Setting the Baseline

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Dear Reader,

I thought it would be best to set a baseline of what to expect in this blog. Before I dive into my creative process, handling failure (lots and lots of failure) or handling the disappointment of being an artist of any kind, I thought you should know who I am and what drives me to want to create.

My musical life progression went something like this:

1. Classical / Opera
2. Country
3. Rock / Rap / Grunge / Anything My Parents Didn’t Listen To
4. Electronic
5. Listening to All the Things
6. Learning How to Play the Things

As a young pre-teen, I had two favorite albums: the 1984 recording of Phantom of the Opera and some music that combined nature sounds with flutes. Country came into the mix because that’s pretty much the only thing my parents listened to which is probably also why I came to not listen to it for many, many years. I’ve come back around to it in recent years largely fueled by SomaFM’s Boot Liquor. (I am a long time listener and contributor so if you’ve got a few dollars to spare, give it to Rusty at SomaFM. If you want to keep in the spirit of this artist and blog, might I recommend checking out Space Station Soma?) This largely gave way to the rock/rap/grunge years which, as I’m sure you guessed, coincided with my teenage years.

It was during those early teen years that I stumbled on electronic music (you know, techno) and it became a mainstay for me. I loved it! I still love it, with some exceptions. However, back then, I didn’t know anyone that found enjoyment in the music. In fact, I was playing Orbital for a girlfriend at the time. I remember she looked at me and said something like: “It’s just repetitive noise, how can you like this? No one is ever going to listen to this music.” Her favorite band of all time was a popular grunge band which I’m pretty sure only knew how to play three chords and repeated them in every song. Just sayin’.

Let’s go forward maybe 10 years and my life drastically changed around 2008. I’ll just say it: I had found out my first kid was on the way and upon so doing, I realized I wasted the previous 10 years and needed to change my life! I wanted to be healthy and creative so I started exercising, trying to draw, paint, and thus enters my first official piano teacher! (Admittedly, he was my last real teacher as well. I tried lessons with someone else later on and couldn’t handle the new person’s style.)

I lived in the same town as Kieron for about a year and he happened to be offering piano lessons. I was super busy with my life and I needed someone willing to come to my apartment to do the lessons. I didn’t get to work with him for as long as I would have liked (he moved on to bigger, more amazing things) but the lessons he gave me where he snuck in some music theory and jazz foundations have really stuck through to today. I’m not a world class piano player by any means but what I do know, I owe mostly to him.

My playing the piano ebbed and flowed. Sometimes I would keep up with it and play, play, play. Other times, I had to put it away because I felt like I was going no where. I loved sitting and just playing but I didn’t have any particular music that I wanted to learn. Meanwhile, my office job was eating up more and more of my time and I still wanted to improve my other creative pursuits so I mostly gave up on it.

In 2018, another amazing moment of inspiration struck when I went to a concert for one of my favorite groups: Ghostland Observatory. We (my lovely wife and I) got to the venue super early – because it was the first time in a long time we got to leave the kids behind – so we scored front row viewing. We weren’t sure what to expect when this one guy walked out onto the stage. Maybe it was a sound check?

Turns out, it was the opening act, Gibbz. This guy came out onto the stage with a MacBook Pro and a couple of instruments (guitar, keyboard, etc.) and put on an amazing one-person show. You know what stuck out to me aside from this one guy being amazing? The Arturia products. This led to research and discovery and soon after I bought a keyboard! (Specifically, I bought the entry level Arturia Keylab-49 Essential which I used until very recently when I upgraded to the Arturia KeyLab-49 MKII.)

I spent a lot of time in 2018 and 2019 trying to figure out the digital audio workstation (DAW) software that came with the keyboard. I felt like I was constantly banging my head against a wall and I got no where.

Somewhere during this pain, I transitioned nearly all my sketching and drawing activities to an iPad Pro and anytime I start messing around with new technology, I like to see all the other things I can do too. That exploration brought me to GarageBand – something that I had previously discounted as bloatware on my Apple devices but now I was willing to try again.

There’s more to be said on the DAW topic but I will save it for later. GarageBand saved my musical life and I’ve since upgraded to Logic Pro and am obsessed! Kudos, really, to the development team behind it.

When we got to 2020 something big happened that impacted so many people in the world but also, I got a year older and I’ve reached another major life milestone. Specifically, I’ve crossed over the point of pure, debilitating fear of not being accepted and came to an understanding that what I create is not the greatest, it won’t support my family in any financial way, but it makes me happy. And if it makes me happy, it might make someone else happy. I’ve decided to stop waiting for perfection – to be in a place where I can dedicate my whole life to pursuing artistic passions and give up on the corporate life – because it may never come.

This is where I am in 2021. My music, my art, my life will never be perfect but it doesn’t need to be. I don’t need to have acceptance from anyone except me (and probably my wife). If someone out there doesn’t like my music, thinking it too repetitive, boring or whatever, it’s okay because we don’t have to like the same things. In fact, I hope it inspires you to create better music than I can and to put something positive into the world to bring joy to someone else.

To Gibbz, thank you for being so damn inspirational that I had to buy a keyboard. To Kieron, thank you for teaching me so much that has lasted with me for all these years. And finally, thanks to those around me that support my creative endeavors even through all the failed attempts that I make you listen to.

Until next time, write me and tell me about your journey at achira(at)achira.art

Sincerely,

Achira

P.S. Want to hear some of my favorite music? Check out this Spotify playlist.

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