Interview No. 97
Where are you originally from?
I grew up in Syracuse, but I’ve lived all over the place, including New York City and San Francisco. I’ve been in Rochester for about ten years now, and I live in the Upper Monroe neighborhood.
What is your favorite part of living in Rochester?
As a musician, it’s nice because Rochester is such an inexpensive city to live in. We also have many spots in the city that feel kind of private, like Pinnacle Hill. I hike there two or three times a week. I also like the music scene here. I did lots of touring for awhile, through countries including England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Scotland, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and more—but now I’m focusing more on local and regional stuff.
Do you have any favorite/secret Rochester spots?
Seth: The bike routes are great—I usually bike about an hour a day. I stay in my house doing a lot of video editing, so my home is a favorite spot too. My attic is a studio and my garage has a green screen, so it’s a pretty well utilized home.
What are some of your favorite venues to play in Rochester?
Do you have a favorite charity/nonprofit you like to support?
Flower City Pickers is a great organization. They take food that the Public Market is going to throw away and bring it to homeless shelters.
If you had $400 and 4 hours to kill in Rochester, how would you spend the money/time?
I’d get t-shirts made by a local company. HTB (Hide the Bodies) is a good one.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood?
Seth: I like to riding my bike uphill to Highland Park.
What is your personal coping mechanism for cold/gray weather?
Seth: I work a lot—I write a lot of music during the winter months. The cold inspires me.
Laura: I go for walks. I try to get outside every day.
What is your favorite Rochester memory?
There’s a rush of competing memories. Lots of times putting on shows at Meddlesome Lab come to mind. I played my first show when I was 16 at the Penny Arcade. I also love hanging out with my children. There’s just so much! I feel happy to have a community I’ve sunken myself into through music. I’ve met countless friends through it, and I don’t remember what it’s like to not know those people.
If Rochester was a genre of music, what would it be?
Laura: To an outsider, it seems like it would be classical music because of Eastman.
Shaun: If you go to the Bug Jar every night in a week, that might represent whatever genre you’d say Rochester is.
How would you describe the music scene in Rochester?
It takes awhile for people to like you, but once you’re in, you’re supported. I thought it was a pretty small scene at first but realized it’s much bigger. Colonel Parmesan introduced me to Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlesome Bells; they had a room open and through that, I got exposed to locals, weirdos, and all sorts of people! They moved out and I started running the place! I met a lot of people through those early shows at Meddlesome Lab.
My band has also exposed me to a lot of people. I put out a call for people to play my rock opera, and the group gradually started playing my songs too. It opened up a lot of different social pockets of Rochester. I also did residencies at Havana Moe’s and Boulder and met people through that.
Are there any places in Roc you like to go to get inspired?
Pinnacle Hill is one. I’ve also recently purchased a small piece of land in Naples—a little three acre plot—to get out of the city and focus on art and music. There’s no heat or water or electricity, and I’m so excited!
Do you have any advice for musicians, artists, and creatives in the Rochester area?
Seth: A lot of it is making friends—being a person, being part of the scene. Don’t go into it like you’re networking. People see through that and don’t buy it.
Laura: It’s a supportive city—they want to see what you’re doing, but you may have to make your money elsewhere.
Seth: Be real. If you wanna make money, play reggae or jam music. The jam scene is so supportive here! People will go to every show you play.
What makes Rochester unique?
Laura: It’s one of the best and most welcoming places for trans people!
Shaun: And one of the best places to raise a family! Plus, there’s lots of great history here too.
Laura: I also love all the visual and sound art here—and some of that is probably because of Kodak.
Seth: Each city has its own color and mood. It feels like a really all-accepting town here, where you can be socially comfortable with people from all walks of life.