music as a lifeline
Ten years ago, I set my ex-girlfriend's dad's house on fire. Why? I was in the middle of a psychotic episode, and I thought it would lead to reconciliation between her and I. I had been living with depression for 14 years, with no ability to pay for treatment. And all that time my mental state was getting worse. After the crime, I was so devastated that I attempted suicide, and failed. During the trial proceedings, I cared so little about my own life and future that I declined to provide any explanation for my behavior to the judge, even though it might have saved me years off of my prison sentence.
None of this is pretty, and none of it makes me look good. But you need to understand how fucked up my life was. Whatever you’re going through, or might have gone through— I get it. I know what it’s like to constantly feel depressed and hopeless. And I know what it’s like to be the villain in my own life story.
What’s strange about having survived my experience is that I wouldn’t take it back. Obviously, I wish I hadn't caused my ex, or her father, any stress or heartache. But I never would have pulled myself out of the cycle I was in if I hadn't gone to prison. Over the years, I learned how to take care of my mind and my body through diet and exercise. While interacting with other prisoners, I realized I could forgive myself one piece at a time by accepting inmates for who they were. I discovered I could give voice to their experiences and emotions in ways they couldn’t articulate for themselves. I also discovered that when you are completely despised by society, all your pretenses are abandoned, and you are free to be who you really want to be.
Music had always been a way for me to soothe my sadness, but I had given up on it due to my circumstance. Over time I realized that my story had the potential to be transformed by it. The music I had loved all my life could communicate the strange redemption I had found, and soothe people like myself who desperately needed it. I joined prison bands, and I started to re-create myself.
When I was released from prison, I spent two years writing an album called sever|us. Through those years, I was inspired by impressionist composers like Debussy and Satie. I taught myself how to play classical piano, and I tried to channel those haunting melodies into a synth and guitar-based style of music. And I became driven by a mythos that had taken shape in my mind--that the demonized could truly own their lives, their pasts, and yet still endeavor to create a heaven of their own making.
This music is a lifeline for everyone who has ever felt abandoned, forgotten, or demonized. It's a vision where anything can be re-forged, re-defined, or re-created.
Dedication was written as part of an album called sever|us. It was written in the few years following my release from prison in late 2014.
The Arsonist (Hey, Liar) was written as part of a collection of songs for an album concept called The Arsonist. This material was written during my incarceration and is semi-autobiographical. Hey, Liar was written in late 2012 after I'd been incarcerated for 3 years, just before I transitioned from medium custody to minimum-restricted custody.
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