Press Record with Daniel Fitzpatrick II

Welcome to the catch fire show, podcast about zooming in past the archetypes to the prototype. We want to get past all the “shoulds” to your passion and how you want to serve others.

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Today we welcome Daniel Fitzpatrick to the show. Daniel is a friend and founding member of We Are Root Mod. One of the reasons I asked Daniel to join us today is because musicians are a great example of zooming past an archetype to a prototype. Currently I live in St. Louis, Missouri and there’s a rich history of music and specifically jazz here in St. Louis as Daniel and I will talk about later.

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Miles Davis for example, is from what we call The East Side and I say that affectionately to give credit where credit’s due. Miles Davis is one of my favorite musicians and with all of his baggage, warts, and glory he probably changed jazz forever. Kind of Blue and other songs standout as epics that I listen to often.

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And if you know anything about Miles’ or his music, you understand that, no matter how great of a musician that you are, you can’t tell someone that you will be Miles Davis. That’s not possible. Similarly, as we’re trying to define how we fit into the world, we can’t just pick an archetype any longer and say, I want to be this and have that be the way that we communicate what we want to do. We have to get specific about who we want to be– more specific then choosing an archetype or a hero. We have to zoom in further…


Hey Daniel. What are you thinking about these days? What, what's interesting to you? Where's your focus?

Oh man, now that I have tons of time while we're shut in my clear interest is lots of time. My music again, some time to write. So it's, it's good, but it's almost like a, it's almost a more pressured, you know, cause we had nothing at the time.

As we talk about this idea of zooming past archetypes, whether it be heroes like miles or other things like doctor, nurse lawyers, what's one of your biggest struggles to finding your prototype?

Well, I guess in my land when musicians are, I wouldn't say our worst trait, but the trait we struggle with is we're very sensitive. So sharing ideas can sometimes get extended. You may love something when it's just you or you might love something the night you made of the morning you made it. But when it's time to share a great idea, it's people kinda whether it be through fear or doubt is just like, or I don't want to step on anybody's foot. It'd be the reverse, you know, in the reverse way. It doesn't always come across clearly. So so, but that, you know, when you're by yourself, you're, you're grinding away. So it's two totally different things. I guess the kids finally like being around these people or wherever you're with, whoever you're sharing your creative creativity with get to a point where you can like be somewhat vulnerable or a, it's a level of comfort to where, cause I think that's natural.

That's a natural thing. I know myself and the band have run into, it's like, Hey, we were really not that great at communicating with each other as we thought we were. So, yeah. Or just being real, you know I don't like that, you know, I like that. So I know many folks from the band, we are reminded that you're in and founded. I know that you're not the only one that's trying to find your niche and your prototype and your creative voice. What's your process as a band? How are you doing that together to try to find your voice collectively? A lot of times I guess more recently it's been in rehearsals. We'll be rehearsing for certain show, certain set for an event that's coming up and after rehearsal we'll be just playing around. And then that plan around turns and I like, you know, another hour of just of shedding and and we've learned to, you know, press that, press that record button on the camera or just keep it going.

We just tried it capture moments cause that's usually how we come up with things. We actually dig is usually an accident shedding together. But that's actually where reminders, I can only speak for mine, but where we've we've gotten close was those times after rehearsal. Well we just like have fun, laugh, be goofy. We might switch instruments, you know, just you know, don't be so serious. Yeah. And a lot of those ideas will be like, Oh man, we should use it. Sometimes we do sounds we don't. Yeah, I noticed that the last, I would say a song called parish that we do that, that kind of happened that way. Which is, but just went from messing around to, huh. That we can take some of that from that. I get, and I can only speak for our group.

