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S2 E8 with Micah & John

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

Micah: It's another beautiful evening. Welcome everyone listening. Uh, thanks for joining us. Uh, this is Grey Box Collective's. Any other Anythings, uh, and we're in season too. Let's, uh, celebrate that cuz another, another. Year has come round. So, um, we're excited to be back. Um, I am here with another one of our lovely, um, um, collaborative artists.

Um, and I've always been , I've always been a, uh, huge, like, I guess I've made a mockery sometimes with, when people are like, oh, this person needs no introduction, and then they proceed to give an introduction.

So I'm, I think I'm gonna actually not give an introduction. But it's not because you don't need one, it's because I want you to present yourself as you are. So, without any further ado, um, I would love for my guests to introduce themselves and give us a quick worm down. Who am I speaking with today?

John: Hello, I'm John. I am an ensemble member with the Grey Box Collective, and it's a, it's gotta be, gosh, my. Fourth season with the Grey Box Collective now, so

Micah: yeah, absolutely love it. So, okay. Okay. Tell us how you got introduced to Grey Box. Like what was the first experience?

John: Yeah, I just saw the auditions on Facebook and um, I didn't know Molly at the time, but like, she was like a mutual friend of like my friends in the ASU school of theater. Um, so yeah, I saw the audition come up and I was like, and I was like really close to where I lived at the time. Um, so yeah, I just showed up to audition like, gosh, four years ago now,

Micah: and. I love that. That's honestly so wild. I, so I'm curious, you mentioned, uh, like ASU was kind of the common ground, uh, where, where, you know, the sparks began to, to, to appear. Um, and I'm curious about, uh, what part of the arts or performance arts were you, I guess, What did you first fall in love with?

I know for me it's always been like music was my first love. It's how I got into everything and everything just kind of exploded from there. Um, what was yours? Was it movement? Was it theater?

John: Uh, great question. Yeah. I guess for me, that's a great question. My first, first love would definitely be music.

Like Britney Spears is definitely my first love growing up. Gosh, I had had a little doll of her and everything, , but my parents got me into acting at a really young age. So as a child, I grew up in Los Angeles. I was doing like background work as a child. I'm thankful my parents never wanted me to be like a child star.

They wanted me to do school. That was my main focus. I'm grateful for that. So as a child, I was mostly just doing background work for like, uh, music videos, commercials, film. And then in, uh, middle school I did teamed , so that's how I got in theater. And then, yeah, I went to ASU for theater, the concentration acting.

Micah: That's awesome. Okay, well man, that's really funny cuz I kind of share a similar story. As I mentioned before, like I guess both of our foundations were in music, which is super cool to see. Awesome that you come from la I feel like it's the reverse. Most people that are in Phoenix end up moving to la. My best friend moved out there, uh, after we finished university together, and he loves it.

LA's not for me. Um, but um, it, it was, it was cool to kind of see him grow in his journey. But, um, yeah, I, I do, um, love that you're able to kind of dive into theater. I did the same thing and that's kind of what I'm pursuing full time as well right now. So it's, uh, really kind of cool to see that intersectionality.

Um, I, I am curious. With your time with Grey Box, has there been a show that you've, uh, collaborated on or an experience that maybe you just went to go see? Um, uh. Surrounding the little world that is Grey Collective that really made an impact on you, um, that you really think back fondly on that maybe if you could revisit or re rediscover for the first time or reimagine, uh, for a second time. Uh, is there any project that like stands out to you?

John: Yeah, I mean the first show I did was Tangled Mess. Alice says Spring 20 and yeah, uh, gosh, I was 20, uh, junior in college during that show. And, um, I guess that it is just that sort of nostalgia thing. This was like before the pandemic, before anyone knew what was gonna happen and um, yeah, it was that, gosh, I can't remember if the artist box, the Tempe was just like closed down now.

So it's definitely that nostalgia of thinking back to my first show with Grey Box Collective. And yeah, I had never done, like, I had done device theater before, especially at asu. It's, I've definitely. Device works, but I never done anything as like postdramatic and nonlinear as something with Grey Box. So it was really a great experience for me.

So yeah, it was my first time being exposed to Grey Box's, uh, structure and yeah, it was really cool

Micah: cool. Yeah

John: I think folly of my first time with tangled

Micah: nuts. That's so awesome. I, you said something really interesting there, like it was your first time collaborating on a project that was more of a non-linear structure.

Um, very abstract in the way that's not only that it's approached, but in the way that it's actually performed as well, uh, which is super cool to kind of explore, especially as a, as an artist. Um, and especially when. Kind of accustomed to that sort of, uh, linear storytelling in theater or film or, you know, the common, uh, ways that we typically consume that, uh, entertainment.

