It’s been 5 months since I’ve been back in LA. I checked in when I hit 3 months. One of the things I last wrote was, “It's okay for you to take the time you need in your own pace, because your journey is yours, and my journey is mine.”
Here’s the latest with me on my journey:
Since I’ve been mostly writing on Medium, I set up medium.com/janewave to have my music-related stories populate in one place. I’ll be publishing more stories soon. I’ve also been branching out in terms of writing in different formats, including writing for video (more details on that soon), and currently in the process of figuring out how to pitch to other publications. I'm also trying to connect more emerging artists and producers together to create. I started putting together a list of everything I hope to accomplish in music.
It's all very exciting and overwhelming. Truthfully, I've been a bit hard on myself because I haven't pushed out as much content as I'd like to at this point. But I’m also reminding myself that it’s okay to shift gears from time to time especially when opportunities come up when you least expect it. There are seasons for things, and life is never linear.
Aside from writing, I’ve been going to shows and events on the regular (scroll below), and I can’t help but think about high school Jane. Revisiting venues I hadn’t stepped foot in since high school has been propelling waves of nostalgia. I’ve been finding a lot of weird parallels between my high school life and my life in the present. I'm trying to embrace things coming full circle and paying more attention to signs that I've made the decisions I've made for a reason.
Anyway, onto the music.
A few things in rotation for me lately that I want to shout out, beyond Process from Sampha, Fin from Syd and Culture from Migos that I've been playing back to back:
Childish Major released "Mad Hatter" last week. He also produced rapper Quentin Miller's latest, "Darkside" that dropped yesterday.
In "Mad Hatter," Childish Major recounts the journey of creating music and the reality of staying above it all. It’s honest and somber–“Demons come, want demons to die, but they stay with me.”
His album Apples Don’t Fall has been in the works for a few years now, but it's now completed and coming soon. His track, "Happy Birthday" with Isaiah Rashad and SZA released last July is one of my favorite songs that I always come back to, so I'm looking forward to hearing his new work.
Childish Major got his first big break producing rapper Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O” which features Rick Ross and Future. It later got remixed by Black Hippy (Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q). He's also recently produced J. Cole's "4 Your Eyez Only." With all this being said, Childish Major needs to be on your radar if he isn't already.
Kari Faux has been on the rise with her music featured on HBO’s Insecure soundtrack and her features with Isaiah Rashad (“Bday” from The Sun’s Tirade) and Childish Gambino ("Zombies" from Awaken, My Love!). Childish Gambino discovered Kari in 2014 with her video "No Small Talk" which he ended up remixing.
Lost En Los Angeles was released in April, but this whole album has been speaking to me more lately in terms of my transition back to LA. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Kari wrote the album in reflection of her own move from Little Rock, Arkansas to LA as she navigates the world of music out here.
She’s a great writer and rapper, her tunes are smooth and groovy, and she just makes you feel damn good about yourself. I caught her Instagram Live the other day where she was hanging at home and talking about her love for puzzles. I love puzzles too, so that made me happy, and she just seems like a cool person to kick it with, period.
Mini recaps of the shows I’ve hit up recently
As mentioned, I’ve been hitting up a lot of shows since moving back to LA. My love for shows is rooted in my past of going to them with my brother when we were in high school, so I figured why not give you a mini recap of my time attending them.
1/24: 6LACK at The Roxy
It was a trip being back at The Roxy because I hadn’t been there since I had seen some of my favorite emo bands perform there. Seeing R&B singer 6LACK (pronounced “black”) was a treat. It’s incredible to see the growth and progress he’s been making since being free of his previous label deal that constricted him. His album Free 6LACK has been on repeat for me since he dropped it in November. He’s also managed by a smart, savvy team and label called LVRN (Love Renaissance) home to other great artists like D.R.A.M, Raury and MeLo-X. 6LACK is not someone you should sleep on, and if there’s further proof, he brought out The Weeknd as a special guest for a surprise performance at the end of his show.
1/28: Soulection 6 Year Anniversary at The Microsoft Novo
For their six year anniversary, label and collective Soulection sold out the massive Microsoft Novo in Downtown LA, which holds over 2300 people. They had a full drumline, a sound clash and more.
Here’s an old photo I snapped of the team when I first met them back in 2013. I'm proud of them, both past and present members, for bringing people together through their music.
They've been a major part of my past journey at SoundCloud, and they're a big reason why I have the relationships I have today in music. There's often a one degree separation between someone new I meet today and from someone at Soulection.
I also strongly believe that when people say “SoundCloud producer,” they're often thinking about Soulection because of the massive impact they've had on the platform.
