As seen on VoyageLA online magazine…
Today we’d like to introduce you to Davy.Rocks.
Davy.Rocks, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My job is to bring people joy and inspire them. I’m a rock star. My bank account doesn’t know that I’m a rock star; but yes, I’m a literal, working, professional rock star. I sing and dance hip hop, EDM, rock, pop and Latin for a living. It’s my full-time job and primary source of income. However, I haven’t always been an entertainer, and I’m not a musician. I decided to become a rock star when I was 59 years old. Before that, I was an accountant.
As of this writing, I’m 63, so I’ve been doing this for four years. I would like to tell you how all this came to pass and offer you my lessons learned in the hope that you might benefit from their wisdom. And I would also like to share with you how you too can become a rock star (literal or figurative) in whatever you set yourself to do.
Many disparate factors came together over the course of my life to make me what I am today. I was born in Sioux City, IA on a dark, cold December night in 1955. Sioux City is a fairly small mid-western town of around 80 thousand people, and I grew up in a mixed neighborhood on the low income, south side of town. My parents got a divorce when I was 13, and my dad never came around much after that, so I didn’t enjoy much privilege. But I did learn from the very beginning how to be comfortable around and love blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asians as well as white people.
At home and school, I was taught acceptance and respect for all. My performance is extremely dynamic and athletic. It’s a spectacle more than a concert, but there is no set on the stage, just me. So various movement arts coming together seamlessly are the cornerstone of my act. I use a headset microphone like Britney Spears, sans the lip syncing. So my first experience with movement arts started at age five in kindergarten.
I went to St. Joseph’s Catholic grade school K through six which had a formal and yes, required dance program. Things were different in the ’60s than they are now and it wasn’t optional like “Davy would like to learn to dance?” No, instead it was “you are going to get out there and dance!” Yeah, like with real, live girls in my school! We did classical ballroom, country square dancing, Irish jigs, etc. so dancing while holding some girl’s hand and waist always seemed normal to me.
In 1971, when I was 15, (yes, I was a teenager in the ’70s, woohoo! LOL), I saw a movie that changed the very course of my life called ‘Billy Jack.’ It’s not a very good movie, so you don’t have to run out and see it right this minute. But Billy Jack fought off bullies using martial arts. I was particularly impressed with his dynamic, high kicks in the style called Tang Soo Do.
As soon as I saw that I knew I had to do it because we had bullies at school and there was no such thing as school support or programs against bullies at that time. No, back then you were on your own when it came to bullies, and my preferred solution was to learn to fight back myself. Right after that Bruce Lee came to the US and when we at the dojang saw Bruce we knew immediately what a martial artist was supposed to be. So there was another major movement art dominating my life. The beautiful art of devastating high kicks.
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It has been a passion of mine ever since, and I incorporate martial arts heavily in my show. Think Elvis on steroids. Tae Kwon Do taught me confidence and how to gain accomplishments. I do a lot of black music. It’s mostly trap, but I also sing a lot of R&B. Right now I do stuff like Sicko Mode, Plug Walk and In My Feelings. How did this development come about? Well, in 1976, when I was 20 years old, I rode a two-stroke Suzuki 380 motorcycle from Sioux City to Los Angeles.
I worked in Compton and got my first solo apartment in downtown Long Beach. The LB area was controlled by Westside Longo but let’s just say we all “came to terms” and got along great. My next door neighbor was a young black man named Bill Charleston. Bill invited to go with him to the Living Word Missionary Baptist Church of Long Beach and after much persistence over many weeks I succumbed and went with him to church. I loved the singing at Living Word. There was no formal choir.
Instead, there was extensive congregational singing. We sang all the old traditional “negro” spirituals like Swing Low Sweet Chariot. That was my first real singing experience and how I learned to sing “Black.” It was there that I discovered that I have a deep baritone voice. No one ever comes up to me during my show and says “you are culturally appropriating.” On the contrary, most black people love my work and support it both emotionally and financially. And, they are GREAT tippers when you deliver value.
In 1981, I married a Mexican woman from Mexico City, and since I was in love, I set myself to learn Spanish. We are divorced now, but I have been speaking Spanish for 38 years and love to sing some Spanish songs in my show. In fact, I can and often do a whole show in Spanish, especialmente when there are a lot of Latinos on the pier like on Sunday nights. I do stuff like Despacito and La Chona by Los Tucanes De Tijuana.
