Edible Arrangements 2: Com Rang and marketing

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Edible

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There are numerous places to eat at in Vietnam. So far I’ve had Bun Cha (it’s pork, I caved to peer pressure, leave me alone), Bun Ca (SO, SO good), veggie Pho, veggie Cuon, Cha Ca, this amazing fish skillet thing with dark savory sauce at the mall down the street from my apartment…

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The best part? All of it was delicious, high-quality, more than reasonably priced local food!

I went to Thailand a few weeks ago, and it left a dour taste in my mouth to see expats and/or tourists eating at fast food restaurants or places meant to mimic western cuisine. Like..

..you can eat that at home, sir.

Anyway, of all the local places I have eaten, my FAVORITE spot of all has to be Com Rang.

From a local’s perspective, I can see talk of Com Rang inciting a shoulder shrug. When my mother came to visit, there was actually a Com Rang shop down the street from our hostess’s house.

Every day and every night that we passed said restaurant, my neck would careen more and more in its direction, eager to appease my curiosity. Sadly, Mother wasn’t daring enough. I vowed on her exit that I’d make it my mission to eat there before I left to my home city (Bac Ninh).

A molecular fusion of taste and tongue happened on July 10th (or 11th), 2019.

Since then, I’ve had it a few times. I try to make it my mission to eat at new places, but the thing about Com Rang is, the quality, and the vittles (as I strongly believe people still say in the southern part of the US), depends on the shop. The gist is this:

  • You get a plate of rice.

  • You choose from a buffet table of meats/veggies to accompany said plate of rice.

I have currently found a Com Rang shop that I have dubbed my favorite. They have AWESOME veggie options. I still need to try others, especially since this one is on the OTHER side of the city, but it has my vote.

This picture is from my most recent excursion, and it’s special because I decided to be a bit daring with one of the items I added to my plate:

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Those little brown cylinders are COOKED SILK WORM PUPAE!

I saw’em and was like,

“Ya’ know what,

LESS DO DIS.”

And do dis I did. The verdict..

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They weren’t bad at all! There weren’t any..

[trigger warning]

squishies

[trigger warning]

..and I’m not going to lie, I’d be down for trying the fried, crunchy, coated in cinnamon alternative.

You good, silk worm. You pretty good.

Oh, and they were accompanied by tofu, stuffed tofu, mini shrimps/prawns, scrumptious greens, and soup.

21/10, would devour again.

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Arrangements

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I am going to break arrangements down into Past (2 weeks), Future (2 weeks/month), Ruminations, and Announcements!

Past

Recordings/Mixing Tracks for Gigabuster OST

The final 4 I shall call them, have been doubled-tracked, single-tracked, and sung into oblivion.

  • Double tracking - Recording a guitar part twice to make it sound beefy/full,

  • Single tracking - recording a part once.

  • Sung into oblivion - Massacring your vocal chords.

I have gone through about 3 or 4 mixing passes with the entire MAIN album, and I can proudly say that I can add the last 4 tracks of the OST to the mixture.

Finalizing Sheet Music and Helping final preparations for Ciel Fledge

Making connections in the creative world is paramount to success. I am fortunate enough to know and be friends with beautifully talented people, and I know that I can go to them (with a fee in the front pocket) and ask for their expertise on my work to ensure that people who enjoy it get it at the highest quality.

Once I send the final sheet music out the door, my heart can rest a tad bit easier.

Final preparations for Ciel has been cleaning up odd tracks (mislooping) and sound effects.

Future

Quite a bit. The most important for the next two weeks (honestly, month) is:

  • Gigabuster OST (finished/mixed/mastered)

  • Gigabuster Extended OST (finished/mixed/mastered)

  • Giga guitar tabs (finished)

Can it be done?!

Yes.

I already have a personal plan in place that I know is more than do-able, and I am making it my job to actually push past it. Working for yourself is essentially about adhering to parameters and goals you set for yourself. It’s a learning process, but I believe I am getting better at it and will soon master it (which is really learning to master myself and how I manage my time).

RUMINATIONS

One cool, yet terrifying thing about composing, is the idea of you being in charge of getting projects (gigs, clients, etc). There are multiple ways to put yourself in ear-shot of the many developers/directors who exist, but at the end of the day, success in your craft boils down to one simple thing: Marketing.

