I first encountered Linus Of Hollywood as the singer and songwriter of Size 14 in the late 1990s. While Size 14 had music used in a fair share of movies, and its first single (“Claire Danes Poster”) got some airplay, the band’s momentum was quickly killed when their record label went out of business.
A year or so later, I discovered that Linus went solo, started his own record label, and had begun writing, playing, and producing for other artists, all of which he continues to do 15 years or so later. Beyond being a master craftsman in studio, Linus’ work ethic continues to impress me, as he always has something interesting going on.
Darren: I first encountered you as the singer/songwriter of Size 14. Then I started connecting the dots and realized that you were a solo artist, had your own label, and began working with other artists. Any titles or roles I’m missing there?
Linus: Well, the whole time I was doing the aforementioned, I was also a live and session musician, playing for acts like Cheap Trick, Puff Daddy, Paul Gilbert and Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work composing for various companies and channels like MTV, Mattel, Disney, Nickelodeon, and Dreamworks. I’ve also been dabbling in teaching at some local music colleges and hope to do more of that in the future.
How do you usually describe yourself when someone asks you what you do for a living?
Linus: My neighbor just asked me this the other day and I instinctively said, “I compose music for TV and produce bands.” I guess that sounds more financially stable than “I’m a musician and songwriter” (laughs).
Was there a particular event that you made you realize the importance of having a multi-faceted career?
Linus: Not really a particular event that I can recall, but I have a multi-faceted career for two reasons. One, I get bored if I only do one thing, so I like to do a bunch of different stuff to stay feeling challenged, fresh, and inspired. Two, I’ve found myself drifting into little “pockets” of work that end up fading or transforming into something else. For instance, a few years ago the bulk of my work was producing and writing with boy/scene bands, but after a while, those projects got fewer and farther between and I found myself doing all this TV stuff. It seems like every few years, I drift into a new “pocket.”
Of all your roles and titles to date, which of them brings you the most enjoyment and fulfillment?
Linus: I think the thing that keeps me most excited and inspired is doing my solo stuff. It only accounts for a small part of my income stream, but I love the purity of making music for myself and my fans without having to accommodate trends, record labels or anything else.
Is there a role or title you haven’t yet tackled which you one day hope to? Something outside of the musical or performance spectrum, perhaps?
Linus: Hmm, that’s a tough question. I really feel like music is my purpose in life and still feel like I have so much to learn and do in that field! I’ve always enjoyed comedy– it’d be fun to get better at acting and audition for weird/quirky parts. I’ve also really been intrigued by the pairing of music with visual images, so I’d love to get better at video-directing, but I suppose these are still in the “musical or performance spectrum,” aren’t they?
What are the apps that you usually use most in your work life?
Linus: Some friends turned me on to a to-do list app called Wunderlist that I use all the time now. It really helps keep me organized. With so many things going on, it’s a daily struggle to prioritize and not get overwhelmed, and Wunderlist is great for that. Invoice2Go is pretty good too for quick email-able invoices. It’s important to get paid!
Given all of the assistant-oriented apps and tools out there, do you see the need for an assistant? Or are you the kind of person who prefers to do things yourself?
Linus: It took me a long time but I’m finally learning how to “let go” and delegate work. I farm out a lot of my editing, vocal tuning, etc. now, so I can focus more on musical/creative stuff, rather than staring at waveforms on a computer all day. What I could REALLY use is a manager — someone to help manage the “big picture” and put together all the pieces of the various things that I do. It’s easy for me to get caught up in the day-to-day work in front of me, so it’d be nice to have someone helping to keep all the wheels moving. But for now, it’s just me, and I’m working harder every day to really keep my eye on the big picture.
When it comes to your career, how much of it has happened as a result of “work leading to more work?” Versus, say, planning and/or auditioning?
Linus: My whole career has definitely been “work leading to more work.” I can’t remember the last time I really had to audition for a gig. Most people are coming to me as a fan of my work or as a recommendation from someone else.
When it comes to managing finances, are there any tools or apps you rely on?
Linus: Quicken! I keep all my receipts and enter them into Quicken every weekend. When I get my monthly bank statement, I reconcile it with my Quicken in case I’m missing any receipts. It makes doing taxes super easy at the end of the year, and since most of my income is royalties and 1099 work, it’s important for me to keep track of everything!
If you were talking to your 21-year old self, who had just moved to Los Angeles, what financial advice would you pass along?
Linus: I would say “don’t get into debt.” When I got signed to a record deal in my first band, my financial management company got me a $13,000 line of credit. To a party-happy guy in my early 20s, this was like a “free pass” to expensive meals, bar tabs and crazy nights, except I found out soon that it’s definitely not “free.” After learning that the hard way, I’m now debt-free and it’s way better than being in debt.
Work aside, what do you wish more people knew about you?
Linus: I’m pretty obsessed with politics. It comes as a surprise to a lot of people, since I never really engage in any political or religious discussion in public or on social media. It really stresses me out to argue about it, so I usually just stick to telling jokes, and posting cat pictures and ABBA videos. But I’m a total news junkie and am super-excited for the upcoming presidential election. I love everything that comes with it– the punditry, the debates, the ridiculousness. It’s my Super Bowl…well, besides the actual Super Bowl.
When you’re not working, politics aside, what do you like to do with your free time?
Linus: I haven’t had much free time lately, and when I do, I always seem to find more music stuff to do. Other than that, I love going on mini-adventures with my fiancé Augusta and my dog Louie. There’s so much to do in Southern California; we run a lot of marathons, go on hikes, go to the beach, and take road trips. Since I spend so much time indoors in a studio, I usually crave doing outdoor activities when I’m not working.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
Linus: Do what you love! I had so many people tell me when I was young that I was wasting my time with music, that the odds were against me, that I should find a “real job”, etc. I’m so glad that I stuck to my guns and pursued my dreams. Life is too short to waste on stuff that isn’t at least leading you to where you want to be. Of course, there are always times when you have to take a dumb job to pay the rent, but always keep your eye on the prize. Also, be sure to buy my new solo album “Something Good,” available NOW on iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp and my webstore!
-by Darren Paltrowitz