Don Montag loves two things: making music and Zooey Deschanel.
Under the stage name Don Montag, junior recording arts major Carter Shepstone has kicked off his musical career with a bang, releasing an album and a single within the past year.
His most recent release, A True Love Story, is a two-song punk tribute to Jackass star Steve-O and actress Zooey Deschanel. Although these two may sound like an eclectic combination, Shepstone’s musical inspiration comes from his surroundings as he creates personal, authentic tunes.
“Zooey Deschanel is awesome. I think every guy who was into indie music in 2010 loves Zooey Deschanel,” said Shepstone. “And for Steve-O, my brother is eight years older than me so I’ve just known Jackass my whole life.”
Shepstone’s brother not only introduced him into the world of Johnny Knoxville, but also the world of guitar.
“My brother taught me some guitar when I was seven, and then when I was 10 I took lessons, so I totally thought I could play guitar," said Shepstone. "But once I got to high school, I had some homies that shredded, and I got absolutely schooled, and I realized I really didn’t know how to play guitar at all.”
Although the guitar lessons didn’t truly sink in until later in life, his brother did purchase him an Ableton Torrent digital audio workstation. After learning how to make beats on that device, Shepstone has since followed his older brother’s guidance to learn the ins and outs of making music.
As a high school senior, Shepstone became the president of his school’s recording club, which pushed him to expand his audio engineering skills — something he now studies at LMU.
“I always saw myself secluding to the mountains and making music forever," said Shepstone. "That was always my plan, but I decided to go to college and get something out of it to continue making music.”
He may have traded the mountains for the streets of Los Angeles, but the sentiment still reigns true. After adapting to the LMU recording arts program and growing in his craft, Shepstone has created an eclectic variety of music to express his feelings. Although he takes most of his lyrical inspiration from rap music, he also finds motivation in iconic professional artists.
Spotify releasing their individualized user 2020 Wrapped Playlists got a lot of media attention, as Spotify users shared their most streamed songs and artists on social media. Shepstone also hopped on the trend, posting his most played artist of 2020 — and a personal hero — Chris Crack.
“I would say I’ve been most inspired recently by the dudes who are making fire music and on the nine to five,” said Shepstone. “The guys who are like, I work a real grind and I’m also gas at making music and I’m putting out three albums a year because I’m unsigned and I just love making music and that’s all I do and all I want to do. That’s my vibe and that’s Chris Crack’s vibe.”
Shepstone has brought that same excitement into his recent musical productions but also hopes to start the new year with a new outlook.
“I’m trying to start 2021 fresh. It’s so hard to come back to things with the same energy, but I want to finish up some songs because the beats are too gas,” said Shepstone. “I try to practice as much as I make.”
Until the Don Montag 2021 creations drop, you can listen to his most recent album here.