A Pretty Funny Interview: Dana Clark of Heroic Humans

Heroic Humans founder & CEO Dana Clark talks about making connections, extroverted introversion, and her own personal Beyonce.

Do you ever stop and think about who your heroes are? A lot of us seem to think that a hero is something that is a far above us, like people who need to be put on a pedestal. You’ve got sports heroes, superheroes, world leaders, Enrique Iglesias (he can be your hero, baby).

Something we don’t often think about are the heroes in our every day lives. The people who strive to make a difference and impact every day in their work or their spare time. Heroic Humans is an initiative started by 23-year-old Dana Clark from King City, Ontario. The goal is simple and inspiring: it’s a place to acknowledge the heroes who are making an impact every day through their words, actions, and intentions.

The project is just getting started but has taken off with a head of steam and has already had a ton of outreach. I caught up with Dana over FaceTime while she was in Florida, and found we had a ton in common: a few mutual friends, she went to Lakehead Oralia while I now work at Lakehead Thunder Bay, and the same overall message that people are capable of amazing things.


Evan: So how long have you been doing Heroic Humans?

Dana: It’s been officially only two months, October 1st I launched. It feels like it’s been 10 years as a little part of me.

E: How did it come about?

D: I work at Lululemon part time (on top of her current studies in Broadcast Journalism at Seneca). I was in the meeting with my managers and they ask a lot of thought provoking questions, like “If you had one character trait in the world what would it be” and “what are you doing here” and the last question they asked was “who are you here to be?”

I said well, I guess I’m here to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good partner, a good granddaughter, a good friend, and I want to, in any capacity, show up for someone every single day of my life. I want to make a difference and I want to be a heroic human.

They were like “wow, that’s better than we expected.” I went home and I could not get “heroic humans” out of my head. I couldn’t sleep. I was having a glass of wine with my mum and she said “Dana, you just need to go do this right now before it slips your brain.” I didn’t really know what I was going to do with it at first, but I went and bought the domain, the website, everything, and said “okay, I guess I’m going to give it a whirl.” That was in the end of May.

E: Then you had time to get ready for the launch

D: Yeah, then I had to come up with my mission statements, and my values and logo, and website design and all that jazz. The mission is to inspire, celebrate and empower heroic members of all communities. That is just getting people to really just want to celebrate each other. Getting people to notice the good and bring out kindness, and support your community. I’m sure you’d agree that with any community connection and people who are supporting each other, anything is possible. Whether you’re a cancer survivor, or a great barista, or an up-and-coming entrepreneur, your community should know about it and those around you should support you and encourage you.

We don’t acknowledge each other enough. So it’s this space I’ve created to be able to do that and to celebrate that.

E: There’s a variety of people on the site. I read about the two yoga instructors [who run The Yoga Project which brings yoga into K-12 schools] and I read about the football coach, [who teaches athletes to become more well-rounded and think about their overall impact in the world] both very interesting. What’s been the overall response you’ve received from Heroic Humans?

D: The response has been insane. I always say to myself that if something happened tomorrow to myself, to social media, or to the planet, I would feel absolutely fulfilled from what I’ve got so far. The people who support you when you don’t even  ask for it is insurmountable and people have no idea how much it means just to say to someone “hey, what you’re doing is so cool” or “good for you.” The support has been crazy, and people from all over the world.

We now have the gift of social media that we can truly reach anybody we want to, and people from New Zealand to London to Iceland. It’s so cool, the outreach. I feel so lucky for everyone who is supporting me, you know?B0E6C87E-8554-45C0-917D-57C08BF150F3

E: What did you get your degree in?

D: Media studies, and criminology. It was inter-disciplinary.

E: So you wanted to become a CSI writer, that’s good.

D: And I minored in psych, so even more backing for that. Now that I have this passion of mine I kind of want to run with it and see where it will take me and what I can do with it.


E: Who was your hero growing up?

D: Interesting. I’m going to be super cliche and say my mom. My mom pretty much raised me by myself, and my brothers, and she’s been an entrepreneur and had her own business for about 35 years now. She’s been a complete, literal Beyonce of my life. She’s just amazing and really inspired me to not have to necessarily live the way that society wants us to and the way we’re supposed to. To really get outside the box and think about what you want, and what works for you, and what you’re passionate about. I think that really helped me develop my dream for Heroic Humans.

