Almost anything can be a metaphor for songwriting. Prying open a jar of pickles? Yes. Playing Russian Roulette? Sure. Tending to a plant. Why not? If writing songs is inseparable from life itself, then it must fall somewhere between meditating and giving birth, at the equator of zen and utter pain; the middle path between the sacred and mundane.
Listen to the EP while reading the text.
In songwriting you use everything: an image pulled from a dream, your favorite album in tenth grade, the thought that just popped in your head. The true grit and core of a song, its conviction, is found in the moments that make us uncomfortable, the feelings we’d rather hide (and the ones we can’t hold back).
Personally, I have difficulty writing when I’m sad or anxious; my feet are too deep in the mud. Sadness for me always has to be accompanied by levity and wonder to transcend it.
Focus on Yourself
The week I wrote ‘Okay, I Give Up,’ I was deeply and incurably sad. My relationship was on the fritz and my desperate attempts to salvage it only made things worse. New Years was approaching, and I didn’t want to watch the ball drop in tears. I was listening to a lot of Echo and the Bunnymen and taking long brisk walks with my mom around the cul-de-sac of the Philly home where I grew up. I was beginning to realize that my long-distance relationship of two years was also a dead end. True to form, my blessed Belarusian mother, dished out a dollop of wisdom that night.
“Focus on yourself and if it’s meant to be it’ll work out.”
She clarified: stop giving away your power to others by worrying about things you can’t control. I experienced this in my meditation practice, and it relates to songwriting as well: you are the instrument; there is nothing outside yourself that you need to attain before you are ready to write.
I could feel a sudden harnessing of willpower towards a single aim.
“Mom, I have to go…”, I bolted inside and up the hardwood stairs, pregnant with an unknown yet fully formed (wait for it) song baby.
Create Space for Change
Sometimes all we need is a different perspective, a little distance from our habitual thought patterns where light can enter, and we are able to bridge the gap between the ordinary and divine. In a world where we’re told to hustle and fight harder to become someone, “giving up” can paradoxically lead us back to ourselves.
Finally and proverbially throwing in the towel and admitting all is not well allowed me to ask for help and see the situation with clarity and a little bit of humor. Folds of gnawing expectations and tightness were released and safely laid to rest on a snow-white sheet, stained and glowing with the endless possibilities of new life.
Tatyana Kalko, Category: Artist, Top Tracks: The Life You’re Used To, Monthly Listeners: 1, Where People Listen: Brooklyn
NY based singer-songwriter Tatyana Kalko studied method acting at NYU and abroad at The Moscow Art Theatre. These immersive theatrical experiences, along with her journey of spiritual and purpose seeking, have imprinted on her deeply intuitive songwriting process and shaped the songs’ introspective yet lighthearted, conversational tone. Her debut EP Yellow and Blue will be released worldwide on March 5th.