Within the last year, I realized that I had unconsciously stopped making music for a long time — around 10 years ago.
It sounds a little bizarre, I know 😅 (more on it below).
Last Updated ⚡️ Sept. 22, 2019
Finally, after solidifying more elements of my two businesses and freeing up some money to invest in equipment and more free time each day, 2019 was shaping up to be ✨ the year of my comeback.✨
I no longer felt that I needed to express myself as regularly through photography (which is a phase that deserves a post of it's own) and sensed a growing pressure building inside me of all this music that needed to get out.
I've always had a very visceral connection to my art and creative expressions.
Casually creating what I called 'color clips' at the end of 2018 after purchasing Logic Pro X and the SoundMaker Kit from ROLI, I was telling myself endlessly I should commit to doing more. So when the end of the year rolled around, I set my intentions on another 365 project* — this time a song every day.
Now, to give you a little context, I have very little musical knowledge and experience... I took some piano and guitar lessons when I was young. One year I was in band class in Junior High. Also in a rock band for a little bit in Elementary school and believe me, we were incredible. Messed around with Garageband, Ableton, and a few other things as I tried to make music, remix songs and create long DJ mixes.
None of it was amazing — of course it wasn't, I was learning — and I got a whole lot of shit for it from my friends at the time, which looking back at it now was likely what spurred me to unconsciously drop it despite still wanting to pursue it further.
How often does that happen to us as we are at the beginning, messy stages of pursuing something we are genuinely curious or passionate about? 😓
It's this messy process of learning, experimenting and creating when you don't yet have the skills that's the most important, it's where most people quit - as I did years ago.
Essentially, I'm starting from scratch. 🤘🏼
I'm creating this post now, in mid-February to start chronicling the insights that come to me as I progress and I'll continue add more throughout 2019.
On top of the music creation, I'm working to also listen to a new album each day (slightly less strict on this, but doing fairly well so far at 50% through the year). Before, I was often stuck listening to the same music all the time and this has helped open me up to new ideas, influences, while improving my ear, musical knowledge and appreciation for different eras, genres and more. 👂🎶
Now I also made a last-minute call on January 1st... adding a daily podcast to my commitment for the year. I had considered creating and learning more openly, especially when it came to my music, however I was really hesitant after feeling the effects of Instagram on my art and creative energy (...it fucked it up 😭). So far, despite often hating how I have another thing to do each night as I groggily try to maintain my 100% streak, the podcast has helped me to pause and reflect on where I'm at, what I tried today, what worked, and how it relates to my past efforts. It's helpful to keep track of how I'm progressing throughout the year musically.
One of my other major commitments for this year was fully disconnecting from social media to free up more time, mental energy and space for this and life in general 💕. Along with floating every week in 2019, which has shown to boost creativity along with many other benefits, I was set for a huge creative push.
I rediscovered the beautiful simplicity of Anchor for podcasts and went for it.
Every day, I'm creating a new song and journalling my process, challenges and anything else that comes to mind in the podcast.
I should probably clarify my intentions and goals with this as well...
I fully intend to create highly professional music and release multiple albums, along with creating music for other art projects throughout the years.
This isn't the first 365 project that I've done. Back in 2013 I did a photography one aiming to create a fine art photo, edit it and post it online every day. For this, I wasn't 100% and had many days that I caught up the next day. Yet, it directly led to many of the biggest successes I've had with my artistic career, along with many important insights that changed how I operate with my art, creativity and life.
Now I'm ready to do the same with music.
🔥 Plus, I already have the concept and lots of notes on an album.
This project and year is all about building my skills, experience and knowledge to be able to create what's been inside of me for a while now, here are the results to date:
☁️ Listen on SoundCloud
🎙 Listen to the podcast
Here's some of the key insights I've gained so far from making music every day.