Even in 3rd year, I had this vision that I wanted to run something huge or be the face of something and change peoples lives and be like an Ellen or Oprah and just help people. I didn’t know my cause or my values, I didn’t know what I was after and my mission. Then Heroic Humans fell on my lap and I thought “Oh my God, this is the outlet that I’m supposed to be working with. This is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

My goal is to have big Heroic Humans conferences all over the world with heroic people from everywhere coming together to inspire others and a place where you can come where any dream or goal of yours is celebrated, acknowledged and shared. My mom definitely gave me the gumption to chase after what I wanted to do.

E: What other goals do you have for Heroic Humans because it’s just a baby right now?

D: Honestly, it’s such a baby. It’s two months. As you know when you’re starting something you put so much into it that it honestly feels like it’s your whole life. Then you remember that there are other things.

Short term goals would be looking to have a big launch party and have some local press and invite people to hear about Heroic Humans and participate. Other goals include bringing on more ambassadors. I recently brought on two LGBTQ ambassadors because I want to have reach in every community and have people that people can relate to and to tell their stories, and have someone in the community people could turn to.

E: And that’s Ryan & Randi?

D: Yep! And to have an environmental ambassador, and wildlife. To have women’s rights, athletics, fitness, I want to have someone that anyone could look at and say “I didn’t know someone else felt the way I feel.”

Another short term goal would be to have conferences starting in just my community and bringing people together, whether to crush your goals or to talk about your up-and-coming projects, or you just need someone to talk to. I have high hopes, and at this point anything is possible and the the response has me feeling so blessed so far.

E: As someone who, as far as I can tell, is someone who is a fan of the human connection: do you consider yourself an extrovert?

D: You know what? I don’t know. I think I’m an extroverted-introvert. Do you believe in that? It’s okay if you don’t [Evan’s note: I do, for sure]. I love connection, but connection isn’t all about talking and laughing. There’s so much more, and it can be so much deeper than that. It can be so vulnerable and it can be things on the inside.

E: What are your opinions on social media?

D: I actually think it’s a pretty great place. At least the things that I feel attracted to while I’m on there, you really do see the power behind giving someone the opportunity to support you. The majority of people will help you if you just ask. We’re all so scared to ask for help and are scared to be shut down, but if you ask most people will say yes. I think social media gives you that ability to meet people that you’d never meet. Like I would have never met you, you know? You just have to know your ways about it.

E: It’s been two months of Heroic Humans. How has it changed your everyday life?

D: I feel I so appreciate humanity more. If you just ask for help, most of the time someone can help you. If you just smile at somebody, most of the time they’ll smile back. If you treat someone with kindness, they’re likely to treat you with kindness back.

Also practicing what I preach, because I so often talk about being a raw human to connect with others and being accepting, leading with non-judgement. I’m human, and sometimes I don’t do those things and then I catch myself and say “I’m the heroic human here, and I need to act accordingly and check myself.” I feel like it’s made me a better person, and more willing to get to know people and see the good that people have to offer.

E: If you could give people one piece of advice, what would it be?

D: You have no idea what the person next to you has been through, unless you ask. So find out, always ask, get curious. Ask the difficult questions, even if you think they won’t answer. What do you have to lose? At least you tried.


Already Dana has profiled a ton of interesting people over on Heroic Humans who are doing their part to make the world a little bit better every day. She’s doing her part as well, by giving a place to showcase the heroes to the world.

I urge you to check out Heroic Humans in the many ways available to you. Check them out on their website: http://www.heroichumans.com; their Instagram here (which just got to over 1000 followers on the night we spoke); their Facebook page is here.

It’s always nice to know there are people who are recognizing the little things and the big efforts going on in local communities to make a difference. Dana has given them a platform, and it will only continue to grow.

A Pretty Funny Interview: Dr. Nick Hopwood Talks About Rejection

Dr. Nick Hopwood of the University of Technology Sydney talks about his wall of rejection, rejection in academics & life, and what we can do to normalize it.

While strolling through Twitter one day, I came across a tweet that was very interesting. It was a wall that advertised rejection. On it was listed “Nick’s many rejections” and showed multiple rejections from the world of academics. The tweet got a lot of impressions and clearly made an impact on people.

The tweet is from Dr. Nick Hopwood, a 37-year old associate professor in the education faculty at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia. The many rejections are posted on his office window. What caused him to post his rejections in such a public forum, where others try at great lengths to hide their failures? I called him at lunch time in Sydney, so late into the evening here in Canada, to chat and find out.


