Luis contacted me after the release of 'Old Boy'. We chatted a bit about inspirations and musical interests - and he has since been a wonderful supporter of my art. He got in touch with me not long ago and asked me to take part in a Portuguese publication 'Convergir na Música' releasing its 50th edition. (yes, inspired by the band)
I had a lot of fun answering his carefully selected questions (I tend to get a bit wordy with my writing) which he welcomed and diligently translated into Portuguese, which I think is worth sharing with you here.
Below you can find the original English version:
Thank you for reading,
And thank you Luis for your continued support and for having me.
- ‘Old Boy’, in which a photo of your father is used in the artwork, is a beautiful tribute and a wonderful record. Take me on the creative process and emotional toll to write and record such a powerful record.
Firstly, thank you. I’m currently working on my 3rd studio album - and Old Boy, out of them all, came together so quickly in comparison. I knew exactly what I needed to say and express visually and musically, without too many hiccups. Within a year and a half, the album was born and completed.
Unfortunately, it’s not a happy story, but it’s one of the most important ones I had been through at that moment. It changed the entire trajectory of my life and continues to do so.
In 2017 my father committed suicide. He was an amazingly intelligent, spiritual, determined, and creative thinker and historian. He had a fuel and intensity like I’ve never seen before or since.
Unfortunately, like a lot of deep thinkers, he was tormented by the inner workings of his own mind, which he desperately tried to self-medicate through alcohol. Despite the trauma of being raised by such a person, naturally, I am very much like him and therefore have a deep understanding of the struggle. Not to mention he played such an important role in inspiring my own pursuit of the understanding of consciousness and questioning the bigger picture. But most importantly this unorthodox childhood gave me the wisdom to be aware that all experiences are teachings if we are ready to listen.
Even though I knew this day would come, when it did I was completely unprepared for the depth of that suffering.
After he passed I was instantaneously fuelled with determination to begin breaking the chains that have been binding my family for generations. It began with reassessing the relationships I had with the world around me and then a whole lot of drinking. Sloppy grieving alone drinking.
Perhaps I needed to know how far the rabbit hole really goes to begin understanding where I don’t want to be. And when I began to see it’s depth I knew I can’t go any further. I woke up to the realization that I have two options. 1. Let the same darkness consume me as well or 2. Begin to tell this story.
Crying into my second bottle of wine in the bathtub at 2am, I knew my excuses of ‘me time’ no longer cut it and began to think about what it would feel like to tell someone what I was really going through. How much shame and sadness had ruled my and my families life for so many years, (and later learned, generations) and as I began to think, I realized i’m not alone. If I could begin to tell his story through my pain, which ultimately began it’s journey of expressing my own. It evolved into realizing that it’s a universal story of suffering. Perhaps if we could come together in our suffering it would ultimately making it less powerwful in ruling over our lives.
Step 1: The creative process - continue drinking as much as I can meanwhile convincing myself I should probably quit and that truth and togetherness really is the answer, all the while writing in process.
I’m 3 years alcohol free this year and have met many people along the way after the release of Old Boy who told me they found bravery in my story that helped them begin to share their own stories of suffering. It has done exactly as I had intended it to. Bring us together - in turn bringing us further from our aloneness. That place where we think “I’m so bad, they’d never understand”
- Your journey is rather interesting, moving from Colorado to Poland. Was it a purely professional-driven decision? And how’s life in Europe so far?
Over the years i’ve had time to think about this question as i’ve been asked it a lot. And the more esoteric answer would be that I needed to remove all I knew of who I thought I was in order to heal the past and learn who I truly am. Go to a place where I know nothing, No language or culture to hide behind or hold onto. The problem with this is that, when you have no idea who you are you become a bit of a camelon.
I immediately found things I was attracted to and wanted to emulate it. To hide, to be accepted, liked. I was looking externally to “find myself” meanwhile trying so hard to escape the real internal self I was too afraid to look at.
I wasn’t aware of what I was doing of course, which makes reflecting on the journey so powierful. -
So, The Simplified answer is: I was 23, I wanted to play music and see the world! - It seemed that no matter where I went I was constantly unhappy, never quite felt I belonged - always like a guest and if i’m not happy here than surely i’ll be happy there! And was willing to accept any opportunity that came my way. It just so happened Poland was the first one that presented itself.
Life in Europe has been great! And challenging. I’ll say, for more reasons than just professionally and materially it’s one of the most important decisions i’ve ever made.
- Our Voice/Nasz Glos is a beautiful and empowering track. How was it to work with Anita Lipnicka?