Fast forward to 2005. This time I saw a documentary movie called “Rize.” Rize documents the origin of a dance style called “krump” in South Central Los Angeles. I had never cared much for hip hop dancing. It felt somewhat canned to me. More on that later. However, Krump is not hip hop and has its own philosophy. Then I had another one of those “I have to do that!” moments when I saw krump. Krump is like a primal, tribal war dance; with its own philosophy of free self-expression and I loved it. “I got a lot on my mind so I krump, I krump, I krump.”
Now you can understand how it doesn’t seem so extraordinary to me to be a 63-year-old white guy who krumps. There were other influences: The Nicholas Brothers, James Brown, Weird Al Yankovic, Tight Eyez, Fred Astaire, Cab Calloway and none other than the one and only Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Yes, watch the great classic movie “Stormy Weather.” Although I just decided to do it one day, I had been preparing myself all my life for that day without even realizing what any of it was for.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Being a true eccentric rock star is not without challenges. But the challenge is all in my mind. Am I too old to be doing this? Have I lost my mind? Should I get a “real” job doing tech work and make more money? There are people in my family who think I should get a regular job. Some of them put up with me in this phase of my life, and others don’t.
I wasn’t trying to be funny when I first started doing my show. Nope, instead, I was just trying to be a rock star. But people thought I was funny. So I went with funny. To this day, I still don’t quite completely understand why they think I’m funny. I think it’s because I’m old and I’m very expressive in my act. Then there’s the haters.
Sometimes people walk by my show and laugh at me or look at me incredulously. That can be a challenge for me. It’s interesting to see how their preconceived prejudices drive their perception of me. But I have learned to deal with it by keeping a positive attitude when this happens and by trying to turn the people around. I smile, dance and look them in the eye. Often I win them over, but if not it’s their loss, not mine.
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www.davy.rocks – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Performing isn’t like a casual interest or a hobby for me. It’s a whole way of life that I have chosen. I see myself like an LA Ninja practicing and perfecting every exquisite detail of a techno-mystical craft, always striving diligently toward the mastery. Mediocrity is death. Working out and being in good shape is part of my job. The entire package must be relentlessly chiseled away down to its bare essentials, and that includes the physique that I present to my audiences.
Let me tell you, there are few things better in life than working without a shirt on. People like to see my muscles working through myriad movements. Many of them have never seen big muscles working up close. It’s a study in human dynamics. I make it ok for them to look and I enjoy showing them how our amazing anatomy was designed to stay firm and fluid into old age. I’m not just doing this for money. Instead, I see myself as an entrepreneur whose job it is to create opportunity and seize upon it. I’m building the House Of Davy.Rocks. My name on my shirt; not somebody else’s brand. In fact, other people wear my name on their shirt.
One of the things I love about my business is that my act requires a variety of skills and abilities across various disciplines that I thoroughly enjoy. A typical day might include memorizing Black Pink lyrics in Korean, singing technique practice, studying music theory, original dance move development in front of a mirror, running on a treadmill, creating t-shirt designs on photoshop, editing videos or building my website www.davy.rocks. I make a living out of the things I love doing. Everyone, especially artists should have their own clothing line. You can keep costs down doing it yourself. I bought a heat press and started manufacturing my own t-shirts.
You just need to know a little Photoshop and have some good ideas to create your own t-shirt designs. I’m planning to start an entire Davy.Rocks clothing line including hats, hoodies, and shorts as well as t-shirts which I sell on my website and on the Santa Monica Pier. Sometimes I’m standing out on the pier doing my show when its cold, windy and slow. The few people there mock as they scurry past me hunched over sneering or laughing; or worst of all, ignoring me completely.
That’s when I ask myself: what makes it all worthwhile? It’s in that moment that I mentally whip out my psychic list of “tell myself”; and I tell myself “Nobody ever came up to when I was an accountant and said, “You changed my whole life!” But they do now. “You were the highlight of our vacation.” You mean to tell me you drove out here from freakin Iowa, went to Disneyland, The Getty Museum, Malibu, etc. and I was the highlight of your vacation!? You gotta have your “tell yourselfs.” They say “We saw you here last year and came back just to see you.”
