William Seiji Marsh was inspired by a moment of personal realization to launch a new business during the pandemic. Douglas Detrick and Marsh talk about goal setting in music, and how it can relieve anxiety and improve outcomes when done with a more honest mindset.

William Seiji Marsh

About William Seiji Marsh

William Seiji Marsh is a guitarist, educator and musician mindset coach based in Los Angeles.  He records and performs internationally with Pink Martini, Edna Vazquez and Cardioid.  In the past, he has toured and recorded with Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Halie Loren, Lost Lander and others.  William has taught guitar at Reed College and Willamette University in the state of Oregon.  He is the founder and head coach of Musical Being, a music education organization committed to empowering musicians to really get what matters to them.

Links mentioned in this episode


Episode Transcript

Douglas Detrick: Welcome to More Devotedly, a podcast for people who see the arts as a force for positive, progressive change. I’m Douglas Detrick. This is Volume V, episode 4.


If you’re an artist, you spend a lot of time with eyes, ears, hands and heart very close to your work. You’re planning rehearsals, you’re marketing your shows, you’re working your day job, you’re earning your degree, you’re taking care of your family, you’re buying supplies or scrounging for the perfect found object, you’re learning your lines, you’re submitting yet another grant or application, you’re shooting and editing a behind-the-scenes mini-documentary as you make your latest fans-only bonus content—whatever life looks like for you. 

If you’re lucky, there are moments when you can take your eyes off your work and your thoughts out of the moment you’re in and look at yourself from a distance. Do you remember one of those moments? What did you see? What did you feel?

It’s been fashionable to celebrate the hustle—to embrace the hard work and fatigue and struggle as a badge of honor. More recently, we’ve seen some very talented and, by almost anyone’s standards, successful people step back and take a rest. I’m thinking right now of Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka who opted out of competing in high-profile athletic contests, but I’m sure there are examples from the arts world as well.

When one of those moments happened for my guest, William Seiji Marsh, or Bill as I’ve called him since we were in college together, he was on stage at the Seoul Jazz Festival, in Seoul, South Korea. It was a moment of joy and realization that all the work he’d put into becoming a good guitar player had paid off. It was that feeling in part that inspired Bill to launch a new business called Musical Being, where he coaches musicians of all kinds on refocusing their careers on goals of their choosing.

I was happy to hear Bill talk about this moment and personal growth and business it has inspired, but I also was glad he was happy to answer a more challenging question as well. What about the folks that haven’t experienced a big success like the one Bill had? We talk about the answer to that question, and also hear about how the pandemic has affected touring musicians, how he thinks about goal setting, and about his own plans for producing his first personal creative project. 

Here’s the episode.


Douglas Detrick: So Bill, welcome to more devotedly. I am very interested to talk about how you started this coaching business and also about your own music that you’ve been working on. But before we get to that, let’s just start with what I’ve been starting with all of my guests over the pandemic is just your pandemic check-in. Tell us how you’re doing and how you’re dealing with all this. And you know, what’s going on in your life right now.

William Seiji Marsh: Yeah. Thanks, Doug. Thanks for having me. Yeah, things are, things are good here. I’m in Los Angeles. I moved here in the summer of 2019, so I had a solid maybe six months or so before the pandemic hit in earnest. And then, you know, It’s I would imagine living here is a lot like living anywhere else during this time, you know? Except the weather’s nice, which is, you know, I moved from Portland, Oregon, and the weather’s pretty Clement here in Los Angeles. So that’s been a real plus for us. But yeah, I’ve been really great.

I’ve been working on building my coaching business, musical being I serve musicians in distinguishing what it is that they’re after. And then supporting them and creating the actions that will have them accomplishing that outcome and then dealing powerfully with everything that comes up for them in the process. You know I like to think of it as the human element of being a musician, being a human being that, that participates in music.

Aside from that, I’ve also been working on a recording project of my own music which is something that’s unprecedented for me. In my career as a musician, I’ve worked mostly as a sideman for other people’s projects from, you know, working with cherry popping daddies, pink martini, Edna Vasquez, of course, with you as well, Doug, with little one.

