Who is it for?

I made my debut solo album for myself.

It’s eclectic, weird, unconventional crossover progressive rock music that I wrote about my experiences. I wrote it because I needed to express myself artistically and musical creativity is part of my nature.

If anyone happens to find something, that’s resonating with them, that’s great and I’m really glad they are tuning in but it’s coincidental.

When I play music in other context, I have to employ some empathy. What is the purpose of the music I make, who is it serving. If it’s theatre or film, it needs to work as underscore, if it’s a performance in a pub, it needs to involve crowd pleasers. Cue Stereophonics when the Welsh pubs reopen.

Crowd pleasers can often bring an inner sense of conflict.

The artists who want to play their new stuff but the audience wants the hits.

The musician who took the gig but doesn’t believe in the music.

How much are you willing to compromise? Are you happy to be there in front of the crowd or is the lack of personal integrity too much to bare?

Professionalism lies in the ability to discern between creating work for yourself and for others but also knowing if and when your selling out and deciding whether the trade off is worth it for you showing up and performing.

All a Ruse

Social media sure as hell feels like that at times.

The social dilemma confirmed it as well.

Whilst there is every possibility for connection to happen on the networks and as much as their CEOs will say that connection is key, the priority is the money whilst you become adverts to the advertisers whose algorithms mean they advertise back to you.

What is social media for otherwise? Is it to contribute, to send messages to people who want to hear it? Is it about learning and accessing accurate information?

Or is it about noise? Is it about your bias being confirmed? Is it about reaching your heightened emotions and cause reactions that are hatred and anger based? Is it about propelling yourself up as you get addicted to the unspoken drug that is approval?

Sounds exhausting.

And if it is, the remedy is to shut it off, go outside, breathe the air, read a book or create something.

You’re worth and experiences are of much more value than clicks and follows will ever give it credit for.

International Woman’s Day

There needs to be an understanding why there is a day dedicated to women.

It’s because there is plenty of evidence to suggest the following:

That women get more response and credibility if they give themselves a male alias.

That women don’t get paid equally to men.

That women have standards held up against them that require them to be feminine first above anything else.

That signals have been placed deep within our systems and the culture give male people the benefit of the doubt whilst rejecting women.

I have been inspired by many great women who are artists, authors, musicians and teachers. Both men and women alike are responsible for a myriad of wonderful things but it’s been harder for the latter to gain recognition for it or a seat at the table.

As we move along in the 21st century, we need to continue doing what we can to make sure that individuals and systems treat everyone with dignity and respect.

Noting the issues that create the unfairness and judgement is the first step.

Taking action to ensure things are better is the next step.

Listening to physical signals

I wanted to go cycling this morning. I have gotten into a really good routine with it and wanted to push myself. Same with running.

I have however clocked 100km in the last 7 days and also had a lot of work on the go and on Friday, my back and shoulders became achy and uncomfortable.

I am very obstinate and will try to push myself but at this point I had to concede defeat and not go ahead with the cycling today and take some time out.

When we are on a hedonic treadmill, looking to push ourselves and on a stream of adrenaline, we feel that flow and momentum and keep going.

Sometimes though, your body tells you otherwise and an inner conflict ensues. It’s good to listen to your body instead of your mental desires because sometimes ignoring the former will prolong the damage and recovery period.

I will be back out there again, but for now, recuperation.

Legend of Korra

After watching Avatar: The Last Airbender I decided to watch the follow up sequel.

I was instantly surprised at how different this series is in terms of the style, tone and characters.

The world has moved forward 70 years and the creators did a tremendous job of showing the advancement and development of new technologies and systems within the universe, it made for a fascinating new set up.

Whilst ATLA had an incredibly strong 3 season set up with characters all of an age that had that charm and innocence, LOK has characters that are slightly older and more closer to adulthood and a driving force of older adult characters as well, and the complexity of the characters, their desires, resentments and inner conflict is remarkable. This tied in with the very complex array of villains makes me wonder how specifically this series was targeted for children. Themes within the series cover fascism, anarchy, political ideology, spirituality and identity. It may be by far the most adult animation series I have ever seen, with a few moments of violence that due to take the viewer by surprise. The sense of humour and charm is still there in plenty of supply.

The animation is absolutely stunning, with cities and spiritual worlds that are hugely imaginative and what also made me adore the series was Jeremy Zuckerman’s score which uses a wonderful blend of eastern and western instruments.

I ended up watching ATLA twice in quick succession because the world and characters have so much quality and depth, I would say it is the same case for LOK.

