We had the good fortune of connecting with Tanya O’Callaghan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tanya, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
This for me is easy to answer because as an artist, my place on the stage and my platform is not for or about myself. My career will always be about using my platform as an activist. Although music is obviously a big love of mine, long before I picked up an instrument, my life was, and will always remain about animal, human and environmental activism and trying to make a positive mark in the world. So with that said, knowing whether to keep going or give up will always have the same answer, keep going, because others need you to use your voice, especially those with no voices or rights. As a musician, the highs and lows of the music industry have many times lead me to almost give up, but it’s the struggle and experiences along the way that make you stronger. As an activist, sometimes it feels like your screaming into an echo chamber and no one is listening, or the world doesn’t care. On the flip side, the changes being seen, especially in the plant-based food realm, and taking animals off our plates is growing exponentially in the last few years. This is very exciting and gives optimism and hope that the world is waking up to how unnecessary it is to still have cruel archaic food systems in place that are bad for everyone, not just the animals. The product line is shifting and it will help all involved if fully embraced, the farmers, the consumer’s health, the environment and of course, business. Failure cannot cope with persistence, so keep going whatever your mission, passions or goals are. Make your life your message.
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 am from a small town in Ireland called Mullingar. I spent my entire childhood rescuing animals and being a fierce little protestor for all things animal welfare. My family thought I would be a vet, but then I started playing music in my late teens, I picked up a bass around 17 and became obsessed very quickly with the instrument and started playing in bands within weeks of picking it up and haven’t stopped since, nor have I stopped working in the animal activism realm either. I started touring first in Ireland and Europe with various bands. I first came to the US, to Arizona in 2009 for a short trip to record on some tracks with Maynard Keenan of Tool and A Perfect Circle, he invited me to be a guest on one of his records, which was a huge opportunity for me as I am a fan of all of his work. That musical opportunity was the spark for me that triggered wanting to come to the US and spread my wings internationally. I decided to move to LA about five years ago and it’s been a rollercoaster for sure!
Over the past few years, I’ve played with some incredible artists, writing, touring, and collaborating with many of my childhood musical heroes. I’ve shared stages, toured the world, jammed and recorded with people like Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Steven Adler (GnR), Maynard Keenan (Tool/APC), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Nuno Bettencourt, Buddy Guy… the crazy list goes on. It’s been quite the journey so far, and the circle of people I now call friends is something I am immensely proud of, and grateful for when I look back at knowing absolutely nobody when I first moved to the US.
Outside of music, I also do keynote/public speaking and have a travel food and culture TV show in development. Myself and Derrick Green from the legendary band Sepultura are co-hosting the show. We just wrapped up filming the first season all over the world and are deep into editing mode, it’s exciting to see it come together! We have many incredible guests from celebs to local heroes and rockstars throughout the episodes. This project is something I’m very proud of because like my musical career to date, it has taken a lot of perseverance, sweat and tears to get it to where it is now. It is also my dream project because I get to join all of my passions, activism, music, travel, food and cultures. I’m also very happy to now be involved in the world of keynote speaking with a friend and colleague Wayne Strickland who was a student at a music camp I was teaching at. Wayne is a respected powerhouse in the leadership speakers realm, so it’s been an honor to work with him developing our ideas. I absolutely love being in an environment where I am surrounded by people from totally different walks of life, beliefs, politics, etc.. and opening up healthy conversations and finding common ground, this for me is a big passion, so it has been challenging but exciting to branch out into that world.
The lessons learned along the way in all my different experiences are. Number one always follow what excites you, if you don’t you will create regrets. If you have a burning desire and passion for something or multiple things, then go for it in whatever shape that may be depending on your life and existing commitments. It might be as simple as writing a blog or create a YouTube channel for your art or passion, for me it was packing my bag, putting my bass on my back and moving across the world because I thrive under that kind of pressure/excitement. Number two, use your platform no matter how big or small for positive. We live in such surreal times where everything is available at the click of a button, even immediate egoic satisfaction with “likes” and shares online. Using the social media platforms we have to lift one another up and spread positive and intelligent information is a gift we all have, don’t fall into the trappings of keyboard warrior life, or allow your happiness to be based on the trajectory of this. Number three, be kind to every kind, it’s simple and takes no effort on your part but has profound effects on the world and your own mood. Number four, just go for it, what’s the worst that can happen. If you know in your gut what you really want to be doing, then find ways to start incorporating it more and more into your life. And number five, you are the sum of the people you surround yourself by so choose wisely. This is the most important thing to me, your time is precious, do not waste it or give it to people who don’t not make you happy or help you thrive. Find your tribe and nourish those relationships, they are everything! And same applies to oneself, don’t waste anybody else time if your intentions towards them are not positive. It’s ok to be honest about these things. I wish you all the best on your endeavors whatever they may be.
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?
The things I love most about L.A is the scenic diversity and the outstanding vegan restaurants. The perfect adventure day any time I have friends or family visiting would be to start the day with a great coffee somewhere like groundworks, then head off for a hike in one of the many amazing canyons, I love Topanga, the hiking trails are wonderful and not crowded, so a pre-lunch hike there to work up an appetite, then I would head to the west side Venice/Santa Monica area for lunch at either Flower Child or The Butchers Daughter. After lunch would be a walk along the beach and then some pottering about Abbot Kinney as the stores are so unique especially for out of town visitors. L.A has some incredible book stores also, so a book store crawl would be a given! You can’t beat watching sunset on the beach so I’m always drawn to the west side. After a beach sunset, I would go for dinner at the outstanding Plant Food and Wine in Venice. If we had a few days, I would most definitely take them to one of the wonderful farm sanctuaries up North to hang out with some rescue animals at Gentle Barn or Farm Sanctuary. And of course some live music at one of my favorite spots, the iconic jazz and blues bar, The Baked Potato. If there was time to eat for a week these are a few of my favorite plant-based restaurants scattered all over L.A. Au Lac (downtown) Crossroads Kitchen (Melrose) Little Pine (Echo Park) Rice (Manhattan Beach) Vromage (Hollywood) Double Zero (Venice) Arayas Place (Hollywood) Pura Vita (West Hollywood) Sage (Culver City)
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate my shout out to two amazing groups, The Blue Horizon International Foundation and Sea Shepherd. The Blue Horizon International Foundation are an incredible and dedicated group of mission-aligned investors and activists working non stop to make the food system better for everyone involved, from the farmers to the consumers and off course the animals. WEBSITE: www.bluehorizon.org
And Sea Shepherd, they are literally saving our oceans. They are real-life heroes, actively out on missions all over the world protecting marine life and the oceans from illegal poaching, if they were not present, many endangered species would be lost already. As a long time supporter of Sea Shepherd, I recently had the honor to spend a few days on board with them in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, and my heart was exploding watching the entirely volunteer-based crews work with such laser focus and passion, pulling nets and saving everything from small fish to whales who get caught as a byproduct. You can help by simply buying some of their merchandise and spreading the word! WEBSITE https://seashepherd.org
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Youtube: Tanya O’Callaghan
Other: www.leadershiprhapsody.com www.highwaytohealthshow.com
Joe daly Andrew Stuart Jimmy Fuson Will Byington