Learning to be a soft(er) animal
I'm writing this mini-installment of Dumpster Diaries from the Frankfurt airport, on my way to Greece. It's low on a filter and high on sentimentality, so be warned!
And so: Soft Animal is officially live (as of yesterday). I feel all kinds of feelings, but mostly I feel proud, relieved, and grateful.
You might be wondering: why did I decide to release my first full-length album the same day I was flying to a foreign country? Honestly I didn't think it through very carefully, otherwise I would've realized that was a bit insane. But a few things stood out to me about this date:
It's the autumn equinox
This is my first trip abroad in many many years
It's exactly nine months from when I started my grief journal after my pregnancy loss (a journal I just finished yesterday on September 22!)
It's the full moon (actually it's not at all, but when I scheduled my release I thought it was!)
So in these little tea leaves of circumstance I see a few things that feel meaningful to the release of this album:
Equinox: A balance of dark and light. Art-making can be all sorts of things, but I do think for me this album was all about integrating some darker, more painful experiences into my psyche. There's not a single proper "love song" on the album. They're mostly songs about mending, healing, or just accepting what is broken or gone. I have definitely noticed in myself a tendency to harden in the face of pain, but to give up the jig entirely I think ultimately these events and experiences are an opportunity to soften. That is what I've been trying to do, and trying to do in my songwriting.
Journey: New beginnings, new discoveries. I had the ambition to re-read the Odyssey while on this trip to Greece, but that didn't feel like much of a vacation. I opted instead for the juicy historical fiction of Mary Renault. BUT: I've always remembered the moment in the Odyssey where Odysseus summons the spirits of the dead, and is visited by them one by one. At the risk of sounding over-inflated or dramatic, these are the things songs are made of: conversations with our own ghosts and hauntings, conversations we must have in order to move forward.
Nine months: The time it takes to make a new life. This one is heavier for me, but also hopeful. It is hopeful to me that in the time since I lost my child I managed to make this album, something I had talked about for about three years but kept deferring for a mix of real and self-imposed obstacles. I kept waiting to feel more confident as a musician to go through with it, but since making it I see so clearly I could only grow more confident as a musician by going through it. I can't quite describe how I feel different in my body, different when I sing, different when I pick up a guitar now since I made the album. Like before my focus while singing or songwriting or playing was always split between trying to prove I was good enough to be doing it while just doing the thing too. I don't feel that anymore, and I think that's in part due to following through, and feeling more in my body and myself. Going through with this has felt like a birth not just of the project, but of my whole self.
(Kind of) Full Moon: Like I said, I definitely goofed the actual day of the full moon, but I still like to think the album carries some Big Lunar Energy all the same. Making this album has involved becoming more comfortable with processes and events I can never fully "understand," at least not cerebrally. It's also been about accepting the rhythms and phases of a creative process. I've learned a lot about how much is happening with my music or my projects when I'm not working on them, and how to trust in those rhythms without being afraid nothing will happen without me actively pushing all the time. So while the literal moon may not be full today, my own moon feels downright effulgent.
Maybe it is because I am severely sleep deprived, or because for once between this email and the album itself I've actually said all I have to say, but I can't think of a neat conclusion here. I think the conclusion should really be to go and listen to the album. Not out of any vanity or self-promotion, but because I said it best there.
I left it all out on the dance floor, and now it's time to rest.
PS: Because of some bureaucratic shenanigans, the album is not yet live anywhere except Bandcamp. But it will be live on Spotify, YouTube Music, Apple Music, etc., in a few weeks. Hooray!
PPS: Upon googling just this second I found out the moon is in Leo today (my birth sign), so maybe I had some deep lunar knowing working in my favor. Or maybe I just made a goof! As with most things in life, I like to think it's a little bit of both.