12/20/2020 In this pandemic, our community has experienced struggle and uncertainty in some shape or form; that's a given. What is also true is that folks have been working through it - whether that's finding a brand new passion, crushing it at what they already do, or finding different ways to connect. With 2020 coming to a close - I wanted to showcase some of the talent and hard work of three people I'm absolutely so proud to know. These individuals are finding light in the storm, working their a$%&* off, and making it work. They are also just incredible human beings on their own. Period.
How did you get started? Music started really early for me. When I was 4, my dad got me a guitar for Christmas. He was an artist as well and toured parts of Europe and Russia before I was born. When I was in seventh grade I bought myself a DJ controller; the same on I have today. It started from making mixes in my bedroom, posting them on Soundcloud, making beats, and it all started from there.
What sounds are you inspired/influenced by? I love soulful music. I listen to a lot of Sly and Family Stone, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, and Marvin Gaye -its all great. I like to look for the most abstract soul records and stuff you wouldn't hear, - I like the obscurity in it. I love new music too, right now I'm listening to the new Kali Uchis, and MadeinTYO. I think what inspires me the most is when I try to go back to listen to the music that I loved before I started DJing- the music I listened to in high school. Songs I would hear and be like " I wanna make a beat like that someday." That inspires me because I get a lot of nostalgia from it and it humbles me.
How have you been keeping busy during COVID? I've been eating a lot! I started eating meat again and been slowly letting that back into my diet. I was vegetarian for awhile because of health complications and had to watch what I was eating. It's slowly coming back into my diet and I've been enjoying it. I feel great and healthy. Ive been seeing my family when I can, doing some traveling and working on a TON of music, especially with Brian. We recently went to an artist camp in Del Mar, just outside of San Diego. A group of producers and artists came through and worked together - that was amazing.
Any projects you'd like to share? I'm released a new project for myself that's been two whole years in the making - it's called Carpe Diem. It features both Brian Cade and Kasino Kam. Im excited about that. Also, one of my records that I made finally hit a million streams during quarantine. It's "Love, of Money" by Mavi. So all of that has been an amazing experience. A week after that, I got to play beats for Timbaland. TIMBALAND! He was doing twitch streams to connect with producers, and basically asked for us to send in beats to critique. I jumped on early and sent in some of my stuff. I was live during the stream and he ended up playing my music, so I heard it all. It was so cool because shouted me out and said he liked my beats. It was such a crazy and surreal experience - and not just because I was on mushrooms during the time.
As far as DJing with no shows going on, it's definitely been challenging. But as far as still trying to make dreams happen during quarantine, I don't feel like much has stopped me. Theres been so much new music I've been working on and I really feel like I have been leveling up. I'm grateful.
What motivates you to keep going during this time? I try to remember that my younger self always wanted to be where I'm at now. My younger self couldn't even imagine having a million streams with a record, or making beats at all. My younger self would be so proud. My grandmother who I lost earlier this year, would be proud too. Losing her was such a tough time and I've never lost anyone close to me. She was from the Bay Area, and was so supportive of my music and always encouraging me. She was an amazing soul. I want to keep her legacy.
How did you get started? I'm an English major and graduated form Fresno State in 2016. I always wanted to be in the field of website creation and online writing - I think it's the millennial in me. After college I landed my first internship, and 6 months in I was able to take reins of the job. From then on I taught myself how to code and run an entire website. With that knowledge I was able to start and bring my own passion projects to life.
What are you inspired/influenced by? I'm usually inspired by anybody doing anything creative online. I have a ton of friends that grind really hard and do a lot of creative things as well. Im pretty much inspired by anyone that has an idea and is willing to conversation about that idea with an open mind.
What has your experience been like in quarantine/isolation? It's been a mixture of both positive and negative, I've experienced both highs and lows. I think just being in isolation for such a long period has been the worst part. I don't mind being at home, it's just finding ways to stay moving and keeping your brain power going. After so many days it just feels rusty - sometimes I can't even form a sentence. But I've been able to spend a lot of time with myself. Ive been able to dissect each piece of me, and ask myself what I want to do with work, love and life overall. I've been able to rethink a lot of habits and thoughts that I wouldn't have pre-covid, and that's been a beautiful process.
Any projects you'd like to share? cinephilebuff.com is my film persona that I've recently started since I got my masters degree. With this project, its all about film where I write reviews and create watchlists. I started watching one movie every week - then it became one movie a day. I developed a consistency and followers - and its been really nice to hear the feedback from people saying they enjoy it. I also have a podcast called "Today, in Pop Culture." I like to do this on my free time and allow myself to post whenever I feel like - I don't put constraint on myself and it makes it more fun. That podcast that focuses on television and film within pop culture (society and the way we act). The downfall, the upswing, and the in-between. Mostly the in-between but sometimes the upswing, too! Overall, it's been really rewarding to share these niche interests and connect with others about something I'm passionate about. People will always talk trash on other peoples interests and whether they make money or not - at the end of the day we all live and we all die. At the end of the day I want to be able to say that I LOVED doing what I do.
How did you get started? At a young age, I was really interested in drawing and art. After high-school, I knew I wanted to get a job in that field. I took a graphics class from CART and started to realize that you can make income from it. I grew up skating - and I always paid attention to skateboarding brands and the culture that comes with it. I wanted to make things for these skate brands - their graphics, logos, etc. All of the other hobbies that I have all collectively tie into graphic design.
What different artists do you get inspired from? I'll start with KAWS, Murakami, Damien Hirst, Yayoi Kusama, Jeff Koons - there's a whole collective. I'm inspired by a ton of blue chip artists of the contemporary art world. Blue chip meaning these artists are in some of the biggest museums in the world. There's a movie called Cool World that I watched in high school, and that's where I got inspired to make the building type of shapes that I make. The artists Berry Jackson and Ralph Balkshi designed these twisted buildings that had a type of evil personification. That whole movie really inspired me and changed the way I look at every day things in my city and helps me create from that.
How have you been keeping busy during quarantine? Once Covid hit, I seen it as an opportunity to reset. At the time I was working at a restaurant while having a degree - and it didn't make any sense to me. I needed to do better. I quit there and decided to become a full time designer. My friends and I rented an office space and together we created a whole business plan for a creative company. Unfortunately we had issues with our landlord so we couldn't see it through. Although the space didn't last, that creative energy never left me. If anything I've learned from COVID is that this this is the exact time to make things happen for yourself, and to stop waiting for the perfect opportunity. I'm learning to build the life that I want, and thats the biggest takeaway from this pandemic.
What projects have you been working on? I'm currently designing a truck wrap for local food truck here in town - it's my first time doing something like that so that's exciting. I also just made a website - https://davidcuevas.myportfolio.com. Here you'll find all of my work and an easy system for potential clients can hire me. On top of that I've been doing a lot of different creative projects - for clients and non-clients. A lot of times, my friends have really creative ideas that they need branding for - and sometimes I take a different approach to it. I don't like the idea of not working with someone because they might not be able to afford it. If you have an idea and I can get behind it, let's trade and leverage talent. I'd like to see everybody win.
What motivates and encourages you? Mostly, my family. I'm the first one in my family to graduate, and want to set an example to my little brother. He's also a huge inspiration. I want to be well off enough to treat my family and friends and make sure everyone is taken care of.
Advice to anyone who's thinking about quitting their 9-5 to go freelance? Unless you’re willing to spend your last dollar on your business, go hungry, stay up all night working on your craft, or sacrifice going out on weekends while your friends are partying, don’t do it. It’s scary, but it’s also the most rewarding fucking thing in the world when you break out of your comfort zone and your work doesn’t feel like “work” anymore.