I’ve had lots of questions in my mind as I approach this blog post.
Should I keep doing this?
Writing this recap feels like a chore?
My moments and memories should be enough?
So much has been going on, this all feels like a blur and I just want to move forward…
To be honest, I’ve been tired.
One big realization I’ve had throughout these past couple of months is my need and desire to pull back on covering, photographing, filming and interviewing all these shows and artists. My writing has always been a place of great passion and love for me, that I get genuinely excited to cover the artists I love — those whom I find a piece of myself in, identify with, or just love. When that happens, the work comes easy.
As more opportunities have come up for me to write, photograph, attend more events, shows and even write for bigger and better publications, it scares me. A part of me wants to turn around and change gears because I cannot fight that inner voice and calling — that I’m meant to be and do so much more than write and talk about other people and artists all day.
I’ve my own story to share.
This month has been a big month of those shifts and changes I’ve been wanting and asking for myself. My unexpected breakdown earlier this month set the pace for how the rest of the month was going to be. I asked for help, guidance, comfort and support from friends and those willing to respond and help — and I was graciously given that, and more.
I vowed to not go to another show and cover it unless I genuinely wanted to. And I was happy, because that one Tuesday Night Cafe at the beginning of the month, the universe threw me exactly what I needed after my breakdown — a rare and opportune night I was free and Dia Frampton happened to be performing as well (who if y’all have known me for a long time, is kind of the older sister I never had, and kind of the reason I do everything I do now).
“In LA, it becomes more of what are you doing instead of how are you doing,” she said. She recounted memories of growing up playing music on the road with her sister and not knowing if she would be a musician if it weren’t for her — and her tears brought me to tears. That moment reminded me why I’m here, why I do all that I do, and helped pick me back up on my feet when I’ve been feeling lost for so long. (Ty always Dia. ❤)
That one Friday night private listening party with MIKNNA was another cherry on top, because it made me realize how I’ve formed some real connections with real people throughout my time here in LA — and I’ve been wanting more of that. Less being a “press mule” and “press girl” and just have genuine connections and relations with people. I interviewed those dudes a year ago and I felt extremely honored to have been invited out to listen to their new music in an intimate space. They’re a duo that I extremely believe in and support (they’re making damn good music, are damn passionate about it, know exactly what they’re doing, and Ken Nana is a mastermind and I so want to pick his brain). So much love. (And ty Cyril for always being down to be my +1. These events/shows/concerts wouldn’t be as enjoyable alone, and I’ve more incentive to enjoy them with you there. Ty for your undying friendship, guidance and support lol #ewthegush.)
That next day, I had gotten an invite directly from TOKiMONSTA‘s publicist, who had remembered my writeup on one of his other artists a year ago when I worked with Kore Asian Media. I was honored to go out and shoot her show at the Shrine opening up for ZHU (#DuneTour) — but funny enough, that lazy Saturday and my feelings throughout that day were just hilarious. I had prepared myself for a long day as it was my friends’ joint birthday party in Koreatown that night as well, and I was already #LolaRachel-ed out by 8pm.
The rundown: I had dinner with my high school friend Andrew visiting from SD; waited for the show until 9pm when she was set to go on; my energy levels low as I was on my period and carried a friend’s huge camera on my back all day. I shot her show at the Shrine, a venue fit for raves and EDM and people getting high. I caught some of ZHU’s set while I was at it, since I’m sure those tickets were at least $100+. Then I found myself sandwiched like a sardine right in front of the soundbox with waves of people around me all either high, drunk, or on something. Lights were going crazy, music was pure house, trance and transformative. (I have to admit I love this song “Save Me” and “In The Morning.”) People had their eyes closed all around me. I’m lugging my camera and snapping some videos. “It’s almost 11pm what am I doing?” Some guy asks if I want to go to the front. Another asks for my number. I’m ready to sleep. I head out to my friend’s birthday party in Koreatown, still feeling like a #Lola, and enjoy a night out reunited with my Fil-Am film friends until 2am, still feeling happy/tired/exhausted. And I was on my period.
To put it simply, I felt like a zombie going through the motions of everything on that day, and it was high energy all around me, and I almost felt like I wasn’t even there. (Was that my period talking? LOL.)
