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Meet Eric Spivak of GorillaMic in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Spivak

So, before we jump into specific questions about the practice, why don’t you give our readers a few quick bullet points about you and your story.
+ Born in Chicago, IL
+ Raised in Tampa, FL
+ Cultivated in New York, NY
+ Mixed in Austin, TX
+ Mastered in Los Angeles, CA
& Distributed Worldwide

Maybe I was born a hustler or perhaps it’s from growing up with a single mother and always wanting to step in to take a load off her back. You’d be amazed at all the innovative things I did as a kid to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. Countless stories of me beating the system or manipulating situations to make sure I was taken care of first and foremost. One example would be embarrassing my mother by getting filthy digging under the vending machines in her office cafeteria, scraping together the loose change that rolled beneath and checking all the coin-returns, from laundromats to arcades.

Whenever I found out a new way of making a little extra cash, I’d definitely do it until I couldn’t anymore. Those days were very much innocent though, there came a point where my hunger was so insatiable that there was no room for integrity. I was constantly being suspended from school for my stunts and challenging authorities, risking my own safety and well-being, as well as facing much larger repercussions as I got older. I’d say one of my lowest points was stealing from my mom’s purse, then maybe taking advantage of employers and justify it as them being corporate and it not hurting them.

Growing up was pretty crazy, I ran bootlegs blogs, sold weed, had my entire bus transfer station supplied with 7-11 coolers full of chips, candies and sodas that I’d pay the drivers to distribute. From Valentine’s Day mixtapes to check fraud and a lot more than basically would’ve resulted in me locked up or dead by age 18. Luckily around age 17 I grew out of that phase and started to use my powers for good.

I started making money legitimately through an online game where I ran a collective of 200 people spread across the globe called Everquest. Then I’d also freestyle rap in chat rooms and charge kids to join my private servers to listen to me Rap for hours on end and occasionally do prank calls to unsuspecting businesses. It was interesting, compelling, legitimate storytelling comparable to a TED Talk or Moth Story, except I was in control of the sound effects and would break a bottle or make a thump with a 24pack of water to create sound effects for my listeners/audience. Needless to say, my imagination and creativity played big roles in my upbringing.

As for how I got here, I suppose I’m pretty fucking stubborn and get bored easily. So it helps that I have so many passions, allowing me to be flexible with putting one thing down and returning to it later, or starting something new altogether and not feeling like I’m neglecting anything else. A lot of whats gotten me to where I’m at is the fact that I enjoy challenges. I don’t think I’ve ever started playing a game on easy or normal mode, it was always a moment of let’s attempt the highest difficulty because if you can win on that level, you’ve got no reason to go back.

That mentality played a unique role in me winning, and a lot in very interesting things from Emcee Battles, to Punt, Pass & Kick Competitions (football), Three-Point Contests (basketball), Swimming races, Billiards & Poker Tournaments, soccer competitions and beyond. I’m definitely a non-believer of the whole crawl before you walk and walk before you run thing, although my hunger to be better than others has definitely shifted as I’ve become much more collaborative than competitive.

Being able to use creative strategy to fix problems and provide solutions has become a little bit of a calling to this point. I’d say 90% of my business is word of mouth or referral based. Those positive references existing from the numerous times where people have had their back against the wall with a sword to their throat. I’d always fight for the underdog, defend the person being bullied, fight for justice and fairness. I’d have to say a lot of where I’m at today has to do with my consistency on delivering on my words. I can’t begin to remember when I started holding myself accountable for them but I do vividly remember when I used to have an answer for everything (even if or when I was wrong).

So I suppose it came from being let down so much by others who didn’t walk their talk and my own personal expectations of not wanting to disappoint those who invest trust, resources or interest in me that I’ve kinda become this dynamic get out of jail free card for people. I got to where I am by trusting my instincts and intuition, being responsible for my words, actions and holding others accountable for theirs whether in a high-powered room of suits or post-event at 6 am explaining to a 7-foot tall security guard his pay is docked because he was 2hrs late for the warehouse party.

