How I Navigate Money / “Personal Finance”

Image Description: A blue Little Tikes piggy bank—just like the one I chose as my gift at my first Filipinx Christmas party and thought was just a cute toy pig, not the place where my whole family at home would end up putting our spare change for over a decade…—in front of a white background.


After getting over the big wave of 1099s, W-2s, and FUs (the last one’s a joke hehe) and finishing my taxes this past weekend, I was motivated to finish a coherent write up on how I personally navigate money. I say “navigate money” in the same way I’d talk about navigating predominantly white institutions or family dynamics; I didn’t ask for it or create it, but there it fucking is! 🙃 Money’s value is generally determined by supply + demand and faith/expectations around economic growth. Some would say that money is a social construction, where people collectively go along with the belief that a flat green rectangular piece of paper with George Washington’s unimpressive face on it is worth one dollar and an alloy circle with his face on it is worth a quarter of that. If you haven’t caught on, I think that money and the capitalist system in which it operates is foolish and based on oppression. This belief was personally confirmed when my finance professor (who was a white guy) in college joked during a lecture that we should aim to have more debt in our future corporate workplaces so that we wouldn’t have to “pay taxes to the government for social services or any of that nonsense.” However, in a world where we likely can’t dismantle unjust systems in a day and maybe not even within our lifetimes, support on navigating injustice can be helpful if not necessary for everyday life.

Before I share any tips, etc. I think it’s important to note that my family was upper class in terms of money by the time I, the youngest of three kids, was born and has generally remained that way since. With this status comes a lot of personal financial security from my parents, whether it be money itself, really good healthcare benefits from my dad’s job, or all the stress alleviated from possessing relative financial wealth within a capitalist society. 

With that, I think that anything resembling advice should be given and taken in context.
I don’t think you have to listen to all of the advice someone offers you in order to respect them, their knowledge, and their experiences. I’m an expert of my own life experiences, and people can choose to apply as much or as little of what I share to their own life. Generally, I think that my advice is best for someone who works and has their own bank account(s).

With all of that, here are some ideas from articles, podcasts, my credit union, and my friends that I’ve found helpful when navigating money:


WRITE IT OUT
Whether or not you have a bank account, set aside some time to write out all of the income and expenses you typically have within a month in one place. Depending on your style, you can make a spreadsheet in a budget-like format, a bullet-point list on paper, or something totally different. I received this budget worksheet from BECU which you may find helpful. If you don’t have a bank account that records your transaction history, you can start collecting any receipts and paystubs you receive and keeping a list of the dollar amounts on those that you update over a 30-day period. If your income doesn’t come in predictably month-to-month, try to estimate monthly averages (i.e. figure out your annual income from last year and divide it by 12). 


Do the numbers represent what I need and want for myself (the one person you can somewhat control)?


When you finally figure out your monthly expenses and income, you get… nothing lol. At least, you only really get a different perspective on things that you already do. When I first recorded all of my expenses in one place, I realized that I was spending $500-600 per month on food while the ‘average’ person, according to the BECU associate who was my Financial Health Check consultant, spends $250-300 per month. When you first write all of your expenses out, you might feel some type of way toward the numbers you see. I didn’t necessarily care that I was literally spending double the ‘average’ person on food, I just literally had no idea what the dollar amount was until I took the time to write out my expenses. At the end of the day, I don’t want to condemn my consumption but rather be informed and more confident around my actions, including consumption and spending money. The $500-600 amount actually made me laugh, especially when the BECU associate said, “You must really love food!” and I was like, “I do!!! *daydreams about jalapeño chips*”

Having a physical record of your money activities can be a good place to reflect on your personal balance of “what I have” vs. “what I need.” As in, do the numbers represent what I need and want for myself (the one person you can somewhat control)? With deeper reflection, I found that some chronic hand pain I’d been having made me very emotionally attached to food, wanting to have some control over food (e.g. consumption) when pain made it more difficult for me to cook and eat by/for myself. Today, I feel better better about my relationship with food, stay within my new monthly food budget of about $250, and ask for more support from friends about buying and bringing me pre-cooked meals or take out.

The next step after recording your income and expenses is developing a budget. If you’d like support in writing out your income and expenses, I think that the budget templates on Google Drive are a pretty good (and free!) start. And, below is a screenshot of how I set up my really simple personal budget spreadsheet (I promise it looks prettier when I’m not covering up text for my privacy lol.); feel free to hit me up if you’d like to talk or ask questions about using a budget template or even making your own spreadsheets!


