His seafoam green eyes sparkled. I asked him where he liked to play. He said he didn’t like the Sydney Opera House. He preferred the Third Street Promenade. It was more intimate.
When he played in Sydney dressed in his “white monkey suit, [he] couldn’t see the audience because of the stage lights.” On the promenade he could look people in the eyes. I had to agree. It’s what hooked me.
At 20 something, he’s played professionally in major international venues, and for free to the public. He has been the producer, engineer and performer on his CD. As a violinist he has worked with almost every type of musician, from various gangster rappers to the Pacific Symphony, and the Los Angeles Ballet.
Josh Vietti is a “pop violinist.” His music grabbed me one night as I was rushing through the crowds to see “Frost/Nixon” with friends. The high pitched flight of his violin was playing against a house beat backdrop, and soared over the general roar of the promenade on a Saturday night. I was immediately drawn in by the sound, and then sucker-punched by this blond haired, whirling dervish of activity. He looked straight at me, with a big toothy grin, and I was taken with him.
I wanted to know this man who was mashing up the sounds of a classical instrument with the rhythms of funk, soul, rap, house, trance, and a doing it in a way that made it accessible to me. It took a few weeks of schedule juggling, mostly because his schedule is not like that of most 20 somethings who dream of having a record deal, “some day.” This young man is doing corporate events, private parties, working on the promenade at all hours, producing his next album, creating a brand for himself on the Internet and has found time along the way to develop a sense of himself, and garner a wisdom that I was mightily impressed with.
“No experience is bad if you can learn from it,” he told me in response to a question about performing in public. “It’s crazy on the promenade, but more intimate, and I prefer it, because it’s in your face.”
His face shows the determination of the successful. It’s about focus, and as he put it, “I never thought I’d work this hard in my life.” But clearly it is paying off. His degree from Cal State Long Beach in Communication and Rhetoric has honed his skills. His was the easiest, and most enjoyable, interview I’ve done in a long while. The ease and grace he displays in his playing, like any good professional, carried over to his off-stage persona.
Perhaps it was because he’d been through many interviews before, but I prefer to think that it was his natural fluidity in the world. As he put it, “I prefer to go with the current of life, it seems easy, but most people have a hard time with it.” I pressed him on that, what did he mean?
Destiny. That’s what he meant. “It’s my destiny to be a violinist. Destiny is embracing your inherent gifts and trying to improve your talent and skills, even if not recognized by society as a traditional money making operation.”
This from a 20-something year old. I was dumbfounded when he said that. I asked him where he wanted to go professionally. He wants his own show, but doesn’t have an agent or a manager, because they’re not “hungry enough for me.” He works four-six hours a day, in addition to his practicing of three or four hours, plus studio time.
I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs — people who want to be their own boss, but really have no idea how to do that, how much discipline it takes, self motivation, all consuming passion, and inner ability to dig deep and still believe when it all looks like it was a waste of time and effort. The darkest days of every entrepreneur are those moments when you have doubts; when a regular paycheck looks like an oasis in the desert. How you manage those days is the deciding factor on whether or not you will be successful.
Josh Vietti told me how he handles the dark nights. He didn’t use words, and he didn’t do it in our interview. It was on that Saturday night that I fell in love with his music. It’s the all consuming passion that comes through, the drive to be heard over the roar of the crowd on the promenade.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.