After we started Soft Milk in 2015, there was a little buzz going because of our music but also some of wacky on-stage antics. It was just two of us then. We played with some cheap 10-watt amps and wore nothing but ghastly bed sheet costumes.
Much of my childhood is hazy in my memory because of its ever-shifting nature. The one thing that I can still recall with rather unhindered detail is finding my voice as an artist even when life itself was uncertain.
When my parents split, it was messy. The house foreclosed, my mom and I moved in with my grandparents four hours north, and my two older sisters stayed in Cincinnati with my dad. As my mom struggled to find a job and a sense of new permanence in Akron, my aunts and grandparents stepped up and helped with caretaking duties. I was eight or nine years old.
Kind of like how meditating gives us a focused space for our peaceful energy to flourish, having a vlog has helped me to take my connection with my listeners to essentially a sacred space.
I often think deeply about the whole picture and how can I as an artist create safe spaces during quality entertainment experiences. I want to give people a window into my songwriting process and other aspects of me being because we are all creating this world together. I get inspired often by intense things clouded by introverted struggles with no release but music. And I didn’t want just those intense songs to be all I gave the world. Perhaps a good analogy is that not cleaning for weeks results in a big beautiful cleaning. And weekly songwriting is like weekly maintenance cleaning.
In eighth grade, I was challenged by my English teacher, Mrs. Walters, to write something that exercised our class’s objective at the time, imagery. I was very naive but full of heart back then and wrote this cheesy piece describing the practice room of me and my friends’ first band, Tigerlake. It has a certain charm to it I think, but only the kind of charm you find in old terrible family photos.
It reminds me of how sure I used to be of me and my friends becoming something, doing something with our music. So yes it is cheesy, and it doesn’t really talk about anything I’ve been working on recently, but it talks about where I’ve come from, and sometimes that’s even more important.
Pretty early on in life, we both figured out that it was okay to challenge the rules. It seemed that people loved to tell us HOW the world worked, but nobody knew WHY it worked the way it did. Why did we have to wear dresses and have pink things?
Recently I had the opportunity to interview Greg Connors about his new single “Future Nostalgia.” As I was listening, I was so drawn into the track, which prompted further listening to Connors’ vast cannon of eclectic material. I found his songs speak to me in a familiar voice, both vulnerable and comfortable. His melodic, yet ‘cut the crap’, self-styled phrasing dances with a deliberately off-kilter, sweetly angular guitar motion.
“The moon looked pale and wan, as if it shouldn’t be up on a night like this. It rose unwillingly and hung like an ill specter.”
This is a quote from early in the third chapter of a book called Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams. This is a book that I don’t like very much but loved in 8th grade. Before I was in a band, before I played an instrument, before I even listened to music, I loved the stories of Dirk Gently. So, when my friends and I started a band in middle school, I suggested this line as a name, and, being in middle school, misspelled specter as “spector”. This was, more or less, how the band started; as middle schoolers who couldn’t play our instruments, misspelling words, and deciding we liked it better that way. And this is, more or less, how the band has stayed since then.
I can always pinpoint the moment when an art form grabs me. Whether it has been music, film, or literature, I have always had that clear, definitive moment that made me fall in love. My love for each of these art forms came together when I created Bleakhaus.
Are you sick and tired of war, inequality, racism, and injustice? Me too, and that’s why I write revolutionary protest songs. I wish I knew how to do more, but for now, I’m trying to make people think with my music because that’s what I do best.
It is not uncommon for artists to create bodies of work surrounding one incident, such as a breakup; Adele’s 21, and Joni Mitchell’s Blue come to mind as examples of this very thing. Myself, I went through a heartbreaking experience over four years ago which created the agony I needed to inspire myself to pick up a guitar and begin writing in a big way. I believe that that pain was the push I needed to put me where I am today. I released my debut album two months ago.