The power of a story...
EVERYDAY IS A NEW BEGINNING.
An obsession with the sea.
It's the mystery that lies deep within.
The stories told and untold on the ocean floor and the space between.
At times it is calm. At times It is raging.
Both unveil the truth of it's nature and my place in this circle.
The connects and it separates.
It invites us in with radiant reflections. but pushes us away with turbulent winds and dark horizons.
Someday, when I am old and grey, I will wake to the view, arise with the the sound and smell of the sea.
I will sail it's waves and delight in it's provision.
Devote the final chapters of this journey and devour this God created obsession.
And old man, thinking of his old man, holding his young son's who are becoming men.
All by the Sea.
The Corporate America suit and tie was killing my spirit eight hours a day. This day in particular was a stressful one. Reality was I needed this job. I had three little boys at a home and my wife was in school full time. I am a creative. An artist. A free spirited thinker and communicator. But the more I walked through those Corp doors, I began to question myself. Was this it for me? Would I be doing this for the rest of my life? Now let me clarify, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Corporate jobs, suit, ties and being clean shaven. Many people thrive in that world and do an amazing job. They were designed and created for it.
Me? Not so much. I'm a jeans and T-shirt kinda guy. And a hat. ..always a hat. I thrive on everything creative. I write songs then I sing them. I'm an actor. I act in TV shows, commercials and when I get lucky, in a few films too. I write stories in hopes to produce and direct them into feature films. I also help companies and brands create the best formula to tell their stories through print, design and video production. Everything creative... So let's get back to the story of the stressful day and the moment I got the bird.
I walked up the steps to my kids school. The tie was loose and my shirt was no longer tucked into my pants. I could hear the rumble of my kids through the door. I really was not in the mood to be happy jolly Dad this evening. I stopped for a few seconds and had to remind myself that my shitty day had nothing to do with my boys nor my beautiful wife. They were my safe place. They were the few things that mean the whole entire world to me. I walked into the classroom and it happened. Zion, my middle dude, charged towards me and gave me the BIRD. He said,
"Papi, I made this for you." He handed me a stencil of a bird and pointed at the colorful feathers he glued on it, just for me. I looked down at those little brown eyes looking at me and the craziest joy took over me. It was the greatest gift ever that evening. It was exactly what I needed. A reminder! A reminder that everything would be ok. Tomorrow would be another new day. A new chance at life. And so this bird went on being a reminder for me of just that. A new day. I framed the darn thing!
Months later I began brainstorming and working on ideas for a logo that I could use for the art I create. So I thought, why not the bird? I scanned it, photographed it, smashed it into Photoshop and BAM, there was my new logo! If that weren't enough, I even had a tattoo made of the bird on my forearm. A constant reminder that today is a new day at life. And a great one it has been for the most part. Life still tries to get best of me sometimes. Being an artist can be extremely disheartening. I quit every few months, but I quickly wake myself up and remind myself that I was created and designed for this. But sometimes another sign would be great! Wouldn't you agree?
So this past week I had another moment of missing my Dad. It's always so tough and the reality is I will never get over his departing from Earth, but I want to believe with all my heart that he is still here, and very much alive in the memories and legacy he left us. My brother Luis called me this day and said, "Do you remember when Dad used to call you El Gorrion?" I laughed because I definitely remembered and it triggered tons of memories. "But what the heck is a Gorrion? I've never known what it was." Turns out a Gorrion is a tiny bird. That evening I went online searching for a Gorrion. And sure enough, there it was. A little darn bird. My heart beat escalated looking at this little bird, and glancing at the bird tattooed on my forearm. As if it were yet another sign and assurance of this path I have chosen for my life or perhaps the path that chose me. A father knows. My Pops knew, he knew ever since I was a little dude. My Mark!
The signs are there my fellow friends and readers. You were made for this! Don't let anything nor anyone talk you out of the dreams you have. But rather use it as fuel to keep you moving forward. Open your eyes and ears... You will see it and hear it.
