We had the good fortune of connecting with Reid Biland and we’ve shared our conversation below. If you haven’t already, check out Reid’s magazine, Amateur Magazine.
Hi Reid, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
A life “in the arts” is something I’ve always expected of myself. While I was never fully convinced that I’m a creative individual, I’ve always felt a need to belong to the other half (as opposed to the 9-5 accountants or office workers). From a young age, I was… eccentric. I wore what I felt necessary, which usually included every color of the rainbow while utilizing juxtaposing patterns. I took piano lessons, which I never considered a significant part of myself, so spent more time playing sports than focusing on that skill. I preferred softball or basketball and thought creating any sort of art was a task too difficult for my logical-based brain to accomplish. That was until I discovered punk rock. Well, not punk rock, moreso that watered-down pop version that bands like Green Day or Blink 182 call punk. Whatever it was, it seemed enticing: the energy of being on stage, life on the road, people packing in theaters to support your creation… maybe it was the emotional draw everyone has felt towards rockstars, but for me, it became an obsession. I set out to be one of those frontmen (but the little girl version of course). At eleven I started learning guitar. I found my dad’s old acoustic and searched “easy guitar tutorials” on Youtube (any musician of the digital age understands how much of a blessing Marty Schwartz from Guitar Jams is), and as soon as I learned my first four chords, I started writing songs. That was my first taste of being an artist: incorporating my perspective of reality into song melodies and using my little knowledge of music theory to create passable guitar rhythms. From there, it became an addiction. Any dream I had, became a song. Any human interaction that caused an emotion, whether sad or happy, became a storyline. It was an emotional release- it still is an emotional release. Anything I write that is true to my perspective is a little release of pent-up emotion or hidden thoughts. I think that is the addiction for me. But, going back to my first songwriting experiences, I wouldn’t say I was truly an artist until I started recording these little songs. At first, I tried to copy the sounds that my favorite musicians had. But, realizing my little recording equipment and inability to afford real software, I knew that was impossible. I excused my lack of real audio quality for what I call uniqueness. In other words, I made what I had work. I developed my own recording process and made my own unconventional way of creating a song using whatever wild ideas I came up with. I experimented and failed, tested then retested, and created projects just to be thrown out and started over again. While the process was tedious, it was magical. I kept going back for more, even if I faced disappointment. I, obviously, still had not found any success, but the excitement of creating something from my own mind was enough to keep me going. In the end, I think that is the aspect that makes me (or anyone) an artist: to create purely for the passion of creating, even if perfection is never reached.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The reason behind Amateur Magazine is not only to be another outlet for me to create but to recognize all the people out there fulfilling their passions through art. I have featured aspiring filmmakers, photographers, and clothing designers in past issues but have leaned towards writing solely about musicians and representing their plight to succeed in the complex industry. I analyze the music and their live personalities. I get to know their motivations and aspirations. I want to share how they will approach the music industry and the extent they will go to get their music heard. My favorite answer when asking the timeline of these bands’ futures, is “as far as we can go.” And my all-time favorite answer is from the lead of a local band called Cherrys, who responded with “until our knees drop.” That is the idea of a band creating music until they can create no more (true passion). Aside from the beauty that is artistic devotion, I feature the aesthetic of live performances. At the end of the day, writing can only describe so well what occurs at a show, so I rely heavily on photographers in representing the true energy of each band. Just by looking at a picture, readers can get a feel for a band. Whether of the mosh pit or lead guitarist, a photo can give emotion that isn’t always accomplished accurately through words. Together, I hope to reinforce the importance of live performances (in the end, that’s how most local bands make any money), while pushing audiences to appreciate music as a full emotional experience, rather than just an audial pleasure. That goes for any artform I feature too: I hope a visual piece is felt rather than seen, or a piece of clothing is linked to an emotion rather than added to a collection of things to be worn. I focus mainly on music because it’s what I know best. That and, unlike other people my age making ‘zines, I hope to fully analyze the art and represent the artist as a whole, which I can truly accomplish when writing about music. With each issue, I hope to set myself apart more and more. With improving paper quality, color clarity, and overall length of the issues, I hope to be better than my last, as well as others around me. Maybe I’ve been pushed by my failures (losing money on an issue release rather than making any), or the support of bands and artists I work with, who give me hope that I am in fact representing art in a way that can be appreciated by diverse audiences. Either way, I will always continue to improve my work with each challenge I take. I hope to work with bigger bands and bigger artists and spread Amateur through bigger platforms. I hope to reach out to audiences outside of San Diego but will always represent the beauty of this city’s art and culture. At the end of the day, San Diego is one of those places where amateurs live: people who keep pursuing their passions, even if it comes with defeat. I’d like to reach out to other corners of the world that hold those same values, and find other passionate people who determine life based on what they love. I hope my creative pursuit will help me succeed in doing so and that my love for art, will help others continue theirs’.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
1. The Template in Ocean Beach – a fascinating art cafe that also hosts after hours for local bands 2. Public Square Coffee House in La Mesa – also great for seeing local bands
3. Vigilante Coffee in Oceanside – another great coffee house that includes a short walk to a beautiful lookout onto Buccaneer Beach
4. Buccaneer Beach in Oceanside – for a more private experience of the beach while being in a great tourist area
5. Soma Sidestage – for a show of course… it doesn’t matter who’s playing, it’s going to be fun
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to recognize my parents for being incredibly supportive of every interest I attempt. I’d like to thank them for helping me financially and showing love and appreciation for each of my artistic ventures. It is because of them that I stay motivated and see reason in pursuing my dream of becoming a full-time artist.
Brie Cvengros, Danny Tran, Jesus Rojas, Alysha Roderick, Emma Biland, and Milena Hidalgo