Evan: So I came across what I think is your most famous tweet, which is the rejection wall. What is the rejection wall?

Dr. Nick Hopwood: Well I spent a lot of time doing workshops with students in various different countries around publishing. The question that they most often ask is “how do I get my paper accepted?” Well that’s the impossible question. Peer reviewed means that really good papers get rejected and shit ones get accepted. I asked them to put their hand up if they’d read a paper that they didn’t think was very good and they all said yeah.

I increasingly get them thinking about rejection and good and bad reasons for rejection. Good reasons are you were just unlucky and you got the wrong reviewer on the wrong day, and bad reasons are you didn’t do your homework or you sent it to the wrong journal.

Then I started collecting nasty reviews that I’d had, and found lots of other people were sharing them in various ways. It’s been boiling for a while, and I’ve got this now growing collection of rejection letters: ones I’ve received, dished out, or other people have given me.

I kept talking to people and realized that the front of my door had all the front pages of all the articles I’d written the past few years. It made me feel great, and I’ve had a pretty privileged run through adacemia.  I realized it was probably doing more for my ego than other peoples, and I just thought “well, I’ll take it down and do the opposite.” So I’ve created these PowerPoint slides with the reject stamp on them and some quotes from reviews, the names of the grants I didn’t get. The one thing I’m missing is nasty comments I’ve had from students in teaching feedback. When I have a bored afternoon, I’ll dig all those out as well.

E: So why show off rejection as opposed to the success?

N: It’s not a flippant thing, at least I hope it’s not. Firstly because I think it’s unfortunate in academia that successes are disproportionately visible. It’s very easy to walk around a department or to read somebody’s CV or come across them as an author and to imagine they are these perfect authors for whom everything gets accepted and nothing gets changed. There are various things that are starting to shift that, for example some journals in biochemistry that publish the reviews. They’re still anonymous, but at least in that sense you get to see the mangle that a paper has gone through.

IMG_0026
Dr. Nick Hopwood

Every journal I read all you ever see is the finished product, so it’s as if that’s what the author wrote first time. Instinctively you know it’s gone through to and fro and contestation. I think partly it’s about trying not to engage in practices that support the myth of the perfect academic, or in fact of unblemished, clean or pure academic work. It always goes through a mess.

It has a value in that many people are increasingly in vulnerable positions in academia. Rejection is even harder to take when you’re on a contract job, or a fixed term job. You’re thinking about whether or not putting that on your CV can determine if you can get an income next year or not. That’s really, really tough to deal with and I’ve been occasionally in that position. I think normalizing the fact that even people who eventually end up in these secure and privileged positions continue to get rejected. Rejection has been a consistent part of how I even got here.

E: In your post about the rejection wall, you talk about how advertising just the finished product is “living life without the outtakes,” which I thought was a really great line because it relates not just to academic but to how a lot of people portray themselves online, in social media, and kind of the way they live their life. Why is it so hard for people to live with the outtakes in?

N: I think it makes us vulnerable, or we feel vulnerable in the act of doing so. I don’t think it’s necessarily a raw kind of egoism, or kind of “aren’t I great” kind of thing. We are constantly bombarded with messages that privilege and value a certain kind of being in the world. Increasingly in schools where you have high stakes testing, it’s almost as if a pupil’s job in the school is to perform for the school, not the school’s job to lift up the student.

Every time your tested and ranked and graded in school based on what you’ve done, there is this kind of message that doing well is okay and we talk less about the not doing well.

There are also quite unhelpful discourses about failure. They are helpful in the sense that they try to normalize it, and there are some really famous people who have done that. J.K. Rowling being one, and lots of actors and things like that. You talk to people on the Graham Norton Show and it’s often a warts-and-all account of the jobs they didn’t get. It makes me uncomfortable when the consequence of that is a “suck it up” discourse.

I’d be more in kind to think of what can we put around the person to help them cope with that circumstance, rather than say that somehow you’ve got to find this magical thing inside and blast your way through as if it doesn’t hurt. It does hurt. Institutionally normalizing rejection is part of how we might then encourage people to be confident in seeking help, rather than having to rely on yourself to dig deeper.

