Joman Interview with Stacy Walsh

Originally posted November 8th, 2018.

Tell me all about the music you are making and the music you want to make in the future, as well as the music that was sadly stolen from you when your first laptop was lifted off you.

Right now, I’m focusing on meshing the different club genres that have inspired me over the years into something unique that I enjoy listening to, while also being able to fit what I’m making into DJ sets.  With my most recent commercial release, “Outta the Dark,” I feel I accomplished that.  The synth lead and drums, while obviously Electro, were actually largely inspired by some of the newer House artists, like Disclosure and Kyle Watson.  The plucks are obviously heavily deadmau5 (who, in my opinion, mostly derived his signature pluck sound from prior Trance artists like Paul Van Dyk), and while the lyrics (which I sang) have a modern EDM vibe, the lyrics are anything but light and fluffy.  Incorporating darker lyrics into more palatable mainstream “EDM” sounding tracks is something I intend to experiment with more in the future.

Before getting back into music suitable for clubs and raves, I put out my second full-length album, “Aperture” in July of 2017.  It’s easily the most eclectic thing I’ve ever done, because I collaborated with not only familiar faces (er, voices) like Lea Luna, but also with some killer guitar players, like my friends Jimmy Bartlett (AKA Blendrix), Suleiman Omar, and Adam Schnitzmeier (who opted to be credited as “Jazzman”).  I was listening to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” quite a bit at that time, so I definitely emulated that experimental Rock sound on certain tracks, like “Stay” (which I wrote in 12-bar Blues format) and “Jekyll and Hyde” (which closes with an excellent solo by“Jazzman”).

As far as the computer that was stolen from me, bear in mind that this was quite some time ago.  It was a machine I’d built myself, mostly for music and gaming. I’d estimate that this happened around 2007, back when everybody was still using Myspace.  I never found out who did it, and in hindsight, I blame myself for being blindly trusting of the people that I welcomed into my life at that time.  A lot of them, tragically, went on to die of drug overdoses.  Honestly, having that computer stolen was a blessing in disguise, because I was taking a lot of teenage angst and rage out in the songs that I was writing, some of which were not even remotely verbally appropriate – I mean, it was stuff that could have ended my career before it even began. Some things happen for a reason.

In listening to the tracks you have on Soundcloud and Beatport, I hear a very heavy Trance influence. What made you decide to mess with the Dubstep sound also?

My friend Logan Luckey first introduced me to Dubstep quite a few years before it broke into the mainstream; artists like Meat Beat Manifesto pioneered the genre well before Skrillex was topping the charts.  Logan and I would hang out in his apartment, smoking weed, listening to records and emulating the wobbles we were hearing in Reason.  Mind you, this was before there was a Youtube tutorial for basically everything, so – much like my years writing music well before this – we had to emulate what we were hearing through experimentation.

Excellent observation with the Trance influence, though; I was listening to –and writing – Trance well before I experimented with any other genres.  BT’s “Movement in Still Life” was the album that really kicked off my foray into the world of music making.  From there, I listened to a lot of Paul Van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, ATB, etc. Admittedly, I was also a big fan of a lot of the Pop-Trance that was popular in the ’90s, like Alice Deejay, ATC and DJ Sammy.  Really, anything that was electronic and expressive was my bread and butter.  I went through a heavy Prodigy phase, a heavy Moby phase, a heavy Chemical Brothers phase, and so on.

But I digress; truth be told, I didn’t take Dubstep very seriously until I’d made a few joke tracks – like Daymanstep – and got a big reaction.  When that track went viral virtually overnight, I realized I have a knack for the genre.

Was it easy for you to add the Dubstep elements to your overall sound, or was it a tough one to master?

I wouldn’t even go so far as to say I’ve “mastered” Dubstep.  Sure, I’ve watched a whole lot of Massive and Serum tutorials – and I’ve started experimenting with another amazing plugin by the name of Cyclop by Sugarbytes – but I’m not really the type to say that I’ve “mastered” anything, because new styles are constantly emerging, and there are a million or more people at any given time trying things that nobody has done before. I think making electronic music is a never-ending work-in-progress.

