Attending Chicago Jam is like concert heaven. You know the SL musician’s names, their talent, favorite songs, but then you get the opportunity to meet them.
For ten hours, I heard them perform and enjoyed their company. While Anek Fuchs, Gina Stella, Taunter Goodnight, Clairede Dirval, Arimo Texiera and Juel Resistance, (a few of the great artists) sang at the Comfort Inn O’Hare, in Des Plaines, IL, I spoke with Juel Resistance and Eric Steffensen. Both were down to earth and wonderful to speak to. Juel’s article was published in MetaverseTribune in the summer and now it’s Eric’s turn.
Eric joined me at the table and we got right down to the interview.
“I grew up in a musical family. My mom wrote songs and we’d all sing together as a family in church and she got me involved in a musical when I was 8-year’s-old,” he recalled. “I played Winthrop in the ‘Music Man.’ So Winthrop played the clarinet. When I got back to school, I started to learn to play the trumpet. During school, that worked into learning to play the tuba.”
His mother played guitar and taught him how to as well. Years later, he took a recreational guitar class at the university. His interest in music grew after meeting mentors and studying.
Eric found R.E.M. and Smashing Pumpkins to be a big influence. He also had a song- writing mentor. He wasn’t a professional songwriter, but someone who talked about his craft. He’s still friends with him today.
About three years ago he read an article about music in Second Life on CNN.com.
“I’d been trying to put music on the Internet for ten years and wanted to try this,” he told me. “I wanted to do more live performances. Once I got into Second Life, I put a prim guitar on my back and walked around to venues. I didn’t even know how to find shows.”
He just happened to walk into one venue and the owner was there. A show wasn’t slated at the time. The owner asked if he was a musician and he said “yes, but I don’t know how to stream or anything like that yet.” But she was excited and wanted him to perform. The owner was from Denmark, which made it a bit difficult time zone wise, being from Utah, but he liked the opportunity.
As for changes he’s seen over the past three years, he said that would be less people logging into Second Life because there’s less promotion. The media isn’t covering it in magazines or TV shows as it did years ago.
“I don’t think we’re seeing as many new residents as we use to see. That’s based on observations that my manager made,” Eric said.
Asked what brings in his fans to his gigs, he replied, “The people that really become loyal fans, it’s because of my originals. They somehow identify with them and they start requesting those songs,” he said. “I do play cover songs and half originals just because I found that doing a whole original set, you don’t have a familiarity to use. So I try to mix the two together.”
Eric loves Second Life as it has helped him become a more polished performer. He began playing five to seven, sometimes 10, shows a week.
“The maximum amount of gigs I’ve had a week were eleven to twelve. I did more of that in the beginning. Today it’s probably five to seven. It just depends on the week.”
Like most SL musicians, Eric has to balance his real life with his SL performance schedule. When he brought college time into the mix, things became a little difficult. He cut back on performing to do his homework and prepare for tests. His focus is on Business and Marketing.
Eric plays at Guthries almost every week and has done multi or triple streaming at Streaming Falls. After his shows, he listens to other musicians. He’s been to seven SL jams including the one in Utah, which he helped organize.
He sees great potential for in-world opportunities, such as for education and real life business. Eric mentioned that he’s heard of architectural firms modeling their buildings so they could show their client. He mentioned that it’s great for painters to showcase their artwork.