My siblings are a huge part of my journey as a performer. I’m the youngest of 5 kids by 9 years. So when I was a toddler I was surrounded by teenagers playing all kinds of music. EVERYTHING from Michael Jackson, to Guns and Roses, to Randy Travis. I was a total ham, and they would put me in front of their friends and tell me to sing and dance.
When my sister, Tracey, was in high school she sang in choirs and would perform solo spots during concerts. She has a beautiful voice but terrible stage fright. She stopped singing in public after high school, but always encouraged me to sing. When I was 3 she performed Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” and included me and a few other kids to sing the chorus with her on stage. I guess I was a performer from that moment on.
My influences sometimes seem all over the map. I have gone through so many phases of music and performance. My first idol was Cyndi Lauper. When I was really little, I used to sing along to her album, “She’s so Unusual” and watch myself in the mirror to try and be like her. I also wanted to be Judy Garland. Which I guess, what little girl didn’t want to be Dorothy Gale.
That led me to jazz standards and singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee. Later in my teens, I connected with pop and rock artists like Jewel, Alanis Morissettee, and No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani. My training in theatre definitely plays a part as well and I love artists like Bernadette Peters, Lea Salonga, and Idina Menzel. I suppose what they all have in common are big personalities.
The life Victor and I chose is so great, but not without its challenges
I feel like in some ways we are still “starting”. I don’t think we are totally established in Savannah yet even though we live here and began here. People know Sarah Poole, Lyn Avenue, the Courtenay Brothers, Eric Culberson and some of the other great Savannah musicians, but who they heck is Keystone what now? They might even think that when they see this interview. Lol!
But I can say that back in 2014, I spent a couple of weeks walking up and down the streets of Savannah and went into every bar/restaurant to ask if they had live music. Then I went through Savannah Connect and Do and made a spreadsheet of every venue that mentioned live music. We started either cold calling or stopping by to talk with their booking managers. That is actually how we met Doug Marshall of Souls Harbor, who has been a huge part of our success!
The life Victor and I chose is so great, but not without its challenges. I mean, naturally we agree on everything all the time – NOT! It’s really hard working with your spouse sometimes. We don’t always share the same opinions on things and we can’t just come home and vent about the A-hole at work who gave you attitude because you didn’t wrap a cable the exact way HE likes it. We do get along most of the time – or else we wouldn’t be married. But it’s A LOT of time to spend with someone. We are constantly “talking shop” or working on things related to the business. So we have to be really cognizant of taking time for ourselves and our kids. And that is SUPER hard for both of us!
We are full-time self-employed musicians with two small kids. So coordinating schedules for gigs and preschool and babysitters was tough before. Now add a pandemic! We are so blessed to have my mother in law help watch the kids as well as an awesome regular babysitter, who our kids adore! But our options are truly limited now and we’ve had to turn gigs down because we don’t have a sitter. We’ve almost never done that before. We always made it work somehow.
Before quarantine, I knew I wanted to start some kind series. We tossed around a bunch of different ideas that all got lost in the shuffle during lock down. As we checked in with our musician friends we heard a lot of the same sentiments, but also a lot of different viewpoints, situations, and solutions. As Vic and I chatted with family and friends about what was happening to local musicians like us, it was disappointing (although not surprising) how little people knew about the everyday grind of working musicians and the possible negative outcomes even after bars and restaurants reopen. It’s not like other jobs where people transition back to the office after working from home. Some places we played didn’t make it, or they can’t afford to pay for entertainment anymore. This area in particular, relies heavily on the tourist season of Memorial Day to Labor Day, plus St Pats. Most of those gigs this year didn’t happen and it is difficult for musicians to “make up” for that lost income the remainder of the year.
Modulating Musicians is an extension of those conversations. Musicians enjoy it because they get to hear what their peers are doing to survive. Fans enjoy it because they get an honest behind the scenes look that isn’t glamorous, but humble. My hope is to share these stories with our fans to educate them on the reality of being a working musician. It’s hard work that deserves to be recognized. We have battled the “starving artist” and “lazy musician” stereotypes for a long time. I believe that these interviews may shed some light on the time, effort, and perseverance it takes to be successful. The series also allows us to help support fellow musicians by introducing them to new fans. I’m already aware of one fan who created a Modulating Musicians playlist of all the guests.
Once we started losing gigs in March we went into ultra business mode. Because neither of us have another job and we have a family to support, we had to figure out something. We worked longer and harder than we would have during our regular busy season. Those first couple of weeks were brutal! After the kids were in bed, we would stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning recording and editing cover videos for our YouTube channel. Then we would be up again with the kids around 7-8am. Our son also had terrible timing and started cutting a tooth right then. So a few nights he would wake up as we were finally trying to go to sleep.
During the day we would pass the kids back and forth as we tried to stay up on our social media pages, website, and planning for upcoming projects and releases. We released our original song “Pure” on May 5th and played a promo clip during a couple of our live-streams. The thing that our fans remember most during this time was our Facebook live driveway concerts. We were missing playing and wanted to keep our chops up. One day we thought, “we have all the gear here. What if we just set up in the driveway, if for nothing else but to practice.” We played for maybe an hour in the driveway, with my son literally attached to me in a ring sling. Some cars stopped while driving by, a few took video, and we could here distant clapping coming from different directions around our house. It was such a great feeling to give people a moment of joy listening to music and forget about the world for a minute.
It was an example of one of our core values that music should make you feel good. We had never done Facebook live before. But we believed it would give people the opportunity to feel good for a little while at home, when they really needed it. It just took off from there! We immediately had people message us asking if we would play in their neighborhoods. We didn’t feel right doing that right away. But as things started opening up, we did play a few other driveways. It was a lot of fun!
Perhaps Modulating Musicians was my subconscious answering this question before you asked it. I have a bunch of people I’d love to collaborate with! Those are usually the artists I have as guests on the show. It’s a great way for me to get to know them and so they remember who I am (hopefully).
Part of why we fell in love with the city and decided to stay is because of its vibrant music scene
World of Beer on Broughton has a special place in our hearts. We won their battle of the bands competition in 2015. Which lead to us playing there every Saturday afternoon for a couple of years. We could get Rocks on the Roof grooving pretty hard too!
Part of why we fell in love with the city and decided to stay is because of its vibrant music scene. I’m worried that with venues struggling the trickle down will take a huge toll on the musicians. Fewer places will pay for live music. Less musicians will be able to afford to stay in Savannah therefore the pool of talent will diminish and quality performances will be harder to come by. That will result in other bars/restaurants not valuing live music as much as they should and “saving” money by cutting music from their budget. It’s a vicious cycle from there. I hope that bar and restaurant owners are able to see the value that good music brings to their establishments. They could make or break the music scene right now.
We had big plans for 2020! By now we would have released the rest of our recorded singles digitally and had some kind of physical copy for sale at gigs. However, that was put on hold. We hope to announce our plans for releasing these soon! There are also many other pieces of content in the works including a podcast, a YouTube series, original music videos and more consistent engaging content on FB and IG. We may even have some new ways to consume our content soon. Stay tuned for all the updates!