Walking into the unknown is not something everyone looks forward to. Why would we? I enjoy a bit of adventure, but when It's an unknown adventure, I'd be lying if I said I don't get a bit nervous about it. So many different types of unknowns. Starting at a new job or career. Starting a family. Relocating to a new city. The list goes on and on. What I have learned about this is that it's ok to be nervous or uncertain about the unkown, the problem is when we allow fear to enter into the equation.
Now fear... That's a totally different monster in itself. But just to scrape the surface, fear has the power to stop you, paralyze you, discourage you, distract you, if you allow it to. I've learned through experience to see the "unknown" as an opportunity waiting to happen within. Now don't get me wrong, some things are just flat out dangerous. Diving into a dark hole for instance. Yes there is an element of unknown, but also an obvious element of it being straight out potentially life threatening. Proceed with caution and with a trained professional.
Back to the unknown as being an opportunity. Walking into the unknown opens unknowns within ourselves. With new challenges and obstacles our bodies, minds and hearts step up to meet those challenges in ways we never thought possible. Perspectives change. Attitudes change. Areas in ourselves begin go change, evolve and adjust to this unknown. Whether the outcome of your expectations is met or not, we walk away with new discoveries about ourselves. We realize that we are far more equipped for what life presents us with then what we give ourselves credit for. We grow and learn when we conquer fear and brave the unknown. Just a thought.
How have you braved the unknown?
I spent this past weekend in Atlanta for work. Atlanta is a great city, booming in the Film and TV Industry. Atlanta and LA are pretty much head to head in that industry right now. Not only is Atlanta a big city, but it is quite diverse with all sort of ethnic backgrounds, cultures and race. Every reason why people from all over the world make this city home.
It reminded me of my Dad and Grandfather. Both of which made their way to the US to make a better future for themselves and the Santoyo family. I can't begin to imagine all the obstacles and conflict they had to face as Mexicans in pursuit of the American Dream in the United States. But they did and I am forever grateful for the work of their hands and the passion in their heart, mind and soul. My Dad started in the lettuce fields of Hollister, California before making his way to Chicago. English wasn't his number one language but he picked it up as best as he could and eventually worked many city jobs in Chicago. I remember sitting in the backyard while he shared hours of stories of his journey from Mexico to the states. He never spoke negatively about this country, but was always grateful for the opportunities presented to him as a Mexican American with his initial limit in the English language. I still remember the day be became a US citizen, you could see it in his eyes of how proud he was. I know without a doubt that as a minority(at the time) living in the US, he must have faced discrimination and bigotry, yet he never spoke about it nor do I remember experiencing it. All he ever said was, " Remember that we must always work harder then everyone else." At the time I didn't quite understand it, but as I got older, mature and educated, I finally understood it.
It was the evening of Sunday, June 28, 2015. Atlanta's weather was immaculate. Clear evening blue skies with a nice warm breeze. From where I was sitting, I could see the skyline downtown. I was sitting on the pavement enjoying an ice cold margarita. The day had been long, but I felt full inside. Grateful of the things I get to do as an actor, artist and professional creative. I was missing my beautiful Wife and Boys when this random man pulls up in a fancy sports car and charges towards me. He points at a van that was parked directly in front of me. The van displayed a logo for a local Mexican Catering Company. He said, "Who's driving this van?" I looked up at him total caught off guard and not knowing what the heck he was talking about. He raised his voice and said, "WHO'S DRIVING THIS VAN! YOU SPEAK SPANISH? SPEAK UP BOY!" I felt something way inside my soul that I never felt before. I looked up at him as I felt the blood in my veins begin to boil. I responded and said, "I have no idea who's van this is, and I don't know who you are." With no regards towards my response, he stormed off and walked away practically stepping on my shoes. I stood there with no reaction, thinking I had to do or say something. I looked around and realized, well, I was the only Latino outside. With close to 25 others gathered outside when this happened, I was the only one asked in the most demeaning way who the driver of this random van was. I stood there speechless, slightly embarrassed and humiliated. I glanced over at the others hoping someone had something to say, and no one said a word. If there was a hole in the ground I probably would've crawled inside of it. I opened my wallet to pretend I was looking for something and remembered I had a valuable card inside of it. A card from my Dad's Memorial service with his picture on it. I decided weeks ago that I would always carry it with me. That evening it served as a beautiful reminder of who I am. I am the son of a great Mexican American father who made a way for a better life for me. A Man who loved God and his family. A Man who fought the good fight and left a legacy in our family. A man with perfect flaws. A man how loved this country so much that he invested 50+ years of his life to make it a better one. And he did.
