Imagine walking through a city and seeing a person sitting on the ground holding a sign that reads, “Please help the homeless, God Bless.”  For most of us it probably doesn’t even take much to imagine this because we’ve all seen it before.  In fact, some of us may have even been homeless ourselves.  When you see a person who is homeless, what do you do?  Do you throw them a few bucks?  Do you start a conversation with them or do you ignore them as if they don’t even exist?  For Josie Martin and Ethan Davis – the Santa Barbara-based duo we know as Candyland, the homeless population has a special place in their hearts.

That’s right.  Both Josie and Ethan grew up in the same town of Santa Barbara, California and graduated high school the same year.  When they met as teenagers (Josie was asked to DJ Ethan’s 17th birthday party), they were both aspiring musicians – Ethan played drums and Josie was DJing.  When she learned that Ethan could drum, she asked him to drum next to her while she DJed, and so they formed a band called Empires And Riots.  At the time, they really only did mashups, but then Ethan began to replace drumming with DJing and eventually they both got into producing as well.  Josie’s dream was to also launch her own record label because she wanted to combine her two passions: music and business.  They began spending a lot of time together, became good friends, and eventually decided to form the DJ/producer duo, Candyland.

Even though they both aspired to be musicians, at the time this dream seemed impractical.  Both of their families struggled financially, which made it difficult for their parents to support their children’s dreams.  With little money to support themselves after graduating high school, it was hard for Ethan and Josie to dedicate 100% of their time to this music dream.  In order to help kick start their music careers, they both had to work side jobs outside of DJing and producing, but even this income was not enough.  The financial struggle continued and at one point, Josie was homeless.  While Josie was homeless, they had to put their music dream on hold to focus on searching for the essentials such as food and shelter.  Luckily, with the help of supportive friends and each other, Josie was able to get out of her situation, found a new home, and they were back on the producing grind in no time.

Sooner than expected, they saw this dream actually turn into reality.  Their hard work and persistence began to pay off.  Just two years after they met, they won the Beatport remix contest for Bingo Players’ hit “Rattle”.  Some of the biggest blogs in the music industry picked up their music and began supporting it…blasting their tunes all over the Internet.  Once they developed a solid fan base, promoters and venues across the country were taking every opportunity they could to book Candyland.  Soon Ethan and Josie found themselves touring daily – both by car and plane.  As we know, often times with touring there is a lot of partying that usually results in little to no sleep.  That being said, touring began to take a toll on Ethan.  While on the road, after a rough breakup with his girlfriend, he fell victim to the “DJ” lifestyle and was drinking more than he intended.  Drinking and the exhausting schedule led to a deep state of depression and to a very difficult decision.  Ethan decided it was time to give touring and the music dream a temporary break in order to regain his strength and get back on his feet.

Since Ethan was no longer touring, Josie was forced to adjust to touring on her own.  At first, it was much more difficult for Josie to do shows alone for several reasons.  First off, she has an intense fear of flying.  With Ethan there, it was easier to keep her mind occupied.  Without him, she had to find a way to compose herself both on the ground and in the air.  In addition, everything was still so new to her because this was in their early days of touring.  Therefore, the things that may have seemed like an “adventure” while touring as a duo, now really caused a lot of stress for Josie.  She felt very alone.

Even though Ethan put his dreams on hold, he wasn’t giving up on them forever.  After months of confliction and finding himself spiritually, he found his purpose…a purpose beyond just being a touring artist.  He realized that he had been blessed with musical talent so that he could speak to others through his music.  With the help of God, his family, friends, and Josie, he was able to find the strength to get through his depression and decided it was time to pursue this Candyland dream once again.  Through this dark time, Ethan was shown that there is a light at the end of every tunnel.

Once his break had ended and he was back on the grind, this Candyland dream really came alive.  They were on fire.  Their official remix for Krewella’s “Can’t Control Myself” topped the charts and to this day is still heard in DJ sets across the world.  In addition, they began releasing successful original music and started touring globally.

They were finally on the radar.  Josie had to readjust very quickly from being a solo act to a duo because when producing as a duo, it can be very difficult to agree on anything.  Sometimes sacrifices need to be made in order to come to a conclusion on a song.  Being different genders and spending so much time together, it can be especially challenging for Josie and Ethan to refrain from bickering.  They have had to learn and understand how to cope with their different mindsets, problems, and personalities.  Fortunately, they have experienced very similar hardships throughout their lives so they have been able to get through a lot together, which has resulted in them taking care of one another. Despite fighting like a married couple, Josie and Ethan have established a lifelong friendship and will now always be a family.

In addition to Candyland, both Josie and Ethan are fulfilling their other dreams as well.  Josie started her own record label – Sweet Shop Records (clientele list includes Candyland, Kayzo, REVOKE, and 28 Mansions) and Ethan is the drummer for Fmlybnd (pronounced “family band”) – an electronic grunge band based out of Isla Vista, California.  That being said, both remain very busy at all times, but they don’t mind because they are doing what they love.

Josie and Ethan are defeating the odds.  They have shown people that despite their financial situations, they can still live their dream and have successful careers.  As they continue to defeat the odds, they are helping others who are currently without a home.  Whenever they can, they will do their part in providing food or shelter to the homeless.  In the future, however, they have plans to make an even bigger impact and hope to one day use their money from Candyland to open up their own homeless shelter.  They want to help those around them defeat the odds as well.  So, the next time you see a person holding a sign asking for help, think of Josie and Ethan.  Think about their story and ask yourself this…if I were to give back, what kind of impact could I too leave on this world?

Check out next week’s feature!

Episode 019 - Brooke Ferguson