For 15 years, Todd Carey has been grinding away at his music career, building a community of fans, topping the Billboard and iTunes charts, and performing with Fallout Boy, Train, John Mayer, and Andy Grammer, to name just a few.
He’s been foot on the gas, full speed ahead, only looking forward and focusing intensely on his music.
And then a few years ago, he stops to breathe. Which changes everything.
Suddenly, he feels awake.
What caused Todd to stop and breathe finally?
How did he change in the years after?
We answer both these questions and more in this episode, including:
- Why he bet the farm on his community supporting him on Kickstarter
- Why he’s worked so hard at building a community around his music
- The hesitation he had in asking his community to help finance his new album
- The effect his daughter has had on how he views his career
- The role meditation plays in his life
- Finding personal fulfillment and a life outside your profession
- Why he shares his family adventures openly on social media
- The shows he plays in the backyards of his fans
- Learning to surrender control sometimes
- The influence his dad had on his musical career, despite not being a musician
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Transcript with Todd Carey
Today I’m joined by Todd Carey. He’s a son, husband, a father and a brother. He’s also a Billboard chart topping and iTunes top 20, singer and songwriter. He’s toured nationally performed with artists like Fallout boy train, john mayer, Jason Mraz, Andy Grammer, and I didn’t know this.
You also co wrote Meghan Trainor’s song 3am which is sort of random I feel like but an amazing accomplishment. You know, to you’re always writing your own stuff to write something for somebody else that must have felt kind of cool.
Todd Carey 2:00
Well, what I was gonna ask you was, well, my hunch is that the coffee come from the kid
Todd Carey 2:10
Yeah. And I only say that because I have two kids of my own but I they have not triggered me to coffee but that’s just because I refused.
Todd Carey 2:16
Wow. Okay. So yeah, I can probably learn from you then if you if you’re on to kid number still haven’t crossed the coffee threshold.
I’m just weird that’s all.
Todd Carey 2:30
Well, you know I this is like a universal interesting subject because I was like that guy I was you I did not drink. I’ve made it this entire this entire way. Let’s just put it that way. That’s the way I’m looking at it at this point, this journey, this creative journey that we’re going to talk about. I made it without coffee and you know, it was to the point I was telling a friend last night it was sort of I’m I was like a crazy tea drinker. Do you drink tea Tim?
I have basically only when I’m sick I’ve tried but like not like a regular day to day thing.
Todd Carey 3:07
So you’re just, you’re at your, you just don’t do the caffeine thing basically.
No caffeine. Yeah, that’s basically it.
Todd Carey 3:14
So I, I think I was not anti caffeine, but I was I just didn’t like coffee. So I had taken tea, you know, I started doing tea. And that was kind of like my substitute, you know, as, as a writer as a touring artist, as you know that. That extra little push? Oh, no, sure. And I was getting to the point where I was carrying like these bags of like, powdered, pure black tea on tour and like, it’s just it was like, we’re just dependent on it.
That’s my fear is I don’t want to be dependent.
Todd Carey 3:55
Yeah. So now I see what you’re getting at totally. And You know, after until like, to kind of take that into my realm. I so get that, you know, and I think caffeine is a caffeine is kind of like the endorsed dependence of our society. It’s the one that everybody agrees on.
Yeah, yeah, I think that’s a great way to put it.
Todd Carey 4:20
1,000% So, you know, after, again, being a being a musician, being a touring artist, and all of the vices that that that life can entail, and I’m not gonna say that I necessarily fell into a lot of that, but that was kind of the one thing that I really allowed myself to fall you know, to use was like caffeine. And I and it was in the form of tea, and I was getting to the point kind of to bring it around where it was like, the purest strongest, like it was just disgusting. Like I was making it so strong, that it wasn’t like it. No one would call it tea.
You know what I mean? It was just here became coffee or Yeah, I mean, I’m censoring the what I’m like, essentially calling that tea and I just made finally people around me like Why aren’t you drinking like that? Why are you drinking coffee? You know? So this year I started and yeah to bring it back around it was it was the kid all the way and I was just ready I I loved the I wanted the ritual.
I love the Dixie was the ritual. And I wanted the ritual. So now now I’m firmly in the coffee camp. And again to answer your sound your soundcheck question, What did you have for breakfast? Coffee? That’s where I’m at.
Oh, I love it. It’s funny, actually. You said that was like he had a kid recently. I bet. That seems like a pretty suitable cause to transfer or to transition into coffee drinking.
Todd Carey 5:50
Mm-hmm. That was, that was it.
I love it. You had a banner year in 2019. You got married, you had your daughter, who’s 14 months now. And a 2020. Now is one hell of a year in all sorts of different ways. But I have so many questions about about 2019. But I guess my first question there is, what was that like? You are someone. So we met back in general forever officially met, we met via email on the internet back in 2006.
You’re working on Watching, Waiting, and then you had another album years later. I mean, you were this. You are this person who puts so much time and energy and perseverance year after year after year to building this career to then get married and have a child in one year. And I’m sure you had the relationship prior to that. But like, that has to have an impact on everything you built. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. But I mean your priorities have now had to shift. I imagine has that been the case?
Todd Carey 7:04
Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, 1,000% and I have to say and thanks, by the way for, like, kind of digging into, like, what’s been going on with me and kind of following the journey for Yeah, I mean, you know, that type of sea change would impact anybody anywhere anyhow, you know, and for me, it’s, it’s, you know, it was kind of like I was cruising through outerspace in a spaceship that like lightspeed, only looking ahead and only focusing on what I do.
