“I don’t care about your grades or the kind of music you make. Just meet everyone – from the doorman, your professors, classmates… everyone. Those relationships will get you and your music farther than anything else.” That was the last thing my dad told me on my first day at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I took his advice to heart and went to show after show, party after party, event after event and thank god I did.
It was so atomic, really, how this tour with Kawehi came about. Early on in college a friend introduced me to a promoter at Brighton Music Hall, Lance Tobin, and I had kept in touch with him over the years. After graduation, I was in the process of moving back to California. It was then that Lance offered me the opportunity to open for a artist named Kawehi at his venue. I changed my entire plan and cancelled my flights all because I had a strange feeling that if I didn’t, I would regret it. “Atomic Living” at its best.
The night of the show was Kawehi’s birthday and I remember meeting her for the first time backstage, holding a birthday bottle of champagne in my hand, subtly laughing, “I really hope you drink…?” After my band’s set she asked my plans and I told her about my move back to LA. She ended up inviting me to join her for one of her shows on the west coast leg of her tour.
What originally was supposed to be a two-show thing turned into four, then six, then, overnight, I was booked as her opening act for San Diego up to Canada – the entire west coast leg.
The tour was my first real tour and a huge learning curve for me. As a Music Business graduate I had ultimately been doing everything on my own. From the management, the PR, booking, recording, graphics… you name it. Still, I hadn’t yet seen a D.I.Y. musician who was actually successful.
The idea of being a D.I.Y. artist is a very rich one, but the reality of being a D.I.Y. artist is a very poor one. You are constantly working double time, juggling all the different caps, striving to make enough money to get by and quit your day job at Starbucks. Most of my D.I.Y. friends were doing what I was – playing our original music in bars or clubs, hoping to make at least $100.00, or recording in a friend’s basement because it was the quietest place we could find.
As an independent musician you find yourself feeling that it’s impossible to make a living off of your art. That’s really all we want at the end of the day, isn’t it? To make enough money to make more music? Being a part of this tour helped me realize it is possible… very possible. You don’t need a million followers on Twitter or Facebook. Instead of aiming for stats, aim for a true connection with the audience at your shows. Be friends with them. Thrive in how they can help you grow. Kawehi taught me that.
LA-based indie folk artist Zoya has been making big waves in 2015, crafting an otherworldly sound that is entirely her own and last month saw the release of her newest full-length album, The Girl Who Used To Live In My Room. Check out the music video for her lead single “What’s Done Is Done” below and if you like what you hear, you can purchase a CD here.
In support of the new album, Zoya is currently on her “The Girl Who” tour playing shows along the west coast all through August. If you want to catch a live show, you can view all the dates and buy concert tickets here.