(photo credit: Megan Thompson )
When I started performing, I was about 7 years old. I fell in love with music and the adrenaline rush of being on stage. I was excited for every rehearsal, vocal lesson and talent show.
When I decided to pursue music as a career though, my focus changed. All of a sudden it became about “making it”. My only goal was success, and many of my relationships suffered because my life became about networking and only making friends that could help me achieve this very specific goal.
Being in a female-fronted rock band, I already felt like I had more obstacles to overcome than my male counterparts. Constantly being asked at sound check if I was the merch girl, or it being assumed that we’d want to only be on all-female fronted shows and tours. This frustration manifested itself in lots of angsty songs (which was a good thing!) But ultimately it fostered an attitude in me that I constantly needed to prove people wrong. A need to prove to the promoters, managers and labels that my band was better, and a need to prove to my parents, teachers and friends that my being in a band was more than just a hobby.
By 2014, after years of countless shows and tours, sleeping on random people’s floors, getting stuck on the side of the road with a broken down tour van, and dealing with family problems that I felt disconnected from because of my nomad life, I felt really discouraged. The excitement of performing had faded, and was replaced by the anxiety of having to turn this dream into a successful business. With that realization, we decided The Material would take some time off to re-charge.
Months unintentionally turned into years. But during that time, a new opportunity presented itself. I started working with the producer deadmau5 on some electronic music, and pretty soon I was signed to his record label as a solo artist. Music felt new and exciting again, and things were looking up. Next thing I knew, I was accepting a platinum record for a song we wrote on a Grammy-nominated album. It didn’t happen the way I expected it to, and in my mind I kept asking myself “does this mean I finally made it?” Obviously I was thankful for the experience, but oddly, I didn’t really feel any different. For the past 20 years I had thought there would be this one monumental moment in my life that I would work towards, and then in a blink of an eye, my whole life would change once I had achieved it.
But the reality was that I had no clue what to do next. I had tried to prove to everyone that I would “make it” eventually, but apparently I never quite believed it myself. That night, with platinum plaque in hand, I went back to my little apartment and tried to think of what my next goal would be. That’s when I realized that maybe it’s not all about the goal setting and achievements. Maybe it’s about the person you become after all those days with the broken down tour van. Stronger, wiser and more resilient. And maybe it’s about all the memories you make with your friends and band mates when life is just happening to you, completely out of your control. Making music, not to be successful, but because it’s fun, and it makes you feel good. I honestly don’t know who I would have become if I had never taken the road less traveled. The uncomfortable and challenging life of chasing an impossible dream. But I’m so thankful for every chance I took, every success and failure, and every person that led me to where I am in my life right now. And I have learned that life truly is about enjoying the sometimes bumpy and unexpected journey, and not just focusing on the destination. So don’t miss it.
The Material first entered the scene in 2007 after winning a spot on the MTV Dew Circuit Breakout. After releasing four EPs and two LPs, the band toured tirelessly, sharing stages with Blameshift, Every Avenue and Therefore Tomorrow, and playing countless festivals like SXSW, Warped Tour, X-Fest, and Summerfest. After the band decided to take a break in 2014, lead vocalist Colleen D’Agostino signed to mau5trap records, where she co-wrote a platinum-certified single on the Grammy-nominated album by electronic producer deadmau5. After missing the rock world for a few years, the three original members and one new addition are back and ready to surprise their dedicated fanbase with ‘Gray States’.