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Auckland, September 2023

Reflection 10/10 - Moving Forward

Although Music Month (and the deadline set for this project) is now a distant memory, this series is still well and truly alive. Fortunately, this hiatus wasn't due to procrastination, other priorities, or even a lack of content - okay that was the case for about a month or so - but rather I had to keep something under wraps. Something top secret until after the 14th of September. I'd even planned to release this post on the 21st of September, prewriting the content several weeks ahead of the trip. However, there was a small (6-week) delay in my asking for some photos to round out the collection and posting...

Initially, waiting for the informal NDA to expire provided a degree of comfort when looking at the slight gap between the penultimate and ultimate instalments of this series. However as time dragged on, I became more hesitant to post and less inclined to seek the final photos. My original ending to the series was supposed to be a reflection on the anniversary of my master's submission, or "The day I became a freelancer". This would have been a fitting finale, however narratively I felt it was lacking. Perhaps it was the "author" in me who didn't want to end on a plateau or worse still, a lull. It seemed anti-climatic and, although I hate to admit it, against my image to leave it like that.

Perhaps it was accurate. As much as this blog was intended to demystify the life of a musician, I have been deliberate with what I include. I always attempt to paint the most interesting picture. A picture that makes it seem like I was constantly travelling, working on new projects, and making music. However, to be honest, for a good while life felt a bit bleak and ultimately unblogworthy.

It was an accumulation of things. I wasn't enjoying my living situation, the future of my role wasn't clear, and the general fatigue of Wellington's winter was well(y) and truly making its presence known. At the same time though, things were also good. My social circle was alive, finances were increasing rather than barely holding level, and I was generally pretty happy with life. But at the same time, I wasn't particularly happy in my life largely due to the perpetual uncertainty.

Putting five and a half years of music school to good use, I would say that this is one of life's recurring motifs. Just as one gets ahead, an unforeseen circumstance forces you onto the back foot - thankfully, and as those who know me from my cricketing days will attest, I have always been promising off the back foot. In short, it was looking like I needed to find a new flat, a new job, and a new lifestyle. Okay, the last one was self-imposed.

Aware that the unknown is the primary source of my anxiety, I dedicated most of my energy towards building as much certainty as possible. And so I devised a cunning plan. Stage one involved an intensive flat hunt which culminated in offers to join three flats merely four days into our notice period. An utter success. Stage two involved a brief holiday back to Napier which culminated in an even briefer romantic liaison. A resounding failure. However, in the short term, exactly what I needed.

Before entering stage 2, I had to survive a week in the circus that was my old flat. A place of bongs and brass. It was then I leant on the advice of a wise friend subsequently entering a state of "Funemployment": a portmanteau about making the most of your newfound time after losing your job. Stage 2 could have commenced earlier but with Johnny Chang in town and plans to hang made 6 months in advance, I certainly couldn't cancel. Down to just 4 nights of no sleep to survive, I lined up 4 separate social outings. Starting with Burgers and Beers, peaking at winning VUWSA's annual sex quiz, and ending with a quick drink with the one and only family friend and dad's brother Big Si, I successfully became the last flatmate to go to bed each night.

Before I knew it, I was back in the bay with the winter sun glistening off the bright yellow splashback of the family kitchen. I'd even lined up a job interview for a teaching role. Less than ideal, but better than nothing. Continuing the state of Funemployment, I thought it appropriate to reopen the dating portfolio (bear in mind, at the time of posting, it has well and truly been closed). This was something I was in two minds about but ultimately the "do it for the plot" mentality won. Something I'm sure was the case for her too.

And so that finally gets me to where I was at the beginning of the piece. What I legally (I think) couldn't tell anyone about. They say good things come in threes. Tuesday was a stimulating dinner date - self-edit. Wednesday, a chat with John extending my assistant contract until Christmas. And Thursday, a phone call from APRA, the Australasian Performing Right Association.

My reaction to hearing "Hey it's Loz from APRA" was Ah shit, I've messed up one of John's returns! but then came "I have a really great job today", so I knew it couldn't be anything related to a return. Those things are the bain of my professional life.

"Congratulations, you are the recipient of a Professional Development Award!" followed.

In the short conversation, I must have said thank you a thousand times. The news transformed the trajectory of my next year. First and foremost, I didn't have to become a teacher (no offence to teachers but we both know it isn't the career it once was). Secondly and perhaps most significantly, my annual income had doubled overnight - please don't do the maths but it's true. And thirdly, and most profoundly, it provided a sense of direction for the next twelve months, a structure to follow.

Whilst at university I had grown accustomed to not entering competitions, residencies, or awards. Perhaps it was the feeling of being an imposter or outsider that prevented me. However, I was really just trying to avoid disappointment. In high school, I would apply everything and would be fairly successful with it. Usually, A teacher or careers counsellor would suggest applying, so I always knew I had the backing of at least one person. And so now I am an "adult" - 25 next week - I realised that that one person now has to be me.

When asked to comment on the award I wrote:

"This award lifts the weight of uncertainty that accompanies the ebb and flow of a career in Music. A number of opportunities to engage with established and esteemed figures in the world of new music are now a reality and I plan to spend several months observing, interviewing, and collaborating with them. Additionally, I no longer have to divert time away from paid work in order to develop my practice, with the award allowing me to value my time for these activities. It is a privilege to be in this position, thank you APRA!"

Although this was written before the reality of the situation had set in, I think it captures the essence of what the opportunity brings. The award brings a layer of financial certainty, yet I have been remarkably overwhelmed by now having to implement my proposal. And so it begins, a new chapter and a new source of ambiguity. But with it a new adventure.


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