This year so far has seen the continuation of my musical journey and hinted at the beginning of a musical career that looks much more diverse than I ever imagined. Meeting fellow composers and producers, starting to attend live events and working as a photographer at these concerts has widened the scope of my musical interest.
Prior to this year I've approached music from a singer-songwriter viewpoint- spending weekends in my room with Logic Pro, a piano and guitar. However, having started exploring electronic dance music, live events and new, experimental approaches to music I feel eager to simply create music that is distinguished from anything else. My artist pseudonym, "Ownlife," represents doing your own thing; showing individualism and eccentricity and the more I explore this year, the more I realise this is exactly what I want to do with my production.
This year I also turned 18, opening up Perth's nightlife to me. I've never really been one for partying; so nightclubbing and pub crawls are not the reason I mention this. 18 is a significant age for me as it has opened a world of opportunity; allowing me to go to live music shows, meet musicians and really just see what it's all about. I've been doing concert photography, made a some money from it, and seen some cool acts live, free of charge. I've photographed Old Blood, Cry Club, Bad Weather, Lazer Gator and King Brown to name a few. Most recently the alt-rock-rap band Lazer Gator has taken me on as their videographer and I'm grateful to have made some great memories with them already. The first evening they had me over in their studio they were recording their song "So Scared," and I ended up recording piano on the track, which has since been played a couple times on Triple J! Doing photography and meeting people has really solidified the idea in my head that success in music is heavily dependent on who you know. I look forward to the second half of the year in this area!
As well as branching out and working on music and photography with other people, I've continued my own creative productions under my artist name Ownlife. I've released one song so far this year: "To Live," and have completed writing my debut EP, which is currently being professionally mixed. The EP has an electronic singer songwriter feel and I'm happy with the way it's turning out. Interestingly, however, I'm not sure if the singer songwriter approach is something I plan on sticking with moving forward. Not as my sole approach, anyway. I've met many incredible vocalists at WAAPA, and they've made me realise in the best possible way that I might not be able to match their level of talent. This thought has encouraged me to focus on what I call "playing the computer"; it's made me hone in on just producing. In doing so, I've realised the things I can create sitting in front of a DAW are like nothing else- it's quicker, often more exciting and the products are so much more unique than approaching music with a singer songwriter's mind. The thing I like most about the weird sounds I use and songs I create is the fact that they are so hard to reproduce- they are beautifully unique in this way. It therefore feels truer to the brand of Ownlife; which stands for individualism and eccentricity, and I haven't abandoned the singing side of things; I love to still include elements of my own voice, but processed.
Here's an example of the difference in my production from the start of the year to now:
Moving forward, I am designing a live music set. That's the challenge of making heavy electronic music; the performance side of things. I want to bring real energy to a live setting as I've seen Perth bands do, but I want to be playing music unlike anything anyone has ever heard.
At the core of it all, I just want to have fun.
A lot has developed since I wrote about semester 1. I've done a lot more creative work, met new people and created new opportunities for myself. I am still just as surprised as I was at the start of the year about how beautifully diverse the career opportunities for me are as a creative; from performing music to making music videos, to touring with bands as their photographer, the industry at this stage excites me greatly.
I have my first live performance coming up on the 18th of November, supporting the band I work for- Lazer Gator. I've been doing photography and videography for them as mentioned for the majority of this year, and they've been kind enough to give me the opportunity to open for them on the final show of their debut WA tour. To prepare, I've made a live rig using Mainstage, the live performance version of Logic pro, and developed a 30 minute 6 song set. I am finally at the point where I'm happy with all of the music in the set and am eager to perform! I also have a show the night after the 18th and have also had someone approach me about booking me for December 9th! Jumping right in.
I wrote in semester 1:
"I want to bring real energy to a live setting as I've seen Perth bands do,"
and upon reflection I realise that the reason I'm excited to perform is because the set has been refined to such an extent that there are no low energy songs in it! I perform with autotune, backing tracks and samples so that I don't have to worry too much about how "polished" the performance is, though the set is still very involved. I trigger samples, play keys and sing. The best way I've heard someone describe it is that "it's like DJ'ing on hard mode."
Taking a step backwards and reflecting on the EP I mentioned- it's not happening any more. This year has been instrumental in showing me exactly the kind of music I'd like to make, and the EP doesn't reflect that. At it's core, I now write music for live performance, which is something I've never done before. This still allows for a wide scope of styles and enables me to feel much more excited about the production process. I'm not the best vocalist and thinking about performing the style of music from the EP makes me anxious; it would be more intimate and vulnerable and I just don't think I'd be able to do the songs justice vocally. I have no regrets in spending the time I did recording and producing the EP whatsoever. It's all practice, practice, practice.
Moving forwards, I want to say one last thing. I have made the observation this year that my compositional process when given lots of time is highly experimental. I make so many tracks nowadays that I end up not listening to or not liking, but my key takeaway from it is to keep going!! It is much better to write a song I don't like than it is to not write at all, and I know that for every bad song I produce I get closer to something that'll stick. I'm in love with the journey.