Eugene Ahn developed an alter ego to explore his creative side while working for a small litigation and employment law firm in Washington, D.C. The Emory Law grad goes by Adam WarRock in his creative projects, which include musical pursuits and a side gig as a contributor to the FakeAPStylebook Twitter account.
This summer, he let the alter ego take over. After three years with his firm, he quit his job in June to pursue his music full-time.
He caught our ear with this Girl Talk-like mash-up, “Starving Artist”:
He caught the attention of Public Radio International, though, last year with a single entitled Ira Glass, about the host of This American Life. PRI’s CEO liked it so much that she blogged about it. On Friday, Ahn and his Ohio-based DJ released a commercial version of the Public-Radio-praising song.
Ahn’s now giving himself a year to make it in the artistic world. What’s his plan?
In the song Starving Artist, we especially appreciated these lyrics (at the 2:40 mark):
“I went from being a lawyer to being my own employer/
that’s why i need to peddle wares and sell my single here/
so please excuse the shameless self-promotion over strings and stares/
you can guilt to your heart’s content /
i’m still living without repent(ance) /
i’m living with every cent /
i need it to pay the rent/ i need it for live events /
i need it to pay the bills for the money already spent.”
“Money already spent” — like that Emory Law tuition bill? We spoke with Ahn last week and asked how he decided to give up being a well-paid lawyer to become a starving artist. He told us he’s been making music independently since his college days in 2000; it continued to be a side project during law school and during his days at the law firm. “I wanted to do all this stuff but couldn’t because I was working.”
So he quit. He realizes some people will think that was an insane move in this economy. But he says the work was unsatisfying, and “the prospect of being able to do music, freelance writing, and other ventures on and off line made me come to this realization that everything I wanted to do out there in the world was being prevented simply because I had this job. And it was a job that I didn’t really enjoy in the first place.”
For those who would ask “Why’d you want to be a lawyer in the first place?”, he admits he doesn’t have a good answer. “There are things I still very much believe in about the legal profession, and it has undeniably made me a smarter, better organized, savvier person,” said Ahn. “But there is this lack of focus and epidemic of bad management in the legal industry that makes it unbearable to people who, like me, can visualize and see things beyond a paycheck and a secure lifestyle.”
And where does the name “Adam WarRock” come from? “It’s a variation on a Marvel Comics character Adam Warlock,” he told us. After hearing Ahn complain that law school had crushed his creativity, a comic-book-loving friend suggested Ahn come up with an alter ego to channel his creative super powers. Ahn started a website using the WarRock pseudonym to keep his rapping from being associated with his real name and possibly interfering with his legal career.
“It kind of stinks for me now, though, because I have stuff all over the place [under different names],” said Ahn. “Now that I’ve quit [the law firm], I wish I could merge it all back together, but I can’t.”
Maybe it’s for the best. Ahn can afford to take off from work for a year using his savings and a little revenue stream from his FakeAPStylebook work — the Twitter feed started as a joke among friends, but has now turned into a book deal. He’s putting out an album in September and then planning to tour. If his career doesn’t take off, he may go back to the law, but if he does, the former Obama campaign worker wants it to be on the policy side.
“I hope I’m on the verge of making it big. But maybe I’ll have to go back and get an office job at some point,” said Ahn. “But right now is probably my last chance to spend time jumping around on stage.”
“Ira Glass” is now available for a buck [Adam WarRock]
A Rap on Public Radio and an Ode to Ira Glass!!! [Global Matters Post]
Adam WarRock Talks (and raps … and podcasts … and writes); a Conversation with Eugene Ahn [Osmosis Online]