June 6 is my 28th birthday. Normally, a birthday is nothing special to me, but this one’s different. As this chapter in my life concludes, the pages have become canon.With an era fading from present to past, I reminisce on all that I did right and all that I did wrong amidst a simultaneously heartbreaking, serendipitous, and celebratory time.
This past year was the most challenging of my life, rigorously tested by two moves, leaving a dream job, unemployment, and ultimately, a bad breakup. It has also been the most successful year of my life, stirring up a whirlwind of emotions that I breathe every day.
Traveling has always been in my blood. Born into a military family, I wasn’t bred to settle down anywhere in particular. Maine harbors my roots, but I didn’t see much of it growing up, regularly moving from state to state longing for New England’s hot summers and cold winters. Eventually, I found myself in Richmond and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), where I met my partner at the time. Itching to uproot, together we contemplated a short list of cities that we could see ourselves moving to, packed up our bags, and hit the road for the Mile High City.
It wasn’t long after that I met the woman who would change my life forever (do gay men get to say that often?) The editor-in-chief of 303 Magazine, Brittany Werges, took me under her wing and provided me with boundless ways to flourish at the independent publication. Embracing the opportunities at hand, I took over the magazine’s music desk and advertising roles.
During my time with 303, I founded a music showcase and worked on collaborations with Denver Film Festival, Underground Music Showcase, and more. I even had the opportunity to launch a record series with Vinyl Me, Please—two compilation albums that, combined, feature 24 Colorado musicians such as GRiZ, The Motet, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Tennis. I worked hard, and with a reckless ambition that somehow didn’t get me into a ton of trouble.
After a rewarding three years, I parted ways with 303. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I followed my heart out to California, where my partner of five years had moved months before. However, it wasn’t long after my arrival that the two of us split. Having moved to a new state with no job, no savings, and then, no partner or stable housing, I found myself in a free-fall from one of the highest points in my life to one of the lowest.
Merely days later, as if by some divine intervention, life threw me a bone. California’s Northern Nights Music Festival—a three-day camping festival in the Redwoods—took me on as their press manager. From there, I used the inspiration Northern Nights sparked inside of me—paired with my recent heartbreak as the motivation I needed to grow—to launch my own business in the process. There might have been a dash of that reckless ambition in there, but at that point, there was nothing left to lose.
After saving up enough, I packed up whatever I could fit in my car and headed back to Denver, where most of my time is now spent growing my brand, Tyler, the Creative (tyler-thecreative.com). It’s a press, publicity, and marketing firm for local musicians and bands including Motion Trap, Kaitlyn Williams, Retrofette, and Kayla Marque—plus, Northern Nights Music Festival, of course. Though thrilled with how unexpectedly quickly my business has taken off, I hope to rebrand soon as a full-on agency for musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and more. With the assistance and collaboration of some like-minded creatives and partners who are also passionate abut the talent that Denver has to offer, I aspire to help grow the Colorado music and arts scene as a whole by spotlighting some its best up-and-comers.
Off-the-clock, you can find me eagerly diving back into all of the many, many things Denver has to offer. It’s been refreshing, and I wouldn’t be able to do it all without the especially humbling support my friends, family, 303 and even Denver’s music scene have shown me—it just warms my hardened little (recently single!) heart.
For more about me and the immensely talented musicians I work with, check out my website. In the meantime, you can catch me around town spending far too much money on records at Twist & Shout, sad-dancing at Lipgloss on Fridays, screening the next big indie flick at Sie FilmCenter, or regrettably cutting loose in the cage at X Bar.
Denver, it’s so great to be back. Thanks for having me.
Photo by Kori Hazel