When you were 17, what did you want to be?
At that time I definitely wanted to play music. I had been playing music since I was 14 or 15, playing shows in New Orleans. I was young to do it at that time, but I just wanted to play. I was always scholastically involved, but I never had to put forth any effort in school, never. I was always doing extracurricular stuff; that was what I cared about, and I took a lot of pride in that. I found something that I was passionate about, and I only wanted to do what I cared about. My mom kind of lived in fear of that because she didn’t know if I could support myself. I rebelled against that a lot in my angsty teenage years.
ULL was two hours away and it was probably the second best public university, LSU being first. At 18 I was dying to get out of my parent's house. I was dying to do my thing, but I stayed because, in Louisiana, if you had a 2.5 GPA in high school you get four years free.
I went to ULL and I really didn't know what I wanted to do. I started in electrical engineering. I wanted to do music really badly but I was getting no support from my family for that. So I did a semester of engineering until I realized that that was not what I wanted to do. I was fairly interested in the sciences, so I switched to biology. I was just trying to find something that I cared about.
During that first year I was super involved in music. I was playing a lot on the weekends. After that first year of college, I did a 30-day tour. I was 18 and I just filled in with a band that I had met in Lafayette and it was amazing, traveling and being in a different city every day, living in a van, barely getting by. That was great.
I ended up going to the University of New Orleans for a year, and during that time I switched my major to psychology and then to business management. Two years into college, I still hadn’t found what I wanted to do. I was living in New Orleans, and money got tight for me and for my family. I didn’t have any more support monetarily from home anymore. I decided to move back to my parents’ house and try to finish school.
I had to pick it up big time. TOPS, the Louisiana scholarship, only gives you four years and if you don't finish in four years, then too bad. So I moved back to my parents’ house, went to Nicholls State University, and did 21 hours a semester to finish on time. I finished with a degree in computer information systems, because I'm nerdy and techy and that was always something I knew how to do. I switched schools twice and switched my major seven times, so finishing in four years was amazing.
How did you get from college to where you are now?
I did a quick IT contracting job at the hospital to switch their systems over. There was a whole new system being implemented, switching out people's personal files and doctor’s terminals, machine to machine. I did that for a little bit, but I realized working on a computer in an office was not going to suit me.
The last two years I was in school, I had been learning the recording aspect of music. Since I played so much music, people would let me come with them when they recorded. I just said, “I'm really hungry to learn this, can I intern?” And people would let me. That was really what I wanted to do. It's more of a technical thing where I'm taking someone's art and giving them the best representation of their art that I possibly can. But even so it's creative, I get to be creative with their art.
I spent a year working in studios and working live sound. After a year, I had an opportunity to go back to school and that's when I got my master’s of business at Nicholls. I got my degree in a year – it was crazy. I didn't want to be stuck in Thibodaux, Louisiana for another two years, so I told the school, “I'm doing this in a year.” What was cool was all these French students had come to Nicholls to do this expedited program, so I was able to meet these people and go through this program with them.
Now everything is kind of molding into something that's working for me in my way, which is interesting. I’ve been asking myself, what are my skill sets? I have some IT background, I have this business mind, and I also want to work in audio. I would love to work for project development for the companies that make preamplifiers and studio gear. The program that I use to edit music is based out of Germany, and I've been wanting to work with them for a while.
I think that's how it goes for a lot of people. It's more about doing what you're passionate about and learning how to use your skills and your repertoire in a way that suits you. That doesn't happen overnight. I'm still figuring it out. Thomas and I started building this drone company as a way to become more monetarily stable. I have so many things going on and that's why Thomas and I are friends. We're both the same way.
I also didn’t want to get burned out. The whole year that I spent just doing the music thing - it was really hard. I put a lot of my self-worth in it, because I was very passionate about it. Having all my self-worth in one thing wasn't good. I needed to take a step back, so the MBA program allowed me to look at it from a different perspective, taking down the importance of the music thing for me. Music’s great, but I also want to make some money and be able to travel. Someday when I have proper money, I want to open up a studio and do it the right way. Taking a break and stepping away just gives me that much more passion for it.
Playing music kind of took a backseat to recording other people and developing that skill. All the time I would have spent on my instrument became how to EQ this guitar to make it sound good for other people. I've been playing the whole time though. I play local shows as much as I can. I want to put out a single for a band that I have with my roommate. It takes much more mindfulness because I’m recording everyone else; now let me do my stuff. That's kind of something I want to go back to, block out a month and go on tour in a van.
I think having a full life really entails having different experiences. When I was younger, I would hold the things I was passionate about in high esteem and tell myself, “Don't give up on your dreams.” Sometimes it's great to have the drive to see things through, but there was also a point in time when I didn't have the right perspective. There were so many times I wanted to quit working for free, and I felt like I was giving up on myself by going back to school to get an MBA. But there's no shame in doing different things. I've grown as a person, because I've done different things in different areas. I have a business with my friend. I haven't worked for anybody else in almost a year. That's amazing.
Looking back, what seems clear to you now?
One thing is to just not feel so pressured to figure everything out. Anything that you put your time into developing skills for is useful; even though I didn’t get a job working database management for a company, I still use that IT degree expertise in ways I didn’t know I would.
Don’t worry so much and enjoy the moment. That's kind of my life mantra, to enjoy the moment and have patience. Don't try to strong-arm everything into being exactly the way you need it now, because that’s not conductive to anything. That's something that I'm learning now. I think that's the challenge of being mindful as a human being.