I’ve received an overwhelming number of inquiries lately about who I am and what I do. I find it difficult to give short-winded answers to questions like this. So, allow me to nip this one in the bud MY way. I haven’t been dreaming about being published my entire life for nothing. So here goes. I am not having this edited or using grammar software/apps or whatever. I am just writing. If my grammar or punctuation is amiss somewhere, my bad. I will try not to LOL and stuff.
My name is Erica. I am here in this world and on this planet to present a deeper message and meaning with everything that I do in order to resonate and connect with the people and world around me in an effort to help bring an awareness to certain things and let you know that somebody out there pays attention and CARES. That is who I am. I am a communicator and use many different outlets to hone in on my self-expression. I believe that through that, different levels of love and healing are achieved. I want to help people. I always have. But I figured out that I couldn’t help anybody until I settled and helped myself enough to really step into who I am. I will always be a work in progress pushing myself to be my best. We all should accept that duty. It is an inside job of the soul. I am at a point where I feel confident enough to use my voice for a greater good but with a straight-forward approach that is NOT sugar coated. I call that tough love and it is no different than the love I give to myself.
Let me start with music on a surface level. I was introduced to the electronic music scene over 20 years ago and latched on to a love for it ever since. I was proverbially raised on the sounds of Detroit Techno and electronic music culture and took a secondary liking to Drum and Bass. You either know what that is or you don’t and that is the reason why I decided to become a DJ, record mixes and eventually begin writing my own music. I am a hard core dance enthusiast and I like finding the beauty in things.
From the time I was about 4 years old, my hobbies and passions of the heart have always been writing, music, singing, dancing and choreography.
I would set up make believe concert productions and perform in the garage with my Tata and all my dolls sitting lined up in rows in chairs. I would rewind VHS tapes for hours and hours, over and over memorizing Michael Jackson and Madonna choreography. I would listen to my Tata play harmonica and my Nana jam out to her Mexican music. My uncle played the saxophone and would sit up in his room listening to tunes all the time. He introduced me to some great vinyl from his lifetime music influence. Music was always jamming at an obnoxious audio level in the house where I grew up with my parents and parties were often going on. My dad had three brothers who all lived nearby and they all had kids so I have many cousins and we were close in age so it seemed it was always one big family party. We had so much fun. I grew up with loud music, house parties and dancing. I grew up having FUN.
I was born in 1979. Not only was my primary influence music from the 80’s and 90’s but I also grew up with the sound preferences of my mother and father. It spanned excellence with the Beatles, Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Genesis, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, George Michael, Heart, Sade, Dire Straits, Duran Duran, Gary Newman, Neil Young, CCR, Pink Floyd, Heart, Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac and the list goes on and on. I got to experience the best of the late 70’s, 80’s, 90’s R&B, Rap, Hip-Hop, Pop, Alternative and Grunge come to life and live. I always remember music being GREAT. Then I was introduced to the rave/underground dance music culture in 1996 and that capped my overall influence. I fell in love. My taste in music developed that way. What happened to that growing evolutionary/revolutionary trend in music?
Music today has much to be desired. I do not listen to the radio very often. I listen to Techno, Drum and Bass and the sounds of what I listened to growing up. The music that impresses me today, is underground electronic music. And that is because of the heart that goes into it. Also, it is not just a genre of music. It is it’s own sub culture to those that TRULY understand what that means. But it gets painted in such a dark light (rightfully so). Any outsider looking at it with zero understanding, is committed to misunderstanding it. People tend to hate what they do not understand. And that is understandable. You cannot really duplicate or teach what this culture is. What ruins it even more are posers that THINK they are running things but really, they are running the shit into the ground with bad vibes and a bunch of fuckery and they share that shit show with their audience that doesn’t even know their purpose there because they were schooled BY the people running the shit show and this is ruining it for those that actually dedicate themselves into breathing life into the AUTHENTICITY of the underground electronic music scene. This compromised practice is prevalent across the globe in these communities. And this is the reason for the poison the runs through the veins or our electronic music communities. People seem to have forgotten that this is supposed to be about a vibe, experience and the music. Nothing else. Ego and all the baggage of your problems with the world does NOT belong here. This is not the place for it. This is the place to get AWAY from all that shit and connect with your fellow brothers and sisters like how you are SUPPOSED to do in CHURCH. Amen? The ORIGINAL standard of this culture was built around “P.L.U.R.”- peace, love, unity and respect.