I'm glad I kept my cool that evening, but part of me wanted to lay that dude out with a Pilsen Right hook! Thinking about it still bothers me. I get that feeling inside of not being an equal part of today's society, but rather an outcast. A tourist(alien) in my own home land. All lies of course! I don't know what that man encountered in his lifetime that still resonates highly in his heart. But there is always hope for tomorrow. Hope for better days. I'm looking forward to those. There is still a ton of work to do.
Names, Titles, Degrees, we all have them. Singers, Writers, Producers, _____________. We are all in pursuit of something we feel we were meant to do. You know that one thing that keeps you up at night? The thing you can't imagine not doing. But sometimes we get so wrapped up in the things that we DO, that they begin to define us. That couldn't be more further from the truth. The things we do are just part of our surface, but fueled and motivated by our Core.
The dangerous thing about defining ourselves by what we do is that the things we do are always in progression. Everyone is in different seasons within the craft they passionately create. So when the things we are making, creating and doing fail we start to believe we are failures. When your start up ideas don't work and it can be many many years before they do if ever, we can easily begin to believe the lie that WE DON'T WORK. Maybe it's us. Something is wrong with me.
One of the first things I have learned in health and fitness is having a strong core. A solid foundation. As in with everything else in life. I have three little boys and every day I work hard at establishing a solid family foundation for them now in hopes that when they grow, they will grow up to be solid young men. Reality is you can not build a house from the roof down, but rather from the ground up. If you stopped right this minute, and stripped yourself of all titles and the things you do, what is left? What is at your Core? I am a strong believer that we are all born with greatness in our cards. We are all meant for something more. We all have a past, a present and a future to look forward to. The future shouldn't be something we're afraid of, but rather something to look forward to. Just as your past if so far gone behind you, it's time to rewrite your story from here on out.
As an artist, your heart is constantly crushed. Your hard work is sent out for the enjoyment and pleasure of sharing with others. By doing so, every day you give a huge part of your sweat, blood and tears.(All Surface Stuff) When your art isn't welcomed with open arms or not even acknowledged it's a huge blow to our pride. This is when understanding your Core is vital. Your surface will always be bumped or completely bombed, but know that deep within you is a strong Core that will keep you moving forward and will continue to produce the strength and energy you need to get back to the drawing board, recording studio, audition, etc.
So the question to ask yourself is, what is at your Core? What's at the center of You? I bet it has nothing to do with the things you DO, but more about who you are as a person. When you identify that and pin point the things you need to strengthen your Core you are going to experience new ways of looking at the things you DO! The art you create will change too! Because it will be a better reflection of who you really are and not so much of what you think you need to DO!
Just a few of my thoughts. What are your thoughts?
As artists and creatives we're constantly looking for inspiration and motivation. Something that will move us. Something that will spark an idea and catapult us to another fulfilling work of art. The challenge comes when we're not motivated and we can't seem to find any inspiration.
I have gone through multiple of dry spells and writing blocks. Seasons where it seems anything creative is light years away from me. Often times just walking away from the pen and paper and waiting for them to call me back, someday. I've gone weeks without writing a single word, creating a melody or imagining another story. So now what?