Actually, I take that last part back about not having mastered anything; I’ve definitely mastered FL Studio.  Given that I’ve been using it since I was at least 13, it’s not only like a second language to me; it’s like an extension of me. When my computer is out of commission, I feel like I’m missing a limb.

You do it very well… like, you totally get the way the sounds are supposed to go together.  Was that a natural progression for you?

The one thing that has come naturally to me is the artistic construction of music; melody, harmony and chord progression.  Even in the early days, riffs seemed to just fall out of my head. But the technical aspects, like pitch, compression, equalization, song structure, etc. had to be learned.  Some of it was learned simply by comparing my work to the work of other artists I was into – I went through an Indie Dance/Nu Disco phase that I attribute to my knowledge of mastering, because I was doing a lot of opening other artists’ waveforms, zooming in on them and just visually assessing how the artists achieved their sound – but a great deal of my technical knowledge has come from self-education and professional education. I took a Digital Filmmaking and Video Production course at the Art Institute of Colorado in about 2007 (around the time my computer was stolen) and went on to receive full audio engineering training through Colorado Sound Recording Studios in 2011.

You said in an interview, “My lifelong love of electronic music is rivaled only by my love of Oldies and Classic Rock. I grew up with my dad playing The Beach Boys and The Doors and my mom playing Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac in the car every day. I’ve always been passionate about the music I like, regardless of what anybody else was listening to.” Do you have any plans to make any remixes in tribute to the Oldies and Classic Rock influences of your youth?

I already have, and I definitely intend to do more – in fact, some of the coolest things I’ve gotten to do and biggest accolades I’ve received as an artist have been the result of bootleg remixes.  Daymanstep aside – which went on to be retweeted by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia cast member Glenn Howerton and posted on their official social media accounts – I also remixed REM’s, “The One I Love,” which ended up on the band’s official blog, Facebook and Twitter.  Lastly, but certain not least, I remixed Animotion’s “Obsession” from the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soundtrack (one of my favorite video games ever because of the 80’s nostalgia) and Rockstar Games posted it on their blog, which resulted in Animotion frontman Bill Wadhams discovering me and asking me to collaborate on their new album, “Raise Your Expectations.”  I ended up producing three of the tracks on the album, including the title track, and even got to perform “Obsession” with them to a packed audience at Fiddler’s Green for the Lost 80’s Live tour!  It’s because of these experiences that I don’t bother letting copyright infringement stop me from remixing something if I want to remix it.  Right now, I’m remixing Monty Python, and eventually, I want to get around to remixing Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”

Ok, now I want to steer a bit in the direction of mental illness and bullying. They are both huge in my world, and upon reading a few of your recent posts, they are big in your world as well. Safe to say that?

Short answer: yes.  However, I feel that this is an incredibly complex topic that can’t necessarily be boiled down to just “mental illness.”  I think trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder play larger roles in our society than a lot of people are willing to acknowledge, or they just attribute it solely to people who have fought in wars or whatever.  There are people walking around in a state of post-traumatic stress who have never seen a day of combat; maybe they were abused growing up (emotionally or physically).  Maybe they were raped.  Maybe it was by someone they trusted.  Maybe they’ve never told anyone.  Maybe they never will.  Of course, they should, but that’s no easy task for a number of reasons – one of which being that people like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford now receive a constant barrage of death threats for stepping up to the plate with their stories.

My opposition to the current state of affairs is definitely partly rooted in personal experience – I was a victim of constant, relentless bullying growing up, and I never really understood why in the early years.  Maybe it was because I was small, maybe it was because I was effeminate, I honestly don’t know, but what I do know is that I grew up right before using derogatory terms like “faggot” and kids getting violently physical with each other had become socially unacceptable.  There are things I envy about kids growing up now – like the fact that there are whole departments devoted to LGBTQ kids in schools all across America – but I’m also glad I didn’t have to grow up now, because the bullying that does take place is far more sinister in its own way.  These kids will vilify each other on social media, doxx each other, go out of their way to ruin reputations forever…sometimes, I think it would have been easier for me nowadays, and other times, I think I wouldn’t have survived.  Just depends on the day, I guess.