And then all of a sudden, hey, there’s like a world around me. There’s like a life that isn’t just this just music. Just playing the guitar, just writing songs. Just playing shows. Just tweeting my fans 24 hours a day or responding to Facebook messages or posts, you know, creating the next piece of content or writing the next song or all of the things that were my 110% focus for 12 years you talk about 2006? I mean, I think that this trajectory started around that time. 2005 probably.
And that’s a really long time. Yeah, I mean, did it feel good to then all of a sudden realize, my life now has more I mean, more people in it, obviously, but as you know, there’s more. I hate saying there’s more to it, because it’s not like you didn’t realize that before, but I mean, did that feel good?
Or was that like unsettling where you’re like, Well, wait a second, I just put 15 years in, I want to keep going. But now I have a different you know, perspective, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Like what what was that kind of like for you? I You just you have such a legacy in my mind here. And you’re building a different legacy now, you know, a different it’s evolved.
Todd Carey 9:06
Yeah, that’s a really good way to put it, Tim, and thanks, man can you know, it’s really a it’s gratifying to talk to someone who’s kind of, you know, you’re tracking it. So I appreciate that. And, you know, obviously, I’m living it. So I’m like, I’m, you know, three years ago, four years ago, I started meditating. And it changed. Like, it changed everything. For me, it changed my entire life. And, you know, I’m not like a super religious person.
Although I believe I believe in what religion brings to people I’m I’m, but I am spiritual. And what that did for me was realize that the rains that I was holding, and if you know, on my career and this legacy, you’re talking about Were both helping and hurting at the same time. And as soon as I kind of started to breathe, I mean, that’s what meditation is. As soon as I just started to breathe, essentially, I felt like I was I had like woken up, I started breathing.
And when I did that, I realized that being open and allowing things to happen to me, was better than trying to dictate them all the time. All the time. I’m not saying that, you know, you can’t do that. And that’s important when you’re running a business and a career.
Yeah. Did you feel like you weren’t being open in the years prior like you?
Todd Carey 10:41
I think I just wasn’t awake. You know what I mean? I was like, living from my unconscious but not knowing it. And I think that when you when you discover something like meditation or breathing or religion or spirituality Or whatever something that is like a little deeper you you start to realize that there’s you don’t have control necessarily and in a good way not in the back not in like and so I think what you’re asking to bring it back to your question is like you know how did this sudden kind of like what externally looks like a rapid you like a like a dogleg left turn.
You’re a 15 year overnight success, right?
Todd Carey 11:39
I love it. That’s That’s fantastic. Thanks. Yeah, I mean, I’ll say that on a personal level because that’s where I’m at now is like you know, if I’m able to do this and make music and have haven’t be able to have a creative outlet The way you have your podcasts and do this and make that my focus and then have my my life, my wife, my daughter, my family. That to me is like success. And I didn’t realize that before, you know, and that’s fine.
I think that everyone comes to things in their own time. But something just happened I think, which is what you’re getting at in the last three or four years where I just woke up and realized that I, I could achieve what I had set out to cheat achieve. It was different than it looked from the beginning. You know what I’m saying? I don’t know if that’s like a to have to use but it evolved. And then it felt like I arrived, which is what I think you’re referring to that that changed in the last three years again, which is like a personal kind of settling. meeting someone having a child.
Having a life again, to get back to that like analogy of being in a spaceship going like 1000 light years, all of a sudden having something that wasn’t just that was what made it what’s now making it work and work better than it ever worked before. For me. It’s of all a very complicated way of saying like, finding personal fulfillment and a life outside of your profession, essentially, was the answer for me, you know, or at least is right now. It’s such everything’s an evolving process always.
We could have be having, uh, you know, I don’t perceive that changing, but we could be having a different conversation in 20 years as far as like people’s priorities and whatever. But yeah, I mean, I do hear what you’re saying. There’s that fear of like, everything you’re building is all of a sudden being changed, but for me, it was like it all got like after elevated and lifted, you know, and of course, I think I think what you’re driving at is of course, there was fear.
There was definitely fear. You know, I think that was like baked into the question a little bit was like, you know, or maybe I’m just interpreting that way which which is like
No I think that’s a fair i don’t know if i was thinking fear directly but now that you bring it up I probably was. But yeah, I was thinking just and again, not not in a negative way. But just like, you know, I guess that being a father of two myself, I mean, it’s a significant life change it doesn’t matter what you’re doing in life correct. It’s a significant change. Yes. And for what you were doing
Todd Carey 14:39
It’s the antithesis of yeah of most yes interpretation of what I do.
Yeah. And yeah, I hate put it that way. But it’s just like you said you were putting all the things
Todd Carey 14:49
You think like musician, you think like this kind of maverick, you know, and not like a family guy. necessarily on the road all the time. Right. Yeah. I think that I think that there’s an evolution happening. There’s an evolution happening. I think, you know, I’ll just speak to music because that’s like what I do. But the last things have have niche ified you know what I that’s, I like that word. It is no, I love it. Awesome. Let’s create that.
