by Red Bovine
To begin, the album took about a year to finish, from writing to final production. Ultimately, I think it describes a period of thawing out from a pretty deep depression. The loss of several family members, a big move from Illinois to Oregon to live closer to my sisters after graduating from college to begin processing a lot of dark stuff that was hanging over me. So this album was a product of that time, of coping, thawing and trying to navigate my way back to somewhere that would hopefully be a lot healthier.
Listen to the album while reading the text.
This was a reaction to being fresh out of college having studied biology, spending a lot of time with my nose deep in very intellectually demanding, sterile things like textbooks, crunching stats, lab reports, etc., and coming once again into an environment in which I could attend to my love for pure beauty, art, music – the more aimless matters. I was really mired in materialist ways of thinking, and while that was a very valuable experience for me, I was really happy to spend more time lost in airy contemplation and day-dreaming.
The opening lyrics,
“Healing so much better, spending the day outside in silence easy, too much known,”
were sort of the immediate thoughts I had regarding celebrating nature and the soundless beauty between things and getting out of my head so much, out of the analytical mindset and more into a receptive way of feeling through things. This also kind of hints at the title of the song which is somewhere between these two mindsets. “Aux-in,” like an auxiliary input sounds like a mechanical, sterile plugging in or beginning a process.
The other meaning of Auxin is as a type of plant hormone, which is, of course, a much more organic thing. Auxin in plants regulates their growth and the direction in which their bodies extend. Of course, I don’t contain any auxin, but I do feel a sort of kinship with plants. I like to think this song simulates the feeling of extending, growth, and movement through time in my own life.
This one is about working on a food truck and really trying to overcome the learning curve of cooking Thai food – the balance of all these different spices, sauces, and ingredients, in just the right measure in a very short amount of time, often for a very long line of hungry people – while also navigating a period of severe loss and heavy emotional turmoil, and trying to stay positive and focused for the sake of co-workers and customers.
It’s a very intense job which can be really rewarding at times but certainly can feel overwhelming. So most of the song is just a musical description of the day to day clamor of the tight little kitchen. But I think the primary emotional drive is a feeling over being overwhelmed, but trying to keep a positive attitude.
The title of the song is Spanish for ‘Help!’ which is partially a tongue-in-cheek play on the Beatle’s tune, and partially a plea for help to no one in particular. The Spanish emphasis is also the result of thinking about the plight of a lot of Hispanic people who work in the foodservice industry who work as cooks and dishwashers whom I’ve worked with, Who may not necessarily be recognized as legal citizens because of their immigrant status, and as a result may be having their own intense or difficult time.
I wanted this song to be not only a plea of help during what was a really overwhelming time for myself, but maybe as a microcosm for the plight of people who are working really hard, doing their best to support themselves and their family, and are under increasingly intense pressure from something above them which is so much bigger and more powerful, and this sense of being squeezed between the sides of a large system that you have no control over.
It sounds kind of melodramatic from my own experience as a short-lived cook, but at the moment, in the heat of the kitchen, things get really intense and emotions can get really high especially when trying to get a grip on personal trauma. In an environment where everyone is relying on you to stay positive, work hard, and cope with your own inner stuff, it can feel just like everything’s bubbling over and concentrating on what is important becomes really difficult, and then feeling guilty for not pulling my weight. This song provides a sense of catharsis for myself and, hopefully, for others who feel at a loss for how to cope with their particular difficult situation.
This was written in a dilapidated trailer in the middle of winter with me and my 2 cats on a pot farm in Oregon.
It’s primarily referencing a fun psychedelic experience in which i was sitting outside facing the woods, playing music with a friend, watching the moon, and noticing that Krishna was in the moon, or perhaps being projected onto the moon, dancing! (I can only assume Krishna due to the oscillating blue-tan skin, traditional Indian ceremonial garb, and of course the flute he was playing).
The tune is a recollection of that moment, and beyond that, expresses the sort of jovial pomp of a very fun, uplifting, energizing psychedelic experience. As a result, I remember fostering a really warm< sense of gratitude, and a sly sense of humor accompanying it like a tireless smirk behind it all.
The misspelling is referencing a song which was recorded with a previous band, the Mondials, called ‘Rainabow Road.’
In one sense it’s a tribute to a very close friend and former lover regarding the nature of our relationship and how I felt about her – how complicated but ultimately genuine the connection is and how much I value it. The idea for the song was sparked because, well, we grew up really close to each other, just a few blocks away (though we didn’t really know each other until much later), and one of the last times we hung out together in our hometown we were driving home and there was a huge rainbow in the sky, and from our angle it seemed to connect both of our houses together. It was a really magical, synchronistic thing.
So for me, it’s about a really deep relationship – deep in terms of emotion but also in terms of time, like as in what feels like a really ancient relationship – and, overall a very profound one — kind of a cosmic love song.
Just a quick fun jam. In thematic terms, it’s essentially about self-fulfilling prophecies, the good and the bad.
Probably the most personally heavy song on the album. This was written within a couple of hours of learning about my sister’s death. It was a very visceral response to that moment.
The title is a reference to the river Liffey which cuts Dublin, Ireland in half. The river is the subject of a lot of mythical connotations, particularly in James Joyce’s literary world as a symbol of mother or nurturer, but also destroyer in a way. Liffey is also much like my deceased sister’s name, Olivia or Livi, as we’d call her, so, another play on words.
This was initially an experience of anger and other dark foreboding feelings as a result of hearing about my sister’s passing, as it was one which involved drug addiction and was in a sense self-inflicted. More than anything, my thoughts were with the perspective of her children, my nephew and nieces, who I knew must be asking themselves certain questions and be very confused and hurt, as I’ve had a very similar experience losing my mother in much the same way.
While there is a dark, chaotic element which threads through the song, which is in response to my own dark thoughts of guilt and all of these things which inevitably must accompany this type of tragic loss, there’s also, towards the end of the song, a much more light-footed, soulful, sort of nostalgic energy which came through like the sun as a break from the dark trudge through which most of the song is carried, to this much warmer, even humorous period of the song. I am really glad it came through in the memory of my sister who was one of the most hilarious and infectiously joyous people I’ve ever known.
A fig. A very common household plant. It also happens to hold very longstanding religious connotations, especially in Buddhism. Ficus religiosa is the tree under which it is believed Buddha sat and received nirvana. It’s an organism which seems to contain a very potent spiritual energy, as silly as that may sound. I’ve recalled fig trees being prominent during major life events and have always felt a sort of kinship with them, though I can’t say for sure if that feeling is returned
Ficus was triggered as the subject of the song when, in this little musical space I was renting to write most of these songs, there was a large fig tree hanging over me as I sat on the floor playing and recording. I was plucking around on my guitar just admiring the foliage of this tree as it hovered over me and out came the tune.
Comes and Goes
This one is pretty self-explanatory I think. Comes and goes, the endless pendulum of things phasing in and out of existence, blah blah blah. It’s simple and sweet, but also one of the most crushing truths reality has to offer. I hoped the end of the song would come off as kind of apocalyptic, but in a really blissful way.
The title is a musical term for a type of cadence which is used heavily in classical music to end a composition. In particular, it uses a major chord to end a song which is primarily in a minor key. In other words, it’s an unexpectedly happy ending to a sad song.
Overall, it felt like a good way to end the album and synthesize a lot of the subject matter into some positive, forward-looking kind of way.