July 22, 2017 | backbooth | Orlando, FL
Last month, Honey Punch writer and photographer Kira Wilber got to chat with Colin Rigsby, the brain behind Vesperteen! Get to know the self-proclaimed cinematic pop artist a bit more as he discusses the new single, what music we can look forward to after this tour run, and the level of dedication some Vesperteen fans are at!
So last month you opened for Twenty One Pilots at the Schottenstein Center, how was that?
Colin: Um, it was a great experience. It was so much fun. Definitely biggest crowd I’ve ever played for, which is like thrilling but also hard to absorb. I sort of just focused on playing for the first few rows. I love being able to see faces. It was such a different experience but such a fun one for sure.
So last month you also released a cover of Guns N' Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. What made you want to cover that song specifically?
Colin: Um, I think that I’ve just been drawn to that song and it’s one of many kinda older songs that have like a sort of cinematic melodrama, kinda sort of a, um, melancholy is kinda the word. So it’s like melancholic but poppy too. It’s great. I just think it’s a killer song it’s like such a classic, I think even if you’ve never heard em’ or knew em’, like hearing that riff, you’ll be like “oh that’s that song”.
How did your fans react after you released that and your newest single “Insane”?
Colin: Um, good. I heard that some people didn’t like “Insane”, so I was told. But there’s a ton, probably much more, uh positive stuff.
You gotta have the negative with the positive.
Colin: Yeah, of course. And you know it’s tough for me to look at it objectively and see how it might sound different with the other stuff. I think that was a lot of people’s things, on how it’s different.
So do you ever get nervous releasing new music?
Colin: Um, as long as I’m proud of it I’m excited about it so I don’t think I get nervous. I get excited to put it out for sure, I’m not too nervous about it.
So with all this talk about music, are you waiting until tour is over to release your first album, or are you currently writing now?
Colin: I’m writing now, yeah. I’m trying to write while on tour and uh, which is tough.
Yeah I was gonna say props for that.
Colin: Yeah it’s hard to find the time, and the very tentative plan is try to and record as much as I can throughout the fall. We’re also trying to like do some other tours, so we’ll see how that goes.
So what would you describe your writing process like?
Colin: Hmm. I mean, you know I have to be sort of inspired on a certain topic or you know sometimes it starts with a melody idea, sometimes it starts with a lyric idea. So I usually kinda go through those that I’ve collected on my phone or whatever and start to work on demos and then as I kinda build a demo I’ll finish writing all the lyrics and everything. So that’s the writing process, and then when I go in the studio someone kinda takes shape of that.
Okay, so how would you describe your music to new listeners?
Colin: I think I said to somebody that it’s cinematic pop. I like to think it paints a picture like images, a movie or something. It kinda sets a real strong scene. I’d say the lyrics are pretty poetic I guess.
I’ve seen on Twitter that fans of your music get tattoos of your logo or lyrics in your handwriting, so as an artist how does that make you feel?
Colin: Um, a lot of pressure when it comes to tattoos.
Colin: Yeah cause some people will actually do it! I’ll write a lot of lyrics down and people say they’ll do em’ and I hope they do…or don’t. It’s pressure every time I write it now like this might be going on somebody for real. A lot of people have been doing it so there’s pressure to make it decent, spell it right…not a great speller. Even my own lyrics I’m sometimes like “can you spell that?” or like have them dictate exactly which words they want written out.
Tulsa, OK | 7.31.2017
portraits by Emma Watts | Words by Liz Watts
To be completely honest, the most exposure I'd had to Vesperteen was simply recognizing the name on Twitter. I'd often seen the tweets of a certain Vesperteen fan account, but never thought of it again until one of our friends and team members, Kira, raved about the genuine kindness of Colin (the main brain behind Vesperteen) after doing the interview above.
Emma and I decided to catch his show in Tulsa and do a quick portrait session before his set. Instead of the usual small talk and 15-minute photo op, we ended up sitting down with Colin at a restaurant across the street from the venue for a chat that I've often found myself coming back to over the past week.
Since we knew nothing about Colin except his name, we started from the top. He told us about his hometown, his pre-Vesperteen project, what his relationships with his fans were like, and other things you could probably find if you perused the internet a bit.
At one point, we were talking about my future career in music and Colin asked, “How do you know you want to be in the music industry?” I sort of snapped back in response with “I just do. I don’t know exactly what, though, still trying to figure that out.” The immediate conversation that followed was a mix of me complaining about how difficult it is to get places in the music industry as a female (then apologizing for complaining) and Colin agreeing, then sharing his own experiences of struggle within his career thus far. He told us that even if there is some specific goal in our careers that we want to reach, we should still enjoy what we're doing now. We need to take in all this "figuring out" stuff.
This stemmed from a podcast he had listened to earlier in the day, and its counsel was still fresh on his mind. He said that we all have certain things (items, careers, events) in our lives that we are convinced will be absolutely life changing as soon as we receive them or reach them. But, as cliché as it sounds, he reminded us that life is not about the destination. It’s about the journey.
Naturally, I started asking questions. Am I supposed to have a single goal in my career? What is there to look forward to and pursue once I get whatever “it” is? Should I stop getting my hopes up about everything in general?!???
Rest assured, Colin told us that’s no way to live.
Later in the week, I listened to the podcast in hopes of a new perspective and better understanding of the matter. One quote that struck me goes as follows:
“Life can be seen as a dilemma between depression, where you don’t get what you want but you still want it, and melancholy, where you get what you want but no longer want it.”
This second point was interesting to me. Colin had shared his own story that was similar to this, and I honestly wasn’t expecting to hear what I heard. He explained that he had recently opened for Twenty One Pilots and was obviously (OBVIOUSLY!!) excited to play to such a huge arena of fans. I mean, who wouldn't? That's every musician's dream, isn't it? Their goal is to play to thousands and thousands of people, right? And emerge as a new artist! A new person! The set went great and he felt amazing during it, but when he stepped off stage he didn’t really feel like he thought he would. He wasn’t necessarily a changed man- there wasn’t some magical transformation that is so often assumed.
In this podcast, Pete Rollins (who was leading the discussion) said, “The problem with society is that we are promised objects that’ll satisfy us, but that never works.” Rollins relates this to an author wanting to be a New York Best Seller. The author works hard, but the real pleasure isn't the simple act of being given the title of a best seller. The pleasure is actually in all the work that went into getting that title in the first place. We are constantly told that satisfaction and fullness and completeness come from getting the object of desire and getting rid of the struggle, when in reality, the object is just that- an object or an excitement that eventually ends, and then what? What is there to work towards or look forward to?
The pleasure is in the work. The happiness is in the journey.
I’m sure we can all look back at our lives so far and pick out experiences similar to Colin’s. At some point, we’ve all lived in a painfully melancholy headspace where we are convinced that one thing will transform us or bring us joy and make us feel complete. We put so much time and energy getting to that point of “completeness” that we dismiss the trip there, which is the most crucial part.
The real pleasure of life is in the struggle, my friends.