and when we were leaving Seattle, this was like January. Oh 3 (35m 59s): Man. That's where it started getting bad. Right. In Seattle. 5 (36m 2s): So we were leaving Seattle driving outta the city and had the radio on, some guy was going on about this cruise ship that coming in, some people are being, what's the word quarantined for some weird illness. And we're like, oh, well, let's get the fuck outta here. You know? So we started driving east and, and our bass player, I think, I think he might have had COVID, but we're not sure. I like to think that we were, it's not a very nice thought, but maybe we contributed to the, to the, to the spreading across the country. Cause 3 (36m 38s): Oh man. 5 (36m 41s): His, yeah. So it was like right when that was going down and yeah. It's crazy. 3 (36m 47s): Yeah. Have you, have you seen that Dave Chappelle? I think it's, it's like one of, not the most, maybe it was the most recent special that he, he did on Netflix. He talks about how he had COVID and he's shaking everybody's he's like, yeah. He's like, I didn't even know. And I'm shaking all these people's hands and taking pictures. He's like, I probably killed like a thousand people. I was like, oh man, like it's such a brutal joke. Yeah. I was like, oh man. But that just made me think of that, but it's not funny, but anyway. Wow. So you were, so you were touring that record when it all that all shut down. And did you get back to Nashville for a bit and, and just decide, Hey, let's try something new and head back to LA. 5 (37m 31s): Yeah. Yeah. We were the, so that we got back to Nashville, the tour, and then the lockdown happened and we were like, we don't know how this is gonna go down. Let's go somewhere else. And let's so we rented out our house and, and went to the countryside in Kentucky 3 (37m 49s): And, and Nashville had a rough too there. Right. I mean, there was a bomb, there was a tornado and yeah, 5 (37m 54s): My gosh, all in one go, it was insane. Yeah. We thought let's get outta here before something else. 3 (38m 0s): I was gonna say, you're probably like, okay, this is enough. 5 (38m 3s): Yeah. So we didn't actually plan to, to, to do a whole move. And, and we just found out we, the, the place that we'd rented in, in the countryside was started to smell funny. And there was lots of bugs everywhere. And we were like, this is, we pay money to be us. We, we should just travel. We should just go out west. So we just drove out to California and we were here for about a week and we're like, we gotta stay, you know, we should definitely stay here. That was it. Let me, we just, 3 (38m 37s): Now you're here. 5 (38m 38s): Yeah. Just decided to stay. It was 3 (38m 40s): Great. Wow. And well, and, and then when do you start putting together this, this new EP 5 (38m 48s): Good question. Do you find that like the last two years, two, three, maybe three is time. I, I can't even, like 3 (38m 58s): I can comprehend it. 5 (38m 60s): Yeah. Like a question like that. I'm like, I can't actually tell you. I don't. I dunno. 3 (39m 5s): But you were in LA maybe. 5 (39m 7s): Definitely. I was in LA and we've been here for a minute and I, I, yeah. I just remember feeling the urge to put something together. And then, and I, I just bought a new sample sample machine. Oh, okay. I like a drum machine. Yeah. It's like a drum machine, but you can put it, you can put in all, any sounds you like, and so it's, you can like cut them and, and manipulate them. And it was a very fun, little easy machine to, to use. And so I would just walk around the house, walk around the apartment, just like hitting things and like singing and stuff. And I took a lot of those little clips and then put them into the sample machine and would make traps and beats and stuff. 5 (39m 53s): And then from that, I was like, oh, I think I got something that I like. Yeah. And I just, and then I just wrote the, the rest of it with those, with that as the base. Yeah, 3 (40m 3s): Really? Yeah. So it was all based, like just random objects within the house, 11 (40m 7s): Finding the right person for the job. Isn't easy. Just ask someone who hired a drama coach to be an it guy. 10 (40m 13s): Yeah. I'm having trouble logging 12 (40m 14s): In. I'm not buying it. 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Just ask your neighbors. 9 (41m 8s): Membership piece apply after free trial. Cancel 10 (41m 10s): Any time. Can I be real for a second? That goal, you have to exercise and eat better. You really can do it, but nobody is gonna do it for you. And nobody has to, because you can do it. If you have the right tools and a community that cares about helping you get results and that's us beach body it's as convenient as your TV or laptop, but you need to decide that you are worth it. Let us help you succeed. Here's how go to beach, body.com to claim your free membership and start feeling great. 5 (41m 38s): Yeah. So like, you know, if you take a, a tap, a tap, you can tap anything unless tapping all kinds of crap. And then you just put it into this little machine and you can slow it down. So it sounds like, you know, or, or speed it up, put it backwards. Yeah. Just playing around with so all the sounds on the record are all the, the percussion is all just, it might sound like drums. I think there are like maybe one or two drums in there, but most of them is just, it's just those sounds fingers hitting stuff. 3 (42m 13s): Wow. That's so cool. 5 (42m 15s): Yeah. That's so crazy. It was fun. It was fun. Yeah. 3 (42m 19s): So once the, you have the songs, or what kind of built is that when you said you sent him out to a producer friend of yours to help complete the, to complete 'em. 5 (42m 29s): I sent them. Yeah. So a friend of mine, he at the time was living. He lives in Florida now and brilliant musician. He goes, he goes by the name of Bucky shorts. So that's his artist name, but he, but he, yeah, he's brilliant. Yeah. I just wanted him to throw some stuff on, on the track. And he, he did, I think he played on three tracks, some guitar and some synth stuff and some vocals. And then, then I was done. And then I sent to a friend of mine in the UK to mix and he, he killed the mix. 5 (43m 11s): He did a great job. And then yeah, then you have a record and it's, I go crap. Now we gotta put it out. And, and, and I put Ethiopia out with a record label called Sonic ritual and, and I, and it didn't do very well. And I was like, well, we'll see if they want, if he wants to do anything else. And he sent me an email as I was finishing up this record and he's like, Hey, just so you know, anything you wanna put out, wow. I wanna support you in that way. So I was like, okay, awesome. So that worked out. 3 (43m 49s): So like I got this other one, 5 (43m 51s): One is two for let's do it's great. 