We have, it's five, five of us, six of us at times. And it's kind of the only way we all like can freely actually authentically create. It's like really only that time. Yes. Yeah, yeah. No pressure, nothing serious. But yes, press record and that's for any, anybody in anything that's that takes being creative, like turning the camera on sometimes that raw stuff or the times are not thinking some good stuff comes out of that. So. Wow. Yeah. Press record. I like that. It sounds so simple, but I think of how many times be it writing words or recording this podcast writing code that I struggle to put pen to paper. That blank canvas is intimidating. So I hear this theme that you're talking about of collective courage and I've seen that in different groups that you've played with and how you come in and out of different sets with folks. How do you achieve that? How do you

Not only press record, but invite other people to come along with you and have that courage together?

[Inaudible] That, that little time you get before you go on stage to just like goof around talk. That kinda gives me an idea of like, okay, Hey, is this person like taking this moment? Like, is he tight? Is he tense? And she types you tense. We're not, you know, are they over prepared? Are they under prepared? Are they the type of person that wants to kill it or that type of person that's just like, Hey, I'm just showing up to do my job. Like all that stuff. Kinda like factors into, okay, what's this person feel like? Am am I going to need to like try to motivate this person and get them going and get them excited? Or is this somebody that, you know, we might need it, keep it cool, calm down, let's not get too excited. So I mean, those dynamics they come from just being available, actually getting to know people and just talking and being connected before you get on stage.

And I just try to do those little things. Tom, I have before I played with somebody, like, where are you coming from? You know, I don't want to just be like, Oh, random person, we're just playing, you know, you don't know where they're at. You don't know what they're feeling because you don't know where you can help. You don't know what you need to add energy. Well you might need to overplay a little bit for the time. Just certain things that change, you know, room always I've always learn in a room is always changing. Then you can just kind of get it, pay attention to. It's not the same every time. So

This connection that you're building with people eludes to this idea that even though we're looking for our prototype, we're looking to develop ourselves, that our success is not solely dependent on ourselves. We're dependent on others and interdependent. How do you know then as a group, if you're being successful, what does that look like?

You want to feel like you're doing a good job. So I've learned like a lot of times it may not, talent doesn't always equal good job, you know? The amount of skill on stage doesn't always equal good job. A lot of times it's chemistry. Are you guys playing tight together? Are we locked in? If somebody Russian, are you letting them know that they're Russian? I, you know, and then that little stuff, that connection will help, can help make a good performance for that moment. And you could, you could overachieve or just simply do a decent job versus like underachieving and just not being aware or not. Yeah, it is. It doesn't take talent all the time to create a good, good performance. We can all be average and just be really locked in and really in tune with each other and totally overachieved. So, and that opportunity is up.

It's always there, I feel like. Okay. So we have this idea of being connected to each other and in the idea of being locked in that we're doing a good job when the whole band is locked in together. But I'm curious, what are you locked into? How do you all think about that kind of center point or anchor point?

I know, you know Thomas super good at super good at filling out a room. That's what I, that's why I love him. The drummer, he may speed up a song that we usually would play at a, at a 10, you know, slower tempo. It speed it up cause he's like, this room is this room today, you know. No, we're missing energy. We're losing people. We can change the feel of little song. But that's what that, that's kind of our songs are very they don't go too far as far as the, the arrangements, court arrangements but with, with grooves and fields and we gotta be connected, especially with people that are mindful like that. Like Thomas would do that and he'll go for it. We got to support him when he goes, you know, and I mean, he starts, he's gonna settle out of those tempos. Does it ever catch you off guard? Huh. Yeah. But it could it has before, but you know, that's what the cool, the curse and the good part about music is things happen so fast. So you screw up. Oh, Oh man, I messed up. Oh, it's over you. You get you, you know, there's tons of redemption time. Time's over. But that's, it's also a thing where, Mmm, you gotta you gotta snap into being shift, you gotta go with it. So,

So it's funny you bring up Thomas as the drummer, but then also you mentioned earlier that sometimes after practice y'all switch instruments as you're, you're reffing and working on ideas. And most of the time when people do that, the other players may barely be able to play the instrument that they switched to. Like you're playing with players and Thomas specifically that can sometimes play your part, the keyboard better than you or, or at least as good. So what does that look like? How does it feel to play with people that are at that level and, and challenging you to that extent?