It’s funny because I vividly remember working at Red Lobster in Inglewood, taking my entire paycheck and weeks worth of tips to play cards across the street at the Hollywood Park Casino. Sometimes I’d lose and have to pick up every single person’s shift possible to make that money back.

While throwing parties on weekends or getting myself booked to perform. Other times, I’d win big and literally call out for weeks at a time, and ball out taking care of everyone’s drinks & meals like I knew no better because growing up I never really had the opportunity to spoil my friends. I could tell you stories on stories from Target to Chili’s to Best Buy, Papa Johns, Kirby Vacuums, BJ’s Brewhouse, DJ’ing Strip Clubs, Drug Things to Club Scenes, Poker Games and just so much more where I learned lifelong lessons that have made me who I am today.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
If these shoes could talk, they’d say the roads never been smooth and still isn’t. I Grew up without a father figure or sense of family, These last few years have been especially trying in many ways. I’ve had relationships with business partners go awry, literally leaving me with nothing from the nearly 6 figure company we built. My first house and attempt at a recording studio in Mar Vista/Venice completely destroyed while an ex-con broke into my place after stealing a neighbors car, all while I was co-promoting a Slick Rick show at Drai’s on the rooftop of the W in Hollywood.

That might lead me to move in with my ex-gf instead of couch surfing. In the last 15 years of my life, I’ve had 3 businesses just disappear in front of me, regardless of how well I protected the investments… I’ve been blacklisted from bookings, greenlit by gangsters, had my life threatened, had my character challenged more than a few times.

Got robbed in Austin after throwing a warehouse party during SXSW and had to borrow money to get home. I’ve had cops toss my car keys off the George Washington bridge and tow my car with a wallet inside while I walk to a train station to get to a tow yard and sleep on their couch for half a day waiting on my car to only have it arrive damaged. I was homeless for a month or so after a 3-year breakup, sleeping in my car and at friends til an amazing girl I recently met let me stay at her place for a month straight, secretly til her roommate wanted to give me the boot.

I had one of the best dance parties in LA for a while that was produced by my ex and I also have to come to an end with that relationship. I went to jail three times in the same year, a place I had previously gone my entire life without seeing and for things that really were avoidable but I’m a nice guy who puts others first regardless of thinking of how something could be to my own detriment… I got into a few dumb incidents with the law that I’m still paying for today… From scam artists to shady nightclubs to bad friends, shitty landlords and more I really should be focused on finishing my book, but each day brings more incredible situations good and bad. (These days, mostly good – thankfully).

The most physically and emotionally trying moment I’ve faced was after my near fatal car accident in 2016. I left LA for a funeral, and when you’re with family you tend to be up early and late each day. The day of service I had to come back, when I arrived back in LA I slept for a few hours. Woke up to my reminder that an artist I liked and have booked a few times named Thavius Beck was performing at Low-End Theory, a place I’ve considered home for many years and was always treated with so much love and respect.

I brought an artist I was working with and 2 other friends who’d never been with me, after LET, we went to Chinatown to pop into another spot where I’ve got friends who are behind the scenes running the place called Melody Lounge, still sober and not thinking about the lack of sleep I got. My friends all went separate ways, I dropped off the last girl after talking music in the car for an addtl hour and headed home. On my way, I fell asleep behind the wheel, slammed into a pole not even 5 minutes from my place.

Totaling my vehicle, popping the airbag, fracturing both rib cages, breaking my hip bone into pieces, pinned between the steering wheel and seat. Later that night, I survived a heart operation after they said I had a traumatic aortic rupture. The condition is frequently fatal due to the profuse internal bleeding that results from the rupture. It’s a rare, and extremely dangerous condition being that it’s dealing with your bodies largest artery. The ER and surgical team at Cedar-Sinai saved my life and told me that I wouldn’t be able to walk for close to 2 years. I was devastated, distraught, depressed, and dependent on everyone besides myself.

Which I’ve spent my whole life being independent, since dropping out of high school in my sophomore year. I sound like a broken record when I talk about the negative aspects of this whole time, so I really feel like putting them down here would trigger some people and likely send me into a not so happy place again so we won’t touch too deeply on it.

