AKA: In your varied career in the music industry you were also an indie record label associate. Now you compose music for indie games as well. Any similarities in working with indie artists from these two different worlds?
DJ: That’s true! I did spend some time working at an independent record label and artist management company. I think you can make some comparisons between the indie music world and the indie game world. In both, there is a strong DIY attitude that places value on originality and artistic integrity. There is a similar spirit of creative freedom too, which is always inspiring and energizing to be around. However, all that freedom comes with many of the same struggles: small budgets, a demanding entrepreneurial work-life balance, the constant need to hustle, difficulty cutting through the noise, the “selling-out” conundrum, and the danger of predatory business relationships are pitfalls and challenges found in both industries.
What is distinct about indie games, though, is the sense that things are really exploding, creatively and in terms of career viability. Without going too far down the rabbit hole, the music industry (especially on the indie level) has been seriously impacted by rapid technological changes that have upset music sales, distribution, and the social value of music. The games industry deals with these struggles too, but the social and market responses have been quite different. Despite all that, indie developers are connecting with their audience in powerful ways which reward all the creative variety that makes any independent industry so special.