Day Jobs

As I continue to morph into a fly upon the wall of the various workplaces of local musicians for this ongoing series, a surprising observation has surfaced — passion has taken the place of grumbling, joy has taken the place of monotony, and a what is done off the stage only fuels what is done on the stage. Hanging with these musicians has been the highlight of my week. If you like local markets, you’ll be happy to read on about these two local artists.

Taylor Martinez: Not Dracula // Grocer at Haight Street Market


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

I am inspired by life in general — the people that I interact with on a daily basis, the challenges I face, and the fruit I have to sort through. Spending 40+ hours a week in a grocery store of course contributes to a heavy portion of influence.

2. How did you decide on your job? 

I decided on grocery stores when I was 16. It was my first job, and when you’re that age you can really only be a few things. I didn’t like coffee so being a barista was out of the question, and working at a hardware store is a drag. Everyone always comes in because something is broken or leaking and there is a lot of negativity there. Food, on the other hand, always makes people happy. It’s not hard to make someone smile over the counter of a grocery store.

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3. What did you want to be as a kid? 

In my really young days I think I bounced back and forth between the classics: Astronaut, cowboy, dinoasaur, fireman, etc. But as I entered the working world I decided that I would one day like to own my own grocery store and play music on the side when I’m old.

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

I hope to eventually make music a full time in my younger lifetime. I think it is difficult to maintain that forever, but I would like to experience that lifestyle for at least a bit.

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

Well, I work on Haight street so part of the job is quelling arguments, breaking up fights, and cleaning blood and piss off the sidewalk. Every once in a while the hippies will give me some free drugs too, so that’s nice.

Taylor and his band Not Dracula will be playing with the Japanese band, Kao=S on Friday, March 25th upstairs at Neck of the Woods in San Francisco.


Najee Amaranth: The Oakland Mind // Artisan 


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

My art is my job. The way I make money on the art is by creating art that is marketable. Mostly with the mind I create music. Utilizing my skills I’ve created and cultivated a line of natural beauty products to create profit from (soaps, shea butter, incense). So far I’ve got them in three stores in Oakland (including Howden Market, pictured below). Having more time to focus on what I really love inspires me to create more often.

2. How did you decide on your job? 

I didn’t decide, I just followed the call of the most high. Before this I was a security guard, and I left that job only to float in limbo. Afterwards I eventually met the owner of the warehouse where I make my products and we hit it off. More than anything I needed time to create my art the way I saw fit. Being able to create more steady income from a different kind of art than just music is one way to sustain yourself while you work out ways to create finance through music.



Najee also designs all of the Oakland Mind merchandise. He walked me over to this local screen printing merchant to pick up his new Warriors colored beanies.

3. What did you want to be as a kid? 

When I was young I wanted to be a writer. There was a time I wanted to be in the army, but I would’ve had to cut my hair so I didn’t do it. Other than I’ve always wanted to write. Mostly I wanted to write stories. And though I do still work on them I mostly work on raps and poetry.

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

As far as I’m concerned it’s full time now, though I do work to supplement my income.

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

I gave Sway, from Sway in the morning, a jacket and it had some black soap in the pocket. Hopefully he gets it and enjoys it.

Oakland Mind Cypher every 1st and 3rd Thursday 7pm-11pm at Qilombo in Oakland. All genres are welcome. They also will be performing at the Jazz show April 1  8pm-10pm at Regina’s Door in Oakland.