I admire how the creators went for something completely different and the critical praise is warranted. The way the final season ends is a beautiful, powerful and important moment for animation as well.

I am so glad I decided to watch these series during lockdown. The art of animation is wonderful world when done right and Michael Dante Di Martino and Bryan Konietzko did just that.

White Tiger

I feel blessed to be able to tap into international cinema.

The recently released ‘White Tiger’ the Indian film that in brutal fashion, explores class struggle with a feature length running metaphor of a rooster in the coop that holds its weight from start to finish. The film is a modern day Dickinson fable.

Rarely do I watch a film where nearly every scene has dialogue that hits like a sucker punch on the reality of inequality in India and beyond.

When I lived in Dubai, I was called ‘sir’ by people serving me more times than I’d like to. I heard stories of people from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh who send the majority of their salaries to support their families at home.

Hundreds of millions of lives, that are depraved of education, a proper financial net for basic needs and opportunity.

There is every possibility that this can change. We have the means and we have the resources but do the people in power have the desire?

There’s a running trend in impeccable films that are starting to explore the same theme of inequality. ‘Parasite’ and now ‘White Tiger’ don’t shy away from these themes that are of today and translate internationally.

‘White Tiger’ shines a light of truth of the reality on India, and in one instance, dismisses the hope of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ in a single line.

The situation for too many is hopeless.

I can’t recommend this film enough. It’s well worth a watch and make you think a lot.

Price setting

I am currently listening to the Liverpool match on the radio. Besides needing to work at the same time, I’d love to watch it in a pub with some drinks but that’ll be post COVID Era.

Either way, paying £10 for a pass for the privilege of watching one game is a bit of a joke.

Prices for viewing sports in the U.K. is extortionate and arguably exploitative of the passion that football fandom creates.

The irony is that broadcasters would probably do better business if they charged less because students like myself would not be so hesitant about a steep pay wall.

Netflix produces an astonishing amount of content for a monthly fee. Streaming means you have the history of music at your fingertips for a very cheap fee. Amazon has become a global corporate powerhouse because the company knows how to set prices.

Sports could do with being less greedy. I don’t know whether they care, but for now, radio and highlights it is.

Price setting

I am currently listening to the Liverpool match on the radio. Besides needing to work at the same time, I’d love to watch it in a pub with some drinks but that’ll be post COVID Era.

Either way, paying £10 for a pass for the privilege of watching one game is a bit of a joke.

Prices for viewing sports in the U.K. is extortionate and arguably exploitative of the passion that football fandom creates.

The irony is that broadcasters would probably do better business if they charged less because students like myself would not be so hesitant about a steep pay wall.

Netflix produces an astonishing amount of content for a monthly fee. Streaming means you have the history of music at your fingertips for a very cheap fee. Amazon has become a global corporate powerhouse because the company knows how to set prices.

Sports could do with being less greedy. I don’t know whether they care, but for now, radio and highlights it is.

Personal bests

I have been really enjoying using Strava through the lockdown.

I have been tracking both my runs and cycles and accumulating all the hours and kilometres that I have undertaken in activity.

On Monday evening, I set a new Personal Best on my run. I did 5km in 21:04 and 10km in 45:42.

I’m really happy with both, but determined to push it further. This has been the result of 6 months of training, and trying to get consistency.

Having an app like Strava is an opportunity for you to show whether you’re being consistent or not, showing up and putting exercise into your routines and tracking your progress. You also get to follow others on their journey. It’s social media used in a way that’s focused on something positive.

Running and cycling are both things o enjoy regardless, especially the adventures involved with the latter but having an app that helps me track where I am at is a wonderful incentive.

Take 100!

Have you ever tried recording a video of yourself talking?

All of a sudden you’ve lost the ability to talk.

Words fail you and what comes out of your mouth is a salad of letters and sounds that are incoherently marred by stammers.

It’s stressful!

I’m currently doing a video presentation and it took me the entire day to record 11 minutes of me talking in a way that was clear and acceptable.

There were a few strategies I adopted to make sure I could do it:

1.) I would get frustrated when I got it wrong, cry, swear, then let it pass. You can delete and do it again. I accept this is part of the process.

2.) Drink water. Staying hydrated helps you pass air through your body.

3.) I opened my mouth when talking and breathed from my diaphragm. I took my time and made sure I wasn’t rushing.

4.) I did some vocal warm ups which helped me improve the warmth of my tone of voice and the pronunciation of words.

Presenting to a video or recording a podcast are skills and require practice. It’s different from normal conversation but with the repartition of processes that prove effective, you will improve.

That’s the take.