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We continue our series, Day Job, where we talk to Seattle-area musicians about how they support themselves and their music careers.
This piece was produced by Brie Ripley, Ryan Sparks, and Rachel Stevens
This is the quintessential Day Job story of Seattle. Lindsey Kaghan grew up in Seattle and now — in her late 20s — she wants to live here and contribute to the arts community. After a long line of jobs, Lindsey found a place that supports community and her art. She works as a receptionist at Rudy’s Barbershop and plays guitar in the band Salt Lick.
“I think the hardest part of playing music and also working is just kind of retaining a sense of self,” Lindsey says.
Lindsey has been playing guitar since she was 15. She grew up in the U District of Seattle, right in the heart of it all. But when Lindsey graduated, she went off to Smith College in Boston to pursue law school.
Lindsey says, “I kind of had this fantasy of like going to college in Boston and having that whole like Legally Blonde thing, you know? Elle Woods at Harvard. I didn’t go to Harvard but Smith is pretty good school still. But yeah I went there and it was kind of just a totally different world, because I had grown up going to public school in Seattle my entire life.”
College was hard — not academically, really, but culturally. Lindsey missed Seattle. She even ended up writing a pretty big paper for a government class on the establishment of Seattle as a city.
“I mean the things that stuck out are basically that you know since the Pacific Northwest is like one of the last like settled areas in the United States you know because it's the top you know northwest corner. They had to be pretty like self-reliant on themselves and their community for entertainment just because everything else is so far away. So there was just kind of always been this. You know looking to your community for entertainment. I think that's part of why are scene is like it is today,” Lindsey reflects.
So right after graduating, Seattle drew Lindsey back. Upon arrival, she worked at a law firm in Pioneer Square. She was trying to balance her interest in government, with being in your early 20s in Seattle. She went to a lot of shows, lived in a party house — one of their epic house parties was even featured in The Stranger. Lindsey started to feel like she was living a double-life — losing her identity at her job and then making up for it during nights and weekends. I think it’s pretty common to feel this double-life in your early 20s. The complicated path of trying to find a job that fits with your passions and also pays rent. You try on different jobs — see what fits.
For Linsdey, this meant trying on tons of different jobs: law firms, food service, software companies, production, and now she has been at Rudy’s Barbershop for three years.
Rudy’s Barbershop is the punk salon of Seattle. You walk in and see show posters plastering the walls from top to bottom. If you go to the bathroom in the U District location, there’s porn lining the walls. It’s edgy. And they employ pretty edgy people. Lindsay’s a receptionist at the shop on 15th in the Capitol Hill Neighborhood, She’s making sure everything is running smoothly.
Many of Lindsey’s co-workers have tattoos gracing both arms. They may have any assortment of neon-colored hair. Piercings galore. This place is punk in appearance — yes — but also in attitude and community. You might hear Salt Lick playing while you’re there.
“Rudy's will purchase the music of their employees’ bands and put them on our drive for our music library. But also it's just a place where I just I don't really feel like I have to pretend to be somebody else I can just be totally myself,” Lindsey says.
Rudy’s supports the little people, but they even cut the hair of some pretty big names around town: Dan Savage, Dave Matthews, Ronald Regan Jr. and so on. Lindsey isn’t in this job for the celebrities, she’s in it for the people and the culture it creates in Seattle.
She says, “I really love the community here. You know I think it's really special and I'm inspired to see you know. More and more people you know becoming involved. I love seeing people who are new to town and then you know some years later they're playing shows — they're playing tons of shows. It's like really great to watch peoples development here.”
Lindsey, herself, has been working really hard to develop as an artist and musician in Seattle.
“You know where you're exhausted sometimes and you know when you play a show it's not you just like show up and then you get on stage and play. It's like you show up and like you do your soundcheck and you're there generally like a couple of hours before you even play and then you want to stand support all the other bands so you're there until like maybe 1:30 in the morning, 2 in the morning and then waking up at like 6 to go do it again,” Lindsey says of playing shows and then opening at Rudy’s the next morning.
Collaborating and performing with Salt Lick is making all the late nights and early mornings at Rudy’s worth it for Lindsey. Because it means she’s making the connections that make community strong.
And Lindsey’s advice for Seattlites? “For people who you know live in Seattle right now and want to be involved and play music here, my advice would just be: You can totally do it. It's hard but just because something’s hard doesn't mean that it's not worth trying. People who make music and who create like need to stick around or else the city isn't gonna be any place that anybody wants to live. You know what's a bunch of money and like corporate buildings without like any art or any creativity or any soul or any life you know.”
Just like when Seattle was established, we look — and sound — our best when we help each other out and invest in our community. It’s a wild frontier out there.
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