Ready for Inspiration w/ Pierce Duncan

So often our natural creativity is hijacked by the daily grind. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Musician and creator Pierce Duncan(@pierceduncandotnet) joins us today to talk about making a place for creativity, being there when inspiration shows up, and how to be prolific.

Highlight Reel

2:00 Creative sacrifices

6:30 Growing up anxious

11:20 A devotional practice

15:20 Creativity and depression

20:40 All of a sudden, there’s time

24:20 Ready for inspiration

28:20 Having an outlet

34:40 Everyone is a creator

36:00 Income security supports creativity (or Universal Basic Income)

39:00 Everything you want to be true

Adrienne MacIain 0:01

Hey everyone, welcome to the That's Aloud podcast. I'm your hostess, Dr. Adrienne MacIain. And today we have Pierce Duncan. Welcome, Pierce, please introduce yourself.

Pierce Duncan 0:11

Hi, Adrienne. Thanks for having me on your show.

Adrienne MacIain 0:14

You bet. My pleasure.

Pierce Duncan 0:15

My name is Pierce Duncan. Yeah, I am a singer-songwriter, and a new podcast host. I've been in bands for my whole 20s. And I came to a new project this summer, started a new project, which was my podcast. And the mushroom told me to start a podcast, so that's what I did.

Adrienne MacIain 0:36

The mushroom told you.

Pierce Duncan 0:37


Adrienne MacIain 0:38

Please, let's dive in right there. What does that mean?

Pierce Duncan 0:42

Yeah. So this summer, I was out of work due to COVID. And I took a trip up to Big Bear, which is here in Los Angeles, a little getaway. And I took some mushrooms, which are psilocybin mushrooms, which are becoming more popular. Well, I guess they've always been kind of popular. But...

Adrienne MacIain 1:01

Now they're becoming more legit, I guess?

Pierce Duncan 1:03

Yeah, I think so.

Adrienne MacIain 1:05

Less illicit.

Pierce Duncan 1:06

Yeah. So I just had an awesome experience where I was trying to brainstorm a little bit. My, my intention was to find out what my next step was in my music career. So, on this experience, I was pretty much shown that podcasting is a medium. And I didn't know much about it. I'd watched some podcasts, I liked listening to podcasts, but I had no idea what was going to go into it. The mushroom was communicating with me, basically, it's like I was probably communicating with myself. But,

Adrienne MacIain 1:36


Pierce Duncan 1:37

But there, it was telling me 'Do this, you can do this. This is your next step. Try it.'

Adrienne MacIain 1:44

That's awesome.

Pierce Duncan 1:45

So that was that.

Adrienne MacIain 1:46

Yeah, I mean, there are so many ways to kind of tune into our own intuition, right? To listen to that little voice in the back of our heads.

Pierce Duncan 1:55


Adrienne MacIain 1:55

Yeah, that's really cool. So I'm just gonna dive in with the first question that I usually ask, which is what story is the world not getting?

Pierce Duncan 2:06

Yeah. So I would say before COVID started, I had a really hard time with work/life balance. I think a lot of people did, we didn't even know it. So I felt like things were getting really hard for me to stay creative, to express myself. I was working a lot, and all my creative energy was kind of going into my job, which was like in sales. You know, you have to have a lot of creative energy in your jobs, too, you can't just be creative and an artist at home. And then, you know, it's hard to turn off. But what was happening was, I was being creative and using a lot of my energy for someone else and their projects, and I wasn't focusing on my work. Back in my back in my 20s, when I was in my band, I was pretty prolific. And once I kind of got on my own, and I moved to California where things are more expensive, everything became about work and making more money. I was really sacrificing my, my priorities for work. So I don't know if people are not talking about it, in like the media and whatnot, but I think that work/life balance, and even creative balance is so important for people, even if you're not an artist. I think we all have opportunities to be creative, and to, and to use that part of our brain that a lot of us don't get to use because we're so focused on work. So I'm just, I'm just so happy that I got the opportunity to take a step back and figure out how to be prolific, because I think that's really important to becoming good at your craft.

Adrienne MacIain 3:43

Absolutely. Stress about money is the number one killer in this country. That is the thing that kills us more than anything else. And so it is a huge problem that I do think, you know, maybe people are talking about, but I don't think they're talking about it enough. And I don't think they fully understand the implications, and the implications of not giving your gifts and not creating what you're called to create. I really think that, that kills us. Little by little.