- Creating more than consuming 📵 A huge eye-opener for me was how impactful it's been to deactivate all of my social media accounts (Twitter is still up as I don't want to delete it yet, however it's not touched or viewed at all). The amount of extra time and energy I have every day is astonishing and aside from the first few weeks of having to fight the urge to distract myself from the difficulty of learning music from the beginning, I don't miss it at all or think about it. Pairing up the act of disconnecting from social media with a creative project that will pull and focus your energy is an amazing combo. 👏
- The beginning is the most challenging 🏔 The first two weeks were agonizingly frustrating and difficult, as I lacked the basic knowledge and skills for almost every piece of the workflow for each day. Day one I got so frustrated and my mind was flooded with thoughts of just not starting that I ended up having a breakthrough writing a song about it (you may notice I left one minute of silence completely unintentionally that day as well 🤦🏻♂️). Done my song for the day? Great! Why the hell won't it export sounding the same way I made it? Why do my vocals sound like garbage?!?! 😭 There was a lot of essential learning in the beginning and it took probably 3-5 times as much effort as it does now (in mid-Feb.) to create a song or clip that's 1/3 of the time and it definitely didn't sound as good. Pushing through to create and publish something every day despite the quality was the only way I could figure it out to get here now though. 🙌
- Build your process and foundation first 🛠 This was a big part of the early challenges I just mentioned, but I find that it comes up again and again as I 'level up' to a new stage of complexity. At first, I just needed to know how to do simple things like set up my mic for proper recording with basic plugins, do bare minimum mixing with loops and then export a song. Now, as I'm just over 50% through the project and year, the songs that I'm making are far more complex — focused towards my own production, including hooks, complete verses, choruses and more. In all of these elements, you need to build a consistent process that speeds up the technical pieces and your workflow, so that the creativity can flourish and have as much time as possible to flow through.
- Get fucking organized already... 😫 I'll admit that this has been my achilles heel for a looooong time across my work, art, and life in too many ways and I've worked really hard to change it. It was the same for my photography and with music it becomes so much more complex. This is directly related to the point #3 above, where the more you can get organized and either automate or have strong routines, systems and tools in your workflow whether it's a daily song creation or putting together an album — the better. Right now (about 50% through), I'm working on finally creating a spreadsheet to help track and layout different ideas for hooks, chord progressions, lyrics, song concepts and more all in one place, so I can have more to work with in the beginning of each day, rather than starting from absolute scratch. That way, I can have more time to improve my production and fully develop or polish each song further for a better end product. I also plan to do the same with all my new album listening to take notes on what I'm hearing for the first time and my thoughts to see trends and simply improve my analytical / musical ear.
- Afterwards, it's the mundane middle that can mess things up 😅 This may be the most important insight, which is really just solidifying what I'd discovered from the first 365 project — it's the boring, horrible times that matter the most. I have already had many, many songs that I don't like very much or that I made while I was exhausted or that don't do anything new or exciting or just sound and feel exactly like 10 other ones I made. While not ideal, life is not ideal and the whole point is that the persistence and consistency I'm building by doing anything musically every day helps build all the different muscles and pathways in my brain to get me to where I want to go. Even the basics of being able to create song concepts, develop rhymes faster or slowly and gradually improve my timing and singing are all built through those days where I may feel like I'm not doing anything great. It's also the fact that taking a break one day or skipping it for whatever reason opens up the possibility that you do it any other day, which is a slippery slope of lost dreams. 👋 I wouldn't have the breakthroughs and create the best songs to date without a few (and by a few I mean a ton) that make me cringe and weep. While there is no real timeline or rhyme to this type of thing, I'm aiming for about 1-2 breakthroughs a month. If I can see substantial progress or feel that I made a song that's vastly better than most of what I made previously every 14-30 days, than I'm happy. I've seen a constant pattern of the breakthroughs coming very quickly after the deepest challenges and lows too, which has made it easier to keep pushing each time.
- Podcast as
the perfecta great form of non-feedback 💬 Coming from the experience of what contributed to me stopping music previously and Instagram heavily influencing me — I wanted to give myself the proper time, space and environment to make art that's true for me. I didn't think of it at the time, however I've realized that a podcast is the perfect fit for me to share my process openly, record it later for myself, and have a daily time for reflection without giving an invitation for commentary and feedback. 😉 Honestly, I don't care which song you like, what you think I should add or stop doing, etc. I'm creating this for myself and for what I need to say / express. Despite having confidence now that's night and day to where I was as a teenager, I believe it's best not to play with fire (as these types of comments, channels and feedback become an expense on time and distraction of their own). So far, so good. 🔥
More to come... thanks for reading 👀 and listening 👂🏼
Resources I've used + recommend
• Dissect Podcast (for learning music theory and deconstructing great songs)
• Vanido: Learn to Sing (iOS App)
• TapBPM (Online beats per minute calculator)
• Young Guru's classes on Skillshare for recording, mixing and mastering
• ChordChord for generating new chord progressions
• Voloco for easy vocoder effects on your iPhone (Android too)