Tag Archives: Singer Songwriter

Guitar Vlog 1 – Why I Only Play 1 Guitar

My first Guitar Vlog Video:

A topic not much talked about but that’s made a big difference to my guitar playing…

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The Wooden House

 

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Wooden House living room

I’m writing from a farmhouse in the Loire Valley, just having completed a 10 week house sit in a beautiful self built eco Wooden House just 30mins from here. Our host and friend arrived yesterday for a handing over of the keys, welcome meal and an afternoon’s unpacking and rearranging before we headed on, van packed to the gills.

 

At 10 weeks, this is the longest house sit yet, and although I’ve been calling it a “sit” that’s not truly accurate, because I don’t honestly think this friend needed their house occupied for that time period – it was more of a favour/exchange. It’s been the most ambitious house sit yet, being abroad in France where I don’t (yet) speak the language plausibly. It’s also my first try at being a true digital nomad, in that over 95% of my income for the period was from online work (Skype teaching).

DSC01545.JPGAs you can see from the pictures, we have been exceptionally lucky with a gorgeous location and beautiful house, however I wanted to write mainly about the challenges presented by a longer house-sit abroad and what I learned from them.

Van: I travelled without breakdown cover, because it would have cost £200 and I was advised that in France garages are plentiful. There were two problems in 10 weeks (that’s the type of van I own!). One non-starter – the local garage came to fix it, and one flat tire – I actually managed to drive to the tire-shop without creating further damage.

IMG_0056.JPGHaving no cover is quite high risk and I do still feel uncomfortable with it. Because I didn’t speak French, it took me two weeks to get the van fixed in the first instance, meanwhile cycling 14miles back and forth for food shopping. My bike was my “breakdown cover”. If you’re thinking of travelling without cover, it’s best with spare food, a bed and a bike in the van, not to mention never leaving the house without your phone and wallet. I learned that the hard way.

DSC01573.JPGHouse Care: With a longer house sit, it’s much more difficult to remember to put everything back in its original place. You might move furniture, or hide away precious ornaments you feel nervous about. I took reference photos, but even then it was tricky – which cupboard was that cheese grater originally from? I’d also ended up leaving my own stuff in many different places in the house without even realizing – a pain for packing up. If I did it again, I’d be stricter! I also wish I could travel with less stuff:

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My things. Music stuff on the left – recording studio, keyboard, guitar, flutes, live kit including amp. On the right, my personal possessions including cycling stuff (bike in van). May not seem like a lot but feels that way when you have to keep moving it. Sadly I’ve actually used all of it, so what can I discard?

DSC01578.JPGBeing in a house for longer there’s also more chance that something might break. I’d never broken anything during a house sit, but this time there were two broken glasses, a joint snapped on a chair and the plumber needed calling out when the toilet leaked. This panicked me! I prefer to leave a house just as I found it if not better, often cleaning, clearing or sorting some corner as a thank you to my hosts. Although we did plenty of that, I was still terrified. In the end I just had to accept that these things will happen from time to time.

IMG_4483.JPGFrance: The house sit was located in rural France, meaning that for the whole stay I really only spoke to 5 people besides shop staff. Although I wasn’t lonely, I felt very exposed, lacking the recourses of a more populated area. If I needed something, it wasn’t always possible to buy it. As a result, I joyfully found that the few neighbours were extremely collaborative. One picked me up from the rail station an hour away(!), after my train was delayed and the busses had finished. Another neighbour I took to work when her car was totalled. A culture of lending and giving freely was engendered by this isolation, despite the language barrier. Amazing!

Being a Digital Nomad: Focus focus focus! Many people must be imagining me leading the French lifestyle, a man of leisure, never having to go to the office. Whilst it is pretty idyllic, of course I go to the office, or rather the office comes to me. IMG_0087.JPGRight now, this is my view, sat in my van working. I’ve just had a Skype call with a colleague discussing a student’s essay draft, and look forward to writing up my lesson reports this afternoon, and preparing my tutorials for the evening. My schedule is different every week, but the most important thing is to be focused – both to be working when I am working and to play when I am playing. I’m still learning this and will write a post on it soon.

Hope this post has been useful to anyone thinking of trying house sitting, digital nomading, or other alternative lifestyle ideas.

-Kimwei

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Make Your Dreams Reality (By Playing Yellow Car) Part 1

I’m writing this post from a beautiful 4 bedroom wooden house in rural France. It was lovingly built by its owner and I’ll be here until spring. This marks my first outing as a digital nomad. I’ll be mentoring on a Music BA over Skype through AMSonline. It’s a dream come true and I’m very grateful to everyone who helped it to happen!

