November 07, 2012
I’ve been producing electronic music on my computer for about a decade now, and I don’t have a whole lot to show for it. After moving to DC from Shanghai, where I played a lot of live sets and DJ gigs, I realized there wasn’t much of a music scene in DC, and I stopped playing out. After a few years, I noticed that I generally wasn’t being inspired, and I wasn’t growing much as an artist. I also noticed that I had a tendency to never finish the tracks that I’d started. I was pretty good at creating catchy little loops, but they never evolved into anything beyond that.
To try to pull myself out of this rut, I started a Tumblr called Loop A Day in early 2011. The idea was that I would spend no more than an hour each day creating a loop and posting it to this blog. I kept up with it for about a month, then I realized that the daily routine was wrecking my social life – I remember leaving parties more than once just to go home and work on music. I did like the hour limitation, but doing it every day had to stop. So, I got rid of my self-imposed quota and renamed the project Microbeats.
A lot of the earlier beats I created were technical experimentations, and I drew a lot of inspiration from the music I was listening to. Then I started noticing something happening. I started subconsciously pulling inspiration from my actual life and putting more emotion into the beats I was creating. By the end of 2011, I started consciously pulling inspiration from the things I was doing, the places I was going, the people I was meeting and the conversations I was having and using that as mental fodder when I sat down to work on a beat.
It may not be obvious to the outside observer, but for me, Microbeats became a record of all the things happening in my life – though some beats are admittedly (and intentionally) vulnerable. Conversations from friends’ parties, meeting new people, getting dumped, rebounding, breaking my hand, traveling for work, vacationing with family, moving to a new city, and everything in between – my life started to manifest itself in the music.
Though I don’t do it very often, when I go back through the archives and listen to the beats, I start remembering things that I don’t think I would have otherwise – strange, nuanced emotions and small moments that my brain didn’t deem important enough to take good record of. Microbeats started off as a simple little experiment, but it’s grown into something so much bigger, personally, than I ever would’ve imagined.