When I had a boom box with dual cassette player, I would wait for a song to come on the radio, hit record and simultaneously play the second tape player to record my own cassette tape mix on my boom box. LOL! I started playing the flute and violin in 4th grade. I was almost always in the “first seat”. Remember that? I was also in choir and bell choir. I taught myself how to play piano/keyboard after I learned how to read sheet music.
As a cheerleader, I enjoyed doing the dance choreography the most. It is the only reason why I latched onto becoming a cheerleader. I choreographed a dance routine that our squad took to a state competition and won first place in. I was good at this stuff.
Sadly, I stopped playing everything when I was 16 due to life’s distractions at the time-primarily the “boys”. I quit cheerleading, all my instruments, started chasing boys, doing drugs and having meaningless sex. I mean, that was normal teenage shit in my opinion, no? Even though it was painfully obvious that I was more musically/creatively/artistically inclined, I was also academically strong. I just hated school. The pursuit of my talents were never encouraged once I hit the age of 16 so I sort of just dropped it. I went on to pursue a career in Finance and Real Estate instead. I skipped college and went to a trade school instead. That was the ONLY thing I did MY way in my entire life. Once I graduated from trade school, I pursued my full time career in finance for 20 years. Just before making the decision to pursue what would become my career, I passed up a Warner Brother’s opportunity in acting/modeling at the age of 19. I randomly went to a casting call where hundreds of people showed up and I couldn’t believe (but actually could believe) that I made the “final cut”! However, I did not have the means, money or support/faith/backing of my family to up and leave to New York. And by that time, I was strung out on heroin so I wasn’t exactly at the mental capacity to fight for anything. I was flying blindly and at a very diluted level. It was depressing.
I was introduced to electronic music at the age of 17. At 19, I got engaged to a guy that was a pretty prevalent contributing factor to my electronic music knowledge and taste and was a godfather of Cleveland’s local underground scene/community. He is now deceased. Rest in peace Kevin Arndt aka Gank from Spawntaneous Productions.
I was kicked out of the house at 17 for being on drugs and sent to live with my father who was an alcoholic at that time. I lived with his alcoholism and not being present for me really at all growing up and still to this day. He lives 20 minutes away from me. We do not speak nor does he know my kids. He and I never had a close relationship. So of course, this gave me a sort of “Daddy issue” complex that contributed NOT in a good way to many of my already underlying psychiatric weaknesses and underdeveloped sense of SELF. That just exacerbated my substance abuse problem and made me incredibly needy with guys to where I became very, very overly-absorbed and co-dependent in them and that only to my self-love away even MORE. But enough about that. I am going way off topic here.
Somehow, through the “rave” scene, it seemed we all shared these similarities and dynamics. Maybe not the same exact circumstances, but we all had some sort of “shit” it seemed like. And we gravitated toward one another, understood one another, accepted and loved one another because we saw pieces of ourselves in one another I believe and I formed some great bonds as a result. I made some awesome friends that knew me and understood me better than my own family did or ever cared to. To this day, I gravitate to the people that I do and vice versa for this same exact reason. I love my “people” and I recognize who “gets it”. It doesn’t go away. It is a part of who I am.
I realized I was missing some major pieces of myself and I was not happy. The entire time I held down my 20-year career, I was a highly functioning drug addict. But that story is for another day. I never pursued the passions of my heart up until now. My heart is in self-expression. I have a lot to express and share. I have one hell of a life story. I am now pursuing the things that make my heart beat. I found solace from all the dark and trauma I have endured throughout my life in and through MUSIC. Music saves my life. Literally. Music is such an awesome platform for both the light AND the dark that we must learn to embrace and for both love and pain which are essential.
I began learning how to mix/DJ in February of 2017 and have honed in on building on my vocal capabilities as well as producing. Currently, I am ACTIVELY pursuing several different creative endeavors including writing, blogging, playing DJ gigs, producing music and creating a merchandise line. I am basically taking all the professional and life skills that I picked up throughout my career saga and applying them to my daily life doing the things I love to do and figuring out how to self-sustain only doing those things. So far, I am enjoying every single step of the way. This is a whole new world. The world I have been waiting for. The world I have been waiting on myself to “show up” for. Surprise! I am LATE. I’ve always been late to everything. I am working on that bad trait. BUT, let me tell you what has led me and brought me to this point. I want to share what I look like on the other side of the recent goals and achievements that I am knocking out of the park. It is a lot of pertinent information that I do not want to exclude anymore as things that have happened in my life. I have done and been through a LOT. I am excluding the entire drug addiction saga portion and being raised with a broken family part. Another day, another time. I will just try and stick to my job, career and music inspiration/influence here on this day.