It is worth noting, since we’re getting super personal and everything, that I am bisexual/pansexual, and it was a realization I came to in middle school, as I went through puberty.  I’ll skip a lot of the details, but I tried to come out to my best friends, and it resulted in the dissemination of a lot of those relationships, and, of course, more relentless bullying as news spread around my school.

I’d like to end my response to this question with the following: anyone who says sexuality is a “choice” is a fucking idiot.  That scared, scrawny kid that I was back in grade school would have done anything to be a stereotypical, butch, “normal” kid who didn’t get called a faggot constantly, shoved into lockers and beaten up on a regular basis.  I remember one time, I was on the bus, and some kid punched me as hard as he could in the face, for no reason.  I spent the rest of the bus ride with my hands over my face, blood pouring out of my nose, crying.  Nobody said anything to me, or to the kid who punched me.  The bus driver didn’t do anything.  It was like I didn’t exist, and I didn’t matter.  That sort of thing was not uncommon to me.  So, yeah.  “Mental illness,” “trauma,” or simply growing up in a shitty society and being dealt shitty hands is very pertinent to me.  

I will say that I have also been incredibly fortunate.  I’m a white male, I’ve never been homeless, I’m not disfigured or handicapped, etc. I’m not a religious person, but I do try to “count my blessings,” so to speak.

 Can we talk about this post?

November 28 at 7:39 AM · 

“I’m not strong enough to deal with my trauma anymore. It goes all the way back to being shoved into lockers and called a faggot a thousand times a day in grade school. Getting dragged out of class in handcuffs because somebody lied and said I had a gun. Failing my driver’s test and getting laughed at by the entire class and storming out in tears. Having my car vandalized on a regular basis in high school. Having the shit beat out of me all the time. Getting sent to the office every time somebody fucked with me. Becoming a cutter. Getting sent to the hospital for it. Getting told by a nurse to just grow up. Having my mom leave and literally blame it on me. Turning to drugs and alcohol. Having my computer and years
of music stolen by my so-called “friends.” Never finding out who did it. Watching them die left and right from meth and heroin. And that was all just before I was 20.

Flash forward… seems like I start to figure shit out a little bit… still drinking too much… but I’m doing better with my music than I ever thought I would, even after fucking up my relationship with the first label that ever signed me. Playing Red Rocks andshit. Too permanently depressed to appreciate any of it, but nevertheless crushing it. Then my friend Digger kills himself in 2015. Completely derails myprogress. Amplifies my depression. Causes me to lash out at people. Friendships fall apart. Relationship falls apart. Then I watch the whole country embrace racist populism. So now I get to contend with living somewhere that feels no empathy or compassion for anyone. I won’t stand for it. Costs me most of my fans, a ton of my friends. Makes me wonder what the fuck the point of anything has been. I lose my shit on Facebook. People like John Cameron make a mockery of it, even after me telling them they’re driving me into an early grave.Watching people side with him and others who have wronged me when I’m practically ready to put a barrel in my mouth. Coming to the realization that at the end of the day, no one really fucking cares until you’re dead.

My life has been a string of near-misses, disappointments, betrayals, abuses,traumas, hurt. I haven’t been OK for years. I am living proof that this shitruins you as an adult. I’m 31 and I’ve lost years of my life to not feeling like I can get up. I’ve spent more time contemplating suicide than not contemplating it. I’ve tried the coward’s way… smoking 3 packs a day,drinking an incomprehensible amount of alcohol and just hoping I don’t wake up… but I’m getting closer to doing the real thing than I’ve ever been. One drunken night with a box cutter and tears streaming down my face is all it would take.

So fine. I’ll submit to fucking therapy, despite that I was laughed at by the cops the last time I was put on a psychiatric hold. Literally, I was drunk,sobbing, covered in blood, and they laughed at me. But what choice do I have but to throw myself to the system for the thousandth time? I’ll put all my faith in some professional, even though I’ve seen dozens and they all act like I’m either the worst case they’ve ever seen, or just a fucking paycheck. Fine. I’ll find the best fucking therapist in the state and I’ll go 5 days a week ifI have to. I’m tired of wasting my adult life in my fucking misery.

