Derrek Wayne Robertson 24 February 2008
Selective listener, user empathizer, song writer, performer
I grew up in Santa Rosa, California. From the perspective of the surrounding Oak trees, the place we called home was farmland one moment, and a 45 home subdivision the next.
When I was a kid, my parents gave me the gift of piano lessons. I loved to improvise, especially for my Grandmother, who would give me her undivided attention.
My parents made great sacrifices to send my sister and I to a private school from Fourth to Eighth grade. I got an excellent education, though of course, being a kid, I didn’t understand its significance at the time.
One day after high school, I came home and my Dad met me at the door. My Dad worked regular hours at a government job, and it was rare for him to be home early. “I’ve got a surprise for you”, he said, and walked me into the living room. There, in the center of the room, was my Father’s drum set. A 1962 Ludwig in white pearl with Zildjian cymbals. He sat at the kit, did some parradiddles, and handed me the sticks. From then on, music became a serious interest.
The more I played, the more I realized I loved music. I played in garage bands, and when I was eighteen I joined the Choir and they put me in a Barbershop Quartet singing the melody. This experience carried me an immense distance farther than I ever imagined. Singing in quartets taught me how to really use my vocal talent, but more than that, I learned how to hold my own in a contest, how to travel in a group, and how to approach people I admire. The human voice is truly a remarkable instrument.
In my last year of struggling to get out of college, I moved into a downtown Seattle art loft. I also took a job as a theatre technician. Like a cloud, the depression of my standard university life was suddenly lifted and I was living and working with artists. I began to focus on writing music just as those around me were focused on painting, acting, dancing, video editing, or something equally as absurd and challenging.
After a year behind the scenes as a theatre tech, I was hired as design team intern at a Seattle interactive firm named POP. We played ping pong and nintendo randomly through the day to break up the work. Everyone around me shared my humor; I had found happiness.
I then traveled to Rome to study drawing and complete my University credits. Coffee, gelato, new language, new life. After graduating, I moved to Eugene Oregon to write and record a solo album. When I wasn’t writing and recording, a friend and I were developing a concept for a Rich Internet Application called Worktime. When I finished those projects, I moved to Portland looking for opportunities to continue my story.
What are you up to?
I’m trying to figure out who I am. I’m really only up to two things: becoming a professional musician and creating an internet application called Worktime.
What are you into?
Wood. I absolutely love wood furniture that is made to last. I love the smell of stock going through a table saw, and I love a good chair. To me, giving is what a chair should mean. It gives a person a place to rest, collect their thoughts, converse with others and ultimately, improve their life. I find joy in such giving.
Music. If you ask me, good music is a story everyone can understand. Generaly, I’m into listening. To stories and the sounds that tell them. I’m into writing my own stories, and performing them.
Writing. I have a degree in Philosophy. If you asked me what that degree amounts to I would say the ability to express myself through writing. When I really need to think, I start writing.
Drawing. I find greater value by recording my life through sketching rather than photography. If I can’t say something in words, I always turn to my drawing pad.
What do you like most about Portland?
Well, I’ve only been here four months, so I’ll let my intuition do a little dance first: I have the intense feeling that something big is brewing. As an artist, I’m very excited by change, and I sense we’re going to see a whole lot of it here in the next five years. Some call it the Portland Renaissance.
In PDX, there is a common value for the American story, for creating your dream and living in it. This is a town for Startups and Hopefuls, for those with the love it takes to bring about a change and live their life as they see it. Portland has a rich abundance of people who I believe will resurrect American Industry. Such an abundance is true wealth, in my mind. And of course, Bikes abound.
You mentioned an internet application you are developing, what is it and why is it good?
The name is Worktime. It’s an internet application for people that work shifts at restaurants, cafes, supermarkets and volunteer organizations. It allows these people to change their schedule without making a phone call. Instead, they text message, use the net, or fire up the application on their game console. Regardless of how they access Worktime, the communications between workers or volunteers are simple. They always consist of a yes or no question, such as: “Will you trade your Monday Morning for my Thursday Afternoon?”
The way I see it, making a schedule for a group of people who are never all in the same room together is complicated enough to deserve a good piece of internet software. Anyone who’s organized a team of people knows the value of good communication, and that is exactly what Worktime facilities. Behind this simplicity is Worktime’s bold concept: it offers freedom for responsibility.
Why do you want to be a professional musician?
Truefuly, I want to be able to travel the world. I love being on stage and connecting with an audience. You know those great shows when you just couldn’t accept that its over? The house lights come on and the crowd breaks up, but you can’t shake that feeling that it can’t possibly be time to go back reality? That’s the feeling I want to give to people. That’s called touching an audience and only the best of the best can do it. If I can say I did that once, I can die with a smile on my face, without feeling like the good lord gypped me.