When I was 18, I wanted nothing more than to be a professional musician. In fact, there were many things that I wanted, but this actually seemed realistic to me. I played keyboards and had my own band: a singer who was also named Kevin, and two other keyboardists named Don and Dan. The fact that we all played keyboards was actually an asset to us because we played electronica, which is a type of music made entirely of keyboards. At the time, synthesizers were pretty new. We felt really lucky to have access to some cool synthesizers and recording equipment because Don knew some people in Toronto who owned a studio. We’d spend 14-hour days in the studio, creating multitrack tapes of music that we felt was cutting edge and fresh. At the end of these days we’d always leave feeling pretty good about our musical future. We played a couple of gigs, including Flag Day ceremonies in Stoney Creek, and at a night club called the Opera House in Toronto.
Now my dad has always been very supportive of me and whatever hairbrained schemes I’ve gotten myself into. I guess he just has faith I’ll do the right thing. He wanted me to have the right information though. He sent me to have a chat with his lawyer, Tom Basciano. I sat in Tom’s office, and felt entirely ensconsed in wood and leather. Tom used to be an agent for musicians, so he told me all about the life I was in for. Rock stars don’t make much money from their first album deal. The money they get goes back to the record company to pay for the advances given to them to record the album. If the first album does well, the second album deal may be a bit sweeter, with higher royalties. The artist must tour to make money, which means spending months at a time on the road, with no guarantee of success.
I’m not sure if my dad told Tom to talk me out of being a musician. In hindsight it’s entirely possible. Tom never offered to represent me and he never asked to hear my music. But, in any case, our little talk killed my desire for a career as a rock star. I chose to go to journalism school instead, which is an entirely different story.
The death of my music career kind of put a sleeper hold on my creativity, constricting it until it lay dormant. Sure the journalism training required me to write, which can be considered artistic. But that writing was always “just the facts, ma’am,” and didn’t give my vivid imagination a lot of room to run. Thinking back, I never felt entirely alive again until I started doing improv a couple of years ago. That point marked a bit of a rebirth for me, and I’m sure it has changed the entire course of my life.
I no longer feel that making a living as an artist is an impossibility for me. And although my creativity finds its outlet in photography rather than music, I’ve learned never to try to stifle it again.