TOMS shoes are our neighbors here in Santa Monica and we are thrilled to host Founder Blake Mycoskie for a Guest DJ set. Music has made a big impact on him and he’s made a big impact on the world, with his entrepreneurial and generous spirit. For every pair of shoes they sell, they donate a pair to a person in need and they just recently expanded into glasses. Blake finds inspiration in many places and shares the songs that mean the most to him.
For More: http://www.toms.com
1.) One Day/ Matisyahu
2.) Friends In Low Places/ Garth Brooks
3.) Open Your Eyes/ Snow Patrol
4.) Awake My Soul/ Mumford & Sons
5.) Truth/ Balmorhea
Eric J. Lawrence: Hi, I'm Eric J. Lawrence and I am here with entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie, who founded TOMS. For every pair of shoes they sell, they donate a pair to a person in need. And they just recently expanded into glasses. Today we're going to talk about music, specifically songs he selected that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Blake, thanks for coming down.
Blake Mycoskie: Thanks for having me. I've listened to the Guest DJ Project many times and I'm a big fan.
EJL: Awesome. Well, what's the first song you've got for us?
BM: The first song today is called "One Day" by Matisyahu.
This song is really kind of special to everyone at TOMS because every year we do this thing called "One Day Without Shoes." We ask all the members of our community-- friends, family, fans-- to actually go throughout their day not wearing shoes to experience what it's like for many people around the world who don't have a choice. And this kind of happened because people said, you know, "Shoes, that's such a weird thing. There are all these vaccines that are needed and malaria nets and water, why did you choose shoes?"
Most people don't know that shoes are really important for a child to get an education. It's a required part of the uniform in many third world countries. Or there are diseases like hookworm that are causing people to have these horrible foot problems which effects their entire lives. So the "One Day Without Shoes" campaign started very small but this year we had millions of people going barefoot. And we put together a campaign video and used this song, "One Day" by Matisyahu, as kind of the theme of it, because it's obviously called “One Day” and it's also a really empowering and exciting song, which went well with the footage we have of millions of people marching around the world barefoot. So it's very personal to me and everyone at TOMS, and I thought we'd start by playing that song.
Song: One Day -Matisyahu
EJL: That was Matisyahu with "One Day." What's the next song you've got for us?
BM: Okay, so this next song comes from my roots of growing up in Texas.
I grew up in Arlington, Texas and went to high school in Austin. I do like country music, and I specifically love Garth Brooks. His song "Friends in Low Places" is obviously a classic, and the funny thing is, it is my go-to karaoke song.
Now, I am the world's worst singer but, what I've found with "Friends in Low Places," the reason why it's the best karaoke song for people who are poor singers, is that since everyone knows the words, within 30 seconds of the song, everyone is singing -- and drowning out my bad voice. But yet it looks like I've really got the crowd, and the whole room excited about it.
Two Christmases ago, we had this holiday party for TOMS, and I actually told the staff that we had a special musical guest coming for a performance, and we were doing karaoke. I snuck out the back and I put a big black cowboy hat on, black tight jeans, and a Wrangler shirt. I snuck up onstage and they said, "And now, live from the Wynn in Las Vegas, we have Garth Brooks!"
And before I turn around, people actually thought it was Garth Brooks because I made such a big deal about the special guest. And then when I turned around, everyone started laughing and we all sang the song. So, "Friends in Low Places" with Garth Brooks.
Song: Friends in Low Places – Garth Brooks
EJL: That was Garth Brooks with his hit, "Friends in Low Places," selected by our guest, Blake Mycoskie. What's the next track you got for us?
BM: The next song is by Snow Patrol, it's one that I've loved for many years called "Open Your Eyes". The lyrics are really beautiful and remind me of the first eye camp I visited in Nepal, where I literally saw people come out of cataract surgery, taking off the patches, and opening their eyes for the first time in many years or sometimes for the first time ever. It was a very emotional experience, as you can imagine, but also very invigorating 'cause I knew we could use the TOMS "One for One" model to help many more people with their vision. So this song is a great song and I've enjoyed it for many years. And it recently taken on a new meaning for me.
Song: Open Your Eyes -- Snow Patrol
EJL: That was "Open Your Eyes" by Snow Patrol, selected by our guest, Blake Mycoskie.
BM: I got invited by some friends to go on this thing called the "Railroad Revival." It was Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Mumford and Sons, and Old Crowe Medicine Show. They actually took over a bunch of vintage cars and a train, and took this train from Oakland all the way to New Orleans. They played six shows every night. At each show we took a big canvas and let the audience paint it. We're now in the process of taking that canvas and turning it into shoes. So the next song is "Wake My Soul" by Mumford and Sons.
Song: Wake My Soul – Mumford and Sons
BM: This song is just a beautiful song that really spoke to me and my soul. As we were getting ready for this next launch of TOMS eyewear to help people with their sight, I was going through this kind of transition and this song came right at the right time. Sometimes that's the beautiful thing that music does. I've listened to it over and over again as I was preparing for our launch.
EJL: That was Mumford and Sons with "Wake My Soul". What's the last track you got for us?
BM: So this last track is a really special song to me, and I think to everyone at TOMS. Last summer, I guess it was in June or July, a friend of mine, Jillian, played me this song by Balmorhea called "Truth." And it took me on a kind of musical journey that I don't think I'd ever had before. I just closed my eyes and kind of imagined life moving forward, and all the things we want to accomplish and do, with this song as kind of the soundtrack. It really invigorated me so much that I came to the office on Monday and I asked the entire staff to come out of their offices or wherever they were, and to meet in the center where we have the speakers set up, and I said, ‘Okay, I know this sounds a little bit crazy, but we're going to turn out the lights, turn off our phones, and I'm going to ask you to close your eyes, and I'm going play you a song. I want you to imagine what you hope this summer will be for you, and for TOMS.’
People were so moved they were crying, I mean, it was a really amazing experience. And so many people said thank you. People who had been with me since they were interns, when we first started, said, "You know, I thought through all the times and all the hardships we've been through, and the end of the song really felt like it was all paying off." It was just a beautiful experience, so the final song is "Truth." And as I asked the staff to do, if you're listening and you're not driving, I ask you to turn off the phone, close your eyes, and really enjoy this amazing piece of music.
Song: Truth - Balmorhea
EJL: That was Balmorhea with "Truth," selected by our guest, Blake Mycoskie. Blake, I want to thank you so much for coming down and joining us.
BM: Thank you for having me, you know, it really is an honor. I've been listening to the program for awhile, and I've really had a good time.
EJL: For a complete track listing, and to find these songs online, go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject.