Saturday, 4 March 2017

Inspirational Interview - Tommy Odetto



Chasing your dreams is an act of bravery that so many people take. Staring them in the face and not knowing whether the outcome will be what you see in your mind is the risk that you have to take. Every day, people around the world take that deep breath and whisper to themselves, “I'm going to do this.”. Those voices that speak to your soul can become so overwhelming that they're painful. And they keep talking and talking until you have no option but to listen.

I've been blessed to meet some incredible people over the years. Dreamers and risk takers, people who've given up everything to listen to their heart and go for it. They serve as an inspiration for when the fear of failure begins to rise.

Tommy Odetto is one of those people, a man whose music is so beautiful that it makes you wonder if it's created in a place that's not of this Earth. Like so many others, he's chasing his dreams and knitting them into a wonderful reality.

Hi, Tommy! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about who you are and where you're from.

Hello! My name is Tommy Odetto. I'm 28 years old, and I'm born and raised in beautiful Northern California. Little about me? I'm a music freak. I love music. I live to play guitar, write songs, and sing. As well as listening and just enjoying music in a daily basis! I like meeting new people, good food, and good movies.

Young Tommy

What first prompted you to pick up a guitar and start playing?

My best friend Pat, and some older family members of friends I was introduced to the music of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Eric Cream, and it literally felt like a beautiful spell was cast on me. I knew I was going to dedicate the rest of my life playing music upon hearing that.


Who are your musical influences?

I'm a Beatles freak. They're my all time favorite. I have and do, study their music a lot. Their music is the tapestry to my life pretty much!

The first time ever in my life where music really hit me was watching early footage of Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show. It just gave me the chills as a kid, and I immediately started dressing and combing my hair like Elvis from age 8-10 years old about. That opened the door to all 50's Rock and Roll. I loved Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, and guys like that. I also loved all Pop from late 50's early 60's. My dad always listened to The Everly Brothers, British Invasion groups, Motown, Bobby Darin. Great stuff like that was my first exposure to music that really moved me.

Now I love so much stuff. I love all music. I love Blues, Jazz, Indian music, Classical, 60s Pop, Rock and Roll from every period. Anything heartfelt and good!


Creative people don't tend to have “typical” days. Some have set routines while others just go with the flow. What's a day in the life of a musician like? Do you stick to a routine? Or do you see what happens?

Haha! Yes I'm all over the place. I'm a total night owl. Always have been. I love writing and creating at night and into the wee hours. I'm sure other professional musicians are a lot more organized. I'd forget my guitar if I actually put it down once in a while.

At Conejo Valley Days 2016

Your life story, as documented on your website, is one that so many creative people can relate to. How do you feel that your life has set you up for the road that you're on now? At what point did you know the exact path that you wanted to take in life?

Wow good question. Well first I have to say I'm beyond blessed to have parents that believed in me, and knew music was my destiny as much as I did. Secondly, growing up in Fairfax, California with some of the most talented musicians around. Fairfax has really courted me as a community, and help me develop my skills as a musician no doubt.

With all of that said, There's also been a lot of trying times, and still are challenges. I mean, I really believe music chose me. I didn't have a choice. The passion was so strong, is so strong, that my heart would never let me veer off that track, even for a second. That doesn't always fit in with day to day realities, but I knew, and know that it's what I need to do on this earth, so you figure it out! I took a leap of faith, and never turned back from day one, and I've been lucky to get some really great opportunities so far.

Music is your passion and your life. Do you find that there's anything in particular that inspires you? Are there any particular themes or lyrical images that you find yourself returning to?

Yes! Anything that moves me. Whether it's a song that gets my juices going, or just life occurrences, and going through the things that you experience in life. It's all about real emotion thought. If something moves me, that's all I need.



Your songs are beautiful and I implore anyone to go and listen. How do you feel about the 21st Century music industry? Is there a big difference between good and bad days?

