We had the good fortune of connecting with Gidon Shikler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gidon, how do you think about risk?
Risk has played a major factor in my career. I think risk is like a fork in a road – fundamentally it is a decision; more specifically it is often a choice between the familiar and unknown. You try and weigh out the pro’s and con’s of the path being deliberated while listening to wisdom of your heart and gut instinct. Risk also inevitably conjures up feelings of fear and trepidation, which are often the dominant voices in decision making. Risk is scary and exciting. It is filled with “What if’s?” – but it also leads to plenty of priceless “If I hadn’t done this” moments. I have moved around a lot and lived in different countries since I was a child. There have been many times when I have had to make a decision to stick or twist and it is very difficult for me to make those big decisions. In my musical journey I took a massive risk to move to London in 2007 just after starting my first band here in Los Angeles. In London I had a grown as a musician, singer and band leader. I also met amazing friends and musicians who are now part of my worldwide family. London eventually led to more risky decisions to move to Miami FL, and then eventually to Jamaica to write and record with some of the best in the reggae business. Those personal and professional relationships are priceless to me. The concentric circles of my musicians network have convened from around the globe because I had to make decisions that were seeped in risk. My life personal and professional life is filled with “If I hadn’t have chosen this path then I would never of had these amazing things”.
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 love music. Let’s start there! I love creating music in the studio; I love performing live with my band; I love jamming with friends; collaborating. I would say I am a musician in the mold of a Jack of all trades type, maybe somewhere in the middle between Jack and Master though. I play many instruments with differing levels of proficiency of which the strongest are: vocals, percussion, rhythm guitar and saxophone. I have deep love and knowledge of reggae music which is often the wellspring of my musical stylings. It is more of a hybrid sound infused with many other world musical elements as I – like most of us – grew up listening to a vast array of sounds. I think these days one thing that sets me apart from a lot of reggae music or artists/producers in general is that I create what I feel and then shape it into a song – rather than copy a template of a popular sound and then try and recreate it. I don’t re-create riddims, I create original ones. Even though I may not have had the success that I envisioned on some of my risky journeys and endeavors, I would say I am most proud of the life-long relationships I have formed; from legends of the Jamaican music scene to friends and musicians I have met all over the world who I can sit and reason with in a positive vibration. Success will come and go but friends and family are forever. I got to where I am today by following a risky path with passion and persistence. There is an aspect as well to being a musician of “if the crowd likes it I must be doing something right” that has kept the gas in my tank to keep going in music – especially important during the initial explorations. I haven’t given up yet! I keep learning and growing as a musician and engineer/producer as well, now that I have my own professional studio. There have been many doubts along the way and ones that continue to crop up, but as I am learning with experience and age, it is all about how quickly you can trim or root out those thoughts like weeds. It is not easy! Then once the fog has cleared I am reminded of how strong I am and how much I love what I do. I think confidence plays a major role as well. Personally I have struggled mightily at times with my confidence as a singer, musician, writer etc.. There comes a moment though much like the moment of risk where you just take a step forward into the fear and then you come out the other side shining with confidence and humility. In the end it is about action: practicing, creating, collaborating – that help you overcome the obstacles in your way. The biggest thing I am still learning along my journey is how to define success. Learning to be grateful for what you have and balancing that with what you want. It is tricky! Especially in music where the steps are not linear to success. It is very abstract, and illogical at times. It is accepting that maybe the initial visions of glory that set you out on the journey may not happen – or may have even been harmful at the time of reckoning. It is also appreciating that the road you set out on has been filled with surprises and outcomes you never could have dreamed of when taking those first steps. I am a joyful musician. I have been raised in the reggae temples of positivity. I answered the syncopated calls to all the soul rebels worldwide by Bob Marley at the age of 9. Spirituality and freeing one’s mind from Babylon is written in my DNA. I never think I know everything – in most cases I see things from many different angles and try to steer clear of black and white thinking. I love music and all its colors – gravitating towards the heavy grooves and soulful vibes. I like to believe I am bringing some light into this world through my behavior, actions and music; or at the very east reflecting back the beauty and light that I see in people and in this world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m assuming that we are imagining a pre (or hopefully soon to be “post”) – Covid world! Assuming no social restrictions we would have a great time. I would definitely take my friend to the beach here in LA – to my favorite chill spot which shall remain un-named! We would also go do some hiking around the area. I live in Culver City not too far from Kenneth Hahn park which is a great hike and has the best 360 views of LA. I love good beer so we would have to go visit some breweries one day – Firestone in Venice of course is awesome for that and their food. We would spend time at my Father’s house in Laguna Beach and check out those beaches that I know very well having spent a lot of time there since childhood. It has changed dramatically since then and become a different vibe but the beaches are still probably some of the most unique in Southern California. I love to cook so we would do lots of dinner hangouts at the house in the backyard. Throw some darts, play some ping pong, go for a bike ride along the Ballona Creek to the beach. I would try and organize a show for my band at any of The Mint, Art Bar LA, or Hotel Cafe so we could have a fun night out with music and friends.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Yes! Thank you. Just like in an Oscar speech there are far too many to thank who have been instruments and inspirational to my story. My shoutout however goes to my wife Andrea Ashwood, Phd. She is my rock and biggest supporter in my journey, as well as mother to our two little boys Adir and Azai. Andrea is one of the most amazing people I know. She is definitely the smartest!
Other: https://www.patreon.com/gidonmusic?fan_landing=true https://open.spotify.com/artist/3d9G8qLtXmZsCJ68A1FRhb?si=cgB3c4LjQmqvoJ1zB9-dAQ https://music.apple.com/us/artist/gidon/875154281