Lesson Learned 1 - Logan Owen “You Suck.”

Hello daydreamers and welcome to my new article series Lesson Learned. In this series I’ll be interviewing previous DQYD guests to both catch up with them about what they’re up to now, and to talk about various things they’ve struggled with in their journey and how they’ve learned and grown from them. My dream for this article series is to create a space for people to talk about the not as glamorous side of their journey’s - the struggles, the doubt, the dirt, and how they learned from these struggles. I believe that without our trials we are never forced to grow and adapt, and my hope is that by creating a space for people to share their struggles that other people facing similar adversity can find hope and direction in their own journeys. So with that being said onto our first article starring Logan Owen!

Link to Logan’s DQYD episode: https://dqydpodcast.com/episodes/2017/1/2/episode-41-with-electronic-musician-logan-owen

Hello Daydreamers, this week we’re going to be learning from musician, producer, DJ, and low-key fashion icon to be, Logan Owen. He’s one half of the musical duo Suncoast Ultra, and currently working under a new brand and vibe called LØWLIFR.

To be totally upfront with you all I chose Logan for the first article because he’s one of my good friends, and I knew he was working on new exciting stuff and had in way’s sort of took an evolutionary leap recently which I was hoping to extract some of the wisdom from. But also mostly because I was ridiculously anxious about figuring out how all of this works and I knew he’d be willing to work with me/wouldn’t care if I made a mess of the whole thing. Coming into the interview I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but no real concept of how it would play out. And as soon as we started the interview I quickly realized this was going to be much much harder than I thought.

Alex: ‘I guess to start with we’ll do a quick recap of who you are and what you do.’

Logan: ‘I am Logan Owen, I produce music and DJ.’

Alex: ‘I know you’ve been working on some new stuff, is it with Suncoast or a solo project?’

Logan: ‘It’s kinda weird because Shane and I just made a new song a couple weeks ago together and talked about doing an album, but mostly I’m currently rebranding under a new moniker and vibe. The project is called LØWLIFR.’

Alex: ‘Awesome. So I know you’ve been working with Shane Klos and Josh Gard a lot recently. How has working with them helped you to explore this new solo direction for yourself?’

Logan: ‘They have helped me a ton. Shane has helped me with engineering and production tips. I’ll hit him up at anytime and he’s always down to help. Josh has basically just been moral support but I’ve just been silently taking pointers from him as far as image, marketing, drawing from influences. We were all hanging out last weekend and josh brought up a very valid point. He said (paraphrasing of course) “take your influences and pull from their influences” so I would describe what I have been making to be dark trap/wave music. So instead of pulling from trap edm, pull from the guys that created that dirty south hip hop sound. So lately I’ve been pulling from Three 6 Mafia, and Chopped and Screwed from Houston.

Alex: ‘Interesting, so would you say the idea of following that influence has helped you to be more original or more yourself?’

Logan: ‘Most definitely, I feel like it’s easier to pull from a second tier of influence so you don’t sound exactly like your immediate influencer. If that makes any sense.’

Alex: ‘Absolutely, it seems like it would give you more creative freedom by lowering the pressure to sound like what everyone else in your genre sounds like. But now I want to shift to what are some things you’ve failed/struggled with in previous bands and projects?

Logan: ‘Let’s see. I would say forming a group of more than two people has never worked for me. I grew up playing in bands someone always gets left out of the creative process, or you basically become a musician for hire to play songs written by one person. I did that for several years and sometimes it’s great but most of the time it’s frustrating. I think that it works for Shane and I because there is only two of us and we aren’t battling for creative input. We seriously sit at a computer together until we create something. So it’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off of but personally, in a band situation, there are too many cooks in the kitchen.’

Also I have one song that I absolutely love but due to my incapabilities as an engineer, I can’t make it sound as good as it can be. I don’t know if I have too much going on or if it’s too much to eq or whatever. I can’t release it. And it’s super frustrating but that song in particular has taught me humility and patience in a weird, self destructive way.

Alex: ‘How long have you been working on that song for?’