AUTOMATE THAT SHIT
One helpful thing that technology can do: make automatic transfers on a regular basis from your checking to savings account so you don’t have to do it yourself every time! (There are different ways to set this up depending on your financial institution. For BECU it’s under the “Transfers” page in Online Banking, and they’ll automatically cancel the transfer if you don’t have enough money in your account to fulfill it on the scheduled date.) The beauty of automatic transfers is that, since you don’t go thru the transactions yourself each month, you have less chances to associate yourself with your money and have a little less work to do in your life. I’ve been advised to transfer 10-20% of my monthly income to my savings account each month and aim towards having 3x of my monthly expenses in savings (e.g. $3,000+ in savings if I spend $1,000 per month). Whether or not you’re able to commit to that range, I think that starting out with a lower rate of income transferred to savings would be better; that way, you’re then less likely to have to transfer money back from savings to checking which could bring up negative emotions (I’ve had to do that a couple times before and one time I actually cried! Lol).


CASH RULES EVERYTHING AROUND ME
This one isn’t a tip as much as it is an observation. When I personally buy things using a card, any potential guilt associated with the purchase is recorded (i.e. via my online banking account and mobile banking app) and therefore essentially haunts me longer… For example, my younger self was really into buying new clothes and sneakers, making my bank statement looked like an outlet mall directory LOL; when my checking account balance starting getting kinda low, I literally avoided wearing a pair of sneakers I’d bought online with my debit card (FYI - They were Nike Air Max Thea Premium in ‘Mahogany’ + definitely cute and I’ve always gotten plenty of compliments on them I just actually felt haunted by them haha). Now that I think about it more, that experience still seems to affect me because I haven’t bought any new shoes after I bought the Nike Air Force 1 Jester XX in ‘Violet Mist’ from “The 1 Reimagined” Pack featuring all womxn designers in May 2018.

Image Description: Nike Air Force 1 Jester XX in ‘Violet Mist’ from “The 1 Reimagined” Pack featuring all womxn designers—the last pair of shoes I bought, nearly a year ago!

When paying with cash, I tend to care less about and even forget about what I bought—which can be great and also terrible.
 Imagine me buying a bunch of sneakers with cash and then soon after just having them collect dust in the corner of my room 😮 That’s why I’m one of those people with a bunch of cash stored away in a shoebox (…the irony!). Over time, paying for more things with cash could make me less aware of my spending patterns, since I don’t have every purchase recorded somewhere to check later. People’s associations with cash and money differ, though I personally find that having my spending tracked makes me more self-accountable, or at least aware, around spending. Here are some examples of how I typically choose between paying with a card versus cash, which ultimately helps me maintain agency in relation to money:


When I choose cash - “Essential”:
over the counter medicine, smaller food or drink items, cheaper home supplies like soap or paper towels, office supplies.
When I choose card - “Extra”: clothes, eating out, bulk grocery shopping trips (as in, not just buying 1 or 2 “essential” items), medical bills, “big purchases” like a plane ticket or technology.


ABUNDANCE MINDSET
I think there are several definitions of ‘abundance mindset’ and ‘scarcity mindset’ floating around, and I usually find them all to be a bit confusing(!!!). A super helpful resource for me was this “Future Economics” episode of Autumn Brown and adrienne marie brown’s rad podcast (that I love and am super grateful for!!!) “How to Survive the End of the World.” From their website:


“For this episode, Autumn and adrienne peel back the layers of story, assumption and shame around class, debt and money.”


If you have the 1 hour it takes to listen to the podcast, then I totally recommend it. (It’s available on their website, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, and maybe other places that I’m not aware of yet!) I think that the “layers” of story, assumption, and shame are great foundations for me to anchor my understandings of scarcity mindset versus abundance mindset. I tried writing this next part a few ways, but I ultimately decided to narrate from a first-person narrative perspective; I think that this is the best way for me, a single person, to describe concepts that encompass so many systems and lived experiences. Note: I’m about to narrate a couple scenarios of my negative thoughts and experiences around self-worth alongside more positive ideas, so if you’re not in the place to take in all of that content right now, please feel free to skip the section below, take a break, or whatever else you need to do 💜

Story

  • scarcity mindset: Sometimes I lay in bed, make my body as small as I can, and hide under my blanket so I can only see darkness and feel myself overheating. My thoughts loop around the sentence, “I’m alone and no one cares about me.”
  • abundance mindset: The loop of denying my self worth goes on for a few seconds, hours, days, and/or so on. And, then I feel how warm I am under the blanket—how warm and good I, myself, am capable of feeling. I think of all the colors absorbed in the small pocket of the world under my blanket so that I can see nearly complete darkness. 


