What's Next? (A Year In Review)
Hi. Welcome. It's been a while.
For someone who truly enjoys writing and putting my thoughts and unneeded (but non-controversial) opinions out into the world, I sure don't write as frequently as I would like but alas -- all it took was me sitting in a hotel room, mere hours before a pretty big life-changing event which I will get to later.
Disclaimer for the new readers: I tend to write chaotically sometimes, especially in informal pieces like this, so if that's not the style you like to read, you may ignore this side-quest as you really only gain like 50xp after finishing.
Glossary (for those who don't wanna read): - For Starters - - Theater Lyfe - - Quarantine Life - - Did Ya Guess It? - - So, What's Next? -
So, for starters, a lot has changed since I posted my last article, which you can read here, and even more has changed within the last year that I haven't updated a lot of people on. The first and most obvious change is, well, a global pandemic. Never did I think in a million years that I would live through a global health crisis that affected the world so greatly (yeah, I know H1N1/Ebola was a thing but I was still able to go about daily life back then) but I mean, cmon, what did I think would happen - my generation has lived through a lot already, this was just another thing to add to the mix. (**Please Note: This is not negating anything previous generations have lived through**)
But yes, the COVID-19 pandemic truly messed up a lot of people's lives and is still affecting the lives of many almost a year later. I don't want to dwell on the negatives because I'm sure most of you reading this article are already bombarded by the onslaught of information and negativity surrounding politics in this day and age but it wouldn't be a proper "Year in Review" if I didn't at least bring up something that globally affected everyone (and still is to an extent).
Unfortunately, like most, I was put out of work indefinitely after just starting to find my footing in the independent theater realm around Chicago prior to working in Corporate AV for a few years post-graduation.
Let me tell you, when I talk about happiness, despite the constant struggle of finding whatever 'happiness' means to me, this job gave me so much joy and excitement in a life that was obviously lacking in such areas -- I'm NOT lying. Besides an unfortunate pay cut (Corpo Money v. Indie Theaters -- which surprisingly wasn't much of a margin. *cough*) the opportunities that I was given truly did change my life for the better during the time I was able to actually move forward with them. But, on the flip side, absolutely crushed me when the pandemic hit. I have always had a passion, understanding, and love for live theater but wasn't familiar with the scale and limitations provided by the indie scene, meaning I was truly earning my paychecks (lol). But regardless of all the dumb [minor] injuries, crazy troubleshooting issues that only God himself would know how to fix, late nights, early mornings, and weird performance schedules, there wasn't a day that went by that I regretted my decision to take on the duties of a live theater audio technician. Everyone that I met was so welcoming, warm, understanding, and accepting of an 'outsider' coming into their ranks, which I've never felt before in a work environment before.
My first ever show was Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Sunset Boulevard' at Porchlight Music Theatre and was pretty dark for a first show but not a bad one, it taught me the ropes of my duties as an A2 (Audio Assistant; Backstage Workflow) and when I wasn't running 3-flights of stairs backstage to swap a microphone last minute, it allowed me to read a few good books during the run! The cast was amazing, supportive, and always brought the best snacks (they had a horrible sweet tooth, which I also have YIKES!). Shortly after that show closed I was contacted to essentially be promoted to A1 (Audio Engineer; FOH/Mixing) for a smaller theater up north, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theater, which had recently closed Hedwig & The Angry Inch, so, needless to say, I was hype to work with them on their next project 'Working' by Stephen Schwartz.
This. Show. Was. Phenomenal.
