This month on The Other Gig, we chatted with Naveed Stone, lead vocalist of Queens, NY band In Loving Memory. When not making music, Stone works as a project engineer, pursuing two careers to “embrace the beauty of building a stable career in order to pursue the American dream.” To see our full interview with Stone and to check out the band’s latest EP Introspective, continue reading below!
Start off by telling me a little bit about yourself and your music:
My name is Naveed Stone and I’m born and raised in Queens, New York. While I work full-time as an engineer in New York City, I’m also the singer of the band In Loving Memory. We have been a band for just under 3 years and in that time, we have released 2 EPs, developed a following of over 18,000 Facebook likes and 12,000 Youtube subscribers, shared the stage with some of our favorite current artists, and most importantly planted the seeds of what is becoming an amazing community of fans and friends who support us in everything we do. In Loving Memory’s music brings the catchy and accessible elements of pop music and combines it with the technical instrumental prowess that we love in heavy and progressive music. Some of our biggest influences are artists like Issues, Ed Sheeran, and Avenged Sevenfold.
Do you attend school while making music/touring? If so, what are you studying and why are you pursuing other studies?
I’m the proud son of immigrant parents from Bangladesh. As a first-generation American, I grew up with the understanding that my parents sacrificed everything and came to this country with hopes that their children could become extraordinarily successful. When I was younger, I thought this meant they just wanted me to grow up and make a lot of money. But I realize now that the success they want for me runs so much deeper than socioeconomic status. It’s about establishing a legacy for our family in America for generations to come and giving my children the stability I couldn’t grow up with. In other words, I am among the first generation of Bengali-Americans, so I am quite literally writing our people’s history here.
That said, the importance of education was instilled in my sister and I from a very early age. We were both always honor roll students and went to two of the top public high schools in New York City. I always had a great aptitude and interest for math and science, so growing up to be an engineer was always the plan. I just graduated from Stony Brook University with my Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. Even though I found music as a teenager and quickly grew to fall in love with it, I was always told that it should just remain as a hobby. Kids from my demographic are never encouraged to pursue artistic careers because those career paths are unstable, and very few are actually able to make a comfortable living through them. I’m the product of two wildly different cultures, so as much as I want to say YOLO and recklessly chase my dreams of being a musician, I’m just as much inclined to strive for the stability that my culture places such high value on. This dual mentality is often the source of many of my identity issues. In fact, on In Loving Memory’s new EP “Introspective”, there’s a song called “Nomad” where I sing about my struggle of always being conflicted with what path in life to take. So while I am pursuing my dream to be a musician, I would never have felt right if I did not pursue my education either.
Do you work an Other Gig (in terms of a job) while making music? If so, why did you pick up this second trade?
I just started working full time as a Project Engineer at Skyline Windows in New York City. We design, manufacture, and install windows and doors for buildings of all sizes and applications (commercial, residential, etc) throughout the NYC area. As I said before, while music is undeniably my dream and my passion, I was raised in a culture where I’m expected to take care of my parents and give back to them when I’m older. Now that I’ve finished college and really feel like I’m starting off my adult life, I feel wonderful that I have a full time job that allows me to start helping my parents out financially, as well as being able to save and prepare for my own future. Having a degree and a solid plan B to fall back on actually makes me feel more comfortable with putting my all into In Loving Memory. I can go full force with the band knowing that if I were to fail, I would still have the stability that a college degree allows me to have. I think the worst scenario would be me never giving my dream an honest shot due to fear of failure. Developing another career alongside my music career helps me eliminate that fear for myself.
How does your Other Gig/school work both help and hinder your band?
I love this question because people often ask me something along the lines of “If In Loving Memory takes off, would you regret having gone to college and wasting those four years?” The answer is absolutely not. Pursuing my engineering degree and career has developed many of my skills that are transferrable to the band. The level of organization that I bring to the management of Loving Memory’s business operations is mostly due to the rigorous nature of my engineering coursework. My ability to network and be professional with people I meet in the music industry feels very similar to networking with engineers and going to recruitment events and job interviews. In that sense, pursuing both my careers has fostered qualities within me that benefit me and allow adaptability in either context.