This is kind of different in the sense that I’m the source of the creative energy. and then I get to be in the discovery of what that means, and what it looks like to be kind of like bandleader, and sideman all in one.

And of course, you know, kind of enrolling team members along the way and, and seeking support from other people and confronting for myself or whatever there is around that. And you know, that whole experience, but yeah, things have been really good. I’ve actually, you know, been going for a lot of hikes. I’ve been socializing with people outdoors, which is possible here in Los Angeles. And, you know, playing a lot of video games. It’s been a pretty, pretty good time.

Douglas Detrick: Good.

William Seiji Marsh: I do miss performing though. That’s one thing I’m really looking forward to getting back to performing in person for people.

Part 1 – Musical Being

Douglas Detrick: Bill, let’s start talking about the coaching business. Did you launch the coaching business after the pandemic began?

William Seiji Marsh: It’s interesting cause it was January of 2020 when I, my partner and I both she’s also a musician and I also coach and we both chose to create remote coaching businesses for ourselves. The initial idea was to create a remote source of income for ourselves so that we could be traveling.

We could be touring, we could live anywhere and still have access to a livelihood. I’ve been teaching guitar since I was really, since I was in high school is when I had my first student. and I’ve taught all through college, and then I’ve taught at couple of colleges and in a private studio. And the thing that I was missing in the traditional teaching paradigm was that the work that I did was mostly informational. So it was a student comes in, I’d give them XYZ pieces of information, and then the onus is on them to take that information and find a way to integrate it.

And of course we can work on processes for integrating that information in the lesson. But, you know, my experience as a teacher, also my experience in my own education, in my own learning was that you know, a lot of times teacher would give you the information and say, okay, go practice this.

And then what I found is well, what the heck does practice mean? You know, I go into the practice room and I go practice stuff, practice stuff, practice stuff, and you know, and it, it wasn’t working. So the model that I’ve adopted, that I’ve been creating is, well, what would it look like to start from the outcome?

And uh, see what it is that you want as an outcome, and then speculate as to what are the actions that would have you accomplishing that. And you might not know the actions, but that’s a really great place to start because then it’s like, okay, well, how do I figure out what those actions are and kind of reverse engineering and outcome.

But your question was like, did I start this during the pandemic? I started it before the pandemic. And then when, you know, a couple months later, when it became apparent that that we were going to have to all kind of sequester ourselves and, and work remotely. It was interesting because that had the effect of everybody going remote was that it kind of legitimized the remote learning paradigm in a, in a way that it wasn’t before, like this was all available before, but it wasn’t until recently that we started really digging into what the possibilities are of remote learning.

Douglas Detrick: Yeah. for sure. Yeah. It was kind of a fortuitous time. I mean, you know, fortuitous to start a online business during that time, It’s like, amid terrible circumstances, but, but Yeah.

William Seiji Marsh: Certainly.

Douglas Detrick: But one thing that you talk about a bit on your website and you’ve talked about it a bit with me as well, an experience that you had that was kind of a personal breakthrough. And I wanted to have you talk a bit about that. Because it seems like that experience was kind of a driving force for the business and has also become a driving force creatively and personally. So talk about that, would you?

William Seiji Marsh: In may of 2019, I had the opportunity to go on tour with pink martini and this tour was special in a way, well, in a lot of ways, but one way in which it was special is that we flew eastward. And we actually circumnavigated the globe.

And so we flew eastward until we returned back to Portland, Oregon, which was our point of origin. And so we first started out in exotic North Carolina with the the North Carolina Symphony. And then we went and did six shows in Turkey. And then we went to Seoul, South Korea. And then to Hawaii and then home.

But in Seoul, we performed at the soul jazz festival and, big festival. We had like Wynton Marsalis was playing . John Scofield was there. It was like all these amazing musicians were there. Brad Mehldau trio, I think was there. And like, it was it was this amazing lineup. I got to perform on the main stage, on the final evening, just before the Wynton Marsalis quintet, which is like bonkers, that I’m on the same stage as this guy. And like, there’s like 20,000 people in the audience and it’s like young people, you know, they’re like, you know, maybe 20 somethings and they’re super excited about the music and they’re dancing and they’re singing along.