Um, I do wonder, uh, when you were in the rehearsal room, uh, How did you feel like you were able to contribute to the layering of storytelling, uh, that non-linear exploration? Like what were some ways that you, uh, kind of like to infuse yourself into the project? Yeah,

John: so, um, really with the rehearsals, how we did a tangled mess, I was just being with Molly, like, uh, like a, gosh, I can't remember so long ago now.

Um, Yeah, it was, it was three years ago. So yeah, my memory, um, there's like a green room in the basement of the Nelson Fine Arts Center in, at Tempe Campus. Asu people who've gone to ASU know what I'm talking about, the green room. We would meet in there and she would gimme prompts that I would like, write down answers.

And those texts became a text that I used in the. So that's really, and then of course, the movement aspect. And I, I'm not a dancer, I'm not a mover. I mean, I guess I'm a mover. I took like movement classes in college, but like I was definitely kind of, you know, scared to go into like the movement aspects of it.

But once I did it, I really, um, enjoyed it. It was really free unless I stopped thinking about it and like just did.

Micah: I love that. Yeah. There is really something to be said about that. Like I know I plan everything I get in my head, I'm like, okay, let me do this. Let me do that. Even when I did improv in school, I felt like I would go in with a plan and I was like, well, who's it really improving more if I like have a plan and I'm like thinking about my character and what choices I'm gonna make, blah, blah, blah.

So like really being able to let go and kind of just. Respond, uh, and be present in [00:08:00] what your environment is, who your audience is, what the vibe is, like really reading the room in a sense. Right? Uh, I think that's such a cool, uh, dynamic that's not often explored in the arts. So, uh, yeah. That's so that's awesome.

I love that. Um, cool. , I, I do wonder, uh, Grey Box Collective is really, really, I guess, built on the idea of how do we work through trauma, um, and explore and support it through art. Um, how has that, I guess, balance been for you? Because I know, uh, a lot of people kind of sometimes, uh, Perceive art as a form of therapy sometimes, and there are actual, like certified forms of art as therapy.

Um, this is not therapy in that sense, not in, not in a, a professional or, or clinical sense. But, um, when we're thinking of the idea of a trauma informed creative practice, what does that look like or feel like, uh, to you, um, in your times working with.

John: good question. Um, it's definitely, you know, You know, respecting others' boundaries and, you know, um, you know, reading the room, seeing, you know, what's appropriate for this occasion.

You definitely don't wanna like trauma dump on, you know, people in rehearsal room at the same time. You know, I do feel once Dani, one of my favorite songwriters, an underrated songwriter once said, you know, you really have vulnerable. To, uh, you know, write good songs. And some My favorite No Doubt songs were when we Dani started to really write about, sorry, I'm a Dani, stand her breakup canal and no doubt.

So, um, it, yeah, it's definitely that balance is a good question of, um, you know, respecting faces, being professional, but at the same time, you do have to be vulnerable. In the space and you can't be afraid of failure. Kind of going back to that, being afraid of, I have to remember, you know, a lot of theater in general, just trial and error, and especially Rehears, you just have to like try things out.

Not everything will be in the, in the actual show, but let's just throw it out here. You never know what's gonna sit. You know it's in Spanish and you don't know if you don't try. That's cliché. Um, so yeah, I hope that answered that question.

Micah: No, yeah. I love that. And I think one thing that really kind of stood out again to me was. Uh, just the idea of like, as simple as the phrase is, you don't know until you try really is like it holds such weight more than I think we realized. Um, one of my favorite things that Molly says is just like, we have permission to speak and draft. And I think like, especially in a rehearsal room or during the creation process like that is so prevalent and I think as much as we try to foster that sort of community, It's okay to try.

It's okay to speak and draft. It's okay. Fail, like you mentioned, like it's okay to fail. Um, it's not an issue, it's not a problem. It's not a detriment to who you are as an individual. Um, when we have a failure, we just know that that doesn't work. So we try something else. Um, and I think that that's such an empowering thing.

It's really just a matter of. Swapping up our perspectives. Right. So, yeah. I love that. That's great. That's great. Um, so, okay. All right. We keep coming back to music. So let me, let's, let's sit on music for a bit. A quick question. In the world of music, where do you find yourself composing, performing? Do you play anything?

Talk to me. What's your music life like?

John: That's a good question. , uh, I mean, I guess according to escape, which is where I'm like a songwriter, I'm like a composer. Leadership. Mm-hmm. um, in the technical terms, um, I mean, yeah, I guess I try not to label to myself to much as an artist because I do feel I, well, I've trained different disciplines and I'm take inspiration from a lot of different mediums.

