The zen of endless yellow dotted lines, nestling my eyes in the little pocket of bluer darkness just before dawn, I find myself enjoying the lonely miles back out to Los Angeles. Hypnotized by the revolutions of the wheels, I instinctively move in the only direction left available, forward. I get so tired of answering why, sometimes I just want to do. Like a plant growing towards the sun, it doesn't understand why, it just does.I don't understand many of the things I do but I must do them. Charge at the horizon and fill my addiction of moments like those in that blueish darkness that calm my mind. encapsulate what I find there, find a way to share it, stop at nothing until I learn how to communicate that feeling. Think not of results or rewards, think only of doing. Focus myself on the act and detach myself from life or death, until I sink my toes in the sands of one precious moment to another.
Like a horseman of the apocalypse, anxiety rides in with the sun as it's mount. It brings with it doubts and questions that dilute resolve.Anxiety is a ring of fire, it cuts off the past and future and the only escape from it is to focus on the center. Be still in the current moment until the flames dissipate. The golden nugget at the center of consciousness is the present moment. As I age I find my self discovering those moments more and more.Most times I feel our subconscious is trying to protect us. and doesn't mean to bring the harm it sometimes does. My own subconscious does feels like an enemy sometimes, almost setting traps for me to fall into as it obviously knows what I fear. I feel the greatest human beings are ones who are able to turn off the part of the brain that asks why too much.
There's a thought I've been trying to articulate for years in music,writing and in this blog, the thought that we don't matter but that's okay. I haven't fully figured out how to articulate it so bear with me. we are not part of a grand scheme, we are beautifully emancipated from the burden of what you must do and are free to do what you want to do. Inconsequential specs in a painting we'll never be able to see the full scope of. I embrace that sentiment and it's so freeing for me. Scary things seem less scary and impossible feats seem worth a shot.
So after taking all of my music down to breathe new life into it and promotionally give it a second chance, I'm finally starting to release music again. With music, ROI is most times a joke, here is a good example, I'm taking out an ad on Spotify for 250 dollars so to make that back I would have to get over 60,000 streams. Money is just never going to happen for me so I'm trying to just get as many ears on it as possible. One of the most important things about pursuing your passion is celebrating small victories and managing expectations. When I was a kid I thought ambition was this beautiful thing that could never lead me wrong but honestly, you have to keep ambition at a safe distance. It can be a dangerous thing, if you set your expectations too high you'll be crushed over and over again and ultimately give up. On the contrary, without ambition, you'll never truly taste your potential or even push the envelope at least. It's a difficult balancing act and one I struggle with even after all this time.
Something I've struggled with in the past is feeling like I didn't do enough to give my songs the chance they deserve, a mistake I don't plan on repeating. I've read stories of inventors who take out morgages on their houses just to help fund their ideas. Small business owners who sign their lives away for a loan to breath life into an idea with unequivocal determination. I envy their resolve and I vow to emulate it. Money can be throw away in music VERY easily so I've always been cautious but maybe a little too cautious. I'm going to throw everything I can at this song and see what sticks.I couldn't think of a better guinea pig than harbor city blues. It's weird, its not mainstream but I feel like it's cool enough to be appreciated on some level.
Excited isn't the word, maybe more so intrigued at the new things I'm trying. Excited is a dangerous word for me, it usually leads to disappointment. I'm trying to find that sweet spot between having goals yet being slightly unattached to the results. Focusing more on the effort I put in than what I got back out of it. which sounds very stupid because it is very stupid. This is just the place I've found myself in the grey limbo between success and not being able to give up. Life doesn't really matter, why not go for the best life possible otherwise what's the point? Just gotta keep marching with my friend ambition at a safe distance, reality in my left hand and my dreams in my right hand, my eyes right between the two.
Viewing yourself or your art objectively ,I do believe, is near impossible. I pulled my whole catalog back to try and reevaluate and see how I can make songs better but what does that even mean? It's a difficult line to flirt with where you stand by your work but also don't want to be too stubborn that you can't grow. I committed the cardinal sin of music or any artistic endeavor, I put too much weight and pressure on it's shoulders. when you expect too much out of your creative outlet it suffocates and spoils creative energy. It's hard not to get down on yourself or your work when it goes unnoticed, thats human nature. There are millions of reasons why certain things don't catch on, its impossible to pinpoint one single reason. This will at the very least give me an opportunity to change some small things about songs that have driven me nuts.
