We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalia Hill, Kirk Want, Tsukasa Takahasi, Ryland Fallon, Miren Edelstein and Mario Hubbard of the band Nothing Special and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hello Ska Band, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
If you are willing to put in the work, accept rejection, and then continue to have a passion for your career, keep going. There will be sacrifices you have to make. There will be falls and wounds that will make you think you should move on but they prepare you to truly know the in’s and out’s of what you are striving for and the career field you are pursuing. Every step you make connects you with someone and they will remember you despite if it was a win or fail. Be true to who you are, be kind to everyone, build the connections, and keep moving. Your paths will cross again and then timing will be everything.

If your career goals start to feel like work that gives you anxiety and starts to drain you of your happiness I would take a step back and reevaluate what matters to you. I can’t say that I think anyone should ever give up. Sometimes it’s just redirection. Set smaller goals, decide what you can live with and without. See if there is something else in your field that you didn’t think about pursuing but would keep you in your passion and make you happy.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Alex and Eric started the band off in 2014 with their fellow grad students Peter Kissin and Kevin Cremin. The only space we could find at the time was in the UCSD radio station jam room. Seven years later, new and old members, and our attitude remains the same: chill. Natalia is a professional modern/ jazz dancer, singer, actress, and dance educator. Kirk is a Master Sergeant and plays for the 300th Army Band. Ryland plays all the instruments and is an Engineer for NAVWAR. Tsukasa works at a startup that makes DNA and is also a wedding photographer on the side. Mario plays in multiple bands and genres while working as a government employee at The Veterans Affairs San Diego. Miren plays weddings, kills on an electric violin with musicians like Brian Karscig of Louis XIV and the Nervous Wreckords and is pursuing a career in psychology. Music and being part of the band is different for all of us and understanding that of each other keeps us from putting unnecessary pressure on each other and keeps things easy. There are no egos in this group. We play to have fun and get a moment to express ourselves with some “skanking “ and getting some smiles and sing-alongs with the audience.

We focus on music that moves people and ourselves. What sets us apart is the sheer size of our band and the variety of sounds we play. There aren’t many other local bands with a full horn section and a violinist. As a result, our covers almost always have a different instrumentation than the original which leads us to be creative with the voices. We write originals too and write them for us with the hope someone will join in the kickline and sing along while we play. We also literally set ourselves apart from each other because the horns have to stand off the stage!

The difficult part was getting the entire band together as we are all critical to make the magic happen. (Who decided on an 8-9 piece band anyway!) Finding gigs that fit our schedule is also tough and became more of a challenge as many of us graduated from school. As a music genre, Ska is not the easiest way to sell ourselves to the modern crowd. We play ska covers, we take rock or pop songs and mix some Ska into it, and write our originals with Ska influence. Until the next big Ska wave, we will just keep holding it down the way we do.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The band loves getting burritos and debating where the best spot is. Santana’s Mexican Food is winning at the moment. There is so much great music in San Diego from hidden jam spots like Prohibition Lounge in Gaslamp or get some of that beach reggae and a unique scene at Winston’s in OB. Epic breweries like Modern Times Beer, and Amplified to get you started on your beer tour. Hitting the beach at WindanSea, or trying to surf at Old Man Tourmaline is a must. Balboa Park is filled with so much culture, art, science, nature, and people loving life that you could get so much just from walking around! Most importantly though hanging out and jamming with us.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We want to make our Shoutout to the following venues for getting us started! Mr. Peabodies (RIP, Encinitas), The Loft (UCSD), 710 Beach Club (Pacific Beach). Thank you for hearing us and booking us! They opened the door, helped get our name out in the scene which helped us book more venues such as Park and Rec, Kensington Club, Casbah, and Holding Company to name a few! For sure credit goes to the OG members including Alex Georges and Erik Anderson who became rich and famous without us. Without their groove we wouldn’t have started this project. UCSD Pepband for teaching us how to play our horns. UCSD physics department for being our largest supporter and keeping half of our band members employed during our most active days.
Our families and friends who have supported us through backyard shows and small sandy beach festivals! We are grateful for their love and constant support.

Instagram: @nothing_specialska

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nothingspecialska

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkLf7Ts-ESogaXPZAcIqq_g

Image Credits
Tsukasa Takahashi Amadine Berro

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.