You know, there’s no Michael Jackson. That’s about it. We’re not gonna talk about Michael Jackson on this podcast. Let’s talk about like, The Beatles or Elvis Presley were the center point of a, of a cultural phenomenon. It’s, it’s gonna be hard to achieve that, again, where everything was something can be that big in music, right? Because of our niche, ified universe everyone’s living in their silo via social media via the news you consume via the type of music that Spotify is serving you, as opposed to the guy next door and what that is a little allowed in a positive way is less sacrifice to, to satisfy the mass whereas like you can do your thing and be successful on your terms.
Right? And instead of having to sacrifice your life to to, to have this creative success, I think that now people are able to have a fuller life and create their art and have people hear it supported and be successful because of like the new tools that have been given to us via technology via the culture via niche suffocation. niche suffocation.
Another one we got two new words.
Todd Carey 16:48
Awesome. Great. So yeah, I don’t know I, I guess you know, that’s like the most roundabout way I could ever answer that question. You know?
Yeah, I like that. It’s basically the world we live in today makes different lifestyles, but I mean, you don’t have to have the traditional rock star lifestyle.
Todd Carey 17:10
Yeah, you don’t have to be. I don’t know why keeps thinking, you know, I’m trying to think of like a more modern example. Then like Michael Jackson. But like someone who’s so huge Yeah, you can only be that big because it’s literally the only thing you do you are nothing besides that.
Yeah, did you watch the Taylor Swift documentary?
Todd Carey 17:34
No, the Netflix one?
Yeah, no, I want to we I love Taylor Swift. And now we play lover I hadn’t. It’s weird about we hadn’t really gotten into lover and now we played everyday here. Like we’re so behind everybody else. But when you say of course, you know, I mean.
Yeah, in the documentary, a large part of it is about how she just felt this Need to get the approval of everyone? And how when she became self aware of that, you know how, how that kind of helped her but just, you know, like the lifestyle she was leading or maybe still is leading, you know, she just realized, like, why does she care so much about these people?
Todd Carey 18:21
I have a weird a weird reaction to that, that I’m going to probably regret. But I’m just gonna go off on this tangent. The Taylor Swift from 1989 is a different and more successful Taylor Swift from lover and reputation. Because that Taylor Swift from 89 and red was playing the old game and was able to like saturate everywhere and everybody.
And this new Taylor Swift is self aware and like not caring as much is creating more niche based art that less people are hearing and I hate to say this, but it’s just it’s not as omnipresent I’m sorry, but it’s great. You know, and if You’re into it, you’re into it, but it’s not. It’s not. I mean, Does everybody know any of those songs of lover? Or the last two? I don’t think so.
Whereas, like, maybe not as many. You’re right. I mean her. She made a conscious decision to go in, in, in the direction she wanted. And the result is and I, I’m championing this direction, I’m championing this direction. This is, you know, so yeah, I think that’s a great example,
You know, speaking of Taylor Swift, she is someone who, you know, you think about like Michael Jackson, or Madonna or anyone from back in the day where there weren’t these social media channels. Were Taylor Swift is all over the social media channels. She has connected with her fans in a way that only this day and age could provide.
You do the same thing though. I mean, you are on everything. And you are I was looking, Todd, you have YouTube videos where you’re responding to the YouTube comments. I was blown away. way this was like a couple months ago, like years ago. And I love her saying, Yeah, you’re like, Yeah, why wouldn’t I? And it’s so funny because, I mean, well, first of all the time, there’s only so much time in a day, but
Todd Carey 20:11
That’s true. And it has changed a little bit. You’re right.
Yeah, I mean, exactly. You know, you have a daughter now, but that kind of commitment. And also, speaking of your daughter and your wife, I’m watching the one music video about your wedding. And the song about your wedding. So beautiful. But that’s your wife in there, I assume. Right? Yeah, so so she’s on in this video, she’s on your social media. She’s a part of this story, your story that you have chosen to share with the world? I imagine she had a say in that like, What is that like?
Because you know, if I think about you know, you’re this, you know, you’re a Taylor Swift of the world but you have a family who is a part you know, you seem to be a pretty open person who is connecting genuinely with people. Was that something where you like sat down your wife and said Like, hey, this is kind of what I do when she you know, when you met, she understood this is what I’m getting into.
Todd Carey 21:06
It’s a great question, Tim. I mean, no one has ever asked me this stuff. And I love it. So I’m, you’re going so deep, this is awesome. And yeah, let me let me let me dive into that. I love that question. So this is something that is evolving for us. You know, and, and it’s something that I think about regularly.
And when, when I started making that transition, I think the period that you’re talking about, maybe like three years ago, or four years ago, where I was starting to realize that I could have a life outside of my career and my music and engaging with my audience. I was very adamant about keeping it separate at the beginning. have like, for example, when I met my wife, or when I started to have this personal sea change of you know, I talked about meditation and just having an awareness that I didn’t have complete control of everything all the time.
Which is a big deal to finally realize. You saying that now, I still struggle with it. Like I refuse to believe it.
Todd Carey 22:24
It’s always an ongoing it’s, no one ever has it fully. And I don’t nobody does. It’s it’s a practice just like any religion, any meta, it’s, it’s, it’s a daily 1000 times a day concept where you’re just always working on it. And you, you it’s it’s a struggle that will go on forever.
You know, there’s gonna be periods of weeks where I’m trying to control and you know, there is a certain benefits of that professionally. But I find that I’m the most happy and the most successful Well when I don’t grip the reins so tightly, both personally and professionally, so circling back around to like being private versus, you know public when I first kind of had this like personal training transition, let’s call it Yeah, trance. Yeah, I like it.