And it was like, holy cow, I kind of made it, you know, like, you know, and, and that idea of making it, like, I feel like sometimes I’m in the experience of having made it, and then sometimes I’m not like right now, like I’m in, you know, quarantine, I haven’t played the gig in over a year, you know, like, like, is that really making it, you know, it’s like that experience goes in and out. But in that moment, I really realized like, wow, this is amazing that I get to do this and all that work that I had put into it really paid off, you know, and when I was doing that work, when I was in the practice rooms at seven in the morning, during college, when I was playing the, you know, the wedding gigs, when I was playing the casino gigs, like I never really was present to… I mean, I how could I have been present to what’s possible in the future? I was really just in that moment, but, but in the moment of that performance, I really got present to, wow, it really paid off for me to just stick with it, even when I didn’t feel like sticking with it and to just keep doing it. Just as a matter of, possibility as a matter of my word to do it.

Douglas Detrick: Continuing, putting the preparation in so that when the opportunity arises, you’re ready for it. Right. It was that kind of, that sort of approach and kind of that realization, that, that investment that you had made through that, you know, just putting all that work in had paid off. I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s I mean, it’s a great opportunity.

William Seiji Marsh: Yeah. And you know, and also it’s interesting cause I think a lot about like, like for example, I was living in Portland at the time. Like there’s no way. I mean, I’m not the best guitarist in Portland, you know what I mean? Like, there’s, there’s so many amazing musicians there and then worldwide, there’s so many musicians and like, and somehow I got the opportunity to travel with pink martini and, you know, and, and I don’t know if your listeners know this, but Doug you’re the person that really kind of opened the door to that, that opportunity.

When you got to talk with Thomas Lauderdale and and he asked you for a recommendation and you recommended me and, you know, for some reason in your mind, like your experience of me was that I was a person who could do the gig, who would enjoy the gig and who would bring, you know, who would bring a contribution to that, to that ensemble.

And, you know, so like, I guess I have it that it wasn’t necessarily just like my ability as a musician, but it’s also who I was being to my community. You know, the experience of being a musician like the tip of the iceberg is what goes on on stage.

And then you’ve got rehearsals. You’ve got time in the van, you’ve got, you know, all this other stuff that goes along with it. And I think you know, there’s something about that. That’s interesting to, you know, that that’s worth digging into.

Douglas Detrick: Well, yeah, it speaks a lot to the core of your business. To say that like who you are as a person really does matter and it’s, that’s also worth investing in. And then the tricky part though, of that, that I’ve experienced definitely myself. And I’m sure that your clients have, and probably you have as well, is that, that could be a double-edged sword. You know, what made you a good fit for pink martini? Then? It was partly because, because you were, you know, a skilled musician, but also because you are somebody that would enjoy this particular type of gig, like,

William Seiji Marsh: Oh, yeah,

Douglas Detrick: know, so like, so that idea of like who you are as a person does matter, but it can matter in a positive way and it can, and you can also misconstrue that and misinterpret it and just punish yourself sometimes by thinking that if, for instance, let’s say you make a bunch of mistakes on, on stage in front of the audience. Does that mean you’re a bad person? No, it does not, but like, it’s easy for us to go there and to think that it does.

William Seiji Marsh: Sure. Yeah. Like it doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact, it doesn’t even make you a bad musician, you know, but there’s an impact to being somebody who beats themselves up about it. Right. I really think that the access to having power in a situation like that is to just be responsible for it. I played these notes that I did not intend to play, or I didn’t play these notes and I intended to play them or whatever the mistake was, or however it occurs to you. You know, that’s your responsibility.

For example, for me as the guitarist in a group, you know, which is usually the, the job that I have, it’s like, I’m accountable for applying these notes and I beefed it maybe, you know, and like, and it’s okay. And it’s also my responsibility. When we start being a victim about it, where it’s like, oh gosh, music is hard. Like, oh, I’m not good enough. You know, that’s when you start putting the responsibility on external situations like, oh, well the world is mean to me. And so that’s, you know, or like, like, oh, well I’m just not good enough.

