Some people would claim that “fame” gets out the worst in people…
A funny thing is, that I always considered small artist relatively delusional when they spoke about their “fans”. I guess I imagined that you weren’t really a star unless everybody knew who you were and you had paparazzi lurking about, but the truth is quite different.
“Fan” has little to do with how big you are and how many records you’ve sold, it’s a mentality.
If only 10 people or 5 for that matter, likes your music, it doesn’t change the fact that they will most likely have the mentality of an archetypical “fan”, (unless you count your family & close friends as fans).
Because I’ve been so down to earth and in many ways a bit detached from things, I didn’t really realize that I actually had fans, I would refer to “fans” as “the people who listen to my music” “the people who buy my music” “the people who support me”.
I don’t know if it was out of fear of coming across as delusional, but my refusal to realize the fan-thing, got me into some very interesting situations.(Most musicians bear a striking resemblance to Tenacious D-Pick of Destiny when it comes to how they behave, so I guess I was afraid of coming across like that.)
I invited “people who listened to my music” into my home, I hung out and went for drinks with “people who supported me” and I accepted gifts, without ever thinking that maybe there was a hidden motive behind giving me something. Don’t get me wrong most of the people who like what I do are AWESOME. I’ve had Norwegian fans sending me boxes of Norwegian food for example, and I’ve had supporters helping me out in difficult situations. To be honest, it was the fan mail I got in the beginning of my “adventure” that kept me going. I was not in a happy place, and this unexpected support from total strangers was overwhelming and meant a lot. Hearing messages such as ” I felt so down, but your music inspired me” or ” I went back to practising my guitar because of you” meant the world to me!
Yet, crazy sneaks its way into paradise and can easily be the thing you see and remember most clearly.
In 2010 for example, something odd happened.
All of a sudden I got a fan who decided to donate money into my paypal. This was something that was a bit odd, I had obviously never experienced this before, but I though it was kind of cool that a total stranger would just send me some cash every month.
Who wouldn’t say yes to that? I had a donate button on my website, something I still have to this day. This fan though, who was very nice initially, changed his tone gradually. He would go to my FB and be increasingly sarcastic and rude, and be really mean. When confronted with his increasingly awkward behaviour he claimed that ” because he was sending me some money every month, he had “paid for his right to treat me the way he did.” Obviously I couldn’t believe what I was reading and that this total stranger of a guy actually was serious. But he, was keeping an eye on everything I was doing online and claimed that ‘I couldn’t expect so and so many followers, to just kiss my ass, he was there to point out my shortcomings, after all he had paid for the right to do so…(in his mind obviously.) Coming to the conclusion that this guy, was absolutely delirious and obviously insane, he was banned from my page and reported to FB. He didn’t handle that particularly well and accused me of running away with his cash. PS. 1)He donated a small amount of money I never asked for, 2) He voluntarily did this himself and then went on to threaten me. He said that “If I ever came to Austria, that would be the last thing I did!” His threat was obviously way more explicit and exceptionally long and detailed.
A shortcoming in our laws ( you can read more about this) is that if someone in Brazil cyber stalks me, or someone in China threathens me, then authorities cannot do anything. Laws are made in such a way, that only if someone in the UK officially threatens me then I can call the cops and probably get a protection order. So this person over in Austria got away with being crazy, and needless to say I haven’t been there since.
I would also like to add, that someone I worked with in L.A. stole my first metal guitar around the same time. We tried to get him arrested for grand theft, but because we didn’t live in the US at the time when we wanted to report him, we couldn’t get him arrested. You can only press charges when you are in the same country. So he got away with his craziness as well.
In late 2011, right after I had, my first printed press in the UK and had released my first single , I was home alone in London.
In the middle of the night I discover that a very intimidating and scary looking man was standing outside the house I lived in. He was standing in the staircase leading to my front door. He was just standing there staring in through the window in the door, right at me, looking like a total aspiring-serial-killer.