Pierce Duncan 4:16

And the validation of being paid for what you do can be a tough one too. Because it's like, 'If I'm not making money, or I'm not able to pay my rent from my artwork, oh, I must not be that good. Or I must not. Why am I wasting my time on it?'

Adrienne MacIain 4:29


Pierce Duncan 4:30

And that's kind of sad, because I think a lot of people probably just give up...

Adrienne MacIain 4:34


Pierce Duncan 4:35

...on their work and their craft.

Adrienne MacIain 4:37

Yeah. I mean, for me, it's been this journey of getting my ego out of my creative work, you know, and to stop judging it and stop asking myself like, 'Is it good enough? Am I, you know, is it good enough to call myself an artist?' I think that's like the big question is like, 'Do I, am I allowed to call myself a creative type or an artist?' Of course you are. We all are. And just to get your ego and that judgment out of it and just stop thinking about like, is it good enough by whose standards? Who decides? It's, it's all a matter of opinion. And you know, your stuff might be exactly what somebody needs. And then somebody else will be like, 'Well, that's a bunch of crap.' But you'll only listen to that guy.

Pierce Duncan 5:27

Totally, totally. Sometimes artists even can hate a certain piece of work, and someone else will absolutely love it. It'll be like a favorite song. And someone's like, 'Really, you liked that song? Like, that's one of my least favorites. I can't believe I put that out."

Adrienne MacIain 5:41

Yes. I mean, I can't even tell you how many times I've had that experience of, like, you know, I'll have my favorite, like, my first season of the podcast was just me telling my own stories. And, you know, there's a couple of stories that I think are my best stories, right? They're my favorites. And I always recommend them to people. And a couple of times somebody has come back with like, 'Yeah, that was pretty good. But the one I really liked was...' And it was something that I, like, just, it was an offhand, you know, I just was bored one day and, like, came up with this little story. And I was like, 'Really? That's the one resonated with you?' People are different.

Pierce Duncan 6:19


Adrienne MacIain 6:19

There's something for everybody.

Pierce Duncan 6:21

Totally. You just never know.

Adrienne MacIain 6:22

Yeah, absolutely. So you've talked a little bit about your journey of last year, and the gift that has come out of that. But let's go back to the beginning. Let's go to that moment where you realized that something wasn't working.

Pierce Duncan 6:39

Oh, man. Well, I've struggled with anxiety and depression for probably my entire adult life, probably going back into my childhood. I lost a grandparent pretty early, that was like a surprise, it was like, a botched surgery. And she was living with us, and she was 57, my grandma, and I was the oldest son. So all of a sudden, I was 11, and our whole world just got flipped upside down. And ever since then, I think I took on way more like mental anguish and responsibility of some kind.

Adrienne MacIain 7:15


Pierce Duncan 7:16

And ever since then, I've just been probably kind of just anxious, you know, and I think anxious feelings turn into depression. With a lot of people, they kind of go hand in hand. So if we're going to go all the way back, I would say, I actually wrote a song about it, just not too long ago. It was kind of a breakthrough song, because I was, I had a journal, a prompting journal. Have you heard of anything like that?

Adrienne MacIain 7:41


Pierce Duncan 7:42

My girlfriend got me a prompting journal on anxiety. And one of the questions was, 'What was the last time you didn't have anxiety? Or didn't have it?' And it was like, 'Whoa, that's a huge question.' Seriously, when? Like, I never asked myself that. And I had to really do some searching. And I identified a time that I went camping with my dad and my brothers, kind of probably before this whole grandmother passing away thing. And it was an eye opener, for sure. So I think I've tried to use some of that anxiety and depression to come through my artwork. And when I have an outlet, and you can express yourself, life is much easier and much, I wouldn't say you're happier. It's just you, you feel like there's less pressure on yourself for something. But releasing, constantly releasing pressure. So I was in bands, in my teens and into my 20s. And it was super fun. I was always writing, and playing shows, and was always so busy. I think that had an effect on me for not paying attention to how stressed I was, or how anxious I really was. Although it showed in other signs, other physical signs, which I had to take care of later. Which it always manifests, coming on physical if you're, you know, if you're not taking care of it.

Adrienne MacIain 9:02

Yeah, that's, it always does, right? The mind and body are very connected. I want to go back for one moment, though. You were talking about, you know, this experience with your grandmother. Do you feel like you took that on as you should have been able to do something or you should have been able to control the situation somehow? Do you think that's where the anxiety came from?

Pierce Duncan 9:24

No, I think it was more of I had to be the, I had to be an adult all of a sudden.

Adrienne MacIain 9:30

Ah, yeah.