If you work your Other Gig/take classes while on the road, how do your bandmates react to your work?
In Loving Memory has only been on one tour, and that was in Spring 2016 where we did a 3 week midwest tour. I was pulling double duty essentially, being a full time engineering student on the road while playing shows almost every day. It was tough because I was in the back of the van studying and submitting assignments and then immediately had to mentally shift gears and get in the zone to not only perform our sets, but be comfortable and sociable with everyone we were meeting. Certainly I wasn’t getting trashed every night and being reckless. Having to constantly shift back and forth between two different mindsets was very taxing mentally, but my bandmates were always supportive of my “double life” and respected me needing my space to focus on my education. I’m always going to be thankful to them for that. In Loving Memory is preparing to start touring rigorously in 2018, so my goal is to gain enough experience as an engineer so I can potentially do something similar and work remotely while on the road as well.
Has a fan of your music ever recognized you at work/school? If so, what was that interaction like?
In my junior year at Stony Brook University, In Loving Memory opened the university’s fall concert where we got to play with Time Flies and Walk The Moon. That was definitely one of the biggest crowds we ever played for, and after that I did start getting recognized on campus once in awhile. I’m thankful for the friends I made in college who support the band, rep our merchandise, and spread the word about us to other people. One time I was walking to class and someone actually stopped me and asked to take a picture with me. That was such a surreal moment for me because I wasn’t in “musician mode” in that situation. I was just a regular college kid thinking about his fluid mechanics test coming up. I was a little caught off guard, but I was so flattered that I chatted with them for a bit and didn’t even mind that I was late for class.
Has your band/music ever cost you a job/negatively affected your school work?
Wanting to seriously develop my band while in college was definitely not easy. Given that everyone else in the band was also either in school or working full time, we had no choice but to use weekends to play shows, write and record music, film videos, etc. Because most of my weekends were reserved for the band, it was like I was playing the school game on Hard mode. When everyone else had 7 days in their week to get their work done, I would often have only 5. I had to develop a lot of self-discipline so I could take care of my school work and still have time to fulfill my obligations to the band. Obviously not being in a band would have allowed me to have much more free time to focus on school (and a lot more sleep!), but I’m glad that my situation challenged me to develop that “work hard, play hard” mindset.
Some bands working Other Gigs might feel stuck. They potentially feel worried about making money, finishing school, not devoting enough time to their music, etc. What advice would you give to these musicians?
The biggest thing I learned is that you need to accept that 24 hours in a day is just not enough to do everything you want to do. I always hear musicians go on stage and tell their audiences to work hard. In fact, everyone says to work hard, hustle, lose sleep, etc. While I agree that working hard is the integral piece of the formula, I think public figures should also preach the importance of working smart. I manifested a lot of positive changes in my life when I embraced the idea that if I’m going to spend all my time working towards something, I need to do it in the most efficient way possible and get the most results out of it. The engineer in me wants to make a “Results Vs. Effort” graph to explain that you’re trying to optimize the first derivative of the graph. But instead I’ll just use a simple example. If you’re spending 5 hours a day practicing your instrument but you’re not doing the best exercises or practicing in the most efficient ways, your growth and development as a musician is going to be inhibited, even though you’re still “working hard” at it. Get the most out of the limited time you have. Simply put, don’t just work hard. Work smart.
Any additional thoughts if you have any!
I was so ecstatic to hear about “The Other Gig” and jumped at the chance to be featured in the series. I take a lot of pride in the education I have and the background from which I come from. I know there are many kids from my demographic with similar stories of being conflicted between choosing their passion over the “stable job”, and I would love to be a voice that represents us and tells that story on a larger scale. The “immigrant story” is a beautiful one and I think it is very underrepresented, at least in the pop/rock/metal niches of the music industry. I always felt discouraged by the lack of minorities in the music scene and I want to help break that cycle. I want to build my band In Loving Memory to success so I can tell the kids who are just like me “You can do it”, before their parents tell them they can’t.