We are a world that lives and dies by the internet but the internet makes no sense. I have this dream of a strange music that has no genre, with meaningful lyrics and real instruments. Which is all fine and dandy as long as you don't expect to make money. It is naive to think that exactly the art you want to make is also what mass amounts of people want to hear. At what point though does an artist bend too much to fit into what people want?The internet is pure unfiltered entropy, how on earth do you control such a thing. I always try to tell myself that you can't control how it's received, you can only control creating it. It should be a somewhat linear process and how its received should never be present during creating it.
I'm preparing to re-release Schematics my original EP but this time I'm going to make sure it gets the opportunity it deserves. Its been a terrible process picking apart all my work and trying to figure out how to make it better, I hate it. I'll be happy once this process is over and I can just focus on promoting. We are a world in which success as an musician boils down to social media clout and streaming numbers, so when your work doesn't produce those things it's easy to feel like a failure. The thing I try to keep in mind is making the music I want to make is a victory. Even if it doesn't produce money or clout, just let it be what it is, expression. I have never been a rich person, I believe there is beauty in living a modest life. I won't lie, I do hope to find a way to live off of my art some day after all this time. I'm not goin to lose myself in the process though, there has to be a way. There has to be a niche of people out there who feel the way I do and I won't quit until I find them.
I'd been tossing around the idea of a rebrand in my head for quite some time now. My music had just honestly hit a dead end and it felt as if all that hard work was just sitting in the void of the internet, so I had to take action. My only recourse was to take everything down and start anew. It feels awful, sort of like the past couple years were a waste but sometimes it takes bravery to withdraw, to accept that you can be better and take the steps necessary to do so. This doesn't mean that the music is dead, it just means that I have nothing to lose so the least I can do is rework my music and make it perfect, make it exactly what I want it to be. In all honesty, with my budget restrictions and mania when it comes to writing, it's a miracle I've put out as much music as I have. Sometimes you don't exactly get the take you want in the studio but when the budget runs dry you have to kind of just stick with what you have. I've just been beating my head against the wall ,doing things I know didn't work and being stubborn. Sometimes its necessary to put your ego on pause and evaluate yourself objectively.
I'll be rereleasing everything hopefully soon but I've made some big improvements to my home studio to truly be able to make things sound the way I want from home. Take the ideas back to their cradle and get them to the level I know they can be. I'll take all the criticism I've gotten and use it to be better. The hot iron brand of criticism burns every negative thing I've ever heard about my art into my brain. I used to tune it out and try to forget but instead I want to use it as a learning opportunity. Truthfully though, it's selfish, there are so many things I want to fix for myself. Small details, things no one else hears that drive me nuts. I love and stand by everything I've put out but the thing with music is you always feel like it could be better. A maddening never ending rabbit hole. It will never be perfect I know that but I also know there is this magical place in-between "that's good" and perfect that I have to find.
The part of all of this that keeps me awake at night the most is the promotion aspect.What if there was nothing wrong with the recordings? Maybe they just hadn't been given the proper amount of exposure.What if I actually just dropped the ball on promoting? The last couple songs I had lost hope, I must admit. I'd promote on instagram and some other avenues for a very short amount of time, then when there was no response I'd give up. I'd chalk it up to "well there's just too much music out there and mine fits nowhere". That may be true but I can't let the success of my songs infect what I think of them. I can't let my number of streams tarnish my vision or damper the potential of my music. I'd be lying though if I told you I wasn't hungry for my music to hit a larger audience and finally get my music some respect. It's just a balance between holding true to your art but also doing what it takes to find a group of people who respect what I do.
