I Would Ask You Not To Leave Me
Inside/Out Virtual Tour with AL1CE - Chapter III
I’m in a writing kind of mood tonight which can’t really be explained - so I won’t. I have “What I Was and More” by March to May playing in the background as I sit here with a great deal of thoughts and emotions going through my psyche. It’s a beautiful album by the way.
This third leg of the virtual tour has been (as I predicted in an earlier blog post about Chapter II) uniquely different from the other two legs or the summer interim shows. What I had booked at the beginning ended up slightly different in the end - much like a screenplay eventually becoming a film.
I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to participate in Chapter III. There was a very real possibility I was going to have to sit this one out. Sasha knows the most about this as she and I were communicating about the details prior to the kick off on October 8th. Fortunately, things worked out in my favor (initially) so I could say yes to the entire set of tour dates.
During the course of the tour things changed on my end more than once which created very stressful issues (and still do actually). Sometimes when I’m stressed I delve into my work. And that was partially true with the days from the 8th through the 21st (and beyond, really) of October. I would normally not take on a few additional Eclectic Arts virtual interviews during such a crazy time but I did. I’m always torn when there are new opportunities and very little time to schedule them. I push myself to accommodate things often at the detriment of my own well being. I know better. But, depending on my mood, I’ll usually say, “fuck it”, and just do it anyway.
I don’t know where this inner drive to push myself comes from. It’s certainly helped me achieve certain goals along the way with both Seattle Next Door and Eclectic Arts. But it’s also been a bugaboo that creates more stress in my life. I know what you may be thinking - if it creates stress, just say no thank you to the opportunity. Easier said than done. And it’s not the fear of missing out as much as it is more of a positive spin - here’s an opportunity to virtually interview someone that I am genuinely interested in speaking with. Pre-pandemic some of these opportunities would be much, much harder to come by. So, I push myself.
There is definitely a risk reward going on as well. Rarely, if ever, do I end a virtual interview and then think to myself, “well that was a waste of my time”. There’s a positive reinforcement of “see this is why I push myself to accommodate more than I should have on my plate”. I usually feel really good after virtual interviews. Some - like the one I conducted with The Soapgirls - even though it was political and intense at times - it had awesome residual effects on me. As I type this it sounds a bit like a drug addict needing their fix. I don’t know - I’ll probably never get a handle on this mentality of mine.
Overall, I’m pleased with the virtual interviews on the Chapter III leg of the tour. It feels good to know where I started and where I am now with my interview skills. All of them weren’t home-runs but they were solid.
I truly enjoy learning about people - both those that I know and those that I don’t. Being a naturally curious person has benefited me greatly when it comes to finding guests to book, the pre-show chats, and of course the virtual interviews themselves.
One thing that has not changed has been my mission statement if you will that I adopted for the guests on Chapter I of the tour. I wanted artists from all artistic areas. I also wanted BIPOC and LGBTQ+. In addition I wanted local, national, and international guests. And I wanted female representation where possible.
But at the heart of it all - I wanted artists that shared something similar to AL1CE. The community of like minded artists, creatives, that are also equally good people. We are truly a force and that is something I’ve learned during this time on the virtual tour with AL1CE. We are everywhere. You just have to take the time to find them, to connect with them, and maintain that ever expanding network.
It pleases me to no end that I now know Nicole Bouffard. And Clint Carney. And Kasmira. And Praheme. And Max. You get the idea.
And vice versa. The guests I’ve interviewed now know AL1CE. They are now a part of the extended AL1CE collective in my eyes. If that’s through me as a conduit or just directly between themselves and AL1CE, that is a wonderful thing.
And the fan base. Goodness. I am so appreciative of the support from all of the fans that have taken the time to check out my virtual interviews with AL1CE and especially on my own Eclectic Arts channels. I wasn’t necessarily expecting the support to travel from AL1CE to EA when I fumbled around on my own back in August. But it did. It’s like seeing old friends. That network has now grown exponentially as well. Thank you very much.
So where does this leave me tonight? My thoughts are drifting to something Chye-ling Huang said to me during a pre-show. She came on before Hayden Weal’s virtual interview (this was the second interview of Chapter III - from New Zealand - they are partners if you didn’t know). She wanted to say hi (since we had also done a separate virtual interview and one Fun Table Session together earlier). But more importantly -
She told me that after our “chat” as she put it - she was so inspired by my enthusiasm for her and Cole Jenkins’, “Life Is Easy” webseries, that she went and wrote the treatment for the second season. She said she really thought they were done with the show. She wasn’t considering a second season but after being interviewed by me - she thought - wow - maybe there is another season to explore. How cool is that? I was so touched I almost shed a tear right then and there. True story.
Those few moments fuelled me for the next day or two in such a positive way. And I told her as much afterward in an email. One of the sweetest and most unexpected things ever said to me as an interviewer and just as a fellow creative person.
