From an early age, Carbondalian Tanner Alan Rollyson fostered a passion for music and has steadily risen above challenges in pursuit thereof. By the end of 2020, he was faced with a calamity not brought on by his own volition.
On Dec. 21, Rollyson unexpectedly dropped and experienced an 8-minute-long seizure. He was immediately taken to the hospital, where medical staff discovered a brain tumor the size of a ping-pong ball.
Now that you, reader, know where the story is at present, let’s back up a bit.
Back in the 1990s — before Google Maps — Rollyson got to know the Roaring Fork Valley small town like the back of his hand. After all, he is a Carbondale Community School alumni.
When he was 13 years old, he started his first job working at Sounds Easy Video. For those unfamiliar, Sound Easy was the sole video rental shop in Carbondale back in those days. There, amid rewinding VHS tapes for those not kind enough to do so themselves, he developed a keen interest in film. Rollyson made a number of video projects as a kid with the help of an instructor, Alec Rafin, whom Rollyson deems “a legend.”
As he got older, Rollyson realized that his primary interest was in sound design.
“I started designing my own music for short films that I was doing for school,” he recalled.
From there, he delved into a form of music that blended with his technological forte but was relatively alien at the time to folks in these parts — although, as he put it, “Electronica [music] has been around for a long, long time.”
Perhaps you, dear reader, recall Phat Thai’s dance parties beginning around 2010. That tradition was triggered when Rollyson and his fellow musical entrepreneurs pitched the idea to the restaurant’s management. “We built that scene from the ground up, and we ended up having some of the best times of our lives there,” he reminisced. Rollyson has also played at various community events such as Studio for Arts and Works’ grand opening at its previous location. Starting in March 2020, he DJ’d the “Zero Proof” event at Marble Distilling Co., which provided a night for youth to get down to funky beats while the establishment tucked the alcohol out of sight.
When asked about an accomplishment or a musical innovation he’s made locally, the young man is consistently quick to point out a friend or mentor who was right there beside him, either literally or proverbially.
Rising above, together
Prior to discovering the tumor, Rollyson did not have health insurance coverage, which of course increased his and his family’s stress.
“Just the surgery itself was looking at being almost $200,000,” he lamented. “There were a lot of numbers that I’ve never heard in my life getting thrown around.”
His sister, Rianna Briggs, and mother Sue Rollyson took to social media to reach out to friends and family to contribute to a GoFundMe account. To date, the GoFundMe account alone has received over $23,000 in donations; its initial goal was $20,000.
“I always hoped I made some sort of impact — and hopefully a good one — on people throughout my life. To see all the people that care,” he continued, “It’s overwhelming and I couldn’t thank everyone enough, I really couldn’t.”
Just as with his music, Rollyson heralds the efforts of others by his side through this difficult stage in his life. Surgery is scheduled for Jan. 8; however, Rollyson still won’t know for 10 to 14 days after the procedure if the tumor is cancerous or not.
“It’s a wild feeling,” he began, “There’s a big chunk of me that is determined to not let my emotions get the best of me and push it in the back of my mind as much as I can.” Although, “it’s better to just take a deep breath, accept things the way they are and handle it as best as you can,” he surmised.
As a thank-you for all of the support he’s received, Rollyson and a few of his musical comrades hosted a live-streamed concert on Jan. 3.
“As long as I’m standing, I’m going to be doing everything in my power to be part of the music scene and continue making and spinning music,” he lauded, “You’re going to hear beats coming from my grave, my friend.”