Personal Brand Brainstorming – Music

As part of my Personal Goals for 2023, I decided that I want to create a piece of music that I could use in my videos. I know extraordinarily little about music and music creation, so I have no idea if this is a reasonable goal or not. However, the only way I’m going to know that is to try.

What do I want to create?

I’ve dabbled in a little music production over the past year but generally seem to run out of steam fairly quickly. I think that a big part of this is because I haven’t taken the proper time to really sit down and think about what I want to create. Without direction, I float around aimlessly without any particular motivation to explore.

To combat that here, I’ve set aside this time to explore what I consider to be the “success criteria” for this particular project. Let’s dig in.

A personal vibe, not a signature

I want to create a piece of music that I can use in my videos as a sort of “set dressing.” It is a supporting cast member instead of a leading role, capable of holding its own when it needs to, but easily fading to the background allowing the viewer to seamlessly focus on the action or dialog in a scene.

Since this music needs to sit mostly in the background, it should be mostly repetitive and meditative, but should include enough interesting variation and texture so that it doesn’t get boring and repetitive on its own.

I also want what I create to be sort of a “default vibe” for me, so I guess I need to define what that energy should be. For the sake of my own health and well-being, I need to lean more towards warm, casual, relaxed, and friendly. I’m not overly formal – I wear my rough edges on my sleeve – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like a little polish for the sake of expressing myself. I’m a queer punk, after all.

I do still have my sharper sides though. I’m sometimes very existential and contemplative. While I don’t want to drag people down into a pit of despair in this already depressing world, I think it’s worth acknowledging that the world is often a rough and unfriendly place. It is only through acknowledging that that we can really set the boundaries we need to make the world less rough and more friendly.

Musical Inspiration

I’m currently listening to Blockhead’s Music by Cavelight album which I think does a good job hitting a lot of the factors that I’d like to hit. It’s slow and chill but often dark and contemplative. It’s interesting to listen to on its own but I think many of the songs would easily fit in the background as they do when Blockhead writes beats for Aesop Rock’s Garbology.

Speaking of Aesop Rock, he’s also a musical obsession of mine, so it’s no surprise that his own production style is an inspiration for me. The beats that he produces for himself, such as in The Spirit World Field Guide, are just chock full of interesting textures and rough edges, giving that grungy, creepy, punk vibe that I appreciate so much as it feels like home to me.

I do find that I don’t listen to the instrumental versions of Aesop’s albums very much, however. I feel like I really need Aes’s rapping to balance out the textures on the album. Therefore, I don’t know how well they would stand alone when they need to or how well they’d fit to gameplay footage or something that is primarily me vibing and talking to an audience. It’s not really something that I’ve experienced, but maybe I should.

As an example of a musical composition that feels like it never gets too old, however, I feel like I need to talk about the Persona 5 OST, in particular the song that plays in Café Leblanc – the instrumental version of Beneath the Mask.

The game’s tagline is “Take Your Time” and encourages you to strategize to make the most of your time, both in and out of battle. The entire soundtrack is geared towards this as you never know how long you’re going to be listening to a song.

No song on the soundtrack can beat Beneath the Mask for its combination of chill vibes and lengthy listenability though. there have legitimately been times that we’ve had this song playing in the background for hours and I don’t feel like it has ever gotten on my nerves or become intrusive.

Another musical artist that really encapsulates this vibe for me is Bonobo. I’m now listening to their Black Sands album as I write and it makes for a perfect background to help keep me focused while giving me something interesting to vibe to when I have to sit and think about what I need to say. This is the sort of music that I sit and listen to all day long as I work my day job and even have floating behind me during Zoom meetings to keep me focused.

So that’s what I want to accomplish with the piece of music that I create this year. I want to find myself at the intersection of these musical inspirations to create a single piece of music that is truly my own.

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