The amount of visitors I had lead to all the staff questioning who I was, what I did if I was a celebrity or person of interest over and over again. I literally have it etched in my head at this point of saying “I’m just a good person, who does good things for good people.”

I’m extremely grateful and lucky that after leaving the hospital after a week and a couple days, then being home on nearly a handful of meds per day for 9 months. That I had the support of friends and family who came to visit me daily. Some cooking in my kitchen and spending the night, others literally coming straight from LAX while on tour to visit with gifts and leaving within 20 minutes later. I had a friend who was a personal trainer and another, a physical therapist & chiropractor…

People like this providing free services to help me get back on my feet + the tons of people who hit my www.gofundme.com/ericspivak absolutely played a significant role in my healing process. The stories people were telling me of myself when I was immobilized in bed unable to turn, laugh cry or even sneeze without snapping my ribs open again were really giving me chills, while simultaneously warming my heart. I eventually tapered off of the meds with the help of edibles from my cousins Jeff’s company. Did the whole wheelchair to walker to crutches thing, and had to accept the fact that my body is never going to be the same, but my perception of myself was changed forever.

The experience was extremely humbling, real, and I’ve already been able to help others suffering from chronic pain, mental illness, self-doubt and depression alongside other things while sharing my story with them. Now accompanied by a scar that runs like a centipede from my right kneecap to my lower back, a new lease on life. Before the accident, I maintained a grateful attitude and generosity was at an all-time high.

Post-op I was rewarded with the opportunity to see how many people I’ve touched and impacted, and how many truly believe in me and care, way beyond the surface about my personal success and well-being. Resilience is the name of the game, and luckily because of social media – I had not only enough support to move mountains, but people physically seeing my progress daily from the gym to therapy to cutting off meds etc. I’d imagine it was like a timelapse of seeing a flower go from seed to full bloom. We’ll see what that looks like soon enough as all the footage is sitting around on hard drives from exported snapshots.

Please tell us about GorillaMic.
I’ve been called everything from a serial entrepreneur, dot-connector, influencer, trendsetter, gatekeeper, workaholic and conduit. Although all of the various businesses intersect with a similar foundation that includes creative expression in the forms of Art, Music, Fashion & Design. I’ve been rapping for a decade, DJ’ing for about half that, Editor for The World Famous Beat Junkies for a year, Strictly Beats for a decade & Frank151 briefly. I’ve had the luxury and privilege of working alongside The Low-End Theory Crew for their festival, Project Blowed, even hosted a 3-day open mic while Fat Beats on Melrose was in its final days.

I work with just about every nightlife entity in LA from Beat Cinema, to Dripped Fashion Show & Disco Dining Club to Ham On Everything, Late Night Laggers, Restless Nites, upward to curating stages at Echo Park Rising, Eagle Rock Music Fest, Powerfest and galleries during our Artwalk. I’ve got necklaces called Last Rounds, an exclusive designer drug / marijuana preroll line called That’s Dope, a growing capsule collection of gloves, hats, jackets, shoes and other custom goods. I’m the co-founder of an amazing studio and workspace in Downtown Los Angeles and just helped launch Rose Studios with Emilynn Rose, where I’m now a booking manager. I have my full-service event production company of 8 years called GorillaMic.

Run one of the best hip-hop parties in LA called Bananas with my partner Verbs and our team of residents (as deemed by LA Times, Weekly, KCET & more) we reach our 10 Year Anniversary in September. I used to do one of the best dance parties in the city with similar accolades called FlyBall (Fly: Fashionable/Ball: Gala). I’m launching some new stuff soon to replace said event like All My Friends Are Famous, O4TH (One For The Homies), and a women’s festival called Daughters. Without sounding arrogant, I’m commonly introduced as “Spiv” or ‘Eric” the guy that does everything. My old cards also used to say, “Whatever you need, whenever, wherever I’ve got you covered”. I would literally tell people to try hitting me up at odd hours with random requests to see how serious I was about being able to deliver and follow through, each and every time with anything.

