reflection

Wrapping up 2018

Happy Winter Solstice. Today marks the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year. The end of 2018 is officially near.

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A lot of major transitions and shifts took place for me in 2018. It’s been a painstaking yet beautiful process, but I’ve gained a wealth of emotional and spiritual growth on a level I haven’t felt before. I’m grateful for all that’s transpired this year that has led me to this point in my life.

In 2019, I look forward to finding more courage to share my voice and my story, to continue elevating and supporting artists I believe in, to continue writing and producing to my heart’s content (no pun intended), and to continue shedding old narratives to make room for new ones to honor who I am today and who I’m becoming.

In the meantime, here’s what I’m reminiscing about and celebrating in 2018.

Favorite milestones of 2018

U.S. destinations I hit outside of LA in 2018: Kauai, D.C., NYC, Philadelphia and Seattle

U.S. destinations I hit outside of LA in 2018: Kauai, D.C., NYC, Philadelphia and Seattle

Destinations I hit abroad in 2018: South Korea and Japan

Destinations I hit abroad in 2018: South Korea and Japan

  • Making my spirituality a bigger focus this year

    • I’ve been processing a lot, and my spirituality is one of the most important things I’ve reconnected with and regained this year. I will expand on this more in 2019.

  • Launching janeshin.co, my website and blog in January

    • It took a lot of courage and hard work to finally launch my website in January. It was an emotional process revisiting my past work and past lives, but it reminded me I’ve come a long way. In case you missed it, I wrote about the process of launching my website.

  • Embarking on my first mother-daughter trip to Japan and Korea in March and April

    • It was special because I learned more about my mom on this particular trip. It was both our first time in Tokyo, and it was my third time visiting the Motherland, Korea. My mom continues to amaze me as the strongest person I know. She’s the only person in her family to have immigrated to the U.S., so I’m always in awe of her courage and independence. I already knew she was a musichead, but it was cool to learn just how much of a musichead she was e.g. she loved falling asleep listening to music, and she’d play American pop songs for her younger sisters so they’d pick up English. I’ve been piecing together the ways in which I’ve found myself on this journey in music, and in learning more about my mom, so much makes sense. Her ears of gold and her love for music have made their way through to me.

  • Turning 30 in Kauai and learning to surf for the first time in June

    • I was excited to turn 30 this year and in no better, more magical place than Kauai with my best friends. I learned to surf for the first time too and hope to have another opportunity to surf again in 2019. 30 has treated me well so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the 30s have in store for me.

  • Organizing the first LA Women@Spotify event for International Women's Day in March

    • I’m honored I got to make this happen during my time at Spotify by bringing together women working in the worlds of music and film. My heart was full seeing different women connect and share their experiences navigating the challenges of working in male-dominated industries. Read the recap and tune into the full recording of the panel here.

  • Creating and hosting my first music showcase in LA with April + VISTA, Ivy Sole and Bathe in August

    • This was a great reminder of how much live shows are a vital form of expression for artists and another avenue to support and discover artists. It meant a lot for me to be able to create this with the help of Forecast Recordings because it sparked some great milestones–this night served as April + VISTA’s first headlining show in LA and they were subsequently broadcast on KCRW the day they left for the airport. It was also Bathe’s first LA show, but they hadn’t released any music out at that point. They released their lovely single “Sure Shot” in October and it’s received great reception. It was great to have Ivy Sole perform for new ears and especially for loyal LA fans who came out to sing back her words perfectly. Read the full recap of the showcase here.

Favorite music projects of 2018

A lot of great music was released this year, but I compiled the above projects as homage to the fact that I’ve listened to these EPs and albums the most consistently and repeatedly, from start to finish with no skips.

  • April + VISTA - You Are Here

    • April + VISTA’s EP You Are Here has been the perfect project to carry me through the ups and downs of 2018. It’s a project that imbues growth and the importance of pausing and breathing through these transitions. I’m excited as April and Matt continue to challenge the status quo and experiment with their sound.

  • Tierra Whack - Whack World

    • Tierra Whack has shaken up the music industry off the strength of this unique project alone. While I eagerly await more gems from Tierra, I’m grateful I had the chance to end my last Spotify video shoot in Philly with her and her team.

  • Rico Nasty - Nasty

    • Rico Nasty is one of my favorite artists I discovered this year. She’s refreshing and her brazen raps reminds me to give no fucks about what anyone thinks about me and what I do.

