As we discuss Change this month, I can’t help but think of how much in my life has changed since starting this project! In the last year I’ve officially released the below 9 songs with Raw Emotions (and many more on here - The Vault). Pushing myself to make music that is raw, real and represent me on a deep level has changed me. It has helped me trust myself in ways I never have, brought out lyrics I would never have had the courage to write and sing and has pushed productions to places I love in ways I didn’t know I could love music.
I wrote Brooklyn In The Summer after 4 days in the desert with friends developing my creative practice that I call “The Dig.” Digs are 10 min vocal and lyric improvisations designed to bring up subconscious ideas and emotions that I don’t want to face, but are the most important to deal with. I had a session with my friend Jake Scott and After we did a couple digs and came back from a walk I sat down at a Piano and Brooklyn just came out. Jake walked in the room as the chorus started to form and we finished it together in about 30 minutes. It was magic. Here is the original demo from that day :)
Black Indian Soapstone
"For this collaborative project, I wanted to capture something that was universally felt by all people, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity or religion. Angst is shared among us all and in order to manage the dread and anxiety, we have to accept and ultimately breathe. When Jay and I spoke in more depth about our work on this project, I realized that the focus was not on the struggle of life, but rather how we deal with it. The breath offers that to us all. To breathe is to sustain life."
Dan Saland was born/raised in Northern NJ and has created various forms of art throughout his life. Since 2012, his passion has been stone sculpture. As an existential-humanistic psychologist, he finds many connections and applications between psychology andsculpting a medium that is millions of years old. Dan’s approach is one of patience and humility. The relationship that is developed with each stone and the process of sculpting itself are critical to the creative experience. Similar to the human psyche, sculpting is an evolution of formation and becoming. Dan also finds carving stone quite cathartic as the sculptural challenge leads to deep self-reflection and change.
So, with this month's emotional focus being on breath, I wanted to share a new song called July. This song for me is about waking up in the morning on your birthday, taking your first breath and realizing how different things are. It's hard to accept change, but breathing helps. This is a rough demo of just a vocal and piano but I'll finish her up at some point :)
“Fucked Up Crazy” comes out during the month where I’m exploring Loneliness in my Raw Emotions project. At its core the song is really about caving in to being with someone you know is probably going to completely tear you apart, but you do everything you can to justify in order to not feel lonely. The song itself is wrapped up in a love story where it feels like I’m convince that this person and I are perfect for each other, and that being together might be perfect since we are both “f***ed up”. The truth is it’s really just the powers of a very manipulative and brilliantly tricky dark side of my mind. In this song I really just don’t want to be alone and as vulnerable and “taboo” as that is to say, I thought it’d be really important to explore this part of my life that scares the shit out of me.
Here's the voice note from the original idea of the song and the final song.
Last week I went into the woods for 4 days with some of my closest friends and my brilliant friend Matt captured pieces of this trip. We had no connection to the outside world and just took in the majesty of this place. Here are a few unreleased photos.
Today’s “Raw Emotions Vault” release is an unreleased demo I wrote called “American Psycho”. This is a really important song for me and explores the experiences I’ve had when I’ve felt embarrassed and afraid of my depression. This song is a reminder for me to be bold, transparent and honest in the words and music I write.
Listen and comment below to let me know what you think of the song.
Growing up... That's the theme of this months song. For the single cover we shot my 4 year old cousin Finn dressed in my clothes. He is AMAZING and here's a little video of Finn talking about life. Song will be out next Friday!
Here's the final artwork image from our photoshoot for my new single "Grow Up", coming out NEXT FRIDAY April 27th. I think Finn really captured his "electric guitar rockstar" look he was going for. What do you think?
Suburbia. New Jersey. Essex County. High School. First kiss. First friends. Baby brother being born. First time singing. Baggy jeans. Rap music. Skipping class. Trips to the shore. Coors light. Falling in love. Sneaking out. Prom. NYU first day of school. Seeing mountains for the first time. Starting a band. Radiohead obsessions. Sucking at Basketball. Mentoring under crazy artists. Getting depressed for the first time. Many more memories than I could possibly list here.
After 6 months of the Raw Emotions Project I’ve officially spent a lot of time thinking about how we are affected by our emotions. I’m proud to embrace the lack of control over my emotions and continue to be shocked by the unpredictable power of our minds. This month’s emotion is a weird one for me: nostalgia. I can’t tell if it’s the fact that the majority of the previous emotions were very heavy, or if it was writing hundreds of sad songs last year or if it’s finally seeing the light at the end of a depressive New York City winter, but I’ve reacted very positively to this emotion. I’ve consistently noticed myself finding the positive in any nostalgic moment. After MANY conversations with friends, fans, artists and even psychologists it is clear to me that feeling nostalgic is not that simple for most people.
I was looking at a photo today of myself on my 17th birthday. I was so happy, you can literally feel it through the image. It made me happy. I instantly posted it on my insta story. Then, a flood of other thoughts came through. I broke up with a girl the next day. My favorite director in high school died suddenly at 29. I had my first set of deep depressive episodes 3 months later. I had suicidal thoughts only 2 years later. Suddenly this same photo scared the shit out of me.
So is feeling nostalgic something to resist? How many times in life does something happen that makes us feel an uncomfortable emotion and we divert, block, hide or run? I’m a pretty open person (as you can see) but the monster in my mind still finds fascinating ways to close off and stop me from feeling. Do I also need to protect myself from the past?
If I’m honest, I really don’t know the answer. I think nostalgia might just be melancholy. For me, any emotional experience I can remember has a spectrum of “positive” and “negative” energy. I remember being at my grandmother’s funeral and cracking up afterwards drinking whiskey with my cousins who came back from college to be with the family. My grandmother was everything to me, and losing her was so hard for our family, but whenever I drink Bullet it brings me back to that moment, and it’s both joy and sadness. It’s really complicated the more I think about it.
This month’s song, inspired by nostalgia, is called “Suburbia”. If I were to psychoanalyze myself, I’d say I handled writing this song in the same way I handle nostalgia. I kind of hid all of the sadness deep in the bones of the song and highlighted the good. It starts with pretty dark lyrics about being “in a daze for 6 week spending all my nights alone”, and then moves into words about pushing away anyone good so I can stay isolated and detached. The music represents a subconsciously positive reaction to nostalgia though, it has a driving beat, complex pulsing rhythms, interesting chord inversions and hints back to old influences of Passion Pit, M83 and vibes that I’d imagine driving to in a convertible with friends. At its core, “Suburbia” is a song about emerging from a very dark place, but you’d have to dig deep to find that. It’s hidden under what I would describe as something that simply “feels good”.
So with these last two weeks of the month of nostalgia I’m going to be looking back at old photos, asking my parents about the memories I think I remember, watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and trying to feel all of the corners of any nostalgic moment. I want the good, the bad, the exciting, the ugly and the painfully sad. Oh, and go blast “Suburbia” driving with friends, and if tears come up… F*** it, let em flow.
This is honestly where Raw Emotions began, but I had no idea at the time. This song was completely inspired. I think we finished this demo within a few hours of being in the studio. It would take 18 months to realize this title was the core of the next major creative phase of my life. I made this with my friend, writer/producer Daple.