Thank you so much. Another good question. Honestly, at least in what's big in the mainstream, is garbage. Total garbage. Not everything, but most. The biggest thing for me is a lot of it is ego based. How much swag they have, how cool they are. It disgusts me. Artists like Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, The Beatles and people like that, were about lifting people up. Their music was real. Humanity poured out of them. Opened people's hearts up. Changed people's lives. That's why great art, and artists are all about. Real true emotion.

Today's artists I see are no different then a Pepsi commercial. Not to mention, artist originality, songwriting, production is pretty sophomoric. At least to me. To be a major recording artist in the 30s 40s and 50s, you truly had to have something really special to offer. You had to truly be a great artist. That's the gold standard for me. All of the old stuff. Whether it's Benny Goodman, or Brian Wilson.


For anyone who hasn't heard you before, how would you describe your music?

Rock music that's basically a combination of everything I like! Definitely some Blues, and Funk in there too.


At the 2016 Conejo Valley Days you fulfilled one of your dreams. Please tell us about that and how it made you feel.

What a day that was. I still think about almost everyday. It was truly magical, and I'm so grateful. For those that don't know, I made YouTube video that it was my dream to jam with Dave Grohl. Luckily, and amazingly, it reached his attention. Through a couple of very special people to me, I was booked for CVD. We met backstage and he was really nice, really complementary, and just such a gentleman. On stage, it was such a rush, and it didn't fully hit me until after the performance. But in a way, I felt like I was jamming with the big brother I never had. It was one of the best days of my life.



You're currently running a crowdfunding campaign. What's it for? And what will the end product be?

Thank you for asking. I've been given the opportunity to record an EP, at Foo Fighters' private studio and Headquarters, Studio 606. Long time Grohl collaborator, and Producer of Foo Fighters/Nirvana, Barrett Jones, agreed to Produce the EP. We will be recording on the Neve Console that was documented in the Grohl documentary, "Sound City". Nirvana recorded "Nevermind" on this console, among countless other landmark albums. We still have a ways to go, and you can donate here! https://www.gofundme.com/tommy606


Some people find crowdfunding to be very easy, while others struggle with it. How are you finding the process?

Interesting question. I find it to be quite a challenge in a lot of ways. It's a daily thing. Checking in with everyone, thanking everyone who's donated, making sure you get rewards to those who are owed them. It's a complete leap of faith, but I'm constantly moved by how many have stepped up to back me. So no, I don't find it easy!


Every recording studio is different, each having qualities that others don't. You've chosen to record your next project at Studio 606. Is there a reason for choosing that particular studio?

Yes! The Neve recording Console! Great room! Great engineers!

Bar the project that you're currently crowdfunding for, if you could have one other dream come true, which one would it be and why?

Be the opening act on tour with Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Or Clapton!! On tour with my heroes would be amazing!


Do you have a personal motto that you live by?

The only thing standing between you, and your dreams, is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself.

2017 - Photo by Rich W Chapman

What advice would you give to someone who's chasing their dreams?

Giving up is not an option.


Finally, where can find you, and your music, online?


You can donate to Tommy's 606 Recording Dream at:

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Go With The Flow





Life is like an ocean with the waves of different emotions and situations coming and going. There are things that we want to happen in our lives. And things that we'd rather keep moored to the shore.

2017 has, for me, felt like it's started slowly. Yet there's already three finished pieces of work ready to go and find new homes. The one that I really want to work on has, for the moment, stalled. I've gone to pick it up again only for road blocks to get in the way. Losing my voice, cancellations, or a sudden back log of work mean that it's been impossible to sit and talk to anyone.

So I decided to see where else the ocean of life would take me. And, surprisingly, it guided me to several pieces that I'd started last year and never had the chance to finish. The road blocks were just that – minor inconveniences that meant my mind could wander elsewhere for a while.

There may be something that you want to happen in your life; a job change or holiday, perhaps. You may find that getting to that point is a struggle and that achieving that dream, no matter how small, is so tantalisingly out of reach. You may feel like your fingers are grazing the edges of your dream but, no matter how hard you try, you just can't reel it in.

