If you're like me and wondering where 2018 went, I am afraid I do not have the answer for you. It seems like each year passes by quicker and quicker which makes me realize that I've got no time to waste in my pursuits and dreams! 2018 has proven to be one of the most challenging, learning, frightening (in a good way), discovering and rewarding years. For those of you who have been with me through my first year of journey may remember that 2017 was my lowest year. But the universe has its funny ways in helping us see the reason(s) behind the shadows. As we come to a close, I'd like to share some of my highlights in 2018 and forecast some goals going into 2019! But first I would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU TO ALL OF MY READERS AND MUSIC LOVERS!! Without you, I would not be doing this. You give me meaning, reason and value to continue to pursue my dreams and I could not be more thankful for having you all by my side throughout my humble beginnings! Without further ado, here was 2018 in a snap shot!
1) Release of my FIRST MUSIC VIDEO - "S.O.S (SOcial Support)"
This was one of my most treasured projects because it came from a moment of excruciating vulnerability but also my way to show truth. Collaborating again with the one and only Dunna, we were able to capture in both sound and video the message and feeling of hope that so many of us dare not speak of - mental health. Released in conjunction with Bell Let's Talk Day on January 31,2017, 100% of the proceeds through every online stream and purchase from this record will be going to the Canadian Mental Health Association - Edmonton. I am awaiting the day next year to personally deliver a big cheque to help those in need! So if you haven't already, check out my music video!
2) Yes, I did almost QUIT music!
One of the most common yet most dangerous cycles that we all face - self doubt, discouragement and hopelessness. I believe it may have been a culmination of all things that were going wrong but come to really think about it, the main factor was that I didn't really know who I was yet as a musician and as a person. I lacked direction and didn't have solid motivation. A blessing in disguise this moment really was for me. Because this was when I made new connections with people I didn't even know and received the biggest out pour of support. It forced me to sit myself down, ask the hard questions and re-frame my mindset. This bump in the road was the universe's way to "teach" me a lesson and now this student has become the most determined person and musician today than yesterday!
3) CONNECTED LP Release
That's right! Almost 1 year after the release of my humble Connections EP, I released my first full album this past summer in June! Working again with Dunna, this second time in the studio I saw a change and a boost in confidence in myself as a singer-songwriter and musician! (Even Dunna said so himself!!) This is to be expected and I want to continue to push my boundaries, to learn and to be an advocate for my own sound to share with you! This was also the first time I ever played with a band. Edmonton has so many awesome talents I had to snatch two and without them, my release would not have been the same. I am talking about Matt Koopman who laid down some smexy beats and Leshan who grooved up the whole stage! In addition, I had my biggest female artist sensations, MILLIE ROUGE and RAANI sharing the stage on one of my biggest accomplishments. I felt so much love and support that night - thank you all! Check out my CONNECTED LP!
This was a once in a lifetime (and seemed like a lifetime ago) opportunity that I still cannot to this day believe that actually happened! Leading up to the day of departure, there were many moments when it seemed like the odds were against me and that I was wasting time on this project. I kept pushing with determination and came out the other side with a grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and in no time I was leaving on a jet plane with my teammate, Kathy (Diversus Media Group) performing across the world. I had the most amazing opportunity performing and sharing my sound on international stages where my music was so well received! This was the turning point of my life. This was when I knew music was my calling. My purpose to fulfill was through music and that I was meant for something more than just working in the pharmacy. And I also learned that I could never live in China - to visit yes and that I looked more from Southeast Asia, apparently?
"Last performance with my team and fam jam" - Bailu, Chengdu. Click HERE! to read about my journey this past summer!
5) Release of my 2nd music video - Regretful Acquaintance!
Ok, so this was one of the most organized and disciplined teams I've ever worked with. Strangers taking chances on each other to create a masterpiece! Working with one of the most talented videographer, NAV we reached out to a couple of acquaintances NOW turned long time friends, Jackson (drummer from local band Upsidedowntown) and Rachel (one of the most young and beautiful model in the city!) who made this video, THE VIDEO OF THE YEAR! I am just joking - but seriously, the cinematography and how smooth everything went from planning, filming, editing and releasing was a joke! Huge shout out to all of the venues and new connections I made through this project - The Photographer's Studio, AWAKE Coffee House, IMAGEN and Edmonton's scenery!
6) STEPPED DOWN FROM MANAGEMENT AND ROCKING THAT PART TIME LIFE
It's been a long time coming for this move but for those of you who know me, fear was my nemesis. It ran my whole life. Every decision. But this year I have learned to start embracing and humour fear. So I said thank you for the opportunity but I am done with management. I have worked hard to deserve the part time lifestyle. It's been 2 months since the change and in the words of my family at my old store, every single one of them have noticed just how "relaxed, happy and stress-free" I am now! Although I miss them dearly and the transition was very tough emotionally, I will never look back on this decision that I was so scared of taking. I wake up every morning excited to attack the day - excited to devote my time and energy to the things, people and projects I value and love!
