Q&A with Actor and Co-Founder of Full Circle Venice, ANDREW KEEGAN – Talks Bringing Music, Spirituality and Love To The Community.
Posted On 22 Jan 2015
Tag: Activ888, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Andrew Keegan, Baja, Bhakti, Bhakti Fest, Bhakti Festival, Brightside, dharma, DJ Marques Wyatt, DJ Sol Rising, Eduardo Manilla, Elijah Raye, energy exchange, Envision, Envision Festival, Full Circle, Full Circle Farm, Full Circle Venice, Genius Loci, God's Whisper, good intentions, Gunnar Lovelace, Henry Pope, Herizen, Hozier, I Believe in the Good Things Coming, instrumentalist, Jason Mraz, Jim Morrison, Jr., karma, Keith Harkins, Kelly Tatera, La Bamba, Man in the Mirror, manifest, Martin Luther King, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Matthew John, meditation, Mexico, Michael Franti, Michael Jackson, Michael Vincze, Millenial Magazine, Nahko Bear, Obsidian, Ojai, Purple Mountain Magesty, Purple Mountain Majesty, Raury, Resonate, Rising Appalachia, Ritchie Valens, Sons of the Earth, sound journeying ceremonies, spirit music, spirited music, Take Me To Church, TCMT, That Cool Music Thing, The LuvAmp Project, The Makes, The Mowglis, Tina Malia, Trevor Hall, Venice, vibe, www.fullcirclevenice.org
In a world filled with random acts of hate, inequality and violence, peace seems like an altogether pipe dream far off in the distant future. And though society may laugh at the notion of “hippie dippy” communal “oneness” among all humans, there are thriving and inspiring global communities promoting peace and love everyday.
- Kelly Tatera, Millenial Magazine
At the heart of Los Angeles’ legendary Venice Beach, there are a group of kindred spirits on a mission to build a new framework for their community. My friend had told me about an encounter she had at a festival called Genius Loci in Baja, Mexico where she met actor, Andrew Keegan, 35, and who has urbanized his wisdom with his non-profit, Full Circle Venice.
While many may remember Andrew as “Joey ‘Eat Me’ Donner” from 90s flick 10 Things I Hate About You, he’s made a full transformation to devote his life to a movement he values as more authentic and meaningful than the life of fame and fortune Hollywood has to offer.
Vice Media recently depicted Full Circle as a type of religious cult, but Andrew assures, “there’s a much more genuine story than what’s been put out there so far.” Instead of providing lists of ways people should act, Full Circle is focused on cultivating culture in Venice Beach and doing productive activities as community-shared experiences.
Andrew gets right to the point: “Everybody’s been talking about peace. Well, that requires actual work.” And a lot of it. Fortunately, Full Circle has a congregation of people who are willing to put forth that work. In just five months, Full Circle Venice has blossomed into a vibrant reality.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa had a chance to ask Andrew a few questions, read more below as he talks more about bringing music, spirituality and love to the community:
Hi Andrew! How are you doing today? What’s on your agenda today besides our interview?
I’m doing great! I’m answering these questions on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day actually. It’s a day when we should, of course, pay tribute to his legacy, but also be mindful about what our own unique purpose is in life. There’s a divine mission that each of us is on; King accepted his fully and in doing so, he transformed an entire nation. If we all embraced the fullness of our possibility we’d live in a radically different world.
My agenda for today includes addressing the myriad events that are coming up for us here at Full Circle. Every day brings with it an array of co-creative characters, each with their own talents and energies. Earlier today we talked with a young singer who is scheduling an album release party here. There’s always something exciting happening!
In 2014, you founded Full Circle can you explain to our readers what Full Circle is all about?
First, let me explain exactly what Full Circle Venice is. We’re a non-profit, non-denominational spiritual community center where people of all beliefs and backgrounds come together to meditate, practice yoga, and engage artistically. We have a weekly yoga and meditation program and also host a variety of high vibe, spiritually-centered events.
What was the catalyst or inspiration that made you want to create something like this?
As far as the catalyst, it was really about my stepping into what I know my purpose is and having trust in the path that was unfolding before me. I’ve lived in Venice for 15 years, and have known so many creative people. This is a special place—a spot where ideas in art, music, politics, and spiritual advancement originate and then emanate out to the rest of the country. There’s an authentic desire in the community for a way that we can all achieve a higher vision; I saw my role as facilitating a physical space where this can happen—a place where people can co-create. Then a spot opened up last April—a 110 year-old temple just blocks from the ocean that’s as old as the city itself. It just sort of happened without me realizing the full force of it initially.
In terms of how it came about, there’s actually an interesting bit of lineage with respect to the name Full Circle. Gunnar Lovelace, who co-founded the organization here in Venice with me, grew up in Ojai in a community known as Full Circle Farm which started over 35 years ago.
How did you come up with the name and who else help to bring this all into fruition?
The name “full circle” expresses several notions that we find important and relevant in this project: karma, dharma, energy exchange, etc. The moniker reminds people that what goes around comes around. If you act with good intentions, you’re likely to manifest good in your life.
There is a literal aspect to this, too. Every Sunday we create a full circle of people during our Activ888 meditation and sound journeying ceremonies. It’s open to everyone; a diverse group of people sits together to converse, meditate, and experience music.
