Greg Cipes balances music and a busy life
By Naughty Mickie

Greg Cipes is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and actor. He has appeared on the television shows "House," "Ghost Whisperer," "Without a Trace" and "Deadwood," as well as has done voiceovers for several animated series on the Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. Cipes has also surfed professionally and now regularly practices yoga.. He is deeply spiritual and claims to "do everything in the service of God."

In addition to his many talents, Cipes offers the lead vocals and rhythm guitar for Cipes and the People, a pop/rock/reggae group with eight other core members-- lead guitarist Eric Soulivin, steel drummer PanHead, bassist Jesse Charland, drummer Blake Colie, keyboardist Antoinette Hall (Roots Dawtah), backup vocalists Jaclyn Whitman and Tracy Chapman and The General, Evolve. The band's fan base increased rapidly after being featured on the MTV reality series, "Twentyfourseven." This brought more that 200,000 visitors to check out their music on MySpace, which had named them as its number one unsigned reggae band earlier this year. Their latest effort is "The Conscious Revolution" (KG2 Music).

I ask Cipes to tell me how he got to this point in his life.

"I had a very big family, I had 10 brothers and sisters," begins Cipes. "Naturally we would have our own inner-family band and have our own little plays, so acting and singing and playing instruments has always been around. Most of my brothers and sisters are older and they were always in bands in school, so playing music has always been around me. But the real inspiration for playing music came from going to the Bahamas my whole life, starting at two months old I would go there. And the reggae, the spirit, the happiness, the revolutionary rhythm of spirit and the message of reggae got stuck in me ever since and it's been
growing the whole time.

"At the same time, the acting has always been hand-in-hand with that and eventually at some point in my life, probably seven or eight years ago, I realized that they are to work together, they really fuel each other and it's been proven that way so far in my career. So many of the acting gigs that I get now, they tie in my music with it. And then the acting career brings people to the music."

"I started (playing music) with trying to play guitar," Cipes continues. "I had a guitar my whole life and it would just sit in my room and I was like, 'Maybe I'm not supposed to play it' because it was really hard and maybe my fingers are too short or I'm just not meant to play it. So I've had a guitar my whole life and eventually at 21 years old, right when I moved to California, I was up in the Hollywood Hills living in Warren G's (rap artist and hip-hop producer) house and I picked up my guitar and I was like, 'I'm going to do this' and it just started happening. I started playing. But it's really always about singing. I really started doing musical
theater. I worked on my voice first."

"I went about a year and a half worth of college. I worked at the radio station. I had some classes, but I never went," Cipes laughs. "I had my own radio show at FAU, Florida Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, I would do my radio show and then go swim at the college pool and then I would go to my film class and go surfing. Then I was like, 'OK, I'm out of here,' and I came out to California and the rest is history.

"I worked at a surf shop, that's it. Right when I came out here I started working and two weeks after I moved out here I booked a Warner Bros. pilot," states Cipes. "I stopped professionally surfing. It was more of junior pro, I guess you could call it pro. I was ranked as a junior pro, I was third in the U.S. But then I decided I needed to really focus on the acting and the music because what people hear and see is how their mind works and I really wasn't able to affect people with my surfing.

"When I'm not doing music and acting, which is very rarely at this moment in my life, literally actually there's nothing I'm doing other than that. I fly right now and I'm going back and forth every couple weeks, I do a lot of cartoons, I have a series I'm recording right now and we're doing another 'Teen Titans' movie. There's nothing I do other than the music and the acting and that is my joy, there's nothing I'd rather be doing, but if there was something it would be surfing."

I want to know how Cipes writes and where he finds his inspiration.

"I find that I can write about anything anytime. I find inspiration everywhere and in everything," says Cipes. "There's been periods in my life when I've woken up in the middle of the night many times and basically the pen started writing pages and pages and I have no control over that. There's times when a message will come to me out of the blue in the middle of the day, any time of
the day, anywhere, whether it's like a line or a certain message I want to get across in a song or it's a beat that a producer produced for me and then I would write to that. But usually it's me messing around on the guitar and I write just me and my guitar."

"Let me elaborate a little on the writing." Cipes goes on, "There's infinite things to write about when you realize you're everywhere and you're everything and you're living in God's hug. So there's no such thing as negativity or hell or anything bad, it's all just messages. You can sing about everything and put it in the right light and learn from it. There's so much to sing about and talk about."

I remark to Cipes that he seems to be a very positive person.