“Liberalism” isn’t a “mental illness,” “liberalism” is living a life of trauma in a sociopathic country that doesn’t give a flying fuck about human life the second after it leaves the womb. And people wonder why we have shootings every Goddamn day.

And no, I’m not a fucking shooter, you judgmental assholes. I’m a danger to one person: myself.

Now it’s time for me to get help. I can’t fake it anymore. Wish me luck.”

“Liberalism” isn’t a“mental illness;” “liberalism” is living a life of trauma in a sociopathic country that doesn’t give a flying fuck about human life the second after it leaves the womb. And people wonder why we have shootings every Goddamn day.”  

On this section, I just want to say that I agree 99%, while ‘Liberalism’ isn’t a ’mental illness,’ PTSD, anxiety, and depression are.  Most of America suffers from at least one, if not all of those and more.  Do you think that maybe you fall into any of those categories at all?  (I know I do, more than I would like to admit)

Truth be told, when you first included this post in the list of things you wanted to discuss during this interview, I was apprehensive about it, as it was written in a very weak and vulnerable moment.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how important it is that we discuss these things.  Allie shared an Instagram post by Pete Davidson that, honestly, gave me the courage to discuss this.  So, here goes.

Not long ago, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which is characterized in part as having a very difficult time trusting people, reading people’s intentions, or having a healthy, realistic perception of oneself.  It manifests in reclusion – social isolation, social awkwardness and anxiety, etc. Because I had a propensity to lash out at people, or act erratically, or fall into deep pits of depression, it was frequently misdiagnosed as something else, like Bipolar Disorder, or Chronic Depressive Disorder, or ADD/ADHD.  As a result, I was prescribed everything from Depakote to Lithium to Lamictal to Adderall to Zoloft… basically, if it’s been prescribed to treat some sort of mental disorder, you name it, I’ve been on it.  And I think this is pertinent to one of the few topics that I actually agree with “conservatives” on: the topic over-diagnosis and over-prescription.  Through my experience, I absolutely believe that doctors (who, it seems, are more-often-than-not quick to please pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists) need to stop throwing diagnoses around willy-nilly and giving out drugs like they’re candy.  It has not only contributed to the opioid crisis, but it has also helped cultivate a society of people who are quicker to take a pill than to process an emotion.  I think it has had greater effects than can even be verbalized sometimes. I can’t remember where I read it, but I remember reading something from some writer or doctor or whoever, who said, “we’re medicating our future Jim Carreys and Andy Kauffmans” or something along those lines.  And I think that’s absolutely true.  Which is ironic, because people talk about how “loose” and “immoral” our society is now, but I actually think it’s the opposite in some ways.  Right before the turn of the millennium, we used to let the weirdos shine in their own right.  Now, we just prescribe them Ritalin and send them back to school.

I’d like to add that I believe the entertainment industry has played a role in this smothering of self-expression as well. I can’t help but think of that old adage about the “chicken or the egg;”it’s hard to say whether the entertainment industry was shaped by this numbing of society, or has helped facilitate it, or both (personally, I think it’s both), but all I know is that the people “in charge” need to not be in charge anymore.  Whereas they used to seek out blatant talent, now they often just sign that which is the most easily exploitable.  Giving these face-tattooed kids who are so high on Xanax that they can barely stand record deals is, to me, abhorrent.  You can’t distinguish what they’re saying, they don’t even produce the records, it’s hard to say if they even write the inane lyrics that are falling out of their drooling faces… it’s a joke.  And the fact that there are(presumably) people that actually buy this stuff says to me that the problem is cyclical.  It comes from all levels.  It comes from the undervaluing and underfunding of education.  It comes from the glorification and over-prescription of narcotics.  It comes from the failed war on drugs, and the criminalization of drug addicts over the rehabilitation.  It comes from the comments section of the Denver Post, where “good Christians” respond to articles about safe injection sites by saying that these people should just be left to die in the streets.

We can sit here and talk about how “sick” I am, and maybe I am… but if there’s one thing I am damn fucking certain of, it is that the 21st century has been consumed by a fucking cultural pestilence.

