New Year 2021

A lot happened. Here are some thoughts on how things went this year.

January ❄️👨‍💻

I touched up my first tattoo, worked on a renewed syllabus search page for my university and went on a trip to Hokkaido with my friends.

February 🇰🇷🍛

Got to go to Seoul with my friends for the first time, went back to Japan just before the COVID-19 situation got serious. Started working on re-designing a menu for a Michelin star Indian restaurant.

March 💻 🚟

Worked on an app that connected people’s music tastes with stations on the JR Yamanote line. The app was buggy but I learned a lot about deploying and shipping a full stack responsive web app that used ML. I also learned about the importance of communication and meeting deadlines. Emergency “lockdown” procedures in Japan started, I started looking for houses.

April 🐳 🐉

Worked on my most challenging project yet making the back end for a behemoth of an app that used real time NLP. I learned about Docker, DevOps and concurrency and the importance of not eating more than you can chew. I moved to my new apartment and became financially independent (relatively).

May 🎮 🎲

Started a podcast on gaming with my ex-colleague and now fellow musician, Matt. Nightribe (the band on my label, Print Room) got featured on a Spotify playlist. Started playing DND with my friends. Summer was hot and mostly uneventful. I got into sculpting and bought an oven to bake clay. It was harder than I thought.

June ✊🏯

George Floyd protests started in the US, I attended the rally in Tokyo. I was amazed to see how many people actually cared about it in Japan. Got an eyebrow piercing, it looked sick. Went to Sendai with my friends for a few days.

July 📝🎓

Migrated some old projects to AWS - this was really hard. I worked on my graduation project by plowing through a 7 day marathon and producing about 56 pages of material. It’s the hardest I ever worked in the past four years, but I really wish I started working on it earlier. Played the Last of Us Part II, and contrary to most complaints, I thought it was a great game.

August 🎉🛀

Had my first livestream show with my buddy Shin, it gave me the confidence to do what would then become the first Couch Potato livestream (and probably the last). Played Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice which is to this date one of my most favorite games. Caught up on books, TV shows and movies I had missed in the past few month.

September 🎓 🎟

I gave a speech at my graduation ceremony where I was selected as the student representative for the entire graduating class of all faculties for my university. I also received the prestigious GAO scholarship given to only the top 3 students in each class. Organized and curated a livestream with music, gaming, cooking, magic, comedy and art. It was a hell of a lot of work and truth be told we could have done a better job with audio/video quality (everything was managed on Zoom and OBS) but at least it gave the bands and participants a reason to get back into the rhythm of performing live.

I was invited to work on the global jukebox project with Anna Lomax, Kate Kirby, and many more distinguished scholars, this was interesting and I learned a lot about dealing with people from disciplines that were entirely alien to me.

October 👨‍🏫🏫

Grad school started. I got tattooed with my first original design. Participated in the online ISMIR 2021 conference where I met some old friends and made a few new ones. I was pretty active this time and I think the whole MIR community knows who I am (for better or worse). Submitted my first paper as First Author to SFC Journal. Not a high profile journal by any means, but a significant achievement nonetheless. You gotta start somewhere.

November 👨‍👩‍👦 🎸

Borders opened up to allow students and Japanese nationals to come into Japan. My friend stayed withy for 10 days until he found his new home. My parents also came to Japan for 6 weeks. We had a great time and I think it was the first time we had a truly memorable, long experience. I also got a 7 string guitar from my friend. Started learning and experimenting with TouchDesigner. I presented at McMaster University’s NeuroMusic Conference where I got feedback from Nori Jacoby and Sam Mehr on my project on “Human vs Automated Judgments on Musical Similarity in a Global Sample”. I joined a gym and started to work out a little.

December 🎬👨‍🎨

Directed a performance lecture for my professor’s keynote at MUTEK.

This was hard. I organized the musical structure for a remix with Yoichi Kitayama and two other super talented DJ/Producers in our lab. After that I created a soundscape with animal sounds and made visuals. For these visuals I found about a hundred scientific illustrations from encyclopedias online, isolated them from their

backgrounds, made collages for a few of them, and then animated the layers in 3D with Adobe After Effects.

After this was over, I made a music video for the remix that Kitayama san et al had made. Over and above this, I managed the technical team for the live performance. I learned so much from this experience that now I have the confidence to know that this is what I like doing. It was the first time I could combine my interests in music, art, and the overarching questions on the role of music in evolution.

I am an artist. I can say that with confidence now.

I also got to meet Henkjan, Lisa Margulis virtually for some guest lectures in our lab - two of the greatest people in the field of Music Science. I spent a week setting up my professor’s office which is now our lab space. It looks pretty sweet now. Wrote lyrics to a metal song and I think it sounds dope.

Moving on to 2021 🏋️‍♂️🎨

I think this year I want to work on several things but my first priority is staying in physical shape. All this stress in the past year turned me into a sack of potatoes and now it’s beginning to show. I want to work on my cooking too, and be more regular with going to the gym. The goal is to get back to 68Kg by the end of the year. I think I can do it if I pace myself.

I want to give it my best in academics too. I really haven’t done much in terms of my graduation project for Yamaha and things should start getting into a steady rhythm from Jan onwards. Getting some imposter syndrome from not knowing enough about my field, but having a PhD student in our lab (Yuto Ozaki) who is good at MIR is giving me motivation and assurance.

I’m working on setting up my gaming company. Wavecut. Well it’s not exactly a gaming company as much as it is a way to release some of my interactive art/music/tech side projects.

Well that was a lot, and if you’ve made it this far here is a little message. Thank you for reading. I hope this was inspirational or insightful in some way. This whole year was a crazy roller coaster ride, and I am so fortunate to have been able to live freely and have a job with things to do. Stay safe, stay healthy, keep calm and carry on. Cheers!