Istvan

 

Photos by Jeffery C Johnson

Photos by Jeffery C Johnson

I'm a drummer. That's the instrument I really feel happiest playing. But when you want to express yourself the drums aren't exactly the best way to do that. So when I was struggling to get my first band Woo Woo Stick going I made the move to guitar and vocals. It was an awkward change and took awhile to get used to. Being out front and away from the safety of the drum set was scary. I mean I used to shake in school when I had to speak in front of my class so the idea of stepping out on stage to not only play the guitar but sing was terrifying. But I slowly became more comfortable with my new role in the group just in time for the band to break up.

 

 After Woo Woo Stick came to a close in the late 90's I started a trio with Tom Miller (Woo Woo Stick) and Ryan Murphy. The music still relied on the unpredictable twists and turns that Woo Woo Stick was known for but showed signs of things to come. I was sheepishly trying to break free of the avante garde and write from the heart. I really like a lot of the songs I wrote then, but I still couldn't make up my mind as to what direction I wanted to go. One night the three of us were playing a show and I looked around and knew it was the last time the band would play together. I thought we were going through the motions and playing way to loud for the room. It felt like we were putting up a wall between us and the audience. I used to feel safe behind that wall but I had changed. I wanted to connect with people. That night I decided to do two things I had never considered. I decided I was going to play solo and play an acoustic guitar. 

 

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After I walked away from the band I confronted myself and just thought "What do you like, I mean what do you like best? What do you return to when you listen to music? What feels the best when you play?" Suddenly I realized what I enjoyed most was the very thing I had been rebelling against all along. Songwriting. I think I resisted it because I hate that term. Songwriter. Or worse singer-songwriter. It makes me think of overly folky minor key depressing songs. It brings to mind some kind of overly serious musician who detests humor. The songwriting I love is from people who were as weird or unpredictable or brilliant as any of the more obvious radical composers I may have been drawn to when I began. I realized that writing a good song is in fact harder than almost anything. And that's what I set out to do with all of my weird proclivities in tact.

So since 2006 I've been me. There have been some unexpected and amazing changes. If you would have told me back when I started that in the future I'd be happily playing music for kids and their families I would have been baffled. But that's exactly where I'm at. I'm proud of everything I've recorded since I set off on my own. I mean I still have a ways to go. I'm still trying to make my records sound better, and to get new wonderful people to sing and play on my records and on stage with me. I want to make music that feels effortless and honest. I still want to challenge whoever's listening but make certain they're entertained along the way. I want to give something that children and their parents can enjoy together for a long time to come. Thanks for listening.

Istvan.