1/29: Daniel Caesar at The Echoplex
Daniel Caesar holds a special place in my heart. His music uplifts me and can make me cry in an instant. It’s been amazing seeing his progress as well. I remember uploading visuals for his 2015 EP Pilgrim's Paradise. His first show at The Echoplex was lovely. I held my heart and swayed to his music. He brought out Kali Uchis for their hit song "Get You," which should definitely be in your Valentine's Day playlist if it isn't already.
The energy was warm and inviting. You could tell Daniel was blown away by the support of the crowd for his first LA show. He recounted that two years ago he was homeless, and that he feels like he's in a dream now. Today he's making moves (Mary J. Blige stopped by his and Kaytranada's studio sesh) and deserves everything that's happening for him right now and in the future. Daniel also shouted out that this LA show was the best show he's ever done, even beating his performances in his hometown of Toronto.
1/31: Huneycut at Mandrake Bar
I stopped by Mandrake Bar on Tuesday evening on the last day of January to see my friend and Seattle native Huneycut spin an all vinyl set.
My friend Laretta who's also in music was there with another friend in tow too. It turns out it was a woman named Michelle Zei who has been a subscriber of this very newsletter. She said she found me through my 5 Years at SoundCloud reflection post on Medium. The world is so small. We talked about writing and journalism, and it was great to meet someone in real life who happened to be connecting with me online first. She’s an incredible multimedia reporter and works in film among many other things. Check out her work here.
2/2: The Juice at The Regent
The Juice is organized by Mike Pak who unofficially runs @Koreatown and a collective from some good folks out of Rhode Island called Good Sport Creative. The Juice's purpose is "the intersection for like-minded individuals to congregate and collaborate within a cohesive and progressive ambiance."
The line-up was ridiculous, the music was bumpin’, the place was packed, and I ran into several different groups of people I had been in touch with in some way or another over the years. I also met a couple of new lovely women that I want to shout out real quick: Audrey, Madison Rose and Londyn Douglas.
Audrey is in music and wears different hats: she works at the Recording Academy, works with Andre Power of Soulection and is a writer. Upon introducing myself as Jane, she said she liked my name and that it sounded like a writer’s name. That made my night.
Madison Rose is a talented singer-songwriter whom I learned was JMSN’s back-up singer for a part of his tour last year. She’s got a lot of great things in the works, and we've already shared the sentiment that we need to be talking as much about the challenges and lows in music as the wins and shiny stuff.
Londyn Douglas is a stylist and creator of a vintage shop called Shop The Club. I had met her back in the green room towards the end of the night when she mentioned that there were hardly any women in the room. I agreed, and she mentioned a couple of her friends were still in the main floor unable to get in because they didn't have wristbands. We decided then and there that it was worth going back out to get them in hopes to diversify the room. We made it a mission, walked in and out with confidence, and it worked as the security guard let us through. That felt empowering.
2/4: FLYGRLS at The Regent
FLYGRLS's mission was to celebrate women with portions of the event going to the Downtown Women's Center. It was a beautiful event with an all-star line-up: Madame Gandhi, artist, activist and formerly M.I.A.'s tour drummer; Eden Hagos, DJ of Soulection and creative consultant; Coco & Breezy, twin sisters and eyewear designers from NYC; Huneycut, my friend and DJ as mentioned above; Bella Fiasco, DJ from Long Beach who's also an ambassador for Beat Junkies; and choreographer Ellen Kim who provided some serious dance moves with her crew.
The energy of the room was felt in the packed space. I'd love to see more events like this happen and in general, it would be great if promoters could be more mindful of representation in their lineups.
2/7: Khalid at The Roxy
18-year-old Khalid from El Paso, Texas is sure to move your heart. He’s got an incredible voice and is another one destined for greatness. You know when you see someone perform, and they just have it down–voice, moves, vibes. That's how it felt. For it to be his first LA show, I was blown away. I could already picture him in an arena like the Staples Center. His debut album American Teen is coming out in March, but hear his breakout song "Location" which was produced by Tunji Ige and Syk Sense and engineered by Tiggi aka Ktoven.
2/7: starRo Grammy Nomination party at The Regent
This was a great celebration for starRo's Grammy Nomination for his remix of "Heavy Star Movin" by Star Lake Chorus. A highlight was seeing Jarell Perry and starRo perform a remix of Frank Ocean's rendition of Aaliyah's "At Your Best (You Are Love)." I’ve worked with starRo over the years, and it's been a joy to be a part of the early milestones of artists like starRo who have worked so hard to get to where they're at. He immigrated from Tokyo almost 10 years ago, selling his instruments to survive. Today's he a Grammy nominee, and his future is looking bright.
All right, that's it for now. This was a long one, so I appreciate your reading all the way through if you clicked on this. Feel free to hit reply to say hey and let me know how you've been.
p.s. You can also find me on Twitter, SoundCloud and Instagram.