Izik Musik Theatre

Before I say anything, just go here:

http://www.izikmuzik.com

then go here:

Currently sitting at a closed Starbucks kiosk inside a 24 hour Safeway on Pi’ikoi. ANOTHER great location for endless access to drinks and snacks and WiFi! Just came from The Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art, spelt with an ‘re’ instead of an ‘er’. I asked google about the difference between ‘theatre’ vs. ‘theater’ and basically came to the conclusion that English is just dumb. I like to think theatre refers to the classy venues, where classy performances take place, with acts, intermissions, and “encore’s” yelled at a reasonable volume. Theaters are where I go to step on stale popcorn and spend a couple hours angered at obnoxious kids and their parents while The Hunger Games Par Deux plays in the background (I still don’t know what happened in that movie). I just went from inspired to red hot. Back to inspired.

Doris Duke Theatre was the stage for my friend’s concert, which was stacked with amazing musicians and backup singers that would sing most people under the table in a heartbeat. On top of that, as I looked into the audience I couldn’t help but notice that you could have made like 3 super bands out of the musicians in attendance. I am still star-struck by some of the people I get to say hello to. The main act tonight was Izik. I spend about 95% of the time listening to him with a ‘thizz face’ on, just repeating over and over in my head, “naaaaaasssstyyyy… ewww whaaaat?! Naaaaaaaasty…” I’m trying to remember the first time I heard Izik sing… It was probably around the time that he and his band won the Mai Tai rumble a few years ago. That was around the time me and the Smooth Remedy boys were getting all up in that Hawaii wedding scene and meeting a lot of cool musicians in the local music community here. I just remember thinking, this guy’s vocals are insane. You know when you hear or see some mega-talented person doing what you want to be doing  but then say, “I quit,” because he or she is just on some next level shit? Fun fact, my bandmate Kama texted me during the show and told me to let him know how it went. I replied “that was some next level shit.”

I could spend this whole post fan girl-ing over his vocals and the show, but the reason I wanted to sit in this Safeway and write was because of something Izik said between songs tonight.  He was explaining that a few years ago, he was dealing with the loss of his Grandmother. Izik was also waiting tables at a restaurant and had an exceptionally shitty hard day, and out of that place of being down and defeated came a song, and it healed him when he needed it.  I don’t know exactly what he said word for word, but the gist of it was that we all need to find our ways to heal our “naturally damaged” selves, and most importantly, figure out how we can heal others. He said, “for me and Jim (Jim Cobb, a super talented guitarist playing guitar for him tonight), it’s music. For my sister and my mom, it’s through education and teaching others.” This made me flash back to a conversation I had with my first boss at my last engineering job.  When I announced my plans to resign, he made it a point to take me to lunch that last week I was there. This guy is very old school, conservative, set in his ways, and says a lot of things I don’t agree with. But what I told him that Wednesday, at Mexico’s on School Street, was as follows:

Something like, “I remember one of the first things you said to me when I started working was to remember that through all the stress and late nights, we’re doing this job to help people. Not just the clients, but doing quality work helps the company, which helps our coworkers and their families. I totally get that we’re helping people, and that’s great… But I just have this deep feeling that I can help people more through music than I ever could through engineering…

I said that to him. I didn’t know how he was going to receive that, but he received it.  Luckily I’ve played music at like two of his kid’s grad parties over the years, and also he’s a fan of music. I don’t remember what he said after that, but I think he accepted it, and wished me success.

When Izik talked about healing others, I instantly was reminded why I left my job in the first place. Call it coincidence or just lucky timing, but recently there have been little events happening in my life to remind me of the “why” and also to write it down where I can see it and remember it.  So in the spirit of that. I’ll write it down here.

 

SHANE, THIS MUSIC ISN’T FOR YOU, IT’S FOR THEM

 

Okay, that was short enough to remember.

Again, go check out Izik, and also his talented friends that were backup singing tonight, Keilana Mokulehua and DeAndre Brackensick. I met Keilana at a singing competition a few years ago, which she won for the girl’s side.  I was super impressed back then, but it’s like she went 1000% in on practice for that whole time after we met, and if angels do exist, I imagine they sound like her. It’s like soft and sweet, calming and motherly, but then powerful and soulful at the same time. If I have my thizz face on 95% of the time for Izik, I got it on like 99% of the time for DeAndre.  His legs must be tired… from doing all those vocal runs. My brain can’t even process most of the stuff he sings.  They did a short acoustic set between Izik’s album music, sharing a song each of their own creation. The song DeAndre shared tonight harmonizing with Keilana and Izik gave me chicken skin. “Looooooooooove, was the excuse for us, when we both know that it was not enough…” I’m buying that one on itunes when it comes out for sure. Keilana’s song, Ascendant, was about the mask we put on to act like certain things aren’t bothering us inside. As they both spoke about their songs, I was reminded that we’re all alike, we’re all nervous to be vulnerable and share that side of us with strangers, even friends!