It's funny because that's a human nature side of all of us. It's like, dammit, he better not be better than me. You know, it was like, I going to be better than you make me look, you know, look less. It was one time I was good. I was returning to st Louis from out of town and an ad. I didn't know if I would make it in time for a gig. And I told Bianca, I'm like, you might need to have Thomas what were the keys in play? And she was like slightly upset about it and I was like, I thought that was a pretty good alternate. Like we have another keys player, so we're in a great situation. She's just like, I, it's just different when you're there. And and I just learned that like, okay what I offer is valuable. So that's kind of how I approach things. It's like it makes you, it does push you, it does make you want to make sure you're right. But it also lets you know that, okay, it's not about the Mark is finding who I am and what I offer in my style and my approach versus not always a skilled thing. Even though skill helps.

So you were around these incredibly talented people and yet I've watched you closely and I, I know a lot of the band members again, and you're able to use that skill level and the collective skill level of the whole group to really show each other grace and instead of double down on this expectation of perfection or something, y'all are able to really show each other grace. Can you talk about that? How does that work? Oh man, that's huge.

We just tried like, man, make sure everybody's loose. We try to keep it light because if there's not some people, some people are good on the fly, some people aren't, so they mess up or something humiliating happens. I could go real South. If you don't, you're not a good sport about it. So try to make everybody a good sport. Don't take yourself too seriously because if you do, if you do, your bubble will get your bubble gets burst it at some point.

So well, a lot of the stuff that you're talking about, you're connecting people and helping them come together. Then you're all walking in together. We talked about the significant amount of talent that you have on stage, but what is making you successful is, is that locking in part and then really giving each other grace to work together. All this, I mean it's pretty complex and then you throw in there that you're actually needing to play the music while you're doing it and, and lead that. When I've seen performances that y'all do, even though you, you might be the leader, it doesn't look like it. Bianca is out front and sometimes you're in the back row. You don't really draw attention to yourself. Talk about how that works, how you're leading and kind of helping all this come together.

I would say usually my job is to do the cues. I'm more of a nodder. I'm more of a eye contact person, not a lot of hands. I'm the type that I don't want people to see all, you know, too much liked for it to look somewhat slick. I just, I've grown to learn that. Like if I couldn't do it all by myself, that never really changes. So I didn't play my part,

Watch it grow. And I've just grown to see it. Man. I, I've, my father was a musician. All his friends were musicians. Our whole band, our fathers played together. So we got to witness them growing up. Even at our age now age we are now. And what, what didn't work for them? What did you know, what, what did work? One big thing is humility and like, and not being, it's so easy to be the musicians that are Eric and, you know, one, I kind of go their own way. I mean, that's easy and there's tons of musicians out there like that and it's really doesn't do anything good for you. It's not different. It's not special. I feel like it does, it won't get us a bigger fan base. So I mean there's no, there's no value to not having humility and, and as a leader, as a member, so thank God for my room at family though. They're all, they all got some, they all got some humility.

That humility piece sounds really important and like something that grounds you and potentially other people that are in the Band. It also sounds like you've been learning this for a long time. What was your path to learning the skill set side of the music that kind of pairs with this character side? I was a late bloomer. So I've always, I always felt like like I play a cello grownup. So like from, so while Thomas was playing drums in his diapers, I was slightly older than him. I played cello, didn't really play in church much. Well not like I do now. And so I, I did a lot of watching. I did a lot of like, I sat around and just, and just watch start playing keys at about 14, 15, but I was watching the whole time. I just saw how just you're playing, like even when you learn how to do cool stuff, you have to learn how to do the coolest stuff, when to do the coolest stuff.

