Last year I mastered how to make kimchi fried rice. I learned that sautéing the kimchi before, then drizzling liquid from the kimchi jar after really does the trick. Top it off with a fried egg, a little seaweed, and some green onions and you got yourself a show-stopper. Nuthin lifts me up quite like delicious food. And with the way life’s been going lately, I could use all the serotonin kick I can get.
2020 was an uphill battle for all of us (it still is). Covid-19 ravaged many industries, especially us in music and nightlife. At the top of the year I scrapped 10 finished songs I thought were gonna be my next album. Not too long after, the pandemic hit globally and gigs disappeared. I got laid off from my 9 to 5 in the Summer, got sick from the ‘Rona in the Fall, then my grandmother passed away during the holidays. One blow after the other, a feeling of helplessness started to overwhelm me.
I’ve never gone to a medical professional for a depression diagnosis. But when I listen to others who have, their stories sound familiar. It’s like that boulder you’re pushing gets heavier, while the hill gets steeper. Like no matter how many times you go back to the drawing board, some things are just beyond your control. Like no matter how hard you push forward, you’re just running in place, feeling like nuthin.
But regardless how shitty I felt or that the world was at a stand still, bills are still due and rent has to be paid. My path towards trying to be a full-time musician still needed to be paved. But trying to get better at your craft is complicated enough. Being a decent human being is complicated enough. Overcoming systemic oppression and years of trauma is hard enough. Now with a pandemic and “unprecedented times” entering the equation… How the hell am I supposed to create something new?
Oddly enough, stepping away from the studio seemed to be the answer. On days I felt depleted, I would get stupid high, rummage through my fridge, and get my bars up in the kitchen. I found that chopping vegetables and seasoning a dish was quite meditative; it felt just like making a beat or penning a catchy hook. The euphoria of the family enjoying my cooking, eager for seconds was reminiscent of rocking a crowd.
Unfortunately as I started seeking solace in food, I started packing on the pounds. I was feeling lethargic in the middle of the day, while strenuous activities kicked my ass. I sought the help of my little cousin for fitness guidance. Ever since I started a daily workout regimen while reducing my calorie intake, my mind felt sharper and I’ve lost 25 pounds. The journey towards a long term change would be difficult, but I knew it starts with building better habits.
At that point it hit me: my writer’s block wasn’t because I was depressed. It’s because I wasn’t putting myself in an optimal place. If I wasn’t at my best, my work would reflect that. Moping around in quarantine, longing for how it used to be was a waste of time. With everything taken away, how the fuck can I not create?
That’s when my new album, Nuthin, began to take shape. Ideas began to snowball into an avalanche. As I focused on creating more poignant songwriting, melodies and cadences came quicker. By investing into new music production plugins and equipment, my beat-making process were more streamlined than ever. And by spending more hours studying mixing and mastering techniques, I was able to reallocate more of my budget into out-sourcing other aspects of the release, such as marketing and visuals.
By January, Nuthin was finally complete. The first video was edited and exported, the artwork was shot and designed, and all the songs were mixed and mastered. Initial concept to execution was quite the journey. But it’s not the final product that I’m most proud of, although I am confident that this is the best music I’ve ever made. It’s that in a time where every day felt like the sky was falling, I was able to convince myself that as long as I gave it all I got, everything would be alright.
One day life won’t be as complicated. One day these times won’t be as unprecedented. One day fans will fill venues up and artists will be back on stage again. I’m looking forward to doing both when the time comes. But for now, I hope you give my new album a listen. And I hope it can inspire you to create something whenever you feel like nuthin too.