I've been learning to take different approaches when the well runs dry. When inspiration is gone, and you're just not motivated here are few things I do that you may find helpful.
* Write anyway. Write down the reasons you feel you are at loss for words. Write down those dark sentiments of why you don't have anything left to say. Write down the reasons you chose this path of artistry in the first place. Believe me that some of your most profound and honest work is often birthed in the trenches. Your brightest work will come from your darkest moments. In order to get to the root, you must dig. A seed will die in your hands, but will flourish in the deepest of earth.
* Pick up a book, a newspaper, or a magazine and read it. Take it in your hands and feel the textures in your finger tips as you turn from page to page. Now don't get me wrong, I love technology, iPhones, iPads etc I own them too. But there's something magical about picking up a written work of art, holding it in your hands and reading it. Looking at all the flaws in the paper or where the letters didn't get enough ink. And there is less temptation of checking in on your favorite social media Avenue. Reading someone's written work will not only distract and occupy your mind from the creative droughts you are experiencing, but it will re-open your thoughts and get your creative engines going again. Chances are you won't finish that last chapter because you don't want to lose the idea that just came to you.
* Music. So many genres, so many artists. The lists are endless. I gravitate to a select groups and artists that are my favorites and keep them on repeat. But from time to time, picking up a random artist, band or timed piece is a great way to shock your ears and get your mind ticking in the right direction. You'll hear new sounds and melodies that will trigger inspiration from a different Vantage point from which you are used to. You'll be shocked at where the musical source of inspiration will come form.
It's an amazing feeling when we are motivated by something outside of our own day to day! A picture, a speech, a smile, a fashion statement. But that is not the case all the time. So what should you do? Motivate yourself! Don't wait on anyone, a moment or that perfect sunset. It's probably not going to happen anytime soon, so go make it and experience it! Create your own! Get your ass up and move! Could it be a walk? A Run? A phone call to a friend or loved one? Re-arrange some things in your office? Go out and grab some lunch or dinner? We can go on and on with so many things you can do. The key word is that, "DO". Do something when you are least motivated to do so. The outcome is always rewarding.
Silence. Sometimes the best thing you will do today is sitting outside or inside and just listen. Listen to your surroundings. Listen to the sounds of nature in the country or to the loud and fast sounds of the city. Listen to yourself breath for once! Listen out for the things you've never given a chance to be heard.
Hope these help as much as they have helped me. Will these solve the creative epidemic of hitting a wall? Absolutely not, but it will stretch you as an artist. You will begin to grow into your own. You will find new ways. Discover new roads and practices. It will bring us closer to our next level of artistry. What do you do to motivate yourself during a creative drought?
It was perfect.
Everything about the day was perfect.
The sadness I felt was perfect.
I thought about our last conversation, and it was perfect.
Your final words of encouragement for us replay in my head, and they were perfect.
Holding your hand one last time was perfect.
Walking out of the room to squeeze those I love was perfect.
Your last breath on earth was peaceful, it was perfect.
The photo I took moments after you left, was perfect.
The sky was a piercing blue canvas with soft strokes of clouds, Pops, It was perfect!
I wish I could hear about your journey home, I'm pretty darn sure it was perfect.
Pops, I will always miss you, Man! And that is perfect.
Thinking back on your life, Pops, your imperfections were perfect.
When I look into the mirror and into my boys eyes, I see you. And It's perfect.
I will see you soon, just not yet. Perfect!
On December 26, 2014 my Father went on to be with the Lord in heaven. He was the hardest working man I knew. Loved unconditionally. He never turned away from a challenge. Dad always said, "if someone ever asks you if you are capable or skilled to do a specific task and you don't know how, always say that you do and figure it out." My father was a dreamer and a visionary. Dad often shared with me so many stories. At times they just didn't seem real and a bit exaggerated. Until I heard very close family members who knew may Dad from an early age tell those same stories as memories of my Dad...