Music is a hard thing. Music is outside of you. And when you’re relating to it in that way, you can only be a victim. You couldn’t possibly change the circumstance because it exists outside of you, but when you start to take responsibility for it and go, you know what? Yeah, I am committed to playing notes in such a way that it’s going to elevate this performance, to fulfill the music in, in the greatest way possible. And I had a breakdown against that commitment and I’m responsible for that.

And, you know, and at that point you can go, well, here’s what I’m putting into place. This is the phrase that I screwed up. I’m going to be working on that phrase for the rest of the tour and when you put it into that context, all of a sudden, it’s an empowering context where it’s an opportunity to actually fulfill the music in a way that’s meaningful and it kind of interrupts that, that kind of self sabotage, downward spiral of, of making yourself wrong or bad about making mistakes.

Douglas Detrick: Right. Yeah. It sounds like you’re, you’re kind of talking about for example, you were saying like, I screwed up this, this one part and I’m going to make it my goal for us, for the tour to fix that part. Right. That’s something you can control more. You can say, well, I’ll, you know, I’ll work on this in whatever way I can right now.

But, but for instance, something you can’t control is what other people do and what other people think. That’s not something you can control and can’t judge yourself by. So, but you can be the type of person that says I screwed up this part and I’m going to fix that part. And that’s, that’s what we, that’s what we should expect from ourselves and from other people. And, but not to say that, we know exactly what effects we’re going to have on other people. That’s, that’s not something we can, you can always know and anticipate. So.

William Seiji Marsh: Yeah. And, you know, you could actually even be responsible for the things that other people are saying and things that other people are doing. If you make a mistake and the band leader, you know, gets on your case, or somebody in the band gets on your case about it, then like, you know, it’s really easy to go, man, that guy’s a jerk.

Like that’s the easy thing, right. To go that guy’s a jerk. And all of a sudden the problem is with them. It’s not with you. Right. But really it’s like, like, okay, so I get that this person’s upset because there’s some sort of, there’s some commitment that this person has, that was upset by, by what I did or didn’t do.

And then, and really getting clear on what their commitment is. Then all of a sudden you have access to having a relationship with that person that’s going to have everybody feel fulfilled. Because if you’re committed to band sounding awesome and they’re committed to the band sounding awesome, then like it’s not them being a jerk. I mean, they might be being a jerk, but it’s like, there’s a way to listen to that and go, you know, I get it. Like, I get that you’re upset by this. And you know, you being upset is completely separate from me like that doesn’t have to do with me, but I get that something that I did upset you.

Douglas Detrick: I wanted to follow up with kind of a little bit of a harder question because you know, you talk about the Seoul jazz festival as like this brilliant moment for you. And I think that’s awesome and I’m, and I’m really glad that that happened.

And then, but then I want to kind of speak to like the other side of that for folks that have not had that experience, or maybe they have had experiences like that, but they don’t recognize them as such. There’s always kind of an issue with like the coaching industrial complex, where you can look at folks that are doing what you’re doing and see it in a negative way to say, oh, well, it’s, it’s somebody that’s preying on insecure people and taking their money. So I wanted to just put that to you, like, you know, when, so when you, I know, man,

William Seiji Marsh: straight for the jugular..

Douglas Detrick: I’m just giving you some tough questions here, you

William Seiji Marsh: And that was great. That’s great.

Douglas Detrick: So like folks that haven’t had that maybe that breakthrough moment, or, or they haven’t like come to this relationship, how are you trying to help them and, and kind of what have you had any good experiences in that way in kind of helping people get there?

William Seiji Marsh: Yeah. it’s a really good question. It’s like coaches making their own work by like pointing out the insecurities that, you know, or like, Hey, you, you need this new kitchen gadget. Yeah. it’s interesting. You know, I guess the reason that I feel that this is valuable is because it’s something that I struggled with and one big story I have for myself is like, oh, well, I’m different than everybody else. But really that’s a lie. I mean, we’re all human beings, the way that we have experienced the world is different,

Surely everybody has different experiences, but, you know, I think we can all really relate to these experiences of not feeling like we’re good enough or not feeling like people like what we do or worrying about what people think and et cetera, et cetera. And, that’s what I’m trying to speak to is kind of that human experience of it.

