Current status at H Coffee House in Los Feliz: I'm seated outdoors, directly in front of a towering Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica) as the sun beams down in flecks because a large tree to my right is soaking up most of the sun. There's a slight breeze, and Sampha's Process is playing in my ears, providing the soundtrack for a mellow Spring day in LA.
Life is good. Bringing awareness to simple moments like these makes me feel grateful to be alive. I took a hot yoga class for the first time this morning. It taught me to slow down, to focus on breathing and stay present. My worries and overwhelm from the past week melted away.
The teacher opened up the class by reading a part of a passage from a book called The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight:
Every perception is an invitation into revelation.
Hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching —
Ways of knowing creation,
Transmissions of electric realization.
The deepest reality is always right here.
The deepest reality is always right here.
I want to thank anyone who's subscribed to this newsletter. I remember when I first thought of writing on a semi-regular basis to people who cared about what I had to say. It was August last year, and I was still living in SF, figuring out the steps I needed to take to make my big leap back to LA. I felt like I was at the top of a rollercoaster, ready to plunge downward. I remember running through potential newsletter names to a wonderful mentor and one of my former SoundCloud managers Diana Kimball (who runs an awesome podcast called Should We). Questions and doubts raced through my mind as I quickly jotted notes of things to consider as Diana shared her advice and experience in writing publicly.
It's April 2017 now. With all this said above, I'm proud of myself. As someone who is more so a listener, an observer and absorber of information, I've been challenging myself to share more of myself and my voice since I've moved back down to LA. I'm still working on it, but it feels good to know I took a chance on myself to do this, to try.
These words of gratitude were sparked because of a tweet last week from April George of the lovely duo April + VISTA and a frequent collaborator of GoldLink; we met at GoldLink's show in SF in March 2016. April's words warmed my heart and was motivating to read and to keep going with this, however this newsletter evolves overtime. As I mentioned in my last letter, I may soon migrate this into a full blog, so it's easier to read and share.
I'm learning not to be afraid to make my own moves in my own way. That's what living authentically is about for me personally. If you're embarking on a new project yourself or chipping away at one now, whatever it is, keep going and stay focused on your own progress. Don't forget to look back to see what you've accomplished so far. Pause and be proud of where you're at too. Full disclosure: I won't ever stop repeating this as the main theme of my letters.
In line with this reflection, I had the honor of participating in the first annual Women in Music Bay Area festival two weekends ago, April 7-9. It was co-founded by two incredible women in music who are making big moves in the Bay: Evangeline Elder and DJ Red Corvette (Carmena Victoria).
Back in September, Evangeline and I were introduced via email by my former SoundCloud colleague and friend Amy Nguyen. They both went to college together and organized music events on campus. In December, Evangeline and I met in person at Sylvan LaCue's show at Los Globos in LA. In January, I made a quick weekend trip to the Bay, and the two of us met for coffee as we talked about our journeys and navigating the world of music. In February, Evangeline reached out to let me know she was organizing a music festival for women and wanted to know if I'd be interested in participating in the "Women Behind the Scenes" panel. I was thrilled to be invited because it signified a milestone I'll cherish in my career. Plus, I'm always down to revisit the Bay, which has been my second home and where I've done the most "growing up." I then connected Evangeline to singer-songwriter and producer Tiffany Gouché and her manager Vatana Shaw who have become great friends of mine. Tiffany and Vatana remind me that vulnerability is essential to connection, and I'm grateful to have their support in both music and in my personal life.
The three of us road tripped from LA together. Tiffany spoke on a panel called "Breaking The Mold" along with DJ Red Corvette and artists Tia Nomore and Siri. It was focused on the careers Women of Color have in the music industry and how they as Black women challenge the mainstream standards imposed on them. It was an intimate, powerful conversation between them and the attendees with great energy in the room.
The "Women Behind the Scenes" panel I was on went well, and I was in the company of some extraordinary women behind the scenes: Cristela Rodriguez who manages Chicago rapper Saba; music publicist Marina Harrison who also manages Bay Area rapper Locksmith and singer-songwriter Mara Hruby; and my former colleague Jen Hayes who handles Community Operations at SoundCloud.
My initial nerves went away once I realized I've worked hard to gain and speak about the experiences I've had up to this point. No smoke and mirrors. I also thought about what I would have wanted to hear if I were in the audience. I was grateful for the young women who came up to me afterward to say they were inspired by my story and words. I was also grateful to have some incredible people show up to support me, all of whom I've met throughout different points in my life and career: Audrey, my best friend who I first met in middle school; Cary, my great friend and first coworker at my first job at Sparkart in Oakland; Genesis, my first intern ever during my SoundCloud days; Kimu, my new friend I first met in Atlanta at A3C in October; and Tiffany and Vatana who I've been connecting with more since I've moved back to LA.
The entire weekend was a blessing, a learning experience and a celebration of women in music. I even cried tears of joy at the closing party at the Starline Social Club. Here are a couple of snaps from the weekend.
My main takeaways from the Women in Music Bay Area festival weekend:
- Let's uplift each other as much as we can, particularly women in music. We can be stronger together if we bring our forces together.
- Don't take the people who support you for granted. They help ground you and keep you moving. Show them love and gratitude often.
- Trust yourself and believe in your story.