DSC01595So how did I get here? Many people make the transition by going independent in the same job they’ve had for years, such as photography or journalism. Others simply ask their employer if they can work remotely. Since my income came from music performing, teaching and lecturing, as far as I knew, there weren’t any options for working from home.

I brainstormed lots of ideas, including becoming a busking minstrel, running a mobile recording studio (which I still do, and am currently making albums with 2 clients) and working as an illustrator.

Then, quite out of the blue, a company I used to teach with called me up and asked if I would be the main Skype Mentor for an online Music BA they was setting up as a new venture. I was in the middle of the £0 Challenge at the time and was therefore totally unemployed and free to take up the offer. I’ve now been working with that project for a full year and have never enjoyed a teaching role more! Lucky? Yes, but there’s more to it than that.

There are many “how to” guides out there on how to become a digital nomad, and lots of advice on how to “make it happen”. This may just be my personality, but trying to make things happen doesn’t work for me. The way I see it, everything exists somewhere on the planet, so if we tune our minds to it, we start to spot it. The path of my life has come to me by focusing on what I want, then allowing it to happen by saying yes when opportunities come up.

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By co-incidence I do actually have a yellow car, which came to me when I was housesitting in rural Devon and noticed a neighbour washing it in his driveway. He said he was preparing it for a Gumtree ad, so I bought it on the spot.

It’s like the game Yellow Car. I’m sure you’ve played it – spotting this rare car colour on a long drive. Although yellow cars are unusual, it’s amazing how many you see when you’re looking out for them. Someone might ask “How many yellow cars did you see today?” and you’d be able to tell them easily. But, if asked “How many red cars did you see?” I doubt you’d have a clue.

I believe the same can be true with opportunities. We can set our yellow-car-lense to “digital nomad” or “free firewood” or “size 14 denim jacket”. It doesn’t necessarily mean these things will immediately appear, but once we are tuned up to look out for something, we can’t miss it when it comes along. On the other hand, if we’re not focused on what we want, those opportunities could whizz by like red cars without us even noticing.

That’s the overview, but there are other stages to this process too (there are even more stages/aspects than list here so I might do a follow up article).

Really figure out what you want.

It’s important to boil your dream down its key components. When I was a kid, my dream was to earn a living backpacking through the lake-district as a watercolor painter, selling my work to local galleries. As an adult, I’ve boiled that dream down to a few key things – freedom, creativity, needs met, sense of adventure, and gravitated towards opportunities that offer me that.

BUT many times I’ve had to let go of a dream because it no longer brought me those things. Two years ago I planned to busk around Europe in a van, but so many restrictions appeared that I abandoned it. I widened my dream to “I want to have new experiences whilst enjoying earning my living”, which has led me to where I am now.

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My space in the wooden house, mezzanine level.

If your dream is to own an expensive sports car, boil it down to what you want. You can do this by asking yourself what you would experience if that dream became reality. It might be simple: “I’d enjoy driving a fast car. I’d feel exhilarated.” Fine – save up and buy the car, or if your priority is purely driving, you could hire one. If you can afford neither, you might have to give up your attachment to the racing car but might find exactly what you need by seeking other experiences that you find exhilarating.

But if your immediate answer is “I’d be accepted by my peers” or “I’d feel successful”, some further digging could lead you towards a deeper dream. You might be lacking a circle of close friends who don’t judge you on your income, and could re-orientate yourself towards cultivating that. Then you could buy the car anyway if you still want to.

Our true dreams are usually fearless and naturally draw us to be giving towards others.

If it’s not working, do something different.

There’s no point looking at the world through your “yellow car” lens if you’re not even near a road. Sometimes it’s not obvious whether we’re in the right place for an opportunity to come to us. My approach is: if in doubt, do something different.

A new experience or approach has merit simply because you’ve not done it before. You could meet someone new, gain a new skill, see a new place and this could be the key to getting you onto the road and finding your “yellow car”.

I often hear people say “then I was sat next to this guy on a train, and it turned out he had a flat to rent/cocoa farm for sale/kitten who needed a home, and it was just what I was looking for!” Sounds like a co-incidence, but in a way it’s not that far fetched. When we focus our yellow-car-lens, we think about our yellow car all the time. When we talk, we can’t stop talking about our yellow car. Soon, all our friends know we’re looking for a yellow car, and they might mention it to their friends, one of whom might just have a yellow car. But if they don’t, it doesn’t matter. We just keep on talking about that yellow car to every new person we meet, until eventually someone says “hey, I’ve got a yellow car – do you want it?”

