Play the clip above, or for the full 2hr mix, click here. "Stardusted" comes in at 01:03:32.

Getting exposure for your hard work is hard work in, and of itself. Finding people who like what your work has to say or that they feel the same way about something. Although many of us work tirelessly on our music, sometimes it seems like no one is paying you, your work, or even the things you care about, any mind at all.

As a DJ and producer, this isn’t just a phase, these are your thoughts most of the time. They certainly were mine until recently. I reached a milestone that I really thought was at a long ways off. Because I just let things happen naturally, and I just acted rather than scrutinize, or talk myself out of doing it, something wonderful occurred, and a milestone was passed. And, with an open invitation to return!

What was the milestone? It was to have music I had written from scratch to actually get played on the radio. Anyone who has ever written a song, has that vision of people discovering their work on the radio. Now, let’s add to this the fact that the radio station was in another country. Even better! Who could ask for anything more? Okay, now how about it being played by a a respected DJ duo, for your target audience? Yes, this happened. You know how you always would see people after coitus smoking a cigarette? Well, it’s a good thing I don’t smoke, because this would be the equivalent of taking out an entire pack in one drag for me, metaphorically speaking.

Here’s how it happened: I was on Twitter, browsing through all the tweets when I came across Pablo Casa of Acid Kids tweeting that one of their tracks had made Beatport’s Tech House Top 10 list. Now, you may be asking, “what does that have to do with anything?” Read on.

Like I said earlier, I just acted. I didn’t stop to think about what would happen, and I just responded with:

“Pablo! Congrats on your #beatport spot. Trying to get my tracks heard. Any advice for a one-man techno label?”

That’s 19 words, for those of you who are counting. What came back, brings the milestone into view:

“Make music with passion and love also send some over we will feature on our weekly radio show. Needs to be heard.”

My eyes began to water as if to cry, but I was filled with so much joy as I watched the milestone get even closer. The forward momentum has begun.

I immediately went and got my latest work, “Stardusted” and prepared to send it to Pablo. I could feel doubt about all of this trying to worm its way in, and I forced myself to block it out. Because at this point you’re thinking: what if they steal my work? The next thought to come into my head was one of those motivational quotes, but its arrival in my mind was perfect, and right on time:

“But, what if I fall?"

"Oh darling, but what if you FLY?”

Stardusted.mp3 couldn’t leave my screen fast enough. This is called “putting yourself out there”. It’s a hurdle for quite a lot of people. When presented with something new, some call it apprehension, being cautious, careful, and many others. It can turn on so fast, it feels like a reflex. A very comfortable one, at that. I am learning — and yes, it is a process — in getting out of that “comfort zone”, and pushing ahead. I liken this to the day I rode my bike to work. There I was in Monday morning rushour traffic, amongst all of the erratic, fueled by coffee commuters, on my way to work and approaching the intersection of Fitzwatertown and Moreland Roads. There is a slight incline once it’s crossed, which leads to a more severe slope once you reach the top of the incline. Now, to a car, this incline is never thought of as a mountain, but when you’re riding a bike up it you might think you should have brought tons of rope and carabiners instead.

I do like anyone looking to go anywhere on a bike, and I look forward toward my goal, the top of the hill. And with each revolution of the pedals it felt like gravity, wind, and Mother Nature herself were trying to slow me down. What to do? First off, I didn’t stop. I stood on my pedals, looked at the crest of my front tire and the sidewalk underneath and proceeded to push as hard as I could. I didn’t look for the top of the hill. I didn’t look up. I kept pushing. I heard cars roar by, and as their noise seemed to get louder, I finally look up. I’m at the top of the hill, and I can stop pushing now and enjoy the ride down the other side.

“Climbing the hill” was all the hard work I put into “Stardusted”, all the mixing and mastering and scrutinizing over the seemingly tiniest of details, and I guarded this track with my life like a mother does her child. No one is stealing this from me. “Enjoying the ride” was the moment that someone decided to give me a shot. I watched that milestone whizz by, and a smile crept across my face. I did it, and I did it on my own terms. Someone decided to take a chance on me, and when someone takes that chance on you, you feel validated, and from that validation, confidence surfaces. Even if only for a little while. But you did it, and guess what? You get to do it all over again, tomorrow too.

I’d like to thank Pablo Casa and Atkins for giving me that shot, and helping to realize that hard work does not go unnoticed, especially if you put yourself out there. This is just the beginning. I’m just getting warmed up. You have no idea what’s coming next. Guess what? Neither do I, and I’ve never been happier.

P.S.: Pablo, I'm not from Canada. I'm from Philadelphia. We'll get it right next time, mate. No worries.

Brian K. James // The Engineer

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