I would love it if colleagues kept knocking on my door every day and said “look at this gem of a rejection I got today,” because I think that would go against what you’re talking about which is this need to constantly be publicly performing as a successful version of yourself. Everybody knows we don’t get jobs sometimes, whether it’s in academic life or outside. Most of the people who run a race don’t win.

E: To me that’s the beauty of sports. I love when younger kids are put in sports where they keep score because of the ability to normalize losing, failing, however you want to phrase it. Making sure that they know “yes, you lost this time, but you will have another game, you will have another season. There will be times where you will be better, or the outcome will be different if you are willing to keep working.” So it’s almost like through sport you can remove some of the stigma of failing early on, hopefully, so someone who becomes a student more acclimated to it by the time that they are older.

N: I think when it’s done well and done right, it has the potential. The same with music, getting involved in competitions and things like that, you see it very much. It’s amazing how much actually rejection and failure is made public through things like Pop Idol or The X-Fcator or other things. These are people who are clearly very committed, who invest a lot in these things, and they publicly stand up knowing only one of them will go through that process without being told that it’s all over and it has come to nothing.

There are aspects of life where we entertain not being a winner. Sports, music, other aspects of popular culture. Somehow, performance of the imperfect self is still tricky.


E: Is it that there is a stigma around failure, do you think?

N: It could well be true. It’s interesting the reaction to the failure wall would suggest that that is not the case. People are saying “oh, that’s so reassuring.” My favourite reactions are ones where people said “Oh my, my wall isn’t big enough.”

I certainly think there is a kind of silent stigma around it, a rendering secret or private around it that may create the illusion of stigma. I think many reasonable people would see other people failing and not dismiss them as rubbish. Acknowledge failure is a normal part of their existence, so it would be odd if you therefore didn’t acknowledge it as a part of somebody else’s. I don’t think people stigimatize failure, I think we secretize it and we hide it, and we do other things to massage it out of our central lives.

The reason I’m cautious about that is that if I think of something where I really think there may be some problems around stigma might be mental health, where people’s reactions to mental health are still problematic. I don’t think people’s reactions to failure are problematic in that way. We don’t make it visible so people can react.

E: A lot of people who read my work are university students or young professionals who just graduated. Do you have advice or words of wisdom for dealing with rejection in that stage of life?

N: I was talking to a nurse the other day, who said emotionally, we’re still developing in our early twenties. Our reactions to things is different towards things than it would be when we’re towards mid-life. So we are still vulnerable, and universities are kind of hyper-performative areas. Get your tutorial right, or your exams, and particularly in North America with the grade point average. You can’t drop a ball for half an hour because it starts getting effected, which wasn’t the case when I did my degree.

One thing first: when you’re thinking about you as a person and rejection, the most generous thing you can do is to be supportive around others. If you get the sense that someone is feeling they’ve failed or been hopeless, talk openly or be available to them. We know it’s hard. Don’t force people into the public about it, or fail-shaming people, but being that person who when somebody fails saying quietly to the side that it’s happened to you as well. One of the most effective and impactful things we can do is to be honest and candid about our rejections or our failures.

Then when we get to ourselves, it’s an effective but not easy thing to do: finding someone with whom you are comfortable to open up about this. That’s part of creating these practices where it’s less of a secret thing. It doesn’t mean you stand on a pedestal or stick it on your door like I did. I wouldn’t expect or judge anybody for doing it or not doing it. Hopefully people can find a corner, or a relationship, or something within which we can be open about this and admit that it’s horrible.

 

I wouldn’t feel comfortable to just say to just remind yourself that everybody fails all the time and just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with it. I think it is important that we don’t allow ourselves to be crushed by failure, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not crushing.

E: One more question. What is your favourite joke?

After some serious debate, he went with one that created legitimate out-loud laughter:

N: There is one I read this morning, but it’s not really a joke. It’s something like:

A gay guy, a black man, an old woman, and a nun walk into a bar and the barman says “what’ll it be?”

And that’s it, because we’re not in the 1950s anymore.


Dr. Hopwood had some great points about rejection in academia, which were lessons that can transfer over to the rest of life. Rejection doesn’t need to be publicized in the same way that he did, but we should try to make it a more normal part of our lives. We all experience it in different forms and at different times, so maybe being more supportive of those going through failures is something we can all work on.

To read more about Dr. Hopwood’s work, read his blog here.

To follow Dr. Hopwood on Twitter and learn more about higher education and his work, follow this link.