Labeling myself as hip hop was a bad move, my music is confusing and finding a genre to call home has been an impossibility. The genre problem is on the top of my list of things I need to address promotionally. I may have to some day acknowledge the fact that I may not be talented enough to make a living off of music but I'm not there yet, I still believe. It's exciting to be planning again and feeling like these songs have another chance. when I was a kid I used to think "anything can happen, one song could change my life"somewhere along the way that died. I want to regain that feeling now and forever. I'll do everything in my power, whatever it takes to give them a better fighting chance this time. Without support though, I will most certainly drown again. I'll no longer be too proud to ask for help and I'll vulnerable enough to admit I have no fucking idea what I'm doing most of the time. My mouth salivates from the sweet smell of change wafting from the future, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from John C. Maxwell, "The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, the leader adjusts the sails".Maxw
I find myself once again looking for a new home. I don’t think for me one singular home exists. It’s an exciting feeling to be uprooted and be at the whim of chance and the randomness of life. Some people might think my approach to life may be empty or aimless but they can’t see the freedom inside of emptiness.Coronavirus has forced me to retreat to a friend’s and give things time to open back up, which is probably good because I have zero plan really. My plan is always the same, find a place I can figure out how to get my music in a good place. Seems like Nashville will end up being the choice but I’m keeping my mind and options open. Quarantine has been good for me as I’ve gotten lots of writing done but there’s still the looming issue of what to do with all these songs. I’m so tired of releasing songs to just die on the internet. Social media is a battle I cannot win. I want to share a quick story as more evidence as to why social media is poison and I hate it. I have a friend who posted something Star Wars related on today May fourth, I then asked “ I didn’t know you were a Star Wars fan” to which they responded “ oh I’m not but it’s trending so I bought a mask and took a picture for the content and traffic”. I’ve always wished this attitude lived in me but it just doesn’t. I can’t lie or make up a fake life but I’m also no social media expert. I digress, if I get ranting about social media I’ll never stop. Let’s instead talk about the possibilities of the future.
I have no delusions of fame or financial stability from my music. Instead of shooting for the stars I just want to float through pillowy clouds before falling back down to my death.in other words I just want to make play shows again get these songs to at least a small number of people. Nashville is currently the top choice mainly because it’s something different and new and I’ve always had favorable experiences there when I’ve gone. I want to come out of quarantine strong, I did lots of planning and saving before all of this and I hope it can still be a jumping off point for me. Creating has been so hard since I have no roadmap or real plan, I just try things and act opportunistically. There is a question though that has surfaced and at least deserves thought.
At what point does your dream become harmful? At what point does blind optimistic become just running from reality. It may be time for me to let go of the hope that music will ever be something I can monetize. This doesn’t mean I have to give up on what I love just more so change how I look at it. In 15 years I’ve never been able to make money consistently with music and I just don’t know how to change that. I always tell myself when finding a new home things will be different but now I highly doubt it. Every time I move in filled with renewed hope and life that I can make this work. Hopefully I’ll be able to spark something with that momentum this move and change my life. I want to come out of this quarantine strong and hit the ground running. These last two weeks are important, I need to make the most of them.
I just grow weary of feeling like the fate of my music career is out of my hands. I want to take action, try something bold, keep fighting. I'm so so tired of submitting my songs to nameless faceless people who run blogs and playlists. I would honestly rather die out on the road making pennies than for my life to be run by the numbers next to my songs on Spotify. Social media is a necessary evil but I'd so much rather go play a room of ten people than have thousands on instagram followers. Even if it's a colossal failure and I lose tons of money, at least I took things in my own hands and got an experience out of it. I've never been afraid to fail, I more so worry that I'm not doing enough or there are more things I could be trying.I need some hope, some momentum and feel like the music I'm making actually matters. I want to feel like myself again. All of these industry people can make you feel like being yourself is wrong. I firmly believe that there is some sort of audience for art that comes from the right place inside of you, just have to find it.
