Meet Simon Turner, Owner and Operator of Blahq Sage Media LLC
Interview by Jim Teece
Simon Turner is a US Army Veteran and the owner and operator of Blahq Sage Media LLC in Roseburg, Oregon.
He started the business in 2020, during the pandemic lockdown, but has been doing DJing and wedding photography for about 5 years, since moving to Southern Oregon from Bakersfield, California.
Growing up in Southern California, he always thought it was appealing when he saw people online, living in the green forests and in the mountains. Then while flying to work in the canneries of Alaska, after he got out of the Army, he looked out the window of the plane and saw southern Oregon and told himself that one day he would live there. Later he met his girlfriend in California and she was from Oregon and they both decided to move there and they ended up in Medford.
When everything shut down because of COVID he found himself watching a lot of YouTube videos and decided to pull the trigger and start his business.
“When COVID kicked off, I was starting to DJ a lot of clubs in Medford. The bulk of my DJing was weddings, so when all the venues shut down, work dried up.”
“When everything opened back up, I ended up doing 2 or 3 weddings a weekend. I moved into a new place on the first of September and lost it all 8 days later in the Almeda Fire. Almost Everything. No renter’s insurance. No business insurance. Gone.”
“But it ended up being one of the best things that happened to me”
“I worked as a drug and alcohol rehab counselor, so I had a decent job and no bills to pay and I was able to stack my money. I saved one camera and 1 lens from the fires and started booking small gigs and rebuilding with that.”
“I was slowly piecing my gear back together and it’s grown now so the only thing I do is my business.”
“I was able to buy a house in Roseburg. It took me losing everything I owned in a fire, to get here, but I’m very, very grateful.”
After the fires his girlfriend and their daughter moved to Coos Bay while he stayed in Medford looking for work. That’s when he met a man that would challenge him to change his life.
Rick Valencia, a mentor, challenged Simon to buy a house with the help of the Army Veteran VA Loan program.
Simon served in the military from 2008 to 2012 as a military police officer. He was stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia and then was deployed to Kandahar City, Afghanistan for one year before he was stationed in Seoul South Korea for the final 18 months of his military career.
“I grew up in the system. In foster care and group homes. My mom passed away doing drugs and I never knew my dad. I went through a lot of pain and heartache as a kid so when I turned 18, I wanted to experience as much as I could, because I was raised in a room. Out of site, out of mind. When I got into the military, I thrived on getting out and meeting people and going places.”
“I just love being in different places, I feel like there’s so much to see and I feel also the more places you go and the more people you interact with, you’re able to gain something from all that. I feel that the more you gain, the more that makes you a well rounded person. It’s kind of like a meal. If you have a meal that only consists of one food or using one seasoning, it’s only going to be that, but if you incorporate many different things, meats and starches and different seasonings and get kind of complicated with it, it makes it a better meal.”
“So I really enjoy getting out and meeting people in different cultures and different societies. It’s very interesting. “
“Just the fact of seeing all one nationality was mind blowing to me and that first happened when I went to Afghanistan. Everybody there is Afghani and it’s pretty much only America where American isn’t one thing. In America, you’re just a person born here, not one set skin tone, so when I went to Afghanistan and saw that one set skin tone, one set hair texture, it was really weird and when I went to Korea I was like, man it’s nothing but Koreans here. I’ve always been fascinated with people and psychology and sociology and all that kind of stuff. I love traveling.”
During our Zoom interview, I notice his workspace.
It’s filled with video cameras and editing systems. It’s pretty impressive, so I asked him about his studio.
“Yeah, this is my garage man. Bare Bones. I did the insulation work by myself. I went on YouTube and learned everything. Oh, by the way everything I learned as far as DJing, photography and video… no school… all from YouTube then going out and messing things up.”
He went on to explain how he will try something and then questions why it came out that way and how to improve it. He is naturally inquisitive and a self taught learner, but he is also eager to learn from experts as well.
“I have been working with a guy who has been giving me a lot of video gigs and he makes well over six figures a year so he’s working with Asante and the colleges and I’m skilled enough to benefit him when I’m there and I’m learning all the time while working with him.
I put it all into practice on the interview that I did for all these Black owned businesses. All the camera angles that I’m using, the three points of lighting and the sound equipment, it’s all the things I’m learning with Jared.”
“But yeah, everything is YouTube. So I went on YouTube and looked at how to insulate a garage. And it was pretty easy to buy these strips and put them into slots and staple them. So I did that, then I threw up a little plywood that was in the top of the garage, I’ve insulated the roof because it’s cold in the garage in the winter time. I’m making it work, man, I’m making it work. It’s awesome.”
He brings the same passion for learning into his work. At one point I asked him how he makes videos.
“Let me go take make a video of a dog taking a bath. I can do that but I have make it cinematic. It’s going to be the most cinematic dog bath you’ve ever seen in your life. I’m going to tell the whole story beautifully. You’re gonna know little Johnny pup like no other and he will be your favorite dog when I’m done with this”
I asked him about his plans now that he has moved to Roseburg and bought a house.
“I’m gonna be here in Roseburg for quite some time. I don’t really see me in my near future moving out of here”
“I’m just getting ready for the growth that has been happening and hasn’t slowed down since those fires. It’s just like a 300,000,000% increase from Bitcoin in the last five years, it’s been going crazy and but now it’s getting to the point now that my limitation is that I don’t have any more cinema cameras. I need to hire a crew. I’m getting gigs that are that are a little outside of my paygrade, you know, but that pushes me to book more gigs on my paygrade. Get that gear. Upgrade the gear to be able to further keep climbing.”
Woven throughout the interview with Simon are these stories about mentors. Random people that he met in funny places like in a line at an ATM machine. Because he’s so personable he connects and somehow these connections turn into life changing opportunities.
Time and time again Simon shared fun stories about random meetings with people that changed his life.
One time an “old man” that looks like Santa Claus, asked him if he wanted to learn how to DJ while in the line at the ATM and took him to his first wedding to watch him (DJ Opie) in action and it got Simon hooked.
The stories go on and on like this.
You can’t help but be inspired by him when he shares his life story so-far and I can see why so many people offer to mentor him.
No matter what life throws at him, he just wants to “rebuild back from that, bigger and better and just keep climbing”
BLAHQ SAGE MEDIA LLC
Professional Photographer, event DJ & Videographer