THIS ...... TO.... FULL (More like MAJORITY) TIME THIS!
This is not just a pun - I am so grateful for all of the new connections I made in 2018. Whether it was a small talk or a closer connection, nevertheless every single encounter made an impact on who I am today. I also learned who, what and where I should allocate my time and energy to because life is too short. Truly grateful to every single one of you (old and new) who have supported me thus far - you know who you are!
Goals vs Resolutions
Rather than making new year's resolutions, I am using the term "goals" because it implies continuous motivation to find ways to reach them through constant reflections, re-evaluations and problem solving. Resolutions are too firm and rigid. It doesn't allow for adaptability as we grow. So here are some of my goals that I"m working on for 2019!
1) Creations and Collaborations
This has already started in full motion in 2018 that will release in the new year but this is something that we all have to do! Collaborations stimulate new ideas, approaches and ways of thinking. I've taken on collaborations where I learned that once I set my mind to it, I can do anything. I work really well with deadlines even though I am running on fumes but if I know that there are people who believe in me and are counting on me, I will rise to the occasion! 2019 will see Natalia Chai Music collaborating with so many talent! Let's create a community rather than fuel animosity! I will continue to create and release new music for all of you to enjoy next year!
2) Fundraiser for China and Music Abroad
On my trip to Chengdu, I had the humble opportunity to visit the earthquake sites and the school that Edmonton helped rebuild in 2008. The help and connection doesn't just stop there - help should not only be reserved for times of desperation. It should be continuous for the growth of any community. Look out for this project in 2019 that I am working on right now where you can also be a part of! On the topic of travel, one of my dreams is to be able to explore the world with my music. Perhaps 2019 may have a few more opportunities for me to discover what Natalia Chai Music can evolve into and where my music will take me!
3) "Edgier" Performer
Don't take this the wrong way. I've been told by friends that every time I go on stage, I have to tell myself that "I am the best, I am Alicia Keys, I am BAWSE and I am the one and only Natalia Chai." Because I am too hard and critical on myself, this is the only way that I can show you what I am capable of - vocally. I sing my loudest and greatest when I am practicing alone because the nerves don't get to me and I don't feel afraid of getting judged. This is a psychological battle I am finding very hard to conquer. The irony in all this is that I know what's the solution. I need to continuously perform in front of people. My goal for 2019 is to perform as much as I can - big or small - I have to perform ON REPEAT! CONSISTENCY IS KEY!
4) Lifetime Student
In addition to scientifically proven facts that Sudoku and Mahjong can retain long term memory with age, learning something new everyday is also a proven fact to maintaining a youthful mind! This is what I strive to become - a lifetime student! I am re-learning the basics of classical piano. I am teaching myself the intricacies of jazz so that I can expand my musicality. I am taking voice lessons. I want to improve my Chaturanga poses so that I don't collapse onto the floor.I want to learn how to dance - the kizomba and salsa dancing! I want to learn more music production! Pick up a guitar a second time and not complain about the calluses! I want to learn how to make all of my mom's infamous Chinese soup (an absolute staple in the culture and number 1 way that Asian moms show their love for their kids) so that I can make them for my own children! Continuous hunger to better myself and learning how to apply all that I've learned to make someone else's life a little more brighter!
5) Know When to Pause
I tend to be a person who is stimulated by 1000 projects going on at once. I thrive and love the hustle. However, I've learned that I need to take some self care and that treating myself to a couple days of doing nothing is NOT doing nothing. I have experienced burn out and feel that I am now equipped to stop myself if things start to go in that direction again. Massages are glorious!
6) To be eternally grateful
Cheesy? I love cheese! But this is an attitude that I am really adjusting to and trying to perfect especially during times when everything and everyone seems to be pulling you down. I have to remember that there is a reason for it. The universe works on laws of checks and balances. Cherish the people already in my life and strengthen the ones that will challenge and push me to become my highest self. Sometimes timing isn't right but it doesn't mean that it will never happen - just a little later because 'all good things come to those who wait!'
7) Stepping Up My Game with YouTube
So I have proven to myself over 2 years that I can create and that my creativity is consistent! Therefore I am challenging myself to take it to the next level with creating music every week for all of you to enjoy on my YouTube page. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for this project to launch next year! It's going to be tough and I may at times feel regret taking on this challenge but I am ready! The only barrier is myself! Bring it on!
Thank you all for such an amazing year! I am so excited to see what 2019 has in store for us all - yes all of us because the opportunities that come are opportunities for me to share compassion, happiness and gratefulness to all of you! Wishing you and all of your beautiful families a Merry (& safe) Christmas and Happy New Year! Cannot wait for all of you to meet 2019 with me !