I’ve tried to start a few collaborations over the years and i’ve learned that I need a really motivated, open-minded, flexible and passionate co-collaborater as I have a hard time with motivation and moving things forward, as my interests come and go quickly and I need to capture things in the moment.
I had a vision without hesitation and so did Anita - and our visions meshed together flawlessly. It was such an effortless and passionate collaboration and we had so many nice people working on the project that it really made me feel like I was part of a team and doing something really important.
The amazing thing about it all was we did the whole thing over the internet. We never met until the song was already finished and we began recording the video. We just felt the pull and put absolute trust in eachother without ever having previously worked together which was really magical.
- For those unaware of your music, as I’ve told you before, it has that Chelsea Wolfe & Emma Ruth Rundle vibe and feel, and that southern gothic feel like Marissa Nadler or Emily Jane White. Do you believe it’s the style that fits you most?
My musical interests are all over the board from psytrance to hip hop, classic country / americana, electronic, eastern spiritual, industrial, metal, pop, for a few- I think there was a time that I did try to work my music into a particular genre - or get more technical, add more flare but I get bored really easily and if i can’t flow then I lose the emotion which is the foundation of my music.
Not thinking too much about how i’d like the song to be and just writing what feels good works best for me. And comfortable usually consists of just a couple cords, sometimes even two and an easy guitar rhythm and most importantly vocal melody. I think this raw simplicity is generally the foundation of musical story telling - and I think all the artists you mentioned have a human story to tell and have found that authenticity in their craft - which happens to also carry notes of good old honest folk music.
- Breaking out as an artist is traditionally hard and requires an excruciating amount of work and dedication. Do you feel, by this worth, your journey is guiding you to where you’d desire?
You hit the nail on the head with “excruciating”. I’ve been solely an independent artist over the 6ish years of professional performing. And boy i’ll tell you it’s tiring. But as Gillian Welch says “They figured it out, we’re gonna do it anyway, even if it doesn’t pay.”
There is a particular drive - a home I can reside and drift away in that I know will always be there for me as an outlet to process and transform what I observe and experience. That keeps me keeping on despite the ups and downs i’ve had throughout my career. Music has taught me so much and taken me through some amazing experiences and weather I feel i’m ‘successful’ or not at it i’ll just keep doing it. As long as I remember to take a break from time to time, not take it all so seriously and to have fun. They don’t call it “Playing music” for nothing.
- Your live performances are as good as the studio versions, if not better. What are the main differences between recording in the studio and performing live?
I think another point to add here would be, “and what’s the main difference between studio and demo versions?” (peprhapps i’ll release some someday) I hate the studio. really. All the people, and the pressure and never enough time. It’s very hard for me to tap into that authenticity when I know I have today to get THAT take. It’s very stressful and I believe it takes a lot away from what i’m actually wanting to express in the song - I’m a pretty tough critic of my own music (Reminder: don’t take it so seriously, Play music etc.)
The magic for me happens when i’m sitting in my home studio, and have all the time I need to tap in and feel the music. However, Recapturing that ‘Magic’ in the studio has always been a great struggle of mine. With every record i’m learning more about what what works for me and what doesn’t - and that I don’t have to do it like everyone else, I need to figure out what works best for me. I’d like to record and produce some of my own records someday - even if it’s just one mic in my kitchen. I’m learning that the emotion behind the song is far more important to me than the audio quality of the song itself.
Public performance has always been difficult for me, but I have the energy of the peopple who came to be with me in the music who are just as involved as I am - which helps create a supportive atmosphere that is far more energetic than the studio. There’s always a lot of love between us all that is cultivated live, that just can’t be replicated in a studio.
- Any plans for a Portugal gig in the near future? What memories do you hold from the country?
That one time I went to lisbon and missed the Dead Combo concert because the venue was only selling tickets in person, and when we we arrived in the country it was sold out. I was gutted. But I ended up with food poisoning that night and wouldn’t have been able to go anway.
Portugal, the very little i’ve seen of it is a very beautiful country, so beautiful infact that despite being there in January, getting sick and missing the concert of one of my favorite bands (RIP) I began dreaming of living there and I think the thing that struck me the most was Fado.
The first time I heard Carminho sing ‘Escrevi Teu Nome No Vento’ I was so moved by how she sings with every cell of emotion in her being. And when I heard her describe the song’s meaning, it’s such an incredible piece of poetry to describe painful heartbreak, something we all know so well. This alchemy, transforming suffering into something beautiful is what I also strive for in my music.
I’ve never played in Portugal and currently don’t have any plans, but with the deep attention to suffering I hear in Fado, and pastéis de nata, I think we could become good friends.