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90 days with no electricity college student in PR AMA!

Dec 8th 2017 by Atetsufooj • 29 Questions • 559 Points

I grew up extremely poor as a child and my mom was possibly mentally unfit to parent. I often had no home to live in and more often no food to eat. When I was 11, my house caught fire and as far as I understand they believe my mom did it on purpose. Because of this, she wasn’t able to collect the insurance money and we were forced to move back into a burned out shell of a double wide trailer that we put a layer of plywood over where the fire had burned through the exterior walls. I continued to live there until I was about 13, when I had to finally move because she wouldn’t let me live there anymore. At 18, 8 months after 9-11 happened, I joined the Marines and was part of the first invasion force to enter Iraq in 2003. On my second deployment to Iraq, I was shot by an enemy rocket and then my own people (not so friendly fire) while waiting to be evacuated for my injuries. My best friend was beside me and lost part of his jaw and most of his teeth. Another of my close friends was killed by sniper fire that same day on the rooftop of the same building.I received a Purple Heart for being wounded and was then honorably discharged from the Marines in 2006 and spent several years attempting to drink myself to death before having a daughter and deciding to change things for the better. I was playing music in a band and that led me to discover my true passion of recording music. I went to school and right out of school moved to Hollywood to become an audio engineer. Since then I have worked with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Steven Stills, Imagine Dragons, Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, Frank Ocean, Ariana Grande, Skylar Grey, The ChainSmokers, Travis Scott, Pharrell, Timbaland, No ID, Young Chop, JayZ, Ludwig Goransson, Jemaine Clement, Tom Petty, Third Eye Blind, Slayer, Metallica, most of the members of the Mars Volta and ATDI, Ozomatli and so many many more. Most recently I recorded Vic Mensa’s debut album, The Autobiography. I’ve been married 3 times and my current wife is a singer in the British band, Crystal Fighters. Im currently on tour with JayZ and Vic Mensa, recording Vic’s new material on the back of a bus with a studio in it. Last summer I built my own studio on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. I’ve been in riots, gun battles, bar fights, and I ran with the bulls in Pamplona. I’ve been thousands of dollars in debt and flush with so much money I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve struggled with depression and addiction, loneliness, hunger, commitment and fear of abandonment. I’ve lied to people I love and I’ve been wrong more times than I’ve been right. Overall, I feel like your typical, ordinary American dude who keeps Jar Jarring his way into extraordinary situations.

I’m here to answer any questions about my life, the artists I’ve worked with, my military experience or anything else you guys could want to ask but also to promote my wife’s new solo project that I am so very proud of her for completing, so please check out Eleanor K on Spotify and iTunes, follow her on Instagram @eleanorkofficial and watch her music video Youtube-Eleanor K We are on an off day today so I’ll stick around as long as anyone has any questions. Also, follow me on Instagram @greazywil for day by day updates of our dressing room quality and pictures of nerd stuff.

You can find verification on my Instagram @greazywil

Edit: Thanks for the amazing questions everyone. I am going to continue to answer and respond to every one for as long as I can. I know I always get bummed out when I see an AMA thats been over for hours and I'm just seeing it for the first time. For all you veterans out there, I see you. I know you've been dealt a rough hand. No one with a stable life and good upbringing with lots of money needed to join the military. I know how hard it is. Don't give up and don't use your military service as an excuse to not keep working hard. This world will give you nothing for free and you need to keep earning and proving yourself every day. Message me any time for some encouragement and occasional tough love.

Q:

how effective has solar chargers been in this situation? are there any particular brands or devices that have a developed a reputation for being more useful than others?

A:

Does Jay treat you as if you exist or does he simply ignore all he’s not “with”?


Q:

Sadly I haven't been able to get my hands on a solar charger. I have seen a lot of my friends using them and they love it while they last. The thing is though I haven't heard of any solar charger that doesn't break in a month or less. I think the problem in PR is that the heat can get so bad that solar chargers just break and people here are not going to want to spend extra money on a better charger that won't break in those situations.

Sorry that I don't know about any brands though...

A:

He’s always very respectful and polite to me. I have a history of saying stupid things to him though so he makes me laugh in my memories. He always would randomly appear and I would be surprised by him so then when he asks a normal question like “hey man, what’s up?” I get flustered and reply with “good man, how are you” and feel dumb for the rest of the day. I’m not star struck, just stupid I think.


Q:

how do you deal with the heat in general?

A:

My honest respect to you. Where did you live from 13 to 18?


Q:

Usually we use a gasoline-powered generator specifically for charging phones and powering fans so we don't die of heat. On some occasions when we don't have enough money for gasoline I'll go outside, cover myself in mosquitoe repellent and sleep on a hammock.

