The Cost of Living: A Letter by mira côsta

The electronic project, mira côsta, is an up-and-coming production duo based in Chicago, IL. Dylan and Daniel of mira côsta originally met in college in St. Louis. After both taking jobs in Chicago, they began to pursue music together. They wrote this open letter to discuss the struggle of prioritizing their passion for music versus advancing their corporate careers.

 Dylan and Daniel of mira côsta (@byslutsky)

Dylan and Daniel of mira côsta (@byslutsky)

In the past year, our lives have become a delicate balancing act.

Working full-time jobs while maintaining the energy and passion for producing songs represents a constant push-and-pull.

Our responsibilities to the corporate world along with the drive to make a living off of music fosters a friction that will not soon dissipate.

A love for music is what brought us together during freshman year of college. We listened to artists like ODESZA, Flume, and Jamie xx, as well as wide variety of electronic, rap and indie music. As a new wave of artists emerged on SoundCloud, we were constantly discovering more subgenres of electronic music. This opened the door for artists like us to believe that a career in music was possible, even from our small corner.

 Odesza performing at UIC Pavilion, Chicago (@auxoro)

Odesza performing at UIC Pavilion, Chicago (@auxoro)

At Washington University in St. Louis, we were roommates for two and a half years. At the time, only one of us produced music while the other had a passion for graphic design. A few months after graduation, we again became roommates when both of our jobs brought us to Chicago. We were happy to lock down steady paychecks, but neither of us felt a strong purpose in the daily routine.

Our whole lives, we wanted to do something unique, like founding a startup or launching a musical project.

Time to stop dreaming.

We needed to start working towards something original.

This mindset pushed us to start producing together in our free time, and we quickly decided to pursue an electronic music project as a duo.

During college, we were surrounded by business school peers driven to become consultants, financial analysts, and investment bankers. That culture pushed us towards practical careers. The practical mindset bred prioritizing financial security over taking risks. Although we both value financial success, we needed to switch our mindset to shape that success through music.

Working full-time in the corporate world consumes most of our time and energy. One of us is account executive in the software industry, while the other is a strategy analyst for a commercial real estate firm. We enjoy the experiences and challenges of our jobs, but the nature of the corporate ladder does not fully align with our creative goals.

 @byslutsky

@byslutsky

As the majority of our time is spent in the office, giving music the necessary energy demands sacrifice. We attempt to meet the expectations we set for ourselves as artists while facing the responsibilities of our jobs.

Right now, we can support this balance, but in the coming years, we will confront a crossroads. Mounting demands on both sides of the spectrum pull us closer to these crossroads everyday.

In the balance between the corporate and the creative, our musical pursuits exist far from a full-time endeavor. Like many, we routinely battle exhaustion. A typical day starts before 7 am. Between work projects, we listen to songs in progress and text each other about new ideas. Listening to our tracks during breaks in the workday can spark an alternate perspective that fuels later creation.

Sometimes, daytime demands can deplete the energy needed to create after work. By the time we get home, we have to dig deep to make music that meets our standard. We often stay up past 2 am to write on a second wind, enduring the consequences of the lack of sleep.

Then, the alarm sounds and we start over.

Channeling patience, we have realized how detrimental the image of “overnight success” can be to new artists like ourselves. We stand far from the stereotypical story of young producers thrust into sold out venues straight from their parents’ basement. As this immediate jump rarely occurs, persistence remains key.

Why does it feel like we need to make a choice between our dreams and what is practical?

Should we be compromising the other parts of our lives to chase this vision?

What is the tipping point?

 @timeasley

@timeasley

In the struggle to find time, self-doubt has shown its face, but we recognize this doubt as a natural part of the journey. Time is the one asset we cannot take back. There’s something illogical about creating something from scratch and hoping to support yourself from that creation. The corporate world provides a much more secure path to self-support.

In a typical promotion, a superior selects someone with enough skill and experience to rise through the ranks.

As producers, the same qualifications provide no concrete path.

Nobody taps us on the shoulder and tells us when to go, or when to stop. We simply aim to open new doors with the music that we make. With no standard progression to success, you almost need to carry a blind optimism that powers the drive to create.

 @byslutsky

@byslutsky

We are excited about the unknown.

To stay driven in the face of failure, we make the music that we want to hear.

We push to produce inspiring sounds that do not yet exist.

Everything else comes second.

We often spend Saturday nights in our living room studio instead of going out and meeting new people. We find it difficult to rationalize this behavior. On weekends, we feel the pressure of everyone around us acting like regular, 23-year-olds.

Building our project, maintaining a social life, and staying physically and mentally healthy has stretched us impossibly thin. With only 24 hours in a day, realigning our priorities around the studio became crucial to keeping the music alive.

As producers who make music to help others feel better, we have no problem with those who explore the nightlife and prioritize social activities. We hope to one day be playing songs in venues packed with those looking to escape for a bit.

Striving to make music a full-time effort, our focus is different than most. We need to maximize the limited freedom we have outside of office walls.

 Golden Hour - Chicago (@maxwbender)

Golden Hour - Chicago (@maxwbender)

As this project has become more serious, we have struggled to justify the time commitment to take action on our ideas. Initially, we felt a natural excitement exploring the possibilities of our vision, but as most artists realize, bringing ideas to life takes patience. Maintaining that same level of excitement tests mental fortitude.

Building our sound, we look to enhance our perspective and stay open to constructive criticism. We can easily forget that even established musicians fight frustration. Releasing a track that doesn't elicit the hoped reaction can push doubt into the minds of even the greatest artists.

On top of talent and quality, music is a numbers game. An artist needs to throw enough tracks against the wall to make a few stick. Working towards regular releases, we aim to balance attention to detail with speed of production.

The more quality tracks we produce, the higher chance we have of gaining traction. One song that clicks, that streams through millions of earbuds, can generate a launching pad.

 @byslutsky

@byslutsky

Each day, we will press on for the same reasons that brought us together - the feelings and connections that music creates.

We choose to embrace the beautiful ambiguity of designing something from scratch.

The drive to inspire individuals in the same way that other artists have inspired us fuels our desire to create.

We don’t know what road lies ahead, but we will give everything to push the boundaries of the journey.


Much love,

mira côsta


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