I try not to label myself. I feel like others. See my art will label it. It's not really my job to label it. But yeah, I guess with music I see myself a writer, foremost. I don't see myself as a, I mean, I guess I am a composer cuz like I produce my music and whatnot, but like, I really hate music theory. I, I just, I don't like it.

I, I did it in middle school. I didn't like it. Um, it's not my thing. Yeah, I, I, for me, lyrics are the most important thing. So I definitely see myself as a writer, but because my degree is in theater, I have that urge to perform my own music. So I definitely see how I'm also a performer, definitely guess singer songwriter.

If I have to, I put a label on it.

Micah: Yeah, I love that. And honestly, I totally feel you on not liking to put labels on things. Sometimes it's pretty limiting, right? You're like, oh, I'm this, and then that's when people see you as, and you're like, okay, that's it. And I was like, no. Uh, we're multifaceted individuals and our taste, feelings, thoughts, you know, that all changes over time.

Um, so yeah, I, I, I totally respect that, but I do love that. I , I feel like I'm kind of in a similar boat. I feel like music has always been something a little personal for me. And I, I, I love, I've, yeah, music's been a part of my life for forever now. I write very sparsely. Uh, I do primarily perform. I love what you said actually about like, not being afraid for other people to use your art and then, or interpret it the way that you, that they.

See fit. Um, I really do think that, uh, not to say there's two types of artists, but in my mind sometimes there are kind of like two types of artists, uh, that one, they have very specific vision for their art or for their story that they're sharing with the world. Um, and they want that message to be clear and they want anyone else who tells that story or shares that story to be as clear as they were with the intention.

And then there are others. I think I'm kind of on defense, but like yourself, that. Are really open to, okay, interpret it how you will, like, just because it meant something like, or just because it meant this to me, doesn't mean that you'll, you know, observe it or, uh, take it in the same way that I, you know, uh, initially took it in.

Uh, so I, I. Love that idea. And I think that's really freeing as well. I guess that supports your idea of like, not labeling anything, right? You can't label your own work even. Cause some people just interpret it a little bit differently and it is really beautiful to see how that evolves or changes, uh, from individual to individuals.

So yeah, I I love that. I love that. All right. So if you could give me, I know you've thrown out a couple names, Brittney Spears, Gwen Stefani, and if they're in your top three, that's cool too. But give me your top three artists right now. Like who are you listening to?

John: I like what I like, I like Miriam Makeba. I like Selena. Oh, it's the third one behind Mitski.

Micah: Okay. All right, see. All right. This is actually why I love doing this, because I remember when I was in college, university, I used to do this all the time. It's literally how I built out my, like music tastes over the course of my life is just asking people what they listen to.

Cause all I know is Selena, out of the three that you've, uh, listed right now. And I'm like, all right, I got some homework to do. I'm to listen to more. Um, for me right now, I think my three are, oh, man. All right. I'm gonna look, let me look at my Apple music. I, I listen to music every day, but it keeps shifting, um, in here, you know?

Uh, okay, so there's this girl I just found Lindsay Lomis that I'm really vibing with lately. She just released an ep. Vibe real hard with called daydreaming. Um, so that's been one that's been on repeat. Uh, I know Viviam a pretty mainstream person right now, but I've recently been like, Put onto him. I usually avoid like pop music, generally speaking.

I think I'm just trying to rebel and be like, I'm not mainstream, I'm different, I'm cool, I'm edgy, I'm not, I love music just as much as everyone else. So, uh, I'm finally given in and I love, uh, love listening to give on Lately. And then, oh man, that's the last one.

John: It's hard when you're put on the spot cause like I listen to a lot of people.

How do I cut down like top three at the moment?

Micah: I know, I know. And that's why I try to do it by like recent, you know what I mean? Like what am I re like what is what's on repeat right now? Cause there are so many good artists out there. Like it's hard to compare, right? How can you really say, oh, this person's better than that person.

It's just the art is so different. So it's not who's better than who. It's just what are you listening to right now? Right. Um. Okay. I think I have my last one. It's probably gonna be Benne, whatever. Australian artists, for some reason, I love Australian artists. They keep coming back. Uh, there've been several that have been like in my top for a while, but Benne is one that I'm.

It's been vibing with for the past few months now, so. All right. Cool, cool. Interest

John: I gotta listen know. I know, I know. Lomis or Benne.

Micah: Yeah. It's b n. Have no idea how to say it. I'm probably see that

John: I've seen the names. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I haven't like, listened to them.