I am not going to say that I am horrible at marketing. I feel as though marketing is a mindset. I believe that I have a stubbornness in me that has been preventing me from creating multiple avenues to make my voice, or musicality, noticeable.

Marketing (moreso networking) is a requirement to making it in this profession. There were a few steps I took initially that I felt would easily (chuckle) propel me into work:

  • First step - Create a website and upload my content to streaming services.

  • Second step - Promote my services via threads on game developer forums.

  • Third step - Create a Twitter account.

  • Fourth (gigantic) step - Go to GDC.

  • Fifth (current) step - Create a blog.

  • ???

  • Profit

Step one helped me network with game developers via step two, which resulted in work with repeat partners over the past 5 to 6 years.

Even with that, it still hasn’t been enough to live off on.

That is NOT at the fault of developers out in the world. The lack of traction is still, ultimately, my fault and includes MULTIPLE facets. One thing I believe I can change, that is effecting an influx of prospective work, is a lack of consistency.

I think that when your network is small, you have to make it your goal to steadily water and nurture relationships. I think this is great, because I am HORRIBLE at this in my personal life.

I love how personal skills I am not strong in need to be strengthened in my profession of choice! In many ways, it is going to make me an overall better person.

Anyway, consistency is key. Consistently checking in with colleagues, consistently following up with older devs you admire, albeit maybe not having a chance to work with, following up with older devs you work with/have worked with, consistently putting work out into the ether to show that you are honing your abilities and your skill set..

These are things I believe I have to do because my network is small and I need to make it grow.

I need to make myself visible.

My issue is doing it in a way that is organic to me.

I have picked up my consistency, albeit not in a way that would be orthodox -

  1. I am posting more on Twitter. It’s a low bar, ha, but it is being raised! I primarily post to support other devs/composers, their work, and how their work inspires me, but I’m POSTING.

  2. I have currently updated my website (and my ‘company’) so that it better reflects my current skill set.

  3. I am keeping in contact with colleagues in the profession and strengthening relationships with great people who love doing what I do.

I think this is great, because I am becoming more active, but I also think it’s not enough, because it’s not showcasing MY capabilities. I have to show the world me, but how do I successfully do that in a way that sits squarely with my mores?

!Announcements!

ANNOUNCEMENT 1: Warm-up Live Streams

I do warm-ups nearly every day that I write music. It’s really fun for me because it is experimental and, most importantly, it shows an less glamorous side to music composition.

There probably won’t be a final product. I’m probably going to make a lot of non-bops, or anti-bangers. The goal, really, is to see someone in the profession being imperfect, and working hard to tone those imperfections.

That’s one thing that I have no problem broadcasting.

The schedule:

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM (Vietnam)/9:00 PM - 10:00 PM (Est time, US)

It’s going to be RAW, AND UNADULTERATED CONTENT that is rated pg-13.

It won’t be bad or anything like that. There will be themes for each week, and I’ll be uploading the content to Youtube and Bitchute!

It doesn’t feel invasive because I do it anyway, it’s only for an hour, and it will be practicing fun!

(Disclaimer: Still working on getting an USB microphone, so you’ll be hearing me from either the left or right said of your head)

ANNOUNCEMENT 2 Documenting the creation of an Album

I love challenges. Especially ones that take me out of my comfort zone and force me to truly test what my capabilities are.

I have primarily written for videogames, but the truth is, I want to write for all kinds of media. I’m a huge fan of dramatic television (Handmaid’s Tale, I’m looking at you), horror films, drama films, and mature content animations. Disney (I know), anime (I KNOW) and most importantly, The Animatrix (I KNOW!), instilled a deep love of the animated medium in me, and a current viewing of Love, Death, and Robots has ignited it passionately.

That being said, jobs like that don’t grow on trees. A lot of it is (ding) 1. Networking and 2. Being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes you don’t have those things going for you. So, what do you do if there is a job you want, but no jobs available to gain experience?

YOU MAKE IT YOURSELF.

The goal -Write 50 minutes of music in 8 weeks.

This “personal documentary” is a combination of proving to myself I have what it takes, showing to future partners I have what it takes, and putting myself in a faux environment of compressed stress similar to something I may encounter.

