We had the good fortune of connecting with Eric Schackne and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eric, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
I make me happy. That’s one of those big life lessons for me, learning that my relationship to what I perceive as outside my self is my reality. Every day I have a choice to do my best to remember my worth. I’ve experienced extreme bliss on stage with lights so bright that I couldn’t see the massive audience watching and screaming along. I’ve also experienced true bliss laying on my couch in silence in the middle of a global pandemic with my cat roommate sleeping on my chest. I know I have a lot of privileges and biases, but happiness is not one of them. I mean, happiness is really not about the specifics in the moment but the ability to be with my self. To have compassion for my self and my human experience, so that I can advocate and ally without losing my values.
It’s definitely quite a journey turning a hobby and passion that made me happy into a commodity. There’s a lot I practice about keeping that in balance so I can still experience joy playing the piano, writing songs, and teaching. Because if it ever gets away from me where I feel obligated, or I feel stuck…the thing that I found beautiful yesterday becomes a schlepp and an energy suck. The daily reprieve of finding appreciation for the day I’ve been given, and reminding my self that I’m more powerful than I can remember is all I can do to get my spirits happiness adjacent.
But, I’d also be happy if governments acknowledged the sustained presence of Indigenous peoples and restored their relationship and access to the land and natural resources they stewarded for ages, while including access to the protections and privileges colonizers take for granted like access to mental health services and legal aid. I’d also be happy if we let trans people be who they are without cishet internalized fear leading to widespread violent legislation. I would also be happy if you flew me around the globe to teach improv and music to underserved communities. These things and the me thing from earlier would make me happy. Oh and when people use my they/them pronouns I get happiness adjacent for sure.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
You sure you want to talk shop? I am moving into new umbrella identities as a teacher and healer. I often refer to my self in bios as a “renaissance jack-of-all-trades” because I follow what’s fun for me, which tends to be artistic and expressive. To be real though, the thing that sets me apart from other people is my unique perspective. There are a lot of people doing the work that I’m doing whether it be music teachers, piano players, songwriters, hired guns, and I have to trust that there’s a way I do what I do that’s special.
In general though, my work is to acknowledge the privilege that comes along with being white and assumed-male while building a career around the various forms of creativity I channel. I don’t remember the last Grammy acceptance speech that started with “First I wanna say how easy this was”…the only way I’d use the word ‘ease’ is to describe my knowing what my passions are. The journey is in holding that vision and growing through all the slammed doors, ghosted gigs, weird gigs, bad auditions, etc and feeling appreciation for all of that being in my path. I once wrote two levels of course curriculum for a theatre right before they closed, found out a band fired me by seeing their upcoming tour schedule, showed up to shady venues where I assumed it’d be a battle to get paid, and other gig-based fun where I am constantly proving my worth through my rate. Some of my highest highs were accompanied by some of my lowest lows, but that’s the story I signed up for.
And I’m glad I didn’t know any of this beforehand though. The naïveté of moving to LA without much of an idea of the biz, what sort of ‘career’ was waiting for me in improv comedy(I was literally told in college I would never be a professional improvisor), or what the music business would really feel like. I feel like all the lessons here are just human lessons. There’s a lot of people achieving shallow success by compromising their integrity for an arbitrary industry benchmark. My suggestion to anyone developing their creativity would be to check in with your self, and pay attention to your body. No two people have the same career, and there’s enough of the pie for everyone.
My vibe is very much about belonging, vulnerability, and intersectionality. Come as you are, expect discomfort and accountability, and love. When I teach, I do my best to create a brave space where we can learn and grow with each other – and I along with my students. When I’m cowriting or producing, I’m feeling for what the client needs to feel comfortable, a gentle precursor to vulnerability. And in all the work I do I bring an intersectional lens so that I’m doing my best to positively affect the systems I can influence without further marginalization and violence toward individuals already experiencing that on multiple levels. I refer to my self as an empath, mystic, and committed to antiracist and decolonial work.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ll give a shoutoutFL, because the people I’m shouting out are in Florida. Get it? Thanks Mom, thanks Dad. Whether it was the color of my hair or the careers I chose you always encouraged me to do what makes me happy. I mean, sometimes I can tell it’s more of like a “well if it makes you happy, then…” or “well, it’s your hair…” but there’s always love there, and I don’t take that for granted. If you’re reading this (and I know you are) you are my favorite biological parents!
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