First Creative Dollar Interview: Musician Siri Steven

Please give us a little background along with where we can track you down on the web.

I’m Siri Steven. I’m a mama who likes to dabble in all sorts of creative pursuits and be outdoors. I especially love making music, listening to music, taking photos, sewing, making collages, hiking, and traveling.

I don’t have a website at the moment, but I do have a personal Instagram account and a music-based Instagram account for my Soft Spot project that’s in process. 

Can you share the story of the first time you made money related to your current creative endeavor? Do you mind sharing how much you made?

I’m pretty sure the first time we (my partner Matthew and I) got paid to play a show was at Pulpit Rock brewery or the Courtyard & Cellar. I can’t remember the exact amount, but it was a cool feeling to get paid to do something that brings you joy!

What happened internally when you realized you could make money from your creativity? Were you inspired or were you concerned about what it would do to the originality of your ideas?

On one hand, if you can make a living being creative, that’s incredible. I know it’s not an option for a lot of people to pursue full-time creative work. There’s a certain amount of privilege in being able to take risks and fully go for it. I really admire artists/creators whose full-time gig is to work on their craft and dedicate themselves to making their dream life a reality.   

On the flip side, that pressure of, “What if my art doesn’t sell or my project isn’t monetarily successful?” can add so much unnecessary pressure.  I think the intention behind why we make things is so important (for me at least). I’ve found there’s a huge difference energetically between, “I made this because it brought me joy to create it” and “I made/did this because I’m obligated to do it.” 

Ultimately, I’m not concerned with making money from musical creations at this point in time. I do it because it helps me process my emotions and life. If I do make money from it, that’s just a bonus! Also, this past year I’ve been fortunate to find two jobs that I love. They allow me to learn, grow, and be creative. I’m incredibly grateful for that opportunity. It’s brought a lot of fulfillment and purpose to my life and is pushing me to put more time and energy into finishing my album!

Did you ever decide to pursue the creative activity full-time? Why or why not?

Well, 2020 really threw a wrench into everyone’s plans. I’m not alone in that experience. I had the goal of finishing my first record in 2020, but COVID hit and suddenly alone time was extremely hard to come by because my daughter was home due to school being closed from March-August. Any alone time I have now feels sacred because it’s the only time I can play music without interruption. It’s always there in the back of my mind, and my only goal right now is to finish this album. This collection of songs I’ve written over the past decade need a place in the world so I can move on and write new ones for this chapter. I feel like they deserve that and I’m ready to set them free. 

Are there times when you feel pulled between traditional success and creative ideas that won’t leave you alone?

Absolutely. Since I was a teenager I’ve had this dream of making an album. Then I went to college and had to find a major that would allow me to get a job in the real world. (I feel like this message is passed on to kids at such an early age which makes me sad because it’s not necessarily true!) 

Anyways, I did the whole get-married-have-a-kid-be-a-stay-at-home-mom-buy-a-house thing which to me goes under the category of “traditional success.” But during that 5 year period, I completely lost myself and told myself I had to let go of my dream because it was “selfish” and “unrealistic.” 

Being a Mom was my sole duty and identity from that point forward. But slowly I realized that something fundamental was missing in my life. I had completely dropped my passions and identity. But that wasn’t necessary. In retrospect, maybe I needed to experience that loss of identity in order to recreate myself.  Maisie (my daughter) has inspired me and reignited my passion for creativity whether that’s through music, baking, or making art. I love watching her play and imagine and see the world in a novel way. I want to show her that you can and should pursue your dream, regardless of if it’s going to make you money in the end. You should make time for activities that bring you joy and light you up. That’s a beautiful and rare thing and the world needs more people who light up when they’re creating things that bring meaning and purpose to their life. 

Do you have any advice for people making money or wanting to earn money with their passion?

Haha, I’m probably not the best person to ask this! All I can say is that you should do whatever makes you happy! Make time for it, pursue it, and believe that you can do it. Even if it takes you 15 years… your dream is going to be waiting there for you even if you take some detours.  Don’t give up completely. The world needs your creations and your story. 

What role has art and music played in your life?  Can you tell us some favorite bands?

Art and music have played a HUGE role in my life. I’m really inspired by color and pattern and sounds. I also love going to live shows and music festivals. I really miss going to concerts! I remember in high school going to an open mic night at T-Bocks and watching you (Michelle) play, and admiring how powerful and confident you were singing your songs. Seeing other local musicians like Lissie, Jeni Grouws, and Kaija Kjome play live is impactful too. They’re incredibly talented and light up the stage with their unapologetic power. There’s something transformative about watching and interacting with musicians at shows. Their energy is contagious, and I always leave feeling inspired to create.

Some of my all-time favorite bands are Radiohead, Bon Iver, Phoebe Bridgers, Leon Bridges and Khruangbin, Jimi Hendrix, Sylvan Esso, The National, Adrianne Lenker, The Beatles… the list is growing every day because I love discovering new music and lately I’ve been revisiting and learning about all the amazing artists from the 1940s-1990s I missed during my childhood when I was too busy listening to the Spice Girls and NYSNC.

Thank you for sharing your story!