Truth, Records, and Goodwill (Brendon Greene, musician and record label owner interview)

We already know that vinyl records have seen a resurgence in recent years. Likely because collecting music is still an incredible enjoyable hobby, and even though music is even more readily accessible then it ever has been in the history of humankind, people are going to focus on specific sources of musical talent and just absorb what is within their radar. After all, it takes a lot of work to go diving for new music.

Believe me I would know. I Source the internet every week to find a new album to review, one that’s interesting, accessible and just plain entertaining to listen to. But the reality is that music taste is even more subjective then film or fine art.

So imagine being someone who manage a record label. You have to be fairly relaxed, forward thinking, and dedicated to the art in order to keep up with all of the demands. Plus if you’re a grass roots organization like Conscious Collective Entertainment you’ll also want to promote local up and comers, and hopefully maintain a community based imaged.

A musician himself, Brendon Greene has a lot say about why he has decided to have a record label – He started playing guitar 17 years ago, and began teaching guitar 14 years ago. In 2015 he also ran in the provincial and federal election for the Green Party. Immediately deciding upon the end of the campaign that he wanted to learn more about the management of artists, and production. So he incorporated Conscious Collective Entertainment. And he works for Goodwill Industries. AND has slowly been adding artists to his label. Don Bartlett (Modern Fingerstyle, Harp Guitar), Christiana Munch (Classical Fingerstyle), and a punk band called For The County.

If it’s not apparent yet, Brendon loves to teach music and he’ll do you one better. He also wants to help you get a record mixed and distributed for a realistic price too. He believes in stewardship and the value of a good mentor. I personally think he is a pillar for the community but I’ll leave that up to your discretion.

Plus, the interview has even more detail on how to get out there as a musician.

It was a a lot of fun talking with this guy about his business, he has so much passion, and a lot of great insights. I learnt a lot from him too!

I’d love it if you left a comment, and if you liked this artist interview leave one and then share it with a friend or two. Better yet, go visit Conscious Collective and Brendon on Facebook and Instagram, respectively – he’ll appreciate the visit.


And special thanks to Brendon for being bold, brave and brilliant. When it comes to passionate mentorship for burgeoning musicians, this Greene knows how to party with the best of them. It’s a new theory for 2018.


Hall of Fame (Whiplash review)

Sometimes people confuse talent with potential. Potential is aptitude not yet realized, but talent is an expression which is right in front of us. Yes, talent can be reigned in, developed, focused, nurtured, etc. But the real question of the day is, can we recognize talent when it does something a little bit left of normal.

I guess we’ll find out in today’s Theatrical Tuesday review.




Whiplash (2014)

Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang
Director: Damien Chazelle
released on blu-ray February 24, 2015
********** 10/10


IMDB: 8.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Audience Score 94%
The Guardian: ****/*****

Damien Chazelle is an American film director and screenwriter. He has currently served up only two feature-length films, but at thirty-one he is making a name for himself and about to release a movie called La La Land which I personally am very excited about. And the major reason for this is that Chazelle knows something about music that not many directors seem to be capable in pulling off. When you tie in the emotional and mental endurance needed to create art, people gravitate to that struggle and can see a story through to it’s conclusion.

Which is where Whiplash comes in, as Chazelle’s second effort, and preceded by the jazz musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, we get to see an excellent sparing match between Miles Teller and J. K. Simmons. Though this movie was technically released almost two years back now, I’m anticipating that 2016’s La La Land will have a similar rhythm to it. Pun intended.

The movie starts with the struggle of a young jazz drummer named Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) and his journey through school at a top music conservatory in New York called Shaffer Conservatory.

Infamous and tyrannical conductor Terence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons) stumbles upon Nieman practicing late at night and is eventually convinced to invite Nieman into his studio band after a few awkward interactions. But Fletcher is relentless and expects the absolute best of his students, pushing them around both verbally and physically, kicking individuals out on a whim. Nieman practices so hard that his hands start to bleed, and he even breaks up with girlfriend Nicole (Melissa Benoist) because he wants to be the very best.

At one point we sympathize with Fletcher because he shares that a former student of his recently died in a car crash, a student with tremendous potential, and who was quickly rising up. Which is foreshadowing for Niemans own car crash. In a rush to a competition due a broke down bus, Nieman rents a car, but forgets his sticks at the rental agency. He then rushes back and is t-boned by a large truck. Instead of seeking medical attention, he runs to the concert hall and attempts to play the piece, but cannot due to injury. Fletcher boots him from the stage, but not before Nieman attacks Fletcher in front of the audience.

After being dismissed from the conservatory, Nieman and his father (Paul Reiser) meet with a lawyer of the student that died in a car crash. It turns out that the young man hanged himself, and that Fletcher pushed the student to anxiety and depression. Nieman chooses to testify, if only to remain anonymous.

He later stumbles upon Fletcher performing at a jazz club, and is invited to a drink afterwards. Fletcher has been removed from his position, but he wants Nieman to be his drummer for a JVC Jazz Festival. Nieman agrees, but when he shows up to play Whiplash, Fletcher reveals that he knew Nieman testified against him, and has set him up for embarassment. Nieman walks off the stage, but then returns to the stage and starts up Caravan, bringing the rest of the band in with him, and finishes the song with a solo.