Micah: Yeah. They've got great music. It's, it's, it's a vibe. I'm here for it. Um, yeah. Yeah. I love it. I love it. Cool, cool, cool. Right. Shifting gears again. Um. Kind of speaking back on just living as an artist. I know you went to school for it. Obviously you're collaborating with Grey Box Collective, um, and, uh, you know, singer songwriter to a certain extent and beyond.

Um, but I am curious with your life as an artist, um, what would you say like, Is there a balance that you feel like you have to achieve? Is there sometimes where, I guess you feel like you need a break from the art, or do you feel like it's just kind of infused in all of your life? Um, like how do you balance out having art as work and art for art's sake?

You know what I mean?

John: Good question. I mean, I guess for me that, uh, I mean, I work in an art store, so I feel like I'm almost surrounded by art anyway, that, I guess it's just part of who I am. Like I know people, some people say like, you know, eventually they like give up on arts, but I can't even see myself doing that because my job is in the arts.

Like I, that's my paycheck is literally in the arts. So I can't even if like I'm working at art store the rest of my life and I'm still making music or work doing theater, working with Grey Box Collective, like part-time that. That still, like I'm, I feel like I still have arts in my life somehow. I don't know if I can ever quit the arts.

I feel like it's just a part of everything I do. And actually at work, I like blast music. I was blasting my music today at work, so I'm always, I'm always surrounded by art. Somehow. I can't imagine my life without it. Um, yeah. So I don't even, I don't even think about that. I feel. Even at work, sometimes I'll, I'll write down like a poem or a song that comes in my head real quickly that, um, yeah, it's just always a part of, uh, who I am.

I mean, I guess, you know, I definitely have songs in poems or like in the draft. I don't need to release it. It's always good sometimes just to write things down just for the sake of writing down. Um, I don't feel like I have to like, put out everything I write. Some things are just good for the journal and that's fine, you know.

And I like having those journals cuz sometimes I might take a little snippet from one entry and actually do put it in like a song with home that I release to the public. But um, yeah, I guess to answer your question, I think there are times, you know, I don't feel a urge to release everything I do and I think, you know, quality over quantity.

I'd rather, you know, really. Releases that are like, really good instead, you know, I don't like filler tracks on albums. I just wanna release, you know, like, uh, like my albums are usually at most 10 songs. I don't usually go above that. That 10 is like a good amount of tracks, but there's like no filler for anything.

Micah: Yeah. Yeah, I love that. I love that. And I mean, that's a great, that's a great number. I feel like there is something to be said. I don't know about you, but I am, when I listen to music, I actually do prefer to listen to the album or the EP and just like listen to the journey of it. I really do love, I feel like it went away from it maybe like early to mid two thousands where.

Really, uh, albums back in the day were, it felt like they were more, more geared towards like just a bunch of singles, uh, with some filler tracks in between, like you were mentioning. But I think we really started to shift back into that storytelling aspect, or like building one song on top of another, like to create like this musical experience, uh, in a lot of like modern albums, like within the last decade or so.

And it's, it's primo, it's prime. I, I love that. I love. Oh man. So, yeah, I, um, I think what I wanna kind of talk about now is, um, just a little bit more on, I guess, sustaining yourself as an artist. You've mentioned that you have a really good like relationship. As an artist with your art and with the art that's surrounding you.

Um, and I think that that's something that a lot of artists strive for. . I feel like there are sometimes a lot of tortured artists or like just people who, uh, myself sometimes included, where sometimes I'm like, oh, am I doing the right thing? Like, should I go away from the art? Like, But to be at peace with, you know, where you're at.

And I think that also might speak a little bit to just how you were brought up. Maybe because I know you mentioned like working as a background actor as like in, in, in your younger days, um, but then having supportive family that was not like, do more, do more or make more money or, you know, like it wasn't something that was, you know, that you were forced into or kind of.

Commandeered into it was just something that was encouraged and nurtured and fostered. Um, which I think has cultivated a really, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like it's, uh, like really cultivated a healthy relationship with art. So as you continue to sustain, is there a certain practice, whether it's when you're creating for yourself or, um, maybe if it's just while you're pursuing other ventures, um, that you do to help sustain and keep this healthy balance in your life.

John: Good question. Um hmm. I'm trying to think. Uh, lots of water. I mean, especially in Arizona. Like, um, especially if you're seeing lots of water, uh, your practices. Yeah. I mean, I play guitar, so I enjoy pain clearly. Like my fingers are callous. You can't really see, but they're definitely callous. Yeah. Um, but definitely sometimes when I'm like singing, if I feel like my voice starts to get really tired, I'll step away from the moment and that's when I, my momma step away, take a breather, um, and then maybe come back to what I was doing.

