Jun. 08, 2017
Make some noise for the next entry in our “Ticketfly Talent” series, which spotlights the many talents of our Flyers. We’ve got loads of musicians, DJs, singers, and artists of all types who are fly by day and rock stars by night (though we tend to think they’re rock stars 24/7). They’re awesome, and we want the world to know.
Today, we catch up with Moses Isaac, a product training specialist who helps onboard our new clients. But as soon as Moses clocks out, he’s rehearsing with his two bands, hardcore quintet Provoke and punk outfit Just Busted. Here, we chat about growing up in a traditional South Asian household, improvised instruments and staying true to your passion.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 33. Originally from Pakistan. I was born in the United Arab Emirates in Dubai and immigrated here when I was 2. I’ve been in the Bay Area since then—South Bay and Fremont, and a little bit of the East Valley. For the past eight years I’ve been in Oakland. But, basically, I’ve been going to shows in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 20 years.
Have you always had an interest in punk and hardcore?
When I was growing up in Fremont, I was one of the only brown people growing up out there … We grew up in a working class neighborhood and my neighbors were older boys and they were skateboarders and punks, so I was just always attracted to that lifestyle. When I was 10, I begged my parents for a skateboard and took that culture on.
When did you pick up music?
My brother and I started playing music together. I started playing drums when I was 16 or 17.
Was your family a traditional immigrant family? Did they embrace your passion for music?
We’re super traditional. We’re first-generation, so our parents wanted us to become doctors and engineers. It’s hard to have that cultural clash, but as long as we weren’t getting into trouble, my dad got us some music lessons and instruments. They weren’t super supportive before but there was one evening that really sits vivid in my mind. My brother and I made our own musical instruments in our bedrooms. I used laundry baskets to make drums and he used a shoebox and rubber bands to make a guitar, and we were just jamming. My dad came home and was like, “This is pathetic. I’m gonna get you guys some real instruments.” So we got second-hand instruments and learned how to play Green Day’s Dookie record … They just thought it was a fun hobby. They didn’t really understand how much it meant to me.
What are their feelings toward you pursuing music today?
They’re more accepting of it. Earlier when I was in my 20s when I was touring and not having a steady job and crashing on the couch when I was home, they were like, “Come on, this is a phase. Get over it. Get a real job.” But since then I’ve been able to work, be financially independent, and balance my hobbies and interests. Once in a while I’ll have shows and my parents will legit ask how it went. For me, that’s a huge win because they’re showing interest.
How do you balance your professional life and still pursue your musical passion?
It’s been a little bit of a challenge. I actually took four years off of playing music when my band had broken up in 2008. I was just so tired of being broke and my soul was so broken, I was like, “I just want a normal job and an apartment.” I took four years off, got myself an apartment, got myself a normal life but something wasn’t sitting in me right. I wasn’t feeding my desires, like my soul was dying. I was making decent money at a manufacturing factory and I decided I’m gonna pursue a career in music. I had a friend who owned an indie label, I had a friend who did shows, and that’s how I found Ticketfly because we used Ticketfly to do our shows. Once I started working with them, I realized that music was what I was missing, so I started playing music again. Now I work Monday through Friday, I play in two bands, and I’ve got a couple other hobbies. It’s difficult to manage but it’s rewarding. I put in the hard work and I’m exhausted after coming home from work and band practice, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Does working at Ticketfly help with your music career or vice versa?
When people ask me about it, the easiest way I can explain it is: It’s the best adult job that I could have. What I mean by “I” is: a musician or an artist or someone that just doesn’t take into the conventional way of living. It’s a dream adult job for musicians. When I’m helping clients I can completely empathize with them because I’ve booked shows and I understand how that goes. I feel for the musicians because I’ve toured. I can essentially find a way to relate to the situation I’m dealing with at work and it helps me go that extra mile for the clients. It’s also fun to work on music stuff because I’m seeing artists that I recognize, I’m seeing venues that I recognize. The culture at the office is a bunch of musicians and people that are into music. It’s very natural.
We previously featured fellow Ticketfly employee Daniel Martinez in 2015. He mentioned back then that he’d just started jamming with you.
Me and him actually started Provoke together. It’s funny you say this because Monday is his last show with us. He’s recently gotten engaged and he’s got a little baby boy. He’s got some bigger things on his plate. But yeah, me and him started this thing a year and a half ago, and we met through Ticketfly, so it’s kind of crazy.
That’s awesome! We don’t want to take up much more of your time, but what’s next for you?
[Provoke] just put out a tape this week. With the lineup change, we’re about to go in and, hopefully, by the end of the year record another demo and put out another tape. My other band is a little more punk rock but we’re also recording this month. I’m gonna try to put out something with them; maybe a short tour in the summer. Basically, we’re just doing music for fun. No one’s trying to make records. It’s essentially our therapy, and we need to keep doing it. As long as I’m having fun doing it, playing shows, and making music, I’m fine.
Photo by Matthew Kadi