Telling someone to let go of their dream feels like an awful thing to say. It sounds as though you're telling that person that their dreams are not worthy of being granted, that they don't deserve the happiness that others enjoy.

You don't have to let go. Instead, go with the ebb and flow of the world around you. Keep working towards your dream, whether it's applying for a job every week or putting away a little money towards your holiday. Giving yourself in to the flow of the world can be hard. It can be a struggle and you'll find yourself wanting to work on your dream 24/7. But even doing a little a day is great. Seeds don't sprout overnight. Great oaks don't suddenly go from an acorn to a fully matured tree in an hour. In the same way, your dream may not happen overnight.

As someone recently said to me, “Achieving your dreams is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time and enjoy the process.”

For me, these quiet periods mean that, by the end of the year, I should have several new projects ready to go out in to the world.


Relax, sit back, and do what you can. Because you never know what's going to happen two days, two months, or two years from now.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

This Is A Call

The world needs healing right now. People feel alone, lost, despondent. They feel like they're drifting and forgotten, forsaken by a world that they thought loved them.



This is a call. It's a call to you, to me, to everyone, to stand up and draw closer those who feel like the world is a cold, dark place right now.

We're warriors in a fight against the darkness, against the “ism”'s, and against the threats that hang over all of us. We're here to love one another, not to hate or fight. We've been divided for a purpose that we may not see nor understand.

But we can win. We can learn to love and unite once more. We can speak words of kindness. We can hug instead of fight. We can love instead of hate. We lay aside the weapons that we use to fight and join hands.

Love those around you. Bring them into your life and love them. Help them to heal, just as you need time to heal yourself. Hug, cry, laugh, and love one another. Show the world that no matter what is happening, you won't give in to the darkness that is threatening to consume people. Don't let the world drag you down. Don't give in to the hate, the evil, the darkness, and the cruelty. Shine your light and show the world that you won't accept what's happening.



Love will trump hate.

Kindness will trump evil.

Peace will trump cruelty.


Light will trump darkness.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Help Yourself

There's only one person on this planet who can help you.

You.

You are the only person who can make the decision with what to do with your life. You are the only person who can make the decision on where to go, what to see, and how to live. If you want to get treatment for yourself, that's your decision. If you want to travel, that's your decision. If you want to work, that's your decision.

But the only person who will help you get to where you want to go, whether that's a physical or mental destination, is you. Of course, you can ask for help along the way but no one is going to come up to you and offer it all on a plate. You have to get out there and work for what you want, be that better health, a better job, a better home, or a better life.



I had to learn that and I learned it the hard way. I believe that the things I wanted in life would fall in to my lap. I believed that I didn't have to work to get somewhere and that just daydreaming about the life I wanted would be enough.

Boy, was I wrong.

Over the past several years, I've had quite a few doses of reality be it tough love from family to trying to open career doors that aren't yet ready to be opened. Each time has been a painful learning experience and I've learned to stop and evaluate my life. What do I want? How can I get there? Do I need new skills to achieve it? How can I get out of the rut that I'm stuck in? How could I change myself to become a better person?

Because of these experiences, I decided to move away from writing fiction and turn to non-fiction. I realised that I had a talent for getting people to talk and to being able to listen to what they had to say. I decided to combine that with my writing and began working on two books that documented the lives of the people around me. As I started working on the books, I realised that I was the happiest I'd been. No longer did I feel stressed. Nor did I feel like I was pushing at doors that were locked.



If there's something that you want to do, only you can get there. You need to sit back and evaluate your life. Do you notice patterns of conflict in your life? If so, how can you solve them? What do you need to change about yourself? Are you too critical? Does your anger flare too quickly? Do you need to gain new skills? Do you need to move house? Do you need to change your career path? Do you need to stop hanging out with certain people?

