WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES
A N T H O N Y D E M B Y
FOUNDER + CULTURAL ARCHITECT
Photograph by Stefano Galli
I. I define wisdom as extensive knowledge gained from experience. It should only be deemed as wisdom when it’s passed on to others. Otherwise, it is just knowledge. Wisdom doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to everyone, it must be shared.
II. I remember I was living in LA and I had reached a point where I needed a major shift. I had just come from a trip to NYC and I remember feeling alive and inspired there. I showed Rashad, one of my best friends, a photo of me standing in Times Square and he looked at the photo and turned to me and said “Dude, what are you doing here?” I was an A&R Coordinator at Overbrook Entertainment back then. He said “Look how happy you look in this photo. You belong here.” I re-examined the photo again and saw the determination he saw and realized that I was home in that photo. I had been thinking about moving to NYC for a while but that conversation was a defining moment for me and I decided that the time was now. After an extended bout of couch surfing with friends I decided to pull the trigger. I remember calling my mom to tell her I was about to go quit my job, leave LA and move to NYC to pursue my dreams in the music business. Her response was “OK, I’m going to have your father call you”. By the time my pops called, I had quit, moved everything out of my desks at work, booked a flight to Houston to see my folks and then booked a flight to NYC.
III. One of the biggest issues in the music business from my perspective is that the value placed on music itself has diminished. These artists put their heart and souls on display and what they have created has now been relegated to just being the soundtrack to the marketing plan. I understand the value of giving away some music for free as an introduction or as an incentive or reward for fans but not everything. I’m not saying that I won’t hop on SoundCloud a grab a free track but I still do buy music. I got into the business because I wanted to help artists and do my best to support their work by buying music and creating vehicles to help them monetize their creativity.
IV. I think that there is a very individualistic mentality and there is no mentorship. I remember when I was coming up in the industry, I had mentors who were there to shepherd me through new territories and overcoming obstacles. They showed me the ropes so to speak and in return I was able to impart knowledge to them on how I viewed things from my vantage point. In today’s unstable landscape, there is this survival mentality where it is me for me and there is a lack of community.
V. We need to take better care of ourselves. We operate in a system that requires long hours, stressful work environments, and often we find ourselves in thankless scenarios. We put ourselves last when in actuality we need to place the oxygen masks on ourselves first and then breathe life into our passions and professions. I am a faithful meditator and runner and I give as much time to my personal well-being as I do to my career. I work hard but play and pray harder.
VI. We need to talk more about things that matter. Call me old school but I feel some of the music today is disposable and a great deal of artists are playing it safe. One of the reasons I love music is because great songwriters have no inhibitions and say things we never would. I am not asking for a message in every song but I miss the vulnerability of storytelling. Take me somewhere, make me feel something, and make it resonate.
VII. I am for change. Period.