About The Artist
In January, I played BTCMinstrel’s Have Fun Staying Poor (HFSP) Sea Shanty on the morning commute for a week solid. It put a beaming smile on my face every time. How could it not? It’s what everybody needs right now, individuals coming together and vibrating with other – that connected camaraderie and joyous brain chemistry you can feel through the simple act of singing. He has 3 Bitcoin Sea Shanties out in the wild and two new ones bouncing around in his head right now.
"We should be pulling together as one. We should sing together. We should vibrate together. "
Music should be a game you play with others. It serves so many important social functions. Much of this has been lost, particularly in the midst of the pandemic. You can see the reverberations of that in a lot of societal ills. Music’s a great regulator. It coordinates and synchronises people on many levels. There’s a level of intimacy that happens in music, when all the bullshit melts away and you see what the other person is made of. You experience something together, a bonding that offers a real experience of our shared humanity.
One of the things that’s always inspired and fascinated him about money is that, like music, it’s a language. It’s depressed him to see how the language around money has purposefully become so slippery.
"They’ve shamed us with complexity. I think simplicity has always been a hallmark of great Art. Truth is truth when it’s understandable and accessible. Bitcoin brings that back."
BIRTH OF THE DRUMMER
Minstrel went to Music School in NYC and studied Jazz Composition, West African and Brazilian drumming. This style of drumming is intense sonically and physically. You’re doing something together in an effort to synchronise. You have to pay very close attention to each other. There’s a level of intimacy where a lot of the BS is stripped away and you’re trying to bond with another person. The repetition of West African and Samba drumming can punch through to new levels of consciousness.
"Some of the most intense experiences I’ve had as a human being have been when I’ve gotten to that level with other musicians – where we synchronised. "
We’ve lost something of that sense of connectedness to people and perhaps others seem less as a result. We see less of ourselves in them and more distance between us. There’s been a lot of that during the pandemic. We’re missing that sense of being part of something bigger and greater than each of us. We’re more atomised. Musicians serve the music, they follow the beat, they have to synchronise.
BIRTH OF THE BITCOINER
He came out of Music School with the intention to be a professional musician and became a gigging jazz musician in NYC. Social Media was starting to turn everything political and a lot of musicians in in NYC were very politically passionate, socially active both on and off stage. He felt certain ideological differences between many of them and the way he was seeing the world. He led a band and made a few records in 2001. The music industry was getting crushed by the Internet at the time. It was peak Napster era and nobody knew what was going to happen.
It was just a weird time to be a professional musician and got him questioning how the world and economic system worked. He started reading Austrian Economics at mises.org and discovered ‘Sound Money’ which led to Gold. He became a Gold Bug and that seemed validated when the housing market got crushed in 2008. Then he watched gold underperform for years, heard about Bitcoin in 2013 but didn’t really start paying attention till 2015. He bought some in the depths of the bear market and then sold it after hearing about Mike Hearn’s rage quit right around that time. He started appreciating the layers of ideas within Bitcoin, things clicked and down the rabbit hole he fell.
"Bitcoin was the sound money that Austrians had always talked about. When you really understand sound money, it gets freaky … Bitcoin pumps forever. "
Living in NYC, he went to a few Bitcoin Meetups there and got to have a beers and conversations with with some hardcore Bitcoiners. Pierre Rochard was leading those Meetups at the time. He had the feeling they were seeing the world much more like he was. It was very gratifying to have that connection and it continues to be so.
BIRTH OF THE MINSTREL
The Minstrel persona was born in early 2018 after feeling the need to contribute something to the community. Minstrels were roving musicians that recorded and documented important ideas, people and events in the form of song and verse. They’d write and pay tribute and try and add a bit of immortality to those ideas. He started writing, taking tweets and memes and turning them into faux Shakespearean verse, little poem tweets. They began sounding like choruses to drinking songs and it struck him that Bitcoin Twitter is just a bunch of folks hanging out, slapping backs and challenging each other. He envisioned people singing drinking songs and melodies started popping into his head.
The Bitcoin community can give us the strength to get through tough times. The feeling that you’re part of a community bigger than yourself. Something you can rely on, lean on. Lockdowns have severed so much of those social support networks, the ability to socialise, to know your friends and family. The Minstrel and his Sea Shanties are in a lot of ways this Bitcoiner’s unique protest against that.
REBIRTH OF THE SHANTY MAN
The Sea Shanty thing hit on Tick Tock in January 2021. Nathan Evans, a Glaswegian postman, went viral with ‘The Wellerman’. It’s a magnetic little song that really gets in your head. Everybody can sing Sea Shanties and in a way they’re the perfect antidote to our era’s digital diet, Art as content for consumption. In the midst of the pandemic, there was this notion of people coming together, vibrating in unison. It’s something people definitely lacked. It’s time had come back around.