A Pretty Funny Interview: Clint Malarchuk

Talking to the former NHLer & current mental health advocate about sports, stigma, and his own personal Stanley Cup.

Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna made the news recently for missing games. His reason wasn’t a physical injury, but instead taking care of his mental health after struggling with anxiety. When CBC reported on Osuna’s missing games, they reached out to former NHLer Clint Malarchuk.

Malarchuk was a pro goaltender for 11 years, and was part of one of the worst on-ice injuries in history. In 1989, Steve Tuttle’s skate blade hit Clint’s throat, severing his carotid artery and causing massive blood loss. Clint believed he might die on the ice, yet he was back on the ice 12 days later for the Buffalo Sabres.

After that incident, Clint began experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This, mounting on top of other untreated mental health issues lead him further and further down. In 2008, he attempted to take his own life and survived the attempt.

Following this, Clint began to understand that he “was sick, not crazy.” Rehabilitation and the support of his wife Joanie helped Clint through this difficult time. He has since become a mental health advocate after writing his book The Crazy Game, detailing his struggles with mental health as an athlete and the story of his life.

Early in June, Clint was awarded an honorary doctorate by Nipissing University, my alma matter. Watching him speak that day about mental health, support, and stigma made for a very powerful message for those graduates. I decided to reach out to the new Dr. Malarchuk by phone while he was in Lake Tahoe, Nevada to discuss his new degree, the “tough guy” mentality in sports, and advice for parents of young athletes.


Evan: I went to Nipissing and was watching the graduation when I saw you receive the honorary doctorate, which is wonderful. How was that whole experience for you?

Clint: That was the… that was probably the Stanley Cup of my life. I was talking to a former goalie, NHL goalie Corey Hirsch, who has also struggled with some issues similar to mine. Obviously when you’re in the NHL playing, you want to win the Stanley Cup. You know that would be the greatest day of your life. I think everything that myself and Corey have probably gone through, to get an honorary doctorate like that would be the Stanley Cup. It was for me for sure.

E: That is fantastic. So, Dr. Malarchuk, I’ve seen in other interviews you’ve said you grew up with OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). How did that affect you growing up and in hockey?

C: Well, I would say it got me to the NHL, with the work ethic. Thankfully I funnelled that OCD into something kind of good, which was the work ethic to be the best hockey player that I could be. Being not the most skilled guy, I think I was able to make it on just hard work, getting in great shape, overcoming obstacles, just push, push, push.

It was later on in my life that the OCD kind of took a negative affect on me.

E: And that would have been after March 22nd, 1989 (the date of the on-ice injury).

C: Absolutely. Yep, absolutely.

E: How did your everyday life change after that?

C: After that I went into panic attacks, deep depression, and the OCD became almost unbearable where it was hard for me to leave the house. I tried to go to an NHL hockey practice, and it was hard for me to get out of the house. I’d have to set my alarm three hours earlier than what I would normally set it. It just disrupted my life in a big way.

E: Which then led to the eventual suicide attempt later on in life, right?

C: Well, yep because I was undiagnosed with anything. I shouldn’t say that, they diagnosed me with depression and OCD and that, but they didn’t diagnose me with PTSD. That’s what led to the suicide attempt 20 years later.

E: Would you say that some of the reasons that you went undiagnosed for so long is the culture of “the tough guy” in hockey and athletes being the alpha males?

C: I don’t know if it would be, because I just think we’ve come a long way medically and clinically. I was so open to being diagnosed, but not the PTSD because I was a tough guy. So yes and no to what your question was.

E: And now, you work as a mental health advocate and a speaker. Was that ever a topic that was brought up while you were a player?

C: Oh God no. *laughs* Not a chance. It was all hush hush. That’s why it’s important for people like me, former players that have struggled. And after I wrote my book I received many emails from current players, which was really kind of cool for me because they don’t suffer to my degree but they do suffer and relate to a lot of things I said in my book. It’s kind of cool because they say “hey thank you, I thought I was the only one.” It’s not necessarily that they’re mentally ill, but do struggle emotionally. Emotional sickness is part of our society too.

E: That’s true. That was actually one of the questions I had: what was the reaction to your book from other athletes, whether they were current athletes or ones you played with?

