Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spotty Blog Interview: Meet Trevor Strong!


Trevor Strong is a Canadian musician, writer, and educator. His career began in 1991 with The Arrogant Worms. Since then he's done about a bajillion other things. He writes his own music, for which there is now a way for fans to support his output directly.  He's given a talk for Tedx on the role of humor in education. If you go to his website you'll see a variety of educational programs from songwriting classes to business for creatives.

He's written several books. Recently, I read Edgar Gets Going, a novel about a bass player who has fallen from the glory of a successful 80s hair band and finds himself struggling to remain in the creative life. He ends up working as a musician in a children's act, and the story gets more complex from there. It's a story that is hilarious, but it is hilarious with a lot of heart. I've said this on other places on the interwebs, and I'll say it again, everyone who has worked in entertainment should read this book.


Q) You've had a career in music since the 1990s with the Arrogant Worms. How did changes wrought on the music industry by the advent of internet distribution impact your career? What's different for you?

A) Wow! A business question right off the bat! You know, we've been pretty good at riding the whole thing out. We've had both good things and bad things happen to us because of the internet. The good thing is that fans put up our songs on Youtube and lots of people saw them there. Since we're self-(mis)managed we don't really do any marketing, so having another way that people can discover us is great. The bad thing is we got no money from this and people stopped buying albums, so we made less money. Now, things are changing again and it's now possible to get money from streaming (not always easy, though) so I think we might make up for a bit of that. I personally like the control the internet gives creative people, I just wish the money stuff would get sorted out.

Q) Union suits or union representatives?

A) Not sure exactly what that means. I very seldom wear suits. Or representatives.

Q) As a writer, musician and an educator, is there anything else that you'd like to try that you haven't yet?

A) I think I might have enough going on already... I'd just like someone to do all the paperwork so I could do more of it. Although I'd love to have super-powers or be forced to become Santa Clause one year to save Christmas.

Q) Hockey or Hawking?

A) I am a bad Canadian. I'm not really into hockey. Don't get it. First off, I hate the cold, and then I really don't understand the whole punching each other in the face part. I would certainly rather have a hawk and a cool glove. Or Stephen Hawking, for that matter. 

Q) Humor seems to be an important component for you in writing, education and music. Has this always been the case or was it something that developed over time? How important is it for you in the day to day? Also, have you ever been in the position where someone demands you to "Be funny! Right now!" and you haven't been able to? If so, how do you cope with that?

A) Humo(u)r is generally my first reaction to almost anything, although I can usually tell when that is perhaps not appropriate. The problem is that most of my humour is reactive. I don't tell jokes, I can't remember them. So, when people ask me to be funny I can't. I have nothing to be funny about. Although I might be making a sarcastic comment in my mind. I usually just smile and look busy when that happens.

Q) Pants or pantaloons?

A) Pants is a funny word but pantaloons is funnier. It is like the love-child of pants and balloons. Pantaloons! 

Q) How does the creative process differ for you between songwriting, creative writing and collaboration? (Aside from the obvious differences due to audio/visual versus textual mediums.)

A) That's a big question!
Well, the first two books I wrote were basically short story/gag books. So they were sort of like songs without the music part, because they were in short, self-contained units. Still it took a long time. Now, writing a novel, is a whole different story. I had a really hard time making the novel long enough because, since I'm used to writing stories in about twenty lines, I tend to leave things like description completely out. With a song, there's always a chance that you can start and finish it in one sitting. That doesn't happen with a novel... unless you can sit for a very long time. After writing the novel I understood why so many novelists seem to go a little cooky.

In most of my collaborations different people do different things (like the song videos I'm making) and I really like that because everyone gets to do what they're best at and getting out of my own mind is a good thing every now and then.

Q) How was your love of banana bread born?

A) I don't have a love of banana bread, per se, I more love what banana bread can do for me. I have kids, so there are always bananas in the house. Of course, bananas seem to age quite suddenly--but here is the wonder of banana bread: it is better when you use over-ripe bananas. So nothing wasted! Also I can make it in about 5 minutes and then use it in school lunches all week. Anything that helps with school lunches is miraculous. I have a feeling that when I go to hell I will be forced to make school lunches for all eternity.

Q) Recently, you've joined Patreon, which is a way for people who love what you do to support that directly and be part of the process of creation. What prompted you to try this? Would you recommend it for other creators? What has that experience been like for you?

A) Thank you for bringing this up! Yes, Patreon is a great platform and it gives the creator and supporter a much more direct relationship. I think it depends on the creator whether this would work for them--it seems to lend itself better to creations that are made in smaller chunks, like songs. And for supporters, they get the knowledge that their money is going directly to help the creator be able to carve out some time to create. It is a wonderful feeling that anyone reading this can enjoy simply by supporting me. 

Q) In terms of writing, what's the next project?

A) I've just finished a kids book which I'm going to start sending off soon. Believe it or not, I've been working on a financial planning book (with a financial planner, of course) and I also want to write a book about humour, and then I'd like to write another silly book too. I just need to find more time. Or become a vampire or something. You're not a vampire, are you?

Q) Can I have some banana bread?

A) No, I told you, it's for the kids' lunches.

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