3 (43m 57s): I have a question and, and I'll cut this out if need be, because you have an EP, the EPS called one and zero, 5 (44m 6s): Or, 3 (44m 7s): And I have a press piece here from who I got in contact with you for, and it says Nama also N AMA, is that something that is yet to be announced? And if it is, I'm not gonna spoil that here. 5 (44m 26s): That is a great question I have to get, 3 (44m 29s): But is that a, but is that's the, that essentially you're gonna put out a seven track record. 5 (44m 34s): Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And that record, that record's called number and that'll come out in September most likely. Okay. And I think before the few other things being released before that, 3 (44m 46s): Okay. Then I'll, I'll cut this out and we'll just focus on what you have out now. Cause when I was doing, when I was looking at this is through Ray and I, and I, he, it didn't specify. So I was like, I don't know, but I'm gonna just throw this out here and I wanted you to know that I know that's that's happening. So I, when I base my questions, I won't go there. 5 (45m 9s): Okay, cool. Yeah. I think, I, I think talking to Ray about it, he said, let's just focus on talking about the EP as a strategy for now. Okay, cool. I'm done. 3 (45m 20s): All right, right on. So now I will remove this. I just wanted to clarify with you first. 5 (45m 25s): Cool. Thanks Ray. Okay. 3 (45m 26s): Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Cool. Cause, okay, so now we'll just go back. So one in zero, the EP has two songs from this session, but you have an older one on there too, right. With the promise was that I think you said it was from the Ethiopia sessions or was it a song that was gonna make that record it didn't and then you re like, tell me about the song or was it on that record? 5 (45m 50s): Oh yeah, it was on that record. And, and I did, I recorded a few songs live, like sitting outside on the bed of my truck. I had this, I had this truck when I back in Nashville and I was, and so I was recording this video with a friend of mine. Who's forming it and, and the audio turned out really well. And I kind of liked, I loved the focus on the lyrics. You know, when you, when you strip everything down was just piano vocal. There was a, there was a nice focus on the lyrics. And, and I liked, I liked the birds chipping in the background stuff, and I thought, let's, let's give this one, another girl, I guess just give people another angle of this song, you know, cuz I think it is the original song on Etha is it's something I'm very proud of, but it's, I know it's, it's a, it's quite a left turn content wise and attitude wise. 5 (46m 56s): It's quite different to what I've planned before. So I just wanted to give it, give another angle on it, you know? Yeah. And actually it was, it was funny, the, the mix, the actual mix I was trying to, I was supposed to extend it into the label to, for it to get mastered, but I was traveling at the time and I didn't have any way to do that. And I was trying to track a friend down so I could send it. I didn't have my computer with me. And I, I was anyway, he basically, he, so that the song was mixed by him, but he wasn't, it's hard to explain, but he wasn't listening to it. 5 (47m 37s): He just put it on his computer and, and printed it and sent it to me. 3 (47m 43s): Oh. 5 (47m 44s): And didn't, 3 (47m 45s): He didn't like he didn't mix it at all. He just took the, he just took the file and re and then sent it to you. 5 (47m 51s): Yeah. We didn't listen to it and double check and I just sent it. I thought, let's just see if this is gonna sound good. I sent it, I just sent it to the, to the, to the record level and they were like, yeah, that'll do. Anyway. I thought that was funny. Like we, it was mixed without even listening to what it was. Yeah. 3 (48m 11s): That's really funny. Oh, that's amazing. Do you plan on, are you touring the record or are you gonna like, do anything with that or like play any live show soon? 5 (48m 24s): Yeah, I would like to, I think I would like to do, I don't think, well, I know I don't wanna tour the same way I've done before. I just don't think that's necessary. So I would love to do some shows, but I'll probably pick the cities and do something special. I, I, I paint as well and I'm doing some more collaborations with people. And so I think I'd wanna make the shows a little more special than just a club gig, you know, passing through town, but I've yet to work that out, but it's, it's gonna happen at some point. 5 (49m 5s): Yeah. 3 (49m 6s): Amazing. Hopefully you'll make Nashville. One of your spots. 5 (49m 9s): Yeah. Interesting. That's it's, it's a tough town to plan when you is full of musicians, you know, 3 (49m 20s): For sure. Well, thank you so much, Steven for doing this, man. I really appreciate your time, 5 (49m 25s): Bro. Thanks for having me. This has been great. This has been 3 (49m 29s): Awesome. Awesome. Well, I do have one more question before I let you go. Yeah. I, I wanna know if you have any advice for aspiring artists. 5 (49m 39s): It's funny. I met this kid two days ago at an aha and I, and I bumped him on a walk here and he came back to the house and I made him some coffee and I was like talking with him and he was, and the way he was talking about stuff, he's clearly very talented and he played me some things and he was, yeah, but he's, he's 27. He's wrestling with a lot of stuff. And I just felt like telling him, just like play the slow game. You know, I said, practice, patience, and just work on your slow game. If that makes any sense, don't rush into anything. Like let things come to you, but just keep going. 5 (50m 22s): And that's something that you hear all the time and it's very cliche, but I'm discovering how important that is because you wanna, you wanna lead the shore and go past the horizon to the point where you, you know, you can't return anymore and then know, you know, you're truly fucked and in the best way possible. Sorry. No, you can cus man, you can say whatever you want. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I like get beyond that point and then, and then, you know, you can't return and so you just keep going and, and from that life gets really exciting.