An interview with Ike Thaler about Infinite Soldier

thumbnail-1Q: The Infinite Soldier concept has come a long way since you first thought of it, so tell me how it got started.

It is strange to think that what started out as a dream and vision at a late morning party is going to end up changing the world, one word, one thought and one mind at a time. The Infinite Soldier concept first came to me in 1997. Initially it was going to be an eclectic music project, one that mixes spoken word and fuses a variety of genres into one trippy, euphoric, magical musical journey. 

I also became drawn to the infinity symbol but at that point I hadn’t connected the music, image and message. My goal was to create a unique musical experience that I would love to listen to that would promote positive messages through my spoken word and unique style.

Q: And what music has inspired you or do you find yourself returning to.

I’ve always loved all kinds of music, from classic rock such as The Doors, Hendrix, The Beatles, Bob Marley to early 80s pop such as George Michael, Michael Jackson and Paul Young. I also loved 80s hair rock and metal bands, grunge, the early era of rap – Public Enemy, The Beastie Boys, Run DMC as well as Rage Against The Machine rock-rap crossover.  90’s pop had some great music especially innovative groups like PM Dawn, and I still listen to new bands and the current chart artists everything from Taylor Swift to 21 Pilots and ska/rock bands like such as 311, Sublime and Matisyahu.

Q: Is there any one genre that you would say is the inspiring musical drive behind the Infinite Soldier sound.

Towards the end of my college days I fell in love with electronic music. Back then we used to call it Techno, though I don’t really like that term as it too broad and meaningless as a generic description. Obviously, my music has a very heavy dance music or EDM influence to it.

 
thumbnail-3Q: And that is at the heart of the music?

Sort of, but so much more as well. My musical vision was to mix various types of elements that shouldn’t be mixed together to form a new sound a musical genre in its own right. I wanted to mix guitar riffs with violins, classical soundscapes with dance grooves and other beautiful  sounds with electric music. As the years went by, I heard musicians like Moby and then Lindsey Sterling and thought that they had perhaps got there first and that I missed the boat. So I kept reinventing the music.

Q: So when did the music start taking shape?

Early on, I got the chance to work on a few songs with a few musicians and engineers but the projects were mostly rushed and unfinished due to a limited budget and what I saw was limited creative talent. And so a decade went by and I just got into the routine of a normal life with all the responsibilities and challenges that go with it – starting my own business, getting married, having kids, bills, stress and everything else that goes with it.

During this time, although I didn’t get to work on the music, I thought about it almost every waking hour and kept talking and dreaming about it and kept driving my friends and family cray about talking about an experience that was still mostly in the visionary status. Not being able to bring this vision to life felt like a void in my life.

thumbnail-2Q: And so what changed to put your vision back on track?

Around 2002, though a client, I met someone who had a home studio and so was able to work on 27 tracks, that I divided into 3 journeys. They were raw, rough demos really, but they mixed a variety of electronic genres with some live instruments and spoken word and it felt like the first steps to realizing the dream. I referred to it as a 21st century version of Jim Morrison’s ‘An American Prayer’. 

I didn’t have much of an audience since my music didn’t fit a genre and even many of my friends and family considered it ‘too weird’. However, I must have listened to it hundreds, if not thousands of times and obviously I could see the merits of it and understand what it was trying to say. I’d focus on every beat, every sound and every word, give it my undivided attention and even though most of my friends made fun of it, I believed that it was a worthy work of art that just needed to find the right audience.

Q: What do you see in the music of Infinite Soldier that perhaps your friends missed?

Many of my friends that weren’t as into the music listen to certain genres that aren’t typical of this style of music. Other friends that listen to a wider range of music seemed to be a lot more positive about it. Frankly, I feel that people are used to more radio friendly songs with someone actually singing not talking. My more recent projects have amazing female singers delivering the lyrics that I wrote and it really compliments the experience and takes it to the next level. I have always been a huge fan of lyrics, especially insightful ones with a message behind them. I believe that some, just prefer music that makes you want to shake your ass on the dance floor. That serves a purpose as well, but I see my music as more of a collection of thoughts, of lyrical word play and well-written motivational lyrics that have a great message behind them.

