When I was a 12 year old kid, I used to play drums with my windows wide open in the summer to combat the stifling heat in the attic bedroom, and risked alienating us from almost everyone in the immediate vicinity. However it turned out that almost NO ONE minded, and rather older high school aged guys walked past, heard me drumming away and would come and ring the door and ask my mom if they could come up and jam with me. True story. These were different times. Ah, the early ’90s…
I met tons of guys who would often come over and write and record little jams with me, but who actually helped me along in my drumming or introduced me to other people in the area that I would later connect with in more serious endeavors. Also, any time our friends had a house show, or there was some way to perform at school, we snapped it up. All of that helped with building experience and confidence.
Later moving to the Boston area, I played with a hardcore band called Sic Semper Tyrannis that, like all punk bands, made use of every friend and venue that gave an opportunity to play, also with a psych-rock band called Asciento, where I truly learned the art of survival on low funds by getting jobs where I could eat two meals a day and take home leftovers, and had hook ups at poster printing places, etc. Finally, when I started The Dresden Dolls in 2000, there was already a huge community of artist pals around Amanda’s Art Soirees that she was holding in the South End at the collective she lived at.
There were all types of people who were happy to work with us from building sets for videos and tour merch boxes, to set design, make up people, performers of every variety, and the one or two wealthy friends who would loan us a few bucks for camera rentals or something we could snatch out of the trash or was otherwise immediately available. But the main thing is we tried to keep our eyes and minds open to how to use resources creatively, and if it didn’t exist, we MADE IT ourselves.
Similarly now with my band Scarlet Sails that I have with my wife, Olya, we are constantly reaching out to find ways to achieve what we need to get done even if the funds are not that of a record label. We did a lot of homework and got our Kickstarter game on point and made 197% of our initial goal, hitting three stretch goals. And for each one, we tried to find ways within that budget to not only create work and content that served our overall mission, but helped get fans involved and collaborators we wanted to connect with.
Olya has also become a Craig’s List Wizard and has managed to restore my faith in that whole platform after many discouraging attempts. She has found some incredible people while searching through replies from carefully written ads we’ve placed for video people, which has turned into trusted team we use. Much has come from asking friends and just putting the word out, then knowing how to follow up on the connections you want to cultivate. Keep your eyes open.