Life doesn't quite feel the same anymore, it's very much different. Even though I am peace with his departure from this life, his death is still very strange to me. He's no longer a phone call away, but a memory of conversations once had. Every time I found myself discouraged I'd pick up the phone and call him. He always had the right words to say or sometimes just him listening and not saying anything was enough. As an artist, songwriter and storyteller, it's been extremely difficult for me to pick up a pen and paper and write anything. My heart races with anxiety. My melodies don't start and others don't end. There is a huge space not being filled anymore. I wake up in the middle of the night and for a brief second feel as if this is all a dream. But it is not. Life moves on, waiting for no one. I know if he could speak to me one last time he'd say what he would always say to me. "Go on and continue doing what you've been destined to do. Take care of your family and do everything you can for them. Live out your dreams. Todo en su tiempo Yessi. Tu Dia va llegar. My kids were created to do great things."
My fathers Death has reminded me of life. Life is here, right now. I'm slowly standing up again and letting the dust settle inside. There are words to be written, stories to be told, and melodies worth coming to life. Tonight I am taking the first steps again and singing some of my songs in Nashville, TN. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous and scared, but showing up is half the battle. Next week I step back into the studio to begin working on my next EP. So much to be grateful for and so much to look forward to. Let this next journey begin. Here's to you Viejo! Love You and miss You.
Hey folks, so he we are again. I'm extremely excited to share with you my new song "LOST", produced by Eli Beaird in Nashville, TN. A very special thanks goes out to all the amazing talent that was a part of this production. Alot of work goes into creating and producing music, but the end result is always fulfilling. We've gone back and forth trying to make this song the best it can be, but at some point you just have to trust it is there and walk away from it. Leonard da Vinci said it best. " Art is never finished, only abandoned". After months of chipping away at it, it is finally here! " So with that said, please lend me your ears and listen to "LOST" here.
Please help me spread the word. I would love as many people as possible to listen to it. Our hope as artists is that our art would find a home, and many times it's with the help of those who support, love and embrace it by making it their own... like YOU! "LOST" will be available for download on October 28, 2014, but since I was so anxious and eager I couldn't wait that long. So I decided to allow each and everyone of you to stream it for a few days! This journey continues. We are firing up the engines for the next song! But for now, enjoy Lost.
If you missed my last release in July of the song "GRACE", go here to download the song, and watch the video here. If you are interested in being a part of this story by choosing the next song, being an executive producer for it and making it a reality, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks again! Without your love and support there would be no reason to do what I do!
Hasta La Victoria Siempre,
Hey folks, I'm super excited to present to you my new music & lyric video for "GRACE". Please do me a HUGE FAVOR! Spread this video like wildfire, everywhere and anywhere! It will be greatly appreciated.
The journey towards your dreams can appear to be one filled with paved roads, crowds cheering you on and sunny skies from start to finish. Sort of like that exciting movie trailer that creates great anticipation and expectation. We assume it to be the best picture ever, but often times are left in disappointment.
The truth is this road is not for everyone. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is safe about it. It gets extremely lonely. You walk into it with cheers from your peers. Inspirational words from seasonal friends. It is not until you are half way up this empty road and stop to realize... There's only you, God and a handful of those who truly believe in you. Quitting and returning back to the homeland is always seems like safest choice. Reminds me of the biblical story of the Israelite's freed from Egypts slavery. They find themselves in the middle of the desert led by a flawd man with no food, no water and no real clear sense of direction... But just a promise and a dream. An insane one, at least. We are en route to where we hoped we would be. It's just that God left out the details of our journey so we can be surprised as we move along. Right?
Is this road less traveled ever really about a destination though? Or is it all about the journey and everything "little" thing in between. I am learning as I go. Accepting things as I go. Making peace as I go. Letting people and unnecessary baggage go. I don't have the slightest clue where you are in your journey. You may be way ahead, or right at the beginning pondering on your first step. Know this! You are not crazy and you are not alone. We're all in it together... All Together Separate! So keep going. Don't ever stop believing in what you were meant to do, meant to create and cultivate on this Earth! You've come this far! Keep going! If you decide to look back, make sure it's just to see how far you've come already!
