Todd Michael Schultz talks to us about music, family, and manhood.
Todd Michael Schultz was born to Emmy Award winning producer Bill Schultz, and his college sweetheart Tracie. When he was a toddler, he picked up a sense of melody by listening to his father improvise and write on the piano. By 14, he wrote his first fully strucutred song on paper. While that song is lost in the past, Todd continued working on his skill, teaching himself the piano at age 18.
At the same time he was studying creative writing at The University of Iowa, he was becoming a prolific and masterful pop song writer.
In 2007, he was able to lend his talents as a songwriter toward writing the theme song for the international, award-winning, series SsamSam. 2011 saw his return to working in the music for television when he co-wrote the theme songs for Rob Dyrdek’s Wild Grinders and Home Plate Entertainment. He will additionally be contributing songs to Archie Comics’ new incarnation of Josie and the Pussycats as well as having recently finished his first pop single and video ‘You Believed in Me.’
Savas Abadsidis caught up with Todd to talk about manhood and being good.
Who taught you about manhood growing up?
Well that’s a tough question to answer because what is “manhood” anyway? In my opinion, manhood ought to describe claiming responsibility for your life and securing yourself financially and emotionally enough to enter in to free society with confidence. If you’re asking if I had any role models that taught me that, no.
However, I think a lot of my moral compass has been defined by osmosis from my mother. I think we’re a lot alike in some ways. I think she’s got a great emotional intelligence that is not common. I think she’s great to talk to, because she gets a lot about life. She’s been through a lot, and she can empathize with a good deal of people. She’s so interested in other cultures and other ways of life, and she’s so fascinated by it, that she gets to envy it. One year when I was growing up, we saw the movie “For Richer or Poorer” and she became obsessed with the Amish. We watched “Witness” together. She bough a ton of books about the Amish. Great books, too. She always been a reader, too. She’s so fascinated by other lives. She loves biographies and I think a lot of my curiosity in other people comes from her. I didn’t even realize that until now. But I have always been interesting in other people and how they do things.
Also, there was one guy, his name is Wes Clemens, he’s a baseball coach, (some major league teams, some minor league teams) he used to tell me, when I was playing baseball, “Hit the ball like a man!” You know, I resented it then, becauase I was no good at baseball, but Wes was a good guy, and what he meant by “hit the ball like a man,” is to hit with all you got. Which is exactly how you ought to live your life in a way that “manhood” is acheived.
Sure, there were some who thought I wasn’t “man enough” as a kid, and who think I’m not “man enough” now. I’m still growing up at the age of 25. I wanna give a shoutout to all my brothers who are still growing up at the age of 25. We shall prevail my brothers. We shall prevail. It’s 30 when you start to “get it.” Remember that!
What three words describe your dad?
Smart, stubborn, and a “You never stray from the mission!” attitude. (sorry if that last one was a lot of words.)
He was a very positive role model for you?
My siblings are currently a great role model for me. My father, of course, is a good role model. My mother teaches tolerance, and acceptance, so she’s definitley a role model. And somewhat of an activist. She supports her children 100 percent.
Celebrity role models? Chris Rock? I don’t freaking know. Bret Easton Ellis, who’s a friend of mine is a great role model. Who else? Wes Clemens was a good role model in ways.
My older brother, Brad Schultz (if you look him up, he’s had a ton of press), worked his way up to a president status by the age of 27. He heads up the U.S. division of Moshi Monsters, it comes from a huge company called Mind Candy based in the U.S. Right now my brother is in the U.K. working with the headquarters. My brother has a huge responsibility. He’s really come into his own, . I really think children are supposed to learn enough from their parents to then be able to grow further and right now, my older brother is giving my 4 time Emmy winning father a run for his money. As is my twin sister.
My sister, Tara, has got a great licensing job with So So Happy. She didn’t even get a degree, and she makes more money than most people at 25. She’s also been all around the world (You wouldn’t believe the list of countries she’s gone for work.) I find my sister to be an excellent role model. She’s an independent woman, and there’s no doubt about that.
My little brother, who is super smart, and graceful and tactful (he helps me be tactful all the time.) His name is Ben Schultz. He’s going to surpass us all, sometimes I think.
My friend Elizabeth, who had a dream of opening up a top rated astrology website (called “Addicted To Astrology”), and she achieved it in just a year. That has had a huge influence on me. Seeing someone follow through with their dreams, and get it done, is remarkable. I love following those types of stories, ya know, people succeeding at what they love. I love that. It’s the American Dream and it’s still alive, I know it. You just gotta go for it and not let anyone tell you no, just like the people I’ve talked about.
What is the best advice he ever gave you?
Oh, I’m sorry, I gave a lot of role models. But what’s the best advice i’ve ever gotten. Be persistent. Look forward. I don’t know who told me that, either.
Who are the best men you know of? How do they earn that distinction?
The best men I know are my brothers, Brad Schultz and Ben Schultz. The writer, Bret Easton Ellis. My father, of course.
I would be remiss if I didnt single out my collaborator, Jaco Caraco. He is going to be one of the biggest rock stars ever. And he is endlessly talented. I actually admire him more than anybody, because he can, by himself, what most of us only dream of. We wrote the theme song for Wild Grinders, Rob Dyrdek’s newest cartoon, Wild Grinders. It was my dad, me, and Jaco. And we wrote a song, and left Jaco to produce it. This song sounded so good to me when I heard it, I felt elated.
I have to say Rob Dyrdek is an interesting story. The guy is utterly talented as a skateboarder and a businessman (not to mention comedian and everything else.)
How do you see the role of men changing in America?
It’s hard to answer that question. I think we’ll continue to maintain our “manly” standards unless an alien lifeforce comes and takes over the earth. Then, we’ll all be the same.
What advice would you give teenage boys trying to figure out what it means to be a good man?
Be productive. Get things done. Don’t waste your time, lest it pass you by. You can do it. And you can do it right now. I believe in you.
What’s been the biggest mistake in your life, and what did you learn from it?
Not going after my music dreams harder. Not believing in myself. Worrying about the future. Those are my biggest mistakes. Of course there are the mistakes where you drink too much, or you become friends with someone and it ends up biting you in the ass, but the biggest mistakes, are those ones that took over periods of time, where so much could have been done.
Have you been more successful in your public or private life?
Private life. I am in the best relationship I’ve ever been in. I feel so lucky to have an individual I can talk, sing with, read to, read from, and on and on. My public life, I’ve had a couple of issues here and there, but I like to look forward and never back. (Unless I need to.)
What is the your most cherished possession as a guy?
Instruments. Guitar or piano.
How is a friendship with another guy different than friendship with women? Or have you just always been more of a guy’s guy when it came to friends?
Guys. I love guys. I’ve had female best friends, many times. I like both. I just like people that dig me. I’m easy to befriend. I’m kind of a loner a little bit, but I think I’ll break out of my shell.
When was the last time you cried?
Probably a few days ago. I’m not ashamed to admit, I am sensitive and I get anxiety. I take care of it with medicine and my Wii Fit.
What do you think of the stereotype of the tough man who doesn’t cry?
Well, everyone has cried. But it is true, that some men, don’t cry. I think the men I’ve known in my life, that i’ve loved, have be very un-narcicistic. They don’t cry, because they understand that bad things happen, and bad things happen to everyone, and crying doesn’t solve many problems. So I would like to be one of those men who don’t cry, but I’m not.
Check out Todd’s music video, “You Believed In Me.”