I was very careful about it being separate, like the person, my wife and my now wife. I didn’t throw her into it like, we I was making music, I was putting out content and she wasn’t part of it. And I just wanted to get the foundation like privately with her and i for i think two years, maybe even before she ever made an appearance on any of my social media.
Because of what you have what you’ve pinpointed? I’ve been building this thing for so long, and I wanted to make sure she wanted to be part of it and that it worked, you know, for what people expected of me, you know, because then maybe I can make that decision where my private life was private and my public life. I was just waiting to see kind of what would happen.
And I wasn’t forcing it. I was just waiting, you know? And it’s just, here’s the answer, finally, to your question. It evolved completely naturally. So she would just start to kind of maybe come into the frame because we were hanging it, you know, and then yeah, and then it was like, you know, and then we were, you know, that we were two years deep in our relationship, and then we were engaged and that was like, maybe broadcasted, and then, you know, we were getting married, and then we were having a baby and each step along the way, it was never like, it was never like, and this may be the opposite of kind of what I’m talking about, but it was never like, throw it up for Instagram. It was like, Is this okay? You know, like,
Is it weird if like I put my newborn daughter on the internet and I know everybody does it, but it’s still it’s still something that we think about and consider and we were just having this discussion my parents, I’m here in the unabomber cabin, as you and I talked about before we I’m in the middle of the north woods of Wisconsin and I’ve been here with my my wife and daughter for six, seven weeks right?
My parents just arrived and we were just talking about this it’s like all are you manipulating what you do by like putting your daughter up there or putting your wife there or opening your personal life to this audience? Right. And I think because a I’m aware of it and and be I’m constantly checking with her. You know, is it Does this feel weird to have our daughter up on these channels and these videos, whatever you know?
And she’s told my wife loves it, you know and she’s not even a very like public person. And my daughter is emerging as this like super outgoing little baby like she’s she just took her first steps today. Oh my god I swear I’ll send you these this video yeah, it she just I mean that’s that’s her energy so you know and I’ve had people ask me it close family now my parents were like, Oh, I don’t know if I like what you’re doing with your daughter and like as far as like putting her online and they’ll do so does the longest ever answer your question but like we’re very aware of it extremely aware of it. And we we’re consistently evaluating as it happens. So like
There’s no wrong answer here.
Todd Carey 26:59
Yeah but then, you know, again, I think there is that concern where it’s like, are you? You know, are you giving away too much of your personal life or you know, and I think that given kind of what I was telling you about with, like my own transformation, it’s like, there’s when you start to, you know, breathe, let’s just call it breathe. I hate coming back to meditate, but like, breathe or be religious or spiritual.
I’m present enough where I’m trying to, uh, giving away some of that is okay for me because I’m not like, always in it. That fear is that you’re giving away too much and you’re not actually living your life. I’m filming this moment of her walking for my audience.
As opposed to my baby, as opposed to being there when my baby is walking, you know, and die. Yeah, there’s that temptation, I think, and I, I don’t think I’m alone. But I don’t think a lot of people are talking about this, you know? So it’s the awareness and being present and living life and then and then maybe giving, giving some of it for people to see, as opposed to living it for that purpose. Does that make any sense?
Oh, absolutely. I think there’s also an element for you, considering your position, you know, having built this career, and some notoriety and an audience, there’s an opportunity for you, for whatever you’re comfortable with, to connect with others. I mean, that’s what you’re doing right? You’re building this connection, this human connection, that I mean, cynics might say, well, it’s gonna benefit you, you’ll be able to sell more music because people are gonna feel more connected to you.
That’s true. I mean fine, but to me it’s more about if your mission is to make people happy and create a positive impact on this world and you’re comfortable showing us your daughter’s first steps that’s going to connect and make a positive impact on the world right like nothing negative is going to come out of that other than any safety and security concerns you have right like as you continue to grow notoriety, you know, maybe you know eventually pullback or something.
So I think, you know, for as an outsider looking in just the way you connect with your fans, and I hate even calling them fans because then it sounds like everyone’s we’re all standing around worshiping you and I don’t think that’s that’s not it’s like a community.
Todd Carey 29:40
You get it so much. It’s so yeah, the problem with that word, too, but I mean, I use it as I kind of as I go on and just realize it’s pretentious to not but like, yeah, cuz I’m sorry, I’m interrupting but yes,
No, no, I should be the one not interrupting!
Todd Carey 29:55
Yes, I do. It’s weird. I feel that when I say it, I’m like, No, these are like not necessarily fast. It’s something bigger than that, you know?
Yeah, I really think you’re building more of, you know a community like I said, You’re replying to YouTube comments you did this tour was in 2018 the sale into summer tour. Where you were I don’t remember how many shows you did but you’re playing shows inside your family use the word fans but inside your fans homes. I mean, that’s a community right?
Like I watched this video, which is a total tangent here but you released? We’re recording this in June, a couple weeks ago, you released this quarantine video of you and I don’t know a bunch of maybe your band or fellow musicians playing walking in Memphis. And I was like crying. But I was watching this YouTube video while I was preparing for this interview. I think the same gentleman you two were in someone’s yard sale in the summer store in Memphis, and I’m watching this tide and I’m like.