Pierce Duncan 9:31

Like, I was I was 11 and I had all these younger siblings. I had three younger siblings who depended on me, and looked up to me, and I was kind of like the liaison between adults and my siblings. So... but there's a lot of confusion when you're 11, you don't know what's really going on or how you feel about these things. I think this is somewhat of me processing how it, how it all went down. But I think it was my mom's mom so she was completely down and out during all of this. So I had to kind of step up, my dad didn't know how to do all these things correctly. And I was kind of, like, the other big person in the room trying to be, you know, or like, it felt like it was kind of my responsibility to help people in my family. You know? I think I got a lot of, how would I say, like, anger or like, almost like a passive aggressive anger too from other parts of the family, because she was living with us, but she also had other kids too in other places. And they almost felt like it was our family's fault. It wasn't, and they don't, I don't think they really felt like that. But it was a lot of family pressure, like, coming towards us. And like, all these things were happening, and I didn't know why. I think that made me grow up really fast.

Adrienne MacIain 10:47

Okay, so you grew up fast. And got this anxiety.

Pierce Duncan 10:53


Adrienne MacIain 10:54

And then you were in these bands? And did that creative outlet help at all do you think?

Pierce Duncan 11:01

Oh, absolutely. 100%. I mean, just being busy with something can really help depression.

Adrienne MacIain 11:08


Pierce Duncan 11:08

Maybe not so much anxiety. But, but the depression part. Absolutely, because it keeps you focused on something else.

Adrienne MacIain 11:16


Pierce Duncan 11:17

And I think that's kind of what led into this next part of my journey, which is in my late 20s, because I was living in the Midwest, doing all these things with these bands. And I was living in Nashville, Tennessee. My band is called Tax Brandywine, by the way. We can talk about that at the end, too. But it was a lot of fun, we were living together, having a good time just being, like, a 20 year old, types of things, you know?

Adrienne MacIain 11:42


Pierce Duncan 11:43

But then that kind of wore off, and it's time to try new things. So I wanted to go solo, because I was always the front man and lead songwriter. And I was doing all the things mostly. So I was like, I can try to do this on my own. I can make decisions faster, whatever. But because I didn't have a certain project, even though I was solo, and there was no, like, deadline, there was no other people looking towards me to say, 'When's your next thing coming out?' It's like, 'Whenever I feel like it.' Not having a project was really a bummer, I think, and it really stopped my, me being able to be prolific. I keep using the word prolific because I think it's really important. I think that's the key because writing every once in a while, or being an artist every once in a while can be good, but it doesn't mean you're necessarily going to advance or get better, which is my goal. Because this is what I always wanted to do was to be an artist and make it my life focus.

Adrienne MacIain 12:43

For me it's a, I think it's a devotional practice, if I could say it that way. It really feels like this is my way of thanking the universe for giving me these gifts, is this just using them regularly. You know? It's just saying like, 'Look, thank you much.' It's like, if you if you gave your kid a really expensive present, and then they set it on the shelf, you'd be pissed, right? I want to come in and see you playing on that iPad every dang day. And really appreciating it and using it to create cool stuff. You know?

Pierce Duncan 13:18

Yeah, absolutely. And it is a gift. Yeah, right. I mean, I had to develop it. But it is something that... even the desire is a gift in itself.

Adrienne MacIain 13:26

That's true.

Pierce Duncan 13:26

Just the fact that I want to write a song and show it to the world is something that is cool, because otherwise I could be just doing something else that wasn't as creative or fun. Because I have a lot of fun.

Adrienne MacIain 13:40

Inspiration is always a gift. Yeah.

Pierce Duncan 13:44

So I think creating is so fun. That's what I was wanting to do. That's the kind of work that feels effortless to me.

Adrienne MacIain 13:53

Yeah. You're in the flow. Yeah, totally. So then what happened? You, ah, so you were prolific, and then you weren't?

Pierce Duncan 14:03

Yeah, then things got harder for me. And then I think I was waiting for permission too much.

Adrienne MacIain 14:09

Oh, yeah. That's a big one, the big one, waiting for someone to say, 'Hey, you, come out of obscurity? Come up here in the spotlight.'