Assumption

  • scarcity mindset: When I was in college I probably showed up late to at least 50% (not exaggerating) of my classes in college, not even including all of the class sessions I missed / skipped. [FYI - I graduated college within 4 years double majoring in Business Administration and Anthropology (with honors) while working 15+ hours a week consistently since the summer of my freshman year, being pretty involved in several student organizations, and being a politicized bitch who could pop it back one time whenever tf I wanted. Not to glorify being able to do a lot things, but just to give context to what I was doing during college.] These things were all pretty well known among my close friends. What I was really secretive about was my rapidly changing health—i.e. my chronic depression, anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia that I now know as fibromyalgia. I’d walk into a classroom with anywhere between 25-400+ pairs of eyes looking at me and calculate the odds that at least 1 out of 25-400+ people in the room assumed I was unintelligent, irresponsible, and/or lazy (which I don’t think is a bad thing, but doesn’t reflect who I generally am at all). .
  • abundance mindset: I don’t like to immediately dismiss assumptions I don’t feel good about, because sometimes I can dismiss things about myself or other people that actually need / deserve work, attention, and/or care. One thing that works for me now is to try and frame things in the good ol’ improv “yes, and…” format: “Yes I show up late to everything, and I connect with my friends/classmates and professors in a way where I’m still able to learn what I need from the class”; ” yes I miss out on a lot of things, and my body deserves time to heal, rest, or experience things that I can’t from inside a classroom”; or, “yes I don’t put my 100% into my finance class that literally makes me depressed, and I apply certain things I do pick up from that class to my job where I make bomb ass budgets on Excel for my team.” 


Shame

  • scarcity mindset:  For the past 7+ months, I’ve had morning stiffness where I have to stay in bed at least 30 minutes after I initially wake up before I can physically get out of bed. This experience is likely a (perfectly fine) symptom of fibromyalgia; however, I often mourn for the times when I could go running first thing in the morning and then think thoughts like “I should’ve exercised more when I had the chance so I’d be stronger right now” or even “I should be able to just get out of bed; what’s wrong with me?”
  • abundance mindset: I get so much work done in bed!… on my computer!… like emails and writing blog posts and watching insightful videos and sending my friends funny gifs and more! 😇 


Imagine the lifestyle you want and then work backwards from there. 


COMMIT TO A LIFESTYLE, NOT A SALARY OR AN OBJECT
This is one of my favorite pieces of advice to offer people, but it’s also an area where my privilege likely plays an amplified role. Instead of dreaming of a certain annual salary or a particular asset like a house or car, I tell my friends to imagine the lifestyle you want and then work backwards from there. Again, I come from a line of thought that says money is a social construction; however, I can definitely see how people’s perspectives around financial wealth and how they’ve navigated everyday life + systems of inequality are strongly associated with non-material aspirations. Overall, the idea I’d like to emphasize is that I think it’s easier to answer + find information about the question “What do I concretely need to live the life I want?” versus “How much money do I need to be happy / successful / etc.?” You can certainly answer both questions at the same time, but I’ve found that—given money’s ever-changing value both on personal and economic dimensions—having goals around a lifestyle leaves you with more options. i.e. The answer to the “life I want” question might change from “a home with X, Y, and Z close to my family, a supportive community, and a body of water,” but the answer to “how much money?” is likely to be always “more than I have now” due to inflation and the way that scarcity mindset (i.e. of corporations and individuals) feeds capitalism. Even if your answer to “how much money” is more along the lines of “$6,000+ a month to pay for stable housing and my family’s basic needs,” I’d argue that the root of your answer lies somewhere in stability, housing, and/or your family.

