We The People: Troy Akers aka Bandit Heart


The Renaissance Life is not a solo endeavor.

Sure, if we wish to create change in our lives and the lives of others, we must be self-reliant and take continuous action with our own hands.

Being an Individualist doesn’t mean being alone.

We are more capable together than we are by our lonesome.

We become our best selves by connecting with others. We are better together.

Welcome to We the People: highlighting creatives who are a part of the Renaissance Tribe and represent our Ethos.

I ask you questions, you give us insights from your own life.

Enter Troy:

Listen to Bandit Heart on iTunes, Spotify or Soundcloud

(bold’s, styling and * by josh :P)

Q. How do you answer the infamous question, “So what do you do?”

I hate this question haha. Maybe it’s because I feel like it defines you—or attempts to define you. I hope that I love others well and am a constant to people in their lives. Everything else is an aside.


Q. What’s your favorite travel experience?

India. Hands down. It is a piece of my heart. It’s the first time I feel like I knew what it was to fall in love. While it may not have been a person, to know that you had been meaning to “meet” a place for so long—once I found that, everything about that place becomes a rhythm that you feel beating with your blood, within you. That’s how you know.

* I feel that way when I travel. As if I’m taking off the weight of my ‘normal’ life and experience the world completely different and new. 


Q. When did you first start playing and singing music?

I started playing music when I was around 15. It began around the time my Nanny passed away unexpectedly. I remember writing an instrumental piece on piano for her funeral. I started writing songs when I quit my lessons (‘rebel’) in high school. It was mainly to get back at girls who had done me wrong. As you can see, not much has changed. 


Q. Who in your own life has influenced you to take the leap into the music biz?

My mentor, Jeff Bourque. He was the worship leader at my church for years. He used to come pick me up from high school and we would go back to my house or his and he would show me how to write a song. It’s his fault I always tell him, hahah. He was and still is such an encouragement. Little did we know, he and I would embark on recording the singles I released over the course of 2015 and 2016. I am forever grateful for him and just his belief in my potential. It’s an amazing thing to see someone go from being a mentor to a friend to a brother.


Q. What bands or individuals have influenced you? 

I have always been infatuated with Fleetwood Mac. How can Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham embody SUCH CHEMISTRY onstage every show? It’s mesmerizing. 


Q. How has relationships and connections impacted your craft (and life)?

It (relationships) has literally been the inspiration for all of it. I would say if you know my songs, you know my love life—and in many ways…me. A few miss-truths here and there, but songwriting for me is therapy. It has helped me walk forward. It’s the one place to be totally open and have no need for a filter. No one can tell you what to say or how to say it. You get to recount every memory, every instance. I have found it to be one of the most ethereal places for me. 


Q. What’s your song writing process now? Is it any different since you started?

I always just begin.* I usually play my piano and start singing at the same time. I’ll rarely deviate from that and base something off of a line in my head or a melody I hear when I’m sitting in the steam room at the gym. 

* Same here, songs come from a hum, or unexpected places.


Q. When did the name Bandit Heart pop into your head? What’s the story?

I just wanted to name this thing something that wasn’t my own name. I wanted it to have no preconceived notions on what it could be or would be for anyone listening. 


Q. What are some decisions you’ve made that have made you into who you are today?

Trusting Jesus Christ has been the anchor for me in my life. Everything else pales in comparison right now. It is the one, true adventure.


Q. What songs do you sing when you are alone? And what new bands are you digging recently?

I usually listen to classical music when I am alone, haha. I love where it takes me. I feel like I’m in an indie film usually. ‘Spiegel Im Spiegel’ by Arvo Pärt is my favorite piece.


Q. What is your story around health?

Well I am a vegetarian who occasionally eats fish. I love to run. Running is another therapy I entrust to get my spirit moving. I eat pretty clean and I love wine. Those are my caveats. Years ago, when I was in another band, I became sponsored by a company called Garden Of Life—and they have pretty much become my girlfriend.* (IG @gardenoflife)

* hahahahahaha


Q. What advice would you give to someone pursuing creative work?

Always be yourself. Never let anyone else ever put a dream in your mind that you don’t want. Always listen to God. He will never steer you wrong. He is guiding your life in a way that you might possibly may never be able to completely fathom, but He loves you and wants you to trust Him. Success is not about money. It’s who you impact and how those things along the way bring joy to your heart.


