Fear Is Dead

Skila Issue: Section:

It's about not being afraid to be yourself, not being afraid to dream. It's all about speaking your mind, especially when no one else will. Its about standing up for what you believe in. It's about doing something real, not cause its cool or cause you think someone will notice. It's about not being ashamed to love or hate, laugh or cry. It's about love for music, literature, and, art, and the respect for the work put in to perfecting the expression. It has to do with caring about what you say, as much as about what you do. It's the courage to look towards the future, and the humility to remember your past. When you are no longer scared to really live, then fear is dead.

Fear Is Dead / Year One

I've been so swept away in this roller coaster, that I barely noticed time sneak by, and despite all our hardships, we achieved the goal we set for ourselves a year ago. 
My name is Skila, I am the Front man, and song writer for Fear Is Dead. I am also a Hip Hop Lyricist, and Music Producer. Over a year ago I was starting work on my second Hip Hop album, (the first being Audionarcotics), and that's when I met Jacqueline Burns aka Jax. I was looking for an experienced guitarist to do some production work and she answered the call. She was heavy into metal, she liked my aggressive style and lyrics, we hit it off and got to work right away. At the time, I was trying to find myself again musically. I had completely lost my hearing a couple years back, for about a year due to Meniere's disease, and needless to say, it left me a bit out of touch. Not with what was going on in the industry but rather within me. I was also starting to feel at that particular time, that there was no place for my subject matter in Hip Hop, so I felt out of place. At this point, it might have been Oct or Nov 2010, I'm not too clear on who suggested it, but I think it was Jax that said, "let's start a band" it was a good idea. My first producer and very good friend, James Bryant III aka Jam, used to be a drummer, so it didn't take long before we started jamming. 

About a month prior to our decision to start a band, I had purchased a Electric drum kit at Best Buy. I thought it would be a great asset for my song writing to learn the drums, the sales clerk's name was Mark Bengtson. Mark was an upcoming producer and engineer working out of Feet 1st Studios in Tribeca, he gave me his contact number, and said he could give me a good price.


The band spent the next few months defining our sound, looking for what set us apart and how to bring that out. Jax is an excellent guitarist, with a very unique style, she was able to mold her melodies to my words, it was a great fit. Jam's experience in drums and Hip Hop beat making gave Jax's heavy guitar an interesting twist. I was hitting the pen and pad like a mad man. I had a lot of production experience so I was able to help us evolve faster. I spent lots of night writing and editing songs playing with structures and understanding my style in this new live environment. I would have something new for the guys to listen to almost every day.Then in February something happened that would change my life and affect the band in a big way. My Stepfather died of stomach cancer, he was a very strong figure in my family, we loved him very much. The strength he showed in living and dying will inspire me till my last days. I see this now, but when he died, to be honest, at first I was very unsure....I was scared. 

I remember it was a sunny day, my brother and I were walking through a local cemetery looking at tombstones. Then suddenly we both stopped, and almost as if we'd rehearsed it, I turn to him and said, "will you look at that" and he said" yep, fear is dead". We were both looking at a tombstone with the word fear on it. To me it was a sign, and even if it wasn't, I was going to take it as one and never look back. I took care of all the legal paperwork to secure the name a few days later, and Fear Is Dead was official. 

Now fast forward May 2011, we've found our sound and we're in our zone. We rehearse and write a couple of times a week and the songs are coming out great, but even if Jax writes the bass parts, we still need a bassist to play them. This is when Anthony Moreno Brown stepped in. Anthony plays drums for an amazing band called “Just Alil Bit”. I had known Ant for a few years, we would work together on production gigs from time to time. He's a great guy and we got along really good, we also shared similar thoughts on music and what we felt it was missing. He said he was down to learn to play bass, but he was already an amazing drummer, We all agreed that Anthony should play drums for the recording and Jam and Ant would share responsibilities for performing. Now we were back to looking for a bassist, we agreed to hire one if we couldn't find one to join the band. It was time to give Mark a call and see what he was talking about. Mark's studio was perfect for what we needed to do and after speaking to him I could tell that he knew what he was talking about. Around that time a friend and up and coming drummer, Marilyn Thompson took an interest in the project and offered to loan us some money to get the EP done in a shorter period of time. Things were coming together. We spent late nights recording, editing and mixing the record. It was an intense experience. Mark did a great job engineering our project. he seemed to share our vision and since then he has become our official engineer.

I was usually the one driving, so I would have to drop everybody off, then go home. I remember seeing the sun coming up as I was headed home listening to our work, the music was very promising, it felt really good.

July 28th 2011, The Coffee Grind @ the Bowery Poetry Club, our first show. Fear Is Dead Cookies, check, Mastered CDs, check, wristbands, check, postcards, check. I had 2 friends at the table with merchandise, and 2 other friends working the floor for emails, giving out wristbands. We had hired a friend of Ant's, a very talented musician named, Piruz Partow to 

play bass for the night, and Jam was handling the filming of the show. We were set to go, a little restless, but everybody seemed to be feeling good. There was a full house, I was psyched yet a bit nervous, I had only done this in rehearsal and it was different then spitting (rapping). To add to the pressure, another good friend, Creature and his band Rebelmatic were performing right before us. He's one of the best performers I know, and his band kicks ass, luckily I love a challenge. I heard Ant bang his sticks 4 times and I blacked out. The next thing I remember it's the middle of the set and I'm yelling “FEAR IS!” and the crowd screaming “DEAD!” over and over. I remember people jumping on each other, I remember big smiles and shocked faces, people coming in to take a closer look and 1 or 2 walking out the door, the crowd loved us, it was awesome.


Present day


A lot has happened over the course of this year, and a lot has changed since that first show. I have learned a lot, about music, about my friends /band mates, and about myself, but most important of all, I've come to understand and accept that life is about change. That no matter how unsettling it may seem, change is needed to grow, to evolve. No matter how much we want to hold on to what we know, to what we want or think we need, we only end up hurting ourselves by being scared to move on. What happens next is necessary …....


I barely noticed time sneak by, and despite all our hardships, we achieved our goal, Fear Is Dead.




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