theRave: “People are listening, even if you don’t think they do”

People are listening, even if you don’t think they do.– It’s very easy as an artist to feel as though no one is listening or no one cares. But if you release your music online, it is bound to be heard by someone. If it strikes a chord with someone, they will never forget that. […]

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People are listening, even if you don’t think they do.
– It’s very easy as an artist to feel as though no one is listening or no one cares. But if you release your music online, it is bound to be heard by someone. If it strikes a chord with someone, they will never forget that. They might not reach out to you, and you might not know they love your music, but they are out there. The more you continue to release art that moves them, the more they will feel compelled to reach out and thank you.

As a part of our series about music stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing theRave, the lead singer and songwriter for Spells and Curses.

After losing a parent, ending a relationship and leaving unhealthy friend circles all within a few months, theRave was forced to start a new chapter in life by exercising unfamiliar feelings of love and loss: so he turned to music and formed Spells and Curses.

But it was the loss of a family member to suicide that gave his work a focused purpose; to prove that despite our past trauma, surviving and making a better life is the ultimate revenge. Spells and Curses attempt this by creating music to explore one’s “inner space”, with songs that act as a “spell” to enhance the moment, or a “curse” to damn it.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?

I was born in Russia, but grew up in different areas of Queens, New York. I always look back with gratitude that my parents decided to move to Queens. It holds the Guinness World Record as “the most ethnically diverse urban area on the planet”. This means I got to make friends with people of many different cultures and backgrounds. This exposure to diversity also influenced my music.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Honestly, it’s not just one thing but a collection of experiences. From growing up around music, to seeing its effects on others, to feeling that I have the potential to be really great at it. Actually, at the end of the day that might be it: out of all the things I could have possibly done in life, music was something I felt I could be truly great at. There was also the element of the unknown which appealed to me.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?

Well, I’ve definitely had some funny and interesting moments, but let me share my most inspiring: I remember when I was first toying with the idea of releasing my own music, I went to a concert with some friends. It was a official Jeff Buckley Tribute concert in Brooklyn. It was such an incredible experience and one of the most moving shows I’ve ever seen. I took a picture of that stage and told myself “I’ll play there one day”. Fast forward a couple of years later, Spells and Curses were making enough noise that we were asked to play the 10th annual tribute show in NYC. Believe it or not, I had forgotten that set this particular goal until someone saw the original picture I took of the stage about a week before my performance. It made me stop in my tracks and realize how far I’ve come. The biggest take away was that as long as I continue to do one thing a day towards accomplishing a goal, I’ll get closer and closer to fully achieving it (regardless of whether I remember it or not).

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

I would advise them not to emulate anyone’s success. It’s good to have people who you can look up to and take inspiration from, but when it comes to the music industry, people resonate with authenticity. My version of authenticity (especially in the music I create) will be different from someone else’s in as much as I am a different person. Also, when you consider the ever-changing nature of the music business, the way one artist rises won’t necessarily be a viable method for another artist. Case in point: TikTok wasn’t even a thought on people’s minds a year ago, and now it’s breaking so many new artists!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

“Let them say no.” This was actually said to me by my high school music teacher (hi Mr. Jordan) when I expressed to him my nervousness about auditioning for our high school musical’s band. I was a guitar player and I wanted to be a part of the pit, but I didn’t think I had what it took. He then said those words to me and for whatever reason, they resonated enough that I went through with the audition and aced it! I’ve since been of the mind that whenever that voice of doubt sprouts in my mind, I must silence it. The last thing you ever want to do is get in the way of your own blessings. I took it a step further by actively seeking out rejection which ultimately made me fearless.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’ve already mentioned one of them, but my high school music teachers were pivotal for me becoming who I am today. I always daydreamed about how amazing life would be as a musician. But it wasn’t until Mr. Jordan, Mr. DeLuca, and Mr. Hyman actually saw my passion for music, that they began fanning a flame within me that lead to me developing my confidence and sense of purpose. So much of who I am is a testament to their dedication to their students. I was so hungry to learn that I would go to the music department in between classes to pick their brains on everything, and they shared their knowledge with me freely. I was a teenager learning things that musicians twice my age weren’t even privy to. They trusted me with that knowledge and I wanted to grow into that trust. Fast forward to today and I’m still applying a good chunk of that knowledge!

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?

I’ve been focusing on raising awareness for Suicide Awareness and Suicide Prevention. Last September (Suicide Awareness Month), I ran a couple of livestream concerts to raise money for To Write Love On Her Arms, a nonprofit that helps with suicide prevention in many ways. This year I plan on doing the same, as well as a few other initiatives I’m trying to piece together to ultimately raise more awareness.

Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?

