There is a small but persistent handful of people who frequently request I return to the music I put out with Cire and Emptyself. I always appreciate the fact that anyone is interested in my work - past or present - at all, and I’d never want to seem as though I’m specifically ignoring these messages or comments, but I’m often unable to respond in a way that feels adequate when I’m in the midst of sharing something unrelated. So if you are one of these people, and you feel like reading a very long post - this is for you.
I started releasing music almost 20 years ago, and began playing live several years before that. So for most of my life I’ve been putting myself out there, and along the way a small but significant amount of people have stayed in touch in one way or another. (Any amount of people is significant when they’re interested in your own work.) Either they’ve followed me from project to project and written messages to me over the years, bought CDs/downloads, or supported me in other ways like spreading the word to their friends about my music. I really do appreciate this and during a few difficult times in my life, knowing that at least some people cared about me, whether I knew them personally or not, really did help me, and I will always be thankful for that.
Over this time I have really examined and re-examined what it is I’m trying to do with, or get out of music, and indeed life in general. Of course I’m sure this would be true of most people when you’re talking about the bulk of a person’s time on earth. For those of you who are old enough, I doubt you’re into exactly the same things you were in the early 2000’s for instance. Even if you like the same music, are you doing all the same activities? Eating all the same foods? Hanging with the same friends? Reading all the same things? Probably not.
When you’ve been releasing music for that long, however, it stays out there and there will constantly be people discovering it for the first time. Or maybe re-discovering it again after a while. That’s a good thing and it’s something I also appreciate. But as my life has progressed, and I’ve changed how I think about what I’m trying to get out of it all, and what makes me happy, so has my musical direction.
Over the past couple of years, a lot of what I’ve been doing with music has been focused on the “doing” part. Getting out of my head and getting out there and jamming with people, playing and improvising with others, and getting away from the idea that the creation of some masterful piece of art would someday make up for all the things I was missing in my life.
I wouldn’t expect everyone who came to know about me from something I did in the past, to necessarily understand everything I’m doing currently. Doing roots-based music under my own name is more than just a different sound compared to Cire or Emptyself, it’s a different way of life. It’s a wholly different activity and form of expression, and I wouldn’t expect everyone from afar, only able to experience it as one sound versus another, to understand that. My direction of recent years has been guided much more by following where my actual life and happiness is leading me, rather than just what happens in my head in a vacuum of isolation.
So if you came to know me from something I did in the past, and are interested in what I’m doing currently, I certainly want you to know about it as it is always nice to feel more “known” by others than what some might pick up on a surface reading. I like having you around. I coincidentally have a new album coming out this year under my own name, and I think you might like it.
However, if you don’t really like roots or blues-based music, or music that is less cerebral, and built upon the evolved traditions of natural rhythms versus odd timings and sounds for instance, that is ok too. But please understand that proclaiming in caps-lock that you want me to be who I was 15 years ago on everything that I post on the internet isn’t really going to achieve anything for either of us. I’m not a fast food chain that discontinued a sandwich I can just put back on the menu with enough protesting, I’m just an evolving human being figuring things out as I go.
Ultimately I’d like to leave all my creative doors open, but the trouble with the house-of-mirrors that is the internet is you can’t really have multiple projects without everything becoming confused, and hindering your already slim chances at making a living in music. I’d like to potentially be able to release music as Emptyself without that confusing or derailing my main career as a roots artist, but it’s tricky to do.
There are many particular realizations I’ve come to relating directly to the creative decisions I’ve made, like working with computers and synths versus real instruments, working with mathematical odd timings and rigid modalities versus organic groove-based ideas, even different songwriting approaches. These are things that I think could make an interesting conversation I’d like to have at some point if people are interested.
Overall, I just want you to know that if you’re here I appreciate you. I appreciate your interest, and I’d never want you to feel ignored or disregarded. I’m only hoping we can, at best, understand each other as we move throughout this crazy life.