Wednesday, December 1, 2021
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Speaking Up About Making it in Los Angeles

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Courtesy of Rachel Ann Cauilan
Courtesy of Rachel Ann Cauilan

“I’ve never felt more lonely than when I moved to LA,” Jess Bowen confessed.

Around the dim campfire pit in the middle of a Silver Lake home, a circle of nods followed.

Jess Bowen, drummer for the established pop-rock band The Summer Set and Meg Frampton, independent jewelry designer and guitarist of the late Meg & Dia, curated an intimate fireside chat last Monday night to talk about their personal experiences of self-discovery and growing up inside and out of the music industry.

With 11 other guests in attendance, from young fans, aspiring musicians, personal friends and Los Angeles locals, both women wanted to lend their hand and speak up about issues regarding identity, fear and struggles.

The night, Bowen explained, arose from a realization that her students — during a time she offered drum lessons — were more interested in how she got to where she is rather than drumming itself.

As role models for females and aspiring musicians around the world, the two expressed their desire to make the night a conversation between guests and them, rather than a Q&A directed at them.

The two shared their personal stories, as Frampton described her upbringing in a “very white” community in Salt Lake City. She explained that as the only Asian in her circle of friends, she always felt different and mentioned a time her friends brought her to a Catholic church and used her as their “Asian token.”

Working as a band on the road in a very male-dominated industry, Frampton naturally tried to fit in with her male counterparts. She got a boyfriend on tour and agreed with how “hot” a girl was, only to realize how stupid that was later in life and would then tell on friends if they cheated with their girlfriends.

She added that she’s spent the last few years soul-searching, emphasizing the importance of making time for yourself and buying yourself a bouquet of flowers at the farmers market — just because.

Bowen added how she has been in a wildly successful band, touring all around the world with her best friends, only to realize how unhappy she felt throughout.

“I questioned, why am I unhappy?” she said.

Others in the circle responded to her with difficulties of connecting truthfully with others in LA. Bowen emphasized the importance of having conversation with others and asking, “How is your heart?” instead of “How are you?”

As following one’s dreams and passions can seem daunting, Frampton mentioned how if something scares you or if you have any doubts about it, chances are that you love it and that should be what you should be doing with your life.

“If you were me,” I asked her, “how would you navigate what direction to go?”

She told me, “We’re all confused.”

“But somehow we all get by,” I added, with her nod of approval.

In this fast-paced world we seem to be living in, we ought to take the time to slow down and forge real relationships with people. As we can often get caught up in a life chasing success after success, we should remember to ask ourselves how we are feeling at the same time, as these two women exemplified.