Actually, even when you're sleeping in your own room you have to cover yourself in mosquitoe repellent so you won't get bit. It can be frustrating because most of the time you have to apply it right after you've showered...

A:

Thanks! I moved in with my dad and stepmom. My stepmom was a little mentally unstable as well (she later killed herself) so it was not exactly a good fit. I was grateful to have regular meals and a warm place to sleep though, for sure.


Q:

are there any places in PR that are naturally cool/mosquito free (like caves, underground bunkers, etc...)?

A:

How do you personally think you got out of that pit of hell you were born into? How do you think you made it when so many others, probably members of your own family couldn't? Do you consider it drive and ambition or genetic somehow?

I believe we're in the same historical boat and we could have been neighbors. Super poor and abused to becoming successful people. I love meeting other people like us. Also: I feel it, and I'll delete this, cause it's my own personal thing, but: https://imgur.com/mpDCdSa I get it.


Q:

Nope. Unless the place has air conditioning you're basically one with mosquitoes 100% of the time.

A:

I just always wanted to be more. I had nothing and I knew I wasn’t supposed to be nothing. I just kept clawing my way upwards. Sometimes I slid back down, sometimes I had to start over all over again. But I did it. I refused to stop trying to be good enough. Don’t delete it, unless you want to. I’m happy to hear you made it out of the shit.


Q:

Anker solar panels. Specifically the 21W model.

I sent one down to my family and it’s been so useful that they asked to send them more stuff like that. I wish I could send more cause I know they need it but this gear is pricey.

A:

Seriously that strikes a cord. I was absolutely supposed to be nothing and every expectation was I would be nothing. I also did the slide back and the start over (a couple times) and it was hard but I refused to stop. At some point it wasn't about "them," meaning what "they" thought of me and became what I thought of myself.

I'm glad you made it out of the shit too. Do you find yourself distanced from it now though? Like I have a hard time correlating the me today with the family that I still have who is still living in poverty. It's like, I can't pay for your bills people, so I've become a hermit from my family. Have you found yourself in that same situation?


Q:

I'll look it up! Yeah, that's the thing, most people here can't afford pricey stuff and would rather rely on something they will work, like generators.

A:

I don’t feel like I have a lot in common with my family but I do love them very much. I couldn’t pay their bills if I wanted to and most of the time I call my brother asking for a couple hundred bucks to pay my cable bill. I have distanced myself as much as I can though as they all live in Philly and I live in LA so I only see them once a year at best. It’s better that way


Q:

90 days without electricity seems like the premise for a lot of post-apocalyptic stories.

Have you noticed any services that have collapsed, either slowly or more quickly than you expected?

Is there anything like movie theatres or some kind of place you'd expect to be pretty dependant on power that's still running in a way that surprises you?

A:

Sweet. One more question doe. You mentioned that he's recording his album rn.. How's that going? How along in are y'all?


Q:

I've thought about this way more than I should. I was kind of amazed by how dark the night was when there are no street lights or any artificial lights for that matter. I was terrified whenever I had to go out late at night because everything was extremely dark and most of the time I was the only one out in the street (mom's a nurse and I'd use her ID to go out during curfew).

Burger King was a lifesaver. While most fast foods were closed or wouldn't allow you to charge your phone in the restaurant, they would allow you to bring a multi-plug to connect as many phones as you could AND YOU DIDNT EVEN HAVE TO EAT. I hate fastt foods but I'll never forget that.

A:

There is literally no way to gauge what Vic Mensa is doing at any given time. He is a mystery


Q:

wondering

Wandering

A:

I'm late, but how does he come up with content for writing music? For example, does he write music based on a certain feeling at the time or some thoughts that pop into his head?


Q:

During the first few weeks there were a looot of home invasion from people taking advantage the blackout. A curfew was activated to lower the risks on these invasions and to be able to control the situation. I think the first curfew started at 6PM to 6AM or something like that

A:

He can be inspired by anything. A song, a moment, a comment. Anything. When it hits I just gotta be ready to capture it


Q:

Spending the last few decades improving infrastructure would have been a huge help.

A:

Why is Vic Mensa on a camel?


Q:

You're getting downvoted but I agree with your statement! Not even a year has passed since Puerto Rico's last blackout because a power plant caught on fire. The whole island was without power for two weeks that time and there was no major disaster to provoke it.

A:

Vice Mensa does whatever he wants to do


Q:

I’m curious, does the university itself not have any power or do you not have power in your residence? Coming off of a 60ish day deployment, Bayamon was one of the first places I saw that had municipal power about a month after Maria, well before San Juan started making progress.