I totally freaked out and called the cops immediately. Some days previously there had been a dark haired. chubby guy standing in the footpath opposite the house, doing something similar. That time, probably because it was daytime, I didn’t get it and was standing in the kitchen looking at that guy wondering why on earth he kept on staring into the house for so long. He just kept on standing in the exact same spot, looking towards the window without moving an inch. I was standing in the kitchen looking straight at him for some minutes, thinking to myself “what a weirdo”. Eventually after these two men had been lurking around our house, there were 2 men who tried to fool their way into our home after office hours. I wasn’t at home so I couldn’t identify them, but my mother and brother said they fitted my description.They were convinced it was the same two characters upping their game. My mother and brother told these two mystery men we had contacted the authorities due to a stalker problem, we never saw them again after that.
In 2012 I was threatened again by a “fan” in Bournemouth, who had a mate who was gonna beat me up apparently This was a supportive fan who came to my gig but was obviously looking for something to argue about. He ended up arguing with my manager because he wanted to buy a T-Shirt that was out of stock. He then decided to send us money on paypal for a T-Shirt we did not stock in his size and then went on to make hell because he didn’t get this shirt that WE HAD SAID wasn’t in stock. We sent back his money of course,but this didn’t stop him from threatening me with all sorts of things, it didn’t get any better when he got banned from my FB page. He only backed down when he was informed that we would report him to the police.
In 2012 I got an awesome gift. A fan from Norway decided he was gone give me a MacBook Air. This was extremely generous and both my manager and I were very grateful and thankful for this generous offer. He made a big deal that he was making the Mac “ready for me” the night before, and flew in to London to deliver the Mac in person. He came into our home and instantly commented when I opened the door, that ” I looked totally different in real life’, that I looked like my own little sister and that he was a bit disappointed I didn’t greet him in full uniform…I was like…ok?… The guy was given a free concert in our home, I felt like that was cool, after all he was giving me something really awesome, and he was obviously a proper fan. He kept on moving around the room while we were playing, looking really odd throughout the whole set, but I didn’t think much of it. Afterwards he took us all to an expensive sea food restaurant, and paid for a very lavish meal. We followed him back to the airport and thanked him over and over again for his support, and even though he said a lot of weird stuff, we felt very fortunate to have a fan/supporter like him.
To fast forward a bit, the Mac always acted strange. I started to believe that my email was hacked and became paranoid with everyone I knew. Everyone was a potential creep, I was totally convinced my online behaviour was being monitored. My camera would turn itself on unexpectedly. I put a sticker in front of my web cam, but was very suspicious nonetheless. Eventually my Mac got so slow and so fucked up ( in lack of better words) that I took it to the Genius bar at my local apple store. The guy behind the counter instantly commented on the behaviour of my web cam and claimed that it was totally un-normal, but that apple has a software that can be used to take pictures of thieves in case your gadgets gets stolen. This allows someone to sit on another device and monitor your online behaviour and take pictures of you with the webcam. I totally freaked out of course as this had been my suspicion all along, we were advised to take the Mac to the authorities, which we did of course. Our local police station were willing to take my device, but they would need to withhold my Mac for 12 months, obviously we couldn’t afford to be without our tool for that long and we couldn’t afford to buy a new one. So then the only other option was to hire a private computer forensic scientist, something we couldn’t afford at the time. Without the funds to either buy a new device or hire a private detective, we were forced to let the whole thing go.
Something that bugs me to this day.
I shared these stories specifically as I don’t have anything to do with any of these people anymore, which means that this post could actually have been longer! Believe it or not!
So, what do you guys think? Being an up-and-coming artist can be interesting as you don’t have the funds to hire a body guard and turn your whole house into a panic-room-like fortress.
It can be freaky to say the least! My positive experiences with fans outnumber the creepy ones, but still, creepy experiences does something to you, and stay with you for ever.
One sad life lesson is: You can never trust anyone.
Trust is key to building relationships of all sorts, so what do you do when you trust no one?