Day Jobs

You see them late into the night. They’re sweaty with passion. They revel in the glory of the bright lights. They move to the beat of their own drum. And they’re waking up tomorrow morning to go to work. These are your favorite local artists and believe it or not, they’re punching the clock just like you and me.

As tech has rolled in, musicians (and other creatives) have begun to roll out. It is harder than ever to make ends meet these days, but these artists are biting the bullet with a little creativity and doing what it takes to keep local music alive in San Francisco.

I asked three local artists the same five questions to find out a little more about what they’re up to during the day. I introduce to you the first of this new series:

Jon Jorgen Illum: Lords of Sealand // CPht (Pharmacy Technician)IMG_0777

1. In what way does your job inspire your music?

For my job I calculate doses and compound chemotherapy, live viruses and immune modulators among other oncology and autoimmune medications. It’s a tough thing to be inspired while working for many terminally ill patients and knowing that some side effects of drugs we administer can harm as much as help. However, I know that it is the best way to help cancer patients at this time and the knowledge that I have helped to save some lives is pretty inspiring. I’m particularly excited about virotherapy and stem cell therapy research that we are now using in human trials. My sister passed from ovarian cancer so it’s my little crusade. All of this gives me the drive to keep living in the now, doing what I love and just enjoying the hell out of life.

2. How did you decide on your job?

I guess the main reason was a cultural drive to have a decent paying job. At the time I was pretty religious and I was thinking of a possible future wife, kids and white picket fence. Life got pretty real though and my dreams changed. I’ve moved on from that life and I am privileged to be able to work less, live minimally, keep my stress low and actually have time to work on my loves, music and gardening. I’m not wealthy but I’m happy.IMG_0788


3. What did you want to be as a kid?

What didn’t I want to be?! At one point I wanted to be Michael Jordan… but that was every kid. Seriously though, I know I was most interested in becoming some kind of scientist. I loved to explore all branches of science from space exploration to paleontology. For a good portion of my childhood I had a gruesome fascination with sharks. I was also passionate about history and art though… I never really decided what I wanted to be. I remember in high school looking into becoming an architect or an actuary. I suppose I just love knowledge and have a hard time making decisions. I used to come up with my own songs when I was really young but never imagined I would ever sing, dance and perform on stage.

4. Do you hope to make music a full time gig?

Of course! That would be the dream and far too often it only seems just that, a dream. With the economy how it is, I see musician and artist friends being evicted or moving out of the city for financial reasons. It’s pretty frustrating but at the same time I’m encouraged by my bandmates who are incredibly talented, capable and some of the best dudes on the planet. The music scene sure isn’t what it used to be but with a little good fortune, adaptation and innovation musicians cannot only make a living but can make it to that next level.

5. Share a random/interesting story from your job.

A few months ago I was on my lunch break and I was approached by a clearly ecstatic patient and her family. They asked me to take a picture of them with their camera. I obliged and afterward they explained that she had just checked out and was headed home, cancer-free. Needless to say I was stoked beyond words… to have helped save one life. It means a lot to me but even more to them.

Jon and Lords of Sealand just released their first music video, Towns Like These and will be releasing their second video, Architect, in December. In the meantime, you can listen to their LP here

Jacob Montague: Branches // Jingle Composer


1. In what way does your job inspire your music?

For me my day job is music, recording bands, touring, and writing scores for commercials. I find that juggling a few projects helps me to keep a fresh ear and new inspiration. While I’m working on one thing and maybe getting tired of hearing it, a desire to work on something else builds and fuels that next thing.

2. How did you decide on your job?

I sort of fell into the producer/studio engineer role. I had been writing and recording my own music, and then added recording/producing for my band Branches, and then other artists started reaching out for me to help them capture their own songs.



3. What did you want to be as a kid?

I wanted to own a bicycle shop. And then I got a degree in physics. And now I make music.

4. Do you hope to make music a full time gig?

It is smile emoticon but I would like to make it a more secure full time gig ha

5. Share a random/interesting story from your job.

So one time I got to pretend to be a pseudo Jazz composer and write sassy music for a series of 5 cat food commercials..

You can check out Jacob’s film compositions here. Branches have been sitting on an amazing new album and are set to record this December. In the meantime, you can listen to their latest here

Cade Drummer: (represntative of) Friends Without Benefits // Security at the Chapel


1. In what way does your job inspire your music?

Being a security guard at a venue enables you with the amazing opportunity to see so many different acts with a wide variety of styles and types of performance. It inspires me because I get to see the difference in scale of what kind of things can go into a live performance. All the way from a local opening act to nationally recognized touring group, there is so much that can be done on a stage with a little bit of creativity and seeing so much music really helps inspire me.

2. How did you decide on your job?

I got into this job by a friend who I had worked with at another job previously. He was my area manager at Stern Grove and after the season asked if I’d ever be interested in picking up hours at the venue. Over a year later and I haven’t looked back.



3. What did you want to be as a kid?

As I kid I wanted to be so many things, hockey player/firefighter/chef/teacher, but the ONLY thing I have ever wanted to be consistently for the last 20 years has been a professional wrestler. I broke my neck a few years ago and that kind of ended that dream so I had to alter it. I think pro wrestling and the music industry are one in the same as they are both entertainment at the end of the day, so I guess the short answer is an entertainer.

4. Do you hope to make music a full time gig?

I know I will be a touring musician/entertainer as my full time gig one day. There is no backup plan and I will never be fully satisfied until that happens.

5. Share a random/interesting story from your job.

People…dealing with people will always make any job interesting. This isn’t super exciting but we have a two stamp system for people coming in to the venue, one to show you’re of legal age and can drink, and one to show you are a ticket holder. I find it interesting that people complain so much about getting stamps or always have some sort of snarky comment to make about having two stamps and can’t seem to piece together what each one is for…people man… they have to be the most interesting part.

Cade and Friends Without Benefits will be playing at Eli’s Mile High in Oakland on the 13th and The Honey Hive on the 20th of November.