PIVOTING WITH ... ERIK FELLENSTEIN
Video above: Erik Fellenstein's catchy new single, 'Wings (lemme go).'
Despite the shutdown, it's been wheels-up for busy actor, violinist, filmmaker and cyclist
"Pivoting With ..." is an ongoing series talking with members of the Colorado theatre community about how they are adapting to changes in their creative and personal lives as the COVID pandemic continues. Today: Actor and musician Erik Fellenstein. Visit his website here.
At a glance: Since graduating from Arvada West High School and the University of Denver, young Erik Fellenstein has made his mark on local stages, including the DCPA Theatre Company's "Anna Karenina" and "Indecent," as well as Local Theatre Company's True West Award-winning "Rape of the Sabine Women" and the folk-rock concept musical "Discount Ghost Stories" – often playing violin at the same time. He can be heard on Alexander Sage Oyen's newly released streaming soundtrack to "Discount Ghost Stories” alongside Broadway performers Lachanze, Ben Fankhauser, Shaun Taylor-Corbett and more. He's also performed with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and lists among his special skills: "Can ride a bike while eating a Chipotle burrito."
How would you describe your life B.C. (Before COVID): In the faraway year of 2019, I freelanced as a violinist spending most of my time playing with the hot-club gypsy jazz quartet LAPOMPE. I also was fortunate enough to get acting work with the DCPA and Local theatre companies, in addition to gaining momentum as a filmmaker, mostly specializing in music videos and concert recording.
What have you lost, personally or professionally, since COVID: Nearly all of my income came from live performance in one way or another, so when people could no longer gather safely, I lost just about all of my work.
(Pictured: Erik Fellenstein in the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Indecent.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)
How are you pivoting? I've been lucky enough to get work on various recording projects from voiceover, motion capture, and music videos; to writing, arranging, and performing string parts on locally made records (including Discount Ghost Stories). But I’ve mostly been putting some elbow grease into a solo project, and I’m fortunate to live in a house with three other musician roommates. Together we’ve staved off the sadness and unemployment by making music and ridiculous videos ranging from Jazzercises in our living room to a Blink-182 cover.
'Also ... everyone should ride bikes.'
How can people find your music? You can find a single called “Wings (lemme go)” I recently released on all platforms as Erik Fellenstein (posted at the top of this page). Or, if you’re looking for some swing music vibes, you can find two full albums by LAPOMPE on Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play. The brave-at-heart can watch the ridiculousness I’ve been making with my roommates under “Shermanhaus Boyz” on Facebook or on my YouTube channel under “Erik Fellenstein."
What are your words of encouragement for other local creatives who are now pivoting their way through 2020? Before COVID, there were so many ways to catch inspiration and shake things up. You could snag a concert at a local club, go on a vacation or trade ideas with friends in a bar or over dinner. I recently realized that I’ve been flatlining creatively because I haven’t been able to shake things up in the old ways. It takes more creativity and deliberation now but it’s still possible. From trying new recipes to picking out fresh and interesting books, there are lots of ways to program in time to feed your creative brain. Also ... everyone should ride bikes. It keeps air in the lungs and fingers out of social-media doom scrolls. And it's just the best mode of transportation around.
Read more: How COVID is impacting individual artists
Compiled by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. Are you pivoting? Email John at firstname.lastname@example.org.