Keilana’s song:

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OH!!! So I found out tonight that there’s going to be a show at the Blue Note on September 25th with my buddy Tim Rose, but also Izik, Keilana, and DeAndre. It’s going to be “Nashville writer’s round” style as he put it. Just some microphones, some bar stools, some originals, and some stories about those songs. I’m so pumped for that. My best friend Aaron, who lived in Nashville for like almost 4 years, told me about writer’s rounds there, and I’ve wanted to see one ever since. Especially with this group up on stage. August 25th at The Blue Note.

Well I promised Tim I’d go read this book tonight that he highly recommended. So I’m going to get to that. I’m so inspired by all of these people popping into my life over the last several years in the world of music. One of the main reasons I decided not to move to Washington this year was because I’d be a damn fool to go there when they’re all here. Thanks for inspiring me old friends and new friends. So excited for the future for all of us. Congratulations Izik on an amazing show! Sorry if I got any quotes wrong or whatever, not like anyone reads this 🙂

– Fan girl

Be Better

First off, this 7-Eleven on South and Queen Street across from the Honolulu Fire Department is the sh*t, as the kids would say it nowadays. Unlimited access to drinks and snacks, a nice seating area with an ATM and a copy machine and Free WiFi from the FedEx next door. Ah-mazing. Alright, back on track.

Podcasts. They’re a lot cheaper than audiobooks, so that’s been my choice for passing the time behind the wheel lately.  If you’ve ever talked to me about books, you’ll know I’m more of a practical guy. Probably 95% of the books on my kindle are non-fiction. However, I’m slowly learning the value in fiction writing, since that might be useful for my current pursuits. Anyway, last week I was listening to one of Tim Ferris’ podcasts (A very non-fiction-y, educational type podcast) with Seth Godin. Seth talks about branding and marketing, and it finally clicked with me… The reason why Island Event Logistics and Smooth Remedy have been doing so well over the last few years.

Let’s talk about branding. He says, our brand is the promise that we make, implicitly, or explicitly. Brands that keep their promises are consistent, and earn trust. I think most importantly he says that we have a brand whether we want one or not. Branding doesn’t occur only at meetings or consultations with clients, they happen at every interaction whether it’s at the grocery store, post office, or 7-Eleven. I often forget that someone is always watching, getting a first impression, or a last impression. We’ve definitely had our slipups here and there, but in general we’ve had very positive interactions with clients and potential clients. Seth says your brand is a story that helps people tell themselves a story about you. Whether it’s how you get things done on time, your accent, how tall you are, or even how you spell your name. Sometimes these stories are just outright unfair because they don’t really know you. There is just no way for anyone to know you that deeply, to get the full scope of your brand that only you know. Seth says it’s our job to “consistently and persistently show up in a way that amplifies that brand.”

Now that I got that information section out of the way, here’s the part that finally clicked. The feeling I’ve been having, but couldn’t quite put into words. Seth says this:

“You’re not getting that gig because you do a commodity a little cheaper than everyone. You’re getting that gig because you’re better. Better at knowing them. Better at being flexible. Better at going the extra mile. Better at keeping your promises. That we un-commoditize our work by making our work more human.”

I know there are tons of musicians out there that are better performers, better singers, and have better musicality than us. There are other companies that have more lights and workers than us. But we’ve made a name for ourselves by being accommodating, friendly, problem solvers not finger pointers, and maybe most important of all, genuine. We had to go through that phase of saying “yes” to everything we were offered, and we probably were hired because we were just a cheaper commodity.  I don’t know if that’s what it takes in every situation, but that’s the route we took. It’s exciting to transition into a new period of having the gut and wisdom to choose wisely between all of the opportunities. To a bride and groom, a wedding musician’s work is a commodity. The lights are a commodity. We “un-commoditized” our work when we put being a ‘better human being’ first, and a ‘doing a business transaction’ second. I don’t know how much other musicians or lighting companies charge, but I can tell you with confidence that we aren’t getting business because we are a cheaper commodity. We’re getting business because we try to care a little more, and provide peace of mind to our clients because we will go to battle to deliver more than what we promise, and more than what they expect. That’s how we’ve chosen showing up to amplify that truth in our brand.

The future is exciting, and I know I’m in the right place with the right people to share that future with.

-Shane

 

 

I didn’t explode?

The last time I posted was back in February, right before I ended my career as a civil engineer. A lot has happened since then! One of which was a promise to post on here pretty often. But let’s not get caught up in the details. Hands down one of the most memorable events these past several months happened tonight, or I should say Friday night, as it’s now 2:23am Saturday.

A friend I met through the music scene, Dhevhan Keith, posted about a Singer/Songwriter contest, which he was an organizer for. It was being held at Lola’s Grill, which was previously Champions Bar. First off, I gotta say Jed and the staff there really changed the atmosphere of that place. I walk in and see large head shots of famous local celebrities and musicians covering almost every wall. Rap Replinger, Andy Bumatai, John Cruz, Brother Noland, and so on. A stage sits to the left of the front door and  you immediately know, they mean business when it comes to live music. I will definitely be back. Now back to the competition.

