As a quick introduction for you and your work, for those who may be unaware – you have been
described as a “storytelling creative artist.” Do you feel this title is appropriate, given your work?
Yes, one hundred percent. I have background in theater from Columbia College in Chicago and although
I didn’t take the path of…performance, like live performance, I have taken the path of more production
work, like behind the scenes. I always make sure that anything I involve myself with has a storyline,
whether it’s something that’s very personal to me, or speaks to my ideals, I always want that to be
relayed to the audience so they can follow along to the constant that’s being displayed.
What are you working on currently?
So I am a person who loves music, and there are a lot of songs I hear that touch me personally, and I feel
like it needs to be expressed in a visual format. Obviously I can’t make music videos for a lot of these
songs due to legal issues, but I definitely want to have some type of…like my own personal twist, so I can
have these short films that I can have that I can just release. There are around five to seven songs that
I’ve picked out, and for each song there will be a short film to reflect, essentially, what came to my
mind. I do plan to release that album November 2018, but right now I have to take kind of a hiatus
because I’m working with a lot of my friends who are emerging artists to get their work out, too. I feel
like we have a lot of resources here in Chicago that aren’t being utilized, because of the simple fact that
nobody knows about them. So I do want to push other artists to kind of like do their own thing; I think
that whole, ‘don’t think about it’ thing should be your overall goal. Like, of course plan, but don’t over-
plan, just go for it mentality is really important. So that’s in the works, like I said, November 2018…get
up and do it, essentially [laughs].
Watching ELEMENT OF LIFE on Youtube, I felt it was a beautiful, poignant love letter to life and
motion. What was your inspiration for creating this film?
To be honest with you, I started to get into film, so I just decided to dive in and see what would happen.
I did a little research, purchased a camera and went like, “okay, you made this $400 purchase…might as
well put it to use!”
So whenever I had the chance, I would just walk around, carry my camera with me everywhere I went
and recording different aspects of Chicago. Essentially, when I walked around I would see things that I
maybe wouldn’t notice if I was by myself, because I could be in my own thoughts. I would…allow myself
to be present wherever I was, whether I was, you know, on a street or in a park or it was nighttime or
wherever the case may be…there was something different about, you know, you’re seeing other
people’s lives kind of playing themselves out while you’re just taking it in, recording in the moment. So it
was definitely one of those, ‘don’t think about it, just do it and see what happens’ things.
It was my first piece of work, so…[laughs] I really just wanted to make sure this is something I wanted to
do, without overthinking it.
The voiceover piece was actually a theater piece that I wrote in college and I didn’t know what I was
going to do with that. I wanted to do like a solo performance with that stage and I never picked it up
again until literally last year, so it was like years before I had even picked up the lyrics, the words of the
piece and decide play it over a montage of different parts of Chicago.
What are you passionate about?
Most importantly, I’m passionate about giving a voice to people who don’t have one. I mean, I was one
of those kids who felt they couldn’t speak up, because ‘I’m a kid’, and ‘if there’s an adult in the room you
listen to them, regardless if they’re right or wrong’, and I saw how that affected my life, so my goal is to
show people that, regardless of your age, you can speak up for yourself. You can say, ‘I’m not
comfortable with this’ if you feel that way. You don’t need an explanation, you should speak up for
What brought you to FSC?
I currently live in a 3-bedroom apartment with my girlfriend, her brother and our six-year- old daughter,
so there’s always a lot of chaos going on in the house [laughs]. I was looking for a place where I could
essentially…go there and just work, but also somewhere I could be around other artists who may not be
doing exactly the same thing I’m doing, but it’s a motivational influence. Like, you walk in and you see
somebody working, you see what they’re doing and you’re like, ‘yeah, I should be doing my stuff, too!’
I did some research and there are a bunch of different artist spaces throughout Chicago, but the Fulton
Collective definitely stuck out to me. For one, it was close – it’s literally less than 30 minutes from my
job. And on top of that, when I did the tour it wasn’t like, ‘sales pitch sales pitch sales pitch’, it was like,
‘this is what we have to offer. Whether you decide to do a studio with us or not, we definitely love to
have artists collaborate with us, period.’ It made me feel welcome. It was definitely a warm feeling of
like, ‘you are included in this, regardless of what you do. Just as long as you’re an artist and you’re
willing to support other people, too, and you’re okay with the artist community.’ It was this feeling of ‘all
are welcome’, so that was it.
Do you have any influences – artists, people in your personal life, anyone like that? Someone who
Yeah, I definitely have a few people who are an inspiration to me. Top 3 off the top of my head would be
first, my father, because he was the kid from the projects in Indiana who probably didn’t have anything
going for him – and now he’s a commander in the United States army. He has this huge success behind
him, and he’s also this huge fitness guru. Then Aba Devine – she started filmmaking at 32. She’s a sign
you can do anything no matter how old you are or how much knowledge you have on that one thing, as
long as you just get up and go do it. And Lena Waithe, because she essentially started from nothing as
well – she just took a pen and paper and said, ‘I’m gonna make this happen’, and used all her resources,
whatever she could, and she made it happen. So yeah, top 3, that’s it.
If you could live in any part of the world – besides Chicago, obviously – where would you choose to
plant your roots?
If I could live anywhere in the country…I love Chicago, deeply, but honestly something about Canada,
Montreal to be specific – it’s something that’s like, I feel my spirit called to that area. I mean, granted,
you could get greenery anywhere, you can get kind of that city life anywhere, but I think it’s something
different, and it would challenge me to learn a new language, to do things a little bit differently, because
their government runs things a little differently – I think Montreal, Canada would be the place to go.
Say there were no limitations whatsoever…be they financial, time-based, geography based, access to
equipment, actors, etc…what would you do with limitless possibilities? If you could do anything with
your work, where would you take it?
I would take it globally. I was an army kid; I’ve seen most of the United States. When I was a kid, we
moved around a lot, so I’ve seen just about everything the U.S. has to offer. I’ve always wanted to
become more exposed to different types of cultures and different types of people throughout the world.
So if I could, I would become…a travelling event coordinator. I would pick up people from all over.
Americans would take like a world tour, you know – London, China, Germany, anywhere you can think
of that’s outside of America, we would take it and essentially do events at any venue that would have
us, regardless of how big it is, how small it is, who’s there, and just essentially enjoy the moment and
enjoy our passion. And I would love to pick up artists from all over the world and just have them travel,
because I think it’s important to be exposed to different things – different food, different views,
different cultures. I would take care of things like transportation, or where we’re going to stay, can we
afford this person, can we afford that – just travel the world, perform what you want to perform, do
what you love without having to think, ‘when I get home will I still have a house? Will I have to pay X Y
Z?’ so that we could get together as a group of people who are like-minded so we can just…explore.
Youtube Channel: Carnival Studios (goo.gl/1ycKAr)
By Matt Raebel