Of course, the precursor the the “life I want” question is to ask yourself “What’s the lifestyle I want to live?,” which is a big, intimidating question in itself. Depending on how your mind works, here are some ways I can think of right now that might help you answer this question:

  • Ask your friends what they envision you doing, but don’t necessarily agree with that they say. Rather, I think that honestly noting your reaction to their responses can steer you in a direction of positive self-reflection.
  • Make a list of the things you spend the most time on. Reflect on your list and ask yourself, “What feelings do those activities bring up?” Positive feelings = You probably want a lifestyle with these things in some capacity, while negative feelings = You probably want to find out the steps to get to a place where you can do these things less. Personal example: At one point, I was at a place where I spent a lot of time being tired, sad, and sleepy, and I did NOT like it lol. A lot of people in my life supported me in starting therapy—specifically, generative somatics—and OH MY do I have a better day-to-day life because of it.
  • Look up interviews, articles, books, etc. featuring people whose lifestyle you admire and see what they did to get there. If you’re personally connected to the person, you could even ask them to talk to you about it if you’re comfortable doing so.

    Here’s where I’m currently at in imagining the lifestyle I want and then working backwards:

    I dream of co-owning land with my friends, taking care of my own dog, being an artist, and having time to relax in shared space with family and friends.

    What would I concretely need to get there? Maybe like…  
  • a “good” or “excellent” credit rating to pursue land co-ownership, 
  • savings to purchase land resources for purchasing land, 
  • health in order to sustain my art and self, 
  • a dog and knowledge and resources for caring for a pet,
  • oh and friends I guess lol.

    Damn, okay. How do I get any of those things?
  • I can ask my credit union to give me more information on what credit actually is, how to build my credit history with them, and improve my credit score.
  • I can commit to building my savings account.
  • I can prioritize all aspects of my health.
  • I can get a dog.
  • I can work on my relationships and myself as an individual + friend.

    That list is kinda long, but I’ll try to do these and see how it goes from there. Yay!

    I know I’m an idealist with a lot helpful things going for me in terms of money, but I hope you’re able to apply at least one of the things I’ve shared to your own journey of navigating money and managing your personal finances. Unlike common financial advice such as “pay off your debt” or “make a budget and stick to it,” I genuinely think that going through the processes of writing out your expenses and income, automating your savings, noting how cash vs. card affects your spending, adopting an abundance mindset, and developing financial goals and action plans based your ideal lifestyle vs. your dream salary are all fair, feasible places you can start.


“We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”


My last piece of advice for navigating money is to try asking for support now or as soon as you can if you ever need it, before allowing your thoughts to wander away from the present—whether “support” means cash, someone to talk to, a meal, leads for a new job, a party to go to, etc.! One of my favorite sayings is, “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all,” and it definitely helps me maintain my abundance mindset and collectivist values. The value of money is never steady, but the great importance of a life where you and your people can live beyond mere survival or ‘getting by’ is something I personally couldn’t be more sure of.


Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think and if you have ideas on what I should try to write about next. If you enjoyed what you read, I’d feel very supported by direct feedback; donations via my Venmo (@Allison-Masangkay), Cash app ($amasangkay), or PayPal (acmmyellow@gmail.com)inquiries about booking me for DJing, community organizing for arts & culture events, basic business consulting for artists, or being a guest speaker / workshop facilitator; and/or, spicy food or other warm things like hugs. Salamat / Agyamanak / Thank You 🙏🏽


Some Interludes I Really Like

Images: Myself (DJ Phenohype) practicing at home in one of my favorite yellow shirts (vintage from eBay) and Kapatid Kollective’s lavender SS t-shirt. Photos all taken by Jayna Milan for TONL (buy their stock photos all featuring people of color!).


Are squares both rectangles and squares? Yup; squares are basically short rectangles. Just as some people classify interludes as both songs and interludes in music, essentially deeming an interlude a short song (not including voiceover or skit-based musical interludes). An interlude represents space in between, time passed, distance; or, as Kelela says in her film “Interlude” by Cieiron Magat from Dazed, the interlude encapsulates “the things that we’re all thinking but that we don’t say” and “the things that are going on with everybody that we don’t really talk about.”


“liminality”—the uncertainty or ambiguity between one position in society and the next


Anthropologists, like myself, sometimes use the word “liminality”—because we’re social science nerds who feel good in our power / agency to make up new words that no one else understands)—to describe the uncertainty or ambiguity between one position in society and the next. Today, I feel like a lot of young people, including myself, sense liminality between the time when we have and have not “made it” or “succeeded.” Especially if our identities and lived experiences systemically position the markers of so-called “success” at a distant, or even unreachable, place. I personally find a lot of value in what goes on in the often undefined spaces in between. e.g. If I’m not working or resting and not eating, am I not just living? Why is the labor I put toward my holistic health, friendships, and hobbies not also ‘work’? How do we go about defining those exact moments in human existence when we go from ‘rest’ to then ‘work’ to then ‘succeed’? (Unfortunate answer for many people: CAPITALISM AND SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION.)

