One Year Anniversary: Return to LA

Today marks my one year anniversary of my return to LA.

It’s hard to believe I’m back in my hometown, living here for a year now after having spent the previous 10 years in the Bay.

My dad’s pick-up truck loaded with some of my things on our drive down from SF to LA on September 5, 2016. I’m grateful for my family who helped me move to Berkeley in 2006 and move out of SF in 2016.

I’ve loved the journey of starting a newsletter to document the transition since the big move a year ago. Sharing my personal reflections, updates and music recommendations to land in people’s inboxes, from familiar faces’ to complete strangers’, was nervewracking and humbling. I was not only finding ways to connect with more people, but I was also building up my own courage to share my voice.

To my dear subscribers that have trickled through this past year, I appreciate your support and hope you’ll continue to follow along and keep in touch with me. If you’re a recent subscriber, you can read all my past letters I’ve sent here.

Apologies for the recent radio silence though. I realize I haven’t sent a letter out since April. I’ve been heads down these past few months. More thoughts are below in the highlights.

I’ve also been slowly working on my first website (for future reference, it’ll be janeshin.co) where I’ll write from a blog on the site moving forward. I’ll still try to cross-share on TinyLetter, but I’ll have more flexibility to use the blog to share my words and express myself across different formats too.

This also marks a milestone for me because it’s the first time I’ll have created a website. Creating a website has been one of my goals for 2017. At this point in time, it makes sense to have my own platform to showcase who I am; highlight my work and my writing; and better introduce myself to my current community and potential future community.

When it came time to create my domain, I started wishing I had secured the coveted janeshin.com. At the same time, I felt lucky I had snagged @janeshin on Instagram and Twitter.

I reached out to the owner of janeshin.com, who is a politician in Vancouver. As the first Korean-Canadian of her legislature, she was kind enough to respond. However, she said she wasn’t willing to give up the domain unless I’d be able to pay an amount that she’d feel comfortable retiring on. It was worth a shot, and it’s fascinating to meet and learn about people who share your same name–it turns out we had been in touch already because she was a member of the Facebook group I created in 2007 called “Jane Shin” to unite Jane Shins across the world (I really did create this group).

In going through this process of figuring out my domain, I’ve been thinking a lot about identity in the online space and what of ourselves we choose to share. Depending on the platform, we can express ourselves in different ways and control how much we choose to share. Our usernames become highly coveted and in demand in their own right too.

How do you handle sharing across platforms?

Anyway, 2017 has been a transformational year already. I just wrapped up a five-city world tour (haha) in August. I visited Miami, Atlanta, Stockholm, London and NYC. I’ll share reflections from my travels in my next post. I’m grateful for the opportunities to create, explore and grow this year.

Here are a couple of highlights since the last letter I wrote on April 18, 2017:

  • I’ve shared this in a previous letter, but I joined Spotify in February as a writer for videos on RapCaviar, Spotify’s flagship hip hop playlist. Videos have been recently introduced to elevate the playlist experience; new videos are released every Friday within the playlist. It’s been a great learning experience, collaborating with artists and their teams to write and pitch creative concepts and help produce videos. It feels good to support artists in a more creative role. My journalism background in researching and compiling interview questions is coming in handy though, along with my most recent artist relations experience. Many of the artists I’ve been fortunate enough to build with prior have been progressing in their own journey, which is exciting to see and keeps me going.
  • You can see all the RapCaviar original videos that have been created since March here. I’ll continue to share more updates around my work. Also, the team will be growing soon, so keep an eye out on spotifyjobs.com. If you see anything interesting across teams or offices, please reach out to me or help spread the word and put me in touch.
  • I interviewed the incredible artist April George of the R&B duo April+VISTA and frequent collaborator of rapper GoldLink. April is an accomplished vocalist, violinist and pianist. I had the opportunity to meet her in person at GoldLink’s show in SF more than a year ago, and I was curious to learn more about her contributions to his projects over the years and how she balances her collaborations. Read my story on OkayPlayer here.
  • I was an honored featured guest on the incredible Natalie James’ NTS Radio show. We talked about being Women of Color in the music industry, our favorite albums of 2017, self-care tips and my journey navigating the music world thus far since my previous work at SoundCloud and my new gig at Spotify.
  • Stem published this interview I did with Rhode Island-bred rapper Khary on how he self-sustains as an independent artist. If you haven’t heard of Stem, they’re a game changer in music. I’ve seen first-hand the headaches artists experience when trying to decipher publishing splits and how to properly monetize their content online. Stem makes it easy to not only help artists get paid, but also help them understand how much they should rightfully be getting paid across platforms.
  • My friend, artist, designer and entrepreneur Theo Martins’s cereal bar Cereal & Such opened up in the back of Virgil Normal in Silver Lake. It’s become a spot where I’ve continuously met great, new people and have had insightful conversations, all over a bowl of cereal. Here’s a wonderful write-up on Cereal & Such by our friend Emily Berkey. Theo also just released his “TM” album with producer Thelonious Martin so make sure you cop it. I’ve mentioned him in a previous letter focused on “Lyrics as life’s reminders.”
  • I stopped by the tail-end of the lovely R&B sister duo VanJess’s video shoot for their fun summertime song “Touch the Floor” featuring Masego. Their latest song “Through Enough” featuring GoldLink was in the recent episode of Insecure.
  • I attended FYF for the first time and was happy to have caught Missy Elliott, King Krule, Solange and of course Frank Ocean. I cried tears of joy and gratitude during his set. I also got stopped twice for my look on day 2: I wore a silver velvet top, purple overalls and Vans Sk8-Hi kicks. One woman stopped me because she was doing user research for Nordstrom and another took a photo of me for the Vans Girls blog. I’ll admit it was flattering to be stopped because it’s never happened to me before.
  • I turned 29 on June 3. I celebrated at the beach and went bowling with some of my favorite people. I was proud to have bowled a turkey too on my last frame. Three strikes in a row for the 3rd. Wow, last year of my 20’s, let’s go.
  • New music I’ve been digging lately:
  • NXGN CBNT (pronounced “Next Gen Cabinet”): Brooklyn collective of bright-eyed, smart and talented friends who aren’t shy about catchy wordplay and conscious lyrics. Their production styles range too, from instrumental to experimental. Each member of the cabinet bring their best selves that make up one whole–NXGN.
  • Ivy Sole: Talented Philly-based artist who writes, raps and sings all her own words. In her hit song “Life,” featuring Seattle rapper Dave B., she sings, “Life is short / life is simple / life is joy / and life is pain / life is wonderful / and terrible / but it’s beautiful and love’s the same.” What drew me into her music was her focus on her journey of self-exploration that invites gratitude and healing. More mental health awareness by artists like Ivy, please.
  • iivrson: Atlanta artist who has only one song out so far called “Randy Foye,” named after basketball player Randy Foye. Catchiness abound. iivsrson’s tunes are some of my favorites to bump in the car. I’ve gotten to hear some unreleased music, so stay tuned for more heat.

Final thoughts: It’s been a challenge and a blessing returning back to LA and re-building from the ground up. I’m proud of the work I’ve done so far and look forward to what’s to come.

Thank you for your support and I hope 2017 is shaping up well for you too. Drop me a note to let me know how things are going with you.

Much love,
Jane

This letter was originally sent to my TinyLetter email subscribers who subscribed via tinyletter.com/janewave. Previous letters are viewable at tinyletter.com/janewave/archive.