A few years ago, I lost a close family member to suicide. Anyone with a similar experience can tell you just how much something like that flips your world upside-down. Especially when it’s so sudden and with no warning signs. One minute everything is fine, and the next, you find out someone you care about was living such a personal hell that they decide to take their own life. It wrecked me for a while; I couldn’t function as a human, let alone create as an artist. There was a part of me that felt like I could have or should have done something to save them. It was really eating me up inside.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?

Well in all honestly, I feel obligated to be as open as I possibly can with the people who support my music. I felt compelled to explain to my followers why I wasn’t as active on social media and why new music was put to a halt. I shared a video of myself explaining what happened, expressing my frustration, confusion, and hopes that anyone with suicidal thought would just push past it for their loved ones.

The response to that video was overwhelming. So many people reached out to me to share their own experiences with attempted suicide, or losing someone to suicide. I was floored when I saw just how prevalent of an issue suicide was. Regular people, people who you would never think had a worry in the world, opened up to me. I couldn’t believe that something so prominent in our society wasn’t discussed as often as it was occurring. Americans already have a weird relationship with death, but with suicide? It’s almost a non-conversation. Was I sheltered? Naïve? How did I never know that it effects so many people? That was when I realized the ultimate tragedy of suicide; it starts off as a thought. Suicidal thoughts are invisible scars that no one will ever see. It’s a silent enemy lurking in the dark recesses of the mind, and it effects way more people than we know.

There was no thought more frightening and no obstacle more seemingly insurmountable. However, my history of going up against great odds helped fortify my decision to combat this affliction.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I don’t think it would be right to get into the specifics of any one individual’s story. It’s a personal matter and I’m just thankful enough that they decided to trust me with their stories and struggles. I suppose if I could share anything, it’s that I’ve had many of them tell me how much my music has helped them get through those dark moments. People with suicidal thought will never ask for help. That’s why I take great pride in creating music that they choose to seek out when in need of comfort. It’s like I’m there with them, reminding them that things will get better. There’s no greater honor for me than that.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

There’s quite a few! For the individuals (and society at large), we can start by regularly checking in with friends and family. It sounds easy, but you’d be surprised how many people feel uncomfortable calling or texting someone for no reason other than to see how they’re doing. Little gestures like this can remind a person who’s feeling down that they still have someone who cares. Sometimes those small gestures mean the world.

Additionally, individuals can look up nonprofits whose goals and mission statements on the matter are in line with theirs. The reason why I personally choose to do work with To Write Love On Her Arms is because they have a proven history and track record of being dedicated to this cause. As well as being completely open with where their donated money goes to.

On a government level, the more insurances we have that cover mental health issues (especially for low-income individuals), the more it will help Suicide Prevention. It’s as simple as that.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.

1. Love the process, not the end result.
– I’ve seen truly talented artists release a song or an album, and then never release anything else because it didn’t get the reception they wanted it to. If I thought along those lines, I would have never released anything past my first album either. You have to love the process of what you do, so that in the end, no result (good or bad) can taint what or how you create.

2. People are listening, even if you don’t think they do.
– It’s very easy as an artist to feel as though no one is listening or no one cares. But if you release your music online, it is bound to be heard by someone. If it strikes a chord with someone, they will never forget that. They might not reach out to you, and you might not know they love your music, but they are out there. The more you continue to release art that moves them, the more they will feel compelled to reach out and thank you.

3. Trust yourself first. Listen to your opinion first. No one will care as much as you do.

– Early on, I was unsure about my how I wanted things to move forward and I asked for the opinions of others who I trusted. Looking back, I realize I was too insecure to really decide for myself. Ultimately, you must know what you want, you must make the decisions, and you must be willing to accept the consequences. This is because at the end of the day, nobody will put in as much time and energy into your project as you do.

4. It’s not the end of the world. No one will care as much as you do.

– Even if everything goes to hell, the only person who will care is the one who invested the most time and energy, i.e. you. This is a good thing though because it means you can bounce back quicker since no one will remember what happened before your moment of success.

5. Don’t wait for permission. There is no better time than now!

– I use to think there were certain songs that I’d wait to release until I have a bigger platform and that is the wrong way to think about it. You have to release your best stuff now. No one knows what the world will be like tomorrow.

You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂

This is actually a great question because it’s triggering some new ideas for me! I think the world can stand to have a #PhoneAFriend movement! Reminding people to just call their friends to check in, because a person’s voice can tell you way more about their day than a text ever could. Ok, I’m excited now…

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. 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 might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’ve got to say, I love what Eric Clapton does with his Crossroads festival. It’s a festival that he helps organize every couple of years with the sole purpose of raising funds for his rehabilitation center (Crossroads Centre). I would love to have lunch with the people behind Governor’s Ball, Coachella, Bonnaroo and other festivals to figure out how to do something similar, but with the goal of raising awareness for Suicide Prevention, as well as showing people that there are resources available to help tackle this issue.

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!

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