Taos is not just a music destination.
It’s also home to many musicians who live, work and play here. One of them, Wendy Shuey, a Renaissance woman of sorts with a serious background in film and video, has lived in Taos off and on since 2000.
I first met Wendy at my daughter Genevieve’s home one summer night almost a decade ago, where a bunch of Taos creatives had gathered to share music and stories; to jam and dance and just be themselves. She and her musical collaborator, Jeff Sebens, blew us all away with their great energy and funky sound. Turned out they were also friends with my son Joshua, which didn’t surprise me in the least. I loved them both at once!
It took a few months for all of this to come together – I’m pretty busy on my end, with taoStyle and other writing projects, and so is Wendy! She recently returned from a trip to South America; a vision journey with Shamans (and Yoga), diving into the Mystic in the jungle. I ran into her days after, and we determined to make this happen at last!
1) Hi Wendy, can you tell my readers a little about yourself and how you landed in Taos?
W) I moved to Taos from New York City, after producing and directing Live Music Channel, a series about top rock n roll artists such as Bjork, Jane’s Addiction, Flaming Lips, etc. Interviewing and creating live concert videos each week. It was nonstop. As a result I was yearning for space and desert, opposite of the hustle in NYC even though I got a thrill out of the fast pace for a few years.
I escaped the city and moved to Taos in 2000. I lived on a historic farm in El Salto with donkeys, emus, peacocks, ostriches, sheep, cows, rabbits, goats – all running freely around the property (except buffalo in the back pasture other than when they would escape with thunderous trampling similar to an earthquake). The farm was a hilarious welcoming to Taos juxtaposed with my previous residence of the concrete jungle. I was moved by the community here, easy to find my tribe and musician companions. Taos was a breath of fresh air, a place which seemed to encourage everyone to be themselves. Yet there also seemed to be a demand in Taos to “show up” and do the work. I was willing to do the inner work and the mountain opened her arms.
I moved to Taos originally with my partner at the time, Adam Fox, who was also a filmmaker. I was creating music as a drummer in a trio dynamic rock band, Your Neighbors (Dino Recla, Seth Delia & myself). I was lucky enough to land an editing gig – cutting a 26-part series on Buddhism funded by the Richard Gere foundation.
Taos had a flourishing underground music scene at the time – punk and metal based – and our band played out as often as we could – shindigs on the mesa; the bike co-op; Herb’s Lounge etc. We all avoided live music at regular bars and venues – Herb’s Lounge in Hondo was the only exception. My original plan was to make a “pit stop” in Taos while moving from NY to LA since my bread and butter was mainly video/film production. The Taos “Pit stop” was a little longer than expected – almost two years – but I finally made the move to LA in 2002.
The first year of living in LA was difficult – from the surface I saw it as an un-grounded materialistic cesspool and incredibly different than the vibe of NY and of course many moons away from Taos. It was a challenging adjustment, but in retrospect, the city was extremely good to me as I continued to improve my craft of editing, telling a story through the screen. I love editing, and I think when one does what one loves, it can truly shine through, both through product and creator.
Since Taos was far away, I made a “Taos substitute” by buying a shell of a cabin in Joshua Tree and fixing it up bit by bit. I had to get my hands dirty in the desert to balance my work and life in shiny and domesticated los angeles. As the years went on, I was able to pick and choose my projects, amidst my heart continually steering me towards Taos. I did listen in, but i would not take action for years because my career was taking off in a way I never thought possible. Then finally after nearly 10 years of living in LA, it dawned on me to truly listen to my heart otherwise it may become less and less audible. Even though I was finally on the top of the production game in LA, I made the impractical plan to move back to Taos.
It was not a logical decision by any means but I knew it was the right move as on a cellular level there was a strong YES to make the leap and I was filled with excitement. Excitement of freedom ahead, community, nature, space, growth. As I was nearly finished packing with boxes in my loft, I drew only one card from my Tarot and drew the Fool, taking the leap off the cliff into the unknown.
