I’m a big supporter of the insight or transcendental meditation movement that has been picking up speed in the West for several decades now. I’m pretty diligent about practicing every day and when I’m not practicing, I’m often reading about it or listening to podcasts that help inform my practice. I feel like it’s a technique that requires no supplies or overhead whatsoever that has innumerable benefits to people. This is a ridiculously broad statement to make but humanity as a whole could benefit similarly if more and more people practiced mindfulness because people become kinder, happier and more patient, which in turn can make them healthier in both body and mind. Usually, people that are healthy in both of those things aren’t doing hurtful and terrible things to others.
I had the pleasure to interview Eric Scullin and Devin Hoffman of Dysplay. Dysplay is comprised of Eric Scullin and Devin Hoffman, two young, accomplished musicians. Hoffman is a film and TV composer and former touring bassist for the likes of Awolnation. Scullin — vocalist for Dysplay — has co-produced and co-written with names like RZA (Wu Tang Clan, Kanye West) and Mark Needham (The Killers, Imagine Dragons). Together, Dysplay creates an infectious and unique blend of 80’s sounds in the vein of George Michael, sprinkled with modern day alt-pop akin to Empire of the Sun.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Devin: Sheer love of music. Nothing much else to it — doing music always just came naturally. Although I had other career interests when I was younger, music ran a straight line through my entire childhood until I decided it was what I wanted to make my career about.
Eric: My grandmother was a classical pianist who exposed me to great music like Chopin, Liszt, and Gershwin at an early age. I was lucky to be raised in a musical household.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?
Eric: I met David Lee Roth yesterday and he told me I looked important …
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Eric: We try to have a steady stream of Dysplay songs on deck, and right now we have the next 5 or so singles lined up. I’m really enjoying making the videos to go along the with singles. It’s more of a 3D way of sharing the work.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Devin: When I was thirteen, I got to hang out with David Lynch at his house. It’s a crazy sentence, but it’s true. Spending a few hours with him, especially at that age, was very enriching to my sense of artistic identity and intentions. I think the thing that’s most clear about him is how passionately he believes in his ideas and the lengths he’ll go to see them realized and not be changed by external factors and limitations. You can have that approach with any discipline or passion, and I’ve seen a high correlation of this in my favorite artists, scientists, philanthropists, and public figures.
Eric: I’ve been lucky to work with an eclectic group of people. One of the most unique experiences was making a record with RZA from Wu-Tang Clan. I learned a lot sitting in front of a console with him.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
Eric: I think it’s crazy that ancient Polynesians made little boats and just set out on the Pacific and covered thousands of miles, weathering swells and storms. Similarly, I’m inspired by astronauts who strap themselves on top of millions of pounds of explosives and launch into the deadly environment of space, trusting themselves and the teams that designed and operated their spacecraft.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Devin: We’re still working on that, but I’d like to think that within each of our songs there’s a significance for a few people besides ourselves that lets them find some sort of comfort or helpful commentary or perhaps just the invocation of an emotion that in and of itself can provide goodness. Down the line, I hope I can respond to questions like this with a more structured and specific set of accomplishments.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Devin: I’m a big supporter of the insight or transcendental meditation movement that has been picking up speed in the West for several decades now. I’m pretty diligent about practicing every day and when I’m not practicing, I’m often reading about it or listening to podcasts that help inform my practice. I feel like it’s a technique that requires no supplies or overhead whatsoever that has innumerable benefits to people. This is a ridiculously broad statement to make but humanity as a whole could benefit similarly if more and more people practiced mindfulness because people become kinder, happier and more patient, which in turn can make them healthier in both body and mind. Usually, people that are healthy in both of those things aren’t doing hurtful and terrible things to others.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Devin: Have a scheduled day off every week or two. I would also recommend meditation, but that requires a little more work to learn about than just giving yourself a break. We’re not jukeboxes or iPods … if the faucet is always running, there’s no time to replenish the stream that our ideas come from (by the way — meditation helps with this ;)). I don’t experience burn out very often, but when I feel it coming on, it’s generally nothing that a day off from music can’t fix.
Eric: In the words of Rick Sanchez: “Good music comes from people who are relaxed.”
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Devin: 1. Get into a meditation practice every day. Nothing has helped me navigate life more than sitting so that I feel more confident being myself and making decisions and generating ideas.
2. Opportunities don’t usually show up out of nowhere. By this, I mean you have to go out and ask for what you want, as uncomfortable as it may be. Some of the best relationships I’ve formed started on days or nights when I had to drag myself out of the house to, for lack of a better term, “get myself out there.”
3. Get really, really, really, really good at one thing, then focus on other stuff. I just think it’s important to figure out what you’re exceptional at, because you’ll meet people and learn things through the opportunities you get from that would otherwise not happen. Also, the structure you learn from practicing something intensely is something that you can apply to anything else you want to learn about. How to learn is critical for the quality of the learning you do.
4. Work with people you trust, and then make sure you really trust them to make decisions. I’m really lucky that Eric is also my best friend and when he tells me he’s got my back on something, I know it’s true. I think that’s rare for bandmates to trust each other to the extent that Eric and I do outside of just music.
5. Be chill. What I mean is, nobody likes being around someone that is difficult or brings tension and discomfort to a situation. No matter what’s going on outside or in your personal life, I always prefer being around and working with people that keep their focus on the music and don’t bring their egos and motivation for money, gratification or fame into the project. I’m guilty of doing this just like we all are to some extent, but Eric, for instance, always has his mind on the work and not on anything else when we’re together.
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?
Eric: Tom Waits.
Devin: That would be the Dalai Lama. I suppose that would be because he’s been a source of inspiration and goodness to so many millions and just carries a form of purity that, at least from afar, seems impossibly rare these days.