Today is Olan’s birthday. I woke up super late to the reminder on my phone, because I’m both the worst with my sleeping schedule and the worst with remembering things about other people.
I don’t have anything to offer him today, sadly, but I thought I would instead just write about him.
Our Nashville adventures lasted a little over a year before I moved away, and in that time I felt like I was holding him back. I worked nearly the whole time I was there - just crappy, dead-end jobs to pay the bills. When I’d come home, there he was, still relentlessly editing some 15 second-long scene from Pop Rocket, 20+ hours straight. You see, what people don’t know about that goofy, fun-loving guy is how dead serious he is about what he’s doing. The moments of frustration over his uncompromising independence, the number of reshoots, the mass pile of unused footage because it “wasn’t good enough”, the demand for excellence in himself first and in those around him, and his honesty. Sweet Moses, his honesty.
He has a determination that you will likely never see in your lifetime. The products you see may seem seamless and effortless, but that’s only because of the immeasurable effort he put into making them feel that way.
HE HAS RE-SHOT HIS VLOGS. Did you read what I just said? He’ll re-shoot a vlog, because it isn’t funny enough or entertaining enough. He’ll reword everything from scratch to make sure it’s the best possible telling of his stories. I’ve heard him downstairs shooting the same video he shot several days before and all the days in between, just telling a story about his life.
I realized the difference between us pretty early on, and so I focused on helping Olan do the best work he could do. He let me write and constantly encouraged me, but it wasn’t the family/friend sort of encouragement. He never lied to me. If my work wasn’t good enough, or he saw that I could do better, he never minced words. So, when I heard him across the room, reading my next draft saying, “This is exactly what I wanted! YES! Perfect.” I knew he was speaking the truth. He demanded my best, and he knew when I had given it to him. He bought me my first piece of orchestral software, and made my first EP possible. I was moving away, leaving him behind, and his response was to invest in me - to believe that I could achieve no matter where I was headed. That’s how he lives, by investing in people and knowing their value.
This doesn’t just apply to his film work either. His apparel company is not a hobby or a youtube side-project. He takes it just as seriously as he does his films. He’d show me a design and ask for my opinion. I’d be blown away to see that several days later he completely scrapped that same, good design and started from scratch again. If I could show you a folder full of his fantastic, unused designs, your head would surely fall from its hinges.
Know this: when you see his work succeed, either in his business models, his view of people, his creative work, or his relationships, you are seeing a stone smoothed over years of unrelenting excellence, of unstoppable determination, and of uncommon passion.
There isn’t enough I can say, but he’s a tremendous man, and I’m so proud that he calls me friend.
Happy birthday, Olan.
One time, I was driving around with a group of friends - loud music was playing, and we were all getting amped up about something. I got caught up in the moment and shouted over the music, “looks like it’s gonna be cloudy with a chance of par-tay!” The driver slowly turned down the music, turned back to me, and said, “What?” but I don’t think there was an explanation he would have accepted.
I’m not friends with any of those people anymore, and I can’t help but wonder if that was the proverbial straw.
The super sad answer to this question is no. I want to do vinyl, and I may still do it, however you cannot get less than 100 made ANYWHERE, which for a small, independent artist like me is a very large number, especially considering the very minimum(100) would cost me over $1000. There are very legitimate reasons that companies refuse to print less than 100 records, and I respect and understand their position. The problem is on my end of the equation.
My last album had somewhere around 1500 total downloads, and of those 1500 downloads only 50 people actually paid for the album or donated. That is not a complaint but an observation as a businessman. My last EP was up for free download, so that makes sense. However, if I take those numbers into consideration, selling nearly 50 vinyl records at $24 a pop in order to simply make my money back is unlikely. I would need to sell the same amount of vinyl as the number of people willing to pay $5 for an EP. Vinyl is not wildly popular, and my music is even less popular, both from genre and from exposure. You can see my dilemma. It would be fantastic to be in a financial position to hash out $1000 to simply accommodate everyone who wants vinyl, and I will get there. I am just not there yet. Hopefully, when that financial need is met, my music is also being spread wide enough to justify 100 and beyond.
I love the warm, degraded sound of vinyl myself, and it would be a great pleasure to see the album artwork at full size. Just give me some time.