  • Yuno - Moodie

    • I feel carefree, present, and positive when I listen to Yuno so Moodie is a good reminder to enjoy the ride and feel my feelings. His music has always made me feel this way since I first found him on SoundCloud back in 2012. Things came full circle, and we finally got a chance to meet in-person in September when he came to play his first LA show.

  • Mac Miller - Swimming

    • Mac Miller’s Swimming has had me crying too many times to count. I can admit, I never grew up listening to Mac Miller, but this album was so beautiful. Rest in Peace to a truly talented soul who seems to have touched the lives of all those who crossed paths with him.

  • Key! and Kenny Beats - 777

    • 777 is a catchy, solid tape and feels like a major contributor to Kenny’s rise as one of the top producers of 2018. The two have orchestrated a project that’s perfect for any occasion, cruising or kicking back with friends.

  • Beach House - 7

    • What else can I say about Beach House other than the fact that this is their seventh studio album? I’ve been listening to this legendary band since high school, and they always take me back to places and feelings I can’t describe.

  • J.I.D - DiCaprio 2

    • J.I.D has easily become one of my favorite rappers this year. His bars are impeccably catchy, and after listening to DiCaprio 2 through and through, I can’t wait to catch him live.

  • Black Panther: The Album

    • Black Panther: The Album elevates director Ryan Coogler’s iconic masterpiece of Black Panther that went on to become the highest grossing film of 2018. The fact that Kendrick Lamar is the co-producer already makes this a monumental compilation too.

  • 21 Savage - i am > i was

    • I had to edit this post to add 21 Savage’s latest album that was released today on 12/21. I got a chance to listen in the car driving around this evening, and it’s excellent from start to finish and will be a repeat listen for sure. I can’t wait to get back in the car to bump this.

Much love and blessings as you wrap up your 2018,
Jane

So long, Spotify: Reflections on creating content and speaking my truth

And that’s a wrap. Today is my last day at Spotify. Since February 2017, I was a writer on the Originals Team that brought original audio and video content to Spotify for the first time. I worked largely on video content for RapCaviar as I watched it grow from 5 million to over 10 million followers as the second largest playlist on the platform.

I came into the role armed with my writing chops, my early foundation in journalism, and my most recent artist relations experience I developed previously at SoundCloud.

Video production though was a new world, so I was excited to learn as much as I could. I’m grateful for how much I’ve learned and grown, even bridging over to creative producing. I sharpened my skills in conceptualizing creative ideas, writing and pitching treatments, understanding the ins and outs of being on set, and interviewing artists.

Artist relations always went hand in hand with my role as a writer. Helping bring opportunities for artists and creators I believe in, especially emerging artists, producers, and women brings me joy. Big thanks to all those I’ve gotten to cross paths with, work with, and support throughout my time at Spotify. I’m proud of the work I’ve done and brought to the table. Some of my favorite memories include:

  • Covering the underground movement Denzel Curry started in Carol City that marked its place in Miami hip hop history and whose sound inspired a new generation of SoundCloud rappers

  • Bringing spirituality and hip hop together by inviting Imani, The Hood Healer, through to do Trippie Redd’s first spiritual reading and a special group reading for International Women’s Day dinner with City Girls, Kali Uchis, and Molly Brazy

  • Having 6LACK cook chicken wings for fans at his favorite American Deli in Atlanta

  • Telling the story of LVRN and their establishment as a creative, hardworking management company as they celebrated the opening of their new office and studio in Atlanta

  • Visiting legendary, solar-powered Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta, a special recording studio that reverberates positive energy and love because of the Tree Sound team and where artists like Outkast and Future have been recording in for years

  • Exploring the history of Go Go music in D.C. and its influence on GoldLink’s At What Cost

  • Bringing some of my favorite producers through to help tell their stories which contributed to the growth of the Visualize producer series and playlist: DJ Dahi, Take A Daytrip, Teddy Walton, ThankGod4Cody and Carter Lang

  • Organizing and hosting the first ever Women@Spotify LA panel and networking mixer event where I invited women filmmakers to share their experiences and advice in celebration of International Women’s Day

  • Concluding my final week and final video project on set in Philadelphia with Tierra Whack whose music and originality has inspired me to take greater leaps and to always be myself

I’m grateful for the challenges and learning experiences that remind me to always speak and stand in my truth. Perseverance and resilience continue to build my character and strength, and having integrity gives me the courage to move forward. Key takeaways and reminders:

  • Trust your gut, know yourself, and stand for what you believe in. I’ve shared this in previous takeaways, but it’s worth repeating.