"We don't have a choice, we really have no choice. Association is everything." Cipes explains, "Our mind's function is desire and our desire is driven by our association and therefore association determines our reality because we flower our association. And that's the hardest thing, I'm by no means perfect. It really has everything to do with everything. What you're putting in your body for food, the music you're listening to, what you're watching on TV, sharing with your friends, billboards you're looking at, magazines, whatever. It's really hard to not be distracted or to protect yourself from something you don't necessarily want to be.

"But at the same time, I'm really working on it myself. I ate a donut this morning, which really hurt me, I have a headache right now," admits Cipes. "I couldn't stop the temptation to have a donut. I eat raw most of the time, I eat 90 percent raw and organic and then sometimes I'll have a basket of French fries or a donut and I'll enjoy it, but then I pay a price. It now happens because I'm aware of what it does to your conscious and you're going to pay the price. I can't ignore it any more. I'll say, 'It's fine, I'm going to be OK. It won't affect me,' but sure enough it affects me hard."

We discuss  "The Conscious Revolution" and how its first single, "Free Me," charted very well.

"We're just really trying to build up the momentum of the Conscious Revolution," states Cipes."That's the name of the first album, but it's also a lifestyle and a movement, there will always be a conscious revolution that we're representing. And again, it's about awareness of association and God's in you everywhere and everything and it's time to being happy. That's what this music has really done for people more so than anything, people are feeling happy after listening to this, feeling better about life.

"I did some collaborations on this last album with Jesse McCartney. Our song, 'Rescue,' on there, it's me, Jesse McCartney and Bob Marley. Bob Marley didn't really have a choice, we just threw him on a track," laughs Cipes.

There are other guests on the album as well.

Cipes and the People is a major act in the sense of attaining national status, yet they retains their indie DIY roots.

"It's a blessing because it really allows me to keep creative control," comments Cipes. "That's what it's come down to. I've been approached by the major labels, but people always wanted to change me music and tell me what to do. Greg Whitman has always stood by me saying I want you to have what you think this music should be and what's in your heart. He's supported my vision and that's what you would want as an artist, but that's impossible to get that just for an artist just coming out and he's given that to me."

Being a busy person myself, I'm always curious as to how other people balance their hectic lives.

"It has to do with just not stopping," replies Cipes. "I get burned out and I get worn down, but I wake up the next morning and I'm fine. People have been telling me to be careful because I've worn myself down so many times, recently especially because how busy we've been getting, but I just know can't stop and it's paying off and it's getting done. The music is spreading and the acting career is growing and it's what I love doing so I can get through the fatigue and whatever it may be, I just know I can't stop.

"And everybody, most people tell me that they couldn't do it and I consider it as messages from God, 'Don't ever quit, don't stop, don't stop what you're doing.' And I take that to heart because I feel that it's a quick mission here on earth, we're only here for a hundred seconds and we have to fulfill our mission. Our new mission is when everybody starts listening to it." Cipes goes on, "Whether I leave my body today, tomorrow or a hundred years, we are eventually going to leave and we don't know what's going to be, so you've really got to work. Especially in this day and age, this time, it's such a crucial time. Our planet changes every hour, a place that is aware and awake and living in respect and love. When you hear the radio or go to the movies, most of the time they're not spreading that message. We have this tremendous responsibility and mission to be able to switch the
consciousness.

"It's because of my spirituality. It's only because of my connection with Jesus or Krishna or Buddha or certain prophets who have been on the planet, for instance, my spiritual master,  A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, he really gives me so much strength." Cipes explains, "He's a swami-saint from India, he moved down in '78. He's responsible for bringing the Krishna Conscious, this movement, to the western world. All Krishna Consciousness is is God consciousness, God's everywhere
and in everything and we've got to realize that. Hinduism has definitely helped me a lot and so has Christianity and just connection to our higher self and the higher vibrations that are really accessible all over the place. I have connected with these channels to keep me healthy, keep me going and keep me inspired. I'm constantly getting messages through these channels whether it's Jesus
or Prabhupada or Krishna or Buddha or just my inner-self telling me. All I know is what I feel. I don't know anything but what I feel, it's the only thing I can go by and it's always changing."

Cipes continues to work as an actor and tour with his band. He already has most of the material for his next album.

"Everything is possible," Cipes says. "Keep the faith and realize I am you, you are me and we are it. It never ends, love is eternal and love is our soul, so we just keep going on and on and on together. There ain't no other place to be than right here right now, so it's time to come together and make a change and start loving one another. That's what the Conscious Revolution is all about and I'll never stop transmitting that message and making music."

Find out more about Cipes and the People at www.myspace.com/cipesandthepeople

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