My (musical) Journey

It all started on a playground in 2003. My best friend — we’ll call him Brax — and I were doing our typical neighborhood tour. In those days, we roamed free; as if we owned the place. When I say we, I of course mean the trio (me, Brax, and Advent). Funny enough, we still refer to our old hood as “our neighborhood”. Anyway, our ventures frequently ended at the elementary school playground that sat just on the edge of our neighborhood. We spent a lot of time outdoors then. On one particularly quiet summer day, we sat on the swing-set discussing whatever it is kids discuss (probably Megaman). Brax mentioned he got a copy of this program called “Fruity Loops”. He said we could make our own video-game music with it. You have to understand, this was a huge deal back then. We had dreams of creating our own Megaman-like game (we became friends because of Megaman Legends). We quickly shared our findings with the third musketeer. None of us realized the impact an idle conversation at a park would have on our lives.

Before I go on, I want to take a step back and provide a little more context. My friends and I were pretty tech savvy. If we weren’t outside exploring, we were tinkering with computers: modding games, trying our hand at programming, learning hex codes, etc. We all had our own PCs, though they were pretty weak then. Oh, and dial-up was fun. It says something when we were all jealous of Brax’s upgrade to a Celeron processor (gasp!). Even prior to finding FL, we were dabbling in producing music. For awhile we were using a Yamaha MIDI controller and recording our own mixes of video-game music. At one point we event went as far as to remix by selectively muting channels in game ROMs.

With FL at our disposal, the journey really began. We poured hours into it. The early days were investigative; learning the ins and outs of FL, trying to understand what that knob does. I still vividly remember finally understanding what automation patterns were — and when that happened I was on my bike to Brax’s house to share my discovery. That’s what it was, pure discovery. Once we reached a level of comfort, we started “producing.” Though in hindsight, the music was pretty awful, it came quickly and easily. Brax and Advent focused more on using their skills to remix game music while I struggled to come up with my own off-key productions. When I think back on these early days of production I feel a strange nostalgia and if I had to describe it: orange sun with warm air creeping through a half-opened window. That’s probably because I made an association with the act of producing with the weather at the time. There was a point where I was so obsessed that I brought my setup to a LAN party and instead of gaming, I produced a song in my friend’s basement. Good times. All these moments are with me today and I can still draw inspiration from them. I want to say this phase lasted for 3 years or so — I wish it was longer.

College crept up on me which made it increasingly difficult to dedicate time to music. I kept up with it, sure, but I wasn’t able to put forth an honest effort to increase my skills. I was relegated to producing during breaks. It was around this time that Advent and I formed our collaborative effort, Somnium. Under that pseudonym we produced “Sands of Time” which remains our best work (out of a whopping total of 3 tracks). Somnium, in a way, was my attempt to make music a part of friendship as well. Music, for me, is more fun when other people are involved and from a creative standpoint, ideas crop up that never would have otherwise. To this day I try to force my friends to collaborate (haha). So during my four years of college, I produced maybe 4 songs in total.

Entering the workforce, I truly thought “now’s my chance.” I didn’t realize that after 8+ years of working on music, I could still feel so behind. Looking at it now I realize that time wasn’t 8 focused years of mindful study. 2013 was a very inspiring year for me and that September, I felt an urge to return to music and really make a push to better myself (a certain song was released that lit a fire). Unfortunately it only lasted through that Fall season. 2014 was a busy year for me, I mean really busy. I didn’t have time for music honestly, so it slipped away. It wasn’t until Winter of 2014 that I even had a moment to sit down and open FL. In fact, I don’t think I turned on my PC between June and September. That Winter, inspired by the simplicity of chiptunes, I powered through my track “Legends”. I didn’t worry about perfection (for the first time in awhile) and I was finished in a few days. That brings us to 2015.

2015 was another big year, both personally and musically. I think this was the year that I really started to land on my sound, my musical voice. It was summer of 2015 when I found Silk Music, specifically the Only Silk radio show. Something about that style really resonated with me (pun partially intended). The music coming from that show captured a spectrum of atmospheres I love: morning sun, summer nights, rainy drives at dusk. All of them nostalgic for me. It was then that I began to find my sense of direction. Due to life events, I didn’t have much time to dedicate to the craft but I at least knew where I wanted to go.

We’re getting close. In 2016, I set goals for myself; I wanted to finish 4 complete songs. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, it is for me. Despite yet more large life-events, I managed to squeeze two songs in by the end of the year: “Caverns” and “Shipyard Shadows”. Towards the end of 2016 I began to learn how I can squeeze production between the whirlwind that is life. I think 2016 was like a reset for me. I struggled with anxiety, self-created pressure, and expectations. I told myself 2017 was going to be a much more productive year. So here we are.

It’s now 2017. What’s going to happen this year? Well I know for sure another life-change event is coming; it’s unavoidable. Despite that, I plan on consistently setting aside time for my passion and pursuing my sound much more aggressively. I feel like ideas, melodies, sounds, emotions are swirling around my head and I simply have to find enough time to transform them into music. It’s been a long journey to reach this present moment, but every memory along the way shapes the music I want to make. Childhood, friends, summer, discovery, floppy disks and bike-rides. It’s all there just waiting to find a song.

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