Logan: ‘Well I wrote it about six months ago. And every time I try to fix it, it just ends up sounding worse so I’ve taken some time from it. And now it doesn’t really have the same sound as I’m going for now, so I think I’m just going to leave it be. I might rework it in the future or take stems from it but I know when to put an old dog down.’

Alex: ‘I feel you, I've had stories that I worked and worked and worked and just never seemed to be able to take to that place they needed to go. It sounds like you're handling it well though, has struggling with it hurt your motivation or confidence at all?’

Logan: ‘It hurt my confidence a little because I knew it was a good song, but I was able to move away from it pretty quickly. I just kinda put blinders on and kept trucking.’

Alex: ‘That’s good! In a way do you feel like having to kill your baby showed some increase in maturity, and have you seen the effects of that carry forward into your new project?’

Logan: ‘Yeah honestly it kinda shaped my sound now. That song was very maximalist and basically a wall of sound. I was into that style for a while then realized creating it would just be a headache and almost become a chore. So I went back to my influences and realized that I can just enjoy a style of music without creating it. And honestly with my previous sound, even with everything going on, there wasn’t much room to breathe or for certain elements to stand out. But with this new sound I feel like the ideas I can put out can be more multifaceted than before.’

Alex: ‘It seems that as you've matured in your own creative process you've also matured in the way you work with others. I know you and Shane have a particularly collaborative relationship but tell me about a band or partnership that didn't work out at all.’

Logan: ‘I’ve started bands with my best friends in the entire world and it doesn’t work out. When you depend on four other people to be there to make music it’s incredibly hard to coordinate schedules and agendas. Hell, I’ve been the guy that’s been difficult to get on a spot once a week. Also some people just don’t work well together as artists, and that’s perfectly fine. Shane and I work well together and that’s a rare thing for both of us I think. I’ve even worked with other producers and it doesn’t work out. I think the key is to have a very vague but firm concept of what is wanted to be created and then having the ability to say that you like a contribution or not.’

Alex: ‘I think it's important you mentioned the ability to be honest about liking it or not, in a lot of group projects people don't feel like they can all contribute equally or voice their opinion so it's cool that you two are capable of being so honest with each other. In the future do you think getting to work with other people (even if you’re doing mostly solo stuff) will be a core part of your process or do you feel like you're pretty equally content working solo or with someone?’

Logan: ‘I would say I would be open to it, but I’ve been playing music for over 12 years. So I’ve become very knowledgeable of my weaknesses and strengths so I feel like if I can actually see that collaborative relationship would be beneficial to both of us, then I would be down. But for now I’m cool with going dolo.’

{Alex’s note - Logan didn’t link the song I just wanted to shout out Kid Cudi}

Alex: ‘Awesome, well thank you for hanging in there with me I know this has been scattered, but I have one more question for you. WIth all these lessons you have learned, if you had one message you could give a young aspiring musician what would it be?’

Logan: ‘You are going to suck for a while. And I think it’s a positive thing to think that you are not good to use as a motivator. Also don’t be afraid to make what you want instead of what’s popular. It’s better to make a trend than to follow one.’

After this we said our thanks and I let him go back into the world for a cigarette (it’s part of the aesthetic). Throughout the interview I struggled with a feeling of awkwardness over the formatting of how to ask the questions and what to ask. You can see moments where Logan left cues for things I could have explored that I abandoned in favor of pursuing my own objectives and conversational threads. And even writing these words right now (and these words (and these (etc (etc)))) I find myself struggling over desires to be profound and helpful, anxieties over being narcissistic and not showing my friend in his best light possible. But in the most beautiful of all ironies the very wisdom that I need the most in starting off my own new venture is already here. “You are going to suck for a while.” Profound advice for all of us trying to push ourselves into new arena’s that we may have little to no experience in. Perhaps this is me sucking right now, and that’s okay, because if I never let myself suck then I also will never let myself grow.

So thank you Logan for the wisdom, and thank you for letting me suck with you. And to all you that have stuck with me this far; good luck, much love, and don’t ever quit your daydream!

Quote of the week: “Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.” - Jake the Dog from Adventure Time.