What’s your story as an artist?

I wish I knew. I’m having trouble following it. Maybe in ten years I’ll read about how I helped usher in the “new California sound” or something and we’ll both have our answer.

What do you want your music to communicate?

I don’t really burden the music with an agenda. To me, songwriting is half mediumship and half parenting. I channel ideas and impulses from somewhere in the ether and try to organize them in a way that pleases me. Once the song exists I just try to give it the best life I can – record and perform it well and present it to the world so it can live its life.

What are some sources of inspiration for your storytelling?

It’s interesting that you say ‘storytelling’. Some of my favorite songwriters work in a storytelling mode but it feels like something that’s gone out of fashion. Most current songwriting feels more indebted to advertising and sloganeering to me.

I love the song as a storytelling mode because you can be extremely economical with your lyrics and have the music imply everything unsaid. I’m inspired by early American songwriters from folk and blues backgrounds. The tools are all there for telling a story that’s specific but universal, plainspoken but impenetrable, tragic but funny. That’s what I trip out on.

Who is an artist that you look up to more than others today?

I admire King Buzzo from Melvins quite a bit as someone who built and maintains a career completely on his own terms. Artistically and from a business standpoint Melvins never followed anybody else’s playbook and they’re absolute legends in my eyes. On a different tip, I’m a big fan of St. Vincent. As a talent she’s the whole package – amazing songwriter, performer, producer, aesthetic stylist, etc. She’s working with a foot in pop music and the other in the avant-garde, which is wonderful. And I’m inspired endlessly by my close friends in my little LA scene like Shaki, HOTT MT, Emerald Isle, Prized Pig, Pander Sera. Nothing grounds and drives me more than seeing my friends reach new artistic heights.

What’s the record or artist that made you realize you wanted to be an artist?

Beck – Odelay

Tell us about your latest release and how it came about

The last few Sleep Diet releases have been borne out of frustration and desperation. Over the course of, like, five years I put a lot of time and effort into collaborative projects that all self-immolated with nothing to show from them. Just egos and money and mental health crises – all the bullshit that get bands in trouble. After a really personal project of mine got kneecapped I sulked for a few months and then decided I would just do things my damn self. The first Sleep Diet record was recorded at the original Non Plus Ultra warehouse, where I was living at the time. After we had to leave that warehouse it took me a while to find a space I could work in again. My last single “Change Candidate” and new EP Void Everywhere were recorded in a dank little garage I set up as a makeshift studio before getting pushed out by the rats and spiders. Between my own mental health struggles, money insecurities, the pandemic and everything else going on in the world, giving these songs a proper release has been the hardest artistic challenge I can remember.

What inspires your sound?

Wonder. Music is my connection to the Divine. I’m just trying to build some new pathways between there and here.

What’s your favorite tune of yours?

Probably one that nobody else has heard lol. I have so many old songs I’ve written that have yet to find homes for. 

Where are some things you really want to accomplish as an artist?

My goals are pretty humble at this point. I just want my music to find its audience. I want to tour around with my friends and play without losing money. I’d like to quit my job. I want the songs I’m putting out there to find a home in some peoples’ hearts. That’s all.

Favorite lyric you ever wrote?

I don’t know if it’s my favorite but I’m proud of “The Flowering Tree”. The last little couplet still hits me.

“Oh how bright we are / circling ’round the globe / hitched to dying stars / bright, then out they go”

Was there ever a moment when you felt like giving up?

If you mean did I ever feel like giving up music and going on with my life? No.

If you mean did I ever feel like giving up on everything? That’s basically what the EP is about. So yeah. Daily, sometimes.

What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

My friend Jesse who mixed this EP and now drums in Sleep Diet has given me lots of good advice. He’s great at coining aphorisms. We were talking about drastically editing things the other day and he said “lose a dimension, gain a perspective”, which I thought was very wise. It reminds me of probably my favorite piece of musical wisdom which PJ Harvey wrote in the liner notes of Uh Huh Her: “If struggling with a song, drop out the thing you like the most.”

Where do you think the next game changer will be in the music industry and entertainment scene?

I think we’ve passed the peak of how the internet can help artists. The next game changer will be finding ways to promote and grow a scene that is separate from Silicon Valley and the corporate vampires that preside over the music industry as it stands. I have a dream of starting an old-fashioned newsletter. That’s not gonna create a seismic shift but it sounds fun. I want to see more artists reject the implied monoculture of the internet and create their own information streams.