It’s a fight for artists to create. Unless you are the lucky few like Lena Dunham or Spike Jonze, Frankie Cosmos or Jaden Smith, making art for a living isn’t something that comes easy: it’s a balance between your daily demon (your day job, your money maker) and your late night lust (your dream job, your art). It’s a delicate arrangement of one’s life.
Stories of people overcoming a day job to succeed make me walk faster and work harder. They’re reminders of the people’s person, of the self-made artist, being the success of hard work and dedication to a parallel track of one’s own desire. Electronic musician Powder is the new working artist icon. She creates at night, when she’s not working her thankless, windowless job in the electrionics industry, fortysomething floors above Tokyo. She works to fulfill a dream of exiting the system.
Powder (Real name: Moko Shibata.) recently was featured on Resident Advisor, selected as an artist that they view as “about to break.” She describes her music as a means to “exorcise her daily demons,” to restore her faith in her life by toiling away well into late night hours. It’s all a reaction to how her days are spent. This reprieve is what keeps her going and is something she keeps locked up, as to keep it her own and unspoiled from the pressure of others.
No one in Shibata’s office knows she makes music. In fact, because she’s kept such a low profile to date, not many people outside her close circle of friends and family know she’s a producer and a DJ. Though she’s worked at the same company for five years, she remains the youngest in her office, which means she still gets lumped with modest tasks like data entry and making tea. She says the only saving grace of her working day comes at lunch time, when she takes her homemade onigiri into the building’s courtyard, sits down and listens to music in her headphones. Often she’ll listen to music she made in her home studio the previous night. She calls it her “peaceful time.”
Her “peaceful time.” Oh, she is fabulous. That drive and that spirit is so admirable when, really, I feel so beaten by the end of my day, that my life is locked away in Ursula’s seashell and is getting increasingly difficult to unleash. Powder’s story reminds me of Greta Gerwig works like Frances Ha and Mistress America, that this want for more and doing more is something so key to one’s own survival. Powder gets it, clearly.
Powder is currently working on a full length album that RA describes as “deeper into the ambient sounds” that were found on her debut release, Highly. It certainly is a record to look forward to. You can Highly below and catch more from her Soundcloud here.