Who does this only the person who truly is here to connect with the community like I hope to god you’re making money off your music. I mean, Spotify, you know, I threw you a penny before we started hearing your songs, but, but I know I know I can say this I just feel it like even if you weren’t making money, you know, back when you were starting I’m sure you weren’t, you would be doing this you would be going to your communities homes anyway in playing walking in Memphis because you just want to see that connection.
Todd Carey 31:19
I’m so glad to Tim. Thank you. I’m so glad you brought that up because that that’s like the other piece of this conversation we’re having is like going to people’s houses and playing music. It’s so like a part of me now that I like don’t even think about it. It’s like not even weird. Like, when you when you just started like going into that because I’ve like done press on that. Like I’ve gone on national TV and talked about like playing in people’s backyards.
And like, it’s like that. If people like if I if people are having me on a show to talk about it’s obviously like unusual, but at this point, I’m like, of course like it’s so normal. Yeah, that’s what we do. We end Yes, we totally, I think that in the summer 2018 we did 4040 like 40 we were calling, we’re calling them house parties, we would go to people’s houses and play. And I love it was like the best thing I ever did. And and we continue to do it. We did it in 17. We did 18 we did last last year, because I was just like, not touring.
And of course this year, I had like 40 I was we’re gonna do it again. And we actually are going to go out and start playing some believe it or not. But yeah, I mean, to me, that was like the other best thing I ever surrendered, surrendered to, you know, like, I think I keep coming back to that which is like, you have this idea of how it’s gonna be. And then it’s different.
And then if you don’t resist and you just said like, try things and allow it to happen. It ends up like creating this incredible thing. That I never could have imagined, which is what you’re referring to, which is like, I’m, I’m at these people’s houses, and we’re creating these lifelong friendships. And they’re like, they’re just, they’re a daily presence in my life as far as like support and friendship and our, you know, artistic support musically. It’s, it’s been, it’s been a trip, man, I’ll just say that it’s, yeah,
It’s such an intimate gesture to. I mean, it’s very intimate to have you in my home and for me to, you know, for you to see my home and me to invite you into my home and play a show and gather, you know, my closest friends and whoever is a fan and, I mean, that’s such an intimate thing for you to offer into participate in that, you know, I just think that speaks to like I said, I love that like that.
To me, that’s such a sign a signal of who you are and what you’re creating here where it’s bigger. than how I almost said it’s bigger than just music, but that’s blasphemy. I mean, music is the most powerful thing we have here. It’s bigger than than traditional stage fan relationships. Like you’re creating something bigger here than traditional performance I guess.
Todd Carey 34:16
You use the word community and you just nailed it right back there. You know, that’s that’s it. And you know, the bands that I adore the music that I adore is has the music exists in a much bigger context than the music like I love the Grateful Dead for example, at the music is in Korea, it’s like some of the most groundbreaking music on the face of the planet which is lost in it’s lost in the imagery of like hippies and drugs and the whole thing.
Todd Carey 34:46
But what the music is incredible and groundbreaking and people, sometimes people don’t realize that it’s like really forward pushing and it still is like a living breathing thing after it ended 30 years ago. It’s crazy but the media Music is only one element of that situation.
You know, it’s like, almost a like it’s a lifestyle. And, to me, having fallen in love with that music, and then there are other examples of there’s other, there are other examples of that type of thing happening that aren’t the Grateful Dead that aren’t like hippies. And it’s music existing in a much bigger context. And to me, that’s what’s attractive and exciting. It’s not just the song and the, the performer like you set the stage audience thing, like, to me that’s like, not very interesting.
I mean, it’s great, you know, but yeah, I’m just so much more interested in like it being bigger than the music. And so that’s, that’s been my first real process progress, the house, the house party thing that you’re talking about. That’s been My first real progress besides the crazy engaging via all of those mediums, you know, and then putting my family out there, even though that’s that’s a weird way to put it, but the house, the house party thing has been to me. You hear about musicians doing house concerts and party, but we do it in a way that I’m not familiar with anybody else having done that, what we what we’ve done and what we do, you know?
I would agree with that the video I watched, I remember, it was oh gosh, I had a band in high school and being nice buddies. Yeah.
Todd Carey 36:37
What do you play?
I play guitar.
Todd Carey 36:40
And sing too?
Well that’s debatable.
Todd Carey 36:42
As it’s been a while, but I remember in high school we were playing as in my parents backyard. It was one of our graduation parties. And it was mine, my brother, my sister, but and you know, family was there, whatever. But when I watched this video of you and your colleague playing in someone’s yard Walking in Memphis.
Todd Carey 37:01
I’m just gonna throw his name out there see the best dude ever. His name is Rodney Flood. He’s my drummer and like, great friend.
Todd Carey 37:07
Yeah, he’s incredible.
He has a great voice!
Todd Carey 37:10
Yeah. Give a huge shout out to Ronnie Floyd. We’ll make sure he hears this. Yeah. I’m sorry, continue.
No, I was just gonna say when I saw that I had a flashback to kind of that. I don’t remember that graduation party, you know, perfectly but. And not to suggest that you’re doing like a lo fi performance here, but I just it felt like that it felt like you were just in someone’s yard. You were their friend. Yep. And you were all hanging out playing music like you don’t need the pyrotechnics.
