We had the good fortune of connecting with Tim Lacatena and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tim, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Having been on an art path since a young age (started ballet at 12), I think it has served various purposes at different times in my life: escape, comfort, expansion of spirit, exploration, curiosity, self worth, salary, ego and meaning. These days I’ve been finding dignity along the path of daily music growth. The challenges there are significant and the intrinsic reward from tangible improvement has been very satisfying. As for art as a career path, the why is complex. Aside from what I’ve mentioned above, I think because I was so immersed in this path from a young age, there came a point where it was hard for me to see other viable paths that would make me feel as engaged or excited about life. I love what I do. Forging a career from various disciplines in art has been difficult and also incredibly rewarding. None of it has come easily or quickly, even if there have been sparks of glory here and there.
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.
For the past few years, I’ve been singularly focused on more formally launching the music/production chapter of my life. I’m in the indie synthpop world and en route to defining my niche/voice.
Music is in my blood: father and grandfather both sax players; maternal grandfather brought piano into the childhood home of my mother. I also consider my ballet years to be quite immersed in music: that’s where I learned to feel it, not just hear it. So it’s not a surprise I eventually felt compelled to walk further down this path.
At present, I’ve been releasing my first set of professionally produced songs on Spotify, etc. While I’ve been producing music myself via Ableton (a Berlin-based digital audio workstation) for 11 years now, I felt like it was time to bring in an additional set of ears to my team. So far that has been really beneficial for my output and confidence. This has allowed me to focus more time on the parts I really love: writing, composing, etc. It’s quite a relief to know I have a team member who can take an idea I’ve worked on and help it sound more complete. This has also helped me determine end points for songs, which was a real struggle in the past. I must have hundreds of unfinished songs that no one ever heard except me.
The turning point was “Jamuary 2020”. I participated in an informal Instagram challenge where you make and post a jam every day. Did that for 31 days. It helped me change my philosophy on music from “this has to be perfect” to “this is where I’m at and that’s okay”. Haven’t looked back since. I used to be so critical of my work and have spent years contending with imposter syndrome. I love the atomic habits concepts. Small change, small progress each day. That really has made all the difference and that has allowed me to start releasing my music and performing it live. The pandemic also carved out some space for more mental health focus, and that has made me much kinder to myself and how I approach creativity.
I do have an unusual and lovely first show story. Just happened a couple weeks ago. Keep in mind, I’ve been wanting to perform my original songs for many years now. I suppose some things just take the time they need. Not long ago, I got in a lead inquiring about hiring me to perform at a community event out toward the desert. One caveat: this was a family oriented nudist resort. This felt like too unique of an experience to pass up so I went for it and got the gig. To address the question most ask: I would have gone for the “when in Rome” experience, however, they said that CA state law requires hired performers to be clothed – otherwise would be classified as stripper. Oh well. The show itself was a beautiful experience. I got to sit and have dinner with some of these resort residents and hear more about their story. Some really great people who all seemed to enjoy the community living and free-spirited nature of this environment. The standout moment for me was when, after quite a bit of dancing, the floor cleared for some rest time – though one man still had energy. I debuted one of my original synthpop songs in a bit of one on one scenario: me singing my heart out and him dancing with abandon to it, fully naked. Chuckles aside, that moment felt meaningful on many levels: here I was living my best artistic truth and being received enthusiastically by a human living his own authentic truth. Moments like that are among the many reasons why I continue down this artistic path.
I believe my music and voice will continue to evolve quite a bit over the next couple years. I’m combining my love of songwriting with a passion for the drama of evocative electronic music. I have a feeling there may be more dancing ahead, and with any luck, more exposure. ; )
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love taking friends and family to local LA off-the-path spots, if they’re open to it. Some favs: A stroll in the peaceful Arboretum
A visit to John at O’ Happy Days Natural Food Store for a fair-priced healthy vegan meal
A stop by Moby’s restaurant, Little Pine, for the best vegan brunch around
A visit to The Echo to hear bands on the rise
A bit of dance medicine at Ecstatic on Venice beach
A Joshua Tree visit by way of a cute trailer
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I had the luck and fortune of training at the North Star Ballet in Fairbanks, Alaska in the mid to late 90s as a teenager. That studio was located on fairgrounds that weren’t in use during the school-year. It has an enormous amount of character and heart. Think vinyl classical records, a framed picture of Anna Pavlova on the wall, and ice that would freeze on the inside of the doors during winter. My ballet mentors, Norman Shelburne and Sue Perry effectively taught me how to move and how to be an artist. Those lessons remain with me to this day. My parents, Mary and Steve, were quite open-minded and supportive about allowing me to move away from home at 14 and study at North Star. Changed the course of my life.
Michael Allen Mackenzie Brassfield Nick Rasmussen