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A.V.A Live Radio Interview with Eddie Heller from Toxic Box

Toxic_boxJacqueline JaxJAX: How did you get your start in music?
Eddie: To be honest, I’ve been involved with music as long as I can remember. We had a baby grand piano in our home growing up and my parents have pictures of me as an infant sitting on my dad’s lap playing. My dad is an accomplished piano player and the 1st recollection I have of playing is around 4 or 5 years old. I played clarinet in elementary school and in 7th grade drums became my main instrument. By high school and college I was playing guitar and bass as well. I was a terrible candidate for music lessons – I had ADHD and had trouble concentrating. Luckily, playing by ear came easy to me. I’m not a virtuoso on any instrument (nobody is paying money to watch me perform on a specific instrument – lol) ……. my strengths are creativity/songwriting, a metronome sense of timing, and hopefully a well rounded appreciation of everything that goes into a song.

JAX: Pick one of your songs and tell me the story behind it. What’s the song about? Is there a back story about how it was written or recorded?
Eddie: Credit Card Song – this is the 1st song I submitted to you. In answering the question, it’s best to answer the 1st part last. I suppose that most artists come up with a story line and develop the music around that. For whatever reason, I typically have no idea of the meaning of the song until I write the beat/hook/melody. Even after the music has been written, the lyrics are not motivated by a specific story or feeling, rather the sounds of the words and how they fit into the syncopation or groove. I remember hearing a quote from John Lennon (my favorite song writer) stating that he would write the music and throw in words that didn’t necessarily mean anything, but sounded like they musically fit in the song. He laughed, and stated that folks thought he was a lyrical genius when in fact the opposite was true. I always found that amusing.

In Credit Card Song, I wrote the riff 1st, then the chorus. I imagined rapping during the verse, but knew that I’d have to reach out to a “professional” to get the dramatic effect that was desired. There was no name for the track – we had to label the song for a rough draft recording and someone in the band blurted our Credit Card Song (probably for lack of anything else). Bill Curtis, our singer, ran with the theme of Credit Card and wrote the lyrics. The song is about how a drug addict finances their habit on credit, but the credit is a metaphor for the user’s body/mind and not actual money. Just like irresponsibly using and maxing out a credit card, the drug addict abuses their body and mind now and pays for it later when everything falls apart

My producer came up with the idea of recording the whole song minus the verse/rap and having a contest with a small financial prize. He submitted the unfinished track (with the theme we were shooting for) to 3 rappers he had worked with. Each submitted their interpretation and we selected Kezo from Northern California. We did some final mixing and were finished. It was a fun process. One thing I love about writing and recording is that each song has a different journey to completion and you never know what direction you’re headed.

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JAX: What’s the music scene like in your town? Places to go? Tell me about one fun thing you like to do?
Eddie: I live in the DC area. My take is that on a macro scale it is about average, in line with other large cities. Nobody is leaving other big cities and coming here to make it big. That being said, there are many local bands, both original and cover, that have emerged locally. There are musical mini scenes and shows from different genres of music that would satisfy anyone’s live music preferences. I love watching live music, whether it be an acoustic set at a suburban coffee house or a national act at the 9:30 club downtown

JAX:  Have you found any challenges that you’ve had to overcome on social media? And is there any technology that has helped you engage with your fans?
Eddie: All of us are creative, but don’t really have the time to develop awesome media. We all have full time jobs and like to spend available time playing/writing music. There is so much great technology available. We’re currently working on a full album – when we’re finished, we’ll hire a manager who hopefully will take advantage of every available outlet to maximize our exposure

JAX: But even with social media… Why do you think it’s so hard for indie artists to break into the mainstream big markets?
Eddie: The industry has really changed ……. I think mostly for the better. You are right. The negative about the industry, in it’s newest form, is that money & Corporate interests make it hard for indie’s to break through into the mainstream big markets. The positive is that technology has enabled more people to hear more artists. Creative platforms, like yours, have sprouted up and enabled artists like myself (who admittedly doesn’t have their marketing act together) get some exposure. I’ve submitted songs through internet portals and some are even being pitched for network shows. Many songs you hear in important places were recorded in basements from artists who don’t have an “industry” appearance. This probably wasn’t possible years ago. I’m looking at the glass half full here

JAX: Every true artist has a creative journey they hope for, what is the legacy you want to leave? How do you want to be remembered for your music?
Eddie: At it’s core, music is subjective. There is no such thing as a good song or bad song. I like music that moves me. It’s different for every listener. I’d like people to be moved by my music, but I know that’s not guaranteed.

JAX: Artists who seek to make their art a career often face challenges that question their sense of purpose and creativity.. What is your experience with negative energy? How do you remove the monetary value as a means of influence over or judgement of your art?
Do you find that there is to much emphasis on the current market or Is there a balance that you have found helpful in your artistic decisions?
Eddie: Music is not my career (how I pay the bills) yet. I try to see the good in everyone/thing so I don’t experience much negative energy. Great questions by the way – I’ve never actually sat down and thought about it, but monetary value and current market actually do influence me ……. but only slightly. When I write a song I typically focus on a beat, hook, and melody/chorus. I never think about money or current market standards when doing this. However, when the song goes into production, I do keep in mind the potential marketability of the track. One of my foremost objectives is to be a professional musician (full time) and right now I am not. In order to accomplish this I need to have a balance between creativity and the reality of market expectations

JAX: Are you religious? Do you believe in fate? (Whatever is meant for you will come your way?) Do you believe that if you think positively and imagine yourself being that person, living a certain way or enjoying something you’ve always wanted you can bring it to you.
Eddie: I’m not religious, per say, but am spiritual in that I feel connected to people. I don’t believe in fate (things are predestined to come your way). I do believe that thoughts, be them negative or positive, have a tremendous influence over the way we are. I always try to stay positive, keeping in mind that unavoidable unpleasant things happen. I try to always be nice to others and smile a lot. That being said, everyone has a bad day now & again

JAX: What are you most thankful for?
Eddie: Honestly, and not to sound too corny, the typical stuff – family, friends, relationships, creative journeys. Oh yea, and my other vices – football, basketball, hockey, weight lifting, comedy, comedy, and more comedy. Did I mention music

JAX: Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
Eddie: I wish I was more specifically goal oriented, but I’m not. Loosely, I’d like to be a full timer in music. I’d love to be performing my songs in front of thousands of people. I hope that happens, but I honestly enjoy the creative process and interaction with my band mates, producer, other musician friends. If it takes me to the next level, then icing on the cake !!!!!

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