2021 was, by most metrics, an eventful year for many. It’s been a challenging year for myself as well, with many things getting in the way of music, such as hardware failures, computer issues, lost time due to high university demands, and more. However, there were many silver linings with my music for Kinesthetics, with new label releases, a phenomenal collaboration opportunity, and being a part of a close friend’s debut album release.
I think it’s vital to balance the bad and the good, and also to reflect on past events to learn and grow. Each new year, and for that matter most reflection moments, I like to think about things went well, how they didn’t go well, and what could be changed in response to these. With that, here’s a recap of 2021 looking back for Kinesthetics, and how 2022 looks from this reflection.
Lack of Content
A major focal point looking ahead to 2022 is content creation for both this website and for social media. Only a handful of articles were written for 2021, and half of those were for music releases (that still weren’t kept up to date). Social media accounts suffered the same. I was not (and still not) as active as needed to build numbers up through consistent posts and engagement. While more music was completed in 2021 than the previous two years combined, it’s way off target of what I could put out years ago, including production music.
For web articles, the core difficulty is that they are detailed and time-consuming to write. For social media and music, I simply lacked time and consistency. In reflection however, time is not the issue, but rather adequate time management and commitment. This is a core theme for many issues I faced with writing, producing, and completing my degree.
Building a Habit System
My first attempts at rectifying this were based on goal setting and targets to aim for. While helpful for visualizing where things should hopefully end up, it doesn’t address a critical flaw in that I am good at making goals but not what needs to change day-to-day to meet that goal.
James Clear, the author of a great book called Atomic Habits, recognized this symptom and argues that systems of habits for change should be the focus, not the goal itself, and that once a system is created, goals will follow in flow. Since 2019, I began tracking daily habits with an Android app, which showed trends over time where change was difficult, and where meeting habits was relatively easy. The change need not be much – literally a minute a day – to make incremental (atomic) progress.
The difference began paying off for music midway through last year, with a spate of releases finally completed. Improvement can still be made yet, but it’s encouraging to see progress.
Back to Labels
Since 2016, I have tried to go it alone and be a producer with solo releases without label support. I have been badly burned in the past by record labels, and for a time, I saw no use for them. I felt I could brand, network, and release just as well as they could.
This however changed in 2018, when I began my engineering degree. Solo production is very time-consuming and difficult to maintain alone; more so when a large portion of time is taken up already. Put simply, there’s a reason labels have staff for particular duties such as releasing and marketing. It becomes very difficult to do the work of five to six other people at once. It’s been a key learning moment, as I tend to overextend and overestimate what I can get done.
Going back to labels was hard but worth it. My first label release in five years, Drive, outstripped the Spotify plays on my three-year old album in its first fortnight. Sleep Won’t Come saw a high play to save ratio of roughly 30%, meaning almost one-in-three people who heard it saved it to their Spotify library. For a tiny artist, these are encouraging numbers, even if they’re a fraction of what bigger names see.
But it wasn’t just about plays or saves. Labels open doors normally closed to solo artists, connecting them to opportunities not thought possible.
A Wonderful Opportunity
I first met Jack Høye, or Dreamy, in 2011, when we worked on his debut release November. We’ve kept in touch ever since, and I got to meet him in Denmark in 2016. There we worked on a collaborative project, but it didn’t stick and we shelved it. In 2017 we restarted the collab as a slower, heavier track called 1UP!, as homage to the classic games we played while I visited. We completed it around 2017 to 2018, but didn’t release it. I had a feeling at this point that it was being saved for something special.
Jack shared he was working on an album with the great Daniel Kandi, and that he wanted 1UP! to be a part of it. From there, we worked back and forth, with Daniel now a part, and shaped it into the track it now is. From its first inception, to my modifications and basslines, then to Daniel’s additions as well as mixing and mastering, it became something great. When his album released last year, I was overjoyed. The effort and attention to detail in every track is truly special. Every track tells a story. For my own, collaborating with such great artists was hugely rewarding, and marked my first release on Enhanced Music; a feat I am aiming to repeat this year.
Since 2007, I have produced electronic music under various names. Those years are filled with highs and lows and hold many things to reflect on. I’ve been blessed with some amazing moments. Most fondly remembered are my first album just out of high school, getting international support from some of my favourite artists and acts, playing a sole gig in Sydney, and recent events such as collaborating on 1UP!.
The focus now is on what is to come for 2022. Some of these previous works will be revisited, and an old name will be revived for new uplifting sounds. I have a large collection of unreleased music I’m considering for a retrospective album release. The second instalment of Sound of Motion is also underway, and I’m expecting to make good progress on it over the next twelve months. Expectations are being tempered as it is my thesis year at university, but new habits are making music completion more efficient.
The goal for now is to keep learning, working hard, and keeping expectations realistic. With that, I am confident 2022 will be stellar, and I hope those reading and following have a wonderful year.