Happiness. I thought a lot about what song to share that's connected to Happiness. This song ALWAYS makes me feel good. It's not about the content, or the words really, it's just about the vibe. Play it loud, it works best that way :)
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 :)
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 :)
It's been lonely not playing on stage for so long (20 months to be exact) so I am SO excited for you to experience Raw Emotions LIVE. It’s going to be a very special show with multiple instruments, live looping, live production, a full band and as always, MANY emotions.
I wanted to share a sneak preview of one of the live songs so you can get an idea of what it's going to sound like. Check out Kurt Cobain T-Shirt below.
Montreal. I wrote this song last year remembering a trip to Montreal. Not one of the easiest ones to write, but I love it. It captures loneliness in a beautifully tragic way, an honest way. This is just a demo but it’ll find it’s way home someday soon.
In 2015 I wrote a song and directed a video called "My Own Way" that featured some of the bravest and most powerful people I've ever met. The goal was to inspire people to speak loudly not only about mental health, but about their loves, passions and bold embrace of themselves. We created this in support of the brilliant organization Love is Louder and the JED Foundation to send this message out into the world. There are so many people to thank that made this video possible but most importantly I have to thank the people who have shared their stories - Ilma Gore, Michael Gerber, Afia Fields, Jeanette Nitao, Alix Angelis, Kris Angelis, Dana Harris & Jeff Everett.
Full documentary and music video below. Let me know you it made you feel in the comments!
The Emotion: Excitement. As a baby and a 3 year old it looks like I was excited about everything. And I’m pretty sure I was. But underneath all that excitement is a flood of overwhelming emotions that was impossible for little me to comprehend. Now I look back at these photos and periods of my life almost as a map of how I became who I am, both the good and bad. This month’s release is all about “Growing Up”, how does growing up make you feel?
Here's my April "Exclusive Vault Release" - it's a throwback called "Simple As That". I took this off itunes as my sound was changing and looking back I feel like deserve it's place in the world. Welcome back "Simple As That".
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.
In 2013 I started the project that would become Raw Emotions. I had no idea what I was doing, who I wanted to be, what I wanted to say or what I wanted to sound like. I dove in headfirst with my friend Jason and we produced a full album called "More Than We Think." Looking back I'm really proud of this album. At the time I was still searching and I ended up pulling it from the internet. Today, in the month of nostalgia, I put it back. So here is More Than We Think, almost a year of my life in 10 songs :) Let me know what you think.