"In a way Bitcoin Twitter’s a giant Sea Shanty, a crew, tossing and turning on the ocean waves. "
The stakes are high and some of us have it all on the line. It’s not all easy sailing as BTCMinstrel’s homage to the bear market, ‘Hodl On’ vividly tells. We’re in the midst of a storm with sea monsters lurking. There’s a solitude, man versus nature, pirates versus Navy, an underdog theme in there too.
"I go to the ocean a lot, spent a summer as a drummer on a Cruise Ship and really connected with it. I’ve great respect for the imagery of the sea. "
It’s powerful, profound & mysterious and you have to approach it with respect. He’s listening to more sea shanties and appreciating the structures and subtleties of how they operate more. I’d assumed BTCMinstrel was a group but he does all the voices himself, adding layers over the baritone, creating a cornucopia of voices of a variety of tones, some with different persona even. There’s Squinty, the most Piratey sounding one and the Shanty Man with an Irish, Long John Silver twang. What is the Sea Shanty? It’s call and response from the Shanty Man, repetition and variation. In many ways its like the memes on Twitter, people join in, respond and retweet. Laser Eyes is one giant meme echo that keeps evolving.
HFSP & ANALYSIS PARALYSIS
I couldn’t resist picking Minstrels brain on the HFSP meme and it’s clearly something he’s thought a lot on. He feels it can potentially be very toxic, hence why he intentionally masked it in humour to take some of the edge off. “The context is so important.” As Udi Wertheimer said though, it’s the most efficient way to argue with an intransigent Nocoiner. This got him thinking about how a lot of argumentation we go through with people is procrastination, around and around, back and forth, on whether Bitcoin boils the oceans, the government shuts it down, or quantum computing kills it. When all people really need to do is put some money down and get skin in the game. A lot of no coiners see buying Bitcoin as a super high stakes decision, in which they have to weigh all the options and consider all the possibilities.
"HFSP is a kick in the pants to stop with all the analysis paralysis and just buy some Bitcoin."
It’s also a fun way to stick it to the true the true enemies and bring the community together of course. It’s the powerful weapon you keep in your back pocket for emergencies. It’s been great seeing the meme emerge on a wider stage like by Pompliano on CNBC or Saylor on Bloomberg.
"A humble minstrel peddling verse
And on occasion harmony
A cyber hornet in reverse
Who helps his fellow plebs rehearse
The virtues of a hard money
A troubadour for BTC"
Minstrels’s Orange Pilled his parents, siblings and business partners, who’ve now got Bitcoin on their balance sheet. To him, Orange Pilling is an act of love. It says, I care about you. I care about your future. I care about your safety and security and your ability to think long term. I want you to have this, I want you to understand this. And I want you to get on the Ark.
"Orange Pilling is an act of love."
Your exposure should equal your conviction. It’s money you can afford to lose and you don’t need for the next four years. Knowing what he knows, about how the world, economy & money works . . . he struggles to imagine living a life and raising a family without Bitcoin.
BIRTH OF THE RENAISSANCE
We’re starting to see shoots of a Bitcoin Renaissance. There’s been such a dearth of meaningful ideas for artists to rally around for so long. There’s so many powerful, deep, profound ideas in Bitcoin that inspire thought in so many ways.
"We’re beginning to explore again the timeless, universal ideas of truth, beauty and justice. This is what inspires Great Artists to create Great Art. "
To Minstrel, Bitcoin is pointing us back to some of these powerful, important ideas of truth, justice, righteousness and beauty. Seeing artists begin to rally around that is a really important signal. It’s positive, future oriented and hopeful, as opposed to the opposite that we’ve seen so much of lately. It’s revitalising the public forum for big, bold and optimistic ideas and futures.
Minstrel’s very careful about his OpSec and feels we may well be gearing up for the ‘Final Boss Fight’ this year or next. He has the sense that roles could turn very quickly, that Bitcoiners could go from being heroes one day to enemies the next.
There’s three shanties so far with two more rumbling around in the back of his head right now. And who knows where it’ll go after that. Music is his form of service and worship for ideas and things greater than himself and he hopes to keep producing it for us and telling our stories.
"I’m not just a Sea Shanty guy. I hope I can continue to to pay homage to these ideas and people through this medium."
There’s a lot more music to be written about Bitcoin and the ideas behind it. He looks forward to doing that and servicing the revolution whatever way he can. The best place to learn more is on his Twitter @BTCMinstrel. Check out his YouTube and Soundcloud too.