Are you the kind of person that talking about the issues helps you or do you tend to lean more to the idea of “fake it ‘til you make it” in regard to the inner demons and other inner serious thoughts and feelings?

Talking definitely helps me, and I think it helps everyone.  We should all be talking about these issues more. Unfortunately, as the world embraces right-wing Nationalism and Populism, I don’t see any of these issues getting better.  Outside of a therapist’s office (and I’d like to touch on that in just a minute, too), emotions are beginning to be treated as “weak.”  Suffering makes one a “snowflake.”  Crying makes one a “crybaby.”  And you know what?  Maybe – just maybe, to a certain degree, that’s true.  If you’re throwing a tantrum because you have to wait in line for a new iPhone, then you’re a fucking baby, and you need to grow the fuck up. But the way the right has shifted their focus to “political correctness” and “telling it like it is,” all they’re doing is engineering and normalizing culture of bullying, that is going to see more and more people taking their own lives.

In regard to “therapy,” “psychology,” etc. That’s a whole Pandora’s box that I could write a damn book about, so I’ll try to keep it short.  The last therapist I saw was an obvious cash-grab. He wanted to keep me sick to keep the money raking in.  That’s healthcare in America.  And I fucking hate it.  And the only people who don’t fucking hate healthcare in America are the privileged few who haven’t had to experience its sociopathic mediocrity firsthand.

How has dealing with these issues, as well as losing people to drugs and other BS along the way, changed you?

The things I’ve dealt with have turned me into an asshole.  But unlike some assholes, it’s all still rooted in compassion and empathy for those less fortunate than me.  I put my money where my mouth is, and I donate to charity every chance I get.  I am fed the fuck up with the way the world is, but instead of just bitching about it, I’m trying to “live the change that I want to see.”  I’m that guy who will not only pick up your trash off the beach, but will tell you to go fuck yourself for leaving it there in the first place.  And you know what?  I might need help.  Everybody needs help sometimes.  But if the worst thing that anybody can say about me is that I flip off people in gas-guzzling trucks with Trump bumper stickers,  I’m 100% OK with that.  I never claimed to be the “tolerant” left.  Fuck tolerating the intolerant.  Without damaged, cynical, fucked up people like me, the “right” would have a field day with the world.  And they still might.  But fuck if I’m going to take their shit lying down.

As a parent (stepparent), how do you express and explain the way the world as a whole seems to treat these issues and people with them?

First of all, I just have to say that meeting my stepson and his mother was the single greatest thing that ever happened to me.  Without them, I would belittle more than a cold-hearted curmudgeon. All my stepson has to do to pierce through my layers of shit is be in the same room with me.  His mother is my best friend and keeps me grounded by deflating my head a little bit when it gets too big.  No matter where this crazy world leads me or them, I will always consider them my family.

If you’re asking how I communicate about my world and the greater world with my stepson, it’s pretty simple.  He is autistic, and was recently diagnosed with type-1 diabetes, so he already has some decks stacked against him in this life, but at the same time, I don’t feel like I’m ever going to have to worry about what kind of a person he is.  He is the single sweetest, most sensitive and loving person I have ever met in my entire life.  But we are both, I guess you could say, “neuro-atypical.”  Therefore, we will always have a special kinship. Sometimes, he gets incredibly frustrated with his diabetes and the fact that he has to take insulin.  When this happens, I remind him that we all have to take medicine for things – sometimes, when I’m having a really hard time, I tell him that I have to take the medicine for my brain, so it can do its job, just like he has to take insulin, so his body can do its job.  And when he confides in me about his feelings – in this case, bullying and things of that nature – he not only knows that he can talk to his parents about it, and not worry about being judged, but that at least one of them deeply, truly, for lack of a better word, understands.

With the way the world is going, one thing matters to me in regards to my stepson, and it’s the type of person that he is.  I don’t give a shit if he’s a star quarterback or grows up to be a fucking millionaire entrepreneur or any of that other prideful, self-indulgent Capitalist bullshit. All I care about is that he is a good person.  And I know we can’t take full credit for it, but I will say that I pat his mother and myself on the back for that.  Because in that respect, we have succeeded at our job with flying colors.

They save my life every day.