Guerilla Toss’ Kassie Carlson discusses how immersing yourself in science can help you navigate some of life’s greatest challenges.
This article appears in AdHoc 26. To subscribe to our quarterly zine—and receive other AdHoc-related goodies—become a member.
In #adhoclifeadvice, we ask artists we love to answer questions from you, our readers. This time around, Guerilla Toss singer and violinist Kassie Carlson discusses how immersing yourself in science and nature can help you navigate some of life’s greatest challenges, from finding your calling to surrounding yourself with the right people. Guerilla Toss plays DFA Halloween at Market Hotel on October 31.
@ampers_ands: is there god?
Kassie Carlson: The idea of God is a tricky one for me, personally. As someone who grew up in a devout Christian family, going to church every Sunday and singing in my family’s four-part harmony gospel quartet, the word “God” has been in my vocabulary far longer than most words. However, as I got older, I really started to look microscopically at things—at the vastness of things, the complexity of life as we know it. And I have come to the conclusion that I don’t feel like I need something BIGGER, greater, and more beautiful than science to explain existence. Why would the explanation for billions upon billions of complex creatures over billions of years be in spirit of a man? Man is the most destructive, selfish creature that has ever existed on Earth.
Science is more than enough for me. In a way, I feel zealously devoted to science. I am always searching for new information about Earth, those that inhabit the Earth, and beyond.
@avaiihn: What are your general processes for developing creative ideas? Musical or otherwise?
For nine months, I have been living mostly in the Catskills of Upstate NY. Almost every morning, I go for a hike with my dog and listen to music, podcasts, or an audiobook. I look at the bushes and trees. I watch the frogs leap frighteningly to escape my dogs’ curious nose, bouncing among the ferns. I have been really into scientific literature lately, because it gives me great perspective on the interconnectedness of everything. For a long while, I felt stuck inside my individual emotions, but existence is so much more than that. Being close to nature and scientific things feels godly to to me.
@Caro____fillups: WHO AM I?????????
The human body contains trillions of microorganisms—so many, in fact, that they outnumber human cells 10 to 1. These microorganisms only make up about 1 to 3 percent of the average body’s mass (around 2-6 pounds), but they often play an essential role in your health and overall state of mind.
@The_hawaiianpunch: what’s the purpose of life?
As stated in Bill Bryson’s, Short History of Nearly Everything, “If you are in good health and even sort of conscious of hygiene, you will have a herd of about one trillion bacteria grazing on all over your body. That’s about a hundred thousand of them on every square centimeter of skin. They are there to dine off the ten billion or so flakes of skin you shed every day, plus all the tasty oils and fortifying minerals that seep out from every pore […] Because humans are big and smart enough to produce and use antibiotics and disinfectants, it is easy to convince ourselves that we have banished bacteria to the fringes of existence. Don’t you believe it. Bacteria may not write music or have interesting social lives, but they will be here when the Sun explodes. This is their planet, and we are on it only because they allow us to be.”
@liam.f.e: Junior year of hs — stick with friends I’m starting to dislike or pursue new relationships
Liam! You have to expand your horizons. There are multitudes people to meet out there—the heck with those old has-beens! Out with the old and with new! Everyone has something to show you!
@dj_rat_daddy: How many times a day can I say fuck and still go to heaven?
Listen DJ Rat Daddy, you’re lookin’ for heaven, but you’re already here. When you die, your particles decompose and then regroup to form a tree, or a table or something. In short, you’re stuck here. Enjoy your speaking voice while you still can; in the next lifetime, you might only be able shake your leaves viciously in the wind. Say fuck as much as you want, whenever you want.
@sozuppy: if you could plug in any fruit and play it as an instrument, what one would it be?
I think it would be a raspberry. I think it would be satisfying to stick the end of an instrument cable into the end of a berry, but i don’t think it would do much good. Perhaps I could take a tiny contact mic, like the one on the bridge of my violin, and cover it in plasti-dip. Then, I would insert the tiny contact mic into the top hole of the raspberry. Finally, ever so gently, I would pet the end of the raspberry. I imagine that would make a rubbery sound, or perhaps mimic a sound similar to a güiro.
@peter.stellar: Random question maybe / maybe not related to the new album but does anyone in GT have attention deficit problems? If so what helps you focus!! Your music seriously helps me focus. Thank you
Definitely! Don’t beat yourself up—you’re not alone! Exercise and eating healthy helps me, personally, and meditation! Think of your brain as a giant glowing moon in the dark night sky. Do not become angry when the clouds float over your round rock; the moon still glows behind big, thick clouds. Soon, the wind will push the clouds away, and there you will be, shining bright. Besides, creativity is a result of our minds wandering.
@ohnickcho: How do you manage the feeling of needing to be constantly creative / productive even when taking a much-needed break?
Sometimes I get frustrated with myself when I am not creative or constantly productive, but then I remind myself that lulls in activity are often just incubation periods for new ideas. Don’t be so hard on yourself!
@moose_and_squirrel: Kassie– I want to be my best self and am motivated to learn, but is going back to college really the right call? Should I just create? I feel like I could learn forever and then die without having made anything of myself, all my precious knowledge with me
Life is long and it seems to me like you want to commit to being a lifelong learner. The real question is, Do you believe you have the ability to achieve anything if you really, really try? All knowledge is literally at your fingertips. Look at your phone. It is truly an external hard drive for your brain. What will you learn today? What will you learn tomorrow? And how will you use it to achieve your dreams?
@smoothiebrain: What do you do when you don’t know your purpose in life?
The truth is, smoothie brain, you may never know what your one true purpose is, but consider your life a lifelong pursuit of trying on various purposes on for size. See which one works for you. There are so many possible purposes in this life—why stick to just one?