-Kimwei

Follow up article: Make Your Dreams Reality Part 2

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Are You A Boy Or A Girl? (The Myth Of Binary Gender)

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For years I’ve been asked “Are you a boy or a girl” by strangers, but really, it’s a question I should have been asking myself.

A 9 year old asked me:

“Because you’ve got short hair, does that mean you’re a boy?”

I thought for a moment… what’s the easiest way to say this?

“Well”, I replied, “the truth is that I AM a girl but often I’d rather be a boy”.

“What, like George out of Famous Five?”

“Yes”

“Oh ok.”

It was an easy conversation, but the child’s mother felt the need to apologise for her son’s question. Apparently it’s offensive to mistake people’s gender. This is probably why the trans community are often so sensitive – it’s difficult when people can’t see which gender you plainly are.

This is the first public statement I’ve made of the following: I identify as transgender.

Although I don't choose to "pass" as male, sometimes I like to see how I might look if I had a male body. Photos like this help me to imagine it.

Although I don’t choose to “pass” as male, sometimes I like to see how I might look if I had a male body. Photos like this help me to imagine it.

I’m comfortable with this, but have been reluctant to be public about it so far. But now it seems important to talk about it in order to raise awareness.

In this day and age, most people have got to grips with the fact that some people have a sex change (gender re-assignment). People can just about cope with this because fits within the mainstream ideas of binary gender. Yet, being transgender simply means this: my gender identity does not match my assigned sex. Those like myself, who neither identify as male or female and whose gender identity isn’t constant, open up a whole new can of androgen worms.

In the late 40s and early 50s, The Kinsey Reports made waves by showing that rather than people being simply gay or straight, a spectrum of sexuality existed. It turned out that people were straight, bi-sexual or gay, to varying degrees, with blurred lines and overlap. Why should the same not be true for gender?

A debate on gender-spectrums is tempting, but I will discipline myself into putting it aside to give my own personal account. Here I’ll explain why and how I identify as mid-gendered.

To start at the beginning, I was born into a female body and understood from a young age that I had a girl’s body. Therefore I set about learning what girls did and did it. By the age of 6 it seemed abundantly clear to me that there had been a mistake, because of course I was a boy.

I knew what boys did and switched instantly to doing those things, insisting on wearing trousers. Spelling “Kim” backwards I found “Mik” and for a while signed all letters as “Micky”.

Completely aware that I had a girl’s body, I realised that if I were to be seen as a boy I would have to act exactly like one. I tried football (badly), wore a baseball cap and bomber jacket. By the age of 11 I had abolished crying or showing emotions that I saw as feminine, especially excitement. I was totally aware that a boy could cry and still be a boy, but since I was a girl trying to pass as a boy, I could never be caught doing anything “girlie”. (I wouldn’t recommend giving up crying to any child, as I am still trying to undo its effects)

Unfortunately by the age of 12, my breasts had fully developed. I realised that I wasn’t going to pass as male anymore. Reluctantly I set about finding out how to be a woman…

…I was rubbish!

After struggling for over 10 years, I met someone who was putting himself through a rite of passage. He decided that to become a true man he would have to set himself challenges that he associated with being strongly masculine. In his case: physical ordeal, walking new ground, hunting and farming. I realised I could do the same thing, by challenging myself to double my physical strength. I managed this within 3 months of weight training. Finally I was strong, like a man and had the androgynous body to match my insides! Then I was set on a course to discover how I could express my gender identity, within the confines of my physical body.

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Beard experimentation. Again, I don’t think this felt tip would convince anyone, but I was touched when after I’d explained that I’m transgender to someone, they asked if they could draw this goatee onto me to help them better understand my gender. A request like that could have seemed offensive, but this person’s intention was good so it wasn’t.

Strangely enough, I never felt the desire to have a sex change or to live as a man. I also don’t feel comfortable simply being labelled as a “strong woman”. I have cried with disappointment to look in the mirror and see a woman’s body, but not frequently enough to want to change my physicality. I see myself as mostly-male, but inside a woman’s body. This means I experience myself as mid-gendered. It’s important to me that those who I’m close to see me this way.

Wait a minute; doesn’t this mean I’m expecting people to accept me as transgender, without even trying “pass” as male? Is this too much to expect from the general public? I don’t think so. People are getting the hang of gender fluidity. I’ve had “the talk” with all my close friends most of whom have seen it coming anyway. I’m not willing to go back to “pretending to be male” by mimicking what other men do/wear/say, just like I did as a kid. I’d certainly be seen as transgender if I did that, but I wouldn’t be myself so it defeats the object. I wouldn’t recommend, “pretending to be male” in this way or “pretending to be female” to anyone male, female or trans.