Without your endless faith, love and support, none of the music and art I create would be possible nor relevant! From my Live performances to my online features! Download my new song "GRACE" HERE!!!
In 2011 I released my first ever solo project titled, "Fuser". A project which was a long time waiting. I'm extremely proud of it's outcome and more importantly the lessons I have learned as a singer-songwriter in the process. Since then I've been working very hard on writing new material. A few months ago I decided it was time for a new chapter of songs to begin. Now, having a song produced, recorded and released is no easy task and requires a financial commitment. As an independent artist, husband and father of three amazing boys, pumping out new music takes a long time of planning and saving! I had no idea how I could even get started!
I thought, If I can only get ONE song going, maybe it could build momentum, open doors and create new avenues to continue doing what I love to do... Writing and creating music and songs!
My amazing friends in Atlanta, Joseph & Michelle Bulger adopted the lyrics to a song I wrote, they fully funded it's production from beginning to end, and this new chapter begins! I am super excited to introduce and release the first of multiple new songs, "GRACE"! Head over to iTunes HERE and download it! Tell everyone about it!
Joseph & Michelle, thank you for making this song a reality and being apart of this journey!
Song #2...Here we go!
Listen to my single "GRACE", produced by Eli Beaird & featuring Natalie Byrd, for the next 24hrs! Official online release is July 8, 2014. Go HERE and listen to it now! Pass this along to all of your friends!
I'm excited to announce the release of my newest single "Grace". Available 7.8.14.
After a long day at the park with his brothers, enough is enough...
It's been almost three years since my first EP release, "Fuser" as a solo artist in 2011. Prior to that release I have always been a apart of an actual band. Recording a project with only me and an acoustic guitar was a huge challenge. It felt like an extremely vulnerable decision to make.
Listening to own voice has always been a strange thing. I've never considered myself a strong vocalist nor a talented musician. I pretty much self taught myself how to play instruments growing up in church. So diving into the solo world scared the life out of me especially in a city like Nashville where everyone is an out of this world amazing singer, writer and musician. But it was something I had to do, because it is what I love to do! Between 2010-2011, with the help of some amazingly talented friends I was able to record and release my first ever solo endeavor. The love and support I have received for that release has been much more then I could've ever imagined. My single "Someday" was featured and played locally on Nashville radio and the song went on to be featured in multiple films, another set to release this September. Since 2011 I have been performing songs from that release as well as introducing new material. With my wife taking on her last year of Interior Design school, in August 2013 after my last show of that year, I decided to pull back from booking any other shows, recording new material and focusing on the home front instead. Since then though, I have been writing away...
Last month I stepped into a studio to begin the journey to what will be my sophomore solo EP. It felt amazing to be in a room again surrounded by gear, a talented producer and new material to bring to life. Stepping into the studio took me back in time musically. To my first time... You see, growing up in church I wasn't allowed to listen to mainstream music. The Imperials, Carmen and Spanish gospel artists was as good as it got for a while. I constantly heard friends talking about various bands they were listening to, but I had no clue who they were, but I wanted to. One day a close friend to our family gave me a cassette tape of a record that would forever change my life of music. When I first listened to U2's The Joshua Tree I knew that this was something I wanted to do one day. Yeah, I was a late bloomer but it was better late then never.
Going into the production of this next EP I decided to look to these first records for some inspiration. U2, Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Pink Floyd, Anything Box, Erasure & The Police. I am so excited about this! As of right now you can expect three songs to be released in 2014... a few more if I can raise enough financial support to pull it off! Can't wait to record these new tunes and share them with all of you! Thanks for hang'n with me all these years and reading this far down! Stay close and stay tuned.