Q. What advice would you give someone who wants to jump into music, but hasn’t taken that leap yet? (aka me ha)

I always feel like the word “leap” has some expected HUGGGGE action to it, but in all reality, it’s just deciding to put your foot down and start somewhere. I usually tend to turn off sensor in my brain that makes me nervous and just do things how i believe they should be done. NOT in a cocky way, but to the extent that i don’t keep freaking myself out. If i’m so nervous about releasing a song or an EP, it will never release. But the biggest thing you can think about music, in my eyes, is you are creating for someone else. In the grand scheme of things that person is God, but at an earthly level, you never know who truly needs your music. You never know. And once that stuff is out there, it’s theirs…it’s the listeners. Who are we to say that they don’t deserve to hear it? Who are we to say that they may get more out of a song than we ever will….even if we wrote it. Find people that you can pour into but also find people that can pour into you. Not just to give you technical advice, but those who can encourage you and you are able to encourage them. Building a community around creativity is vital to your survival. Not just as a musician, but as a human being. Some of my favorite and most personal relationships revolve around people who aren’t even other musicians. I don’t have this secret circle of music pro types. It’s those who love life in the way that I do, and in most ways, do it entirely better than me—BUT they build me up and spur me on to want to do the same for them as well.

Q. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Listen to God, always.

Open the door for her. 

Walk her to her car.

Listen to what you want to do, not what others think you should do.

Don’t always run; learn to walk.


Q. Who or what inspires you and why?

Nostalgia. It’s always there. It’s included in the memory packs of our brains. We can go there when we want; there are clothes and feelings and hats we can wear to make us feel like we’re 18 again….or 22…or 27. Nostalgia is special; it’s potent. It can get all over you if you let it and it can run you. But what I love about nostalgia, is I can go there and leave when I want. You can see old girlfriends, old memories, new loves, mistakes, happiness…whatever you want. It’s all there. I’ve never really said it that way, but I think that’s it.


Q. In one word, how would your best friend describe you?


Q. What’s something challenging you faced recently and how did you handle it?

I brought back a pretty rare buddy (sickness) from India that resurfaced after four months. It took me by surprise as well as my doctor. And in the five days of pain that I had, he told me that I couldn’t work. So I sat out on my porch and just soaked everything in. It was hard because I had to slow down, but i think sometimes in our lives, we get forced into things because we need to. And I needed that.*

*I’ve been experiencing my own flavor of this force recently. It’s humbling. 


Q. What’s your mission right now? What does success mean to you?

Success is an illusion that we make up to feel compensated for and like we have approval. In my heart, success has been completed. Jesus lives; and He died for me. Anything I do now is out of joy because of that. My mission right now is to create music that can relate to other people, to be real with music, to not hide or cover it up. I also hope that at any moment, as my heart grows for India, that He is paving a way for me to transfer my life over there.


Q. If someone gave you 10 million dollars, what would you do with it?

Pay off my student debt; move to India; give the rest away.


Q. Do you have a mentor? If so describe them and the most valuable things you’ve learned.

I have had one since I was about 15. I mentioned him above, Jeff. I think the biggest lesson that he has taught me is mentoring someone isn’t about this massive transfer of information from an older person to a younger one. It’s about walking with them. And that should happen effortlessly. It’s deciding to stop and take the time. He taught me so much through that and that’s how we are still friends now. He’s one of my favorite people and his family still pours into me in an incredible way.


Q: Have you mentored someone?

I would say a lot of the reason I am a youth leader now is because of Jeff. For the last year I have had the honor of walking with guys who are sophomores in high school. It’s my hope to be with them through graduation, but I tell them all the time that it’s a never-ending dedication to them.


Q. One thing you liked about last year, and one thing you want to improve this year?

I can’t stress enough how valuable it is to be present with where you are. I am fighting in that arena and want to grow. Be present for the people you love. Be present for the job that you work at. Be present for the struggles just as much as the joys. You will never get back today. If you are always pining for tomorrow or the next big thing or the next year, you’ll always be one step ahead of “right now.” THAT is what I want to be working on this year and every year.


Q. What are some impactful books you’ve read recently and why? (Recent reads / or books you’ve read multiple times)

“The Way To Love” by Anthony DeMello*….I’ve maybe given that book to over 20 people

“Reaching Out” by Henri Nouwen* 

*aaaaaannnnd adding those to my to-read list.


Q. Documentaries?

How To Die In Oregon’—crazy documentary


Thank you Troy for taking the time to answer my Q’s.

I hope this impacts everyone as much it has me,

Listen to Bandit Heart on iTunes, Spotify or Soundcloud

You can follow Troy on

IG: @banditheart 

Twitter @banditheart

Facebook @banditheartmusic


 #StayBOLD #KeepPursuing ,

— Josh Waggoner, 11:55 PM EST, May. 8th 2017, Chattanooga TN



If you want to give your story on the Renaissance Life, email me @:  josh@renaissancemanlife.com with the subject: We The People.