Q: Infinite Soldier seems to encompass many things, what does it mean to you?

I always considered the Infinite Soldier to be my alter ego. Everything that I wanted to be but wasn’t, or certainly didn’t think I was. It’s an embodiment of someone that is always positive, confident, a poet and an artist. Looking back, it seems that I created a new me through this character and I continue to improve that character every day. 

And it can be a real challenge at times because you can’t hide from your own past and the way you lived your life up until that point. For someone who was raised and lived most of his life as a cynical, borderline negative person, this character, this Infinite Soldier and the message that I am sending out into the world forces me to keep working on myself and stay in character. How else can I change the world if I don’t practice what I preach?

thumbnail.jpegQ: And as you began to understand what the Infinite Soldier meant, this became more than just a music project?

The entire project took on a new life about 5 years ago when I took a personal development program called Landmark. During one of the seminars, I heard the 3 words that changed my life. Words Create Worlds. When I heard these 3 words I became very emotional. I’d never really thought about it before. To me, words were just words that can simply be taken back, forgiven and forgotten with a simple sincere apology. I never really thought about the impact and power they hold. Once I did, I saw the world differently

Immediately, I broke down because I realized the impact of some of the brutal things I had said in the past to the people I cared about the most and to myself. Over the next few weeks, I started to think about this idea constantly and looked at it from different angles and slowly began to understand the awesome power of language and words and how they have the power to build, change and even destroy. I made it my mission at that point to educate millions about this very simple concept that changed my life.

Q: What do you now understand the power of words to be?

After much thought, I broke things down into three areas.

Firstly, the words that we hear from our family, peers, community and even our extended culture and their effect on how we see ourselves and our confidence. From being called stupid or ugly to being told that we can’t do something.

Secondly, the words that we say to ourselves and how it effects our confidence and our ability to do things. From telling ourselves we are ugly or dumb because of things that did go our way or when we don’t achieve our goals.                        

And thirdly, the words we use to communicate to others. The choice to use language to insult others which can create a world of doubt and insecurity rather than chasing to use more positive language which can literally change people’s lives by empowering them and reminding them that they have the potential to create their own opportunities.

Q: And at this point the Infinite Soldier became more than just a music project?

Absolutely, I was so inspired by the idea that just through our language we can create a positive world around us for those people that we care about. I certainly regret the language I have used, so much that I made it my mission to spread awareness about the impact of language and positive thinking. I made it a goal to reach 500 million people worldwide through not just music, but fashion and art, the next areas that The Infinite Soldier would incorporate.

Originally, I got this crazy idea that I was going to reach millions of kids in America through the education system. I made it a goal that within 2 years, I would create a school program that would become a mandatory part of the school system. I half heartedly worked on it for a few weeks, expecting teachers and school boards  to embrace such a positive step. I got a harsh dose of reality when people didn’t, despite the positive feedback. The idea faltered partially because I wasn’t able to find the right people to help with the work that needed to be done but also because I didn’t really have the money, dedication and knowledge to make such a big dream come alive. 

I ended up settling on developing a 10-week pilot, after-school program at my children’s school. Although I enjoyed it and some great ideas came out of it, handling 15 3rd -5th graders was a bigger task than I first thought, especially my two oldest children who I sort of  ‘forced’ to participate. It made me temporarily lose my passion for the program, but it created a new idea that I still believe is an amazing idea that will eventually come to fruition. The program will transform into an online curriculum which uses pop culture, online games, music videos, comedians and celebrity testimonials to teach about the importance of being aware of the language they use and how they think. I have about 30 videos on YouTube that I created for the kids program (see Positive Words Movement). The goal is to get celebrities and local/national businesses get involved by donating their time, money and products to help reward kids for participating and for completing each phase of the program.  

thumbnail-4Q: So you now see The Infinite Soldier as a brand rather than just a music project?