IMG_0016C: I have not had anything but “thank you” and “I thought I was alone” and thank you and thank you and thank you. It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life, writing that book. When you get that kind of feedback, you’re very, very grateful. Which I am

E: How would you say your life has changed now, working as a mental health advocate?

C: Oh man, you know being a former player and then NHL coach, you think leaving that big arena, that big stage, that anything else is going to be less than. It has been more than. It has been the most gratifying journey that I’ve ever experienced in my life. Meeting people, helping people and sharing with people, it’s been unbelievable.

E: You’re proof that there’s life after hockey.

C: Well a lot of players have proven that in a lot of arenas or areas. Some become lawyers or whatever, but for me and my journey, absolutely. I’m not the most skilled guy in any other area, although I’m a doctor now *laughs* There is definitely life after hockey.

E: Do you have any advice to hockey parents about what their athletes might be experiencing?

C: A lot of pressure, for sure. If you’re a parent, you know what, back off the kids. Let them have fun because they know the pressure. If they’ve got the talent and skill, they will be seen by a scout or somebody. So you don’t have to push them that hard, they know it. The kids already know if they have it inside. We need as parents, I think, to just kind of back off. Let the coaches coach, let the kids work and work hard. Mentor them with good experience, and saying good things like “work hard” and “outwork the other guy.” You don’t have to be pressure, pressure, pressure.

E: What are the next projects for the “Cowboy Goalie?”

C: I’ve got a few irons in the fire. Trying to do more with the PTSD side of first responders and military. Trying to put together some things there and the other stuff is just in the deep underbrush right now. I’m just trying to get a few contacts, I want to do some stuff with people with addiction and stuff like that. I’ve got a guy who is going to come spend a couple days with me, and he runs actual facilities. We’ll see what happens.


Afterwards, Dr. Malarchuk was more than happy to talk to me about the Stanley Cup finals that had just wrapped up. He still keeps up with the game he grew up loving and playing.

Dr. Malarchuk continues spreading important messages about mental health and stigma through speaking engagements. You can follow along with all of his work at Malarchuk.com, or on Twitter at @CMalarchuk. Though he may need to change it soon to say doctor as well.

A Pretty Funny Interview: Cameron Earnshaw

Talking to Cameron Earnshaw about metal, whiskey, and if musical college is just like High School Musical.

During high school, I met this incredibly talented performer named Cam. He was a small kid that had this ridiculous, powerful voice. Through a mutual friend we started hanging out, and our place of choice was the vocal music classroom in the high school. Teachers seemed to give him free reign of it, because he was using it right and was the nicest kid.

The songs we made up made no sense. None whatsoever. I believe one was about seducing cougars (not the animal). Cam would play the piano, sing the talented parts, and I would add the inappropriate lines.

There was a fun game we would play at his family’s ridiculously lavish Christmas parties. You play a song off an iPod, and Cam would start to pick it up and play on piano without any sheet music Set in a central location in a grand living room, everyone would just sit around and listen to him play for hours. Cam doesn’t want to be the centre either; he’s the first person to point out the talent of the people around him.

He’s the best example I have of meeting someone with just a pure, unbelievable talent who also works hard.

That’s why I decided to catch up with him. In the nine or so years since we first met, Cam has graduated high school after starring in a musical, grown a man bun, gone to Berklee College of Music in Boston, chopped off his man bun, and grown as a performer and artist. I called him on a Sunday morning before he was off to a gig in Cambridge to catch up, talk about the musician lifestyle, and see what makes a good whiskey.


Evan: What’s your favourite joke?

Cam: My favourite joke? Donald Trump. No, my favourite joke that’s tough.

Cam then proceeds to tell a minute long version of a two-day long joke about an ice cream sandwich. If you ever meet him, ask him to tell you.

When it came to choosing a school, it was Berklee or bust for Cam. While he also planned on applying other places, his heart was set on the College of Music located in Boston. After being accepted, it was off to the U.S. for college.

E: What was the college experience like in the states?

C: It’s very different, from what I gather. Music school is a very different vibe in general from another school.

E: Is it like High School Musical all of the time?

C: It’s not. That would be amazing. No, everybody is tired all the time, which I’m sure is the same as a regular school. Everything seems way more important than it is, which I’m sure is the same. The things that are different are the class sizes. The average class size was only 11 students.

Some of the policies are different because they’re trying to reign in a bunch of musicians. For instance, the earliest class is 9 am, which isn’t early, but oh my god it feels early. If you miss three classes you immediately fail that class, just straight up. You have to keep them in check or else [the music students] will just skip and do gigs instead of going to class.

