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BYE 2021 (a year in review)

Updated: Jan 2



2021 has been a good year. I started it off on a warm sunny beach in Clearwater FL, sipping a gin & tonic and talking about life with Alla and my friend Tony. It felt as if thought we landed in a different world to be honest, because about 1400 miles north, in the cold & snowy Massachusetts, the lockdowns and restrictions on gatherings were still in full effect. I wanted to start off 2021 on a different note, talking about what I wanted to achieve, and as crazy as it sounds, almost every thing that I came up with as a New Years resolution came to pass in 2021, and then some.


Firstly, I decided on a certain number of songs that I want to put out, something like 20 or whatever, trying to keep it realistic, knowing that you can't force creativity. But I was genuinely surprised, that after I kicked off 2021 with “Be Here Now” the creative ideas just kept coming and coming. Shortly in January, me and Alex P. went out to a frozen lake in the middle of a blizzard, armed with a drone, and an iPhone (!) and this became my first official music video, which I enjoyed editing myself as well.



It was a special little project, that took us just a few hours to shoot, but it taught me an important insight into creative process : you always gotta be ready when inspiration strikes. Have your camera ready, batteries charged, outfit on point, your song ready, and lights handy, because if you are in a place, whether it’s a nice looking sunset near a great view, or a whiteout blizzard, it could be the best moment for a little shoot.


This lesson came full circle, just a week ago, when me an Alla were just driving around, and pulled up to a forgotten beach, where we used to come during the summer. The beach in Gloucester has a very wide spacious sand bank which just looks pretty epic, and we ended up shooting the last video of the year right there on the spot in about 30 minutes. This is how the last video of the year “Beach” wrapped up my 2021, once again, because I was ready to go, with the camera on me, jacket looking cool, and a demo of the upcoming song on my iPhone.

A couple of words about what happened in between the First & Last projects of 2021 : I put out a total of 25 new songs, 11 of which make up a full length album “SATOSHI” + 7 music videos, and a new vlog channel, with weekly episodes, documenting my daily life, events, and studio production content. My second music video after “Be Here Now” was “Summertime”, which is a Daft Punk inspired electro pop track, with the video shot in Mexico, set to tropical beach vibes.


That was me getting the hang of how to use my new Canon R5 with the 24-70mm lens. Fell in love with that camera at first sight. Me, Alla and Alina ended up getting that same set up, and gifting it to my brother Alex, who is one of the most talented photographers I know. It was his 30th birthday, and If felt like we are in a place to contribute to his interests and get him the dream camera + lens. Love to see him put it to good use..


Moving on into March, sometime around my birthday, I rented a Tesla model X, just to drive around, for fun, which also ended up to be a music video, for my song “Tesla”. Honestly, that video shoot, was an unexpected miracle, because I had no idea that it was going to turn out that great. We pulled up to Newbury st. in Boston, parked in a random spot, and began shooting, with pedestrians stopping by to look at the sight, and pull their iPhones out for a shot, hoping that I might be someone famous.


A white guy, in a leather Jacket, rapping in front of a Tesla X with falcon doors open, followed by a blues guitar solo blaring out the speakers, toward the end of the track. And then to make everything so much more epic, it began to snow out of nowhere. We just kept the camera rolling, and those shots are one of my favorite moments, ever captured on film.


Little did I know, that you will manifest whatever it is that you believe in your heart, into real life. From that day of shooting the Tesla music video, I knew that a black model X is the perfect car for me. I told myself that if I was to buy any serious car, it would have to match my personality, and no car better does that then the Tesla model X. Electric. Energetic. Futuristic. Smart. That’s exactly what I believe about myself. I told a friend or two, they laughed, and said “good luck”, probably doubting if I’ll ever buy my dream car. I had my own Tesla X delivered 6 months later, with all the exact specs I wanted. Grateful & Blessed. You can watch “Tesla” on my youtube channel.



Moving on from that, I woke up one day, and felt an immediate realization, that I need to make a full length album. Around that time I began to study cryptocurrency, and the interesting possibilities, so I decided to call the album “SATOSHI” after the anonymous “Satoshi Nakamoto”. This wasn't an easy project, and I didn't expect it to be easy, but it still took about two months to send off. After checking and re-checking all of the mixes, in my mom's Acura, "SATOSHI" was dropped on June 4th 2021.