I guess I enjoy coming through for people, especially in a town where the majority over promises and under delivers. It’s now turned into a bit of a regular gig, or calling card as I receive calls from NY / Interscope for 64 Impala’s for CardiB or YoGotti, Mansions for Jeremih, Venues for Def Jam or G.O.O.D. Music and beyond. There’s a long list of notable characters I’ve worked with, some I’ve gotten signed, others I’ve provided a handful of first show for, and through it all – I’m just thankful that my name resonates well far beyond the bubble that is LA, and I really appreciate and value everyone who’s continued to speak well on of me as I bleed for this city that stole my heart on the first date when I flew out here from New York.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc?
This is another one of those where it’s more like what ‘don’t I do. I’d say I specialize in Marketing, have been focused on Graphic Design, Branding, Presentation, Packaging, and Promotions. Recently have been managing musicians and models, getting them published in high visibility digital and physical publications as well as featured on a couple thousand person-stages, festivals, and creating opportunities for collaboration with extremely well-known and established brands & performers alike. I’d say I’m best known as an expeditor, I make shit happen.

No pressure, no drama, no bullshit, simply what do you need, how do you want it, when do you need it by and dare I say, what’s your budget. Everything is negotiable, flexible and communication is key to understanding and transparency. In my world, presentation is key and it’s all about how you serve it up. I really do my best not to sugarcoat, dilute or beat around the bush – a former business partner of mine said “how you do anything, is how you do everything” and it’s stuck with me ever since.

What are you most proud of as a company?
Never be afraid of the unknown. To many, I’ve been told I’ve accomplished a lot in life.

Especially as young as I am, without a silver spoon, formal education, father figure, siblings or mentors and now with physical disabilities that reside as invisible pain. I reflect on my many ventures and really get excited to see what’s next. The ethos behind all of my businesses has been providing something of value to various communities.

Whether it was my Under Raidar Speakeasy Bar Directory that my former business partner ripped from my hands, or it was my Online Open Mic called Freestyle Madness, connecting aspiring musicians from all over the globe through the platform we created. The dozen-plus warehouses or so I broker to the Los Angeles underground & after hour community all have played impactful roles in the sustainability of nightlife culture.

All while, after the events were able to still feed the homeless, provide sustenance & a little financial support in exchange for them collecting bottles or helping us clean/reset the space(s). There is a very cathartic experience that plays a healthy and holistic role in why I continue to produce events. I am proud of providing platforms and opportunities for people to express themselves on a regular basis, without the judgment of others.

What sets you apart from others?
1. Resilience – We could go way back, but if we just looked at 2016 – 2018 you’d see how many L’s I’ve taken and be in disbelief that I’m still standing. I don’t wanna get too deep, but I’ve gone to jail 3x in the past year. Never in my entire life did I think I’d be locked up, even when my parents saw me rapping in clubs in New York and Los Angeles.

Throwing illegal raves and more. Hell, even the first $20,000 I made this year went straight to my retainer. My health conditions persist to make each night a struggle with chronic pain causing insomnia regardless of every suggested supplement or CBD infused whatever. The list goes on, but the bounce backs strong and I’m just … grateful to be alive.

2. Gratuity – Which is why we are here. I’m appreciative, and thankful for every living breathing day I have on this earth. I have to remind myself and others that your current reality is temporary, and obstacles are illusions that are overridden by your words & mind. When someone gives me $10 I want them to feel like they’ve gotten $100 back if someone gives me $1,000 I want them to feel like they’ve gotten 10k back. My pay it forward mindset kicks in anytime I think about the second and third chances I’ve had especially after being told “I’ll never work in this city again, being spit on, jumped, robbed, gaslit on-air and more. Grateful, ever since.

3. Dedication – My drive is pretty undeniable and loyalty unmatched. Fortunately, I’ve never had a safety net or fallback option so failure, really just wasn’t acceptable in my head. So I’ve been somewhat conditioned to not allow myself to truly experience quitting. I can accept the reality of a situation, and I can definitely take breaks from projects or people, but giving up is just not really part of my wheelhouse. While sometimes I may be down, I know I’ll never be out because I always find lessons to learn from when facing adversity or indifference.