Keep a journal and see what pushes your buttons. You don't have to write in it every day and, over time, you'll be able to begin working on getting to the place that you want to be.

You can do whatever you put your mind to but, in order to get there, you need to give yourself a dose of tough love in order to get there.


Happiness isn't a destination; it's a journey.  


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Staying Sane at Christmas...

...isn't easy.



I'm bipolar. It's something that I don't hide. Quite the contrary, in fact. I'm loud and proud about this unusual brain of mine, a condition which may, or may not, be the product of an overdose.

This year was my first medication free Christmas. For over a decade, I took anti-psychotic medication to balance my brain in the wake of the overdose (I had come off my medication by Christmas 2015. But those drugs had been replaced by ones to combat sinusitis so this time last year I didn't know what planet I was on. It was actually quite nice!).

To say that this December has been stressful has been an understatement. I felt overwhelmed, tired, and sick. I could barely function but had to in order to get everything done. Three days before Christmas, I was on my hands and knees, sobbing with exhaustion and stress. I wasn't sleeping. I wasn't eating. I was vomiting from the tiredness. I was hallucinating. It was horrendous.

My apartment isn't decorated for Christmas. Not because I don't like Christmas but because the addition of lights and decorations overwhelm my already tired brain. Sure, I have a few ornaments that I put up. The cards that people give me decorate the lounge door so that I can see them every day. And I decorated the microphone stand that I use for interviews (That might have to become permanent because it looks really cool!). But there's no tree, no music, and no glittering garlands.



Instead, I appreciate the decorations at other peoples houses, at work, and in the windows of shops. I love looking at photos of London's Christmas windows. But the abundance of bright lights, glittery decorations, and repeated Christmas music tires me out. The same goes for large gatherings. Anything over an hour spent in the company of a crowd of people makes my brain ache and my body weary (It's not you, honestly, it's not! Please don't take offence if I turn down an invitation. I really appreciate your love and company and would never not want to spend time with you.) And I realise that I need to have a space where I can escape from it all and get some rest.

Christmas can be a hard time for many people. There may be the feeling that they have to take part in everything that's happening. Saying no to an event or a party may be tough. They may feel that friends and family will frown on them if they decide that they need time out from the festivities.

On the flip side, they may despise Christmas and want nothing to do with it. Or have no one to celebrate it with (Thankfully, this year, there seemed to be many places that were hosting events for people who would be alone on Christmas Day. If you're alone next year, be sure to check local social media groups to see if there's anything happening).

Christmas shouldn't be a stressful time yet we seem to turn ourselves in to nervous wrecks for four weeks of the year. For some people, like myself, we pick up on the stress of those around us. When others are wound up, we get involved in those feelings, too, which only adds to what we're already feeling.

Christmas doesn't have to be perfect. It shouldn't be all about whether everyone is included. Or how many gifts are under the tree. Or how many decorations we've put up. For many people, the chance to get together with others on one day of the year and celebrate together is enough.


Wishing all of you a safe, prosperous, and healthy 2017!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

Leadenhall Market Christmas tree, London by RMSones


Christmas 2016 is nearly upon us and, for many of us, this year has been one of great highs and crushing lows. There have been moments when we wish that the world around us would end. But, in contrast, there have been many times when we couldn't have wished for a better time to be alive. There is so much happening around us, both good and bad, and it's what we make of those circumstances that counts. Do we let them crush us? Or do we allow them to turn us into a better version of the person we currently know?

At the end of every year, we tend to pause and look back over the previous months. We reflect on what's been lost and what's been gained. We say goodbye to people who are no longer in our lives and thank those who are.

For me, this has been a year like no other. It's been a year of change and discovery. In January, I believed that I was set for a certain path. Yet, as the year draws to a close, I see that the paths have changed and I'm now walking a different, and hopefully better, route. I'm excited to see what 2017 brings.

This is the time of year when I also say thank you to everyone who is a part of my life. Thank you for being there through the ups and downs. Thank you for all that you do and, most of all, thank you for being you.

