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Interview: Don Ugly
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My mother was a big reason why I got into Music. She was a musician herself and from an early age she put me on to the classics (The Moody Blues, Cat Stevens, The Doors). I was hooked immediately. I knew from an early age being a musician is what I wanted to do with my life.
I can’t imagine what I’d do if I wasn't a musician. I guess I’d be in the concrete industry. My father is a contractor and has been all my life. I even work with him from time to time when I need to come up with some steady money. So I guess I would be committed to that if I weren’t blessed with musicianship.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Whenever I’m not playing music I like to do what I can to draw inspiration for the next writing session. It can be anything from trailblazing, walking around a metropolitan area, to going out with friends. I like to call these “Inspirational quests”. I keep an open mind to what I’m experiencing and whenever something comes to mind I type it down on my phone and bring it to the studio later on.
How long has music been your career?
I’ve been writing poetry and lyrics since I was a pre teen. I even used to Dj for a while in my late teens/early twenties. I’ve always been into music in some way, shape or form. But I’ve only been going under the moniker of “Don Ugly” for about 5 years now.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m originally from Jacksonville Florida. Although I was born in south Florida, Jacksonville is where I grew up, it’s where the majority of my childhood friends are. It’s where I saw my first concerts, played my first shows. I have such a huge support system from the great city of Duval County, they influence me, encourage me to keep going!
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The best show I’ve played to date is hands down my show at 1904 Music Hall downtown Jacksonville. I opened up for a central Florida band called “The Dead Show Dealers” and I had so many people that I haven’t seen in years show up. Some old high school friends, some childhood friends I haven’t seen since, well, my childhood, and a bunch of new Don Ugly fans as well. It was such a fun and passionate show for me, hands down my favorite show yet.
My worst would have to be back when I was in a ska band playing rhythm guitar in Orlando, FL. I won’t name the band out of respect for the artists, but we all got too drunk before we had to play and let’s just say, we were ALL OVER THE PLACE!! Hahaha! I think for half of the show my guitar was out of tune and I didn’t even realize. It was horrible, but it was also a learning experience. I definitely do not get wasted before I play a show anymore.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I don’t particularly have a favorite venue I play at. I just love to play and I will own any stage or floor space I get when I perform. I do have a dream to play one day at the Tabernacle in Atlanta,Georgia. It is an old 3 or 4 story church in the middle of downtown. The venue is so darn cool and the acoustics are absolutely amazing. It would be a dream and an honor to play there.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
My dream show would be Myself, Jim James and Father John Misty at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia. If that ever happened I could die right afterwards and it would be alright, hahahaha!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Don’t go for the popular route and do what everyone else is doing. Be your 100% authentic self. It can take some time to figure out exactly what or who that is, but it’s all a part of the process, so just roll with it. You will figure it out.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Don’t rush into things so quickly. Take a step back and really look at what is presented to you rather than what it could be.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
That would have to be “Too Young to Forget”. It's a song I wrote during a rut in my life where I felt I was wasting too much time partying and “soul searching” instead of working on my craft. It really hits me in the chest when I play it. Although the song is unreleased, I have a live performance video of it on my YouTube channel.
Too Young To Forget Video :
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I love playing “Drug Rugs” It's definitely my most requested as well. It’s a fun, fast paced song about having a psychedelic experience in the desert. Only members of my “Fam Club” have the demo version of it. however I will say that “Drug Rugs” will be my next release. The release date will be coming soon!
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
My songs either start with lyrics or a guitar progression. If it starts with lyrics, it will usually be a hook that I’ll write the rest of the song around. If it starts with a progression, I will take it to my loop pedal and start stacking until I come up with something I like and can write to.
The feeling music brings me is what inspires me to write music. Whenever I play music, or whenever I write a new song, it’s the best feeling in the entire world. .
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I particularly write about the ebb and flow of life. The good, the bad, the UGLY! Hahaha. That’s my handle when I’m asked that question, but I really just like to write music. There is not one particular message I’m trying to get out rather than there is a different message behind every song I write.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
When you have disagreements it’s always better to explain the reason being. There will be a time where you collaborate with someone and something won’t be agreed upon. You talk it through and what happens is you end up compromising on something all parties dig 9/10 times it’s better than what you both originally thought of! But I’ve never worked with someone I didn’t get along with, it would be hard to compromise if that was the case. I hope I never have to, haha.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I have a few things in the works that I cannot announce just yet, but I am so damn excited about this year.
I have my next single called “Drug Rugs” currently being mixed. The release date will be announced in a few weeks.
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