And you know, it may resonate with some people and it may not, and it’s okay. I don’t need to necessarily reach everybody. Cause, I mean, if you don’t have these issues, that’s awesome. I think that’s awesome. You should not have them if you can help it. I mean, I would recommend not having them, you know. And so, so that’s kind of you know, that’s the way I look at coaching is like some coaches I look at, you know, in the online sphere and go, oh, you know what, that’s really cool that they’re doing that, but that’s not, that’s not really like a pain point for me. And in some people I’m like, holy cow, that is exactly what I’m going through right now. And so it’s, it’s, you know, it’s interesting, you don’t need every coach and you might find the right one.

But speaking to like the idea of like the person who has never had that kind of breakthrough moment. You know, I started playing guitar when I was 12 years old. It was August of 1996. And you know, like for the first. You know, month or two months or a year or two years or three years or five years. Like I didn’t go play for 20,000 people in Seoul, Korea. You know what I mean? It’s like, I was just on the journey. And really when I started, I was on the journey because I just enjoyed doing it. I was like, this is really fun. I asked my parents for a guitar lessons, they got me a guitar lessons. I was really lucky to have that kind of opportunity. And I was like, holy cow, this is really fun. And that just be like, that just became something that I did because it’s something that I wanted to do.

And it wasn’t until I went into school where I was like, okay, so this is like a career thing now. And then all of a sudden I got all this baggage around like, you know, like, oh shit, I’ve gotta be, I’ve gotta be good. I’ve gotta be better. You know, always gotta be better, no matter how good I am, it’s always gotta be better and so on.

And even then It wasn’t until much later it wasn’t until what I was, you know, 30. Whatever 35, I don’t know, 30 something. I can’t do the math right now in my head, but like, you know, and of course, like up until then I had a lot of little wins, but it really took recognizing them as wins, you know, and recognizing, oh, you know what, this is really cool that I got to do this.

And, and, and completing that experience with kind of like a, like a recap or a debrief of like, yeah, that was really cool. Or, you know, that was not that awesome. I probably wouldn’t do that again. there’s no there to get to, I guess. You might read that post that I made about, you know, playing at the Seoul jazz festival or like somebody on the podcast might hear this story and go, wow, you really made it.

It’s like, well, but I’m not done. It’s not like that was a destination. I don’t know what that next thing is going to be, you know, but I’m going to keep doing it because doing it as a fulfillment of who I am, it’s like, that’s something that I really enjoy doing.

And then wherever I get to I can celebrate that, you know, I can celebrate that for whatever it is, small or big. And this one story, it just happened to be a big thing for me. And so it’s like easy to talk about, you know, but if it’s like, like, oh, you know what, the other day I was practicing and it felt really good.

It’s like, well, that’s a win, you know? Like, and like, and I might write something about it on social media or, you know, tell somebody about it or I’m just clearly I’m talking about it on a podcast now. But it’s like, you know, it doesn’t have to be a gigantic win. But, you know, they add up and all of it is just your experience and it’s and what are we doing this for? Other than the experience of ourselves, like experiencing ourselves powerfully, experiencing ourselves musically, experiencing ourselves creatively, and there’s something that we get out of that and that’s why we do it.

Douglas Detrick: Yeah. So it’s, I mean, it sounds like that that technique of like, kind of, I suppose, counting your blessings is maybe one way to think about it, like saying, Hey, that, what you’re doing now, you are experiencing wins there. And you’re probably also experiencing some losses to use the win loss binary.

