Just Try

*Hello all! Thank you so much for being in touch! Please feel free to send questions to thao@substack.com and I’ll aim to answer on my Friday recording.

Over the last seven years and two albums, I’ve become way more outwardly interested in production, beat making, and electronic music. I think I have always been interested in these things, but I kept the interest and the curiosity quiet, especially to myself. For some or many reasons, I believed I couldn’t get better and learn more in these fields, and that they were not my lanes to explore.

Fear and nonsense thinking has most notably stymied my progress in three realms of my life: my music career, my relationships, and recreational sport. Once, when I was bowling, a friend of a friend whom I’d just met that day was trying to help me be less bad. After a few rounds of more specific pointers and no improvement, he zeroed in on the problem. As I trudged up to the bowling lane threshold (the actual term, yes?) he cupped his hands and shouted: JUUUST TRYYYYY!!!

Sometimes you need a stranger to tell you what they see. Did I get a strike immediately thereafter? I can’t remember.

But I’ve been trying to stay positive and try for a while now, and I’m gathering momentum. When I get mired in Pro-Tools, or synthesizer sounds, or the construction of a beat, I just think: if I can try for bowling which I feel quite neutral about, I can definitely try for music, which I love.

Just Trying


My friend’s step-father very generously gave me his guzheng a while back. I have been learning to play it in a more traditional way, but I have a propensity for treating any stringed thing more like a hammered dulcimer, so here I am sampling it as such.

And below, a smidge of vocal sampling. As a songwriter who needs an extended break from introspective lyric writing, I am thrilled to just do this for now.

Check out how these samples are currently living life in this new glimmer of a beat:

Scoring and Recording:

Below, stills and a clip from cinematographer and filmmaker Melinda James’ piece, “Between One World and the Next.” This piece is a part of Mourning Is An Act of Love, an exhibition curated by Susannah Smith for SF Urban Film Fest. I am a big fan of Melinda’s work and was so excited to collaborate with her and contribute music to such a beautiful meditation. “Between One World and the Next” is currently projecting onto the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts building in San Francisco.

Hope you’re doing well. Have a great week.