4. Perspective – I think you see a trend how each of these kinda leads to another. While my mom worked for an airline, I really haven’t taken advantage of travel perks nearly as much as I have. Perhaps it’s being born in Chicago, Raised in Tampa, then living in Long Island, then Austin, then off to LA where I started in Venice (house broken into/destroyed forced to move), then Culver (ex-gf), then Koreatown and now Ktown+DTLA. My understanding of other people’s perspectives is one thing that’s made me a very strong leader in everything from team sports to massive online games to managing event staff, and even making executive decisions with our studios.

My outlook remains positive even in the darkest of storms and being able to give real-life examples, helps others broaden their vision. To have the power to help people lower their guard and be vulnerable because they’re listening is one of the most beautiful things I experience on a regular basis. Keep an open mind and heart in order to think differently and you can literally change the world around you whenever you want.

5. Humility/Empathy – If you see how I interact with kids or animals, you’d feel the kindness radiate off of me. If you ask about how many people I’ve let sleep on my floor side by side or stay in my living room. Those whom I’ve given money to or opened doors for. The ones I’ve had to bite my tongue until it bleeds for while I watch them accept awards and acclaim off of my efforts that were all behind the scenes. I’ll just keep this one short and quote Kendrick. be humble. Remember that you have nothing to prove to anyone, but yourself and that can be done in silence.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Caring and sometimes to a fault. perhaps it’s the Scorpio in me, or the stents in my heart or my head just knocked around too much in life, but I care… about the arts, the culture, the community, my friends, my lovers, I care deeply about a lot of things that are unmaterialistic and really just deep down want to help do my part to impact the world in a greater way. From animals, elderly, disabled, women & youth, not to mention the environment, economy, there’s just so much and I’m only one person who wants everyone around me to win.

I’m working extremely hard at this moment to let others know what I need so I can rise to the power of being fully self-expressed and really move mountains in the manner that I’d like to, and I’m always open to meeting new people, seeing new things and having fun in the process – all that said, thank you for reading this and hopefully this helps you at some capacity.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I’d listen more and talk less. I’d put my feelings aside when it comes to business and be a bit more of a shark vs letting emotions change my actions and result in discounting myself on behalf of someone else’s weaknesses. I’d walk with better posture. I wish I spoke with more confidence earlier in life. I would have more courage to pursue my dreams harder, faster, and more unapologetically.

I wish I took more and better care of my mother, I wish her being adopted and her mother died from a drunk driving hit & run wouldn’t have given her trust issues and accelerated her being an introvert. If I recognized these things sooner and earlier in life, I would’ve definitely made changes in my life to help improve hers. I also would’ve made more of an effort earlier on to build a stronger relationship with my father, who while also very accomplished, intelligent, and strong still never really made an effort to be around or help which in turn, I’m a little upset at myself for not turning around and taking the first step to dance, which is normally my approach these days.

Besides that, I don’t think about starting over often because just rolling with the punches and going with the flow is very much responsible for who I am today and I love myself. I do great work, I love what I do, so none of it ever seems like work and I’m rarely stressed out. As long as I’ve got a good team around, amazing women in my life and a decent amount in my bank account I’m cool. As long as I can help others, help others, and see the impact create positive changes. I’m good.

Businesses that make nothing but money are poor businesses anyways, and If we’re a total of the five people we spend the most time with, you couldn’t imagine the company I keep. Anyways, I think that covers everything here if you read this and got something from it, feel free to reach out and tell me what part. If you want me to divulge more about anything, I’m an open book.

Pricing:

  • Consulting – $400 for 2/hr session
  • Branding, Press Kits, Logos, Cards, Web & Graphic Design – $250+
  • Full Service Event Production – $3,000+
  • Promotions, Marketing, PR – $1500+
  • Location Scouting/Venue Rentals & Placements – $1,000+

Contact Info:

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