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Today we’d like to introduce you to Stuart Pearson.

Hi Stuart, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story? 

First off, thank you, VoyageLA, for knocking on my door for an update! Just a brief recap, then. I’m originally from Long Island and now live in the Southbay with my wife and song partner, Hunter Lowry. The music I make these days is on the dark side. Dark Americana is sort of the evil side of Yeehaw. It tapes black and white photographs of various impending dooms on your refrigerator. I just released my third of a series, called “Dark Americana 3: American Gothic.” The first album, “Stories and Songs,” was created for Manhattan Production Music in New York. It has a sort of antique folk meets creepy psychedelic vibe. Some of my darkest songs are on that album. The second album, “Mojave,” is available on vinyl and CD through May I Records in France. It’s a bit more modern sounding than “S & S” and uses the crumbling towns near the Salton Sea as a metaphor for America’s rapid decay. Some spooky gothic Western stuff on that one. The latest, “American Gothic,” is my ham-fisted attempt at portraying America’s identity crisis. More modern sounding than the previous two, it lives somewhere between America’s greatest sins and, of all things, the afterlife. Not sure how it ended up in that caboose! There are tons of outtakes from the 3 albums, so more darkness is on the way. So far, I have released some on Spotify and more through my newsletter. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?

Struggles are sort of a sub-theme of “American Gothic.” It took 18 months to make. It kept changing directions on me. At first, I thought it was going to be an album of carnival songs. Nope! Then it was going to be a folk singer/political statement album. Nope! (Hunter threatened me with a rake when I told her about that idea). It turned into a strange battle between what America once was and what happens after you die. After nixing 18 songs, I couldn’t find the last song for the record or the cover art. Hunter and I took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to look for an answer. We found more than we expected! 

In a folk art gallery (Xanadu – hi Alan!), we found Wixarika yarn art. They’re also called the Huichol people, but they call themselves Wixarika. These people came from Mexico and were so far up in the mountains, the Spanish didn’t know about them, so they were never conquered. Some of their customs date back to the Aztecs. Sadly, even though they have survived for thousands of years, their culture is dying due to their children wishing for easier, more modern Western ways of life. So, there are fewer shamans (their religion involves peyote), the Mexican government has pushed them further into the hills, and many live without modern conveniences, like plumbing and electricity. Alcoholism is a problem as well. 

Hunter and I fell in love with one piece of yarn art called a Niereka. We had the artist’s name (Hilaria Chavez Carrillo) but had no idea how to reach her. This started a four-month search. It took that gallery owner in New Mexico, then a gallery owner in Puerto Vallarta (Peyote People – hi Kevin!), and two human rights organizations to finally reach Hilaria to get the rights to use the Niereka as the album cover. She is the widow of Jose Benitez Sanchez, a Shaman who is considered the greatest yarn artist worldwide. He trained her, and frankly, I find her work to be far superior. She lives on a ranch in a village in the mountains three hours (by truck) from the closest town with Internet, which is another three hours from Puerto Vallarta. 

Some people said to just use it; she would never know, but nope. I can’t do that to another artist. The piece is mesmeric. In fact, if you look at it with 3-D glasses on, sections jump out at you, even looking at it online. The piece and the story of the Wixarika inspired the last song on the album called “One Old Coyote.” It’s about the passing of one culture as a parent says goodbye to their child, who leaves to start a new life. “And one old coyote lies down to receive his sleep.” It was the PERFECT way to end “American Gothic.” The Niereka humbles me when I look at it. 

Thanks – so, what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?

I have been asked to write a dramatic series of radio plays based on the Dark Americana songs by a local radio theatre producer. I can’t tell you too much about the series right now, except there will be 10 episodes, each featuring and exploring the layers of one of the songs. What I CAN say at this point is they are CREEPY. Eventually, the series will be available wherever you listen to podcasts and possibly on terrestrial radio too. I’m really excited about it. 

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out.

You keep working. Plumbers plumb. Artists art. Don’t stop working on what excites you. It doesn’t matter if no one likes it. If YOU do, then you validated your existence in this weird simulation we live in. 

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