At the age of 19, I ended up working as a self-directed retirement plan and sales consultant for over 10 years. I taught people how to utilize their retirement account money to invest in real estate/investment property, do private lending, venture capital, set up/invest in partnerships/LLC’s, private stock, precious metals, blah blah blah with tax-deferred and tax-free profits. I also worked for the Internal Revenue Service for 6 years specializing in tax preparation for their Wage & Investment Division. That went hand in hand with tax law for small business/self-employed, real estate and balance due accounts. I was promoted and helped train our seasonal new-hires and get them certified to go on the phones to deal with our taxpayers that would call in needing help.
I also did part-time work in events and promotions, brand/guerilla marketing, business development, sales consulting, bartending and retail. I resigned from my full-time career in 2014 as I was approaching the ultimate mid-life crisis. It was all catching up to me.
My decision to resign from my career, followed me getting married and having two children pretty much back-to-back. I’m pretty sure I was living with post-partum depression and it was never diagnosed. I never felt quite the same after having children. It definitely wasn’t that feeling of glow radiating that I would see other mothers claiming that they had. It was like I did not belong to myself anymore and I was having an out-of-body experience every day. Or maybe, it was just the fact that I spent an entire life up until having kids doing a bunch of meaningless things to myself.
I started to downward spiral trying to keep up with all these issues I was struggling with internally. My work performance suffered, I started missing more and more work, let bills go, only wanted to sleep and when I was awake, I would pass the time self-medicating with drugs and alcohol because that was the only way I could manage being alive in this trapped feeling of an existence.
I have discovered over the past few years that this is the thing that played a major contributing factor in my life in lending to the fact that I always felt lost, unhappy and never content with anything. Nothing was ever good enough. Nothing ever felt right. I would bore easily and always needed change of scenery so I could never seem to plant my roots and ground or discipline myself in anything. Nonetheless, I STILL excelled and accomplished a lot in my life but I disliked ALL of it except for the part where I got to talk incessantly to people and travel. That was a part of my job all the time. I was always more of a self-taught, self-initiating, self-inspired, free-spirited, independent and stubborn person that needed to do things MY way and on MY time and most importantly, feel happy. Since I was only living a facade of happiness, I chased a co-dependent, drug-addicted, sex-addicted, attention-addicted high my entire life instead. Of course, I did not realize that at the time. In all of that, I tricked myself by having a false sense of reality and false feelings of happiness in everything-work, relationships, friendships, my down time, you name it.
It makes sense to me now that during that 20-year road, I made all the wrong choices for ME. I was living based on everybody else’s ideals of what they thought I should do. I lived to make what I thought would make other people proud of me rather than doing the things that made ME happy and proud in my own core. I never noticed it and neither did the people around me. I wore the mask and hid it all very well. I recognize this all now. That is what you call “indoctrination”. It is alive and well in society. It IS a thing. And I HATE it. It is a very difficult thing to keep yourself immune from. And with kids?? It is downright SCARY. I am doing my own due diligence as a mother to protect my children from this. But feel this is such an important matter to speak about because our children are our future and WE are history in the making. I do not latch on to historical, societal constructs and beliefs/practices because I do not see where this has EVER led to anything actually working for the better or FOR US and evolving us as a human race.
Slow down and look around you. You are a mirror that is staring back at you. And for so long, this dynamic has put me at odds with myself and other people around me so often. Why is anybody continuing to buy into all this shit? Where to even begin? I am literally breaking the cycle in the making as we speak. And because I finally recognized this “condition” in myself, I am beginning to see it everywhere in the world I observe every day. It is so sad. And I need to speak on it.