A:

Can you elaborate on being shot by a rocket? Where did it hit? How did you survive? Did you leave any pieces behind? Did it leave any pieces behind in you? Sorry if I'm a little fixated on that one aspect of all this.


Q:

Yes, my university does have power! Fortunately my university was one of the first to get electrical energy and to commece giving classes. A lot of people were actually pretty mad about this because students from farther and more affected areas probably didn't have the means to starts studying yet. I, for one, had my car break down after Maria and it's been really difficult to go from Puerto Nuevo to Bayamon everyday. On top of that public transportation is pretty much horrible and unreliable right now.

A:

It impacted beside me and blew me back a few feet. Unfortunately, the brunt of the explosion was handled by my friend who was very seriously wounded and spent many years recuperating. I was injured pretty badly. I had a tennis ball sized hole in my leg for a minute until it filled back in.


Q:

Did you have the option to displace and continue your education in the states? Do you know anyone that has done this? A lot of universities here in Miami were taking in students and helping with tuition and finding a place to stay.

A:

Wow. Thanks for the explanation. Glad you both made it out.

Also, your empathy for the guy shooting at you is a little surprising and very refreshing. War is dumb; good to see it didn't ruin you.


Q:

Yes, I did have the option to go to the states. I didn't want to leave my mom alone in PR in this situation though. This is my last semester and when I graduate I'm looking to move to the US. Hopefully not Florida (even though I was born there) because I'm sure jobs must be scarce with how many puertoricans moved over there these past few months.

A:

It did for a little while. I let it define me and it hurt me a lot. I found later that by making more out of myself I was able to let go of that part of me and be proud of bigger things. The first step in that transformation was my daughter being born and realizing that I had more to live for.


Q:

Hey man, soy de PR también and from a more fortunate part of the metro area with electricity. Just wanted to ask if you needed help with anything else? I know things get tough with no power.

A:

Have you got any tennis ball stories from Thailand?


Q:

Funny thing is, almost everyone around me has electricity.Pero honestamente, I'm a lot better off than most people so I don't complain. Thank so much for offering :) If you're close to plaza one day it'd be cool to chat though!

A:

I have a story about coke cans turning into sprite cans by magic but that’s not quite a story I’m willing to publish


Q:

Alright, sounds cool! I'm also a Dia LoL player but decayed to Plat (lol) because of Maria. Tu me dices y le caigo!

A:

As someone really into listening to beats and generally underground music I really want to learn how to make beats not to many vocals if any but I have 0 idea wat to do. Can u give me some advice on where to start and what to do? I have little knowledge on DAWs and things of that sort. Also thank you for your service.


Q:

Duuude, hell yeah! Can you drop your ign? Mine is atetsu.

A:

Even I watch YouTube tutorials. Start with a specific song and try to copy the things they are doing. It won’t take you long to start figuring out the basics


Q:

LAN or NA?

A:

Any equipment u recommend for beginners? Keyboards ? Anything else ?


Q:

NA!

A:

I think you never buy more than what you are capable of appreciating, meaning if you don't know the difference between the $1200 model and the $200 model then definitely get the $200 model. You won't know what you're missing until you're good enough to know its missing. That being said I love analog everything. I have several Prophets, a Moog, OP1, several Roland Boutique synths. My studio is a synth heaven, or at least it will be eventually. I'm always looking for new stuff, or rather, old stuff that is new to me.


Q:

What the most surprising to you about this whole experience?

A:

What the fuck is happening with this gold everywhere?


Q:

How nasty people can be during a traffic jam due to no semaphores. Or how horrible it is to wait under the blistering morning sun for five hours just to get some gasoline.

It's also very surprising and lovely how some neighbors really band together help each other out with the essentials.

What I was most surprised about was how many people went to live in the mainland US and left their pets behind to live on the streets.

A:

I just happen to like people commenting and being polite. So I gild them


Q:

What I was most surprised about was how many people went to live in the mainland US and left their pets behind to live on the streets.

Airlines put a weight limit on what animals people could take with them, I think they had to be under 25lbs. Not saying that's the entire reason for the problem, just part of it.

A:

How's your brother doing?


Q:

I didn't know about that. If I had decided to move I would've had to leave my Great Dane then. Thanks for the info, gives me a new perspective.

A:

He’s doing well. I just saw him a few days ago while we were in Philly on tour. He has a nice house and family and has recovered from childhood well but he still has many dark stories rattling round in his head. We all carry our demons with us all the time


Q:

Who does your eyebrows? They’re magnificent.

A:

Well im awfully late to this, but Good ol horno huh? Gotta love/hate that place.