These ideas (that I tried to simplify and reduce) are what inspired the concept of this blog, alongside my work and love around music. Let this be an official start to my “Phenohype: The Interludes” blog that’ll cover music and pop culture, my developing thoughts and feelings around Filipinx identity, and other things that help me survive and thrive between doing music, community organizing, eating, resting, and more. This piece will also launch an ongoing series of listicles: “Some _____s I Really Like.” First, interludes. Second, I’ll figure out another topic or you can hit me up to come up with one together! Wait, should I have made interludes go between first and second?? Damn. Oh well! Here’s a list of some interludes I really like:

“Bluff” - Kelela (Take Me Apart, 2017)

I feel like Kelela is one of today’s music visionaries as far as her ability to coalesce club and electronic production with messaging that’s so intimate and soft it could tenderly fall onto you like your favorite warm blanket on a winter night. It’s so bad ass for a Black queer womxn to be nurturing and developing her sound and overall artistry over time the way Kelela has. If you haven’t already, your heart needs you to watch this video of Kelela talking about each song of her album Take Me Apart. When you get to 11:27ish, get your tissues ready…

The trap bass that hits about ten seconds in tears open a whole entryway (or exit) for all the feelings one develops in the relationship(s) they hold closest to them. The lyrics “I’m gonna prove you wrong / I’m gonna prove you wrong” feel like she or I or any other listener could send out that message to their own face in the mirror, their parent or their friend who’s a master of reminiscent sighs, or their emotional lover at the doorway. Kelela’s aesthetic explores just how intense vulnerability can be; with the duality of being both hard and emotional, “Bluff” crashes into the soundscape yet settles perfectly in between—hitting just the right parts of your body to make you believe in how deep a human is capable of loving.


“Wavy (Interlude) [feat. James Fauntleroy]” - SZA (Ctrl, 2016)

I love James Fauntleroy’s art, and I feel like he blesses the world with interludes with/for other artists. I wish I could give him a huge ass plate split half-and-half with the best fried chicken and weed available to humans for each time I’m going to mention his name in this post. SZA and James’ voices bouncing all over the track feeds into the “wake and bake” energy that develops with the chord progression, hi hats, and snaps. I really feel like I’m going from lulled to energized in a just over a minute. We’re hearing the point in a relationship where SZA is waving “bye bye!” to someone in her life, who may have been waving in their own way for a while now. She can’t just up and leave, and she might have even made it all the way to the doorway before lingering feelings kept her staying. This scene would likely be unfortunate when drawn out in real life but sounds so damn good in this quick snippet of a song we’re offered. A full version of “Wavy” apparently exists, but I’m not sure if my heart could handle it.

“James Joint” - Rihanna (Anti, 2016)

See, I wasn’t lying y’all. James Fauntleroy deserves all the fried chicken and weed a human could ever want! Overall, I think it’s pretty badass how the synth bass, keyboards, and strings make for such a dreamy vignette setting where Rihanna is just there like, “Don’t say that you miss me / just come get me.” (I love that shit!) Whether this song is about a lover named “James,” a joint, or simply a joint written by James Fauntleroy, it’s one the most played songs on my phone and a reminder that Rihanna is a mysterious and intense ass Pisces

BONUS: Someone on the Internet did a mashup of Rihanna and James himself for an “extended” version of James Joint


“Look Good With Trouble” - Solange (True, 2012)

Solange’s True came out when I was about halfway through high school, and it was my shiiit. I lived around too many white people in Sequim then, so maybe 1-2 people and a lavender plant around me were of aware of Solange’s greatness. 

Solange is, of course, a visionary artist and person; her artwork and her creative agency Saint Heron (did anyone else download their eponymous compilation album and loop it like 5+ times the day it came out in 2013???) are the sources of my personal journeys with some badass Black artists, including Kelela, Dev Hynes / Blood Orange, and Moses Sumney. Dev Hynes worked on writing, production, and background vocals alongside Solange on this track, as he did for most (if not all) of the songs on True. “Looks Good With Trouble” probably really resonated with my high school self’s youthful rebellion. These days, I also really feel Dev Hynes’ take on pop music production—here, a divine resonant minimalism—sincerely bolsters Solange’s heavenly vocal harmonies plus her falsetto ring of “Hey young lover.”


