Hey, hi, hello 👋 .
My name is Christian Archer, I'm a 27 year old living in Los Angeles, California by way of Brooklyn, New York. Currently I work in tech as a Product Designer but fun fact, I would've never ended up in tech if I hadn't first started my career as a hip-hop recording artist. If you asked me 10 years ago where I would be right now my answer would've been along the lines of:
The working man's a sucker! When I'm 27 I'm going to be the greatest lyricist on the planet performing for sold out stadiums. I'll have 16 fast cars, 3 girlfriends, and mansions all over the world.
Looking back the naïveté of the mindset is borderline endearing but mostly eye-roll worthy. The truth is, I started writing hip-hop as a way to escape a dangerous high-school era. I was living in an unsafe household, one that forced me to confront the dark heart of humanity head-on. Looking back, it's a miracle that I've ended up alright. I felt many times seconds away from disastrous self ruin. I mention this all because, in the end, it was music and writing that served as my therapy, it was music that strung me along from day to day. Some people have the privilege of consulting mental health professionals when they're spiraling down and out, for me I was only able to consult rappers, producers, jazz musicians, rockstars, and crooners. Unfortunately, I eventually stepped away from the pursuit of musical stardom when I confronted the reality of just what it took to get your name out there. Blogs wanted money for placement, studios wanted it for recording time, engineers wanted it for mixing and mastering, and producers wanted it for beats.
I realized that so many people with a passion, one that may be keeping them away from the proverbial ledge, were getting priced out of their purpose. I wanted to try something different, entrepreneurship. My best friend and I set out to solve this problem with technology. We attempted to build what we conceptualized as an Instagram for music with distributed marketing tools and monetization options for recording artists, we called it Racket. After 2 years of failing to build a product because of our lack of experience and technical expertise, we took a step back and started acquiring the skills we would need to become a 2 man army for product development. Over the next 4 years, I somehow naturally learned how to design and orchestrate mobile apps while my best friend learned how to engineer and optimize them. All these years later we've hung up our coat on Racket, but I'm fascinated more than ever by the storytelling side of this problem. I realized, the music industry is only getting harder and harder to succeed in, but people still show up to give it their all. What builds that sort of ambition and drive? How can you cultivate it and how can you regulate it? I have a hunch that musical intelligence leads to greater emotional intelligence and I want to prove it. I want to highlight and document the human condition when it becomes intimately intertwined with music and it's creation. So what in particular stands out to me? Let's get into it.
Attack and huH, what?
I feel a good way to start our friendship is to do a little bit of housekeeping around what you can expect from this newsletter and exactly what the f**k Attack & Flux is supposed to mean. The name, admittedly, might be a bit high brow but I feel it adequately captures the nature of our predicament. At the beginning of 2020, right in the early throes of COVID I found myself working through a book called This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel J. Levitin, in it I encountered two aspects of musical theory that stood out as particularly interesting proponents of musical conception I had not quite accounted for. Those were the concepts of Attack and, well, Flux. Let's unpack it.
I am no music student, nor am I an instrumentalist. I'm just a man who has found parts of himself hiding in the deep reserves of our global music library. So, I found this definition over on Free Music Dictionary and felt it did a great job at expressing the meaning I've found in the concept:
In music, the term attack refers to the manner in which a note is performed by the musician, whether decisive and quick, or smooth and slow... meaning the initiation of the sounding of the note takes place slowly, starting softly at first, then coming to the full volume of the note. Or an attack can be fast, reaching full volume very quickly or at the moment the note is sounded.
In other words, Attack is all about your approach to a problem or challenge. Defining your attack requires intention and/or intuition. It requires you to dig your feet into the dirt and make decisive action about how you START. Personally, I find great poetic meaning in this. So much of life is defined by our ability to begin, to throw ourselves at that which we desire. In general, I find I've had a strong attack throughout life, starting has never been an issue. I'm very likely at any moment to start a new venture, whether it be as ambitious as a tech start-up or interview podcast, or as modest as a Sunday morning doodling habit. Attacking new projects and challenges is what has gotten me to where I am today. My struggle more so resides in how I continue, how I sustain and evolve over time in a focus area. This plays into the idea of Flux.
So if Attack is how we begin, Flux is its counterpart and is about how we continue, how we change, how we iterate, and how we evolve. Good ole' Wikipedia puts it like this.
Tonality flux is Harry Partch's term for the kinds of subtle harmonic changes that can occur in a microtonal context from notes moving from one chord to another by tiny increments...
Flux is change, it's adaptation. It's in my opinion the trickiest aspect of life to navigate and is as a result, one of the most fascinating topics ripe for exploration. When I get back to releasing podcast episodes I will center in on these two notions and learn how the musicians we admire deal with these challenges. Everyone's journey is different and thats where the beauty hides, together we will unpack the idiosyncrasies present in the lives of the people who help us soundtrack our days and hopefully identify breadcrumbs for success for future generations and aspiring creatives. Until then, you will have to deal with my own personal journey. If you tag along you will observe how I cope with the passing days, how I do indeed, Attack & Flux.
What to expect 👀
First, they will not always be this long, but some extra due diligence felt necessary for the elevator pitch. Let's get into it. What can you expect from this exchange? You'll find this to become a familiar format. It will go like this:
• Personal Updates - I'm a human being and I'm growing and learning so much as the days go by, I want to share these things from time to time. Expect opinions, vulnerability, humor, and of course, messiness.
• A Song to Study - I listen to on average around 81 collective days or 116,000 minutes of music per year. One half of the gift I wish to give you for your attention is this - a song to study. Every week I will share with you an ear-worm that has been moving me in one way or another. My goal? Expand your musical horizons and sonic IQ without it feeling like a chore.
• An Album to Live In - I listen to all the new releases so you don't have to, on average I listen to 4-7 new albums per week. I find looking back that so much of my life has been punctuated by the arrival of particularly potent musical projects. They find their way into your ear and suddenly your life is never the same. I'll do my best to orient you with albums of impact.
• Podcast Companion - This will come later, but once I find myself back in a place where I feel comfortable creating podcasts again then this will be the place to learn all about our next guest, their music, and more.
• Occasional Misc. - Videos, Twitter threads, thought-provoking ideas, pictures from my life, yada yada.
Until next time... 👋
That's about everything you need to know to take the leap with me. I understand how sacred privacy is in our day and feel tremendously honored when someone trusts me enough to let me into their inbox week after week. Hope to see you in there!
If you want to get in touch you can keep up with me here or just reply back via email.