You don’t need the video wall. You don’t need the crazy lights. You just need the people, the fresh air, the music and the connection that that’s all creating. So yeah, I mean, I’m just giving you just praise after praise here because Well,
Todd Carey 37:49
Thank you, man. I appreciate it. It’s it’s thanks for like, you know, familiarizing yourself with with what I’ve been I’ve been up to it means a lot to me, Tim and yeah, I mean That is just doing that has been. It’s just been, it’s something that that happened or completely organically, not something we ever planned and he has connected me, like you said, in a way with the audience that I never could have planned or contrived, like, I couldn’t have been like, in connecting with an audience like I was like, Alright, I want these, this audience to support me forever. Like, I never could have planned that method of just have in it. And it’s worked to the point where like, now we’re friends with these people for real, like on a different level, you know? Like, isn’t
It’s funny how like the things you can never plan or premeditate end up being like the most powerful, it speaks but it goes back to what you were saying about you know, things you can’t control sometimes those are the you know, Things you never think about or
Todd Carey 39:01
I firmly believe I’ll stand by what I said earlier is that whole thing came out of like, my earlier view probably. Well, I I’ve always been really open like when I met you in oh seven or Oh, eight, I’m sure I would have done that I just no one wanted no one cared enough to, like have us at their house even. But, uh, yeah, I think that everyone has their vision of how they’re going to make do their career and make their art and make their music or whatever.
And that definitely was not part of the original vision. You know what I’m saying? Yeah. And just again, being being aware enough to be open to it and then when it started happening, intuitive, intuitive enough to follow it. And really just like, we tripled down on it tripled down on it did 40 I said 18 was like we did 40 in the US and then maybe 15 in the UK, which is insane.
You were talking earlier about you know, Things you don’t have control over and becoming aware of that and kind of letting it ride like being content with that. I noticed. At the end of I think it was the end of 2018. You created a Kickstarter to help finance your new album, like basically directly asking your community to support your album, which you had never done before. And in the video that you put on Kickstarter, they make you put a video, you sort of, you know, said like, I’ve never done this, I’ve never really wanted to feel like I’m putting my hand out or having to ask you for help.
But you know, I think now’s a good time as any, did you? I’m someone who only recently realized the power of asking others for help. And, you know, accepting that and understanding how it affects them. And are you someone that similarly like, was not a fan of asking other I mean, this is a pretty big example of that, but I sensed a little trace of maybe I wonder if Todd also, like me is not a fan of asking others for help. Like we could do this. We got this.
Yeah, great question. Totally. Tim. Yeah, I that’s why I didn’t do it for so long as I’m a people pleaser, and I always I’m trying to deliver for people always so. Yeah, my whole thing is always like, serve like serve and create value for people, both in my like private life and my personal life and my musical life. And it was always like show up and just like, deliver, you know?
Sure. So yeah, I absolutely had reservations. That’s what stopped me from doing it. And yeah, so that again that took that so kind of getting over that for that project. And, you know, I did mention it in there because I thought it was honest, you know, to, to just say hey, look, you know,
It looks like you more than exceeded your, your financial goal, at least for what you had the Kickstarter set up as so like, what, what happened after this, like, Did it change your view of like, oh, maybe it’s a case ask my community to, you know, for help, so to speak, or to shift your perspective at all?
I think so, man. I think that I think that especially now in June 2020 you know, at the height of a pandemic where people are broadcasting out of their their homes now as opposed to two Rolling events, that the the scenario the the landscape is radically different than when I made that video in 2018. And, you know, you you’ll see really established successful performers.
I’m not just saying even musicians performers going on, and doing their show and asking for help, you know. So I think that it’s actually now it is like the word I’m looking for. normalized, completely normalized. And Kickstarter has been a Kickstarter has been around for a long time. So people immediately get it when you do a Kickstarter, even in 2018. But yeah, I hadn’t, and I think it’s exactly what you’re saying was like, that’s, that wasn’t me.
And I still don’t necessarily feel like it is me but it was almost like against surrendering, like, do the stage dive and see if your audience like catches you when you fall. And it was like that was a good time as any I was 10 years in to this thing. And it was like, if this doesn’t work, then like, each time I test it, I’m just like, should I be doing this? And then I test it, and then the answer has come back. Yes. And like, that was a good example. You know?
So, if you’re like, thinking of doing something like that, or trying to get over that barrier, I’d recommend it because, you know, I was hesitant, and I was lucky enough to have people there help, you know.
Oh and it must have been reassuring to and you know, kind of solidifying, like this community does support me We are connected, like everything I’m building here and what we’re creating together is real like there. You know, if you had posted that and then you know, everyone kind of laughed and you know, threw in a dime or something and you got nothing out of it. I met you know, not that that would ever happen.
But I imagine you would have been like, Well, wait a second, like, what you know, like, theoretically if we’re really connected Here like where if we are friends hanging each other’s houses? The one time I asked for help, I would imagine they would say yes. And they did with, you know, flying colors here. So totally. And, you know, I think that I was very aware of that. It was like, hey, if this doesn’t work, then I need to rethink what I’m doing in general. So you’re putting your site out there? I mean, your ability there. Yeah.
And I’ve always been, I have, I’ve had a block with the thing that you’re saying, which I think it sounds like you have a similar thing in your personality. And truthfully, I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. I think we’re like that. And it’s a strength, it can be a strength, you know what I mean? And it is, I think it comes from a necessity of like having to deliver on your own and not ask for help.
