It's Friday night here in LA. My windows are open. It's still 60 degrees outside...in January. I'm not used to it, but I'll take it.
We've been here just over six months now and there are some things I'm quite certain I'll just never get used to, traffic and warm weather. Okay y'all know that's a lie, you can't beat this weather out here. But the traffic and how expensive it is out here is no joke I assure you. My RENT is 3 times what my MORTGAGE was in Kentucky if that gives you any indication. It hurts every time I pay it still. LOL. If we were to put Hux into the childcare place we want to, it would be $25,000 a year, to watch our 2 year old while we work. Yeah that's not a typo either. But "that's LA" as I've become so accustomed to hearing at this point. And that is indeed true.
Things have been up and down here thus far. More ups than downs though. Full disclosure, this holiday season was incredibly hard for me. It's the first time in my entire life I didn't get to share it with my family in Kentucky, quite simply because we couldn't afford the trip there and back this year. I'm not too proud to admit that. It hurt not being able to see and feel all that love in one room, but Eva, Hux, and I still had a very wonderful Christmas and New Years. Just a much quieter one than usual. My family still managed to spoil the hell out of Hux which I have no qualms with. We love him like that too.
6 months has absolutely flown by in the blink of an eye for me. And that's really just because I've been working every second of every day here to make the most of this opportunity. But I won't lie, its been a real struggle at times. One maybe a little too personal to share, but maybe by sharing it, much like music, it will help me see the positive in it and maybe even help someone else see the positive in their life or situation too. It's a long one, but here you go.
Finding work has been HARD. Very hard in fact. I'm willing to bet I've filled out over 250 applications in a four month span, with almost ZERO luck. Oh I had interviews, second interviews, and even some third interviews only to fall a little short it seems. It was deflating to say the least. And when that rent check comes out on the first, and you see your account drawing thousands closer to 0, there's a panic button that starts to glow deep down inside and you can't turn that shit off no matter how hard you try.
We came here with the hopes of me being the bread winner, the sole provider. And we both understood that might not end up being the case, but I wanted that for Eva and for Hux. I wanted the weight on my shoulders. After all, this was my idea right? So I view it as my job to provide. Now I'm a very prideful person admittedly. I get that from my father. So when you feel like you're failing your wife, failing your son, failing yourself, and letting down the people you love the most when you're trying your absolute damnedest not to, its quite simply hard to keep it together. You feel helpless, useless, with an all day uneasiness about you that you wear like a 30 pound belt around your waist but never see. And when you're the leader of a family, a group, or anything really, you never want to show you're hurting. It's your job to be the rock, the strength in dark times. And so I haven't shown my wounds, perhaps until now. But there's been nights I haven't slept not a wink wondering just how the hell we are going to come out on the other side of this. We're still not out yet. I don't say this for sympathy, I simply divulge this because I believe you reading this are on this journey with me and deserve to know the truth.
What you need to know though, is that despite not landing any steady gig, I was still working. Pretty much seven days a week in fact. I was hustling the second my feet hit the ground here. And I was actually lucky enough to land an internship with a small music library / publishing company in late August of now last year. But this gig only pays in industry knowledge, not the green trees with dead peoples' pictures on them. Still very valuable, but it won't keep the lights on. I was there three days a week. I gained some amazing knowledge there about music for TV and Film, contracts, media companies and really how it all works from the inside. That's a HUGE advantage for someone who writes music for that stuff! I'm in the process of putting that to good use now.
In October I landed another internship. This one was at a MAJOR recording studio called NRG. Look it up. They basically made all the records I listened to growing up all in that studio. But again, this one doesn't pay the bills, but the experience is invaluable. So that's "job" number TWO. I was there roughly three or four days a week as well.
Last but not least I have not forgotten the reason I came here, to write music. So in-between, after, and even sometimes during those jobs I was writing, recording, and making connections in the songwriting, publishing, and recording communities here. Job number THREE. And my favorite one of course.
All the while making sure my little man and wife are taken care of and get needed time as well. Its a nearly impossible balance, but somehow I've been able to do it so far. Having an amazing wife makes it possible. That, and long nights and early mornings. And LOTS of coffee.
The idea is that one of these had to pan out right? You intern and if you do a good job you get hired right? No problem for me. So I did well in both my internships. I know that for a fact. Internship #1, the music library was up first and was over in November. After many kind words from the owner and his assistant, they simply don't have the room (or $) to hire anyone. I was bummed, but hey I got great experience and I can take that with me now and use it on a resume right? Plus I can just work at the studio then right? The NRG internship was actually ongoing, I could still be there now if I didn't have bills to pay, but they also made it clear to us (now 8) interns they weren't hiring anyone new for a while. So I realized I had to move on as much as I really didn't want to. Strike two, and felt like strike three.
Now I never stopped applying to places even when I was interning. Gladly I knew these weren't guarantees of any sort to getting hired. And when I say I was applying for jobs, I wasn't applying to McDonald's (although truthfully I wasn't getting far from it). That's NOT why I came here, to take another job I'd hate. No sir. I was applying to real industry jobs. Music publishers, labels, studios, engineering, live audio. Jobs that simply don't exist in Kentucky unfortunately. And I've done and will continue to do some random gigs like work the premiere of the Strangers Things 2nd season. Fun experience. And I've done some random audio gigs. But those have been few and far between.
But just about a month ago, when truthfully I didn't know if buying Christmas gifts was even a good idea, there was a tidal shift for me. As I mentioned, for nearly 6 months I'd been scouring google, job boards, and Craigslist day and night for a solid gig. And I'm very proud to say I've finally found one.
Remember the music library internship? It finally paid off. I found another music library I applied to and landed called Methodic Doubt Music. I work for some talented and amazing gentlemen who have curated an amazing music library that I hope to add to with my own music. We specialize in major motion picture film trailer music, and its pretty awesome. I spent a good deal of my day today looking for new artists to sign to our publishing house. One of which I hope to be a long time friend from back in Cincinnati. And I can't tell you how good it feels to be immersed in music while working. I won't disclose what I make, but I'm starting out at almost 1 and half times what I was making after 7 years at Duke back in Kentucky. Now obviously that money doesn't go as far out here, but damn it puts some things in perspective about self worth.
In fact I started off this year with a raise and a publishing contract on the table for a good amount of my songs to a really great company. I'll tell you who they are if/when we finish the contract. But that's a hell of a turnaround for us in a four week period. My wife has also decided, being the rock star she is, to pick up work to help us out for now, and is being recruited for management positions like she's the Michael Jordan of the restaurant industry. And guess what? She is. Someone is going to be really lucky to get her.
So we're here. Doing our thing. Not quite "living the dream" just yet, but I believe more than ever we're on that path.
I still believe in hard work. I still believe in holding the door open for women young and old. And I still believe I'm going to sign a publishing contract with an amazing label to become a full time writer, write my first hit, and win a fucking Grammy. Pardon my French, but this man is on a damn mission. And that ain't changing anytime soon.
I know my family and friends are the only ones who will likely read all of this long ass blog post. Sorry its so long winded. This is even the short version if you can believe that. Ha! But to you all, I can't express in words how much I love and miss you dearly. I think of you all every single day. Know that even if we don't speak for a while, that love will never recede. When I see you we'll just pick it right back up where we left off. A hug and a smile. I'm blessed to have family and friends like that.
This is one man's journey with his family in pursuit of happiness. Thanks for being a part of it.
Matthew Alexander Wheatley