About The Artist
ReelRichard’s high energy music videos, inspired by Bitcoin, have been blowing up on Twitter lately. His latest ‘Pump It Up’ remix got picked up by Adam Back. His incredible Sci-Fi led 2140 Techno video was inpsired by a @dhruvbansal essay and Max Keiser’s comments about the ‘Center of Hash’ in a future Bitcoin world. The concept is mindblowing and so’s the music video.
"Man, Bitcoin feels like it’s happening really, really fast right now. With El Salvador we’re almost at the suddenly part."
LOST IN MUSIC
Richard was born and raised in California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. He got into music around 7th Grade and remembers patiently downloading tracks via a 56k modem. Eminem, Mos Def, Nas and Talib Kweli were big early influences and then in high school – Kanye.
"Rap music used to tell these really unique stories. I just fell in love with the storytelling I guess."
In High School he started taking piano classes, learning about chords and song development. He was never classically trained but taught himself a good grasp of music theory. He’d put things together on the piano & guitar and then draw it up inside music software. He taught himself music production mostly through other people on forums rather than any formal education. He’s been making music since 2002 now, almost 2 decades. He’s built a wide and diverse back catalogue on SoundCloud, YouTube, Spotify and his website. The earlier work was more hip hop influenced but now he’s listening to bands like Boards of Canada more and focussing on house and electronic music.
"Music’s always been a hobby for me, like basketball. For every one song I wrote, there’s 10 bad ones, but coming up with melodies, chopping up samples, laying out grooves – it’s therapeutic.”
Richard got into YouTube early but lost his first account after getting too many strikes. He then started YouTubing more seriously and gained quite a following making remix videos, ratcheting up the views and catering to a younger audience. After a time though, that became much less enjoyable and life got in the way a little. He joined the military.
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
Around 2016 he went into the US military and saw a lot more of the world through that. He was stationed in Hawaii and Washington for a time. It was there he began trading Robin Hood stocks with a group of friends, reading Intelligent Investor & finance books. Before long, it led him to Bitcoin. Living near Seattle, just a ferry ride away from the city, he attended Bitcoin Meetups throughout 2017/2018. “So you can imagine how crazy things were at the peak of 2017.” Through 2017 he was trading in and out of shitcoins.
"It was Andreas that opened my eyes. I remember just just watching all his stuff. He was the person that first taught me about Bitcoin."
By 2018, after discovering The Bitcoin Standard he really started DCAing into Bitcoin and going down the Rabbit Hole. He remembers just constantly listening to podcasts, reading and devouring the content. “The Stock-to-Flow model definitely amplifies why scarcity is so important.”
Post COVID, he feels attacks on property rights and individual human rights have really ramped up. He tries not to make the COVID issue a division amongst people he’s close with but it’s disheartening when they don’t see it too. Coming from a Vietnamese community where a lot of families left a Communist regime, he’d hear stories growing up from uncles about fleeing attacks on property rights like that. In some ways, he sees a comparable things beginning to happening here now too.
"All the people I’ve Orange Pilled were pre COVID. We don’t even talk about Bitcoin price anymore. One young guy just texted me asking how to get parts for a node? That’s better than any price point for me!"
In his fiat job, Richard manufactures IT hardware and circuit boards and listens to a tonne of audiobooks and podcasts whilst he’s doing it 😉 He’ll take down notes and think “that’s a theme for a song.” The writing in the Bitcoin space is a massive source of inspiration for his music and art. “I’m try to visualise my songs now, almost like a painting. Maybe the baseline is the main character, the mountain. I just smash away at the keyboard and see what comes up.”
"A lot of my themes are Bitcoin related now. House music reminds me of the difficulty adjustment. Mining’s just a constant 4:4 – boom, boom, boom, boom."
He’s all in the box, meaning all software based for his music production. He’s been using Ableton Live since 2007 and feels very accustomed to it, working with a MIDI controller that triggers sounds within Ableton.
"Music is all inputs & outputs. Routing in Ableton is pretty easy and intuitive."
Richard’s been using Adobe After Effects since back in the day as a YouTuber in college (again teaching himself). He finds the programme intuitive and super powerful. I had to ask him where the graphics came from for his epic Sci-Fi 21 Centre of Hash Video ‘2140’. Ever since he started visualising his music he’s been going onto Vimeo and finding matching VJ loops. These are the cool 3d graphic animated loops that you’ll notice in a lot of his YouTube videos. The 2140 video is a loop by @Beeple, who’s been releasing them free for anyone to use for some time now. Richard’s a big fan.
"I’ve been following Beeple way before the NFT craze and now he’s really blown up."
GAMING LIGHTNING COLLABS
Richard’s also been doing promo music videos for @JackEveritt of @ThndrGames, the Bitcoin/LN Gaming Company. Quite a few of these tracks have been released by Jack via Twitch & Richard’s been receiving streamed sats & tips via lightning for the last couple of months now. “It’s not a lot, but the fact that someone likes my music enough that they’re willing to part with sats – that really excites me – value for value.”
In the past he’d get some iTunes income but depending on the jurisdiction, some countries might take up to 40% of revenue. With platforms like Sphinx emerging, and the possibility to earn sats direct his own lightning node with no intermediaries and no haircut . . . well, he’s wide open to the possibilities of this.
"You could create a record label on Sphinx. It really blows my mind. So many business models could come from a sat streaming service like that."
Richard’s very keen to collaborate with other Bitcoiners. He’s already been remixing some of Vlad Costea’s music for his radio show. And Richard’s Pump It Up remix was in part created with a plugin by @Bitcoinaudio. It takes the Third Halving Block (630,000) and shoots out modular synth percussive sounds derived from it, like a computer speaking. It basically uses Block Height to manipulate musical parameters. He took the audio from the plugin, edited and processed it into the song. Again, so many possibilities are coming from Bitcoin’s wellspring and Richard’s all over it.
He’s just finished a Paul Tudor Jones cut and “Proof of Life” a mining inspired music video, a dark and percussive bass heavy track. Mining’s always intrigued him. It’s where the analogue meets digital, where meatspace bridges into cyberspace. It’s what keeps Bitcoin connected to physics and reality. “Proof of Life” tries to capture these concepts. Again, I utterly love it.
"You know, I’m pretty low time preference, I’m just trying to make better music. Bitcoin provides me that time & allows me to do the things I love, like song-writing."
Lately, he’s also been teaching his cousin music and readily admits he’s learning as much from the process himself. His cousin’s in college now and it’s been very rewarding seeing him improve so quick. He’s a big part of Richard’s move into electronic music too.
Forward progression, low time preference and sound money inspiration. Subscribe and check out Richard’s fountainhead of talent. He’s going places for sure.
"I learn so much through teaching too. It’s the best way to learn."