Relax over the Christmas period and, if there's change in your life, embrace it in 2017. Whatever direction life is nudging you in, welcome it with open arms and run with it. Let it take you on its journey. The journey may be rocky at first but, over time, it will smooth out and you'll be glad that you made the decision to follow that little voice in your heart.


Whatever you're doing this Christmas season, I wish you a peaceful and happy one. May 2017 be an amazing year for you!


Saturday, 3 December 2016

Following the Foo Family

The first time I heard the words “Foo Family”, I was standing in Sound City Studios in Los Angeles. We were talking to the owners when they happened to mention a global network of Foo Fighters fans who referred to themselves as Family.

Those two words were thrust to the back of my mind until November 2014 when I started blogging about a Kickstarter that had recently launched. The crowdfunder in question was aimed at taking action against the secondary ticket market with the end goal of having the Foo Fighters play a small show in Birmingham, England. Unbeknownst to me, that Kickstater was being run by the UK Foo Family and suddenly I found myself as a part of the network that I'd heard about so many months before.

For the world's biggest “I'm not a Foo Fighters fan, really I'm not”, it was like landing on an alien planet. I barely knew the music and only spoke a few words of their language. Yet music truly is an international language and they took me in, welcoming me as one of their own. Due to my own stubbornness, I left and rejoined the group several times, my insecurities flaring because of the unfamiliar territory. Yet they always coaxed me back until, earlier this year, I settled down to write this book.

Getting a writer (or anyone for that matter) to do something that they feel uncomfortable with can be like trying to herd cats. We can be stubborn and awkward. There are times when we don't want to face what our life is calling us to do. And that was especially true with the fan book. I was constantly finding myself redrawn back to the Family and I couldn't explain why. That was until I was speaking to a friend earlier this year and I mentioned an idea I'd had back around the time of the Kickstarter.

The passion that surrounded the Kickstarter made me want to write a book about the fans. I wanted to tell their stories. I wanted to give them a place in history, something to help dull the harshness of the numerous negative entries that litter the record books. Wars, famine, and genocide still happen and will be forever documented. But what about everyone else? Don't they deserve to be able to have a moment to talk about what's important to them?

Music is a way to escape the horrors of the world around us. 2016, while it has had many glorious moments, has also crushed the souls and spirits of so many people. It would be great to think that, in a hundred years from now, someone, somewhere, could pick up this book and read the stories of friendship, happiness, and survival from a group of dedicated and loving music fans.

And so it began. My friend (who shall remain nameless until they give me permission to name them) put the wheels in motion by feeling out the lay of the land. How would others feel about speaking to a complete stranger? Did they want to talk about their love of the band?

The overwhelming answer was Yes. For me, that was a breakthrough and, over the past months, I've told the story of another project that I put to one side. I spent two years hunting for funding for it and, while there was a lot of positive feedback, there was little in the way of any other help. Compared to that, the fan book has been a breeze and, in the past five months, many of the pieces needed for it have fallen seamlessly in to place.

This book wouldn't be possible without the help and support of the global Foo Family and, for that, I am eternally grateful. To know that there are so many kind and loving souls out there makes me feel so much better about the current world we live in. Over the past year, I've been lucky enough to make many new friends and rekindle old friendships. While, in many ways, 2016 has been a harsh and unforgiving year, finding so many beautiful friends has made it easier to bear. If I've spoken to you over the past months, thank you so much. Thank you for answering mine, a complete stranger's, email or phone call. Thank you for your love, kindness, and time. Thank you for the emails, Facebook posts, and Tweets. Thank you for including me in a world that, at times, really does feel alien to me. Your acceptance and inclusion means far more than you can imagine and it's something that this world needs so much more of.

While I'm hoping to have the book in some kind of finished state in the next few weeks, there's still time to get involved. If you'd like to be interviewed, please send me a message over at the Facebook page or email me at:

rae@raegee.co.uk


Take care and have a very Happy Christmas!