“After being in the local scene for two years, I’ve seen a lot of people come and go,” says singer-songwriter Kenny Eng, who cites three factors that he feels are most responsible for failing at a music career: motivation, entitlement, and balance.
Motivation: “I’m talking about the people who see music as a stepping stone for other aspirations, such as fame, money, and power.… I remember having a conversation with a singer-songwriter about what his goals were with his music. He simply said, ‘To be famous.’ While my initial reaction was to laugh, it was quickly followed by a gut-wrenching sadness because I knew what he meant by that and because I knew he wasn’t joking.”
Entitlement: “The entitled musician is the person who thinks that the world and its people owe them something.… They [feel they] deserve respect and adoration from all people everywhere. However, the entitled musician is rarely ever willing to work and earn these accolades.”
Balance: “Musicians who don’t have a sense of balance in their personal lives usually end up the most bitter of all, tending to travel down the path of depression and loneliness for the rest of their lives. These are the people who don’t understand how important it is to maintain your personal and emotional health, as well as the relationships with people they care about. We musicians are so thankful for our fans, but once the fans are gone, whom do we look to?”
Eng confesses, “I suffer from one if not all of these symptoms, as if I was rehashing my life story to you.” His own hurdles also involve performance anxiety. “I still get stage fright every time I play.… It’s gotten easier to overcome it, but on occasion, I clam up and get extremely self-conscious about my singing, my lyrics, and my guitar playing. I become the impotent man-boy instead of the rock star that I can be.
“Also, one time a guy said I reminded him of Tracy Chapman. I’m still not sure if that was a compliment.”
Kenny Eng’s solo acoustic album Live from Lestat’s debuts January 15, with a release party at — where else? — Lestat’s.