The extra-curriculars are different. We had no sports teams… well we had an Ultimate Frisbee team.

14182102_10209002749458866_185689194_nE: That’s the most musician sports team I’ve ever heard.

C: The extra-curriculars a lot of the time weren’t school-run stuff, and if it was it was social events. I spent a lot of my “free time” doing not what the average person would spend their free time doing. A lot of it was sessions from 12 am until 6 am, studio work, or shows, or rehearsals, you name it. That was my free time. I didn’t sleep a lot. It definitely was a unique college experience for sure.

E: What was the music scene like in Boston?

C: Huge, and vibrant. Alive and well. Especially compared to here [Cambridge, Ontario where he lives now]. It’s one of the biggest things I miss, the other being all my friends. The scene there is really well put together and everyone is in it. There’s a lot of support back and forth between bands. I was very much involved in the metal scene down there fronting two bands, and we did lots of local shows. You’d go and network and it’s really really healthy.

The other thing that I miss is if I was in Boston, and I use this example all the time because it’s happened: “Hey, I need a drummer in 20 minutes to play these five songs, can you do it.” and someone will be there. Up here, that’s not a thing. If you lose your drummer last minute, you’re screwed.


E: You’re big into metal, and when I met you, you were playing everything. What made metal your focus?

C: I always really liked metal. Musically I was interested in it because it’s complicated. It’s a lot going on. I really liked the vocal style, even though it’s not for everybody. I wanted to learn how to do it without hurting myself, because I also really love to sing choir stuff, and barbershop. I love to sing, so I needed to find a way that would do that without ruining everything else I loved to do. So when I went to Berklee, this was the time.

I was around all these musicians, and all these people who really know what they’re doing, but none of the teachers there teach it. So I found a teacher [Paul Pampinella] in Berklee, and said “this is what I’d love to do” and Paul said “I can help you with what I know, which is the breath, the anatomy, blah blah blah. But the rest you’re on your own.”

I spent about 70% of my electives on vocal pedagogy or anatomy, so I know everything in here now (gestures to his throat) and how it all works, and I basically taught myself how to do it. No damage, nothing.

E: A lot of people when they think of metal just think of screaming, but it’s much more than screaming.

C: It’s so much more than that. There are people who do that, they just yell and they can’t talk after, and it’s like “wow, that’s permanent.” Then those who know what they’re doing can do a set for an hour and be no more vocally tired than if you had sung powerfully for a set.

scream5

From a musician side, the instrumentation, everything going into that is so much more in depth than your average pop song on the radio. If I’m doing a set of pop songs on the radio *whispers* like I am today I tend to get bored quickly.

E: I went and listened to your metal, and your solo stuff, and it’s very varied. Do you want to not be in one category? Is it something you work for?

C: My idol that I was following through the beginning of college was Dallas Green. What his career was like was the opposite of what I wanted in terms of the order in which it happened. He was in this awesome metalcore band Alexisonfire which was doing awesome, and then he branched out and did this singer-songwriter stuff. I started the other way. When [Dallas] finished with Alexisonfire, he was doing both simultaneously. That’s the life I want.

E: What’s the worst gig you’ve ever had?

C: Solo, I haven’t had one that made me go “holy crap, that was the worst thing I’ve ever done.” But I’ve had a couple where it’s been either a very dead crowd and that kind of gets you down. The worst solo gig I’ve ever done though is the kind where it’s an empty room, or maybe three people, cause it’s very hard to connect with a lot of energy. Especially if they’re having their own conversation, because you’re just kind of wallpaper at that point.

E: Best gig you’ve had?

C: It was a house show, for a private party. It was a celebration for a friend’s mom beating breast cancer. It was an evening garden party, and it was enough people and enough energy that it was a good vibe, yet it wasn’t so big or so small that it was weird. It was just the perfect size, the perfect amount of engagement, and it was laid back. Everyone was feeling great, and all around 10/10 gig. I’ll remember that one forever.

E: Best advice you’ve received on music?

C: Best advice and hardest advice are often times the same thing. So one of them is one I get all the time from my mum, especially when I’m discouraged, which is “keep going.” Which is really difficult when you don’t feel like continuing and you just want to say “f*** everything and f*** everyone” you know what I mean? That one is definitely a big one and I try to take it to heart.