I think back to the virtual interviews with Steve, Scott, and Gordon. The fact that I got information from Gordon that his bandmates didn’t even know was such high praise to me as an interviewer. It was a pleasure chatting one on one with all three of them. Such gifted artists and people. It filled my heart with joy virtually interviewing them as individuals.
I’m looking forward to doing the same format (3 of 5 questions and 30 minute segments) with Tash, Sasha, and Carl sometime before the end of the year (or into early next year). I have no information about the bands future plans - other than they are always working on something(s). With my own schedule up in the air for the time being, we’ll just play things by ear. But, it will happen at some point down the road.
Oh, and yes, the virtual interview where the tables are turned on me should be in that mix, too, I suppose.
It was also nice to finally do the virtual interview with Derek Vasoni. I completely dropped the ball on his interview initially. He was supposed to be on the Chapter II leg. By the time things were scheduled, I was 1. Overbooked 2. I decided to stop booking international guests (pre-records). The mistake was that I didn’t update Derek. So, when it came to booking this Chapter III leg - I sheepishly reached out to him, owned up to my mistake, and then gave him first priority on finding a date that worked (knowing he was in Japan). He understood and we worked from there.
Once his slot was booked, a few of the other interview slots fell into place. Hayden Weal was supposed to be shooting his next movie in New Zealand. So he could do the interview one day, then couldn’t, then could. Erika Lundahl was pretty much set to do whatever date Derek Vasconi didn’t pick. She was great that way and I really appreciated her flexibility. Jon Siren was great to add to the interview mix courtesy of AL1CE. As I’ve mentioned before, whenever the band asked me if I could accommodate a guest suggestion - I never had to question it. I already knew of Jon so it was doubly easy to say sure. Max from House Akcros was a little different. I still said yes immediately but I knew nothing about him. And quite frankly there wasn’t much out there on him when I started doing my research. But I just viewed his virtual interview as a bit of a challenge to myself. Let’s see what kind of interview skills I have in this particular situation. During the pre-show he eventually opened up and I knew once we went live, I could provide a solid virtual interview.
I’m still listening to other March to May tracks right now so that gives you an idea of how inspired I was by our short chat on Monday evening. They have produced some beautiful soulful music. It paints a picture in my head and is also quite soothing, too. I am very glad they took the time to speak with me. And for Beth to join us from 3am her time (I didn’t know she was in London when I booked them).
Tonight was the virtual interview with Rowan from OBT. I liked her and Carlos immediately when I did their interviews back in mid August. The photo that is accompanying this blog entry was taken the morning of the first round of interviews (I did two days of interviews for OBT - just a blocked out chunk of time both days - not full days). I initially was trying to get her to join a Fun Table Session but her schedule got difficult but Carlos was able to switch (I had planned for him to do one later anyway). So it all worked out. And they both knew I was trying to book them for a virtual interview on the tour together. Carlos had class but Rowan managed to make tonight work.
I enjoy interviewing artists from all walks of life, all levels and abilities. Sometimes when I reach out to local talent they are a bit surprised (when they see the other artists I’ve interviewed over the years). I never look at it that way. All artists have something to offer and I want them to tell their stories. They’re just as valuable as the “big” stars or what have you.
Do I have a point with this tour post? Not really other than this was written in one sitting which is new compared to the other tour posts I’ve done. I’m very content and satisfied with the Chapter III leg of the tour.
My lack of participation in anything else outside of my virtual interviews this go round is nothing personal. My balance is out of whack right now and I need what energy I have to get that balance back.
Sometimes I try to stop and decompress on any given evening. But more often than not I was taking care of other work commitments (mainly film reviews). Even something as small as social media, it’s always on my mental list to keep up with. Getting either the approved images to work with or finding some on my own, checking the dates and times, and then making sure I tag and hashtag the right people, words, etc. Typically it’s better to post in the mornings on week days but you’ll see I posted in the evenings - a lot. I utilized Stories better this go around. I normally don’t post on FB Stories - but started just adding the ones from IG to FB. It worked well as I could time when to share something to FB Stories to spread the promotion over a longer period than 24 hours.
The Inside/Out Virtual Tour with AL1CE overall was a major success from my point of view. The band and everyone involved (all of the artists, DJ’s, bands, performers, etc.) should feel really good about what they accomplished during some incredibly stressful times.
I know for myself, my little part as the “host”, I feel I held up my end of the deal. It wasn’t perfect but nothing ever is. Just the experience was worth it alone. From May to October - it’s been one for the books.
And who knows? Maybe there are more chapters to be written. That’s up to the members of AL1CE.
But I will say this. If there is a future opportunity where the band feels I can add something to their endeavor, whatever that may be, big or small, I will always wholeheartedly say yes - as long as I can honor the commitment to the standard I hold myself to. Even if it kills me.
Thank you everyone. I will cherish the memories of this virtual tour for the rest of my days.
Mark D. Sugiyama
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