The Making of // “Vanities”
We all have that one person in our life who we cannot quit. No matter how hard we try, we always come back to him or her. For me, it is because I take solace in knowing I am wanted by that person.
It feels good to be wanted.
But as easy as it is to take two steps back, it should not be done. There’s a reason we’re not still with that person: he or she gradually poisons us into becoming a worse version of ourselves. Like with a drug, no hit, however heavy the dosage, beats the blissful and brain-melting rush of the first; we are, however, hooked.
Breaking this vicious cycle of self-validation through reaffirmation from the former [insert whatever hybrid of girlfriend/friend/hook-up is normal nowadays] is a bitch.
Yeah, that’s all I got. I don’t have any pretentious advice for you on how to break out of the cycle. I’m pretty bad at this stuff. You could probably Dr. Phil it or something. And yeah, I did just use “Dr. Phil” as a verb.
Listen to “Vanities” here.
The Making of // “What It Is I’m Missing”
I have always been fascinated by the idea of the head versus the heart; the conflicting ideologies of the right and left-sides of our brains. On one hand, we have calculated, analytical thought reminding us we are rooted in reality. One the other hand, we have our reckless and impulsive intuition driven by endorphins, whispering best-case scenarios and setting ourselves aflutter.
Every one of us experiences both sides of this Great War; it is our decision at the point of no return that defines who we are. Those siding with the head settle for stability and predictability. The sure thing, if you will. Those with an instinct for the heart risk everything for the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Anything but the sure thing.
Go forth, my fellow irrational souls. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Listen to “What It Is I’m Missing” here.
The Making of // “Waste Of My Heart”
“Waste” is my most popular and well-received original. It has comprised over 50% of my total plays on SoundCloud! It is built off a verse and melody I wrote back in high school, but I only penned the chorus and bridge, and pieced the song together over a two-day span in December 2013.
I deliberately restrained myself from adding any additional embellishments to the meat-and-potatoes of the track in order for the melody to stand out. As a result, “Waste” is a single guitar accompanying unharmonized vocals.
I felt this was necessary because “Waste” is, out of the tracks on my EP, the one that hits closest to home. While the other originals take inspiration from my life events, “Waste” is completely rooted in reality; it is literally
a the story of my life. “Waste” is me at my rawest, truest, most genuine. It is me not cowering behind the elaborate guise of metaphor and simile. Take that, AP English.
“Waste” is quite cliché, but as the cliché goes, “there’s a reason something is cliché.” Keep calm and cliché on.
Listen to “Waste Of My Heart” here.
An Ode to the Mix CD
I miss the days when my friends and I made mix CDs for each other. I would spend hours scrolling through my iTunes, making 16-song playlists for each friend, never using the same song twice. I would consider the merits of each song carefully: Will she like this song? How hard is he going to judge me for listening to Colbie Caillat? Is this the right track order, or should I have the Jason Mraz one before The Fray to balance it out? Maybe I should make it so the song titles spell out her name acrostically?
I miss making “album art.” Thinking of a clever name for the mix. Writing out the track listing on the back of the cover. Deciding whether or not to include the artist’s name alongside the title. Including an inside joke only the two of us would understand. Signing my name with one of those “S” doodles (yeah, you know the one) everyone used to chain during math class.
I miss putting the blank CD into my laptop and praying, oh praying to god iTunes wouldn’t fuck up. I miss the 50% success rate. The cacophonous whirring of my Windows XP laptop. The insurmountable joy of seeing the “Burn Complete” notification. Ejecting the CD drive and putting the mix into a jewel case. Using the $1.09 magenta Sharpie I bought at Hastings to decorate the plastic. Taking the CD and putting it in my stereo to make sure it worked. Ending up listening to the entire mix with the biggest grin on my face.
I miss giving these mixes to my friends. Seeing their faces light up. Watching intently as they read the text on the inside jacket, desperately hoping they’d get the joke, then grinning as a smile slowly spread across their face. Hearing the “thank you!”s and “you’re the best!”s and knowing they truly meant it. Having them Facebook message me that night telling me their favorite songs from my mix.
I miss getting CDs in return. Appreciating the thoughtful album art. Eagerly reading the inscriptions on the inside cover. Listening to each song end-to-end and knowing they chose each song for a reason. Trying to guess that reason. Playing my favorite songs from each mix over and over. Googling the lyrics to those songs so I could find out the artists. Listening to these artists. Downloading their albums and adding to my library, so I would never run out of fresh songs to include on my mixes.
It’s been a while since I’ve given or received a physical mix CD. Just as communication has (d)evolved, so has the art of discovering music. Sharing a Spotify playlist with someone just isn’t the same.
So this year, I am making a conscious effort to resume giving out these mixes. Because I miss everything about the mix CD. Because I’m an analog man stuck in a digital world. Because I want others to feel the same. Because I want to kick nostalgia in the balls and welcome back the good old days.
Hopefully, some of my friends still have CD players they can use to listen to my mixes.
Don’t think. Just do.