With the help of Genevieve Oswald’s encouragement when visiting her home one afternoon, I visualized how to bring some of my editorial work to me in Taos – working remotely. The visualizations worked! It all fell into place. So anyone reading this who wishes to create a different reality… visualize it and it will happen if you allow it.
Now after being settled in Taos nearly 7 years, I can edit documentary features on my own Avid editing suite such as Plastic Paradise and The Black Zone, etc. I have more freedom to take on more meaningful projects than I ever could before – all in the comfort of my home, often editing in my pajama onesie! Editing is a creative position, and as long as I build a structure for my editorial shifts, it’s actually more productive to edit here than in an LA posthouse. This path is what my heart needed, and I’m glad I listened. I couldn’t be any happier in my life.
Many things have become clearer and clearer as I undergo internal work and make room for meditation retreats. I’ve also been able to listen in more closely and have created space to work with Hospice and recently became certified from the Conscious Dying Institute in Boulder as an end-of-life doula coach to help tie up loose ends to prepare for our biggest transition. I also am in the path at the moment to speak my voice and others’ voices; speak of consent and grey areas associated with consent; encouraging and reminding women of their beauty and power, and last but not least honoring the feminine energy within men for balance to take place. I’m working on a PSA (public service announcement) video treatment on consent at the moment.
Since in Taos, I also met up with a loving and like-minded partner, Ryan Beckwith, who I adore and love very much.
2) Apart from a background in film, you are a talented musician (a drummer), long part of a duo/band with Jeff Sebens – Could you both tell us a little about your musical journey together?
I have a bandmate, Jeff Sebens of bubbleGUN, who ventures to Taos each year to dive into music with me. We soar “underwater” writing new music, cooking, hiking and laughing hysterically. I am grateful for all the twists and turns in life. I embrace challenges and shadows now with open arms, for that’s the substance of why we are truly here in my opinion. Shadow work is what Jeff and I often write about musically.
I wondered how difficult is was to collaborate in a long distance musical relationship? Wendy kindly posed the question to Jeff.
JS) In regards to our rock n roll duo, bubbleGUN it Is timeless , unique and magical … we have never stopped creating music whether near nor far … we pick up right where we left off and no one I have played with has been able to duplicate or replicate.
3) Wendy, what’s in your immediate creative future musically that you can share with us?
W) We have made several recordings over the last few seasons , in Taos, in Joshua tree and at our original rehearsal space in downtown Los Ángeles . Where we created our first album entitled “Greatest Hits Volume 1” and lots of other recordings that have not been heard. Our last album we recorded at Frogville Studios in Santa Fe, The Space In Between.
We have recorded a couple of albums and it is just the beginning. We have developed and journeyed into a deeper dive … a more instrumental and cinematic space . Exploring new territory and straying away from “traditional “ singer song writer verse chorus verse chorus songs. Dramatic music , with thundering tones and ghostly whispers…..
( in the spirit of Mogwai, Sigur Ros, Xx but with Marshall half stacks and fender Rhodes )
We have never been about the glitz and the glamour but always about the right part for the right song. Whether it’s a vibe , a feeling , a disturbance or a healing . The music starts from nowhere .. we don’t force it , it comes naturally or not at all … it just develops. Someone will pick up an instrument , or play a melody , or hear a sound , and it starts to morph into something special . Tribal drums … haunting echo … broken piano … eagle feathers … wind chimes …sound bowl … breathe … silence .
5) What inspires you both to keep on keeping on?
W) We are very excited for the next adventure In our lives and we cannot wait to deliver it to you . We will continually be recording and exploring new sounds. We would like to play live shows after the next record , and will be having more players join us on our new recordings and live shows …
Long live the Gunnn…
For more on what Wendy does, and to listen to the duo’s albums, please visit the sites linked below.
bubbleGUN – Facecrack:
End-of-Life Doula: endcomplete.com
All photographs thanks to Wendy Shuey