When it came to my day-to-day work process and finding ways to support myself and become financially independent, I’ve been learning a lot with my time starting with the KEB MGMT Group. I’ve learned nothing but good things — about myself, this industry, how a music management company works, the ins and outs of booking shows, contracts, etc. etc. Most of all, it’s been great to just be surrounded by your positive energy, on working smart, doing what’s best for you, always checking in, asking how I’m doing, and having a great “go” attitude towards everything. (Also, driving out to Venice, Mar Vista, Santa Monica, Echo Park and places I get to really just enjoy and live a day out of my normal bubble is refreshing. When I don’t have to worry much about my food and travel just to give my time, that’s always a plus for my inner #brokegirl.)
To plug this in: Ty Andrew for your support and Setlist.FM invite for Robert DeLong with LiveNation. That’s always a great moment, and I always feel we always have such genuine talks whenever we see each other. Also, running into bassist Camilla was the cherry on top and I cannot wait to hang again. Also, beginning the month at the 626 with Cyril, meeting my favorite Instagram food blogger June Quan of Stir & Style/Shrimp Daddy, having funny moments with a vegan soap owner and his mom, not worrying about spending much and actually treating ourselves (and surprisingly still being budget-friendly), and enjoy a real “last weekend of summer” in good vibes, spirits and company was just about the best. ❤
When I had a free Friday night on the 21st of September, I decided to be good to myself, stay in and play some music — and it felt oh so good. Oh, and the Earth, Wind & Fire ended up sharing my video on their public Instagram (!!!). That was a pretty cool and unexpected moment since I don’t get much of that stuff anymore, but regardless, it’s a good reminder of where my energy and efforts should be going.
And so began my mini concert tour with 8 shows in 10 days — a period I told myself I would not do for the sake of not putting on too much for myself, to give myself the time to concentrate on real things, my brand and my music — yet, I pulled through with the opportunities given me.
That weekend started off and I was so so excited to get an invite to Rozzi‘s private party and release show to celebrate “Joshua Tree” with her closest friends, family and fans in such an intimate space. It’s things like those that I love, because it’s not for work and how music should be experienced and enjoyed. It was an opportunity to just enjoy each other and music in an intimate space with likeminded people (because music truly brings likeminded souls together).
It was literally what I love and what I want the most — to be a part of the music and there on the journey.
…and I feel very humbled to receive these invites and genuinely support the artists I love and care for. (And ty again Cyril for being a great friend and company, for enjoying Rozzi, sharing these moments with me, then dining, having a refreshing night out in that side of town eating Thai food and strolling Hollywood. I live for those kind of unexpected and refreshing nights — and it’s always good to share it.)
From Rozzi came a day to recover on Sunday writing, to Haley Heynderickx (a new Fil-Am folk artist whose been making waves on NPR/Rolling Stone, who my tired butt was tired to go out to see, but made the effort anyway and was pleasantly surprised) on a late Monday night. The next night was MACK (who has inspired my monthly vlog song), at the Troubadour in Hollywood, which entailed a day getting lost and troubled with parking, with a camera that wasn’t working while I was shooting, to interview times getting pushed and pulled, to a long night out and my zombie eyes loving the artist but physically cannot feel 100% there with my tired self. That Wednesday was spent as a catch-up writing day with Cyril in Pasadena again. Then the start of a long weekend that Thursday to Orange County to Anthony Green at KROQ The Ocean Concert Series in Huntington Beach, with the accompaniment of Ken (and ty Ken for letting me crash that night, having a nice but #LolaRachel night out).
I then woke up that Friday heading to Dana Point to cover Day 1 of The Ohana Fest, as my editor of Blurred Culture had set up for me and wanted an extra writing hand. Already tired from the weeklong “tour,” I spent my day there until 11pm enjoying the relaxing beach atmosphere, free refreshments and having a moment with Norah Jones. I headed back to Los Angeles for Saturday, as I was set to tag-along my BakitWhy/Pacific Rim friends on the MPG Tour (Melissa Polinar, Jeremy Passion, Gabe Bondoc), and came to the Teragram Ballroom at 4pm to spend the day backstage, shooting content, meet-and-greet, with showtime, food, meets, packing, reunions, smiles, talks, laughs, and a post-show dinner and celebratory meal with the gang (with a kiss on the cheek 😘 that threw me off guard lol). It was a big and humbling night that felt just like family and old times. From sleeping at 3am to driving back to Dana Point that Sunday morning for a full Day 3 at The Ohana Fest, I was able to meet up with Derrick, my editor, throughout the day while shooting shots, enjoying the atmosphere, getting endless Bai drinks to stock up on and KIND Bars and kettle chips, whom the vendors were happy to see me freeloading (lol). I enjoyed sets with bands and artists I would’ve never even dreamed of seeing (I usually spend most of my days covering shows and artists worrying about capturing content, that it was a nice change of pace to actually experience and enjoy the show and festival for what it was). Switchfoot brought me to a moment of moving tears and my 12 y/o self (#DareYouToMove); Andrew McMahon brought me back to high school with Jack’s Mannequin (b/c I totally forgot that was him); Young The Giant made me swoon like hell because I had no idea Sameer could move like that (haha); and witnessing throwback gems with Beck and a huge moment in the crowd up front with Mumford & Sons with other fans and festival-goers around me as people staked their spots and got angry (but a lovely couple celebrating their anniversary saved a spot for me upfront), it was a rare opportunity for me to experience a festival since I never do. And with that tiring run, that was a perfect way to end my concert run (until Tuesday night’s chill show with Amy Shark, of course ❤).