I always seem to find myself looking at the sky and thinking "there has to be a better life out there for me somewhere". I have to catch myself often because I know how susceptible i am to escapism. I'm trying this time for it to be more healthy and realize that the problem is me, not the place i live. It's not one of my best qualities but I do think their are certain important elements of escapism that die when we become adults. Life is fucking boring and I just refuse to accept it. Money is the bloodline of life though and it is what traps us in routines and boxes. So i sat down recently and tried to think what actually makes me happy? Music and travel are legitimately the only things that make me happy(although Mediterranean food does bring fleeting happiness). Making money doing that is not impossible but real real close. I have saved up quite a bit of money this past year and written tons of music, so i feel this is a better time than any to try and go on tour. I'm relocating to Nashville for the time being but paying rent while going out to play these shows is another gigantic obstacle. I've considered recently not having a home base and putting all of the money i make back into keeping me on the road. A truly beautiful nomadic existence it would be but it could take years to even get to a point where I'm making enough money for that to happen.
Well I've always believed a bad plan is better than no plan and ones that are born from desperation are usually even worse. Promoting music online brings me no joy, its uninspiring and underwhelming. Playing live seems to be really the only option I have left. I could spend the rest of my life traveling playing small shows and scraping by and existence. I'm setting in motion a plan to do just that. I'm having to pay a company to book the shows the first time around with the hopes that I can make some connections and book shows in the future without having to pay a booking agent. The other problem I run into is that convincing others to come on tour with you takes money or at the very least shows that have high attendance. I can't promise either of those so I've been learning and practicing how to play my music alone. Now i have to learn covers and shit too probably but it is a necessary evil. Fuck it, I'll do whatever it takes.
When you're a kid you have an idea of how your life will be. For a very small number of people it turns out that way but for the rest of us it does not. For most people,it's a fire that burns brightly throughout their 20's and then, reality hits. Most people accept what they must do and let their dream become something else. Let it become a hobby,start a family or put their efforts elsewhere. What if that part of you wasn't able to die or change? It's like a knife in your chest, if you pull it out you'll die but to leave it in, it's immensely painful. I am stuck with an impossible hunger that cannot be satiated. An deafening alarm that can't be turned off. A riddle that can't be solved. ( I thought of lots more of these but I'll spare you.) I used to always say " Fuck it, I'll go down with the ship, i'll die with my love". That's poetic and a beautiful, bold statement but it's getting so hard to live up to. years and years and years of beating my head against the wall and spinning my wheels trying to get my music out there has taken a terrible toll on me. It's like all other doors in my life are shut until i get this one open,it's maddening. Some days it feels like a curse. I think, why couldn't I have been passionate about something that's actually fucking attainable. True passion chooses you, digs it's roots deep and becomes part of who you are.
Recently, I've been feverishly searching for something I might be able to do for money that I don't hate. As much as i would love for it to be music, I just don't believe there is an audience for the music I'm making. I'm stuck in a dark conundrum with music where it is the only thing that will ever bring me true happiness but until then just brings me crippling depression. At this point, failure would be an upgrade from nonexistence. If I had large sample size of people who had heard my music and hated it, I would at lest sleep better at night knowing it had it's chance. with my music though, I make ll these songs that I release and then go to die on the internet. Of course, I cant ask for guidance in this because there is no clear cut answer. Every day I tell myself to chill out, just have fun making music again, try my best and if people dig it, then great. At the end of the day though I need to love making music again and just enjoy it.
I get so caught up in everyone who's doing better than me, self analyzing and trying to figure out what is wrong with my music. It suffocates all the creative energy out of me and I'll sit down in my studio and begin writing, when the thought of " Who cares" hits me. I'm so bad at promoting and have no clue how to make people care about my art. I go through highs and lows, I'm sure in a couple days time, I'll be back in fighting spirits. Maybe there is happiness inside of the struggle, if i could find that and learn to love the fight, maybe I would be more productive. The only answer to this impossible problem is to love the struggle, keep trying things, FIND A WAY. I’ll leave it on a quote from Hagakure “If you are slain, be sure your corpse faces the enemy."
Once when I’m living in downtown LA I saw a beautiful bird picking through a mound of trash. It was so out of place,such an elegant beautiful bird in an ugly by product of humanity. I thought to myself,why are you here? You have wings you could fly away. You can pick fresh fish from the sea and call the whole sky your home, why would you dig through trash here? I went to shoo it away so it would hopefully leave this awful place but it only flew a short distance. I then realized the bird had gorged itself on trash over time and was now too big to fly. My heart just sank, that beautiful bird will be dead in a parking lot somewhere and swept into the trash, instead of returning to the cycle of nature.
