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27 DECEMBER 2021

written by Mike

2021 in Review

I have to admit; I haven’t been writing here much lately.

My goal for 2021 was to publish an original post at least once a month, and I failed to do that.

However, I don’t feel bad about it as other projects took priority over the blog – particularly the Youtube channel (over 500 subscribers!). But as we are coming to the end of 2021, I wanted to look back and go through the good and bad decisions I made in the last 12 months.

Also, sketch some new year’s plans.

Tim Ferris says that he doesn’t make new year resolutions but a ‘year in review.’

I reckon it’s alright to do both – to look back and reflect but also to plan a little.

The year was unusual, to say the least, and quite enlightening – another good one in the bag!

It started with a lockdown here in the U.K. that lasted until April, if I remember correctly. We had building work done in the house during the lockdown, so we spent the first six weeks of the year locked upstairs, eating dinners out of a microwave!

The crew have done a great job, though, getting rid of a wall and opening up the space.

We did start our 6th year of Casefile with a bang. We had a lot of discussions and changed our approach to production, which I think resulted in our best year yet!

We’ve also got busy with the Casefile Presents shows. During the time spent upstairs, I was working on Pseudocide, fantastic work from Alice and Poppy; check it out if you haven’t.

 

BAD DECISION #1

Pseudocide was a challenging project. Add up lockdown, builders downstairs, winter weather and lots of work. I jumped head in onto the project and overdid it. I started suffering from migraines and head tensions. After a visit to the doctors, it turned out it was stress-related – yikes! I began to worry a bit but not enough – on that later.

We released Pseudocide on Spotify to a good reception.

The weather started to get warmer, and the lockdown restrictions were lifted, but then… 

COVID

A group of us caught Covid at the same time. It was unpleasant as I suffered from chills, confusion and overall illness. I don’t wish it on anyone so stay safe out there.

After that, we’ve released The Invisible Hand, a powerful podcast about rhino poaching in Africa. I haven’t done any production work on it; I just checked it before the release – fantastic work by Georgina Savage and her team.

We had a few trips with Paulina and Benji during summer in the U.K. as the international travel was somewhat restricted. However, it was amazing to go out in the country and explore beautiful spots around us.

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UNEXPECTED BREAK

Around that time, the Casefile team had to take an unexpected break because our Anonymous Host took a medical leave. It shocked everyone but gave us a needed prompt to start taking care of ourselves.

We also had another Casefile Presents release – The Labyrinth. I’ve done the production work on the series, and finally, we were able to release it. It was another success for the team.

STRESS

As we released The Labyrinth, I prepared for another Casefile Presents show. We were also producing regular Casefile episodes, and of course, my Youtube was now a feature – so lots happening!

Paulina and I booked a weekend away for a kickboxing bootcamp.

As we were away, I noticed I felt strange, like having mini anxiety attacks every few hours. But, this time, and especially what happened with the Casefile break earlier, I knew I had to act.

GOOD DECISION #1

I decided to find a therapist and get on the couch. I found someone nearby and started attending weekly sessions. I’m not going to lie – it was difficult initially – opening up and talking about what’s bottling down there.

But, after a few months, I can say that this is one of the top decisions I made this year and one of the best investments I have made lately (except my new PSI studio monitors!)

I noticed a difference in my approach to work and life; Paulina noticed a difference in my moods and overall well-being. 

GOOD DECISION #2

As my work on Searching For Sarah was underway, something else was bothering me.

I write a lot of music on the keyboard, but I never sit down and practice. Suppose anyone would ask me to play a piece, but I can’t. I don’t know any numbers from start to finish.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working on podcasts and writing music for Casefile and Casefile Presents – it’s challenging and exciting. 

But I lost the need for the ‘fun’ play.

Therefore another decision I made this year was to find a piano teacher.  I checked out a couple and found a fantastic teacher who lives nearby. 

I have to say, it was another fantastic decision I made this year. Just the fact of having someone who will listen to me playing every week means that I find time to practice daily, even if it’s for 20 minutes.

I started to fall in love with music again, searching for new artists and pieces I could learn. It feels like I found that spark again, one I had when I was younger.

P.S.

I’m into French artists now, so check out Sofiane Pamart and Grand Corps Malade.

Next year, we plan to do a little recital, so it will be the first time I play in public in years!

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LEARNING

I also wanted to improve my overall musicianship. I take online courses from time to time, usually about audio production and engineering. This time I focused purely on music composition.

I found a youtube channel from composer Guy Michelmore and several online courses on his website ThinkSpaceEducation.

I took ones on theory, writing and harmony, and there are more than I plan to do next year! 

I also joined a Bristol book club, but that’s more for social interactions – it has been a lot of fun!

YOUTUBE

Our Youtube channel took off this year. We’ve tried various videos, tutorials, news and formats. I still feel like I’m trying to find my voice and style on the channel, but it has been a lot of fun.

The channel fulfils a few roles. First, I can share what I know by writing, researching and then recording the subjects – the knowledge is solidified in my brain better. Also, I get better in front of cameras.

Shout out to my brothers Matt and Piotr, helping me out with the channel!

2022 PLANS

There are a few things in motion.

Work-wise, I am working on a couple of new Casefile Presents shows; Casefile is coming back beginning of February 2022. This time, however, we will take four weeks off during summer so everyone can have a breather.

My brother Matt, with whom we started my Youtube channel, is moving out in early January, and I will be taking over his room and moving my studio there.

I’ve upgraded a few bits and pieces – you can watch the videos on the channel, so having a bit more room will be exciting. I am also waiting for a proper production desk which should come in a few weeks. 

I shall continue with the piano lessons and therapy sessions; on top of that, I am thinking of buying myself a big gift – a PRS guitar which I have wanted since I was a kid.

It’s a big purchase as these are expensive. However, I plan to take my musicianship further and start to practice the guitar again. I’m also thinking of purchasing a condenser microphone and incorporating more live music into my scores.

(Maybe even teaching Paulina how to play the piano could make it easier to sit down and practice.)

Youtube-wise, we shall continue posting videos. Unfortunately, Matt is moving out, so I will need to set up the camera to operate it myself. Then forward the raw videos for him to edit. My younger brother Piotr is also helping out with the edits, and we have lots of ideas for the channel so stay tuned!

We’ve released a new online course, How to Launch a Podcast, and I have another one in the works (plus plans for a couple of extra ones); we shall see how we go, though, as these take a lot of effort to produce.

It also means that I won’t be writing on the blog as much. So no commitments on this front.

I want to focus on Youtube and videos, and if I like a particular one, I will then turn it into a blog post.  

FINALLY, THE LESSONS

At least for me, the most important lessons were that it is crucial to enjoy simple things – walks, breaks, and stillness.

Physical health is important but mental health is even more, and proper routines can’t help if we don’t take care of ourselves. Sometimes we can do it alone; sometimes, we need someone to talk to.

I understand how obsessive I can get about the project, and that’s ok as long as I have it under control and don’t overdo it – it still happens sometimes.

Work, accolades and recognition are fine but finding something we like doing – without the need to think about how much money or prestige it will bring – can make a huge difference.

For me, it was reconnecting with my love for playing music – just for myself. Not for work, other people or anyone else.

If you can rediscover what you enjoyed doing when you were a kid – something just for you, for fun – then go for it.

Everyone around you will benefit when they sense that joy and happiness.

I think that’s what I got for now. It’s been a strange but wondrous year, and I’m looking forward to 2022!

See you later.

Mike

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