By the same token I’m not going to start billing myself as a transgender singer-songwriter; it would be false advertising because my voice is female and defines the recordings.

I’m lucky because Kimwei turns out to be an androgynous name. It’s possible to change my title to “Mr.” by deed poll, so that’s my next step. It seems like just the right balance for me to have a female body and a male name. I’d rather be a husband than a wife or a dad than a mum.

If someone you know identifies as transgender, ask them about it – since how they identify their own gender and prefer to be treated will be different for each trans person.

Amnesty International currently have 2 transgender cases in their Write For Rights campaign. I’d encourage everyone to send at least one Write For Rights letter/card this Christmas as it’s a truly effective at helping those who receive them. All their causes are extremely good ones, not just those concerning gender. The letters do more than lift morale – people really do get treated better/pardoned/released from imprisonment as a result this kind of support being sent.

Thankyou for reading

Kimwei

Listen to Kimwei’s original acoustic music at reverbnation.com/kimwei

watch at youtube.com/kimweidotcom ,

interact at facebook.com/kimweidotcom & @kimwedotcom

everything at kimwei.com

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Find Out How Your Christmas Shopping Is Made

Shock horror – factory production isn’t always as bad as I thought. I spend so much time disapproving of mass-production that I decided to watch a “how it’s made” video. This one showed the factory production of jeans. I expected to be appalled. But as it turns out, factories are incredibly efficient, both in speed and use of resources. Only 7% of each sheet of denim is wasted. It’s we, the consumers, who are wasteful – chucking out the final product whenever we tire of it.

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Using a computer to create a pattern for jeans so that only 7% of the denim is wasted.

The only part of the video that sickened me was watching “designer stressing”. The methods take an hour, and add 5 years of “wear and tear” to new jeans. After seeing the cotton grown, dyed, weaved into denim, cut and precision sewed, it’s horrible to think that people won’t buy the finished article until 5 years have been taken off it’s life.

For the past 10 years I’ve only worn one type of trousers – Road corduroys. I’ve been wearing and repairing my current 3 pairs for 5 years now. They are literally wearing through. One of them ripped and died this morning. I can have peace of mind buying a replacement because Road boasts sweatshop-free production – but this means they charge £70 per pair. Wow! If I bought 3 pairs every 5 years that’s £42 per year on trousers. It sounds like a lot, even though we’ve been brainwashed into thinking it’s normal to pay that same amount for a phone contract every month.

One rip of many - now unsavable

One rip of many – now unsavable

Yet, if Road’s workers are paid a living wage, why should I be surprised that they charge £70 for an item of clothing? In Primark, jeans are £10, giving most people that smug “bargain feeling”. But would you feel smug if someone made you a pair of jeans, and you only paid them a tenner for it?

One reason we feel ok about paying £10 for trousers is that mass production divorces us from how stuff is made, so it’s harder for us to value it. We waste things that are easy to come by and hold no emotional ties. But we don’t chuck away the mug our child made in pottery class or the scarf our gran knitted. Mark Boyle puts it neatly by saying “if we had to purify our own water, I doubt we’d shit in it”.

So that brings to the conclusion that even if factories are efficient, it can still be better to make stuff or buy from small local traders because this discourages waste. In some cases making things at home wastes more raw materials, but this is offset by the reality that you’re less likely to throw out what you’ve made. On the other hand, finding our how things are made in factories can also discourage wasting them.

Therefore this Christmas, I’d urge you to take a closer look into where products come from. Can you buy more ethically by using a company with a strong mission statement, like Road? Can you buy more locally, or from the actual human who made the damn thing? If you can’t afford it and will be shopping at Primark instead, then so be it. But why not watch a few “how it’s made” videos, so at least you’ll be better informed. Exeter University Human Geography lecturer Ian Cooke runs www.followthethings.com is a great tool.

Road-JeansThis year I am buying all my Christmas presents from local artists/writers/musicians. This way I can be sure to give people gifts they won’t find on the high-street, whilst also supporting grassroots creativity. This isn’t a plug for my album being the perfect Christmas gift (although it IS rather lovely, and available here: kimwei.bandcamp.com ): I believe in this cause strongly and will be performing at local arts & crafts fair this weekend (Exeter Community Center, all day, my slot is 1.45pm).