I see myself as a fairly versatile composer who has NO issue writing in different styles. That has been the majority of my career.

I have also been extremely fortunate to work with a host of devs who ask me to write in a style, but not like a person. They are open to my interpretation of their desired emotion, and I love it.

I want to continue exploring my voice, and really pushing my capabilities as a composer. Writing for anime/telveision is a different beast as well, so it will be a new mindset for me. Writing to an emotion and a work that isn’t necessarily there yet (knowing that the piece I write could be used for multiple scenes) is very interesting!

I won’t be able to enjoy it in that capacity, but I can imagine it.

I will be making a post that goes in depth about this project very soon!

Thanks for reading!
Here’s to doing good things, making things happen, and being good people.

Edible Arrangements 1: Kickoff

Hello, hello!

Peer pressure has won out. At the behest of family and a few good friends, I decided to start a blog. I have recently relocated to Vietnam in an effort to put more focus on music. Ideally, this blog was supposed to be centered around food, but I figured, why not make it a combination of my two passions:

  • Putting things in my face circle (EDIBLE)

  • Writing music (ARRANGEMENTS)

I absolutely love writing music, but it’s not a medium that I naturally unveil emotions through. I enjoy coming up with melodies and jingles, but writing has always been a form of expression that flowed naturally from me. I thought about doing a vlog, but it doesn’t mesh well with my personality.

I know, I know, I should evolve with the times. I wish I wasn’t so stoic on certain aspects, but there is something about rambling off free form, without worrying about presentation, lighting, video editing, or vocal recordings that just..

..fills my heart with unbridled happiness.

This is more organic for me, it rests well with my soul, it’s happenin’.

So, I’ll be making bi-weekly or twice a month (EDIT, October 2nd) blog posts about music work that has been done/is being done, my thoughts on where I am in the profession and my thoughts on the composition profession in general, and my experiences travelling and eating in SE Asia!

So, let’s jump into it!

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EDIBLE

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I love food. Actually, it’s a love hate relationship that is slowly veering into a more grounded sense of love, but I find solace in food. When I decided to move to Vietnam, I was ecstatic about the culture, but most importantly, THE FOOD.

A lot has gone into relocating. There are a few strands that rest frayed and unkempt in my transition, many of which I realize now should have been remedied back in the U.S., but that’s okay! Food makes everything better. That’s what my stomach tells me, anyway.

My first week in Vietnam, which was in Hanoi, my Mom came along. I definitely wanted to go on my own (because I am a masochist who enjoys making her life harder), but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t grateful that my Mom shouldered the weight of the transition with me. I tend to take for granted the beauty that stems from experiencing life with someone by your side, especially when they deeply care for you.

Walking through my new home city, Bac Ninh.

Walking through my new home city, Bac Ninh.

We ate a ton of food. Sadly, I ended up losing (?!) the photos of food we had during our first week. We ate Pho, had dinner at a fantastic restaurant called Lau 43 (I believe), consumed multiple versions of Banh My, and made it our mission to frequent a tasty french bakery inspired cafe called Paris Baguette.

What I will do, is start you off at the earliest part of my edible journey - life in Vietnam while on my own!

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SWEETS are my kryptonite. I should have taken more pictures of these scrumptious cakes, but after the first picture, I literally lost all sense of time and went to town.

The apartment that I live in sits in front of a series of city roads littered with local shops and eateries. There are also four, count’em, FOUR bakeries within walking distance. As of now, I have sampled desserts from three. I’m slowly rounding the bend, like the glutton I am. The picture above is a select group of pastries from Nguyen Linh Bakery.

The green cake is matcha (very common here). I’m not a fan of matcha, and I should have known that would be the flavor being green and all but I.. wasn’t thinking. It was green, and green cake is unfamiliar to me, therefore I wanted it.

The filling was practically whipped cream, which works for me, because I LOVE whipped cream.

The orange creamy cake was DIVINE. The nutty dessert I don’t quite remember. I definitely enjoyed it, though.

I will leave you with a photo from my apartment building, 21st floor!

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ARRANGEMENTS

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Phew. With this being my first post, I decided to focus on the why of my move. Why did I relocate to Vietnam? Why did I choose Vietnam?

Why did I relocate to Vietnam?