Nieman and Fletcher share a look, then work together to finish the set.

ProsThe movies asks the question, what are you willing to do in order to achieve greatness?, and rather deftly answers it. The two leads share an amazing set of performances and obliterate the typical student-mentor relationship trope.

Cons: We never really get to enjoy any music, which is ironic, given that it’s a movie about music. Also, the message is rather linear in it’s presentation, not much room for a supporting cast to move around.

Runtime1 hour 47 minutes

Points of Interest: The film was edited, shot, and submitted to the Sundance Film Festival in a period of ten weeks. Andrew Nieman is in every scene. It was adapted from a short film of the same name, J. K. Simmons plays in both.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of story before. If we traded a studio band for uniforms and the drum kit for a football, boom we’d be in a sports movie. Or conversely, we could trade the studio band for a war zone and the drum kit for a rifle and all of a sudden it’s a war epic. But to spit some cheese, the song remains the same. Chazelle has done something here, something authentic, pulling from his own experience, and showing us what happens when someone really wants greatness at any cost.

Whiplash is a rare film that manages to be about music and overly romantic about music. It is considerate enough to share the screen time between it’s human characters and it’s musical ones. It should be obvious that Andrew Nieman has talent from the outset of the movie, but his drive to demonstrate his skill at any cost is what makes this a great case study of expression.

But that’s just a theory.


Road Map (Find Your Mentors)

One of my favourite things about film is the great associations films can have with words and ideas (spoiler alert for today’s wisdom). For instance, whenever I think of taking a road trip, I can’t help but remember 2000’s road sex comedy movie of the same name, Road Trip.

That movie is chock full of references for me.

For instance, I can’t help but think of Austin whenever someone mentions Boston and vice-versa. Clip conveniently included if you don’t get the reference.

On the other side of levity, the consequences of absorbing this content meant that I had weird ideas about what a new adult should be and could be, and as I mentioned in a previous post, it created some strange ideas of what post-secondary (and in the larger picture, adult life) would probably be like. But that doesn’t mean Road Trip has no redeeming qualities. In fact, the eccentricities of it’s lead characters demonstrate reality far better than most college themed films, that and an amazing idea tucked into pop culture sensibilities towards the end of the film, is super important.

Specifically, the scene where one of the characters is able to teach the lead character Josh the ancient philosophy course material needed to pass a class and stay in university. This is achieved by using analogies of wrestlers from WWF (WWFE or WWE as it is known today).

Rubin: What class is that again?
Rubin: Ancient philosophy.
Rubin: Well I can teach you ancient philosophy in 46 hours.
Josh: Really?
Rubin: Yeah, I can teach Japanese to a monkey in 46 hours. The key is just finding a way to relate to the material. Like, OK… You like pro wrestling, don’t you?
Josh: Who doesn’t?
Rubin: OK. Socrates was like the Vince McMahon of philosophy. He started it all.

This might seem dumb on the surface, and just feel-good filler but it is incredibly profound – perception is reality. What this means is that if you believe something, no matter how untrue, you won’t be able to get past it unless you come at it from a place of understanding. Rubin was able to “teach” Josh about philosophy using a subject he loved and cared about.

That’s the first step to growth, moving forward in a way that you can understand, which means making the content relational to your current interests and understanding and engaging with enthusiasm.

On that note, I want to continue the self-improvement concepts we’ve been examining, by focusing on a fairly important point, one which I’ve avoided in previous weeks because I wanted you to be as prepared as possible for the inevitable. How sneaky of me.

Well here it is – the realization that change is difficult and sometimes feels impossible, is only one step of many steps you need to take in order to stick with whatever creative purpose you have in your heart. You have to do this in order to make something and offer it up to the world.

I struggle with it myself, dear readers.

But that’s why it’s so rewarding once you begin to see results, because these are hard won battles, and a lot of the time they are with old beliefs you didn’t realize you were nursing so hard. That means taking baby steps and slowly changing a little by little, and to always keep in mind the power of reinvention.

By moving forward and focusing on what is in front of you, you can begin to dissolve the past. But guess what? You can’t just figure it out on your own, that’s how you got to where you are right now. By simply sleep-walking through life and absorbing things in your dream state. And we all know how fucked up dream state can be.

And then you aren’t making your art, you’re struggling to figure out what it’s in front of you.

Which means you need to find a teacher; this can be accomplished with a person who already has done what you want to (quickest, most emotional), through resources like books and films (longer, how you get 3/4 of the info), and lastly through a change in perception. Ever heard the expression, when the student is ready, the teacher appears? That’s largely a mental thing, because everything around you is capable of demonstrating the ideology and passion you are striving for. Rocks can represent hidden art for instance, or tree roots can represent learned knowledge.

So please find a mentor. This can be challenging for sure, as covered already, but  there are levels of mentorship and you will need all of them.

But don’t take my word for it, read this article to get yourself started.

And that’s all the theories I have for today, my friends. Please leave some comments below, subscribe to the blog if you haven’t already, and I’ll see you tomorrow with something timely.