In the meantime, since I’m experimenting with a low-money lifestyle, I can’t afford that new pair of cords even if I do approve of the company that make them. Do you think I should write a letter to Road Jeans asking for a sponsorship? Look at all the pictures of me wearing their cords on-stage!

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Running out of money was such an anti-climax, I just had to go to Harrods

Because the idea of running out of money held so much fear for me, I decided to deliberately let my bank account run to £0 and then work my way up from zero. It was almost as though I thought I would die if I ran out of money and had no work planned. At the very least, I imagined myself abandoning all else to stand in the street and sing for my supper, then going home to the van and hatching plans to tout myself around for as much work as possible.

Would Harrods be a good place to busk? This Big Issue seller seems to think it's a great spot.

Would Harrods be a good place to busk? This Big Issue seller seems to think it’s a great spot.

The reality was much less dramatic – almost disappointingly so. On June 18th I ran out of money, spending my final pennies at the sweet shop in order to get to exactly £0. I still had some groceries left and some fuel in the tank. Would more money come in before those supplies ran out?

Well…Yes.

It was very easy. That same day, someone contacted me about doing enabling/care work for them so I booked couple of days at the end of the week. Rather bizarrely, later that day someone else contacted me about the same thing, so I booked a day with them for the following week. With a little busking to top it up, I realised that’s all I need for now.

So there you have it… the anti-climax.

Quite profound don’t you think? My attempts to put myself in a desperate situation have failed. It’s proved impossible for me to do so. I’ve learned that living abundantly is not about money but resources – it’s just that we’ve been conditioned to believe that money is the only resource.

Since running out of money 2 weeks ago, I have been working my way up slowly, but funds are still low at best. A highlight of my week was singing in Chichester market square with a sign saying “Busking for tickets to the opera”. The experiment has changed me permanently in ways I could never have predicted, and how I make a living from now on will be totally different. I won’t give too much away, but lets just say that I have exciting plans to create my future as business failure.

I put on my most expensive outfit so as to blend in, although I felt a little conspicuous getting changed in the street outside harrods and tying a tie using Starbucks' window as a mirror.

I put on my most expensive outfit so as to blend in, although I felt a little conspicuous getting changed in the street outside harrods and tying a tie using Starbucks’ window as a mirror.

In my last post, I showed my reaction to going to M&Ms World – a wildly consumerist shop in Leicester Square. How then, having recently gone to £0, would I respond to being in Harrods?

I had to try it.

In Harrods, pricetags are hidden. In Harrods, the staff wear suits. In Harrods, the toilets provide free perfume as well as soap. In Harrods, there are many expensive things, like a rucksack for £900 or a chair for £4000, or even a box of tea for £7 or a plastic biro for £5. I was appalled by M&Ms world, but I surprised to find that Harrods did not appal me.

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A £175 shirt… I have one that looks quite similar, but of course you can tell the difference at a glance because mine is blue.

Why? Well, in Harrods it seemed like there was no trickery or coercion. Stuff was for sale and you could buy it if you wanted to – isn’t that how shops should be? Items were on display, but prices were hidden, so you had to take a liking to something based on what it was, not on its price. Everything expensive that I saw seemed well made. Even where things were clearly overpriced (£175 for a shirt – well beyond the cost of its materials and labour), it seemed as though this was very plainly declared. M&Ms World, by contrast, was laid out to try and milk as many purchases as possible out of each customer, regardless of whether they would get good use out of them. Someone could of course buy a £175 shirt from Harrods, and consign it to the bin after 3 months. But being well made, it could also last them for 10 years or more, or be worn 2nd, 3rd and 4th hand for years to come. Products from M&Ms World on the other hand, were so cheaply made that they would quickly break, have no 2nd hand value so would soon end up in a landfill for sure.

 

Take part in Kimwei’s Music Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XNDwS7wUwE

Listen to Kimwei’s original acoustic music at reverbnation.com/kimwei , watch at youtube.com/kimweidotcom , interact at facebook.com/kimweidotcom , everything at kimwei.com

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What to do in the meantime? Shoot videos, make websites, build kickstarter, but I’ll need your help…

Although I started this £0 Challenge on May 20th, the actual date that I stopped earning money was May 9th (about a month ago). I gave up all my remaining private guitar students to go adventuring in my van. After filling the tank with diesel I had £200-300 in the bank. A month later, I have been to the coast, to Oxford and London and somehow my bank balance still reads £200-300. I don’t know exactly what’s going on. When I started my challenge, I thought my remaining money would last me a week or two. A whole month later, I’ve still got the same amount as when I started?! ( https://symphonyforhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/im-taking-the-0-challenge/ )

So essentially I’m getting bored. A month of holiday was great – travelling around the country, seeing friends and not worrying about having to look for income. But now, I want to release the acoustic album I finished at the end of April, seek gigs, go busking and all that other singer-songwriter/independent musician stuff. But according to my £0 Challenge I can’t do any of those things until my money runs out, because they count as “seeking work”. I suppose I could just make it run out today by buying something I don’t need, or give it to charity, but as already discussed in previous posts, that defeats the point of the exercise.

