J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Kleidosty – Strange Skin (and choosing the creative life)

LQ-1189_800I was up at the Echo Lake Berkeley Family Camp with my family and Jason Kleidosty’s family. Jason had brought his laptop and headphones and worked on his ambient music in the evenings, drinking a beer and watching the post-sunset glow from a cliff-top bench. I left my computer at home but did my fiction scribblings each morning in my notebook, drinking high-octane coffee from the bottomless cafeteria urns. Early mornings and late evenings were the quiet times of the day — family waking hours were filled with the sounds of screaming children (some joyful, some tantrums). Children love to scream.

Nobody was making us work. The rewards? Who knows. Is anyone besides Boards of Canada making a living from ambient music? Some science fiction writers I idolize, and who have tens of thousands of fans (or at least Twitter followers) toil away at day jobs. Creative efforts, even from the most talented and hardworking, don’t always make ends meet. I make most of my money solving database problems. Sometimes I fantasize about alternatives. I suppose I could write and sell a hair-regrowth eBook, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’d rather write a long treatise on medieval polearms and sell it on dmsguild.com. I’ll bet I could make dozens of dollars. But I need an illustrator.

The reason we create, and keep creating, is because the reward is immediate. The process is the payoff. If it isn’t, find something else to do. If you succeed at the activity, the reward is doing more of that activity. Are you okay with that? Spend time doing things you enjoy, period.

Why would someone write a sixteen minute instrumental track with no hummable melody? Well, I’m glad he did. I get lost in the track. I can’t stop listening to And/Or. Just pop off the top of my skull and wire up my brain with the intergalactic quantum orchestral strings.

Which is to say, Strange Skin, the new album from Kleidosty, is out today. Please rate if you purchase, and leave a review if you like.


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  1. Matt Neely

    What is the title of the polearm treatise? Couldn’t find it

  2. Aaron Ashmann

    Have you ever heard of this guy? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odyfu_G7ynU Btw, I used to listen to a lot of autechre and boards back in the day myself. Warp records really had some good stuff.

  3. As far as making a living doing something creative- I found it was the worse thing to do with something you love. I loved photography- accidentally made it my career about a year after picking up a camera and 6 years later sold all my gear and retired for good. i shoot personal snaps with an iphone now but can’t stand the thought of picking up a real camera. Lots of great things came because of that career, that might not have happened otherwise but I did lose the joy from something I used to really love. From other “creatives” I’ve talked to, pretty much anything you “have” to do becomes a job. I agree with spend time doing things you love- but think twice before making it your sole income. My 2 cents anyway. Enjoy the blog- found it this morning googling something about sleep and computer screen and it popped up 🙂 keep on keeping on!

    • Thanks for the comment! I wonder how much of creative career satisfaction has to do with basic positive reinforcement (good income, good relationships, etc.). I know I can better tolerate the “drag” parts of running a music label when the upside is going well (good sales, fans loving the tracks, licensing deals, etc.). Though it’s a profitable business it’s not my main income source … that takes pressure off.

      • That’s what I mean about the great things. I met lots of interesting people, made good friendships and quit at the absolute top of my game financially (in fact able to retire at 38) It was about year 4 when I started questioning if it was worth it, and started taking fewer clients hoping that would work. It didn’t and year 6 – I gracefully bowed out. It is interesting to note that music creatives were among the top “burnouts” I photographed and met a lot of big names in music, and most all of them had at one point (or currently) turned to drugs or booze to escape the pressure. Quitting, or changing their creative style wasn’t an option because most had gotten themselves used to a lifestyle that wasn’t going to fly with any other career choice, or possibly losing fan base. I actually witnessed the destruction that fame and fortune brought two bands in particular over the course of a year or so.
        Everyone is different of course and I’m not telling anyone what to do, just relating my experience on the topic. The best advice I ever listened to as a young man was live on and be happy with a minimum wage lifestyle, save the rest and you will never have financial worry. I took that to heart, and when it got too unfun to work at something I didn’t enjoy anymore I could say thanks for the memories and move on 🙂

        Also, we are following in your footsteps, and going to bed at sunset tonight- no artificial light. We travel full time, and spend a lot of time on ipads in the evening and we’ve both noticed not so great effects on sleep. Thanks for an interesting experiment and write up!
        I’ve enjoyed a number of your writeups (have found a good number to be true in my own experience as well) and will be following along. Cheers!

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