We had the good fortune of connecting with Ezra Vancil and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ezra, are there risks you’ve taken that you are really happy about in retrospect?
The most significant risk I took was walking away from a very secure 9-5 and throwing away plan B to pursue my creative music life as the only option. That was nearly a decade ago. I had a substantial recording/touring career when I was young. I knew what life was like living in the day to day stream of a music career. When I turned—I think—22, I was dropped from my Label. I had no other plans for life but music, so it was a tough transition to “normal life.” But, soon, we had a baby on the way, and the music was no longer paying. I somehow found an excellent career in the stream of my second love, design/art. Decades passed at that career. My music would blow up every couple of years, I’d play SXSW or get a publishing deal, and maybe tour a little on vacation, but I could never regain that former traction. All opportunities would fall apart, ultimately. Then I looked up, and I was 40! I was so miserable I could barely pull my head off the pillow. I had developed quite an alcohol problem, as well. I had multiple attempts at suicide. I didn’t want to live anymore. I almost got my wish with the last two attempts when doctors told my wife that I wasn’t going to make it. Somehow I lived through all that horror.. and so did my family. I got sober with some help. And I found myself happy again, but deeply regretting all the music I never released. So I did something crazy. I left my sole source of income—a very secure Graphic Arts job—and set out once again to see what I could become. I didn’t leave with a plan. In fact, I didn’t leave it with any money at all. I would go down the street and busk if I needed some money. But when it got super desperate, something always would come through. That decision changed the trajectory of my life onto a road that seems much more suited for me and my family. So it worked out in the end.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I don’t know what sets me apart. I’m always astonished by all the unique musical talent in the world. I feel like my music is nothing more than a ledger of my heartbeat while I was here on earth. It sounds like a cop-out, but I don’t know how to NOT do it, so I rarely think of what it is all about, or why, or even how I make it. I have to do it or I don’t feel comfortable in the world. I guess one big thing I have learned in life is that as much as we would like, we do not have a say in the results or rewards of our art… But! We get to do the work. When you really embrace that; that is when you are living the artist’s life. Live inside of your visons, make your days about crafting those imaginings into tangible “objects”. That’s a life worth waking up for.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have lived in Oak Cliff for decades, so we’d stay close to home. We’d start with lunch at Herrera’s, the one on Illinois Ave, sorry it’s the best one. Afterward, we would grab a coffee at Cultivar Coffee Bar & Roaster and wait for the show to start at Top 10 Records, also in oak cliff. Hopefully, we have time to make it to the late show at Texas Theater. I would take them on these same rounds all week, but we’d switch out Herrera’s with Metro Dinner now and then, and Top 10 Records with a night digging through books at lucky Dog Bookstore. Then, of course, music at my place into the night.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to give a shoutout to Kent Smith. He is a part spiritual mentor, part musical mentor, and a dear friend that helps me navigate these wild roads of life, without taking the wheel. He’s also helped me make an album, called “You”. You can see him and hear his beautiful work, playing the piano in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtE_Xz2cGKw
Other: https://open.spotify.com/artist/53DBJZYKrYOYUGz0co8XLQ?si=hIFxg_ncSKOn66ZomSwdCQ https://music.apple.com/us/artist/ezra-vancil/412473491 https://ezravancil.bandcamp.com
Images by Ezra Vancil and Siouxsie Reyes McCoy
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