William Seiji Marsh: Totally. I mean, and what is, what is a win other than, I mean, like a win is only a win because you call it a win. You know, wins only exist in your speaking and your listening. They don’t actually exist. Like that’s, it’s completely made up. If you can look at something and go, well, what are the wins? Let’s say what if you went into every single aspect of your life saying I’m going to come away with three wins out of this experience. And I bet just by declaring that you’re going to come all the way with it with three wins, you’re going to come away with three wins because you can actually look at it and go, well, this is a win. This is a small win, you know, like one is like, oh, I got to talk to Doug for an hour. Like, that’s a win, right? Like I got to, I got to be on a podcast. That’s a win.

Douglas Detrick: I would say so.

William Seiji Marsh: What? Yeah, absolutely. This is my first podcast ever. I don’t get to be on podcasts. I mean, that’s not, that’s not right. I get to be on podcasts and this is my first one. Right.

Douglas Detrick: Yeah. There you go. Well, it’s so it’s about, I mean, it’s about what the goal, like what, what is the outcome you were looking to achieve? And is this a step along getting to that. And then if it’s not, then it’s like, well, a decision about like, well, do I need to do this again or not? And then, then you have more decisions and that’s part of life, but Yeah.

So that, that makes a lot of sense to me, just remembering that like, You know, we have goals and we can change our goals. We can reevaluate them. We can make them larger, we can make them smaller. And, and that all just affects like how, how we’re feeling about the process as we go along. Does that sound right to you?

William Seiji Marsh: The experience of it is all just up to you. And you’re going to make whatever meaning you make around that experience. Why not focus on the empowering context if that’s the thing that’s gonna get you to keep working, you know? Cause I mean, yeah, I could also create three wins from this experience, I could also create three losses. And maybe, maybe rather than losses, maybe I should frame it as like, here’s three things I could improve or something, you know, and that might be a way to move forward as well. But it’s like, there’s no rules to it and wins and losses don’t actually exist except for, you know, as a matter of your personal declaration. So why not create it in a way that’s going to be empowering so that you can move forward with the things that matter to you? I guess that’s kind of like my philosophy.

Part II – Bill’s Creative Project

Douglas Detrick: Let’s talk a bit about your creative project that you’re working on now. Cause I didn’t know that you were doing this before I asked you to do an interview. But it’s nice because you’re kind of getting to act on something that you are setting as a goal. So tell us a little bit about the project, and then I would also love to know how your experience of working with people might have affected it.

William Seiji Marsh: Yeah. I’m current in a year long training and development program called the team management and leadership program. Which is a program where we you know, it’s split into quarters. And so year long course and each quarter we create what we call a game. And I was kind of speculating on what my game could be. And I was thinking like, I’m really focused on this career thing right now. I really want this coaching business to take off and work out. And and I realized like, in putting so much of myself into that, I was kind of putting my creative self on the back shelf.

And I noticed the pattern that’s kind of been the way it’s been for my entire career, basically. It’s like, well, I’ve got to make money so that I can, you know, X, Y, and Z you know, I’ll make an album once I have the money, et cetera. And like, I have all these excuses around it and you know, And I’ve had a fulfilling career so far as an educator, as a performer, performing with a lot of different groups, but I’ve never really created my own project.

And to me there was something missing around that. Because I remember as a kid being like, you know, imagining myself as like a band leader and being a front man, having a band playing shows, et cetera. And so I thought, you know what now, or never, why not? I’m going to record an EP. I’m saying three to five songs, maybe more but more than three songs, I’m going to release it in June.

And let’s just start from that outcome and see what it’s like. And then from there I kind of did some journaling about like, well, what is this album? What does this EP sound like? What’s kind of like the vibe of it. What’s the instrumentation I’m hearing, what’s the experience of listening to it and you know, and that started to really kind of like solidify what it is that I’m doing and then just kind of being in the practice of writing.

I’m not somebody who’s written like a ton of songs. So, you know, take all this with a grain of salt. I’m kind of in the discovery of all this, this is something I’m experimenting with. And, you know, come June if I don’t have an EP well, I don’t have an EP and that’s fine. Or if I have an EP that’s like, like not a hundred percent perfect and dialed in and you know, it doesn’t have like a million and a half streams or whatever. Like that’s okay too. This is really just like to just experience myself in a way that I’ve never experienced myself before to see where that goes.