But I also like, I like taking risks, like, artistically like really onstage i think is where I’m like the most risky people think of me as like a really safe pop artist, but like You know, I mentioned like the music I’m into, like, I started with the group and like study jazz and like, I like doing crazy. onstage, whatever, you know, like, and I think that that occasionally and shoot more often transfer into everything else I do. And that was an example of it, which was like, betting the farm on that was like, hey, if this doesn’t work then like, I should be rethinking this, you know what I mean?
Yeah, exactly. And that’s scary as hell, but I think it’s also validating.
Yeah, I was just like, if it doesn’t then you know, it’s also like, it’s, it’s telling me something definitively, you know?
Yeah. What would you be doing? If you weren’t, I was reading somewhere that I mean, you grew up on the North Shore of Chicago, which is a pretty great area. There’s some beautiful homes up there. But um, I was reading somewhere that you were bussing tables at one point back in the day on the north side, and it sounds like you learned quite a bit about people from that experience.
Yeah, I worked at a coffee shop. And, man, you really did some research. I love it. I worked at a coffee shop. That was a yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know what I took out of that truthfully, like that didn’t really have like a super formative impact on me. I think it just, I think it was one of the things that taught me that I wanted to be my own boss. You know what I’m saying? Sure. Yeah. I didn’t want I wanted to. I didn’t want people telling me what
Perfectly you know, understandable thing.
That’s maybe what I took away and I’ve always been like a people service oriented person so that I didn’t I couldn’t learn that from waiting tables or service at a coffee shop. Like I feel like that was baked in to me already. You know what I mean? Like I’m, you felt like there was really nothing for you to kind of get out of this, yeah.
No growth to be had,.
I wish I could tell a cool story. I’m like how that like helped for me but like it didn’t.
Sometimes those those types of things like it’s all these points along the line, right, like, each individual point might not be significant in itself. But until you have enough points, then you can make a line. So you know, without that experience, who knows, maybe there have been other points along the way.
So true, Tim. Yeah. And you know, everything affects affects you in ways that you don’t even understand. And I think I think that did have an impact, maybe in a way that I don’t know. Yeah. In that it was just like, don’t like you got to make this other thing work.
There you go. Yeah. Maybe it pushed you in the direction that you ended up going in? Was your your dad a pretty big influence on you as a like, definitely in terms of like your interest in music? It sounds like he kind of turned you on to music in general. And then some of the bands you’re talking about. I’m curious. Like I said, it sounds like There was a pretty strong relationship there, I’m sure. Hopefully still is.
Yeah, he just he literally just opened the door while we got cut off because he’s like, hey, the internet’s definitely just so quick to this day. You know, tonight like my daughter took her first steps, like, into his arms, you know, like, we’re just so close. So close.
I’m wondering, now you now you’ve become a dad. Yeah. Do you think about that now, like you think about the influence your dad had on you, especially with what has become an integral part of your life music. Do you think about, you know, the impact you’ll be able to have on your daughter’s life.
I mean, so much. And, I mean, the first thing is that I’ve been like, honestly, just lucky and, you know, musicians and and, and, and performers and people who do what we do have obviously been dramatically negatively impacted by the pandemic and what’s going on. You know, like I mentioned before, that I think I had 30 or 40, summer things on the books.
And yeah, again, kind of getting back to our earlier discussion of like, once I just learned to like surrender there was like, maybe two weeks, as it was all going down where I was like losing a little sleep about it. And then I just was like, You know what, like, one day I woke up and I was like, I need to breathe. I sound like a like a guru on your podcast, but I need to, like, take a beat and and see that this is really happening and what is the good that’s going to come out of this and it’s so screamingly obvious to me, like I’m here this summer with my daughter, like all day, every day.
And it’s a it’s an opportunity that I never would have had I would have been gone this entire time. I mean, not gone. I had built it so I was like gone to be specific. On weekends and then coming back, right?
Sure. But yeah, time away.
Yeah, a lot of it. Right? Even though I’ve been very careful to build time home in ways that many people that what I do, are unable to and that was part of this kind of thing we were talking about earlier the way I’d built these private concerts, I was able to work with my supporters to go and then come back and be with my family and go and come back.
But that breakdown that would have broken this incredible rhythm that we have going here with my daughter who is you know, 15 months who is like speaking more everyday walking more of it, like it’s getting good now and I’m here for it. And this is, this is something that I will never get again ever, you know, like, I’ve you know, I hope we have more kids and like, I just I hope I get this opportunity with my next but I don’t know and you Yeah, I got it. I got it from my parents who are like the best parents ever. My dad is incredible. And you were talking about like music I wanted to, like go back to that with what he gave me.
He wasn’t just like he gave me like highbrow, like, I mean, he’s not a musician, but he like listens to like, heavy jazz and like heavy classical and, like, gave me that thing that I never would have found ever. Like, I would have just been into the Grateful Dead or pop or whatever. And he got me into like, Coltrane and like, you know, modern classical music and but and also the Beatles, you know, and well rounded.
Yeah, like, he but he like he downloads like Ariana song like he’s, you know, so I got that from him and he’s incredible. Yeah. And how to be. They taught me how to be you know, they taught me how That family is really, really, really, really important. And I only realized that lately, recently.
It’s funny how that is. I know the same way like I don’t know what it is these things happen in life, that just kind of how you were talking about, you know, maybe three or four years ago, you had that kind of awakening. I love awakening. I love that way of thinking about it. But you just all of a sudden, maybe it’s a day, it’s a week, it’s over a month, a year, all of a sudden, you look back and it feels like oh, yeah, that was a big awakening.
