Well shucks, it’s been a long time coming, hasn’t it? I’ve been collecting email addresses at gigs for years, and I’ve never sent out a single whiff of a note. UNTIL TODAY. To be honest, the whole promotional email thing wigs me out; I don’t like receiving them, and as my track record makes evident I most certainly do not like sending them. However, to put it lightly, I’ve been feeling simply dreadful about social media of late. It makes me real sad, and on good days I rarely use it. But in consequence, I find myself on a bit of an island, disconnected from you fine people, and that’s not what I want in the slightest! I’m so grateful for the connectability that this technology affords us, and this is my attempt to transmute that into a format that does not burden my heart so. (I could dedicate an entire letter to this sentiment alone, but I’ll refrain. Instead might I direct you to this altogether illuminating piece about the subject written for Rookie Magazine by Tavi Gevinson, who’s a gem and quite simply a gift to this generation.)
Henceforth I’ll be drawing up a onceish-monthly letter, and if you so choose, you can have this shit zoom directly into your email inbox. If that’s not your jam, but you want to get the update, no worries! I’ll post them on my website too, for you to peruse at your leisure. I’ve been a lifelong fan of letter-writing (thank you, summer camp!) but have been feeling a profound lack of pen-palhood in my life. So to that end, these will most likely read like a letter from a friend. I’ll ramble a bit about what I’m doing or reading or listening to or eating perhaps, and sprinkle in some news here and there. You’re of course in no way obligated to respond, but if something tickles your fancy and you feel inclined to reach out, please do! My main goal with these is to forge an open line of communication that I’ve been struggling to maintain with social media.
Whew! Enough of that. It’s a new year! 2017 was. . . yowza. Quite something, to say the least. And while I won’t waste time waxing philosophical/ throwin down a HOT TAKE about the times that we are better off without, I do want to draw mild attention to one aspect of last year, the thread that tied my entire experience of it together, the thing that was essentially my life raft amid the terror of everything: the record! My first one! I spent pretty much the entirety of last year bringing Brightness into the world: arranging it, recording it, having existential crises about it, doing all the little behind the scenes things that transform twelve .wav files on a computer to a THING that PEOPLE can HEAR. Despite the pretty bonkers rollercoaster of emotions that surrounded the creation process (This is great! Wait, I hate this more than I’ve ever hated anything! I am garbage! Alright this is ok now I guess? WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?) when the time finally came for the thing to be born, I felt proud of it, and happy, and so overwhelmingly grateful. If you’ve taken the time to get acquainted with it, I can’t thank you enough.
But best not dwell on the past too long, yeah? It’s 2018 my friends! And I’m starting off the year by taking this record out on the road for a big ol’ friggin TOUR!!!! It’s already a couple weeks away and gee willikers am I excited. And slightly terrified, to be honest. But that’s just the way with new things, yes? I’m recalling now an utterly fantastic piece from Brainpickings (Legitimately the most wonderful corner of the internet. If you’re not already familiar, get hip!) that explores the value of an intimacy with fear through the writing of Pema Chödrön, a Tibetan Buddhist nun and teacher. Here’s an excerpt:
"Fear is a universal experience. Even the smallest insect feels it. We wade in the tidal pools and put our finger near the soft, open bodies of sea anemones and they close up. Everything spontaneously does that. It’s not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown. It is part of being alive, something we all share. We react against the possibility of loneliness, of death, of not having anything to hold on to. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.
If we commit ourselves to staying right where we are, then our experience becomes very vivid. Things become very clear when there is nowhere to escape."
Highly recommend this piece in its entirety, read it here!
ANYWAYS. Despite the little thunderbolts of fear every now and again, the overwhelming feeling I have is THRILL. I’m going to so many places I’ve never been (Philly! Richmond! Chapel Hill! La Crosse! Eau Claire! Toledo! Columbus! Burlington!) and visiting places I love but where I’ve never gotten to play music. (Brooklyn! Bloomington! Ann Arbor! Chicago, my friggin hometown!!) Man. Dreamy. Here are the dates--I hope I’m coming by a spot near you! If you've got any recommendations for bookstores, Indian food, museums, some (gluten-free, sadly) deliciousness, karaoke, general COOL HAPPENINGS, etc., I'd be most delighted to hear.
Quick note about one particular tour date, that isn’t really a tour date at all! On February 1st, I’m playing an Office Session at Leesta Vall Sound Recordings. What does that mean? Well! It’s pretty nifty. I’ll let you hear it directly from the horse’s mouth:
"Leesta Vall Office Sessions are live musical performances that take place in our office/studio in Brooklyn, NY. Each performance is cut live in realtime directly to a 7” lathe cut vinyl record, resulting in a truly unique one-of-a-kind musical artifact. Each individual vinyl record contains its own rendition of a song that only its purchaser will have/hear….a very special thing."
When I read that I was like UM. I have JUST the song for this. . . Time Capsule! So, if you want a direct-cut-to-vinyl-just-for-you version of Time Capsule, I have good news for you. You can preorder one here! I can of course only make so many of them, which means that supply is limited as heck, so if you’re into it a preorder is probably the move.
On that front, I recently put up a wee video of me performing Time Capsule in the studio last year. (holy shit. . . almost a year ago already! zoinks!) It was the first take and thus wasn’t the version we ended up using, but I find it special nonetheless. For your listening pleasure!
As for the rest of the year, who knows! Hopefully more touring, and writing. Already I’ve begun finding little musical sprouts springing forth in my heart, so I’m sure record number two isn’t too far away. I’ve been playing much more piano these days (my first instrument, though we’ve had a strained relationship in the past, but we’re patching things up!), and, you guys, cello!! I’m very bad at it still because I’m a bowed-string-baby and am teaching myself, but I am in instrument love. And I’ve already started writing on it! So while I can’t say anything for certain about the next THING, I can hypothesize, given the nature of my musical days, that it’ll be pianoy and celloy and droney and melancholy, probably.
Other than that, I’ve been combatting the wintry glum by making lots of soup (here’s my go to recipe, it’s out of this world delicious) and listening to as much music as possible (here’s my favorite record to come out in 2017) and from time to time analyzing some Beethoven quartets (here is my favorite and also what I would probably like to be played at my funeral) and occasionally marathoning all of Star Wars. I’ve now seen The Last Jedi four times in theaters, but who’s counting? Also, if you haven’t taken advantage of the fact that The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross is on Netflix, do your heart a favor and get on that.
I hope that the winter is being kind to you, and that you’re finding comfort wherever you need it. Hope to catch up with you soon.