From Hobbyist DJ to Twitch.tv Star
A Q&A with up and coming DJ Raffikki
When I finally committed to quitting my job last summer, I gave my coworkers the same excuses everyone gives:
I was looking for a change of pace, change of scenery, more chances for advancement, looking to expand my skillset…
The truth was the job was great — location, flexibility, compensation, and benefits — it made it that much harder to leave.
I’d wanted to quit after my second year but it took me the next 3 years to figure out exactly why and what to leave it for.
Q: Wanting to leave after two year mark is a movie we’ve seen all too often. What were you trying to figure out in the three additional years?
It took me so long because I had no plan on what I’d do. My whole life I had planned on buying my own place and comfortably retiring so suddenly abandoning that for something uncertain took a lot emotionally.
It took me almost 2 months of stopping by my boss’ office when he wasn’t busy to just chat!
Having a great manager made it harder to leave, but I eventually caught him one day and mustered up the courage to tell him that I’d be leaving…and even then he made the decision harder by offering me more flexibility and increased pay.
Q: Did you tell your family or friends about your decision to pursue music? What did they think?
After I quit I didn’t tell anyone that I was pursuing a career in music. My heart was set but I didn’t have the courage to admit it. I had confided in a few close friends about my decision and was met with discouraging opposition:
“What makes you think you’re good enough?”
“I’ve heard your stuff… good luck…”
And for a while I believed it! So I took on a part time job coding and doing database management, but after a few months I realized I would never achieve my goals if I was too afraid to commit.
So after 3 months, I left my part time job behind and took the plunge.
Q: Let’s rewind to the beginning. Can you tell us a bit about your journey that led up to this?
The original plan after graduation was to take the first tech job I could land to start earning some cash. This was so I could free myself from the mundane structured student life I’d been living for the past 20 years.
But once I began corporate life, I felt trapped, and slowly came to the realization that I’d sold myself on a false prophecy.
During work I found myself daydreaming about hobbies I could finally indulge in afterwards, namely DJing. I had started out as a hobbyist DJ in high school and by a fluke ended up performing at a large party in college which resulted me getting booked nearly every month for the rest of my college career.
Music fit my work life perfectly as well, I could listen to new tracks during the day and think of new mixes to try out at home, and then play gigs in the city on the weekends.
After a couple of years it became clear that work was holding me back from reaching the next level with music.
I would ultimately have to decide between a mostly passionless life with comfortable financial stability or seeing just how far I could push the boundaries with my music.
Q: Choosing between stability in a traditional career and uncertainty in passion is a tough one. Paint us a picture of your day-to-day at this point and what was going on in your mind.
Sure. Each day after work I only had the time and energy to hit the gym and spend an hour or two with my passions. 90% of my time was spent funding passions that I spent 10% of my time actually doing.
There were goals and dreams that I eventually realized I would never achieve at the rate …and I was OK because I had sold myself on the belief that I simply didn’t have the skills or talent to achieve those dreams.
The best I’d do in life was work a normal job, get a few promotions, go on occasional vacations, and have fun with my hobbies on the side.
Once I defined my passions as “just hobbies”, their appeal started to dull. My dreams started to fade. That’s when I realized how much I was stagnating in the corporate environment.
I was allowing my dreams, the things I truly cared about to die in exchange for all the comforts I could buy with a steady paycheck, and for FIVE years I was fine with this.
Q: It’s important to note that your quarter-life-crisis enveloped a lot of your personal life. Did you do a lot of introspection to get you through it all?
For sure, I also had a sudden breakup after two years and post breakup, you start to realize how much time you have without that other person. I spent a lot of time either introspecting or just hanging out and partying with friends.
For every inspiring individual I met, I met just as many uninspiring individuals. It was hard to admit at first, but after serious reflection I realized that although I found these people boring, I was no different…
I was just as average, living out the same daily schedule, not doing anything interesting or accomplishing out of the ordinary.
Reflecting on the nature of relationships and why my last one had failed, living my life without passion or pursuing serious goals I started to feel like I had become a social burden on the people around me.
I had nothing to bring to the table! All I did was take — I would feed off others’ energy, others’ ideas, others’ aspirations and occasionally add my two cents, but had nothing to contribute — I lacked substance.
I had let myself become this empty shell of a person because I had been content with everything around me, I had forgotten to keep growing.
Q: Admitting that you were average and lacked substance takes a lot of self-awareness and courage. How did you remedy this?
Well, trying to fill the void with new relationships was impossible because I realized I was unable to properly care for others or even treat others the way I felt they deserved because I didn’t even care about myself.
The problem with my lifestyle at the time was that it left me nothing to be proud of. I was never pursuing anything that I was passionate about, only staying distracted until I was able to buy temporary happiness with a new product or a trip somewhere.
It took a lot mentally and emotionally to break out of the system I was conditioned to live in and do my own thing . It took a long time to figure out what I really wanted and pursue that.
I now take my day-to-day routine, short term, and long term goals very seriously in a way that I never have before.
Q: So you had a passion with music throughout college, but was there a certain point when you decided to be all-in?
Definitely. I confidently self-diagnosed that I was suffering from unhappiness, stemming from a lack of real accomplishment and consequently low self-esteem.
In my most desperate times where I felt the most lost in life, losing myself in music was what always brought me back in touch with the world.
Experiencing music always led me to beautiful life realizations: that I was part of something bigger than myself, that there were other people feeling these same strong emotions, and most importantly that I wasn’t alone.
I came to the conclusion that if I had the rest of my life to accomplish one thing that would make me feel proud and fulfilled (and I know it sounds super simple), it would be to help at least one person experience a moment of true happiness. To help them escape the emptiness I was experiencing.
I’ve relived moments performing that still fill me with immense energy and excitement . Seemingly perfect moments where each second of the night seemed to have been layered with specific purpose, when everything comes together, and time seems to freeze just before the crowd explodes with adrenaline and liveliness.
You could look out at their faces and see their worries and cares gone, and for one singular moment everyone surrendered themselves and let down their walls.
That certainly made my decision to pursue music seriously much easier.
Q: So fast forward to today. There’s no fairy-tale ending here, what’s life like now that you’ve fully pushed towards pursuing music full time?
At first I was writing music everyday but I decided to broadcast some live DJ sets on twitch.tv.
The response has been phenomenal.
I thought I’d do a couple hours here and there every week or so, but since a few months ago there have been more people watching and listening each night than came to the club I played at on a sold out night!
Haha, not to mention I’m getting paid more on Twitch, but this wasn’t a planned move at all. It was something that came out of me thinking about what I really wanted in life and taking steps towards it.
Q: There’s a lot of readers our there who feel scared to pursue their passion. What’s one take-away that you’d like to share?
My philosophy is that while your career and your love life are extremely important , if you ever let either of those stifle your personal growth, you will eventually hit roadblocks in all areas of life. We should never stop growing.
There are so many aspects of my independent venture now that require me to constantly grow as a person. Managing myself has been the hardest and most rewarding task I’ve ever faced. Not only with obvious things such as managing my own time, schedule, and energy to make sure I don’t spread myself too thin , but also with managing my expectations, disappointments (I make a lot of mistakes), and even my successes.
However, managing myself, having a positive outlook, and a productive plan to move forward has taken levels of introspection and personal development that I’ve never had to deal with before .
This is the time of my life I believe is also providing invaluable growth to me as a person.
Q: Thanks so much for sharing Jovian, really appreciate the depth and vulnerability you shared with us today. How can people find you online?
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