Entrepreneur Envy: Andy Dalton

“I am an insanely left & right brained musician and business professional. To put myself in a generic box: by day, I work for a wealth management firm, and by night I’m a musician.

Professionally speaking, I have a wide variety of skills ranging from Computer Science & IT, to Graphic & Web Design, to Fork Lift & Heavy Equipment Operation, to Business Management, to Event Planning, and making a spreadsheet for every conceivable life scenario.

Musically speaking, I’m a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and performer. My solo album, The Fireside Wake, features me writing everything, playing all the instruments, and managing all the administrative functions related to promoting an album. I do my own graphics, web design, promotion, marketing, distribution, crowd funding, and any other task related to releasing an album that you can think of.

When I’m not doing any of the aforementioned tasks, you can find me brewing beer with friends, visiting breweries & distilleries, playing in other bands, going to concerts (when feasible), skateboarding, snowboarding, motorcycling, collecting records, or watching the Lord of the Rings series for the 500th time.”

Tell us a bit about The Fireside Wake:

The Fireside Wake is my passion project. It is a concept rock & roll band that I’ve been working on since the early 2000’s. I write and produce all the music myself: the lyrics, the arrangements, and the individual parts for each instrument. From an early age, I taught myself how to play guitar, bass, drums, piano, harmonica, etc. so that I would never be held back by not being able to play the drum part, for example, that I heard in my head for any given song I was writing. Inspired in large part by other multi-instrumentalist songwriters like Elliott Smith, Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters, and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, The Fireside Wake became my conduit for creating music intended to be presented in the context of a live 5-piece rock band. The visual concept is a painting idea that I’ve had in my head since circa 1999 (as anyone who was friends with me on AOL Instant Messenger at the time can confirm). Essentially, the scenario is a man proposing to a woman in front of a fireplace in an old Victorian era mansion. The universe deems this to be an unholy union and the fire becomes alive and enraged in protest. The fire leaps from the fireplace in a tidal wave of flame, sending the 2 characters into a frenzy of terror and panic. The Fireside Wake is the freeze-framed moment in which you see the man and woman running for their lives, while the engagement ring floats in midair, with an impending wall of fire behind them. This image represents that no matter how much we as humans may try to control our environments, we are still at the whim of nature and other cosmic forces that we don’t fully understand, appreciate, or perhaps even acknowledge. 

Being that I do not currently have a band to perform these songs live, I’m taken a unique approach to bringing them to life in front of an audience. I took the master tracks from my album, remixed the entire thing down to a 4 track mix (one track each for 2nd Guitar, Drums, Bass, and Auxiliary [back up vocals, keys, sound effects, etc]). I load that into my a piece of equipment that allows me to trigger the song starts with my foot, and then I provide the live vocals and live lead guitar while my album tracks play in tandem. It’s like a weird version of karaoke where I wrote and performed all the backing tracks in advance.

If you want to leave a mark on this Earth while you're still alive, you have to be willing to go through hell to appreciate the victory.

Andy Dalton, The Fireside Wake Tweet

What made you want to become an entrepreneuer?

I absolutely love the creative freedom to make decisions based on what I deem to be of high value. Being “my own boss” means that I don’t necessarily have to answer to anyone else or obtain anyone’s permission to express myself the way I want. I can make value decisions without being in conflict with other people. While there is certainly merit in collaboration, there are also drawbacks and challenges. This project has been forged out of a type of obstinance and perseverance. Just because I have not found the right team members to help me with this project, doesn’t mean that should hold me back. This train is moving with or without you. If you want to jump on, awesome. If not, I’m not slowing down to accommodate you. I’m uncompromisingly certain of my artistic vision and refuse to sacrifice quality for convenience.

What's been your biggest challenge in releasing The Fireside Wake on your own?

The biggest challenge I face, honestly, is doing everything myself and finding the time to do it. Granted, I would love to have help, but not at the expense of sacrificing quality and the additional time required to train someone how to do the tasks that need to be done. I’m figuring everything out as I go, and I expect others to have the same self-starter attitude when it comes to solving challenges. Making time for everything is very difficult, and sometimes causing me extreme guilt when I choose to take time for myself (which is of course, healthy). There are only so many hours in the day and I have very ambitious goals. However, I’ve learned the value of not forcing anything. If I’m not in the mood to work on a particular task, I will often table it for later in the week when I’m in a better mental state. Therefore, I’ve mentally blocked off time for that task and I expect myself to sit down and tackle it after I’ve made the mental commitment. And as much as I hate to say it, every time I have brought someone in to help with this project, they end up completely flaking on me, or slowing the process down immensely. I have found that even though it takes a lot of time to do things myself, it’s actually faster than having to chase people down to finish their part. I have high standards which creates its own set of problems.

What can people expect from you in the future?

A high-quality experience. My live performances always feature aspects that make things more difficult on myself with the intention to separate myself from the rest of the pack. I do everything at 110% and don’t like to half-ass my art. My album packaging and vinyl pressing will all be of professional quality using the same manufacturing plants that the major record labels use. My product will go toe-to-toe with any major label release both from a sonic and tactile standpoint.

Finally, any advice for someone just starting their entrepreneurial journey?

Don’t listen to people who tell you how hard something is, that it can’t be done, or that the way you’re doing it “isn’t right.” Find your own path, find what works for you, and don’t be afraid to follow what YOU think is right. I’ve had way too many people tell me I’m crazy or too ambitious or doing thing too unconventionally. That just fuels me to continue doing what I’m doing. I refuse to compromise my vision simply because other people are too lazy to understand it. Being an entrepreneur is as difficult as it is satisfying. If you want to leave a mark on this Earth while you’re still alive, you have to be willing to go through hell to appreciate the victory.

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