I’ve been writing songs for half my life. It’s led to many amazing moments — self-producing an album at 18, playing all over New York City, seeing my music video featured on respectable websites — but it’s also resulted in recurring burnout. Apparently doing everything yourself from production to PR can be rather exhausting and take the joy out of your passion.
After the promotional cycle for my EP Ideals & Deals was over, I was beat. I had worked my butt off and wasn’t sure what I had to show for it beyond a few press quotes. I stopped playing shows. I couldn’t see the way forward, so instead I grappled with becoming a complete person without music in my life.
After a year away from performing, I was asked to play a set at a Homoground show. I reconnected with my songs, I wrote a blog about how I was open to whatever music came to give me, and I loved playing that show. I decided I would continue performing, but to relieve the pressure of endless show promotion, I’d only play when people asked me to.
Another year passed while I waited.
During that year, I didn’t write. I barely touched the piano. A lovely person came into my life and asked me to teach her a Sam Smith song, and while I was learning the song myself, I broke down crying. I realized that by not prioritizing music, I had abandoned an integral part of who I was. I wrote a couple songs, and a full year after the Homoground show, I was finally asked to play another show. Unsurprisingly, I loved it. Even shakily performing sad songs to a noisy bar filled me with boundless energy. I resolved that this time things would be different.
You see, I’ve found it’s hard for me to create my own momentum if I’m waiting. Maybe I don’t want to grind out a show per month like I used to in the old days when I was so poor I’d take my keyboard on the subway, but if I wait around for opportunities to fall into my lap, I’ll do nothing.
Thinking about polishing my live show or recording music with a band both give me anxiety. So instead, to just start, I’m choosing one of the simplest things I can think of: recording a 4-song EP, just piano and vocals. There’s no timeline, no one to pay, no rehearsals needed except my own. I don’t have to spend hours obsessing over arrangements and if I’m using the right synth sounds. I don’t have to answer big existential questions about what’s trendy and what my sound is. I can just start. I can do the thing that’s come most naturally to me since I was 14.
So far, I’ve gone through 22 (!!) unrecorded songs and chosen 4 that I want to record. I’m tentatively titling this EP Shedding Skin, an apt name given how much I’ve wrestled with my identity during my music “career.” I have a friend who will help me record, so it’s going to be a cheap endeavor. But I’m moving forward.
What I’ve learned here is that I can’t move forward without moving forward. I can’t wait until it’s the exact right time or the exact right idea. Those things will never come. I can only start and hope the wind is at my back.