Q:

Lol are you a friend of mine pranking me? I do my own eyebrows, thanks!! :)

A:

I still go there once a year to have a reunion with the boys and to climb to the crosses


Q:

Are there new jobs created by this situation? Can you go help and make $20 an hour doing it?

A:

What album did you work on with Frank? Everything he puts out is pure perfection, so just by association you must be amazing at your job.

Also, did you ever think you would reach this point while you were in school?

And a third question, because why not, if you could work with anyone alive or dead, who would it be?


Q:

Absolutely! FEMA especially created a lot of jobs to help with the situation. Some jobs include social workers, psychologists, electrical engineers, people who check insurance claims, etc...

A:

I worked on all the stuff Frank has put out in some capacity. He’s had two main engineers who are both really great and I have been fortunate to be in the occasional rotation for things as well.

I always dreamed of making it this far but definitely didn’t think it could be a reality. My wife at the time was very skeptical of my success for sure.

Jimi Hendrix.


Q:

Are the cellular towers working?

A:

Its 4, minus 1 that’s 3 quick maffs


Q:

Now most of them are functional and there almost 100% coverage of the island. A lot of the coverage is thanks to Google's globes they have floating around. Right after Maria though, cell phone companies like Tmobile and Claro had no coverage because their towers were damaged.

A:

9? I dunno, I failed maths


Q:

What a story! All the best for you man :-)

How did you like 4:44 and what is your favorite track out of it?

A:

I love it. I think it’s so interesting for JayZ to change up his style and do a progressive rap album about his trials and tribulations and make it continuous and heartfelt. One of the best rap albums from beginning to end. I really love Marcy Me and he story of OJ


Q:

Thanks for your time, I am looking into getting into a more professional recording setting myself. What steps did you take between discovering your passion to realizing it? Any sort of degree or further education?

A:

I went to a school in Phoenix that was 9 months long and gave me the basics of engineering and then from there I just did it. I know the 10,000 hour thing isn’t exactly accurate but I do think if you just do something all the time until you know everything about it eventually you become really good at it.


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Till the 7th, you coming to the show or the club performance?


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Well don’t expect any free tickets lol, I had to buy tickets for my wife and her dad in chicago cuz the guest list is full as fuck!


Q:

Why don't you use paragraphs? JK, is there anything you don't like about working with celebrities?

A:

I don’t like egos so if people are relatively shitty towards me for no reason I don’t appreciate it. Mostly though, I find that celebrities are often really great people and just like every one else, just richer and more famous


Q:

Would you reccomend a career in Sound Engineering? How's the pay?

A:

I love it but it absolutely has to be something you love to do or else the months of 16 hour days will wear you out and make you hate it. I wouldn’t recommend doing anything unless you love it. The pay sucks to start but eventually you can make a lot. It’s all relative I think


Q:

So do any of these guys in the music business have actual talent? Or do they all just pay Bruno Mars to make a song for them? All joking aside, do they really have talent or just pay for their publicity? My brother in law was a winner for the "Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento" show and he told me some crazy stories about the music business.

A:

I work with really talented people mostly so I don’t know about that. Bruno Mars doesn’t even write Bruno Mars songs, that’s 1500 or nothing.


Q:

I truly understand where you're coming from it's how I went from college dropout and almost homeless to living in this beautiful city. Is there a gig in particular that you recall which became your turning point where everyone was starting to notice your talent?

A:

When I started working for Alex Da Kid suddenly everyone took me seriously but it still feels like I am an underdog in the industry. It takes years and years of struggle to get somewhere. There’s no such thing as overnight success. It’s years and years of talent. I always like the story of the woman who asked Pablo Picasso to draw on a napkin for her and he did and when he finished he said “that’ll be $10k” and she said “it only took you ten minutes” and he said “my dear, that took me a lifetime”


Q:

I use Studio one myself. I was also using Logic but couldn't stand Mac. Is their a band/artist you would like to record?

A:

I just want to work with people who still have the passion for creating. It’s not fun working for people who are doing it for the money. I would rather work for an up and coming band that has the desire to make a change in the world of music than someone who can just pay me a lot of money. I’ve always chosen pride over payment. Always


Q:

Can I throw a hail mary and send you a link to a track of my up and coming friend? ;)

A:

Sure send away. I can’t do shit for anyone but I’ll listen anyway. If I had any pull in this industry I would be using it all for my wife’s project anyway lol


Q:
  1. Thank you for your service. Truly amazing.

  2. Coke or Pepsi?

A:

Coke. Pepsi is the piss of Satan.


Q:

Why did you agree to illegally occupy a country and contribute to the destabilization, theft of resources, and displacement millions?

A:

Nah I'm not falling for this twice bro. Go buy yourself gold for being an asshole. I reward nice people not assholes.