And it’s I don’t know I’ve been I’m not a religious person. But I there’s something big out there. I mean, you look up at the sky, and the only question I have for the aliens is not do they exist, but is there technology behind or ahead of us? That’s all I want to know. But I’m a believer like there’s the universe does things to us, like I don’t know if it’s astrology. I’m not in any of that, but like, I just You know you are. I started this podcast because I had an awakening. I love that term.
Now, Todd, I’m just gonna steal it if you don’t mind. But it’s so I don’t know if I’m seeking people out. But every single person I talked to this podcast, there’s some sort of awakening happening. And like listening to your story here. I feel so connected, because I’m like, I know exactly what he’s talking about. Like, it probably happened differently for him. And it happened over different time period and people but like, I know what you’re talking about. So it’s just, I don’t know, I just marvel at that how the universe somehow does that to us. And a good
Thanks. I mean, I think if we’re aware people, as we go through, we should be growing. I mean, if you’re not then what are you what are we doing?
What are we doing, man? Yeah, absolutely. I’m a big fan. My mantra is, as long as we’re better today than we were yesterday. It doesn’t matter how much like long as we are better than we are yesterday. We’re on the right path and then you know, things are good.
I like that. Although some Sometimes I feel like I regressed and that’s okay. As long as you’re, like, aware and like, it’s almost like, if you look at it as almost a bigger arc, like I’m starting to look at things in like a very long. I think that was the other kind of thing that happened around that time I’m talking about which is like this is, even though he was always a long haul, like this is a longer haul than even you. me when I say you even even I realize.
Yeah, yeah, yes, exactly what you’re saying. I mean is, as long as you’re moving forward. Yes. You know, and there, there won’t be there will be times when you’re not, but for sure you’re aware of it. You’re still moving forward because you’re aware. You know what I mean?
Yeah, I think that’s I’m glad you bring up that piece of it. Being aware is such a key part of the progress, it’s progress, right. And you can only make progress if you’re aware of what’s happening, because otherwise, I mean, you know, I’ve I’ve been in the So many different scenes, but the tech and startup scene at one point and, you know, there’s all this talk about failure and you know, failures, good failures, okay?
It’s all true. As long as you understand how to be aware and learn from failure, like, that’s the key part, right? Otherwise, failure is actually terrible. Because, right, I fail every day and never learn from it, then you’re not doing yourself any good.
I like that. I like that a lot.
Todd, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. And we had all sorts of technical difficulties on you know, all of our ends and I’m so sorry for that. But
No, I think it was all on my end.
Thank you, this has been fantastic.
Yeah, it’s so it’s, you know, it’s a pleasure to be able to talk to you and especially, you know, someone who knows kind of the you know, the history The way you do I appreciate it. And one last thing I’ll say before, you know, thank you for free kind of wrapping this up here but the website that we built when I started had this incredible feature. And I don’t know if you remember this and this, I promised that we would get to this.
So here we are. Whisk, I think it was called the loop center. I can’t remember exactly what it was called. But it was a section of the website, where you would go tell me if I’m ringing any bells here, this is my memory. And because when I started, I was making zero money and had zero shows. So what I would do is I built this entire show where I was doing at my side, I was looping, which is now a very, very common thing to do.
Sure, but I was at in 2006, there were only a few people doing it. So I would loop I would sing something and it would like playback and create a beat. And then I would play guitar and it would create a loop and then play bass and whatever we create, we virtually recreated that on our website, my first website where you would go and it was a picture of me. And like, all my stuff was like laid out. Is this ringing any bells?
I have a vague memory of this. Now as you’re talking about it.
Ok, I’m going to keep going. So yeah. And then on the flow of these pedals and stuff, like there’s just a photo, right, and you would click something like my guitar, and it would play a loop, right. And then you would click another thing, like, the bass or our percussion, and it would, it would loop along with it, and you could build, you could like build a song on this section of my website, which I have never seen since like, that was so ahead and so cool.
And we kept it for a really, really long time. Like, it was cool, man. And I thought about that, like, even before I think you’ve reached out recently, I was like, that was so ridiculously cool.
Like, that’s so you know, it’s so funny because when I reached out, like you mentioned earlier that you have like, you never forget people and you remember everyone in the journey I’m the same way like I my memory for those kinds of things is great. So I remembered everything like I went back to the emails to look and stuff so I was just All like, but I remembered, you know, just that because that was also the beginning of like, I just got out of college beginning of like my professional career, the real world. So I remember all of that.
And when I was reaching out to you and I thought, God, I would love to talk to Tom on the podcast. I thought, you know, I wrote the email I made sure I’m like, are I’ll try and let him like, you know, be like, Okay, I’m Tim. And this is what I know you and I’m gonna assume like, he probably he’s done a lot in the last 15 years. He’s not gonna remember me. It made me so you know, it was so nice to hear you earlier say like, Oh, no, I remember all that.
Because I honestly not that, you know, you’re not a bad person. I just thought you you’ve come so far in your career, your journey, and I thought, Oh, my God, you know, you’re not going to remember that web developer guy that worked with you from, you know, however many years ago, so thanks for remembering me.
Tim, thank you so much. And when you’re building a fire man, anyone who comes along and like helps put some kindling on that fire or gas you remember it? I do so. Yeah, like you.
Yes. Thank you so much. This has been so awesome. I cannot wait to share this with the world.
Really looking forward, man. Thank you again for having me.