  • Share your hard work and accomplishments to advocate for yourself, but don’t be so hard on yourself. I’ve been on a continuous journey of sharing my voice and consistently talking about the work I do. Sometimes I may want to lay low, and that’s okay. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t share every moment you’ve created and every contribution you’ve made. The work will ultimately speak for itself, but revel in things that you do want to celebrate and share with others.

  • Know who’s in your court, stick with them, and tell them you love them. I’m grateful for my supportive family and tight circle of friends who remind me that I am loved, supported, and seen. Congruent energy is key.

What’s next for me? I’ll be sharing more updates about my next moves soon in a few weeks. In the meantime, I’ll be decompressing and working on some projects I’m excited to build and grow.

You can get in touch with me by heading to the Contact page on my website or feel free to subscribe to my newsletter. If you’ve been following along with me on my journey in music since the early days, thank you for the continuous support. Here’s to new beginnings.

Mental Health Awareness month

May is mental health awareness month. I'm passionate about raising awareness of mental health through my writing and building community in music. The stigma around anxiety, depression, and other mental health-related illnesses needs to be removed.

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This past week was an important reminder of how far a little bit of self-care practice can go towards easing my mind and reminding me to live in the present. Here are some things that have helped me recently and some things I'm looking forward to:

Insight Timer: Meditation app

I’ve previously recommended apps like Calm and Headspace, but I recently came across Insight Timer, the biggest meditation community in the world. Thousands of meditation teachers upload guided meditations across a variety of needs–anxiety, stress, sleep, emergency, etc. I’ve been using Insight Timer every day and night, whether I’m meditating for a few minutes before going into work, or getting ready to fall asleep.

Notes from the Universe

This is one of my favorite things to receive in my inbox: Notes from the Universe.  Every morning "The Universe" sends you a note, personalized with your name. These notes are "designed to remind you that you have, indeed, been given dominion over all things." I tend to receive these brilliant, uplifting reminders at the right time. Sign up for them here

Breath work

I took a breath work class for the first time last week. Breath work involves controlled, rhythmic breathing to help release pent-up emotions as you focus on the here and now. It was an intense experience–first-timers often experience their hands cramping up like lobster claws. As the music started to get louder and my breathing aligned with the sounds bouncing off the walls in the room, tears started to pour uncontrollably. I left the class with a set of mantras and gratitude for all that I'm experiencing and working on. 

Sound baths

People getting ready for the  Liminial  sound bath at Marciano Art Foundation.

People getting ready for the Liminial sound bath at Marciano Art Foundation.

Sound baths are a great way to relax, release emotional trauma, and gain new insights and perspectives. I had the privilege of experiencing an incredible sound bath at the Marciano Art Foundation last week. It took place in a 13,000 square foot space that currently houses Olafur Eliasson’s Reality Project, an immersive light and sound installation. Jónsi of Sigur Rós, frequent collaborator Alex Somers, and composer Paul Corley performed Sigur Rós's newest mixtape Liminal live. On the project's site, they write, “Liminal views Sigur Rós as an eco-system. It identifies the connections and blurs the boundaries between work done and work to come; between brand new music and ideas barely yet nascent; between songs written 20 years ago and collaborations to be made tomorrow.”

I love that description so much. I felt and visualized those themes throughout the experience. I often dipped into the past, imagined the future. Breathing through it and immersing myself in the music allowed me to return to home, to the present. I also reflected on how much I’ve grown since my days in high school and college listening to and seeing Sigur Rós and Jónsi live. Here I was, more than a decade later, listening to their latest project in an unforgettable sound bath experience.

WE RISE LA: May 19-28

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Organized by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, WE RISE is a 10-day pop-up festival of art and community building in Downtown LA from May 19-28. There will be talks, meditations, workshops and more to raise awareness and action around mental health as a civil right for all. I look forward to checking out some of the events this upcoming week. All events are free with RSVP. More info here.

Previous mental health related posts I've written

"The deepest reality is always right here."

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.

*Breathes*

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 Sutras112 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.

Closing party at the Starline Social Club in Oakland.

Closing party at the Starline Social Club in Oakland.

Candid of the lovely Vatana Shaw and Tiffany Gouché. 

Candid of the lovely Vatana Shaw and Tiffany Gouché. 

Carmena aka DJ Red Corvette and me. Thank you Carmena, Evangeline and everyone involved in organizing an incredible weekend.

Carmena aka DJ Red Corvette and me. Thank you Carmena, Evangeline and everyone involved in organizing an incredible weekend.

Siri and Vatana dancing at the closing party.

Siri and Vatana dancing at the closing party.

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.


Much love,
Jane