If you haven't seen or heard of this show before, definitely check it out if it's playing in a local theater near you and, I believe, is a perfect introduction to musical theater for those who might not normally be into the theater. Essentially it's a show of monologues comprised of interviews done by Schwartz to highlight the working-class men and women of Chicago, the 'every-dayers', in hopes of shedding a light on their lives. It's truly a power play that can be updated to fit the times but still stays true to its roots that, without them, there would be no us. Plus, the music & the cast we had KICKED ASS! Not only did I mix the show every night, but I was also able to help record, mix, and master some B-Roll Audio for promotional use that I might post up to let ya'll listen to it. Depending on when you're reading this will determine if it's up or not, regardless, it'll be up on my portfolio eventually. After we wrapped our short run of 'Working' I was approached, yet again, to another show for Porchlight: Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies. I have and always will, love dancing. I've always wanted to take classes, explore the realm of dancing but MAN did this show make me wanna dance. (see video below; 1980 Tonys)
This show, with the absolute BEAUTIFUL cast, had sold-out shows nearly every performance and for good reason. When you take highly technical jazz compositions from world-renowned jazz musician Duke Ellington, mix in some insane choreography, and pack it 90% full of insane tap-routines while also interacting with the audience, you're bound to pack the house every night.
Then COVID. I still say that I'm so glad I ended live theater on a show like Sophisticated Ladies because if we were to end on a super dark or sad show -- despite me liking those types of stories (I mean, have you seen Burning Bluebeard), I don't know how that would've translated to the pending doom that was this lockdown.
Now, coming up on our [almost] one-year anniversary (yay! 🙄) most of us have probably learned to cope and deal with all this extra downtime but, if you're anything like me, you had no idea how to cope.
Sure, it was fun to be able to stay up all night, play video games, go and do whatever I want with minimal consequences, but much like the early days of being a late-teen or early adult, the appeal of the "no rules" mentality quickly fades and, as I found out, a lot of us haven't truly had some real alone time. Trust me - mine was not pretty.
Most people I talk to nowadays, no matter where they come from, tend to always agree on one thing: "This pandemic has allowed me to work on myself." Now, say that again but without the 'life coach' condescending tone that I wrote it in originally and imagine it as if you were able to take a breath of the freshest air on the planet for the first time. Once you have done that, feel free to join me in the next paragraph.
But seriously, this pandemic, despite how absolutely deadly this virus has become, has truly opened so many conversations about a number of things: employee rights, livable wages, injustice in Law Enforcement, broken governmental systems, socialized healthcare and so much more. I can say that I've personally become way more vocal, present, and involved in mental health after I went through a pretty major event, in my own life, that truly affected me bringing me to my knees mentally.
This feeling of defeat, extreme isolation, loneliness, and despair led to my first project during COVID, 'Voices of Quarantine'. Now, despite being unsuccessful, it was a very needed home therapy session for myself and, I believe, those involved. 'Voices' was created as a 'safe space' to be able to escape and submit stories, experiences, or thoughts related to the COVID-19 Pandemic completely unfiltered and anonymous.
But that's okay. I have done a lot of that during this pandemic. Another example was me exporting a horror radio play as a Mono-Summed .wav file (instead of Stereo) and not realizing that until it aired, live, to a handful of other sound professionals; ultimate rookie mistake. Regardless, I'm grateful for the people I met, stories I've heard, artists I met, and experiences I've had along the way. Little did I know that this was just a foreshadowing of what I would do next, which would truly change my outlook on the rest of the pandemic. And I bet you'll never guess what either. Go ahead. I'll give you 1 gif XL gif to think it over.
Alright... you got your answer? Well, go ahead and guess:
It's a part-time streamer. Yeah, didn't see that one coming did you? If you're right you gain an extra 25 points of XP in this RPG we call 'life'.
BEFORE WE CONTINUE: - Yes, I said 'part-time' solely because it's just a hobby
- No, I'm not looking at becoming a full-time streamer
- Yes, I wouldn't mind if it did happen - however, I have other goals in life.
- No, I will not F4F (Follow-For-Follow)
- No, I will not raid you
- Yes, it actually makes me happy
- No, I don't promote it publically (yet) cause I don't wanna be "that guy" - More Info Here (if you want it)
But yes, never did I ever think I would pick up streaming but I did and I'm glad I did (despite all the dumb and unneeded technical headaches)! I truly picked up streaming, to again, cope with my extreme isolation and loneliness but in the process was able to shift my own selfish desire to stream and morph it into something that's able to help others (and myself).
