Mr. Bright Side
Music is therapeutic for me and is my way of offering something for people to relate to. I’m a person who all my music is based in my real life. So it is all — not to be self-centered about it — but centered around me and the things that I’m going through, seeing, viewing, feeling. I feel like that’s the most authentic way to make authentic music. Not that you don’t write narratives, but even a narrative is written from a place of personal experience. So because of that, naturally it’s helped me get through things in life. It’s helped me put pen to paper on things that have kept me confused, kept me lost, kept me feeling whatever to ultimately find healing and solutions.
It’s like when you go to therapy. At the end of the day, they’re not telling you what to do. They’re not like oh yeah, you’re crazy. Essentially, you’re with someone and they ask questions and you answer those questions and it’s basically they trick you into solving your problem out loud. Once you start talking about it, and they ask you how does that make you feel? And you answer and you realize oh maybe I didn’t think about that.
I’ve had a lot of family issues since my folks divorced when I was seven and you know, a lot of people’s parents divorce, it’s not that big of a deal. But my parents have not figured out a way to get along in a way that is constructive for everyone. They just have a very rigid, stalemate way of doing things that in my opinion has created more of a negative existence than a positive one. And it’s whatever, spare the details. But it’s just like when everyone’s unwilling to budge on changing what they’re trying to do, that causes a thing.
But I'm connected to my dad musically because I feel like he secretly somehow had a desire to be a musician that was passed down to me. It’s just not a path he ever took, but the way he enjoys music and all his best friends are jazz musicians. So clearly something is there. I was always around that.
For me getting into music, I just used to rap, freestyle rap all the time with my friends for fun and I just took it serious and one thing led to another. I found myself kind of getting into arts around the time I was having a really trying semester in college and in life, period. A friend had passed away and all this stuff. I was kind of figuring out myself and I was studying graphic design in school and that means you have to take art classes, general art classes, drawing, art theory. I was just never an artist like that. I didn’t paint, I didn’t print make. I used to draw, but kinda stopped. So for one of my projects, I just kind of wrote a book and it went really well in class. That’s when I kinda began to feel like the word and communication clearly was my thing.
I’ve had more friction with my dad the past few years when I was working on my "Love Always, Mr. Right" EP. During that time, we weren’t really speaking and on the song “Bright Side Pleasures,” I address that. On the second half of the song, in the verse, I was like, “Everybody’s making good songs, bad songs, sad songs, fuck dad songs and dead wrongs.” I wrote that because the first half of the song is a little more from a place of frustration, but I think when I was writing it, I was making songs that were like more personal or in my feelings. So I was writing and it came off angry.
Then I listened back to that and that wasn’t what I wanted to communicate. I want to communicate an issue with something, but from a fair place. The reason I ended up making “Bright Side Pleasures” with that duality was because I was almost saying I’m not going to make these unfiltered songs. Everybody has good songs, bad songs, sad songs and fuck your dad songs, but I’m not going to do that. Because the idea isn’t to feed into this negative emotion. The idea is to create something positive out of it while still being true to what is causing you frustration. So just like therapy you can sit around in your normal life, you’re blaming someone for your problem. But when you ask questions and take a step back, it’s like oh, I can see it clearer. It doesn’t make my feeling not valid. It just helps me communicate that better, even if it’s just to myself. So I’m not sitting here being like, "Fuck you for ruining my life." I can say, "This is frustrating" in dealing with said person this way or said person that way.
My way of processing my emotions helped me create the Mr. Bright Side persona, which isn’t a marketing strategy or a cool branding scheme. It’s all organic, just like everything else about my art. I went through a time of really trying to get out of this sick cycle that the universe kept throwing at me, whether it’s getting fired from a job or I was late on rent for months at one point in time. It was a cycle because if you are paying rent on the 12th, as soon as you pay it, you don’t have a full 30 days to be trying to get it again. That shit was just weighing me down. Over the course of time when I was doing that, driving Lyft and trying to make ends meet, I was not proud of that. You don’t wanna meet a girl and be like, “Oh I drive Lyft.” You don’t want that. You want to be like, “I do my shit. I’m killing it. I’m making it happen. I’m not rich, but I’m making it happen.”
So over the course of that and family stuff on top of it, it got real, real dark for me. I’ve dealt with depression and stuff before in my life, but it definitely got the worst that it had ever gotten. It’s sometimes when you just feel like thinking of following your dreams, if you’re really following them and telling yourself I just want to take care of myself and take care of my family, that’s when it can feel like life is really shitting on you. So over the course of that, I just found myself in a real dark, depressed, kinda suicidally place.
People used to always say to me, “Oh you’re such a bright person or a light in the room.” So whenever I would be sad or bummed, people would be kinda like “Ugh,” they can’t even compute me being that way. It made me kinda feel like there wasn’t a space for me to have those emotions.
I remember one night I just was really feeling the weight of these emotions and the expectations that people were putting on me. I wanted to carve “Bright Side” into my stomach.
Coincidentally enough, I kind of discovered The Killers song “Mr. Bright Side” around the same time. I knew the song, but I didn’t know it was called “Mr. Bright Side.” I didn’t grow up listening to The Killers. But I thought of the idea for the tattoo, then the song came about, so then it kinda became oh man, I really gotta get this tattoo. So I did.
The persona just kinda took a life of its own from there. Now it becomes a thing when I’m staring at that tattoo every day, it is a reminder of being on the brighter side of things. So that moves with me all the time. Then when I was on the road, the biggest experience was we were in Silver Spring, Maryland on Mike Shinoda’s tour and afterward we were like hanging out at the back of The Fillmore by the busses. There was a bunch of fans and stuff there really to catch Mike, but also catch the rest of us as we were coming out. Mike was gone or something, so I was out there signing stuff, talking to people, hanging out. I met a girl and her mom or sister and she was talking to me, just saying thank you and they kinda started to share with me that she had been dealing with her own demons. I reinforced that even though I’m on stage talking about Mr. Bright Side, we go through the same thing. I appreciate that you are feeling strength from me being some sort of light, but know, too, that you are not alone. The person that you feel this light from in this moment, me, went through the same things.
That’s what Bright Side stands for. It’s like we are gonna fucking get through this shit. Bright Side, we are going through caring for each other. I like it because, it’s kinda like people rep "West Side!" But it’s like "Bright Side!" It’s my turf. My energy, my groove. Then I ended up meeting Dave Keuning from The Killers. We took a really sick picture of the Bright Side tattoo. Fans and stuff started calling me Mr. Bright Side and now I’ve really owned it. I love it because it is a natural thing. These are literal just orders of events that happened that led to this thing now that I stand for. I didn’t even come up with all of it when I wanted to get this tattoo. It was birthed out of depression. It was birthed out of wanting to die. And just being like if this is the last little sliver of hope that we’ve got, then this is what we’re gonna ride til the wheels fall off.
Listen to my new song "Big Star" now on Spotify.