Updated: Oct 4, 2018
by Elizabeth Gracen:
I had the good fortune to meet Westley Steele at a Christmas party last year. He quickly charmed everyone there with his straightforward, soft-spoken manner and his virtuoso ability to tickle the ivories while we all tried our best to belt out Christmas carols in three-part harmony with varying degrees of success. By the time dessert was served, Westley had revealed hints of why a nice southern boy like him would move to Tinsel Town to pursue a career. I’ll let him tell us all about that in his blog series, but for now… I have a few questions.
EG: Westley, you are about to turn thirty-three. When I turned that age, I was in Paris working on a television show. I was told by my French companions that the age 33 was called "L’age du Christ" ("The Age of Christ" or the "Jesus Year")—a symbolic age where one has the ability to look back on the life they’ve lived thus far and ahead to the future and what they hope to accomplish. Since I have two different bloggers writing for Flapper Press who just happen to be thirty-three this year, I’ve become a little obsessed trying to confirm what I was told so many years ago. Here are few things I unearthed:
"… at age 33, we are both independent and autonomous, and we have already made the main choices of life," admits the psycho sociologist Danielle Rapoport, specialist in the evolution of lifestyles and consumption.… “the symbolism of the number 33 is enormous. For Pythagoras it's a sacred number, Christ did 33 miracles, the body has 33 vertebrae, etc.”
"By this age, innocence has been lost, but our sense of reality is mixed with a strong sense of hope, a 'can do' spirit, and a healthy belief in our own talents and abilities," says psychologist Donna Dawson, best known as Company magazine's first Agony Aunt.
From an article in the Globe and Mail in March, 2017 by Chris Koentges and Shelley Youngblut:
According to Prof. Mitchell, the Jesus Year phenomenon demonstrates how so-called emerging adults are trying to connect their own experience to something transcendental and more profound than mundane daily life. "They are trying to anchor themselves in something bigger than themselves."
So, dear Westley, with this in mind, let us talk about turning thirty-three and what you have learned thus far… and what you desire most. If I’m not mistaken, you are a recent arrival to La La Land. Can you give me a brief description of how and why you ended up here?
WS: Of course! Since I was 12 years old, I’ve always wanted to compose music. However, I really got the bug in college at Howard University after listening to Hans Zimmer’s score to The Pirates of the Caribbean. In August of 2016, I was able to connect with a composer by the name of Nathan Lanier, and he provided me an opportunity to be an assistant to him. Five months later (January 2017), I arrived in LA to pursue my career in music.
EG: How important is music in your everyday life? Are you a disciplined composer?
WS: Music is extremely important to my everyday life. I listen to different genres throughout the day just to get a feel for what musical ideas and progressions I enjoy the most. Afterwards, I like to compose hybrid fusions of the styles that attract my ear consistently.
Disciplined? I don’t think so. I write based on feeling and inspiration. And those inspirations can come from anywhere; meaning nature, instruments, vibrations, voices, etc. Because I have a traditional music background (private piano lessons, ensemble playing throughout grade school), I try to stay organized in the mixture of sound after my ideas are already out on the table.
EG: I know that you teach music lessons for a variety of instruments and that your students range from very young to adult. How long have you been doing this? Do you enjoy it? If so, why?
WS: I have been teaching music lessons for the past 8 years both privately and in the public schools. I love teaching music. Having the opportunity to pass down decades of teachings and technique is the only way art can survive. Its another side of vulnerability for me. You really allow yourself to show people of all ages who you are as a musician and also the personalities of all of your teachers.
EG: Do you consider yourself a dreamer? Did you always want to make it in Hollywood? Where do envision yourself twenty years from now?
WS: I do consider myself a dreamer. I never wanted to feel like I settled for a career just because it was handed to me. The need to take a risk and really compete for a career with the best musicians in the world was always my first priority. To be honest with you, I did always want to make it here. I just felt like I never quite fit in to other places the way that I feel I fit into Hollywood. This place appreciates the arts and the artist like nowhere I’ve ever lived. As difficult as it may be to get settled here in the short term, I love having the opportunity to fight for my right to be in my most creative form in the long term.
EG: What do you consider the most pressing problems facing our world today? Are you an activist? If so, how do you contribute to making the changes you feel are necessary to live in a better world?
WS: The most pressing problems facing our world today I feel are Inequality (race, gender, income), lack of education, religious conflict, and poverty. I’m not currently an activist but would like to eventually begin researching a cause that I feel extraordinarily passionate for.
EG: Finally… Can you tell me a little about what you plan to write about in your blog? What can we look forward to?
WS: Definitely! In my blog you’ll be able to find “How To” manuals based on my experiences as a LA Artist. I’ll show you lifestyle and cultural pieces that reflect what’s new and popular in LA and in the world. Finally, you’ll get a chance to witness any and everything that I may feel has a need to be mentioned, from world news to the latest movie polls. I’m full of surprises!