Streaming has taught me a lot of things since I picked it up, how to appreciate myself, communicate/tell-stories effectively, how to genuinely connect with people that share similar interests and share that passion, reborn work ethic lost in whatever fabric of time the COVID-timeline is on, confidence, and passion. Honestly, I would suggest everyone pick it up at least once or, if you're a camera-shy person, start exploring the world of streamers. You'd be surprised at the non-commercialized content out there, there's something for everyone. The individuals that make up 'Paradise' (my community) are truly the people that give me life. They're all so pure, genuine, passionate, and just great people, despite bullying me occasionally on stream - if you're reading this from the community, hi but don't deny it. They have feverishly supported me, my ideas, my streams, and other members of the community no matter their background.
They've allowed me to successfully put on a collaborative festival that promotes, shares, and exposes other indie creators to newer audiences/creators and meet new faces. Check out The CollabCon Rewind Here! (Coming Soon: CollabCon 2.0). They've shown up to raise money for Hope for the Day & The Trevor Project, both charities and causes I'm so passionately vocal about on my streams, welcome members who felt alone/outcasted by their everyday lives, they've joined me for weird Movie Nights, Ani-Mayhem Sundays followed by a nerdy Sound Design stream, allowed me to send them Christmas gifts, and trusted me during our heavy-hitting Mental Health Mondays. Despite the shit show that our world is currently in, I'm truly grateful I'm able to stream to such amazing people, making meaningful connections along the way.
So... What's Next?
Well, to put it simply, one never truly knows, right? However, if you've read this far, you're probably tired of my ramblings and are anxious about what I'm so cryptic (but not really that cryptic) about. Hyperlink folks, this doesn't pertain to you but I see you. The biggest news:
I moved to Los Angeles as of February 28th. Why? Why not?
Okay, hold up, before you assume that I'm doing something dumb, I can explain. When this whole pandemic started, I and thousands of other people were caught up in the broken system that was our unemployment, which I'm sure was the same across the board. However, once that got all ironed out and because we've been locked up since March with minimal things going on, I've been able to plan and save properly, making my move out here less taxing on the mind, body, and soul (or whatever they say out here.) Also a HUGE shoutout to Rachel & Aaron for
Mind you I have also been thinking about eventually moving out to LA for a very long time, I've just never been in a position where I've had the time and didn't really have much going on. People who know me know that I'm in a constant state of movement which can either be good or bad.
At the beginning of 2021 (even late November 2020), I was really reflecting on my professional life prior to the pandemic. I was booked consistently for live theater gigs, all day, every day, all week long which was AWESOME BUT now, there's nothing. All of the connections I made were working in live events and now the industry as a whole ceased to exist.
What was I waiting for?
Why am I still here?
My [actual] career can be done and is being done, elsewhere.
I have great friends, family, and experience out there, why not? So, after some minor prep, saying last-minute goodbyes to friends, and a frantic last week in town, I was off.
Thus beginning a new chapter in my life. This last year has been a wild ride and has allowed me the opportunity to connect with people, first and foremost. Something that I've been HORRIBLE at my entire life. But not just that, this last year has taught me emotional stability, creativity, confidence, appreciation, and weird life opportunities through my various projects and experiences. A lot has happened despite not having a lot happen. I don't know what this next journey will bring but regardless, I'm eager to hear it. So, expect a lot of side-projects, life updates, new (safe) experiences, lovely weather, random collaborative projects, more crazy/wild streams, CollabCon 2.0, and a skewed idea of timezones (until I get fully acclimated) -- maybe a nice tan in there somewhere. Hopefully, you'll join me on this new journey, cause I can't wait. Love, DJ Links to Projects in 2020/21 (will upload accordingly): - Desert Racers (Animated Comedy; Sound Designer)
- Project Outbreak: 'I Hate New York' (Horror Radio Play; Sound Designer)
- Happy Holidays (Subscriber Exclusive) - Twitch Subscriber Event - Ghosts of Tsushima Cinematic (Re-Design)** - Coming Soon - Killjoy - Valorant (Trailer Re-Design)** - Coming Soon - Cyberpunk 2077 (Trailer Re-Design)** - Coming Soon
...and I'm probably missing something...?