We did this shoot as a kick off to a new series on couples, The "Us" Project. All of these photos are in Maude and Michael's apartment, accompanied by an interview.
Maude and Michael have been married for almost 4 years now, but originally Maude was set up to date Michael’s best friend, a pen pal she'd written growing up. They are all musicians and one day, after they all jammed together the best friend asked for Maude’s number and Michael sheepishly inquired "Can I get that too?" But, Maude never made it to the other date, because just after Michael and Maude's first date they were already going steady. “You never know, girls get picked like wild flowers in South Provo,” (Michael) "and five years later here we are."
What initially attracted you to her?
“I think I heard her voice before I saw her, she was singing at the restaurant. I thought, ‘Who’s this girl she sounds like a better version of Regina Spektor. Then I saw her face and she was this Native American Princess... “ (Michael)
What is your favorite quality in him?
"He’s a hard worker... I had never seen somebody at such a young age be so devoted to school, music, and our relationship. I think it’s very important in marriage because he says he’ll do something and then... he’ll do it. SO important." (Maude)
How they are involved in the community:
"Art and design has allowed us to be involved in the community. Michael has connected with a lot of people through shows, tours, and commercials through music. He’s very involved in the "The Yoga Underground" community." (Maude)
"We try and contribute what we can. We do our best to connect with new entrepreneurs—we believe in opening up pathways to follow your own dreams. This community in Provo fuels our energy as artists to work for our own ambitions as well." (Michael)
How do you embrace individuality?
"Maude allows me to embrace a career in music. And she's always open; I didn’t know I wanted to do music until after we were married and she embraced the idea of my career change from the beginning." (Michael)
"It’s a non-conformist path that we have made work in our relationship," They trade, Maude is currently the bread winner while he gets his music business up and running— pursuing his dream as a full-time musician. "We move forward together to find exactly what it is that we want, it’s not always clear but you try and find those things that are unique to each person, even if the other person doesn’t understand it entirely. You support it and work hard for it. We both do it for each other." (Maude)
What were you doing when you made the shift over to music full time?
"When I married Maude my plan was the business route. Get my MBA, become a consultant and make some monies, About a year later my college band started getting noticed by a label out of LA. While working with them I started to believe that I could do music as a career, bringing me to create SU GRAND." (link at bottom) "It didn't happen all at once. I don't now for sure if music will be my life long plan, Maude and I take it goal-by-goal; milestone-by-milestone. The main motivation, for Maude and I, is to provide for a family and feel fulfilled in whatever career path I take." (Michael)
What is it like being the bread winner?
"When I was in school he worked full time and did a little music on the side, but it worked out really well cause once I graduated and started working Michael decided to really pursue music. It was a really smooth transition cause I was able to provide right away, and he had provided for me to get through school. I always wanted a career regardless of knowing if I'd be married at this point, so in a lot of ways it's just what I expected."
"My parents never expected me to just get married and depend on somebody else. It was always, 'What are your goals? How are you going to achieve those in your career?' Both my parents got advanced degrees and worked, they've always encouraged me to find something I love and discover a career path around that."
"I never regret doging graphic design because of the variety of work that you can doin the field. I love it, but I tend to love the stuff that's usually a little less practical. I had a plethora of other careers and drerams I wanted to go for like fashion design, film, studio art, architecture, interior desin, production design and the list just goes on. I worry sometimes I settled because so many of those careers really tak you out of your comfort zone. I chose a route that wasn't as much of a risk in my mind especially since I'm working a corporate job. But I feel really lucky that I get to experience the vulnerablitly and the fruits of being an artist through Michael and his music, I love it." (Maude)
How do people perceive your roles and career choices?
"We'll tell them that he's doing music and people always say 'Oh I see, so he's figuring it out.' It's frustrating cause compared to other careers you would never say, for example, an accountant in school is 'Figuring it out.'No!he's an accountant.' "
"The people that are closest to you are going to love you no matter what, but that doesn't mean they will support your decisions. The people that are closest to us sometimes can be the most judge-mental. There is a stigma among musicians that they are washed up or just bumming around. It's in the movies all the time, but Michael's very disciplined in his work. He's taught himself everything from the ground up. In high school he taught himself how to play guitar, he's always been a singer he did jazz quartet, choir etc and then he taught himself about all the tools and software he needs to move forward. He writes his own music, he plays all the instruments, records in house, he produces the music, mixes it, masters it and then after all of that he markets the music as well. It's amazing." (Maude)
How do you manage balance?
"We both have to find time to manage balance individually or it’s harder to enjoy time together. There is a give and take and setting expectations helps us." (Michael)
"I need time to be alone and be in our space to get positive energy flow sometimes. Michael, who works from home all day, wants to get out. But we both love going out to eat. It actually allows us to have an experience together, even if it's part of the mundane." (Maude)
How do you resolve conflict?
"We sleep on it. We try to get sleep and think through disagreements instead of hashing things out when we're both tired or stressed. We're very aware of it (thanks to lots of experience...). It helps us clear the mental emotional space in order to revisit the conversation when we're ready. We talk a ton! We allow ourselves time to be upset, or sad first before we can resolve it. We are very open about things, which helps us to be mindful and work through issues instead of ignoring them." (Michael)
The hardest part in the relationship:
"The future, the unknown, and the uncertainty that follows it. It's difficult because there is so much unknown in life in general, and especially as an artist. It plays quite a role in our relationship there aren't answers most of the time. Some people will say ' Oh, that's so fun that's what you get to do!' Which is true, but you're working just as sometimes twice as hard to find success. It does make those little successes so much more worth it when you arrive at them." (Maude)
What's your biggest difference?
"She’s always looking out for others and taking care of them. Offering to bring food, or help in any way. I tend to want to save and conserve more of what we have, I've learned a lot from her." (Michael)
"He’s very realistic, methodical and logical about most things but with career, he lets his passion and emotion guide him a little more whereas I often make my day-to-day decisions based off emotions and my career choices based on stability and structure. It's a really interesting dynamic that brings conflict but also compliments each other well." (Maude)
How does religion/purpose effect your relationship?
"It allows us to achieve goals we wouldn’t have been able to achieve otherwise— working for something together that’s bigger than yourselves. Sometimes the way that we manifest our religious belief is different, but overall our beliefs are pretty similar and line up." (Michael)
Power couples you look to:
"Our parents (both sets)—they are hardworking, and never give up. I don’t think I could ever work as hard as my Dad." (Michael)
"They work really hard, and they are always giving, ALWAYS giving. I think they give all of their talents and all of their efforts to others. They do it for the right reasons. It's amazing to me." (Maude)