// Letters to YVYNYL //
premiere: Steffaloo - Happy
/ / I’ve been blessed to get to know so many artists all around the globe and I am so proud seeing them thrive. Steph Thompson graced me with this stunning new single she’s finished recently, and she wrote me to tell me about the struggle, illness, and death that went into the process in creating such a warm, gauzy, and mellow song:
hello friend! i do hope this note finds you and your sweet fam happy and well. i have to say i absolutely love this section of your blog. writing a personal letter about music seems so fitting to me when thinking about sharing new creations, because that’s what music is after all.. personal.
i wanted specifically to write you here when thinking about sharing my new single from my upcoming EP ‘happy’ because it has been such an intense process creating it, and i wanted to release it with as much heart and realness as i could.
i was talking to my brother, tim (he says hi ha), a while back after finally finishing this EP about how i should release it. as you know, he helps run a rad cassette label (chill mega chill). i was asking him what he thought the best way for me to do this was and he asked me, “well, what do you want to get out of this?” i love him for this because i had been quite caught up in the ‘business’ of it all and his question quietly brought me back to the heart of things. my answer to his question was that i just wanted it to mean something. i wanted to share it with some sort of intention that felt true and real. i think this is often a hard thing for artists, feeling like our work will mean as much to other people as it has meant to us. after all, it IS a piece of us. our souls are poured into the nooks and crannies of every melody, every chorus, every line drawn, every word spilled.. the thought of it going unnoticed into the abyss if often times a crippling thought for me.
it’s been over five years now since i released my first ever ‘album’ on bandcamp. i say album loosely because i literally recorded the entire thing on my MacBook at the time using nothing but garage band and the built in microphone haha.. the funny thing about that album though is that it was my most pure and honest offering. it might sound like shit but it was real. i had no agenda in sharing it apart from the fact that it was necessary for my souls survival. this is the place i want to come back to as i release this new EP ‘happy’. just me.
i started recording the songs on this EP over three years ago. between beginning this process and now, i’ve experience some of the best and some of the hardest moments of my life. i fell in love. i lost a dear friend to a sudden accident. he was my best friends fiancé (whom the song ‘jimmy’ on the EP is written for). i’ve been in the hospital with sickness and in the process learned i have an auto immune disease. i’ve lost jobs. band members came and went. i’ve lost dear friends and gained new ones. these hard life events simultaneously derailed everything i had going creatively while also setting them all on an entirely new course. i began to hear music in a way i never had before. i remember sitting at my desk at work shortly after jimmy had died, i was playing music as i often did, and ‘berlin’ by RY X came on. it was as if i’d never heard music before in my whole life. it was so utterly and painfully beautiful. it wrecked me. right there at my desk at work it completely destroyed me and i just sat there and wept.
everything i thought i had inside of me creatively just halted. i could barely pick up a guitar and attempting to write anything new seemed impossible. so i began to listen. i began to sit. i began to slowly pour what i could, even if it took three years to finish. this EP was a process in grief. in wholeness. of letting go. it was a slow unfolding. it was an act of patience. it was a reminder that life doesn’t always work how we think it will. sometimes things have to come in and rearrange our entire perception of things. i am finally learning to be ok with this and let things piece themselves back together how they are supposed to.
'happy’ is about pain and loss. it’s about love. it’s about letting go. but it is also about being happy. it’s about somehow uniting the pain and the beauty. because i think when you see the dark side of life and look it right in the face, everything beautiful and good and right in the world becomes that much more present. this is art to me.
so, as i write this i’m excited to share this piece of art in a way that is most true to myself. in a way that somehow feels noble to the art itself. so here is the single, the title track ‘happy’, off of the new EP. i’ll be releasing the entire thing on my bandcamp on february 3rd.
thanks for creating this space for music and art to be shared so honestly and beautifully. it truly is a rare thing.
i hope to see you in the coming years at SXSW or some other beautiful music filled place! keep on being rad and amazing.
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"but i knew it was an impossible thing for you to promise.. "
i went for a walk yesterday. i needed to remember that the ocean still existed and that there is beauty all around me and that there are much bigger things in this world than my own little struggles. i’ve been so overwhelmed by the state of our country as of late. by my own struggles and disappointments. everything feels so doomed, and i have a hard time pushing past it all some days. i ricochet between wanting to hide away until it’s all over and wanting to scream and fight back despite the constant blows. it takes a lot, living sometimes.. we are all bending and blowing in different ways. and we are still here. •
i took this picture of the palm trees at the end of my walk because the wind has been so strong this week and each day i watch them bend. i watch them get stripped and pushed and still they bend. what a beating they take and yet they never break. they may hunch for a few days afterwards, but they are always back eventually, standing higher than everything else.