Ninja Video Standing On The Edge

Stills from my “test shoot” for the upcoming music video shoot on June 14th. Thanks to Abi Crisp for giving up her time to film me standing on the edge of stuff.

Here are some of the things I can do in the meantime however:

  • Make music videos – I’ve got a great idea for a music video that you yourself could be in! It’s for the song “Standing On The Edge”, from the album Refraction & Redemption which I’m due to release this year. Be a part of the filmshoot in Exeter on June 14th. Alternatively, you can send in your own footage from anywhere in the world. See the event page for more details  ( https://www.facebook.com/events/1458751301038571 ) or facebook PM me if you’d like to contribute remotely.
  • Make a CD of acoustic covers that I could sell when I do go busking later this summer.
  • Update my website (kimwei.com) which I’ve just stripped down. I might even replace the section about my recording studio and production services with a whole new “Goldflower Studios” website, since it was getting a bit to big as my production portfolio has grown over the years.
  • Design album cover for my new album, soon to be released.
  • Write (but not launch) my Kickstarter page in order to release said album. For those of you who don’t know what kickstarter.com is, it’s a website which provides a great framework for an independent album release (among other things). Basically, you sponsor me as an artist by donating money – any amount. For a small donation you’ll be sent the new album as a thankyou. Sounds just like buying the album online right? Not quite. Because you can pledge any amount and there are many rewards to choose from. For example, a signed original lyric sheet (complete with crossing outs, missing verses etc), or a £100 might gain you a living room gig with the artist, in which you can pick your favourite songs. Some bands even include the guitar strings that were used to record the album, as a reward for a certain donation. I’ve still got mine on the guitar so that’s easily done. The artist uses the kickstarter money, either for a specific music project, or simply to keep on making music.

What rewards would you like to see on my Kickstarter page? Do comment / write to me with suggestions. The album is called Refraction & Redemption and the taster tracks can be downloaded from reverbnation.com/kimwei

Kimwei x

 

Listen to Kimwei’s original acoustic music at reverbnation.com/kimwei , watch at youtube.com/kimweidotcom , interact at facebook.com/kimweidotcom , everything at kimwei.com

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…And So The Bank Balance Diminishes

With only a couple of hundred in the bank and having stopped seeking work until my money runs out, it’s been interesting to watch my own thoughts. Sometimes I want to spend/give away all that money at once, other times I want to make it last as long as possible because I’m afraid of running out.

Basically, I’m oscillating between “must spend” and “must save” – two intrinsic compulsions that money provokes in people, both of which are quite destructive and unbalanced. Observing these compulsive tendencies in myself further convinces me of the importance of facing my issues surrounding money by taking up this £0 Challenge.

Two compulsions...

Two compulsions…

Why not give all my remaining money to charity? Whilst this seems like a good idea, the point of the £0 challenge is to face my issues. Therefore, watching my reactions as my bank balance diminishes and working through my fears as I get closer and closer to zero, is an important part of the process and I should let the money run out in its own time. With any luck, I’ll end up less afraid of lack and be a more naturally generous person in the future anyway (which is worth much more in the long run than the small amount I could give to a charity today).

How should I manage the decline to £0? Rule 1 of the £0 Challenge ( see – https://symphonyforhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/im-taking-the-0-challenge/ ) I’ve set myself is to stop seeking any type of paid work until my bank account reads £0. I made this rule on the assumption that if I stopped seeking work, then none would come my way. But what do I do if I’m offered work before my money runs out? Well, the aim is to mimic what would happen if my business dried up, so I should take work as it’s offered, but not seek any. Surely my money will keep declining anyway?

But what if it doesn’t? What if I don’t promote myself, take no steps to seek gigs, students, clients for my recording studio, CD sales etc, and yet it simply refuses to dry up? That’s when I realized the beauty of The £0 Challenge. If I run out of money and then show that I can build a living for myself from that point, it’ll be a valuable journey for me to experience and for you to read about. If I try to go to £0 and find that I can never get there, in some ways, that’ll be even more profound! It would release my fears of running out of money in a completely unexpected way and it would be an anti-capitalist revolution.