Douglas Detrick: Yeah, I definitely hear that, that same process of like, kind of looking at goals and looking at outcomes and that that’s gone into the process for you. That’s so cool to hear and I wish you the best and I’m looking forward to hearing the music.

William Seiji Marsh: Yeah, I can’t wait to hear it too.

Douglas Detrick: Yeah, I know, I know that feeling.

Part 3 – Pandemic

Douglas Detrick: I think the last question we can, we can do today is to talk just about the experience of the pandemic. So kind of the context of this is that as I was working on the last collection of episodes I did for the podcast, I was talking all to people in Portland about Portland. And it was a time that, you know, protests were going on. The former president was calling us an anarchist jurisdiction. So as I was doing those interviews and talking to people I was also kind of planning out how I would add music to those episodes.

And so I ended up choosing to use all glass objects to make sounds with and then kind of manipulating those electronically or with other means. But I, I chose that because at the time this fragile breakable material felt like Portland to me at that time. But especially as I went on and as I learned more about glass eventually just the, the idea of glass as a renewable resource as something that is capable of being renewed and being reused and being reformed into something new out of broken pieces, you can create something new that’s useful something that’s beautiful. And, and something that serves a purpose.

And so I think that over time, that side of glass became much more powerful and more inspiring for me. And so like I’m working on songs as well right now. I’m also an EP hoping for at least three songs. It’s kind of interesting to hear you say the exact same words. But as I was kind of just looking for, like, what’s inspiring me about these, I’m writing about glass, which is kind of weird. I’ve never done that before, but it’s, it’s been fun and I’ve had a great experience doing it. But I just wanted to ask you kind of a similar question about like, what’s inspiring to you right now, creatively. Is it coming from the business are the things that you’re going through, you know, in your experience with the pandemic, is it changing what you’re doing. Do you think it’s causing shifts in what you’re doing?

William Seiji Marsh: Yes. Our daily lives have been impacted in a way that you know, it’s an unprecedented, it’s never happened before, you know, in our lives. I think about the ways in which it’s impacted me… I have stress dreams about like being in a crowded space without a mask, and nobody else is wearing a mask. Like what the fuck? You know, like that’s never happened before, you know? So like, things are really, I mean, it is impacting me at a subconscious level.

I, know. No. But I’d say like, as far as the things that are right there for me I’d say, taking a look at my career as a musician and seeing how fragile the career of a performer is. You know, and seeing, that that’s as much as I love performing, that’s not necessarily a basket that I can put all of my eggs into, you know at least in the traditional paradigm of I’m going to go on tour and play concerts, or I’m going to have a residency in this one place and do regular performances for people, you know, and of course like this pandemic will come, it will go.

And performance may come back, but it also may look very different than it did before. I guess right now, when I’m present to is that the industry has been upset in a way that has never been upset before. And in a time when things are, shifting so much already, you know, I think the thing that hasn’t gone away that hasn’t really changed is like the value of music to the human being, the value of music to the consumer, the listener, the value of music to the musician, the creator. And that’s not really, that’s not really gonna go anywhere. That’s not really going to change a whole lot, you know?

Because I think human beings are, we really haven’t changed very much at all the, you know, thousands, tens of thousands of years prior, it’s just the technology that we have changes. So I’m really kind of looking at like, well, you know, my music that I make has a value to me and if I create it honestly, and authentically, I have it that it will also be valuable to other people to listen to.

And really like, I’m looking at like the business of it is like, Like, I don’t know what it’s going to look like to to monetize music or monetize my work as a coach in the future. But I do know that it fulfills me as a human being and I’m pretty darn creative and I’ll figure out a way to make those things work for me in a way where I can survive and thrive in the, you know, the economic paradigm that we live in. You know, this capitalistic world that we live in, where you have to trade your hours for dollars and et cetera, et cetera.

