Monday, July 11, 2016

Playing Catch Up

Good morning music lovers,

I'm not sure if anyone is even out there reading this. I have not kept up on my blog entries for some time. I find that keeping up with social media, whether it be for personal use or self promotion, is astonishingly challenging. Further, being a part of numerous organizations that are trying to establish a social media presence WHILE attempting to keep up with my own is almost impossible. I feel like I have to pay someone else to pretend to be me, which is disingenuous. Rest assured, this is the real Justin Raines unloading a few years worth of information on a single post. Bare with me, please.

I moved to California July 5, 2011. I figured once I graduated with my Masters degree from UNLV, I would leave Las Vegas. The music scene, in my opinion, was dying in the desert, and I knew there was nothing there for me but possibly liver disease. So I moved to LA to live with my brother and to see if I could break into the film music biz.

Well, the first two years were amazingly difficult. I left Vegas with a small amount of cash in savings which helped me get to Redondo Beach, and once there, I applied to work as a caregiver. There is always a need for caregivers no matter where you go. If you have experience, which I did, you can get a job quick and start earning some money. On my off time, I applied to teach every music job I saw posted, but I never received a call back. Not one. It was during a time where all the adjunct and part-time positions got sucked up by the saturated market of doctorate students desperate for work. Well, the care giving also pays about as close to minimum wage as one can get with out actually being minimum wage. That meant working 40 or more a week to get by, which also means a social life is nearly impossible. California is expensive, so you need a lot of money to live, but you need a lot of money to be social, too. It was very hard my first two years and I feel like I developed a lot of negative feelings toward my own life.

However, during those two years, I found a saving grace. A Community band. I joined a local LGBT marching band on tuba that allowed me to make a few friends. This group led to me playing in another LGBT group, this time a concert band. It was small, and not very enthusiastic. I was there for roughly six months, until the director decided to nominate me to take over the group. Happy to say that I have been conducting the group for about 4 years now. The Gay Freedom Band of Los Angeles was my ticket to normalcy in this town!

I have had the luxury of doing some very low, some would say micro, budget films scores. The work is always challenging, and even though i am stuck doing B or C grade film scores, I am doing what I always said I would do. From a young age, I always said i'd be a film composer. Is it glamorous? No. It's pretty stressful, Yet, as tiring as it is I find it is also semi-mindless as well. Very often you are asked to mimic a temp track, some other score the director used to edit the film. It doesn't take a lot to do that. I wasn't allowed to be super creative in my approach or writing, so the whole process is like writing on auto-pilot. Not very good for your self esteem.

So now I am at a crossroads. I want to write more music for stage, and doing so has been a challenge as I feel like the film scores have changed the way I think about music. How do I find my original path? I have so many opportunities coming up, but i feel lost. I feel like I need a creative jolt of energy. Where do I even begin to get back on track?