Yes, it has grown way beyond my initial plans and is now a vehicle for all manner of positivity and change. Through a tragic event, I was able to start a clothing company, which would serve as a branch of the Infinite Soldier music project. I’ve been obsessed with the infinity symbol for decades and could never find unique clothes with the symbol. I figured that since there are millions of people out there that love the infinity symbol and since I could never find unique clothes which incorporated it into their design, it would be a great opportunity to market such clothing to like minded people. I initially planned on promoting my music through the T-shirt line by including a free coupon code printed on the tag that would allow buyers to get a free music download with every purchase. The brand was launched in December of 2016. 

We also sell infinity symbol jewellery and have recently released our motivational canvas poster collection which includes positive inspirational quotes both which I wrote as well as other well-known sayings. All of our canvas prints include an infinity symbol and our slogan: Everything Is Possible!

We currently sell online at local festivals where we often give our free infinity bracelets to kids if parents allow me to have a talk with them about the importance of being aware of the words that they use and the thoughts that they concentrate on. I find taking to kids to be one of the most rewarding parts of the festivals and this journey. I feel that it allows me to introduce such concepts to them at an early age by relating them to day to day experiences that they have with their friends and family.

My goal is to make kids realise that what they say to themselves and to others and how they choose to perceive their day to day lives can have a great impact on not only their surroundings but also their own future. Whether it’s thinking positively about an upcoming math test or saying nice things to their friends it all colours their development. I encourage them to stop using self defeating language, like can’t or try, from their vocabulary. I truly feel that I am able to change lives and in doing so change the world by introducing them to such simple concepts and thought processes that can help them for the rest of their lives. I usually end the conversation by telling them to practice some of the things we talk about and see how it effects their lives. I encourage them to tell their friends and family about the impact of words and thoughts after they see how much it can help them. The response has been very positive so far.

Q: So if an Infinite Soldier is something that we can all be, how would you describe the role.

It might sound like a wild unrealistic dream, but I am on a mission to spread awareness of these ideas to 500 million people. Being a true Infinite Soldier is not just about watching your words and being aware of your thoughts, it goes beyond that. Through our words we are able to create and set the tone for our future and of influence the futures of those around us. I strive to be a “positive word soldier” and create positive possibilities and outcomes to those around me. Simple things like telling kids that they are going to be very successful and that they are intelligent or telling friends or strangers that they are very creative, kind, problem solvers or whatever is appropriate the moment. 

In some of my travels and conversations, I have also told children that I meet that they are going to be very important kids that are going to help the lives of thousands of people through their lifetime, I believe that some of these words will create a real world.

Q: And finally, back to the music, you have a single out at the moment?

Yes, I am currently promoting a song called Vibe – The Big Room Remix. Like many of the songs on my recent album, Everything is Possible, it is a reimagining of an older composition. I have a few songs that were written 2 decades ago that are a part of the Infinite Soldier experience and I always strive to perfect them to the vision in my head, even though I have to rely on other musicians and vocalists to bring them to life. Like all of the concepts of the project, everything is about change and positive evolution, so why should the songs be any different?

It is my favourite song and remix to date as I feel it sets a great euphoric mood that makes people feel good. I feel it is a powerful dance song that will be an international sensation.

Q:  So what’s next for The Infinite Soldier?

Great question. Thanks for asking! I am very excited about some of the current projects that I am working on. I am in the process of starting work on a full feature music video for ‘Vibe’ which will be an introduction to the Infinite Soldier experience. I am also in the process of developing and improving the clothing line. We have some great designs in the works and are working hard to improve the quality as well as introduce new products. It’s a lot of work, but I love the process and can’t wait for it to be available in festivals and retail locations everywhere. We are also looking to expand our distribution so our brand will be available in all parts of the country and the world. The best is yet to come! 

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