We’re living in a time of history with the current events of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement. Everyone’s lives have been turned upside down. How have you been holding up with everything that is going on in our world right now?
Trevor: I’ve been holding up reasonably well. While there are days of weird existential monotony, it’s been pretty balanced with more positive & exciting days. It’s given me time to regain some perspective in my own life and decide what’s really important. It’s definitely frustrating at times to deal with people who hold an opposing view against BLM and the major social issues we’re facing. I’ve come to the realization that as long as I’m doing what I can within my community and within my reach, while having those difficult conversations with people when they arise, there isn’t much we can do beyond that. Which, I feel, could create more of a ripple effect if we all use that mindset.
For new listeners who may have just stumbled upon your music, how would you describe your songs, and what sets you apart from other artists?
Trevor: To put a more specific label on it, I would describe the music as indie with emo influences and lyrically driven. I would say the thing that sets this project apart from others is the main drive for community and mindfulness. The idea is to make music that people can get lost in, create a live show experience where people can feel safe to express themselves, and meet each other. It’s a beautiful thing, being able to bring people together in a room and drift away for a moment.
How did you get your start in the music industry?
Trevor: Throughout high school, I would go to open mic nights a lot and just play cover songs with my acoustic. Fast forward a couple of years, I created ‘shelter pup.’ and started going to 2-3 open mics a week, playing the collection of songs I had written, which would become the first ep. Just pushing relentlessly until I could find something that sticks. I met so many wonderful people through doing open mics that helped me push further into booking actual shows at places like Mahall’s, The Foundry, Beachland Tavern, etc.
How did ‘shelter pup.’ form and what is the meaning behind the band’s name?
Trevor: The idea ‘shelter pup.’ came to me while on a walk through of my favorite parks. There’s kind of a dual meaning to the name. The more angsty side is the thought that we’re comparable to shelter animals who have been through a hell of a lot and are healing every day from it while looking for our place in the world. Everyone is on a different part of that journey. The more wholesome side is the reason for the period at the end and pup is actually an acronym. ‘Shelter patience, understanding, and peace.’
Let’s talk about your single “(It’s) Your Funeral.” What inspired you to write this track?
Trevor: “(It’s) Your Funeral” was inspired by my experience with idealized isolation as well as witnessing the people around me dealing with the same sort of thing. In a sense, it was a letter to my past self who thought that I could do everything on my own, that I didn’t need anyone else, and that I was better off alone. Which is a silly thought now, looking back. Being alone is a natural and healthy thing, but there’s definitely a line where it becomes self-destructive and negatively affects the quality of life.
What inspired your ideas for the single’s music video concept?
Trevor: I was on a walk around my neighborhood and saw a couch sitting out on a tree lawn and thought it’d be funny to see an animated skeleton person hanging out there as well, walking around as I do - just going about their day doing things alone. It could be taken as a solitary or a lonely thing to do. The guys with In Bloom Productions helped push it into more of a storyline rather than random shots with no chronology.
What is your writing process like?
Trevor: I write everything myself. I write all the time whether it be thoughts, poems, songs, or random ramblings. Some of those become songs, or I’ll use pieces of different ones to come together into a song. The instruments are written just with myself in my bedroom once I’ve organized lyrics with the idea of music for it already in my head. It’s fun to sit and mess around with ideas and I even surprise myself sometimes with what I’m able to create.
Who/what are some of your influences and inspiration for your sound?
Trevor: A couple of my biggest influences are Beck, Led Zeppelin, and Dance Gavin Dance. They all just do their own thing and aren’t afraid to push outside their comfort zone for their sound.
If you could have a dream collab with anyone, who would it be and why?
Trevor: I would love to collaborate with Beck. I feel like we could make a song that absolutely slaps. It would also be pretty cool to see their writing process and perspective on things.
What else can we expect coming up from you this year? Do you have any goals set for 2021?
Trevor: While there isn’t anything currently planned for the rest of 2020, I am finishing up writing the next EP, which is looking to be released in the second half of 2021. Hopefully, live shows will be back by then. I’m currently in the process of making a better interactive live show experience for the people who come to watch and listen.
What excites you to create? What helps you in the moments whenever you are feeling uninspired and stagnant?
Trevor: For me, creating makes life worthwhile. I’m throwing my essence out into the world to see if anyone shares the same experiences or feelings. It’s an amazing way to connect with people on a deeper level. I’ve been creating ever since I was a little kid and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Whenever I’m in a rut I’ll either go on a walk, go to a museum, skate, meditate, or sit and do absolutely nothing. Doing nothing is super underrated and has been so helpful with creating space for new ideas.
Who inspires you? What pushes you to keep moving forward in the dark periods of life and times when you feel discouraged?
Trevor: I feel inspired by my friends, especially when they’re succeeding and doing the things they love to do. Or when they are going through a tough time and are able to overcome it. I feel like a proud mom watching them do great things. I also feel inspired by the simple things in life like taking care of my plants, hanging with my roommate’s cat, art, music, nature, or small and sweet interactions between people in daily life.
What did your day-to-day life look like prior to COVID-19? What does your daily life look like now amid the coronavirus? How have you been staying productive during quarantine?
Trevor: The only big change between pre-covid and now is not going out to live shows. I’ve been able to hold a job, keep making music, and do all the things I usually do since I’m a bit more of a homebody. I was actually on a week-long tour with the other band I play in, “Pollen Eyes,” in March right when covid hit, but we were lucky enough to be able to finish the tour and come home. I really do miss attending and playing shows. I’ve been able to write more and keep everything more collected as well as feeling not so rushed on things during quarantine. I spend a lot of my time writing, watching movies, or going on walks.
