Rdio and the wired brain

Small columns sit on street corners in Nashville, playing country standards to the downtown foot traffic. They carry the writing, ‘Music is the true barometer of a person’s soul’.

I’m at Hub Melbourne sitting opposite the divine Sam Bell. A mate of nearly four years, after picking up a takeaway coffee from Kinfolk we have settled back into the peaceful dance of dry humour and producing work, driven by experiences that delight the world.

It’s an interesting dynamic sitting opposite someone and exchanging few words, it’s an easy silence. It yields a unique insight into a person’s mental model, especially when layered with Rdio activity.

Sam is listening to Sebastien Tellier. An electric emotional synthesised roller coaster. A subdued style of music to compliment her work style and decaf coffee.

I’m contradicting her with a long black, finding restlessness in Rick Rubin’s stripped back production of Jennifer Nettles’ new album. This tension is mirrored in my leg shakes and clicking fingers.

It’s the magic of multiple layers of data forming it’s own temporary stream. The inputs come from insights captured by the internet and the brain’s wiring, a unique shared DNA that will expire when the moment ends. Brilliant.

Drawing from railroads and Kerouac in Nashville

I have been exploring Nashville for just under three months now, lending my own moments to the narrative of the city.

It is a beautiful place, impossible to capture on a single list: micro-breweries, music venues, parks, coffee, custom denim, exquisite BBQ and musicians on Broadway that could be easily mistaken for vagabonds.

The spaces I am drawn to are mostly open, splashed with remnants of 1950s Americana, industrial design and caffeine. They are throwbacks to images described in a Kerouac novel, carved out with their unique individual look and feel.

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imogene willie is a converted petrol station doused with antique motorcycles and a weathered leather couch. The designs speak to rustic Americana, constructed and handmade in-house, each pair custom made to fit the individual human figure.

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Barista Parlor

Barista Parlor is a warehouse space that has been gutted. The roll up doors still operate in the summer, the concrete floor has been sanded (the cracks still apparent) and the the walls covered with worn American flags and mounted deer heads. With long wooden planks acting as tables, Barista Parolor was not built for customers to sit en masse over a Sunday brunch. They also adhere to the conventions of Williamsburg coffee, more commonly known as  known as the 6oz Stumptown flat white.

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Michael Burcham”s Office

Michael Burcham office at the EC is covered in industrial design. While he is a figure that represents the “new” Nashville in the business world, his desk by Railyard Studios is customised and sourced from rail road iron and timber, a subtle salute to an industry that helped build the South.

Committing to the curve

When I decided to pack everything into a suitcase and head to Nashville for a few months, I took an educated risk. I thought it would be an experience that I would walk away from with some life lessons learned.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with the city or the lifestyle of building ideas. Within the first week, I felt like I had arrived.

The reality of life outside a large corporation is confronting on a few levels. There is never a guaranteed paycheck. You have moments of bringing in large sums of money and moments where you experiment, iterate and fail hard (and often). This requires a serious adjustment to your mental model and no choice but to grow thick skin very quickly.

When you commit to embracing a curve in your career, you also commit to the unwavering instinct that everything will fall into place because the common thread seems to be that innovation and outcomes are spurred when one’s back is against the wall.

When I return to Melbourne next week I’ll be heading back to family, friends, amazing coffee and the city I call home. Logic would have me settle there for a while. Fortunately I left logic at the gate when I boarded the flight back in July.

I am in a unique position where I have nothing but time on my hands, so committing to a bootstrapped life isn’t crazy. I am most tranquil when I am delivering a meaningful piece of work and drinking coffee. The good news is that this feeling is not tied to any location. It just requires the attack pack, Macbook Air and Lucchese boots.

Committing to the curve is a scary prospect, but it yields a payoff that I’m not sure can be found in Melbourne right now.