"but i was not in love with you."
i've been dreaming of making a book someday out of my writings and pairing them with drawings/sketches. this is an excerpt from an old poem of mine. one day at a time.
mornings have been intense for me lately. when i’m completely honest with myself i’ve been feeling the weight of depression slowly creeping it’s way back in to all the nooks and crannies of my scattered mind. if you’ve ever struggled with even the slightest bit of depression then you know why mornings can turn into one of the days greatest battles. getting up. trying to move under the weight of it all. i’ve found myself waking up earlier and earlier and yet staying in bed later and later. my mind has too many things to fight through before i can face the day. part of me finds a strange solace in this fight as well. the ability to let myself sit with all of my own enemies, to talk to them. to talk to myself. the quiet calm of morning is such a needed balance to the fury of my own mind and soul. i used to get crushed by the silence of morning and i couldn’t quite figure out how to move through all the overwhelming weight of my thoughts, but now i find it gives me the time to make peace with myself before trying to get up and be love to those around me. intense as it may be, it is a part of my process right now. and that is ok. just some things i’m thinking as i begin to move and lift myself into another beautiful day of living.
this corner isn't as good for people watching as the one i had in west hollywood. that spot was my favorite. god, i spent so many evenings there. smoking cloves and drinking coffee. listening to songs that destroyed me a little bit. and i'd just watch people for hours. and i'd write. back then i had words i didn't know where to put and they were endless. and effortless. they just spewed and spewed. and i wonder if it was partly because i was feeling so many new things at the time. growing up. becoming myself. i haven't had that many words in a long time. but i feel them slowly coming back. they are unwritten songs. they are scribbled lines and splattered thoughts. they are passing strangers and cold vanilla lattes. they are warm summer nights before fall comes. they are this and that and everything and nothing all at once. they are all the things i haven't felt for the past two years.
what is it about feeling like we don't know what we're doing with our lives that somehow makes us revert back to being a child? all of the sudden i'm 33 years old and i can't stop crying. i'd give anything for someone to just tell me what to do; how to fix all the things i've somehow dismantled in my life. i can't handle the bills or rent or feeding myself or trying to figure out what kind of job to get or what true happiness is or how to just get through a day without wanting to run away and hide. i think it's unfair that we get thrown into this whole life thing having never done it before. i hope reincarnation actually exists so that the next time i do this thing i'm not flailing around like an idiot.
the other night i listened to a bunch of old songs i'd written. they were songs i wrote when i first to moved to LA and i was all twisty and dark inside. i didn't really know how to play the guitar at all back then and most of the things i wrote were poems and prose that i then put into these weirdly constructed songs. back then i didn't really think much about it. about what i was doing or what i was singing or what the words meant. i just knew if i didn't do it i might die inside. i was depressed. i was unhealthy. i was broken and mostly always falling apart. but damn, being that busted really made for some good writing. as i listened to these old pieces of myself i realized that i don't really know how to write from the place i am in now. a place of joy and contentment. happiness. health. wholeness. i want to be shattered by those feelings just as much as i was shattered by the bad ones. i want to write just as joyously as i was able to write about my pain. maybe it's easier to sing about the hard things though, because then you don't necessarily have to talk about them. talking about happiness isn't as difficult. and i guess if that's true then i'm ok getting out all of the hard stuff this way.
have you ever held someone’s hand and felt your soul slowly slip and melt right through their fingertips until, eventually, you forgot you even had a hand in the first place? the next time it happens, remember it. remember it. you told me that all the time. ‘remember it.’ this. now. and i did so much remembering that i forgot where to even put my thoughts, where to let all those flickering moments land.. and eventually i just forgot. but we loved each other. i remember that. i remember all the twisting, bursting, desirous ways your heart and mine danced with one another.. like sweet melodies getting lost in summer.
i wrote the above some years ago. i found it in an email that a friend sent to me and now that's the only place it exists because i just accidentally deleted my entire tumblr account in which all of the things i've written over the past 10 years used to exist. i feel like a small part of my soul has been lost. i know that sounds extremely dramatic, but if you're a writer of any kind you'll understand why this is such a huge loss. i wrote some of the most important things in my life experience thus far on that site. my great loves. my great losses. moments where i realized some part of who i was and changed forever. the feeling that came with that realization. it's just all gone now.. floating somewhere in oblivion and i guess all i can do now is let go. letting go is so hard..
it's been some time since i've released anything, mostly because life happens but also because i wanted to take some time to let myself process it all and try out new ways of making it. since my last two releases with mush records (solo album 'would you stay', and my first ever electronic collaboration album 'heart beats') i've fallen in love, grieved the death of a dear friend, spent a month in the hospital with health complications, traveled more than i ever have, and been unemployed. it turns out though, that all of these things were necessary for me to really create something from a place i never knew i needed to, or could. i wrote this EP with a good friend of mine, katrina stone, in the six months that i was unemployed this last summer. a couple of the songs on this EP are extremely personal and raw, while others are from a new place of wonder and appreciation for life in ways i never saw before. i hope you get to see a new side of me, while still recognizing that the core of me hasn't changed.
download and stream the entire EP HERE