I have just released my first solo album. It is called Mox Nox, a sundial motto that means ‘night, shortly’, and the theme running through the record is the passing of time, particularly the transition from day to night. Rather than writing songs specifically for the album, I looked through my songbook for things I had already written that fit this theme, and one of them (now called The Broken Song) jumped out at me as being a bit of a curiosity.
I’ve always been a night owl. I can be absolutely exhausted at 10pm, but by 11 my head will be racing with ideas. The Broken Song began its life during a nocturnal writing session, and its original lyrics made direct reference to being up all night. The song was clearly relevant – but it was also an underdog, half-written and still wearing its working title. I hadn’t thought about it in years.
Looking over the lyrics, I remembered that I had always liked the verses but struggled to come up with a chorus. I’ve never been too worried about following a verse-chorus structure, but I knew this song needed more, and I knew that it was stuck. The breakthrough came when I deleted my crappy excuse for a chorus and looked at the lyrics that were left. Quite suddenly, I saw that the song I had thought was about a particular event in my life was about something else entirely.
It first began in 2019 with the release of ‘guilt.’ There have been three releases since.
The latest release, ‘too artsy for the footy kids, too footy for the art ones,’ was released in February 2023.
It was written and recorded in my bedroom as I moved across Melbourne, Bendigo, and Canberra over the last three years. Its title comes from a line in its second song, ‘michael cera, serotonin.’ It references how I fit in socially, growing up in a country town with an interest in sports and art.
Music is more than chords and percussion and isolated tunes. If there’s one thing that music in films teaches us, it’s that any sound can inspire an emotion, and that’s what lies at the core of musicianship.
My EP, When Pigs Fly, is the first body of music I’ve ever released. I purchased my first guitar little over a year and a half ago and only began writing songs after a year of learning to play guitar. However, when I found out how enjoyable it was to write songs, I knew that I was onto something.
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.
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.