Pierce Duncan 14:18

Yeah, or waiting for other people to not judge me either. It's kind of weird cuz I was in a relationship where this person was very sensitive, extremely sensitive. And when I would try to write music, they would think that it was about them or not about them, and that would cause problems. And I'm like, why can't I just write about something, like, the song could just be about a fake person, can't I just tell a story? And it was just that kind of awkwardness. I had to kind of push back through that all the time. And that was a huge like roadblock for me. It was, like, unnecessary. I didn't like it. Either way. So I'm out of that, I eventually got out of that. I was living in the Bay Area, which is not exactly the right city, I think, to grow your music, even though it's my favorite city in the world, probably. It's just maybe not the best city for music. So I moved to Los Angeles, and I'm still trying to get my, the momentum of my music together again, and, and writing when I can, but still working constantly. Everything is focused towards finding a job. Everything is, all my energy, like, even creative energy, is trying to talk to somebody to get me a job. And like, you know, like it just, you're not sitting down and like being that artists that I really want it to be. So I was, I was put on some medication because I was really struggling. I would find myself, this is kind of depressing, but I would find myself crying over over random things that weren't important. Or not that they weren't important, but things that I shouldn't be crying over. And something that I tell people alot, this is when I knew I was having some issues, because when Anthony Bourdain committed suicide, I cried for like two weeks. Like, that is not normal. Like, I don't think you're supposed to do that. But like, for me, he was like an idol to me of some kind. And I didn't know it. Because he's not a musician. He, I just, I think I watched the show, and I, I, I even used to criticize him alot, watching a show, like, 'This guy is such an asshole. Why does he think that he can talk to people the way he does, like when he goes to countries?' And then one day, he was just gone. And like, I just broke down for some reason. I don't know why, I was just like, 'No!' You know? I was like, 'Why did he do that?' Like, it was so upsetting. And I think I just looked up to him a lot and didn't even realize it.

Adrienne MacIain 16:41

Sometimes it is the most random thing that will help us to get at that pain that's just been sitting there waiting for us to confront it. You know? Yeah. Anything can trigger it. Absolutely.

Pierce Duncan 16:57

Yeah. And I think even my co-workers, and colleagues, and friends were like, 'Yeah, it does suck.' But they're like, 'Something's not right, you know, I mean, like, this is weird.' Some, like but he's... Anyway, so that's when I kind of, I saw my doctor, and he recommended that I go on an SSRI. And what, unfortunately, that made everything a lot worse.

Adrienne MacIain 17:20

Yeah. And sometimes it does.

Pierce Duncan 17:22

So once I started doing my research, though, I realized that I don't think seratonin was my issue. You know? I was already kind of comfortable in my, I think I was too comfortable in my skin. Like I needed more like drive and almost agitation to go. Do you know?

Adrienne MacIain

Yeah, yeah.

Pierce Duncan

And unfortunately, I think my doctor, doctor noticed that. And I think so he made it worse. So here I am already kind of like, stuck in contemplation mode all the time, figuring out what my next step is, and he gives me something that's making me more like that. And actually, it took away, like, my zest, the color of my life in general. So that was really hard, because it made it, like I said, it just made things so much worse.

Adrienne MacIain 18:06

Yeah. What would you say was your kind of rock bottom moment?

Pierce Duncan 18:12

Well, when I started to get off these medications, so... the story's not even over yet.

Adrienne MacIain 18:19

Yeah, oh, here we go.

Pierce Duncan 18:20

So I, my life is becoming worse on these medications. And I don't, I don't know if you've tried any of these before, but they don't take effect right away. It's not like you can take an Advil and you can feel relief. It's like these things take two weeks, three weeks to kick in. So I'm like, I'm not really feeling relief. And if it is, it's kind of like semi, so I'm like, ah, and then that was kind of my life was like eh. So I just became less motivated to take them. And then I would find myself I'd skip a day. And then all of a sudden, I'm like, 'Has it been two days since I've taken my medication?' But I'm like, things are getting weird. And I didn't realize why they were getting weird. You're like, 'Oh, yeah, like, I haven't taken my medication a couple days.' And same thing, like, you will just burst out in tears for no reason over something. And you're like, 'What is going on with my life right now? Like, how is this happening to me?' Because I realized that you can't just stop taking those medications like that. You have to really have a strategy. A timeline.

Adrienne MacIain 19:24

Yeah, an exit strategy.

Pierce Duncan 19:22

So I moved from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, because I wanted to be, like, I wanted more sun to feel happier. I wanted to be around more music and entertainment, and it's like to feel lighter in general, you know. And then I was going through some weird things with the medication. And I started seeing a therapist and he recommended that I even shave the pill with a knife, like, very slowly, not even cutting in half, like, no, shave it. If that's what it takes, you know, I'll do it. And then I think the big release came, right as COVID hit, because I was really weaning off of my medication. And I was seeing my therapist, and COVID hit, and we decided to talk on the phone. And within seconds of talking to him, he was like, 'You seem like you're doing great.' And I'm like, 'As a matter of fact, I am, you know what I mean? Like, I'm really doing great.' And I know that this is where you want to, or maybe you would want to introduce like, what's the greatest gift of 2020? And I, I don't want to like take that away from you. But this kind of leads into that.

