We had the good fortune of connecting with Gregory Allison and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gregory, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
Discipline and practice. I grew up playing classical piano and violin, activities that require a lot of time and dedication. Learning music through this method showed me how practicing something for 2-8 hours a day will produce results. In some ways, it felt like the only way to get the results I wanted.
Becoming a really good pupil. By being a student of everything, I am becoming a better teacher for myself and others.
Listening. Nothing is more important. I’ve practiced listening my whole life and have learned to apply it to my art, relationships, and physical and mental health.
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.
My music is deeply inspired by the natural world. I grew up going on canoeing, kayaking, backpacking, and camping expeditions and my experiences on those trips defined who I am and what I value. Since I was a teenager, I felt my life being pulled in two directions: towards the music and into the woods. After finishing college at Berklee, I chose to escape the city and job opportunities in the music industry and moved to the Vermont countryside where I began teaching, working at a violin shop, and composing and practicing in a mid-19th century farmhouse. The music was always leading the way, but I did not want to commit to living and working in a metropolitan area. In 2012, I moved to Portland, OR, which felt like a compromise between urban career-oriented living and living within the natural world. Though I learned a lot while living there, I continued to feel pulled in two directions and it became obvious that no compromise would feel right. I knew that I had to move to LA to fully commit to my music career and when I made that choice, I noticed something beginning to shift in my art. Motivated by all the super talented people creating in this city, I began to really search for what was true in my work and what I had to offer that was unique and authentic to my experience. I found that my connection with nature was who I was and that it needed to be expressed through my music. I experienced these two different aspects of my life merging into one story that was unique and authentic. I found nature in the music and the music in nature and inspiration in all of it. I started to get the sense that all things, no matter how separate they seem, are moving towards becoming one in unity and that all aspects of my experience can be expressed through my music.
Creating my first solo album, Portal, was an experience of life and art merging as one. The music on that record is an encapsulation of a moment in time when I was moving through a portal: letting go of a past way of being and experiencing all the emotions that come with a new way of being, including fear of the unknown, feeling out of control, and also excitement and ecstatic joy. As I’ve moved through that portal and am on to new creations, I no longer feel any boundary between life and art. Every moment is created. Creation is happening all around us in every moment. We are constantly creating and life is simply the awareness of what is created.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love taking friends to the Huntington Library and Botanical Garden in Pasadena. I especially like blowing minds in the cactus gardens and also the bonsai section of the Japanese Garden.
Taco trucks in Highland Park are always a must.
I like going downtown and showing people some classic LA River views. Parking at the railroad tracks and walking down into the river under the 1st street bridge is a lovely way to experience the SoCal concrete river system and industrial Los Angeles.
If friends are here on a Sunday, I encourage them to come to Kinship Yoga Studio in Highland Park where I play an ambient set of music for a yoga class taught by my friend and amazing yogi Meg Shoemaker. After finishing the class and feeling blissed-out, I like going out for some exceptional vegan dinner at Wild Living Foods.
For live music, Zebulon is a favorite hang. For comedy, I love going to the alt-comedy temple that is Dynasty Typewriter.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Acknowledging that I am where I am today not only because of my own dedicated efforts, but also through a huge amount of support and encouragement from people around me has really helped open my perspective. Each of us is an individual creating a life that is completely unique, and yet we are also all one, connected through a single life force, a single breath, in this time and space, and the ability to hold and understand both of those realities simultaneously is so important to understanding ourselves, consciousness, and life.
There are so many people who have supported me along my path, many of whom are strangers who did nothing more than say something that moved me and affirmed my place in this world. And then there is my family, friends, and teachers who continue to encourage and inspire every day. They all deserve credit and recognition in my story.
All of that being said, I must dedicate this shoutout to my mom, whose idea it was to start me in music from a very young age, and who has shown me that curiosity, learning, and transformation do not have to ever stop, even as one grows old.
Eric Huffman Gregory Allison Tara Niami