Or, you know, or maybe that won’t be the case, you know, maybe it’ll be something completely different. I mean, it’s interesting to look at, like, I don’t know, I’m not an expert by any means, but like cryptocurrencies and you know, and like the NFTs. And like that whole world, because it’s like, wow, well what’s, what are the possibilities here? Like, what’s it going to look like in five years? You know? And it’s just like, it’s shifting so much. It’s like, I’m trying to stress less about like, oh my gosh, how do I make the next buck? But really just like, okay, what am I committed to?

What do I stand for? And really like coming from there because I have it that if I’m, if I’m authentic about what actually matters to me, then like the money may be good or bad, but It’s going to be fulfilling. And I have it that the money’s going to be good enough. Like I can keep doing it. You know, like money is just, I guess for me, it’s not, it’s not everything. I like money. I’d like to have a lot of it, but it’s, you know, but it’s like, that’s, that’s not everything. I dunno. I don’t know if that answers your question or…

Douglas Detrick: well, I

William Seiji Marsh: Dodges around it or,

Douglas Detrick: It sounds to me like it’s coming back to this idea of just like imagining an outcome and being willing to do what it takes to get there, to be creative in how you do it. Maybe you wouldn’t use these words, but like sometimes it’s a good idea to admit defeat and change the goal. And like, that’s a really valuable skill that sometimes we forget about to be like, you know, the way I’ve been doing this or what I’ve been trying to achieve, it’s just like, I keep throwing myself at it and it’s just not working. Maybe I need to change something here.

William Seiji Marsh: Yeah. I mean, I like, well, we have a goal. It’s like, you have that goal. Like, let’s say I want to make a million dollars and that’s my goal. And I may meet that goal or I’ve maybe not meet that goal, but like, why do I want a million dollars? Is it because I want a million pieces of paper? Is it because I want to see six zeroes in my bank account?

Like, what does it actually get me like that money is a resource for having something else that’s ultimately intangible. You know, for the human being, it’s like, yeah, you can have a million dollars and then you die. You can’t take it with you. Right. But like, it’s not, it’s not the money. It’s not the recognition. It’s not the fame. It’s not whatever it is that we’re chasing. That’s not the thing that you’re actually chasing. It’s the experience of having it. And that experience I have it that you can have that experience, not only from having a million dollars, you know, because a million dollars is an access to an experience and you can get that experience in a different way.

And so like, even if you, you know, like admit defeat or failure to getting a million dollars, it’s like, well, maybe you got $500,000. Maybe you got a hundred dollars. You know, like that’s part of the way. But also it’s like, you know, even if you got that million dollars, but you didn’t experience yourself the way that you wanted to experience yourself, then you didn’t really meet your goal. Right? And so for me, it’s about like, not just creating the outcome as like a tangible having in the world, but like creating it as an experience for myself. I’ll know when I’ve hit it, when I’ve experienced that outcome, regardless of what it actually looks like in the world.

Douglas Detrick: I think that one thing that I’ve seen over this last year is that people are re-evaluating all kinds of things. If we’re looking for wins with the pandemic that’s one of them I would say is that it’s given us an opportunity to reevaluate and say, what’s working and what’s not. And what can we admit to defeat on and change the goal? There’s the opposite side of that too, where it’s like, what did we have as a goal that’s still a worthy goal that we just weren’t doing what it really took to get there. I think there are many examples of that too.

So yeah, so I, you know, it’s, it’s really interesting to be talking about that process of goals and what they mean, and what are worthy ones to keep around and, and what does it take to achieve them? So it’s, it’s a great conversation to have, and, and I thank you for having it, Bill.

William Seiji Marsh: Yeah. Thanks Doug. For having this conversation with me. Thanks for having me on more devotedly.


Douglas Detrick: Thanks so much, Bill. Find out more about William Seiji Marsh and his company Musical Being at moredevotedly.com.

If you enjoyed this interview, please subscribe to More Devotedly podcast on your podcast app, and if you want to help the show find more listeners, please also rate and review the show. You can find me on social media (at)moredevotedly on Instagram and Facebook. You can also sign up to get an email every time I put out a new episode at moredevotedly.com.

I composed and performed the music, and produced this episode here in Portland, OR.

What you’re doing is beautiful. Can you do it more devotedly?


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