You were robbed at gunpoint in 2013 and formed Tiny Stills as a way to cope and express how you were feeling. How has music helped to heal you over the years?
I wrote a bunch of music I really loved and wanted to share with the world. After being held up it was stressful to be in large public spaces with lots of strangers and it was hard to deal with crowds. I believed in the music I was making and it inspired me to face my fears and perform again. It also helped me feel more connected to people again. I felt a lot less alone after people started coming up to me and telling me that the songs really resonated with them.
I read that you decided to be an advocate, of sorts, for mental health issues through your music. Was it your goal when you started Tiny Stills to help others realize they weren't alone in their own mental health struggles? Do you have fans reach out to you often who have been helped by your music?
I don’t think I realized how much this project was going to benefit my own mental health. I just wanted to express all the struggles I was having, and then when people reached out to me and explained that they’d been there and that I helped to put something into words that they otherwise had yet to be able to express and I started to feel connected to people again. It was definitely mutually beneficial. I wouldn’t say it’s too often but every time it happens it’s pretty meaningful.
You've had 2 successful Kickstarter campaigns, one for your first album Falling Is Like Flying and one for your latest album Laughing Into The Void. How has it been to have such amazing support from your fans?
It means the world to me that I can make music. Every project has its ups and downs and it keeps me going through the hard times.
You hopped onto a national tour at the last minute in 2015 with Bayside's Anthony Raneri and A.W. and have hit the ground running ever since. How do you feel you have grown as an individual, as well as as a musician, since starting Tiny Stills?
I think I’ve gained a lot of confidence since 2015. I really believe in this project and I really love it, and it’s been such a great outlet for me. The fact that I’ve been finding people who connect with it is really inspiring.
You co-wrote "Colorblind" with Raneri, as well as Steve Soboslai of Punchline. How did you come to work with them on the song? How often do you collaborate with other artists on songs and what do you enjoy about the collaborative process?
Anthony and I had spent 3 weeks in a car talking about music and songwriting and we knew we wanted to write some music together. We started a few ideas, but when we got stuck on a chorus melody for Colorblind, Anthony said we should call Steve because he would have some ideas. That song was really a team effort and it was fun picking their brains about their songwriting process. I always enjoy collaborating but for the most part Tiny Stills songs have been me pouring my heart out alone in my bedroom late at night and bringing it to the band later.
You took a more aggressive and upbeat approach to the songs on the new album. What prompted the transition in sound?
I wanted to make an album that reflected how I felt, which was honestly a little more prickly than the first record which is still upbeat but a little more melancholy. I was listening to a lot of Superdrag and Weezer at the time, too. It felt like a natural evolution to be a little more bold with this record.
You have made a few videos for your songs. What is your process when making a video? Do you have an idea in mind ahead of time of how you want the video to look or is it more of a collaborative effort with the director?
I usually collaborate with who ever is shooting it and try to come up with some ideas together. It’s always a group effort. My good friend Taylor Allen has shot and directed most of Tiny Stills’ music videos but I did get to work with my friend Charlie Fonville on “When I’m With You” and that was really fun! It’s not always easy coming up with ideas for videos.
You have mentioned that your music doesn't really fit into the punk/emo genre but that you find it easier to connect with those genres and the crowds they attract. Do you ever have a hard time connecting with a punk/emo audience or have they always been receptive to your music and connected with you as an artist?
I’m not sure. Maybe it does? I like punk/emo so maybe it makes sense that that audience is receptive to these songs. That “pour your heart out on stage” mentality is one I always connected with when I was writing and I find that is the case with a lot of punk/emo music. Pop music feels great to listen to, but punk/emo always made me feel things. I like music that makes me feeling things, so I try to pull the things I like from different genres and make it work. I try to make the music I want to hear.
Aside from being a musician, you are also a professional audio engineer! What led you to pursue audio engineering and to focus on recording audio books? What are some of your favorite books?
I began engineering because I wanted to record bands but the audiobook thing happened organically when I was looking for audio work. Some of my favorite books I’ve worked on are “Into the Raging Sea” by Rachel Slade about the sinking of El Faro, “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock” by Paul Tremblay and “Kristin Lavransdatter” by Singrid Undset (which won her a Nobel Prize in 1928). I’ve always loved poetry and literature. I have vivid memories of spending hours reading lyrics before I even heard the songs- specifically Ani DiFranco. Audiobooks feel like a natural evolution for me.
You are currently touring with Get Married. What have some highlights been so far from tour? I read that you sing on a track from their new album. Have you been performing it together on tour? How did your parent's jukebox come to be featured on their album cover?
Tour is amazing. I love everyone in Get Married. This is our second tour together and we always have fun together. We did a live session at “Live at the Rock Room” which is Mike Felumlee’s (The Smoking Popes, Alkaline Trio) live video series so I’m excited for that to come out. Getting to meet Mike and Eli Caterer from The Smoking Popes and talk to them a little about music was so great because I’ve got a lot of respect for that band and I think they’re great. So that was a highlight. We got to do a Daytrotter session as well which had been on my bucket list for a really long time so that was surreal and awesome. We stayed with my parents in Sacramento on the first tour this spring and that’s when they saw the jukebox and had the idea for the album cover, but we actually don’t play “Jeezy Beach” on this tour! There are so many great songs on their new record. I’m really happy for them.
You will be performing at the Wiretap Record's 4 Year Anniversary Party on September 29th and 30th. What are you looking forward to the most about the party?
I adore so many bands playing that show!! Odd Robot, Audio Karate, Divided Heaven, Mercy Music are pals and also great bands. I’m also going to get to play with Get Married again at those shows.
You have a short East Coast tour coming up before playing FEST in Gainsville, FL on October 27th! What are you looking forward to with the East Coast shows, as well as with FEST? You have mentioned that there's a lot in store for Tiny Stills after the summer tour! What's next for the band?
I always love when I can get back to the east coast. Those shows will be with Zach Comtois, Harry Foster and Tony Thaxton (Motion City Soundtrack) and they are then guys who normally play in Tiny Stills so I’m stoked to be with the regular lineup. I’m hoping to do more touring in 2019, and I’ve already started working on new music so I hope to bring that into the world somehow! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me!