What are some of your interests? What inspired you to embark on the creative journey you’re a part of today?
Trevor: I like nature, traveling, museums, art, and experiencing new things. I love plants, Halloween, anime shows/movies, cooking, hiking, and skating. I love indulging in life. It’s a brand new day every day!
I’ve been singing ever since I was a kid and always had in mind that I was going to create music my entire life. It’s felt like my reason for being for as long as I can remember. It seems as natural to me as eating or sleeping. On top of that, I love creating connections, meeting new people, and being able to bring people together.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Trevor: There is a difference between being happy and being comfortable. Anyone can be comfortable in bullshit.
I even have that tattooed on me in a shortened way. It’s okay to be comfortable, there’s nothing wrong with finding solace. The biggest thing for me is there is always something to improve on. Where I am at right now in life is objectively great, but I know that there is more for me out there. I’m happy right now, but there will be a time where this state of being doesn’t suit my needs. It’s easy to get caught in these areas that are good and easy, but it takes a little extra to create a life of true happiness.
Everyone’s been hit hard by our current circumstances, including artists, as the pandemic has slowed everything to a sudden halt. The music industry has been severely impacted by the postponement and cancellations of scheduled tours and festivals, leaving musicians stuck at home. The fate of many venues are currently at risk and may be forced to shut their doors for good. Unfortunately, it appears that there will be a long waiting period before concerts make a comeback. What are your thoughts on the long term effects this situation may have on the industry? What actions do you think should be taken to combat this issue, and help artists get back on their feet once live music can return?
Trevor: I am definitely afraid of music and live shows being put on the back burner as sports and everything else comes back. I think the Save Our Stages Act is at least one small step to help on a larger scale for the more immediate issues. The way we’ve been adapting with virtual shows and socially distanced shows is super great, but long term, I think it could cause some odd reformation to coincide with life in quarantine. With venues unfortunately closing their doors, I could see that making way for more house and DIY venues popping up in place once things open back up. When things do open back up, I think there will be a lot of support from the communities and people itching to play and attend shows. The music scene as a whole will need all the support it can get, especially when things open back up.
Due to the pandemic, live shows are placed on hold indefinitely, and touring is at a standstill right now. However, many artists are finding new creative ways to interact with their fans amidst all of the chaos; utilizing their social media platforms to share content, check in with their audiences, participate in livestreams, perform songs and put on “virtual concerts”, and provide insight into their new routines in quarantine. Do you have any plans that are similar in nature, to help pass the time until shows are back up and running again?
Trevor: I’ve done a couple live streams with open mics and recently had the pleasure of playing Cleveland’s virtual Ingenuity Fest. At the end of last year, I started a weekly poetry post on Instagram called #pressedpoetry which has been evolving ever since and shows a little more insight into my writing style and thoughts. It’s named after the song ‘Pressed Flowers.’ I plan on doing a few more virtual shows in the future to stay connected.
What are some causes and/or organizations that you’re most passionate about?
Trevor: I’m a big supporter of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, which supports women’s rights, planned parenthood, and a woman’s right to choose. I’ve worked with Musicians Saving Our Home Planet which supports many environmental organizations such as Utah Dine Bikeyah/Protect Bears Ears, Save the Yellowstone Grizzly, and Grand Escalante Staircase Partners. Another great organization is the Last Prisoner Project which pushes against the criminalization of cannabis and looks to help those who have suffered fundamental injustice regarding those laws.
What have you been listening to lately?
Trevor: A few bands I’ve been listening to lately are Dikembe, Balance and Composure, I Hate It Too, Purity Ring, Mac Miller, Citizen, Polyphia, Covet, Dwellings, Sobs, and Seeyouspacecowboy…
What are some of your favorite books? Favorite films/TV shows?
Trevor: Some great books are Look at the Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, and You are a Badass by Jen Sincero.
I love any Studio Ghibli movie, Almost Famous, Sweeney Todd, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Shows I like to watch are Over the Garden Wall, Cowboy Bebop, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, King of the Hill, Adventure Time, The Midnight Gospel, Great British Baking Show, and I recently finished Parasyte.
What is the main thing that you would like for people to take away from your music?
Trevor: I think people should take away their own perspective on it. I have my reasons for writing certain things, but I feel like somebody could listen to the same song and pull out a totally different meaning unique to their experience. I want people to enjoy themselves, feel more connected, and feel less alone in how they think or feel. Just be yourself :)
What advice would you offer to others who want to follow in your footsteps and chase after their dreams?
Trevor: In the words of Shia Lebeouf, “Just do it.” It’s good to talk about it with friends to get the ideas out in the open, but you gotta just go for it. Whether or not you think what you’re doing is of value, trust me, it is. There are other people out there who will like what you’re doing no matter what. People can’t like it if they don’t know about it, so it’s up to you to spread the word and let them know what’s going on. Keep an open mind and always be ready to learn. There is an endless stream of readily available information and things to learn which will only make you better. Go out there and radiate your essence!
Do you have anything that you would like to tell our readers?
Trevor: First of all, thank you for reading this and supporting publications like this in the music industry. I can’t wait for shows to open back up and we can make a stop in Pittsburgh! Lastly, stay hydrated and take care of your plants.
Thank you so much for your time! It was a pleasure having the opportunity to talk to you. Looking forward to hearing more new material from you soon! Stay safe and take care!
Interview By: Bri Rodriguez
Photo By: Manda Renee