One thing’s for sure — music has always been at the center of everything I do. It seems I am doing nothing but going to these shows, writing, covering, photographing, filming, only to come back home, import, write, spend days at the coffee shop, making time to run, spend a day with KEB to work, and thankfully spend work days with Cyril (the company of a friend makes my lonely self feel more sane lol).
I’ve been given a lot of great opportunities in my life, especially within the past year (and it’s crazy the amount you can be given just by giving things a little time and attention). When you begin to write for bigger publications, get offers to cover more and more shows, get featured on more blogs, I ask myself, “Is this really what I want to be doing? Is this what I want to be doing for the rest of my life?”
That questioning has been a big source of my feeling of loss, confusion and anxiety within these past months. The reason I fell into this was because I wanted to connect with the artists I loved — to share their story, use my gift of words and content to express what it is I love about them in a way that others can relate to, and hopefully feel as well — but when all is said and done, those feelings came through a feeling of finding a piece of myself in these artists.
“You have a lot of people in your favor of you playing,” a friend recently told me. “You play with a lot of talent and passionate creativity.”
I sometimes feel as if I am doing myself a disservice by putting all of my time and attention into journalism. When I get messages from Apl De Ap, wondering where I’m at, or artists that I love and look up to who somehow follow me, watch my day-to-day stories, share my stuff, and those who take up a genuine interest in me and my life and the things I am doing and send gracious messages of loving what I’m doing, or supporting my music… It’s all waves and energy and keeps reminding me of where I should be putting my time and attention. That doesn’t go unnoticed.
If something doesn’t seem to make me happy as much as it used to, and feels as if I’ve become a “mule” instead of what it’s always been for me — a place of love to produce meaningful content that I care about and feel others can gain from as well — it makes me question, what the hell am I doing?
It’s time to check yourself.
At the end of the day, as I’ve been questioning things about balance (are our relationships fulfilling us as much as we put into them? Are our careers in line with our hearts? Are we focusing on the wrong things, or have we just “been living with our eyes half open”?), I find that I’ve grown tired of doing just enough to get by. If tomorrow is not guaranteed, and if I were to die today or tomorrow, would I be happy with what I have left behind?
I may care a lot about my work and the things I invest my love and life into (as Mumford & Sons sang: “Where you invest your love you invest your life”), but at the end of the day, we all have the six basic human needs for happiness and fulfillment:
As my dear friend Kyle told me, “Every decision we make is from those values.”
If I want to have real and lasting relationships in my life, I want to connect, to feel something real, to not have cheap romance or cheap pillow talk, then I need to create those changes and shifts in my life that will lead me to that truth.
Living on my own, being in Los Angeles, forcing myself to grow up, be an adult, navigate life, love, my passions, chasing my dreams, while also trying to stay sane, happy, in love with myself, with others, and healthy and happy — it’s all been tested throughout my one year of moving out. But…
Respect the journey.
Don’t dim your light.
Trust the process and timing of your life: to live a little, experience things, to have more to say and more emotions to grow through.
Faith, my friends. It’s all about faith (even if you’re not religious, haha).
With love and honesty,
View my past video blogs below:
Breaking Down to Break Through 9/2018
Summer Daze 8/2018
Back To You and Hometown Takeaways 7/2018
Young, Reckless and Loving It 6/2018
In A New Light 5/2018
You Give Me That Wicked Love 4/2018
Forever On The Road 2/2018
One Sky, Six Months 12/2017
Looking For You, Five Months In 11/2017
Quarter Month Crisis 10/2017
Third Month’s the Charm 9/2017
I Adjusted Month Two 8/2017
I Survived One Month 7/2017
One Week Out 6/2017