“I Want People — Especially Women — To Be Unafraid Of Their Strength And Power And Proud Of Their Voices And Stories”

A conversation with alternative rock artist Gen Dietzel

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A conversation with alternative rock artist Gen Dietzel

I want people — especially women — to be unafraid of their strength and power and proud of their voices and stories. I always had this weird feeling that I was always too much of one thing, and not enough of another. I would like to start a movement where it is okay to say “I am too much for you and that’s your loss”. There is no shame in feeling or loving too much. There is no such thing as “too loud” or “too many opinions”. I would center the movement around living truly and authentically to oneself. I’d probably call it the #TooMuch movement.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Gen Dietzel, an independent alternative rock artist and social media personality whose writing, lyrics, and poetry has been published and praised on multiple platforms and in print.

Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?

I’m an alternative rock artist who grew up in New Jersey, right outside of NYC. My parents raised me on a pretty eclectic selection of music, from Frank Sinatra to Lynyrd The Who to U2 to Alice In Chains to Idina Menzel and everyone of substance in between, and I’ve been singing since I was two years old. I saw the Broadway musical Wicked and I knew that I wanted to sing for a living. For a while, I thought I wanted to do theatre, but as a lesbian rock singer who likes to talk about mental illness and feminism, I wanted to be able to tell my own story, and I wasn’t going to get that from theatre — at least not in the relatively near future, so I switched gears and threw myself into writing lyrics and plucking out melodies on my keyboard. My writing, poetry specifically, was what made people pay attention to me, originally, and then people realized I could sing and they got even more excited so I decided I was going to combine the writing and the singing, and it took me, like 2 years after that, to finally write a good song. Don’t get me wrong — I wrote music everyday. It took me 2 years to write something I liked. And that’s how my single, “Burn” was born.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?

My first live show, I couldn’t hear myself. At all. And I guess you could see I was panicking in my face, so my uncle just kind of started howling like a dog and then all of a sudden, the rest of the audience was doing it and I thought, “well, at least I won’t sound as bad as that”. And it’s kind of my thing now — if you’re a true fan, you howl at me.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m working on what I hope will be my first LP. I’m excited about it because I’m trying to veer away from what you would hear on mainstream rock or alternative radio because I feel as though it can be somewhat bland and too formulaic. I am one of those people who truly believe that rock needs to be revamped completely — as much as I love the greats, I can only hear the same 40 year old song so many times without being like “Okay, well… isn’t there any new artists out here?”

I figured instead of complaining about the music I wish I was hearing, I’d just make it myself.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Almost all my friends are artists — either they’re up and coming musicians/singers/producers or they’re poets or filmmakers or screenwriters or playwrights or painters or some kind of combination of all of those things — and I’ve met most of them through either social media or clubs at school, and sometimes we just sit around and create together. We don’t talk, we just do what we do, and then we share, and open ourselves up to constructive criticism. So this one time, we were just sitting in my friend’s car and we had just gotten some ice cream and we decided that the best way to get my music out there was to speed down the highway, screaming my songs out the window. It didn’t work. Someone told me I sucked. I think about that when I need to be humbled.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

I gotta say — Janis Joplin. She really paved the way for all of us female rockers and the way she lived out loud in her truth and her pain is so inspiring. I feel as though sometimes I can shy away from my power and as though my pain is something to be ashamed of and Janis reminds me that those things are nothing to be ashamed of.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am donating the proceeds from my song, Burn, to the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention. I donate to them every year as it is and always help organize my local Out of Darkness Suicide Prevention walk but I want my music to directly benefit the association. They do such good work.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want people — especially women — to be unafraid of their strength and power and proud of their voices and stories. I always had this weird feeling that I was always too much of one thing, and not enough of another. I would like to start a movement where it is okay to say “I am too much for you and that’s your loss”. There is no shame in feeling or loving too much. There is no such thing as “too loud” or “too many opinions”. I would center the movement around living truly and authentically to oneself. I’d probably call it the #TooMuch movement.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

The biggest one for me is to not set out with the objective to please everybody, especially if you want to be a game changer. Changing the game means challenging the norms and if you challenge the norms, people are going to dislike you. I’ll never forget my first hate comment. They told me I was too shrill and should just give up because I couldn’t sing at all. I’ve been working for YEARS on my voice with private coaching, so that kind of hurt, because it felt like my work wasn’t paying off. And then I realized that my voice is very unique and that it is not going to be appealing to everybody. I am trying to learn to accept that.

Another one would be that individuality is an asset. For a while, I wanted to jump into this new alt. Pop Halsey-esque wave because of how popular it is, but it didn’t fit me, no matter how hard I tried to mold myself to it. Individuality may not make you an overnight sensation, but it does ensure that you’re making something YOU believe in, which is so important.

To add to that, stop pining for the overnight sensation success because it doesn’t seem to last. I was mad when I wasn’t an overnight sensation until I realized the bands with longevity, even the ones who seemed to just get famous overnight, worked their butts off either behind the scenes as songwriters or they played the same club circuit I am playing now. If Lady Gaga had to pay her dues at the Bitter End, I most likely would have to, too. Yes, social media does give some instant gratification, but the top platforms change constantly and the people who were “famous” for 30 seconds on an app will most likely be forgotten in a few years — though of course there are exceptions. Most big artists put in a bunch of leg work that we, the fans, never see.

SINGING (properly) IS A LOT OF WORK! I’ve been working with my current vocal coach for a little over three years and I have never worked harder at anything in my life. It’s almost athletic — like training for a marathon. I wake up every morning, vocalize/warm up for a half hour to an hour, and rehearse for hours after that, 6 days a week. I give myself a break on Sunday. I still go to my voice lesson every week. We are constantly expanding my range and playing with what I can already do, and it’s fun, fulfilling work, but it’s work nonetheless.

Finally, I wish someone told me just to believe in myself. It kind of ties into the first point, but there’s a lot of self-doubt when you have some downtime in this business. I spent weeks crying over how I would never amount to anything when I was 18 because I felt so talentless compared to everyone else. However, once I started allowing myself to recognize my strengths and took concrete steps to improve my weaknesses, I realized that the other people didn’t matter — that I had the ambition and the skill to do what I need to do. Other people’s successes aren’t threats to my own successes.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this. 🙂

I would absolutely LOVE to grab a coffee with Idina Menzel. First of all, her first solo album, Still I Can’t Be Still, is probably my favorite album ever, which says something because I listen to some pretty great music. Lyrically, musically, and vocally, that album is amazing. I love everything about it. On a more serious note though, I’ve been through a lot of stuff — I speak about it in my music so I do feel comfortable sharing it here — I’ve survived abuse and sexual assault and suicide attempts and her music, from her solo stuff to her stage stuff, got me through it. I recently had a really bad night, and I just laid in the middle of my floor, shut my eyes, listened to her music on a loop until the metaphorical storm passed over and I could fall asleep. I had a lot going on, but once I put that music on, it felt like the negativity and sadness washed off me and I was at peace. I am almost never at peace.

All that serious stuff aside, I am also a very funny person. I feel like I’d make her laugh and that we’d be good friends.

If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, Authority Magazine, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.

Originally published at medium.com

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