Adrienne MacIain 20:34

Go for it. Go for it.

Pierce Duncan 20:35

Do you want to introduce that part and like, ask me a question?

Adrienne MacIain 20:39

So, Pierece, what would you say was the greatest gift, the most unexpected, wonderful gift than 2020 gave you?

Pierce Duncan 20:48

Great question. Adrienne. I'll tell you. So I had this realization on the phone with him that I sounded good. I was weaning off my medication. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. And all my, I was working two jobs, one after another, like my entire day was taken up, you know? And it's like, I felt this relief. And I think it was because everything was out of my control all of a sudden.

Adrienne MacIain 21:17

Yeah, exactly.

Pierce Duncan 21:18

I had no control over it. I was just, I felt like maybe I was taking on too much of this on myself. Like, 'This is all my fault, you know, that I'm not where I want to be in my career, or that I'm not writing more records and, and making those connections or even meeting people.' All of a sudden, it was just like, the rug was just swept out from under me. And it's like, this is what you got right now. And I'm like, I was ecstatic about it. I really was and, like, it freed me, it like, it really freed me all of a sudden. So the greatest gift was not being in control anymore. Not feeling like I was in control. I had the, the freedom just to be me and like, do my thing.

Adrienne MacIain 21:59

And just surrender. And trust.

Pierce Duncan 22:02

Yeah, if somebody was like, 'You need to pay the rent.' It's like, 'I don't have the rent. Yeah, I'm not paying. I'm not working. There's nothing you can do about it, like, sue me.' You know what mean? And that was like a freedom of relief because, as we all know, like, especially on the coasts, and if you're in a, a bigger city, rent is seriously everything. It is everything. Your whole life revolves around paying rent. So one of my dreams in life is just to be to the point financially, not to be like rich or anything, just to feel like rent is not like a concern of mine. I feel like that would be a huge like, stepping stone, because that's what I felt for the last year. And now it's like a new goal of mine. I'm like, I just want to not have to think so much about rent, because it's been a huge relief not having to.

Adrienne MacIain

I mean, there's a reason there's a musical called 'Rent,' right?

Pierce Duncan

It's crazy.

Adrienne MacIain 22:55

Absolutely. Well, I want to I want to unpack a little bit of that wonderful juice there. Because I completely agree. I think this was an opportunity for so many people who were really struggling to finally be like, 'Okay, now everybody's struggling. We're all struggling in this together.' And there's something kind of wonderful about that.

Pierce Duncan 23:19


Adrienne MacIain 23:20

There's a great relief in that, that it's not your fault anymore that you're struggling. There's a reason.

Pierce Duncan 23:28

And you know what's funny is there's a flip side too, where, like, I've heard some people talk about how they were just getting their career started, or like, they just had trajectory, and then it's just gone now. So there is a flip side to this. So it's not like, and of course, people have been dying.

Adrienne MacIain 23:44

Of course, yeah.

Pierce Duncan 23:44

There's tons of negatives from COVID. So I don't want to paint a rosy picture or anything. Thank God that I, my whole family has been safe, and we've, you know, been able to get some shots and, and I don't have to worry about my older parents anymore. As much.

Adrienne MacIain 23:59

Well, I feel like there's been a lot of coverage and discussion of the negatives of the COVID pandemic, on the news, and you know, everyplace else. And so I really wanted this season to be a kind of celebration of our endurance, and our ability to find the silver linings of this experience.

