women in music

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.

sunset.jpg

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

International Women’s Day 2018: Women in Music & Film Panel recap

One of my goals in 2018 has been to create events in the community for people, especially women, to come together to connect, speak, and share space.

Successfully putting an event together in honor of International Women’s Day last Thursday was powerful and reminded me that courage can invite so many great things into my own life and into the lives of others. 

Photos taken by Génesis Ahtty

At the end of 2017, Jean Edelstein, an extraordinary writer and former colleague, tipped me to the “Women@Spotify” group, an employee-run group at Spotify for those who self-identify as a woman. The group’s mission is to celebrate, support and elevate members through initiatives and events. I thank Jean for planting the seed for me to explore resources to plan events in LA on behalf of and for women in music.

Months later, I’m proud that I launched the first official Women@Spotify LA event on International Women’s Day this year: Women in Music & Film: Panel and Networking Mixer.

In thinking about the themes of the event, I wanted to specifically invite Women of Color to speak. Intersectionality, a theory on race and gender, coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, is important to raise awareness of and talk about–black women and other Women of Color have different experiences and challenges compared to white women.

I was also inspired to invite women filmmakers in music and film because as I’ve entered into the field of video through writing video content for RapCaviar, I wanted to connect with more women in these spaces.

I invited Evita Castine and Jaimie Sanchez to join me as featured panelists. These two incredible women have interesting backgrounds that have led them on their paths where music and film collide:

Jaimie Sanchez is a Dominican-American documentary producer and director hailing from Brooklyn, NY. She has helped produce films for the ESPN 30 FOR 30 series and was most recently a senior producer at VICE. She currently directs video content for Spotify. She has worked with brands like NIKE, CASIO, Pyer Moss and GoPro to showcase documentary filmmaking as a valuable medium.

Evita M. Castine is a writer, director, editor, cinematographer and photographer. She is Warner Brothers Emerging Director Finalist, Emmy winner and took home the audience award at the Diversity in Cannes Showcase in Cannes, France for her film “Only Light.” She is heavily influenced by black anthropologists and writers like James Weldon Johnson and Zora Neale Hurston who inspired her to look at the soul’s expression through the simple acts of everyday life using sound and images. She has directed videos and photographed artists Cody ChesnuTT, SZA, Dej Loaf, Raphael Saadiq, A Tribe Called Quest, Lalah Hathaway, Common and more.

It was an affirming, healing and inspiring evening of conversation and connection. Listen to the full conversation and Q&A below about the strides and learnings in Evita and Jaimie's careers and the importance of recognizing and owning your power as a woman and more.

Key moments throughout the conversation and Q&A: 

  • 5 min: The moment Evita realized she was committing herself to filmmaking when she started making films with friends which is what filmmaking is at its core

  • 5:40 min: Jaimie on being the first out of her siblings to go to college, graduating with a biology degree but realizing that something creative was calling her and taking a chance on herself

  • 7:30 min: Catalyzing things for a man that Jaimie didn’t quite understand herself at first but realizing her power that she could things for herself: "This would not have happened if I weren’t in the equation...I could do this for myself instead of just empowering someone"

  • 8:34 min-~14:00 min how Evita’s identity as a black woman and Jaimie’s identity as a Dominican-American woman influence their work and the way they work with people behind the scenes

  • 14:38 min: Evita on the most important thing you can do for yourself is hold space for yourself. The only way you know it is because you know it.

  • 16 min: we all live on the internet, there are no boundaries or conventions of anything. It’s about the work at the end of the day.

  • 20 min: All you need to say is "I am a director, I am XYZ," avoid saying "I'm an aspiring XYZ"

  • 21 min: Building confidence through persistence

  • 22 min: Putting yourself in the position with the right people and being selective about your opportunities to build resources, even if you have to pay your dues sometimes

  • 23 min: Biggest lessons throughout Evita and Jaimie's careers that stick with them

  • 26 min: Trusting your gut and being resourceful on your own

  • 27 min: Investing in your personal life, don’t isolate into one narrow path

  • 29 min: Proudest moments and highlights in Evita and Jaimie's careers so far

  • 33 min: Importance of empowering women, putting other women on and spreading positivity because it will come back to you

  • 38 min: Q&A: How do you deal with men in the industry who only want to help you after you date them?

  • 40 min: Importance of boundaries

  • 42:16 min: Evita on "Your intellectual property is important, especially for Women of Color"

  • 43:26 min: Act and walk around with the confidence of a man

  • 45 min: Awareness of pay and challenges women face with negotiating pay

  • 48 min: Q&A: How do Evita and Jaimie collaborate with music composers as filmmakers?

  • 52 min: Q&A: Where do you find the line to pause and use better judgment from difficult situations where you feel immediate emotional responses like anger or crying?