Back in the U.S., I taught music. I went to university for music education and had my doubts about it leading into my junior year. I had dabbled in composition a bit and was starting to realize that I thoroughly enjoyed it. More importantly, I yearned to master it. This is one thing that sticks out to me about composing - No matter what, I have always wanted to top my own work. I never want to settle, and I have yet to find a profession that stirs a similar desire in me.

Well.. I do it in teaching, but I do it out of obligation. Staying stagnant as an educator effects my students and I, morally, can’t abide by anything that hinders progress.

Fast forward to 2019, I’m in my 5th year of teaching and am now balancing work as a public school teacher split between two schools, while also trying to maintain my health, write music for 3-4 projects (totally my fault), and maintain a sense of togetherness ON TOP OF a social life.

I was failing miserably, and it was starting to negatively effect my mental health.

I was at a point where I felt bitterness creep in, a seed that I didn’t want digging its roots into my heart, and a sourness that was slowly seeping into my work as a teacher. My kids didn’t deserve that, and I felt something had to change.

My end goal is to make writing music my career. I want it with every fiber in me, and I know there are a plethora of other people who can relate.

Hustle culture is a thing in the U.S., and I really don’t enjoy it. I don’t want to work 3 jobs, I don’t want to work 40+ hours Monday through Friday and spend 5 or 6 working my side job on the weekend, and yet that was my reality.

Meeting people with multiple jobs is insanely common. I feel like a petulant and entitled child, but I feel as though people shouldn’t have to slave away for a chance at contentedness. Granted, even here in Vietnam, I work on average about 14 - 15 hours a day, but I get 2 unadulterated days off. It’s insane that this is the upside, but it is!

There were a few options on the table, but when I took into account what I would need to thrive switching into this profession (i.e. financial stability), coupled with a desire to experience life in a new country, this felt like a no-brainer.

I had planned to come to Vietnam regardless, but I made it my mission to try and at least find a job before relocating here. The criteria -

  • Work no more than 20 hours a week (more time spent writing)

  • Make sure those 20 hours cover all my expenses (money from writing goes to savings and business)

  • Mornings free (most effective time of writing for me)

No matter what, music comes first. The fact that I made it a criteria in my job search is mind-blowing. I felt as though I was slowly making progress.

That was enhanced when I found a job that actually matched with my criteria and I’ve been working that job for the past 3 weeks. Balancing profession and career has been interesting and I will save that post for another day.

Just so you know - 10 times better already.

Why Vietnam?

I love a good underdog story, and that’s how I felt when I researched Vietnam.

My sister calls me a hipster. I’ll admit, I tend to gravitate towards things people tend to overlook. China, Korea, and Japan were all options, but I felt as though those are countries that everyone wants to go to. Vietnam felt charming with an aura of beauty that is easily appreciated but isn’t taken into account because of a lack of modernity.

I’ll be honest, Vietnam felt like me. There are so many great things to be found, you just have to give it a chance and dig beneath the surface.

So far, I haven’t been disappointed. Not in the least.

Projects

Musically, I have spent my time finishing up work for Ciel Fledge. As I type this, I can say that all music work is COMPLETE! The last little bit is sprucing up the Kickstarter sheet music and prepping for streaming services.

Majority of September will be spent trying to get Gigabuster cleaned up and ready to go. I have a bunch of live recordings coming in that I can’t wait to replace VST samples with. The last 3 pieces need to be mixed (FINAL BATTLE, YEAH) , and then it’ll be on to the Kickstarter backer extended soundtrack and guitar tabs!

There is a huge personal project that I am planning to start, and once I finish Gigabuster, I can mobilize and begin working on it. More information on that, soon.

I also plan on streaming! I do morning warm-ups 3 times out of the week. I’ll make an announcement on Twitter when that starts, but it’s nothing serious. It’s me practicing skills/techniques that I feel need refining, along with making it my mission to consistently create as much as possible and put myself out there in a way that is authentic for me.

It also doesn’t hurt to let people look into my horrendous work-flow.

Having all of this time is invigorating, and my appetite is voracious! I am so, so hopeful for the future. Here’s to working hard in the right way!

Thank you for taking time out to catch up on me.
Here’s to doing good things, making things happen, and being good people.
— Jasmine