Pierce Duncan 24:20

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So I got really curious. All of a sudden I had all this time, and I have a studio, had my guitar. And like, even my therapist, he was like, 'Just play the guitar for 10 minutes every single day.' Like, he was trying to do some CBT work with me. And even, for some reason, when I was in, when you're in depressed, even the most joyful things can seem like a huge, like, a problem. You know? It's like, 'Ugh, I have to play my guitar because my therapist says." It's like, 'Wait, shouldn't I love this? Like, why do I feel like that?' So my journey to prolific started when I reached out on Craigslist to a band that needed a singer So, I was, I just responded to it saying I was interested, I showed them some of my work. And they were like, 'Yeah, here's a couple songs. Can you write lyrics and a melody to it?' I was like, perfect, this is right up my alley. And they didn't give me any descriptions except for the song title, which had no words or lyrics. So I had to create this whole like story, or like a whole lyrical song based on one word or a couple words. It was very difficult, but it was the most rewarding thing. Because I had nine songs in front of me, I had a project. And someone's like, 'Go,' and I'm like, 'Yes.' You know, it's like, this is what I've been waiting for. So that got me out of my shell. And I was just started writing about all these things that were just like, piling up for like, the last four years or so. And like, how I was waiting for inspiration. And there was no inspiration in these songs, they just played. There were just, there was track lists and a name. I didn't need inspiration. I just needed to do it. Yeah. And, and I think inspiration is wonderful, but it's something that should never be relied on for an artist. I think when you have inspiration, get to work, of course, but you should be working every day probably, you know, so that when inspiration does hit, you get that cool song, or you get that whatever you're working on, that cool idea out.

Adrienne MacIain 26:27

Yeah, I always say it's like, 'You cannot expect inspiration.' If Inspiration's a prince, right, he's not going to come and knock on your door and be like, 'Come to the ball with me.' It doesn't work like that. You have to put on your dance shoes, and get warmed up, and get out on that dance floor, and dance with a lot of frogs before before you meet that prince.

Pierce Duncan 26:49

Absolutely, yeah, totally. You got to be ready. You've got to be ready for when the Muse does knock on your door, and you've got your guitar and your notebook already out, instead of, like, 'Oh, I haven't picked up my guitar in a couple days. I'm only doing 10 minutes a day so you'd better make this quick.'

Adrienne MacIain 27:07

Absolutely. And I love the idea too, of just... it can be it really can be hard to just like pick up your guitar and, you know, play for 10 minutes. It really does sometimes take discipline to keep, like I said, it's like this devotional practice. You know, as a writer, doing my morning pages, sometimes it feels like a slog. It's like I can barely get a sentence out. I don't know what to say today. I'm just like, yeah, blah, blah, whatever. But the more you do it, the easier it gets. And I always say to people, you know, if you can just give yourself like the minimum, and I'm talking, like, just pick up your guitar - don't even play the guitar for 10 minutes - just promise yourself you're going to pick up your guitar every day. Or like, you know, with with a writer, it's like, just open the document. Just open the document. Even if you don't write a word, at least you took that moment to, confront it and say, 'Hello, document. I have nothing for you today. I'll be back tomorrow.'

Pierce Duncan 28:06

Yeah, totally, you know, little bite sized pieces. You can really, like, you can do that. You can open up the text document, you can hold a guitar. It'll feel good.

Adrienne MacIain 28:14

I mean, come on. You have three seconds. Come on.

Pierce Duncan 28:17

Yeah, exactly. I think the importance of having an outlet too is so important. It just, it just makes that so much easier. So my therapist is 'Just pick up a guitar, pick up the guitar,' but I was like, 'But what like for what?' You know? So it's like, after I wrote these songs for the band, it didn't quite work out, it just wasn't exactly the right fit, but it gave me a ton of confidence. A huge confidence boost on top of my already, like, happy-from-being-free boost. So I'm like, I'm getting all this, like, these ideas. And I'm starting to brainstorm again. And I'm getting excited about how I can get my, my, I don't wanna say career because that's, it kind of is my career, but it's also kind of just my passion and devotion, like you were saying,

Adrienne MacIain 28:18


Pierce Duncan 28:22

How can I be my devoted to this again and, and work on it. I want to work on it. So it gave me all this confidence, and that's when the brainstorming started happening. And I was talking to my friends, just trying to get some ideas down, like what can be an outlet for these songs?

Adrienne MacIain 29:26


Pierce Duncan 29:26

And as an artist, a musician rather, there's a lot of boundaries to putting up songs, distributing songs to your, to Apple Music and Spotify. So I needed to get rid of some boundaries. And of course, you can just upload something to your own website. You don't need to distribute it. But I wanted something more I wanted. I wanted something more interesting. Oh, excuse me, just fell off my chair there. I wanted something more interesting. And that's when I had that mushroom experience and the podcast seemed like a really cool idea. Because I can record songs, I can record three songs in a week, doesn't mean they're going to be polished, doesn't mean they're gonna be perfect like you would send them out for distribution. But sometimes people like to hear demos. Because I do. I love hearing, like, the Beatles doing their songs on just acoustic guitar, when there's fuzzy in the background. There might be like, somebody knocks over something, you can hear him really singing, there's no editing. There's something really beautiful about that, and raw, and authentic.