I see Dhevhan’s post on Facebook and think, “don’t think, sign up right now.” Well I didn’t sign up like I had just told myself to do, because let’s be honest, I was scared. It was always in the back of my mind after that, until a couple weeks later my other friend Amanda Frazier posted it on her Facebook page and mention that she’d be one of the judges. If I’m going to play an original for a bunch of strangers, I’d love it if she was one of the ears in attendance because I respect and admire her a lot as a musician and songwriter. She won a Na Hoku Hanohano award back in 2014! Anyway, 5 minutes after seeing her post, I was signed up and regretting it with every scared bone in my body.

Maybe I’m being dramatic, but my emotions ran the gamut this week in anticipation of stepping on stage tonight. It’s been a long time since I was this nervous to play music in front of people. In an explanation to a friend a few days ago, I tried to make sense of my nervousness to her. Basically I’ve been playing covers my whole life, and after the initial fear of performing music in front of people for the first few years, a feeling of pure enjoyment took over.  Gigs have just been fun, plain and simple. But playing tried and true covers for people is easy if you do a half decent interpretation, if not a carbon copy, of these already popular songs. People love to hear these songs and are pleasantly surprised if you can do them well enough. I explained that I’m a ‘nobody’, in the most positive sense of the word, as far as the songwriting music scene here goes. That could actually be a blessing since there isn’t any hype or expectation based on my previous works for anyone to lean on while listening to me. Virgin ears to my music.

BUT THOSE EMOTIONS THO!!! My hands were sweating all night while listening to the other artists perform their music. On a few occasions I said to myself, “thank goodness I’m not going after them!” I managed to do a well timed buzz using the Heineken on draft and making small talk with people next to me, to mitigate the bad nerves and coax the confident nerves out. Dhevhan called my name to play, and any confident nerves that were curious enough to poke their heads out immediately shot back into their shells. I set up my guitar and pulled up a chair, because well, I’m lazy, and standing is hard. I dropped my iPad on the stand in front of me which acted like a mini  lectern to hide behind in addition to my guitar. Also, a side note, I totally almost misused the word ‘podium’ in place of ‘lectern’. I was allowed one warm up song before my original piece, and only up until I finished tuning my guitar on stage, did I settle on A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton to warm up with. Why? I dunno, I thought maybe it would get the attention of at least one person before I tried the original song. But apparently I didn’t need to get anyone’s attention because there was a sizable cheering section in there for me by chance. A friend happened to be there with her coworkers and coerced them into cheering for me. I specifically didn’t tell anyone about this so I could kind of just fade into the background and get an honest reaction from people. But in the end I can’t say the cheering didn’t yank some confident nerves back out, so thanks cheerleaders. Vanessa Carlton: done. That was the easy part of the night.

I hit that home button on my iPad and swiped that bad boy on, revealing song lyrics and chord annotations for my song. I had a moment of panic when I read the first verse because I thought, “wait those aren’t the right lyrics!” Then, “Shane, you’re an idiot, get your sh*t together, the words are fine.”  I explained to the audience that I wrote this song right before I turned in my resignation letter and put that Civil Engineering life behind me. Too scared to say anything else, I went back into my hiding spot behind the mic and strummed the first chord: C. Then I blacked out. Not really, but I basically closed my eyes the whole song because I was so terrified, only opening them to check in on those lyrics. You know, to make sure they were doing okay there on my iPad. My song was short and sweet and it felt like it was over as soon as it started. My obnoxious friends and her coworkers spammed the airwaves with “hana hou!” so I busted out a Taylor Swift cover for them and scurried off the stage.

Remember how I wrote about closing my eyes the whole time?  I walked over to Amanda and her bass player Ernie, who by the way is freaking awesome and I’m always stoked to see and share a good bear hug with the man. Their first critique was that I need to open my eyes when I sing. So I heard them, and knew they were absolutely 100% right, but my irrational fears had closed my eyes and I’d just have to work on it next time. And guess what? I didn’t explode, the world didn’t end in a ball of fire, Donald Trump didn’t become the president, cat’s didn’t befriend dogs, and I was still alive!

I’ve played this song for a few friends. Some of which were songwriters, some just fans of music, and some just fans of me. But it’s different playing it for strangers, and I’m so relieved that my first time playing an original for strangers was in front of the crowd that was there tonight. Before I went on, one of my best friends texted me that this is what I wanted, and the nerves are just telling me that I’m growing and progressing. He also said he was proud of me, which was just what I needed to hear.

So in light of not spontaneously combusting into a supernova and imploding into a blackhole, I think this is definitely what I want to be doing right now. Writing songs, and playing them for complete strangers, with the occasional familiar pair of ears listening in.

Cheers to the future and more music!