SoundCloud playlist, my collaboration cycle, Happiness, React Native & Noah Hawley

750 Words — Day #17

Last night there was a good meet-up with some other electronic musicians in Somerset House hosted by Tim Exile. A couple of people were asking about my music and I realised when I got home that my SoundCloud was a bit of a mess, so I made a playlist of some of the better stuff from my back catalogue.

We talked about some of the trials of staying productive as an independent artist and the conflict between working on music and promoting music. I talked about some of my more successful periods and noticed a pattern that I’m going to share with you now.

My pattern has been a cycle of:

  1. I discover a vein of continued productivity and start sharing a lot of new music on a regular basis
  2. Some female friend comes out of the woodwork wanting to work together with me as a producer
  3. My vein of productivity gets derailed in favour of the collaboration
  4. The collaboration breaks down, I lose motivation and all production stagnates

This has happened three or four times. I was single and lonely in every case so I was grateful for such sustained female attention — ostensibly platonic but with strata of intimacy deeper than a lot of romantic relationships that comes from making music together.

I’ve learned better now — I have a one track limit for any collaboration — the first track I make with someone is always fresh and interesting but the second usually gets bogged down as I start to expect more from it.

That’s the reason I’ve put so much effort into learning to sing for myself — I needed to bring singing into my work one way or another but it really had to be on my terms to be sustainable.

It’s also the reason my back catalogue is so all over the place! I’m proud of it though, even though so far it hasn’t ever lead to me feeling particularly validated (if I could just get paid for this!).

I’m learning React Native today. I decided to start working on a redesign of my Happiness app that can work on Apple Watch and Android as well. Users will create a smaller number of richer influences in their day — people, activities, maybe feelings — and report using a Tinder-style interface simply whether each influence is currently making them happier or not so happy. This will make the data a lot simpler and more visual and actionable than it’s ever been before.

Initial paper sketches

I’ll release as a separate free app with in-app purchases for new reports and insights as I create them over time.

Beginnings of some design work

There was a good Lynda talk about the React Native ecosystem so I discovered lots of useful things like (seems pretty good) and (more trouble than it’s worth).

I’ve got a basic Tinder swipe left / right thing going already but I’m already having to delve into the component’s (slightly unsatisfying) source code to figure out how to add basic, obvious features. I don’t mind though. It’s different. It feels like it’s definitely going to result in less code than any other app I’ve written, and I’m already starting to feel the benefits of JavaScript’s epic refactorability.

I’m looking into getting some funding for this project too. If I could hire a designer and marketing person that would really help me make a profitable business. Otherwise I need to take some normal contract work really soon. The market still seems kinda dead though.

Nobody’s blogged my video yet. I know that some people probably want to wait and see what I suggest because they’ll want to heavily editorialise in response to my “challenge”. I guess a difference between this and the mechanical techno video is that you can’t just paste it without explanation — you really have to state the side you’re on.

I was listening to this track and it got me thinking about Legion.

I now want more than anything for Noah Hawley to listen to some of my music and ask me to write something for season 2 of Legion, or to use one of my tracks in it. It feels really perfect to me — it can be electronic because of the super-hero comic book thing and its schizoid elements would really make sense for that series. I sent him an email with a couple of links. Imagine if he wanted to use it. How great would that be.