DAY GIG I recently landed a great job at one of Billings’ top architecture firms as a junior interior designer.
HOW I GOT STARTED At age five, I sat down at my grandmother’s piano and played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” by ear. My parents wanted to pull me out of dance classes and put me into piano lessons. I was pretty disappointed, but now I can look back and see that they did know best. I wrote my first song at age ten, and have spent the last five years experimenting with my keyboard and Propellerhead Reason.
BAND Black Velvet Undercover is based in Billings, Montana. The band challenges my keyboard skills, and gives me the opportunity to play with experienced musicians who encourage me. Having keys lets us play songs like Journey’s “Separate Ways,” Bon Jovi’s “Runaway,” and feature the real stuff in tunes like “Sweet Home Alabama”—the piano! The band has played everywhere in Billings, from nightclubs to rodeo parties. We all have families and day jobs, so we like to stay close to home, but we do travel if the money’s right and the party’s good.
GEAR Yamaha MO8 keyboard through a Peavey KB5 Amp. We mic the amp with a Sennheiser E-602 and run directly into our Community front-of-house system.
INFLUENCES I have great respect for the late Billy Powell of Lynyrd Skynyrd. To be able to flow like he did on the keys is amazing. Early on, I was inspired by the intensity of Rachmaninoff. At the risk of sounding cliché, my first inspiration was the Beatles. I’m also a fan of Amy Lee and Evanescence, Pink, and Ani DiFranco. Zero 7 is also one of my current favorites.
WHY I PLAY It’s what I do. My body breathes through my mouth; my soul breathes through my fingers. I find comfort not only in playing other people’s music, but also in writing my own.