I am glad that turbulent time is over and that I am living true to myself. I have never been happier doing things I have zero experience in, as a single mother of two, at almost 40 years old, out loud and in front of everyone. I never thought I could or would be so happy after having lost literally EVERYTHING that I busted my tail off in life to achieve. I truly hit my rock bottom. I have been living as a single mother of two for almost 4 years now (most of which have been a God awful mental and emotional nightmare) and my toughest audience are my kids. THEY are the boss of me and my motivation and inspiration to be a role model. They are the reason I did not commit suicide a little over one year ago. I want to be a living testament and example to show them that they are capable of doing anything that they want to and can imagine and that they possess everything that they need ALREADY in the natural abilities that they possess to take on the world and be a good example WITHOUT THE INDOCTRINATION CURSE. I want to nurture that in them and to be able to do that, I must nurture it in myself. Self- care and self-love is the key to doing this. With that, you can’t just talk about it. You must BE about it. You must practice what you preach and stand up for what you believe in so that you do not fall for bullshit. You must DO AND TAKE ACTION followed by thought and intent, right now and BE and STAY in the present moment CONSISTENTLY otherwise, you will fall off into the cycle of chasing your own ass again. And that is what I am trying NOT to do these days.
I just came out of a very rough three-year transition period following a very convicted decision that I needed to walk away from my lifetime career choice, a severe lifetime substance abuse problem along with the man that I married and spent 13 years of my life with. We separated to take “a break” and clear our heads because I was not doing great mentally or emotionally and he quickly found and clung to a stripper that was 13 years younger than me (no offense to strippers). During that, I was left with and ultimately forced to walk away from a home we newly built in 2009 since I had no job anymore after resigning to be a stay-at-home mom.
Shortly following that, I jumped right into a very one-sided, sort of long-distance, toxic relationship with a person that demonstrated ZERO care or concern about myself or my children and for whatever reason, I latched on to that and somehow I had myself convinced that this was my “person” during a time when I was at my lowest and covering up a significant amount of hurt by self-medicating. I genuinely thought this guy was my person and I loved him. But that show of love was not ever reciprocated to my standard. And when I begun to realize, question and act against this, he left me (and my kids) hurt in a way that I have never experienced or been hurt before. It took that for me to realize what I do NOT want. I have had true love before. And no “person” of mine would ever treat me the way I was treated in that relationship. End of that story. It was borderline disgusting and psychologically twisted the number of open-ended mini-catastrophes that were created with no closure and with each one, ripped me apart more and more. It now has me questioning whether or not I survived narcissistic personality disorder abuse. The entire circumstance and how it unfolded and ended left me even more gutted.
I latched onto a crystal meth addiction after that, got bullied and ostracized for doing so because I am a mother and after people’s relentless pursuit with that, all the mental breakdown I was experiencing made me self-medicate even more and eventually led me to want to take my own life. This did not happen before I decided to call the ambulance on MYSELF to have MYSELF admitted to the psychiatric ward due to debilitating schizophrenic episodes. I HELPED MYSELF BECAUSE I WAS LEFT WITH NOBODY TO CARE ABOUT TRULY HELPING ME. I got judged a lot. But never offered the help that I actually needed when I couldn’t help myself. This is how I discovered that you MUST go at it ALONE. We are brought into this world alone and we leave alone. That means, you must live to serve yourself in God’s higher purpose. Period. Until then, your path will be obstructed.
Prior to and leading up to that, I lived to see and accomplish the proverbial “American dream” and I did it with ease and spent the first half of my adult life doing it well. I graduated from trade school, got my career, held some note worthy positions and worked with very wealthy people, traveled and moved everywhere, got engaged, married, built a house, had kids (all in that order), bought all the things and had a combined 6-figure income. But underneath it all, my soul was chasing its own ass. I was very unhappy and for many reasons. I couldn’t put my finger on why specifically. It was layers upon layers of stuff that has just built up that were never faced head on in feeling I suppose. I had to really sit with myself alone and in some darkness to peel back all of those layers, self-identify, accept and heal. It was not easy.
I am pleased to say that I am finally on point and on an upswing and I have never felt more alive in my life. I never thought approaching the age of 40 would look and feel this good! Now, I live and am in pursuit of my heart and my truth openly and honestly. That is my job. That is my “IMERICAN dream”. I needed to tame the beast before unleashing it. I understand that now about myself. And I am ready to show the world. I am literally starting with NOTHING and living under my mom’s roof with my kids. Can I LOL now???? Yeah. Real funny.
