This week our Spotlight zooms in on T.F.U. Lucas Usagi (aka Lewis Morris) He grew up in West Virginia and still lives there to this day. He considers Morgantown to be his hometown even-though he lives a good 25 minute drive away in what many West Virginians call a “hollar” or “hollow”, nestled in the woods with wildlife and beautiful scenery!
He is basically self-employed at the moment but, come spring time he likes to do outdoor work, lawn care, that sort of stuff, keeps him active and outside. If he is really strapped for cash he has been known to pickup a restaurant job.
How and when did you become a toy soldier?
I became a Toy Soldier in 2010, toward the end of summer. My wife (girlfriend at the time) and I were really getting into a steampunk kick, it inspired us both creatively, when a friend of hers introduced us to the music of Dr Steel, we were hooked instantly. Then once we started Googling his lyrics and whole story it wasn’t long before we found TSU, signed up, and started lurking.
What are some of your early influences in music?
I would have to say my earliest influence came not from a person or band, but from a toy. I had a cheap keyboard when I was a young child, like 4 years old. I can remember just pushing the buttons and listening very closely to all the different tones and sound effects. It had effects like an ambulance siren, helicopter, applause, gunshot, and so on. The standard for cheap keyboards of that time. So I would sit there and create these stories in my head and use the sound effects and synths to help carry it along. I had that thing for years. So it wasn’t long I started to pay attention to the music my parents were listening to. Lots of classic rock like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors. The first cassette tape I owned we the soundtrack to the motion picture Mortal Kombat, introducing me to the world of electronic, trance and industrial. The first CD I owned was Pure Moods Volume 1 which introduced me to the world of ambient and so called “new age” music.
When did you start creating music yourself? What instruments do you play?
Following the course of my music influences to the beginning of high school I was eventually introduced to Tool and Nine Inch Nails and then discovered Brian Eno. Those are three influences that really propelled me to create something musically. I recorded my first round of ambient music from 2005-2007 when I debuted Neuron Dreamtime and the album “I Am My Own Mushroom”. I play guitar, bass, keyboard, some percussion and experiment with a lot of weird experimental techniques present in “noise music”. Increasingly, I’ve become acquainted with Digital Audio Workstations. Which is where I spend most of my time experimenting now, they are like their own instruments to me.
I’ve seen some of your awesome hats that you have made. What are other artistic endeavors do you get into?
Oh gee, a lot actually. The hat thing just sort of happened, years ago I would have never guessed I’d be dabbling in millinery. I made one to wear for a mad tea party we threw. I picked up the technique quickly and found it to be a fun process and that I could be very creative with it. I recently started airbrushing too, which has been a dream to do for a while. I still have a lot to learn, but then again when does one stop learning? I’ve drawn and doodled for almost my entire life, art classes were always my favorite in school. I now bounce around from one project to another, from one medium to another. Painting with acrylic, drawing with pencil and pen, making logos and digital art with Photoshop, writing and directing Neuron Dreamtime music videos. Some I’ll do more than others but I feel that having all these outlets is extremely liberating.
What do you hope to be doing for a living someday?
For me it’s all the music and art I produce. It’s what I love to do. I’m slowing starting to make some progress toward that goal but, it’s still only the beginning. I’ve also had dreams of opening up some sort of shop or gallery with the wife. There’s so many ideas floating around. And like I said it’s only the beginning. Who knows what wackiness will become.
We all have self doubt and down times but, what keeps you going and creating?
I find that, by having all these creative outlets and mediums, when I start having doubts or get frustrated, instead of quitting all together and never finishing, I just move on to another project for a while. I come back with a new perspective on the problem piece having used my mind in a different manner for a different project. The self doubt is a big trap especially in the beginning stages of learning an art or the middle stages of creating a piece but you have to power through it and carry on. Art (including music and lit.) will almost never be perfect in the creators eyes (ears), we really are our worst critics, but by powering through all the self doubt and just creating the art benefits the creator. Its the simple rule of “practice, practice, practice”. You’ll make crap piece after crap piece but, you’ll hone your ability, you’ll discover a workflow that works for you and eventually you’ll find it was silly to have ever doubted yourself while you stare at your umpteenth piece and realize it’s wonderful and inspires you to do more. When self doubt rears its taunting head just flail your arms about, yell “It’s a trap!” and kick it in the junk, then carry on. You’ll be glad you did.
Can you tell us a bit about some things you are working on now?
Yes, there are a few. I have some new tunes headed to TSU. They were inspired by and created for Sgt Dutch and a project he’s got in the works. But, that’s all I think I can say about that, I don’t want to spoil anything. The hat making has picked up, they’re each one of a kind and will all be available on Etsy soon. I am providing art for a start up psychology/science/verse/art webzine. I am working with my frequent music collaborator buddy on a “New Media Art” installation for his college course. And I just recently finished my first soundtrack work for fellow Toy Soldier Captain Mayo and his short horror film, “In His Name”, so I’m in the post-promotional stages with that. Boredom never sets in unless I let it and, just to be safe, I keep practicing my front kick in case of self-doubt.
Thank you so much for this great interview T.F.U. Lucas Usagi! It was great finding out more about the creative entity that is you! *salutes*
For more info and examples of T.F.U. Lucas Usagi please check out the links below:
NEURON DREAMTIME LINKS
The Etsy store to include the top-hats
“In His Name” horror short