In 2021, I started writing music to use for when I streamed and figured, “Why not put this online for others to use?”. At the time, I didn’t feel like there was an easily ready source of DMCA-free rock music, so I might fill a small niche.
As a streamer, I was never a formula for success, nor did I think I’d ever be or really want to be. What I wanted to do was show that, as a parent, I was OK with gaming, encouraged my kids to play games, and it was something that adults should be able to do without shame AND even play games with their kids too. I was thrilled when I had any number of viewers and when some of them came back to watch.
When I started streaming the writing process of what would become Volumes One and Two, I ended up streaming around three times a week for a couple of hours, but would also work offline for a couple of hours. On days I didn’t stream, I worked on fleshing out the song ideas I’d started on stream. When everything was said and done, I spent three to four hours a day, five days a week writing music.
If I recall correctly, I released three albums in six months. The first two volumes had 13 songs each and the third had 10, and Volumes One and Two had seven original songs each. The other six songs on both albums were remixes of two EPs I worked on from 2017 through 2019. I used them so I could release Volume One a little earlier than originally planned. All in all, that was 24 original songs, some with numerous guitar parts, all within about six months’ time.
For years, I’d dreamed of doing music for a living, but after six months of spending 15-20 hours working on music in addition to streaming (which requires a different kind of energy), I was burned out. I learned that I do not want to do music full time, at least not by myself, though I’m sure I’d change my mind if there were to be a healthy salary included in doing it. Worse than that, the burn out killed my desire to play guitar, write music, or stream. It took two months before I picked the guitar up again.
In the first few days of 2022, I nearly died due to Diabetic Ketoacidosis, a condition triggered by a new medication I’d started taking regularly in November of 2021. It would take months before I’d be able to sit up for more than an hour and a half or so at a time. Even then, I turned to music to help balance the mental space I was in and I began working on new songs, not knowing if they would be for kcwm or Cold the Winter, my project for “full” songs with lyrics and vocals.
In 2022, I released four singles, one of which (“Go On”) is one I’m most proud of, composition wise, but I never recaptured that initial push. My ceiling for creative energy was much lower than it was in the previous year. I didn’t stream much of, or maybe any of, it. I worked on a few other songs, but they all remain unfinished.
In October of 2022, I began running a bi-weekly session of Dungeons and Dragons for some friends of mine, one of which was the DM of the previous session that had lasted for 2+ years. He’d been itching to play a character instead of DMing, and I wanted to provide him the opportunity to do so. Initially, I was going to use an actual D&D campaign, but made the choice to homebrew something so I could better work in the characters’ backstories and adjust things as their current stories developed. While this was, is, and will be more creatively fulfilling, it requires a lot more work.
Most of my creative energy is spent writing adventures for my players, working on the overall story, changing that story as sessions develop, and painting miniatures that I intend to use for these adventures. This has been further complicated by taking up 3D printing, though that is partially passive since I have to wait hours for the miniatures to print.
Now, I’m not complaining, not at all. I immensely look forward to our Saturday games. Only recently have I run into a situation where what I’ve planned, worked on, or adapted has given me a buffer. In theory, I don’t have to do anything D&D related for the next month to month and a half because I have enough adventures planned. Well, except painting miniatures, but I’m enjoying that.
Returning to Music
Toontrack recently announced the released of a long-awaited sequel software to EZKeys called, unsurprisingly, EZKeys 2, which is available for download starting May 16th. This software allows you to drag and drop pre-programmed MIDI grooves to create a song, choose a digital recreation of a number of key-based instruments, change and adjust the chords being played, but not manually adjust any of the notes being played to better fit what’s being played within the chords to the song. EZKeys 2 changes that, and adds a few more cool features that I’ll have to explore to have a bare understanding of how to under-utilize them.
With EZKeys 2 I intend to use keyboard and piano parts in more of my music as well. In addition to that, my friends, JD and Matt (who I worked on Low-Fi, Nice Try (LFNT) and Cold the Winter with) have started putting together ideas for the next LFNT project. What that combination of events did was help reawaken my desire to work on music again, both for them, and for kcwm.
When May 16th rolls around, I intend to start work on music again. This includes streaming a good portion of the writing process of both kcwm and LFNT music. Cold the Winter will likely be folded into kcwm in some capacity, though I haven’t fully worked out or even decided on what that would look like.
In the past, I’ve found that I struggle with having focus on more than one creative outlet at a time. Between music, D&D/painting miniatures, writing a novel, and gaming/streaming, my energy ebbs and flows between each of them, most often at the expense of the others. I know I need to find balance, but my brain, which might very well have a bit of undiagnosed ADHD going on, gets caught up with moving each hobby further along.
Recently, I did learn how to balance painting miniatures. I simply paint until what is likely arthritis in my hand forces me to stop. I do things in small bursts for about an hour a day and I’ve been able to continuously work on painting since October.
My plan is to return and stream the following:
- Music – Working on writing songs, but not recording them (this could change). The stress of recording live was part of I think drove that burn out.
- D&D – World building, lore, miniature painting, etc. I believe a couple of my players watch my stream, so writing campaign-specific things might not work too well
- Gaming – I have a number of previously well thought of PC games to play: Horizon Zero Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2, Baldur’s Gate 3 (which either hasn’t officially released yet or recently released), Cult of Lamb, Hades, etc. There’s also the new Zelda and Star Wars games and probably others I’d want to play.
I do miss being a part of communities, building my own, and interacting with the people I’ve met on Twitch throughout the years. It’d be cool, not to mention fulfilling, to repair some of the bridges that I’ve neglected and network again. I might be a bit of an introvert, but I do believe that people need people, even if it’s just a select few people, and places like Twitch allow introverts like me to play extrovert from time to time.
I guess that’s all for now. This was written over the course of an hour or so and just meanders around without as much focus as I’d like. About par for the course.