  • 58 min: Q&A: How to deal with competition among fellow women?

  • 1:00 hr: Love yourself no matter what and everyone has their own "bucket of magic"

  • 1:02 hr: Your peace of mind is all you have

  • 1:03 hr: Insecurities and vulnerabilities

  • 1:04:38 hr: Q&A: How do you establish your identity when you're getting feedback from people on how to be?

  • 1:12:20 hr: Q&A: What advice do you have for me to expand beyond just being a producer-singer-songwriter to share my music in film?

Additional links and resources that came up from the talk:


Personal key takeaways:

  • My voice as Jane Shin matters. I am not defined by where I work. I’m Jane Shin in the end. My dreams have no bounds, my identity has no bounds.  

  • Evita mentioned, “I’d rather be scared and free-falling and be free instead of wondering what if?” I had moments where I questioned how things would go with the event, but in the end, it all worked out. Taking that step, no matter how things turn out, can open doors and spark more ideas and connections.

  • Challenges are inevitable on this journey. When things don’t go my way, stepping back to remember that my peace of mind is what’s crucial to protect and uphold will help me learn and grow.

  • I am grateful for all the amazing women in my life who came out to support me or shared their support for me from afar. Thank you everyone who took the time out of their evenings to make it all the way out to Century City. I felt so honored, loved, and heard. I also want to share a special thank you to Génesis Ahtty. The last large-scale event I planned was the SoundCloud Artist Forum back in 2015. Génesis was my first intern at the time and was a massive part of the planning and execution of the event. She came in clutch again, on her birthday no less, to be the official photographer and videographer for the International Women's Day event. Look to uplift and support those around you.

Korean music favorites

The 2018 Winter Olympics held in Pyeongchang concluded last night, marking the first time South Korea hosted the Winter Olympics. As a proud Korean-American, I've been inspired to dive into what sounds have been coming out of the Motherland (and the U.S.) and revisit the classics I grew up on. I'm also headed to Korea for the third time for my cousin's wedding in March, so I'm excited for the adventures and reflections that will surface this time around; the first time I visited was in 2000 and the second time was in 2014.

Frankly, I've missed out on a lot of good Korean music over the years. My own journey in music has taken different paths, but there was definitely a hallmark Korean music moment for me in elementary school.

I gathered some favorite songs of mine, old and new, into a playlist. There's a mixture of hip hop, atmospheric indie, electronic and heartbreaking love ballads:

Eagle Five - Gwedo (1998)

Eagle Five was a hip hop group in the 90s who had the best dance moves. My brother and I would always crack up hearing one of the group members Eric licking his lips before he starts rapping in the intro of this track, Gwedo. I love this song for its minor key change in the chorus that makes it a slightly melancholy hip hop song.

Happy Doghouse - Don't Give Me Grapes (2016)

I first discovered Happy Doghouse last year or so when her music surfaced on Ryan Hemsworth's Secret Songs. "Don't Give Me Grapes" is a dreamy number, and she tagged her genre as "Puppy Punk" on SoundCloud. Enough said.

Yaeji - raingurl (2017)

Yaeji, born Kathy Yaeji Lee, has had a breakout year last year, and she only continues to rise. The NYC-based singer, songwriter, rapper, producer and DJ does it all, blending house music with hip hop to voice relevant topics regarding her identity as a Korean-American. I love that she sings in both Korean and English. "raingurl" is my jam from EP2 which she says is about introspection in the club.

Turbo - December (1997)

Turbo was one of the best duos out there in the 90s and 2000s. "December" brings back so many memories for me. I especially love the sound of the bells in the intro.

Jane Jang - velvet (2017)

I want to listen to this song when I fall in love. "velvet" is a perfect warm piano, acoustic guitar song. Jane Jang is an indie folk artist who would busk in the streets of the Hongdae neighborhood of Seoul. She gained fame after appearing on the Korean music audition show Superstar K2. 

Neon Bunny - Romance in Seoul (2016)

Neon Bunny whose real name is Yoojin Im is an independent singer-songwriter and producer from Seoul. "Romance in Seoul" captures Neon Bunny's airy vocals with melodic, ambient beats. It feels exactly like what you think a romance in Seoul would feel like.

Jonghyun ft. Taeyeon - Lonely (2017)

Jonghyun was the lead vocalist of the group Shinee. While he has different styles in the pop realm, I particularly dig the heartbreakingly sweet ballads like "Lonely."

Sadly, I didn't discover Jonghyun's music until after the news of his suicide. South Korea has the second-highest suicide rate in the world with mental health and seeking help being taboo. I feel the connection is related to the cultural concept we have called "han." It's hard to explain, but it's like a feeling of morose and melancholy that permeates through our lives as Koreans, a lot of it having to do with the invasions the peninsula has experienced over centuries.

"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