I think of that bird often and think maybe I’m not that much different. I may not have wings but I have the most evolved brain on the planet and It goes to waste. We become dependent on situations that are easy but unfulfilling. We get stuck in it for so long and when you finally realize it, you can’t get out.Humans are run by systems and as a wise man once told me, systems can only be beaten from within. There is a lot of our lives that are out of our control but there’s still so much we can do and try. What I took away from that bird, is eat the trash when you have to but never forget about the fresh fish that can be plucked from the sea.
Maybe its greedy or vain of me, maybe it’s insanity, to feel I can attain a life that so many vie for. Usually when someone’s dreams don’t work out people say maybe it wasn’t meant for you or you should try something else. What if there is nothing else? An unshakable image burned into your mind, as if you’ve stared into the eyes of god. I keep telling myself I have to let go of the unrealistically high bar I’ve set for myself or ill never be happy.A person can only take so much failure and rejection. Purpose runs deeper than happiness to me. A reason to exist, a reason to feel like being human makes sense even for a moment. A driving force that is unparalleled and something truly worthy of dedicating a human existence to.No matter how it is received, I have to keep writing and making art because it is my purpose.I just can’t find appeal in the game of acquiring possessions, somedays I really wish I could. To feel the gratification of money and all the things it can bring me.
It could be a coping mechanism but I feel there is true merit in failing. There is merit in giving everything you have regardless of the outcome. Success is easy, everyone loves you, you make money, life is good. True character is shown when no one cares, real grit is displayed when you believe in something enough to single handedly keep it alive. Lately I’ve wondered though,Is there a point in which your dreams end up killing you? Even if they do though, what better way to die then fighting for something you truly love. I don’t think it’s possible to truly push it out of your mind, we just get good at faking it.
I've started releasing my next round of music starting with "More to Life' which hasn't been preliminarily received well. Of course when submitting to blogs and record labels you have to have tough skin as the acceptance rates are so low. I just feel such a calling to create, the only reason I wish to make money from music is so I could have more time and mental space to commit to the cause. I have sent out all the unsolicited emails humanly possible and its just not getting me anywhere. Now I aim to start delegating more money into promotion instead of creating new music. If no one has heard my older music then no one will hear my new music. I have to continuing trying and detach myself from the results. I'll be picking back up on my blog, releasing new music, playing shows, all in an attempt to quell the undying hunger I have to achieve my goals with my art.
No matter how far I travel, I’ve never been able to find a place I belong or feel at home. The closest to home I feel is on a bus, train or a plane surrounded by strangers and the hum of an engine. Not actually having my own life, more observing and reflecting on what I see. A student of the world, everywhere and no where. I don’t exist, just a ghost with a notebook. Soaking up all I can until I’m rung dry by the hands of the earth so I can venture back out and absorb more. No name, no past, no future, just a conduit for the passing moments in whatever place I may be. You could make an argument that life is hard and this is just escapism and you’d probably be right but some pieces just aren’t meant to fit.
Music, writing has been the only glue that’s kept me bound together. It’s so easy to be an escapist and blame the place around you or the people around you. I feel the problem lies within me, I am too set in my ways and maybe to focused on my own story. On the surface I can be quite personable but when you dig beneath that people never seem to like what they find. It’s so hard to find the line between being an open minded person ready to grow and also one who is strongly rooted in their beliefs. I am overly confident and always finding myself wanting to fight the world and stand for what’s right. I feel I’ve pushed away good people by not listening and I want to change. I wish to destroy my biases and reflect in a non bias fashion. My views or opinions don’t need to change in order to properly present an interesting topic in a way that leaves room for learning. Lately, I feel I need more to focus on how I fit into the lives of others instead of how they fit into mine.maybe I don’t matter and that’s okay. sometimes it’s hard to feel like I fit in anywhere, there’s always been a gap I can’t close with most people. Or an impasse I can’t seem to push past.Moving forward I want to look at how I can enhance the stories of others instead of using them as characters playing their part in my story. People make a place what it is and if you can’t connect with them how can you ever truly find a place that feels right.