A tall young person comes up to me and says “I danced with you here when I was a little kid.” I’m having a meaningful, positive impact on people’s lives. Not just entertaining, but lifting them up in spirit. Nobody ever came up to me and said “we want to shoot a documentary about you” when I was an accountant. But they do now. My digital legacy will live on long after I’m gone as long as this civilization has computers. I’ve become part of the historical record of this society.
Plus, because I’m an old white guy who does trap and sings in Spanish sometimes, we always have mad racial harmony going on in my big sessions. Imagine 200 people standing around in a semi-circle, dancing, and singing. We have all kinds of people enjoying each other and getting down. Everyone gets along. We see that we already are but one people. People look at me, and they think “Wow, if he can do that, then I can do anything!”
Thus, I provide a valuable service to the community. I make people smile and laugh and point them toward greatness. Fans seem to admire my confidence. Sometimes they ask me how I have so much confidence. Confidence is one of the attributes that attracts them. Confidence comes from being polished. It’s the natural result of knowing your stuff. Confidence is not a hypnotic state of mind that you conjure up through positive affirmation: “I’m good enough.” Yes, you do need to think positively, but your estimation of your abilities is reasonably based upon the evidence of you having practiced and mastered your act.
Confidence is about being dedicated and putting in lots of hard work. You know you can do it because you have already done it many times. Confidence is not a psyche job you do on yourself. It’s not enough to just have confidence, you also have to be able to display your confidence. There are certain ways of speaking, standing and moving that convey confidence. Everyone should know how to do them.
You will always have trolls. People who have no dreams and nothing going on in their own lives can only think to tear down other people’s dreams. Don’t let them bother you and instead focus on the people who encourage and support you. Let the haters contrast the value that your fans bring.
You too can be a rock star at whatever you want. Know what you want. Visualize it. I knew ahead of time what it would like like if I were a great martial artist. Before I started, I was able to see myself as a rock star. Yeah, as in up on the stage. See the details. How do you feel? What are you wearing? Where are you? Who is watching? How are they reacting?
You have to believe it’s possible. Don’t BS yourself. I’m never going to win the 100-meter dash in the Olympics. I believe my goal though because I have been working on it for a long time and I’m prepared. I have built the right background over time. It’s about slow, steady, gradual, incremental accomplishment — a little better today than yesterday. Focus and discipline are the fuel that drives your accomplishments.
This is about saturating your thinking with your goals and relentlessly pursuing them; usually at the cost of other things. Count the cost. Are you willing to pay the price for your success? How much do you love it? Let me leave you with this. If you master it, it will propel you to accelerated rock star status.
“Happiness is a choice that you make, not the result of favorable circumstances.” ~ Davy.Rocks
Don’t say “I will become happy when I accomplish my goal.” Instead, decide to be happy right now, today and every day as you pursue your goal. Happiness is different from joy or gladness. It is a deep-abiding contentment with your existence and your relationship to the universe.
“Happiness is usually found in the company of gratitude.” ~ Davy.Rocks
Many people have decided that they can’t be happy until certain things are just right.
Look, I’ve been treading this earthly plane for over six decades, and I’m here to tell you that everything will never be just right. I’m sharing with you one of the great secrets of human existence. Being a human is about choosing to be happy even when you are not “there” yet. It’s not about manipulating the environment to happy mode. Embrace the idea that:
“If it weren’t for trials and tribulations, we would stay pussies our entire lives.” ~ Davy.Rocks
Nothing can “make” you happy. You choose to be happy as you use focus and discipline to gradually accomplish a goal that you love. Usually, that means service to others. My service to the community is that I bring people joy and inspire them. That’s what makes my work meaningful, worthwhile and fulfilling. I’m having a positive impact on people’s lives, not just entertaining them. I hope you have enjoyed this and it has inspired you. You too can be a rock star!
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moments are when people come up and tell me I had some meaningful impact on their lives or made some unforgettable impression. When I hear words like “We were there a year ago, and my daughter still talks about you” make it all worth it.
- Davy.Rocks aka Dancin Dave handcrafted silkscreen t-shirts $20 at www.davy.rocks
- Website: https://davy.rocks
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davy.rocks/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/davy.rocks1/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/dancindave55/
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxdH1K6pBmfUwFj3D9XFh-g