Adrienne MacIain 30:33


Pierce Duncan 30:34

So I thought, there's no boundaries to making a podcast, I can easily make a podcast and, you know, talk about the song a little bit. I can also kind of promote the things that I've been doing. It's a way for me to communicate with my audience again. They can hear my voice. Before, it was just, you know, a man behind the screen, like Wizard of Oz. He hasn't released an album in four years, or what has he been doing? Whereas for this podcast, I can do as much or as little as I want. There's an outlet. It, it gives me something to work for. And that's, I think every artist should find something that lets them have an outlet to work for. I think it's really important.

Adrienne MacIain 31:19

100%, I completely agree. And I'm always saying, you know, as a creation coach, like, I just want everyone to find their thing. And it doesn't even matter what that thing is. Like, if you are a colorer, you know, and you just get a bunch of coloring books and you color every day like, great. That's your thing. Whether you're creating, you know, a podcast, or a coloring book full of beautiful colored pictures, it doesn't matter, as long as you're producing something that is creative for you. So how has that changed you?

Pierce Duncan 31:53

Oh, my goodness. Well, I've really taken a hard look at what was going on before. So I stopped seeing that therapist, because, I just did, I guess. I'm trying to think of why I did exactly, but probably just needed to move on. I was I was getting busy with my own stuff. But he started the process of me taking a really hard look at my past, the things that were stopping me, or the things that would... when I would ask permission, just rhetorically when I would be talking to him, and I'd just be saying something like, 'Well, if only this, or if only they, or if only..." And he's like, 'Do you understand that you're asking for permission right now to do your own work?' Like, that's, no, you don't need anybody's permission to do this. So a lot of it was just taking a look at my past, and finding out what was, what would get in my way. And actually started writing a book about it. And that's the part about being prolific. I wanted to find, I wanted to make a digestible 10 steps that people can take to get rid of some of those roadblocks. And I know that's been done before, and I kind of wanted to take a different twist on it. So it's in the works right now, but you guys can find it on, eventually, when that's done. But I had to take a hard look at 10 steps that I could have done earlier to not make it so hard on myself, to not make it seem like it's some big deal. You know? You don't have to take it so seriously, you can have fun with it.

Adrienne MacIain 33:33


Pierce Duncan 33:34

You know? And showing yourself and showing what you do is a big part of it. Showing your work. Not just doing something and having it on your computer and a notebook, but putting it out there for people to see and to judge for themselves is a big step.

Adrienne MacIain 33:50

Yeah, I think there's a lot of things that, you know, should be taken seriously in this life, but yourself is never one of them.

Pierce Duncan 33:57

Yeah, it's only gonna mess with you, and you're not gonna want to meet other people. And that's a whole other thing, too, is COVID made me realize how much I've been taking advantage of others, because I wasn't, I wasn't taking the time to reach out and, and meet with them. I wasn't taking the time to be present with them. I wasn't taking the time to meet new people, and to make new friends when... That's not cool. You know, like, I can benefit someone else's life just as much as they can benefit mine too. And the friends that I already have. So that's been a huge thing, too. Is is realizing that other people are really important to your overall well being.

Adrienne MacIain 34:38

Yeah, who do you think needs to hear this story?

Pierce Duncan 34:44

Everyone. I didn't think about this question beforehand, but I don't see why anybody would be left out.

Adrienne MacIain 34:51

Yeah, I mean, that's the usual answer. I just like to ask that because I think it really does make you realize that like, 'No, everyone. Everyone is a creator. Everyone should be creating.'

Pierce Duncan 35:02

I think so. I really think everybody has the ability to be creative. Maybe just, like you said, it could be a coloring book. I think you build up a lot of pressure, and that can be anger, it can be... A lot of your emotions start building up when you don't find an outlet for them. Even if it's sports, I mean, sports can be very creative. And exercise. So I mean, you have to have some kind of outlet, a creative outlet. And maybe you can realize that the outlet you're doing, you can be more creative in that pursuit. You know, maybe you really like...

Adrienne MacIain 35:37

That's a great takeaway. Be creative in anything you're doing, whatever it is that you're, you know, pursuing, whatever it is you're interested in. Just get more creative with it. Yeah.

Pierce Duncan 35:48

Absolutely. This is the day and age where we might not be, we don't even know if COVID is going away yet. I mean, there's no like...

Adrienne MacIain 35:56

We have no idea.