As a performance, it’s just connection. What is your end goal in your performance? Do you want to make everyone go “wow, that was good,” or do you want one person to go home and say “that guy changed my life,” or what? You have to go into every performance saying “what is my goal here.” For me personally it’s to connect with everybody at some level.


E: Switching gears here. You are, out of all the people that I know, probably the biggest whiskey expert. What makes a good whiskey?

C: For me? Because it is subjective I’d say.

E: Is it like art?

C: Yeah, a good whiskey is like a good painting. If you look at it in a different light, it might hit you a little differently. Scotch is also the same way, and beer is also the same way. I mean, not Coors Light or something like that.

Lately I’ve cut back on my drinking, because in college it’s like ‘Oooh yeah, I’ll try something new every day of the freaking week” but a) I can’t afford that and b) just laying back a bit.

For me what makes a really good whiskey is a little burn. It’s gotta have a burn. Just a touch of sweetness on the finish, but too much and I’m out. Jack Daniels used to be my jam, but now when I drink it I find it very, very sweet at the end. Poitin, which is basically Irish Moonshine, that’s been on my list as a good one. Basically, anything that gives enough burn, but isn’t firewater.

E: You’ve been to Ireland..

C: Twice.

E: Can you pour a perfect Guiness?

C: I can, I have a certificate. I wish I had it handy because I’d pull it out. I also have the Jameson taster certificate so I’ve been educated on how to properly taste.

E: So you’re the expert then?

C: I’ve been certified, what can I say?


 

E: One of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time is that you wrote a song for a movie that’s coming out.

C: Yeah! It’s called Black Donnellys, and they had a contest open for a song to fit that movie. I didn’t have any songs at that point that fit, so I spent maybe three days shopping ideas and then it hit me all at once and I busted most of the song off in a day. Then I ended up winning, which is pretty cool. They just wrapped up their filming and now they’re booking all their screenings.

 

E: It’s a weird experience to watch a trailer for a movie, and not just recognize the artist singing, but also know “hey, that’s my buddy.”

C: It’s weird for me to see it too, because for me it’s just that I wrote a song. It’s not bad, and I’m happy with it, but it’s cool to see it paired with stuff. I genuinely see it like that: they’re making a cool movie, I made a cool song, put them together and that works for me.

E: The movie doesn’t look scary, but it looks thrilling.

C: Yes, absolutely. They really captured all the action parts of the story and also the nuances and that. It’s really cool and I’m excited to see it.

E: Anything else you got on the go?

C: Lots of irons in the fire. I recently did a project that I’m not fully allowed to talk about yet for some people in Japan. I’m writing and recording a lot of my own stuff right now. Teaching voice and some beginner piano and stuff, and scoring a movie for our friend Connor Jarvie. A while ago I scored a short film called Fish, with my friend Tim Erhart. Just finding gigs, and looking to get a band ready.


Cam is always working. Whether it’s on a solo project, his skills, or work with a band, he is constantly moving. I hope the next time I catch up with him isn’t so far down the line, but it’s hard to keep up with him. Even if I don’t get to chat with him, I’m sure I’ll be hearing a ton of him down the line.

Find Cam’s solo work on his website: http://www.cameronearnshaw.com
Follow him on Instagram  Facebook, & Spotify

A Pretty Funny Interview: The Beginning

The start of something fun.

Hi there.

Everyone has a story to tell, right? I tell lots of stories. Some of them don’t have points (super sorry for anyone who has ever gotten me on a tangent about professional wrestling) but stories connect and draw us together. They help us understand and appreciate and see other perspectives.

During my time as a Sports Journalism student, I loved interviewing. Whether post-game with student-athletes, or longer profiles on interesting people in the athletic community, it provided the opportunity to have people tell those interesting stories of triumph, challenge, and adversity.

That’s why I’m launching a new part of my blog – A Pretty Funny Interview series. Conversations with people about their stories, their life, and things that might just be pretty funny. Interviews will be posted every other Friday and will feature a different subject each time.

With that said, the first two interviews are coming and the first one drops tomorrow. If you know anyone who has a really interesting, unique, or powerful story, please let me know. I’d love to meet them and get their stories out there. Reach out to me on here, on twitter @EvanGomes_ or through email at egomes27@gmail.com.

Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I plan on enjoying doing them.

Cheers,
Evan.