There are many co-creators at our space who bring their unique gifts. It’s really all of us stepping up, aligning possibility with purpose.
Full Circle offers a Friday night weekly event called, That Cool Music Thing (TCMT). Can you tell our readers more about TCMT and other music events offered at Full Circle?
That was a weekly event that we were doing last year that brought singers and songwriters together in a specific format of doing one song at a time. With the new year, we’re shifting things a bit, but plan to have a monthly music event started up soon. We want this space to be welcoming, and there’s no warmer force than music. The idea is to have the space opened up to local musicians that are high vibe whose sounds elevate spirits and lift people’s energy. Spirited music is the key; it’s important that we align our mission with the vibrations and the message of our organization.
We’re also going to be hosting special music events. In April, Tina Malia will be playing at Full Circle. She’s a multi-talented singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. Her styles range from electronic to pop to world devotional. Her unique creative energy is exactly the sort of vibe we seek out at Full Circle Venice.
Who are some of the artists and musicians who have come through and performed at Full Circle? How do you and your team select or find these performers and artists?
We’ve had an incredible mix of talent come through our space! Brightside, Keith Harkins, Tina Malia, Rising Appalachia, DJ Sol Rising, DJ Marques Wyatt, Elijah Raye, The Makes, The LuvAmp Project, Sons of the Earth, Purple Mountain Magesty and also Michael Vincze (formerly the lead singer of The Mowglis) have all performed at Full Circle Venice plus many other local artists.
We’ve been really fortunate so far that the space has a way of attracting good spirits. We also are clear about what we want: music with a message that is heart-centered. That’s really what we are looking for. We are here to curate what the community desires. Some of the music is within reach of our collective (friends of friends), and other performers just seem to gravitate toward us.
The use of music to serve progressive, community-oriented causes is nothing new, but we always need more of it. Trevor Hall, Michael Franti, Jason Mraz, Nahko Bear—they’re are all part of co-creating a new genre of we like to call “spirit music”. It’s a distinct shared frequency of healing meets celebration meets positivity. It’s all about going back our roots, the indigenous ways, we like bringing in those kinds messages into Full Circle as much as we can!
There are lots of great music, yoga, art and spiritual festivals such as Bhakti Fest, Envision, Genius Loci and such. What has been your favorite festival that you have attended so far and why?
Genius Loci! Our dear friends and co-creators Eduardo Manilla and Henry Pope founded a Genius Loci in 2013. It was an incredible experience to be one of the first on site. I came a day early and watched it come together, helping set up and support the creation of this incredible music festival camp out in Baja, Mexico. To see it from the beginning all the way through to wrapping up was just incredible.
I have a very specific fond memory of that event, too. One night there was a heart shaped cloud that formed over a full moon. It was so cool—perfect synchronicity.
Here is a fun one – If you can spend the day with any artist, musician, or individual living or dead, who would it be and why? Where would you go and what would you do?
Jim Morrison and I would totally hang out in Venice. What would be better than that? Venice has a unique artistic history, and his legacy is an integral part of it. He’s an international icon, but he’s also a local legend. Maybe I could even get him to do a selfie underneath his mural!
Do you play any instruments?
Sometimes I get lost playing a drum or cahone , but I’m not a particularly musically talented person. I was introduced to the violin and the piano at a young age, though I never spent much time practicing so that pretty much ended any chance of a future playing music. I’m more of a social alchemist than I am a sound alchemist. Musicians combine words with melodies; I aim to bring diverse groups of people together by aligning individual talents with creative possibilities.
What was the first song you fell in love with and why?
“Donna” by Ritchie Valens. I fell in love with that song from the movie “La Bamba.” At the time, I had a huge crush on my baby sitter, whose name was Donna. When I was 8 years old, I went out for the talent show at school and tried to sing it while playing the guitar. It wasn’t exactly a hit. Maybe that’s why I never played any instruments!
What bands and musicians are in your current playlist?
Ahhh so many! I’ve really been into Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” and Raury’s “God’s Whisper” (our theme song) a lot lately, Michael Franti tracks, too. I’ve also been feeling Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”, Trevor Hall’s “Obsidian” and Nahko Bear’s “I Believe in the Good Things Coming.”
There are also some of my personal Full Circle musician favorites—a song called “Resonate” by Matthew John that really crystallizes what this whole Full Circle experience has been. Michael Vincze has a new track he’s working that I think epitomizes the soul of social justice for this millennial generation plus a new artist that we are helping to launch this year, her name is “Herizen”. Both are super high vibe and always put me in a good mood.
What is on tap next for you? What are you most excited about in 2015?
So many great events are coming through our space in the next few months! I’d encourage your readers to check out what’s happening at www.fullcirclevenice.org. In April, we have the one year anniversary of our being in this space, and with that it’s an opportunity to enjoy what we have accomplished. We’re looking to launch an official membership program soon, too, that will allow full access to our yoga and meditation classes and discounts to shows and events, among other benefits.
I think I’m most excited about finding consistency in 2015. We’ve tried a few different formats since we started up, and with the team of co-creators that we have in place now we’re really ready to rock our programming. I guess I’d like to take a vacation at some point, too, this year!
To learn more about FULL CIRCLE VENICE, visit the website here .