Lets see what happens.

 

Listen to Kimwei’s original acoustic music at reverbnation.com/kimwei , watch at youtube.com/kimweidotcom , interact at facebook.com/kimweidotcom , everything at kimwei.com

 

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I’m Taking The £0 Challenge

As a self-employed musician, I have always been afraid of running out of money and having no work booked. I plan to face my fear and overcome it, by deliberately letting my money run out. Essentially, it’s about going to £0 and then trying to make it back to a healthy living from that point.

So what are the rules of the experiment? Well, they are dictated by what I’m trying to learn through this experience. I’m trying overcome a fear that many self-employed people harbour: what will happen if my work dries up? I don’t actually fear that I’ll starve, but my fear of running out of money is totally out of proportion. It almost feels as though I might die if I run out of money, even though I know that isn’t true. That’s how I know I have to overcome this fear.

The rules mimic what would happen if I simply ran out of work:

  1. To stop seeking any type of paid work until my bank account runs to £0.
  2. Once £0 has been reached, I can start taking steps to make my living through self employment.
  3. No begging, borrowing or stealing.
  4. No relying on handouts or state benefits.
  5. The accepting of gifts is permitted, as long as the giver is not influenced by this challenge.
Me, as a student, following an experiment where I busked with a watercooler I found in the street until I could afford to buy a djembe with the takings. I wanted to find out if it was possible to work up from having no money, to buying and instrument.

Me, as a student, following an experiment where I busked with a watercooler I found in the street until I could afford to buy a djembe with the takings. I wanted to find out if it was possible to work up from having no money, to buying an instrument.

When does the challenge end?

To face my fear, I don’t think that I need to carry out this experiment for very long – 1 or 2 months at most. That’s all I’d need in order to establish whether or not I can work up from £0. If I feel that my income is steadily increasing and that £0 no longer holds fear for me, I could end the challenge in order to, for example, borrow some money to invest in some music gear that helps me to make more money. Borrowing would be ok if I finally felt confident in my ability to make money, because I’d be confident that I could pay it back.

Another reason I might end this experiment is because of an extreme life event. Someone suggested that the challenge would be workable until an emergency happened to me or a friend or relative. This is a good point. What if my only remaining Grandparent fell ill and I missed out on valuable time with her because I couldn’t afford to travel to see her? I’d see that as going too far and would end the challenge in order to see her, if it meant breaking one of the rules to do so.

 

To answer a few questions:

A few people have asked me why the challenge I’ve chosen is so extreme. Others are saying it’s not extreme enough. I don’t think I’m doing a radical thing, when you consider that most self-employed people go to £0 sooner or later when work dries up. I’m simply creating that situation on purpose in order to face it now.

Keep in mind that the situation I’m creating must mimic what would happen if I ran out of freelance work. That principle shapes the rules that I’m giving myself. There’s no need to go to absolute zero with no money, no possessions, no food and be standing in the street naked. As with any challenge to do with conquering fear, its about going to the situation that I myself am afraid of. For me that’s about having £0 in the bank, with no job and no work booked. I’ve been in debt before, like many people, but each time I had work booked for the next week or so. Not this time.

 

Would I use the NHS and other taxpayers services?

I wouldn’t draw jobseeker’s allowance, because I have chosen to give up my job and so should face the consequences. I also wouldn’t feel comfortable taking state benefits if my business failed, because that would be my responsibility, not the state’s. However, I would still use the NHS and other taxpayers services unless I truly went moneyless and therefore stopped being a taxpayer. I’ve always declared all my income and paid tax when relevant and that wouldn’t change upon taking up this challenge.

 

Why not beg, borrow, steal or accept handouts?

The point of the challenge is to try and “earn” my way back from £0. That’s what I want to learn. I’m not aiming to learn how to apply for a bank loan, or how to persuade my friends into helping me out. I’d rather learn to catch my own fish. Once I’ve finished the £0 challenge, and am convinced of my own ability to make my way back from zero, I might be more comfortable with the idea of borrowing or even accepting gifts of money. Why? Because I’d know that I could pay borrowed money back. If someone really wanted to give me a gift of money I could accept their kindness because I could guarantee that their money wouldn’t be “wasted”. It’s like the parable of the careless man who loses all his money and asks his rich friend for help. His friend is very rich, but refuses to give him any money at all unless he can tend a flock of sheep successfully for a year without losing a single one. The rich man wants to be sure that the money he gives his friend won’t be carelessly frittered away.