Tell me who you are, why your a good fit for the Renaissance Tribe and link your social media’s.

Normal Shmormal

Normal is in the eye of the beholder.

Your Normal is showing

What’s normal for you, may be vastly abnormal for someone else (and vise versa). Flying might be normal for you, but some people wouldn’t even put their left picky toe on a plane. Stepping up on stage might be normal for you but make others melt into a puddle of fear and embarrassment even thinking about it. Playing guitar, writing, dancing — every facet of our lives combine into one big amalgamation of what normal means to you.

Same thing applies to groups. Your groups verbal tenacity and things you enjoy discussing are more than likely completely different from the next table over.


Who Moved My Normal?

When you begin to learn something new, you are stepping out of your normal zone. When you continue to progress, your idea of what normal is no longer is in the same place as someone starting out (a pair of shoes you were in not so long ago). If the Internet was a camera, then the world would be the show freaks and geeks. We all have different interests and opinions and that’s okay. Just because you watch a lot of reality tv doesn’t mean I can make fun of you. (well.. maybe a little 🙂 Reality tv is normal to you.


Be Your Weird Normal Self.

Seeking mastery and a Renaissance Life is far from normal, unless you are surrounded by people (like me) after the same thing.

After taking BOLD action towards a goal, it’s good to pause and see how far you’ve improved from the mainstreams normal. ‘Wait, you don’t know how to use illustrator? … ‘you’ve never heard of Simon Sinek?’ … ‘What do you mean you don’t have a blog?’ … 😛

The more we step towards change, the less conventionally normal we become. Which is not a bad thing at all. In fact, as we continue to change and pursue, we become more unique and influential for those seeking similar things. ‘Wow, I’ve trained myself into something unique, haven’t I?’

The more different you become the more your voice matters.

Some people won’t get you, because their idea of normal is different. But some people will, and those are the ones to connect with.

It’s also good to compare your current normal, to where you want to be. Make sure who inspires you and who you spend your time with matches up with that.


Stay Bold, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner.

P.S. Sign up for the free Monday Motivation and Best You 365 Newsletter!

Related Wisdom

We Are All Weird by Seth Godin

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

— Mark Twain

Maybe your weird is my normal. Who’s to say?

— Nicki Minaj

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.

— Albert Camus

Start — You don’t need permission.

Yesterday, an insight struck me, after I officially pushed publish on my new niche site, the discover.ist:

You don’t need permission to create something.

I went from idea of thediscover.ist, to sketching what it could be, to buying a domain, hosting it on bluehost, setting up a wordpress account, designing and writing 5 short blog posts, adding a wishlist page and mailchimp newsletter and went live, all in an evenings work. Without anyone telling me no.

I repeat, You don’t need permission from someone else to create something.

You do, however, need to give yourself permission to believe that you can. That you are capable.


Validating an idea is a smart way to do things too, to avoid bad ideas and mistakes before you start. (Will It Fly by Pat Flynn from smartpassiveincome.com is a good resource for doing that)

But you don’t need permission.

You don’t need permission:

  • to write
  • to blog
  • to podcast
  • to dance
  • to teach
  • to start a business
  • to create a course
  • to speak
  • to become a comedian
  • to sing or start a band
  • to disrupt the old
  • to create!

you can just start doing it.

Perhaps in the past you needed permission, but in the pace of today’s change, no permission is required.

If you live in a free society and have access to the internet, there’s no excuse for sitting on your creativity, except yourself.

And when permission is required, there’s a rag-tag group of rebels that come to disrupt it.

Nobody puts baby in the corner.

Pat Flynn didn’t ask for permission to start the Smart Passive Income podcast

Banned or not, Ren McCormack is gonna dance.

Elvis Presley’s still gonna play that devil music.

Seth Godin didn’t ask for permission to write a blog post everyday.


Go create something.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner, Renaissance Man, May 5th, 2017, 10am EST.

Join the Renaissance

New! The Discover.ist — fresh finds, tinyReview & things I love

I’ve been working on a new style of niche website to coincide with The Renaissance, called

The Discoverist. (thediscover.ist) 

It’s a no fluff, no filler, short and oh so sweet recommends, reviews and fresh finds on things I love.

(music, design, books, health and wellness, blogs, and more!)

If that sounds rad to you, check it out at: thediscover.ist. I’ve got about 5 posts up and counting.

Also, sign up for the +1 discover.ist newsletter, to get the weeks discoveries before anyone else.