Now, let’s talk about my victory and gratitude after ALL of that shit show ensued and why I am laser-focused on me now. So far, since February of 2018 through August of 2018, I started running and co-hosting a local/community monthly electronic music and arts event in Akron, OH called “Do Your Thing”. This was ALL an effort to promote our local artists and offer an open-forum platform for the creative people in the community. The vision was to harbor a safe, peaceful, loving, unified, non-discriminative, non-exclusive atmosphere where people could come to chat with other open, like-minded people, blow off proverbial steam, dance/perform, work on live/pop-up art all-the-while displaying the talents of our local pool of DJ’s and producers in the genre of underground (non-mainstream) electronic music. Due to the success of that endeavor and it’s growth potential, I started reaching out to other local venue owners basically selling this “cause” until I was asked to start running a second monthly event in Cleveland, OH. The first day/night that I coordinated/executed for a Cleveland monthly event was on Cinco de Mayo this year. The vision for “Do Your Thing” was duplicated and the response and success of how I saw this vision come together was astounding and unlike anything I had FELT or seen in a very long time in this community. It was amazing and it was an incredible night for anybody and everybody that was there to experience. We started at 3pm. I had a taco bar going, art displays, visual/lighting enhancements, sound enhancements and a hand selected line-up of some of Northeast Ohio’s most passionate and/or hard-working DJ’s. This, for me, was all about HEART. A night where you place differences aside and ignore all the ugly darkness that you see in the world and come together for the MUSIC.
From there, the owners of that establishment were pleased and wanted to see more of this on a WEEKLY basis and offered me a weekly platform on the spot to DJ and also, to host a weekly event. I hesitated knowing that their expectations of seeing what they saw that night would occur every weekend because sadly, that caliber/diversity of an event simply isn’t prevalent in Cleveland, OH anymore. That cultural, “underground” feel, a thing that cannot be faked, is no longer a thing of the norm as it once was in Cleveland over two decades ago. Nonetheless, I accepted the offer because I can’t deny my heart and I attempted the endeavor with a very light-hearted, casual, no-pressure approach with the idea that I would use this as a platform to rotate all of our Northeast Ohio/local DJ talent through in hopes that this would help to promote and rebuild our electronic music community. I quickly came to find that it takes a VILLAGE to build and SUSTAIN a culture and community as intimate and special as this one. Unfortunately, I had to cease efforts after 6 weeks due to lack of participation, support and involvement from the bar owners/staff and sadly, the lack of engagement from the community as a whole.
I didn’t just stop and give up there. However, it was the “seeing people’s true colors” eye opener that I needed. I simply needed to regroup and redirect my energy and effort back into myself and those concentrated efforts. The electronic music scene in Cleveland, OH USA isn’t exactly a saturated market in the electronic music and arts scene. Lately, it is making a nice comeback. It takes a lot of GENUINE heart, effort, cooperation, dedication and coming together to build ANYTHING. That is the heart of this culture. IT HAS TO BE ABOUT THE MUSIC AND THE MESSAGE THAT COME WITH THE MUSIC ONLY and stay that way. ALWAYS. It is up to those of us with heart for it to breathe life into it.
My aim is to continually do what I can to contribute to and support this “scene” to the best of my capabilities and see it thrive. I will die doing this because I love it so much and have met SO many talented and gifted people throughout the years that have both blown my mind and inspired me. I have SO much to offer this world of music. And I am so blessed and grateful that 95% of the people that are currently involved in my world, share my sentiments exactly. These are my people. This is my family. I am their proverbial cheerleader, too. I will always be a cheerleader, supporter and promoter of the underground music culture and scene. In fact, I believe it could very well save the world. This year, I look forward to taking IMERICA global and overseas. I have never been. And I cannot wait. I am ALL ABOUT what I bring and represent. THIS is what I have been waiting for my whole life-JUST BEING ME. MY WAY. I want to inspire and encourage others to do the same.
Ok, I really need to shut up now. If you made it all the way through this “TMI” rant, congratulations! You have made it to the end. I’ve always been told that I am too “verbose” and I need to “cut it down”. I realize now, that is because I was never in the right places, at the right times or working with the right people. NOW I AM. I have never taken heed to that advice. That will never change about me. Thank God and aren’t we lucky? Here I am. Blabbing to the world in a blog about many things I probably wasn’t “supposed” to talk about EVER. Or something like that.
If you are going to follow me, I must warn you that I am going to expose pieces of my life that I used to be ashamed of, hide, not talk about, etc. I think everybody in the world can relate to this concept/dynamic. NOT sharing and being open with your human experience is what causes a serious disconnection between humans. We need to start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. We ALL got our shit baggage to claim. I’ll go first. We have only just begun. Get ready America and world.