Wouldn't it be when the laid back whenever, when to let others shine. And I was around guys, I was around my dad and even all of our days, they were good at that. They were good at. And that's what made the music kind of shine was all it took was it took two a sound. So just to, to really fill a room with with the piece that music gives with the joy that music is it takes all these tools of life like being humbled being a jerk at times. Like even the bad experience is like, you know, and all this, that's what makes music so beautiful is that you can add all this like other issues, all the things, all your aspirations. You can kind of where that and if you learn how to share that, if you're make yourself available to share that, you'd be surprised what you get.

Especially with different groups of people because that's all everybody's just going through something even while you're playing. So, so we've talked about connecting with people and the band and then using that to align and lock in. We've talked about all the talent it takes to work together as a team and then the humility and grace that it takes to continue to work together and sustain that all towards this outcome of, in your case, the piece that music brings. If we kind of rewind to when you're kind of getting your start from jumping from a solo instrument like the cello or just playing keyboard solo to diving in with a band, a group of people. And if folks are listening to this and they're going through that transition from being a solo practitioner to working with a group, joining with a group, what advice would you give them of where to start?

We've talked about all this good stuff. Where do you think they should start? This topic has been the, the story of my adult life is that's, this is one thing I've struggled with. So by no means am I like good at working with other creatives. Cause I, I, I'm more so struggled with, I want to have the most brilliant idea. So, not only does it take me a while, I kind of want to craft that, but then I gotta be able to share it. I a good enough to share, you know, so I've had that issue. I really started from I watched a lot of like nonfiction documentaries on former musicians. I was loved. But I always realize every single one of them, it took meeting someone. It took a, the tide always turned when it was you met someone or you, you play with someone.

So there's LSU know that you have to interact. You have to know how to interact with people. The magic happens when you can learn to do that at a high level. Just seeing that, and then I've experienced it trying to do everything in my home. And it's, you run into a wall, you burn out, part experience a part. Just checking out people that came before me, like they didn't do it alone. Nothing happened alone. Some try to make it look like that. And now at the peak of their career, it never started that way. So that that alone gets you into, okay, I need to connect to people. It, it won't, it'll, it won't only make you better, but it makes your music better. It'll let you know where you're at. You might think you have the greatest stuff in the world. You listen to somebody else and you're like, Oh, I guess I don't. And then it just ups your game. So I just think it's important and it shows, it's shown in. I think every musician can attest to that or will attest to this.

One of the themes that we really wanted to hit on in the podcast as a whole is this idea of zooming in past the archetype to your prototype. The idea that we need to get more specific about what we're doing. And we can't just take these big archetypes, these famous people or these big categories and rest on those to guide us or tell us what to do. However, that doesn't at all dismiss how we learn and the history that has come before us. It doesn't dismiss all the inspiration around us. And coming to st Louis. I don't even think I appreciated jazz, let alone all the music history. Has that history and that legacy of, of all the culture impacted you, have you learned from it?

Oh my gosh, that's everything. My miles Davis is the perfect example. Even in Alton, Illinois, music, richest music history in this little bitty town that extended in that connection, connections with people and people that were willing to play together. And it started from church churches in my community is that I grew up in, it was church was a huge thing. You know, choir would come and sing at a service at another church and that happen all the time. And that's when you saw other musicians, you were exposed to other musicians. That was just huge. Like, like I said earlier, it lets you know where you're at and then Stephen Kula when you meet that person and they're not, you know, they don't have wings and yeah. Then I got, it's beautiful. It's beautiful. St Louis is beautiful for that. It's funny, like we say it all the time, but we're going to do something together. We just, Bert might actually just talk about this. We were like, if we could capture some sort of video of us plan and then all of our dads, like every single one of our dads I'll play in a play together at some point and it's all in the sandwich community, so, Oh, it could only mean one thing though. Two drum sets or easy, easy and

Awesome, man, I appreciate your time and thanks for joining us today. It was a pleasure.

My pleasure, man. Thanks for having me.

Author Bio

Daniel Fitzpatrick II

Daniel serves as a songwriter, composer, sound engineer, pianist and cellist. Career Path: Musician + Composer