So maybe just give my voice a second to rest. And sometimes I just need to, you know, It's been a long, like a few hours of like playing and like voice is being trained. I'll definitely be like, okay, that's a message today. Let's put it away. Um, oh, something I started this past year is, um, so I recommend for everyone is, uh, app timers for all your social media.

So now only spend like 30 minutes a day on social media this past year and oh my gosh, this has. My outlook on life. Definitely. Um, yeah, app timers. That's important to be myself,

Micah: I love that. I guess really it just kind of brings us back to the idea of everything in moderation, right? Like, Be okay with walking away from something.

Be okay leaving something in the journal. Be okay with only getting on an app for 30 minutes, you know, at a time. Like, I think that that is, I feel like in these conversations sometimes when we're looking for advice that we're seeking, you know, uh, insider tips, we always want something super deep or like superficial and no really and truly it.

Find that balance within yourself. Be okay with taking time away from something and, uh, be okay with the art that you're creating as well. I think there's sometimes where we feel like we have the need to like, push through something regardless of anything and like, you know, torture ourselves, um, or, you know, we have to get something out and it's just this tormented feeling.

But sometimes it is okay to just say, you know what, today I'm going to. Today, I'm going to work on this today, I'm going to, you know, . Yeah. Uh, take in art, you know, to refill myself. Um, I think that that, uh, that moderation, that balance, um, seems to be a recurring theme with just how you approach your life in general.

And I, I really think that's beautiful. Um, so yeah. That's really cool. I love that . Um, cool. I do want to know, uh, just one other thing, and I should have asked this at the beginning, I always forget cuz I'm scatter braided, but who isn't these days? Um, probably from too many apps. You know what I should moderate?

That's, that's what I gotta do. Uh, no. So, okay. Do you have a favorite, like check in or warmup or like grounding centering activity, um, that you do? In general, like I guess whether it's coming into a Grey Box collective space or if it's just you about to journal or about to write a song or about to perform.

I know I gave a lot of abouts there, but take it how you will .

John: That's a good question. What do I do before perform? Uh

huh. Think about that. Um, It always depends on the performance. Cuz you know, if it's like with music, I'll tune my guitar. But if it's like a theater play, then I'll do like vocal warmups. Something I like to do is, uh, I learned this at ASU actually in the show I did. Um, it's, I don't know what it's called.

It's like you close your eyes and you draw a self portrait of your. And you're kind of shout out to Alexis Green, my director for showing to ASU this Friday who taught me this. Um, yeah, it's just a cool exercise, you know, with your eyes closed, how do you see yourself, you know? Yeah. Very, very much abstract expressionism and you see the ending product, but I like it.

Micah: That's awesome. I feel like it almost encourages you to. See yourself in a positive light when you are like closing your eyes. Like it's not a reflection, it's not a drawing, it's not something that's necessarily tangible. It really is a very introspective practice. I, I love that. That's great. I know for me sometimes, like when I'm coming into a performance, um, I feel like a lot of times I actually like, isolate myself.

I feel like a lot of people just by default, I think as artists or performers in general, there's a very, uh, it's very tied to the idea that you're an extrovert if you're a performer, just cause we're expressive people sometimes by default. And I think sometimes like allowing myself before we get into the thick of it to just, and really after too for me.

But like, I usually do try to like remove myself from everything and everyone and just. Find me. So without closing my eyes and doing the self-portrait, I do kind of do that in a sense of like, alright, we're gonna center ourselves, we're gonna find, you know, the character, the song, the moment, uh, the movement, uh, whatever the case may be for whatever the given work is really to just kind of hone in and I guess remove all those other distractions, moderate all of that other stuff out for the moment, uh, before you hop in.

So, yeah, I love that. I love. Cool. Um, well I think we've come to the part of the conversation where I get to ask you. Are there any other anything?

John: no, I think we covered everything. There's something I could think of to ask LL Benne and Lindsay Lomis, you said

Micah: Yes, yes. Okay. That'll be great. I love it. Well, sweet John, thank you so much for joining. This was so lovely to chat and get to know each other a little bit better and bombed over music . Um, but I've really enjoyed it.

Uh, we'll see you on the flip side and remind me, okay. Are you, how are we involved? Are you in the in-person group? Are you in digital group for this season of Grey Box Collective?

John: In person for mostly everything. Nice. My people performance, we'll see, but mostly in person,

Micah: so yes. Sweet. So we'll see you in person on the stage.

Not too far from now. That's exciting. All right. Right. Well it's been lovely. Take care. Have a good night everyone. All right.

John: Good night y'all.

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