 

If that’s the case, how can you justify accepting gifts?

One of the rules is: The accepting of gifts is permitted, as long as the giver is not influenced by this challenge. I don’t wish to stop people being kind or generous as normal. I might be more generous if I wasn’t so afraid of running out of money, so part of spirit of the challenge concerns encouraging generosity. So, if I went to stay with my Dad for a few days and he bought all the food, that’s ok because he normally does that when I visit. But if my Dad suddenly invited me to stay for a month, or sent me money because of this £0 challenge, then that wouldn’t be ok.

 

Would I break any of my rules if I was starving?

I don’t know. Let’s find out.

Footnote: I’m sure people will challenge or ask me to clarify EVERYTHING I’ve written as time goes on, so this post may be subject to additions and footnotes in the future as the fundamentals of the matter are bashed out.

 

 

Listen to Kimwei’s original acoustic music at reverbnation.com/kimwei , watch at youtube.com/kimweidotcom , interact at facebook.com/kimweidotcom , everything at kimwei.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Facing Fears Surrounding Money By Going To £0?

So what would happen if I ran out of money, with no job and no freelance work booked? It’s something I’m afraid of but it’s never happened to me. What would happen if I went to that point on purpose to conquer my fear of going to zero? It would be a lifestyle experiment.

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Stuff that I may have absolutely none of soon.

 

In my last post, I asked myself why I gave up a steady job as a University Lecturer in order to live in a van, with no current income planned? Let’s be clear about this – I also refuse to draw benefits. What right do I have to ask for state benefits when I can work, but have chosen not to? This leaves me in a very insecure position, with a van to run and only a couple of hundred left in the bank.

One reason that I quit my job is that even though it was only part time, it still didn’t leave me enough time to spend being creative as a singer songwriter. I had spent 5 years working on the same album in fits and starts, but after giving up my teaching job in March, I finished the album within the space of a month by working on it full time. Soon, I’ll start the process of promoting and releasing it by working full time at that… but first, a lifestyle experiment.

Here are some lifestyles I could have:

  1. Being employed part time = have enough money but not enough time for creativity (I already gave up this lifestyle at the end of March 2014)
  2. Having no job = have enough time for creativity, but where will the money come from? (this is where I am now)
  3. Doing freelance work = likely to be the same as option 1. In my experience, being self-employed takes up more time than a part time teaching job. (done this before)
  4. Being picked up by a record company or publisher = Being paid to be a singer-songwriter – but only if the deal is right! (If it’s going to come along, it will come along in it’s own time.)

I’m currently living in option 2 and wondering if a better version of option 3 is possible. Is it possible to make a good living from freelance work and have enough time to be a singer-songwriter? It would have to be done by either living on less money, or earning more per self-employed-hour.

But all 4 ideas are about earning enough MONEY to live on. There is another option – go Moneyless.

The Moneyless Man (Mark Boyle) lives without money and has devoted his life to helping others do the same. He lives an modest life and has everything he needs, but he gets what he needs without using money.

At first, I couldn’t see what the difference was between getting what you need with money or without it. Then I took a closer look and realised that money encourages a lot of negative tendencies in people that don’t exist with trade. Money can be hoarded (it’s called “saving”), an obsession with profit or gaining status through money is likely. People are constantly afraid of running out of money.

I am constantly afraid of running out of money.

I’m not planning to go moneyless, but what would happen if I let my money run out on purpose? Once my bank account reached zero I could begin to seek sources of freelance income, but not until then. The rule would be that even if I was struggling, I could neither borrow, beg nor steal, neither could I start living on hand-outs. I would have to earn, trade, or womble (to womble: to make good use of the things that the everyday folks leave behind) in order to make a living and work upwards from there.

The purpose of the challenge would be to try and dismantle the fears that I have around money. I can’t decide if I want to go moneyless or not, but if I AM to keep using money, I must stop being afraid of it. I could start trying to build a freelance business for myself right now, whilst I’ve still got money in the bank, but if I did, I’d always be afraid of going to £0. If I take this opportunity to go to £0 now and find that I can work up from there, then I can stop being afraid.

Just to be clear, this is not about some middle class kid irresponsibly running out of cash, having a hard time for a month or two and then thinking they know all about what it is to be poor. I would never presume to understand how poverty affects people just because I’d carried out a brief lifestyle experiment. This challenge would be solely about facing my own personal fears and issues surrounding money.

So what do you think? Should I do it? Comments welcome.

 

 

 

 

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