To this day I still do everything by myself, from writing, to producing beats, from recording, to mixing and mastering, and even little promotional steps, and I enjoy the process, but it does take effort and time. Put the album out on June 4th, and it was immediately obvious that the younger listeners tended to like the album more, pointing out tracks like “DOGE” and “Tesla” as favorites. Some people played that “DOGE” track so many times, that it made it to their top played spots for the entire year! One guy, even got a Plaque with that song, referring to his Spotify 2021 top played song. That’s really cool. The song “DOGE” is a techno style beat, with lyrics about Cryptocurrency DOGE, and a repetitive hook “Got that Doge” repeated over and over in a sleepy lazy voice. I genuinely was having a blast recording it, cracking up between my vocal recording sessions, at the ridiculousness of it all. Some people get it, others don’t which is fine with me, my rule of thumb is : if you had fun recording it, and if it made you laugh, you’re did it right.


În a couple of days, seeing that song getting played most, I met up with Artem, one of my friends who has a V12 Lamborghini Aventador. I asked Artem if he would be down to shoot the “DOGE” video, featuring his loud head turning orange beast of a car in the video. He agreed, and armed with a couple of R5’s we pulled up to a couple of locations, right downtown Springfield MA, and shot my first 4K video, with the Aventador, the goofy moves, and “got that doge” getting stuck in everybody’s heads for a long time. Lots of fun shooting that one.


My next video, “Constellations” features this trap beat & a hip-hop style song, with biting lyrics, and I felt it was appropriate to shoot a video with a couple of "cafe racer" style motorcycles, ripping up a grass field, for no reason. Again, did not expect for the end result to be that cool, and I'm very thankful to my brother Alex, and Vlad Mozol, for taking out their bikes, and risking their lives to shoot some of these shots. Awesome guys, they customize those bikes themselves, and I made sure to thank them by buying their sushi dinner that evening. God love days like those.


Another great impromptu project, ended up being our little trip to Cape Cod, which was me, Alla, Alina, and our faithful drone operator Alex. Just as before, we had no destination, no protocol in mind, but when we ended up at this desert looking sandbank at the tip of Cape Cod, we knew there was a moment to make some pics and videos happen. I chose to film a clip for my song “Be Myself”, add the song itself, is a response to people who try to impose on you what they think you should do/be.


I realize that I'm talking a lot about my projects, which all mean something to me, but I'm not attached to everybody "getting it". I get genuine satisfaction out of simply completing an idea, and bringing it to life. That's literally the most fun part to me, and if someone loves it – great, if not oh well.


Of course, in between songs/videos, there's a whole bunch of life stuff happening as well. I travel, I have a job, and I get paid to manage contracts with about 200 sporting clubs. Me and Alla are booking agents, and we negotiate merchandising contracts, which then are executed by one of the regional offices of Fine Designs. Fun stuff, some days all I see is percentage negotiations, and "force majeure" contract clauses. I don't mind that at all, even though I would prefer to do creative work, but this keeps me balanced, and helps my brain stay analytical, and rational.


I would love to make money doing music videos, and playing shows, but I'm not attached to that outcome. One step at a time, but I do have a feeling, that you will make more money, by following your true interests, overtime. For now, I'm very happy with where I am, work/life balance, booking/creative work balance.

Another major thing that unfolded, was Alla’s decision to get into real estate, and move to Boston, to pursue an apprenticeship phase, with a mutual friend who is experienced realtor. I’m fully supportive of that, and we decided to lease an apartment right above the TD Garden, for 12 months, and see where we want to go after 2022. This was a quick decision, and certainly required some adjustment to the big city life, and new connections.


Right now I'm sitting on the 38th floor of my apartment building, and beyond the giant floor to ceiling windows I see North End down below, which is a historic neighborhood, filled with Cozy coffee shops, famous restaurants, and Italian bakeries.


Looking forward to 2022, I know my values, and I'm lucky to say that I have a person I can trust, but how things play out is determined by two things that defy codification : the mystery of personality, and the role of luck. I will continue to write, put out songs, and videos, and if a record label wants to sign me, they should know that I’m already the CEO, executive producer and marketing strategist for my life, I’m keeping my masters.


If you're still reading, congratulations on your patience. For real though, I appreciate you, and I guess I'll tell you one more thing : you got time. Even if you're 88 years old, you still have a little bit of time. However, if you're in your 20's or 30's you got so much of life left to live. So relax, think bigger, and know that it's not too late, to live the life that you want, go after your big dreams, and enjoy every second of it!


Have a great 2022.

- V


#blog #vetalej

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