Pierce Duncan 35:57

Even in other countries they're having big, big spikes. I mean, this is April 16 right now. So we don't know what's going to happen in the future, if people... because I'm still not back to work yet. And it's been over a year. Because here in California, the opportunities to work in the industry I was in are still not fully available. So, I can't make a living from that. So I'm really wondering what, what California is going to do as far as some kind of universal basic income. I think California is kind of a leader, at least on the West Coast. The West Coast is kind of a leader for our country. And it takes a huge stress out of my life, realizing that I have some money coming in that isn't dependent on how many customers I can serve at a restaurant. You know?

Adrienne MacIain 36:52


Pierce Duncan 36:52

And it's like that is helping me take my energy, finding out when I'm most creative, and I can use that time. So I there's a lot, I've learned from this last year,

Adrienne MacIain 37:06

I so often hear the argument, you know, against a universal basic income that like you know, 'If we do that, then there are people who will just get lazy and do nothing.' I have found that it is exactly the opposite. It is the people who feel forced and overworked who get lazy and don't want to do anything. Anyone who actually has the time to focus their energy on what they think is important becomes more prolific. They start creating more cool stuff, they start innovating, they start thinking outside the box, they come up with, you know, cool problem solving ideas. Every time. As soon as you take away that stress.

Pierce Duncan 37:43

Absolutely. And what, and I feel like the term even 'lazy' is so subjective.

Adrienne MacIain 37:49


Pierce Duncan 37:50

Like, it's like, just because I live in California, and I would go outside and get sun, I would call my dad and he'd be like, 'Oh, you're lazing around again in the sun.' I'm like, 'I actually need the sun to be able to feel healthy. Sorry.' So it's like, it's like, I don't, we need to stop caring about what other people think in general. But you know what another issue about UBI is we spend that money. You know, that money goes into, right back into our economy.

Adrienne MacIain 38:19


Pierce Duncan 38:20

And people who are lazy are definitely going to be spending that money on the things that make them happy. If that's being lazy at home on a nice massage chair. Wow, you just spent your money on a massage chair, that's going into our economy. I don't, I really don't buy the whole lazy issue. I think our country is so divided, though, that this is a whole 'nother rabbit hole. But I think the fact that a lot of people have been put on some kind of unemployment insurance has, it's really opened my eyes to how much better life could be.

Adrienne MacIain 38:55

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, well, that's a great place to kind of transition here. So I'm going to do a little exercise that I love to do with my guests. We're gonna have you close your eyes for a moment. And we're gonna take a nice deep breath together. We're gonna do it again. And this time, I want you to see colored light come into your body when you breathe in. What color was the light?

Pierce Duncan 39:27

I was thinking like fractals, like a crystal.

Adrienne MacIain 39:31

Cool. Ooh. Let's do it again.

Pierce Duncan 39:32

Kind of like a rainbow.

Adrienne MacIain 39:33

Yeah, okay. That's really cool. I like those fractals. Alright, so I'm going to wave my magic wand over here. All right?

Pierce Duncan 39:47

My eyes are gonna still be closed.

Adrienne MacIain 39:49

Yep, yep. Because I want you to visualize this, okay. And everything that you deeply desire has just come to pass. Everything that you want to be true is now true, of your life and of the world. Okay? Now I want you to just imagine you are in this perfect space, and just look around and tell me what your life looks like. Tell me what you see.

Pierce Duncan 40:15

I see a grand piano. I see a big open window. And there's breeze coming through, and there's curtains that I can feel the ocean breeze.

Adrienne MacIain 40:29


Pierce Duncan 40:31

And I'm sitting in this open room with big ceilings, playing on this piano.

Adrienne MacIain 40:38

I want you to really feel that. Feel the feeling of the keys under your fingers for a moment and really hear the notes. Take a moment to soak that in. Can you smell anything?

Pierce Duncan 40:59

Yeah, I'm smelling that ocean breeze, that clean ocean breeze.

Adrienne MacIain 41:03

Beautiful. Beautiful. You're done with that song. And I want you to go outside for a moment and kick off your shoes. You're going to walk in the sand a little bit. And just feel what that warm sand feels like. And you can hear the waves lapping. What else do you hear in this space?

Pierce Duncan 41:33

I hear seagulls. I hear the wind coming through my ears.

Adrienne MacIain 41:39

Yeah. You're walking for a little bit. And then something unexpectedly wonderful. crosses your path. What is it?

Pierce Duncan

It's a little baby turtle, right in front of me.

Adrienne MacIain

Oh. So sweet. Yeah. So you find this little baby turtle? And what are you going to do?