Erin Keefe: Los Angeles

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Erin is a DJ and Music Producer turned Product Design guy, find out more here. 

What’s your historical Los Angeles and New York connection?
I think my historical connection to big cities has a lot to do with how I was raised. I grew up in an inner-city neighborhood Minneapolis, MN that was pretty rough. Around the age of 10 my family moved to a very small town in WI called Wausau, where my parents grew up and had now decided it was time to return. At the time I was too young to understand what that meant beyond noticing that my older sisters were very upset with my parents! But I think this planted the big city bug in me at a very young age and it was only a matter of time before I found myself trying to “make it” in the city to end all cities. I also had a lot of family in San Diego which we visited a lot as kids. That probably gave me an appreciation for Southern California at a pretty young age.

Describe your experience in LA and your experience in NYC
I think it was my first year out of high school when the “Living in NYC” bug hit me real hard, but it took another 6 years to actually make it a reality. I moved to NY after a brief stint in Chicago making a living as a DJ and music producer, which basically meant I was dead broke all of the time, hah! Having a some close friends that were already out there was the only thing that made it possible. I owe those folks a lot! Every day was a test of character and endurance living in NYC. The city does not go easy on you, but I felt that going from making barely a livable wage in the specialty coffee business to commanding a pretty comfy salary doing product design in the startup world meant that I had shown NYC that I was worthy, and that it was safe for me to move on!
I had never considered LA, but after visiting friends here a few times I came to understand what the fuss was all about. It had a lot of the culture and diversity of NY, but the rent was cheaper and the beach / mountains / desert were only a 45min drive away. Genius! The entrepreneurial energy out here was also very surprising to me. I think it’s a very exciting time to be here, especially as NYC and SF are becoming too crowded / expensive for the kinds of risks necessary to cultivate compelling new businesses & ideas.

What was the biggest challenge of moving from NYC to LA?
Figuring out how to haul all my crap across the country, for sure. That and car shopping. Oh my word, car shopping was so alien to me when I got here!

How can NYC and LA best engage with each other?
I feel like technology is opening so many doors for interesting bi-coastal mashups. Surf shops in Manhattan is a great example. I don’t know if that’s a result of LA/NYC connections, but I think it speaks volumes about the desire for the two coasts to share ideas. The easier it gets to move from one city to the other, the easier it is for weird collaborations to happen. I think both cities could always use a bit more of the others influence.

 Favorite LA secret spot
Mt. Baldy by far. This is a sleepy little mountain town with a small ski resort that’s only about an hour drive from LA. How amazing is that?

Favorite NYC secret spot
Hide-Chan Ramen near 53rd and Lexington in Manhattan. Their Hakata Kuro with ma-yu (black roasted garlic oil) is unreal, as is the Almond Tofu dessert. Skip Ippudo and go here instead.

Inflight Entertainment: tell us what song/album, TV show, podcast, or web videos you’ve been watching lately.
Tycho’s new album Awake just kills me. It’s the perfect soundtrack as you drive out to the desert or the mountains. Also Otto A Totland’s debut full-length Pinô hits the spot when you need some beautiful dusty solo piano to fill your ear drums.

From the 2462 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + LOS ANGELES

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