“Birthday Cake” - Rihanna (Talk That Talk, 2011)

The number one answer when Family Feud asks why someone between the ages of 13-65 is saying “cake” four or more times in a row is “Rihanna is that bitch and has a song about how other people only experience sex like her on their birthdays.” CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE. 

P.S. The current top comment for this song on YouTube is “sounds better without chris…” and I agree 1000%. Next!


“Feeling U, Feeling Me (Interlude)” - Alicia Keys (The Diary of Alicia Keys, 2003)

Even if this track ended after the Rhodes piano and guitar bit in the beginning, it would still be on this list. The first minute of the song is essentially just the instrumental plus a few melodic groans, which Alicia Keys makes sound rough and sexual yet mellow in a way that fits Alicia Keys’ style so, so well. I love Alicia’s ad libs (e.g. “my miiind”) and how her voice lingers, like she literally can’t get the subject matter ‘U’ out of her mind. This interlude is also by far the most sampled one I’ve listed [See: “Can’t (Get You Outta My Mind)” by Mall Grab, “Alicia” by Mala, “Feeling You” by 2 Chainz, “SoulFeelin” by Lakim, and “Feelin’ You” by DJ Spinn, among other songs].

The way she almost staccato hits “Can’t. Get. You.” before “out of my mind (my miiind)” adds just the right amount of punch, something similar to the motions of hitting your head or fist against the wall. I think this song succeeds so well as an interlude because it’s a soulful take on musical themes that sometimes become corny, like “Does this person love me?” or “I can’t stop thinking about this person.” The resulting song is ultimately widely relatable but with a rawness that’s Alicia Key’s own.


“Fertilizer” - Frank Ocean (Channel Orange, 2012)

If you’re gonna follow up “Thinkin’ Bout You” on Channel Orange, you better be an interlude that’s a mini cover of an amazing James Fauntleroy track or a plate covered in Nashville hot chicken and Blue Dream buds. Even if I learned that James was into KFC chicken strips (note: I think they’re always dry and overall not worth it), I’d gladly get him some to enjoy while he smoked. Make sure to listen to James Fauntleroy’s full track “Fertilizer.”

Even though this is a shorter interlude on my list, it definitely holds its own. Frank Ocean’s cover tones down the original jazzy “Fertilizer, ” transforming it to poignant blues-leaning R&B. Any more sound—e.g. the full cover that Frank Ocean fans may desire after hearing James Fauntleroy’s song—would be like streaming Atlanta online and having text on the bottom that explains and analyzes the story as it’s playing on screen: it can be beautiful genius at work when an artist makes the audience have to imagine or contemplate things on their own. The nostalgic and really queer desperation or at least desire let out in “Thinkin Bout You” is followed by just a pocket of Frank’s + James’ shared genius in “Fertilizer,” and I think having a pocket versus the whole bag of this shit works really, really perfectly. 


“Nightvision” - Daft Punk (Discovery, 2001)

“Nightvision” lays pretty low, especially compared to the Daft Punk single “One More Time” or other songs like “Harder Better Faster Stronger,” all from 2001’s Discovery. However, especially if you’re able to listen with headphones or high quality speakers, “Nightvision” can really take a hit to your feelings. In the context of the Discovery music videos (which altogether make up the film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem), the preceding house / dance track “Crescendolls” represents the global frenzy toward the fictional band of the same name and the (evil!!!) businessmen exploiting their success. “Nightvision” then montages their sad reality of being confined in high-rise room to fulfill the draining duties of the music industry. Outside of the music videos/film, this song makes me imagine myself in a rocket during the final moments in the exosphere, flying toward Mercury (the planet that rules both my sun and moon signs in Western astrology), looking out into the rest of the universe with a single tear falling down my cheek because I couldn’t bring along my puppy…


“Kampo”  - Common Market aka Sabzi + RA Scion (Common Market, 2005)

Sooo smoooooth. Makes me appreciate Seattle music history a little bit more. I love a good clave sound :)


alternative intro from “Provider V4” played on blonded RADIO, Episode 7 - Frank Ocean (Blonded Radio, 2017)

“Provider” was my favorite Frank Ocean song, and then I heard “Provider V4” with the damn mumbling magic intro… 😭 Intros/outros technically aren’t interludes, but I’ll break almost any rule for Frank Ocean(!!!). Some of my friends told me that they feel a lot of joy after listening to this “happy” song (yay!), but I definitely also feel that this song hints at hard parts of relationships—where the person on the other end or your internal dialogue may have to remind you of what they provide, and then you answer with the patient/impatient “I know” heard in the chorus. The lyrics from the alternative intro add a mini layer to the depicted relationship dynamics, where I’m unsure if the words are bitter feelings or something else:

Giving in is anything I’d provide
My figure surrounded
The riches are clouded
If you live like I live
I wouldn’t live without it
Said I’d be your new best friend, didn’t I?
If February, anything I’d provide
When you coming down here
You’re shaded, I provided all that
Rain coming down
Ambition got providing
All that money mine

Altogether, this song feels like a compromise: a lil feel good-ness and a bit of uncertainty that maybe, hopefully lead to a rewarding result. I’m not exactly sure how the queer romance referenced in this song actually transpired, but I do sense Frank’s uncertainty in this relationship and personal identity (e.g. in contrast to religion) that he gets at in his older songs. And, I feel that the references throughout the lyrics (which I think are overall some of Frank’s best) serve as a roundabout yet accurate way in which to describe love, specifically queer love (BECAUSE THAT SHIT’S DEEP AND NUANCED hehe). My fav part of the full song is definitely:


“You had you some birthdays, could you prove it?
Show me the wisdom in your movement
Show me some wisdom in your movement”


I MEAN C’MON. 

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS

We may be in a time of back-to-back interludes where we unintentionally or intentionally set boundaries of start and end where the listener would perceive it to be “too early.” In a time when I feel less and less of us have the luxury of listening to music in a ‘leisurely’ or ‘relaxed’ way, there are (wealthy, white) people whose position in the world includes the ample time and energy to “gaze,” criticize, and judge—rather than address, survive, and/or work through the impacts of injustice. The gaze, i.e. the white gaze, seems to be getting wider and wider as the differences between the rich and everyone else expand.

Within the frame of “the gaze,” I can find myself and other nonwhite artists and kultural workers (I currently consider myself an aspiring kultural worker) daring to take up space, defining our own boundaries, and naming our own context for the outside observer. I see Tierra Whack’s Whack World as a prime example; the project takes the audience through 15 tracks / 15 minutes of audiovisual gold. Some people would call the jumps from track to track “abrupt” or “sudden,” and I am not some people lol.

When Solange was on Earl Sweatshirt’s beautiful Red Bull Radio Show (which I suggest you listen to in its entirety if you can), she asks Earl, “What’s your feeling on length of songs these days?,” and Earl replies “Keep that shit short!” Then Solange asks, “But what if that joint rides? Like, you need to ride to more places than just the store … Like, you need to drive.” Earl gives the example of Lil Uzi Vert’s “New Patek” that takes and needs/deserves the full 5 minutes and 43 seconds. “In order to come with longer length joints, you gotta commit.” He calls the “extra three minutes after” a short (specifically, rap) track a potential “waste” since 5 minutes can be a long time for someone to keep delivering engaging bars and lines. Solange remarks that some songs turn out to be “too short… except Tierra Whack,” with Tierra Whack being “perfect” in following through with her unique ideas, thoughts, and intentions and Earl calling Whack World “a blueprint” for rappers before they cut to the song “Fruit Salad” (Yes, pertaining to fatphobic comments about people’s bodies; yes, about staying true to who you are/she is; yes, partially influenced by the Wiggles’ fruit salad yummy yummy). Solange’s latest record When I Get Home features abrupt stops and non-“traditional” song structure(s) that reflect her attention and care toward these details in her art.

Whether or not artists feel and/or acknowledge any pressure to pack a lot into a little, I feel good about our ability to definitively take up the space we do in the world—in the ways we want to. Some people simply classify musical interludes as short songs between two other songs, and I am not some people 😊 Whether an interlude comes from a place of constraint, restraint, or not having it all together but putting something out anyway, I envision an interlude as an artist’s statement that reads “I am enough.” And that’s way more than just a short song in between. 



Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think and if you have ideas on what I should try to write about next. If you enjoyed what you read, I’d feel very supported by direct feedback; donations via my Venmo (@Allison-Masangkay), Cash app ($amasangkay), or PayPal (acmmyellow@gmail.com)inquiries about booking me for DJing, community organizing for arts & culture events, basic business consulting for artists, or being a guest speaker / workshop facilitator; and/or, spicy food or other warm things like hugs. Salamat / Agyamanak / Thank You 🙏🏽

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