"it doesn't interest me what you do for a living. i want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
it doesn't interest me how old you are. i want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
it doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. i want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! i want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.
i want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
it doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. i want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
i want to know if you can see beauty even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.
i want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “yes!”
it doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. i want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
it doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. i want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
it doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. i want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.
i want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments."
-oriah mountain dreamer-
i finally saw wonder woman last night and it gave me all the feels!! 😭😍💪🏼 i've loved her since i was a kid. my mom made a WW costume from scratch and it was my favorite dress up outfit growing up. it seems cheesy, but seeing a strong, smart woman kick so much ass on screen made me so proud to be a woman. i drew this year's ago but it never gets old. 💥
"it’s dark because you are trying too hard. lightly child, lightly. learn to do everything lightly. yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. so throw away your baggage and go forward. there are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. that’s why you must walk so lightly. lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered." -aldous huxley-
i have a hard time being lightly.. i usually end up feeling everything so intensely that i'm spun into a fit of anxiety or i just shut down entirely so i can recover without depleting myself completely. and if i'm not feeling intensely i'm probably overthinking everything intensely. oh how i want to be light. i want to breathe lightly and to see lightly and to think lightly and to feel lightly. especially when life does not always seem like it is treating me lightly. i am practicing this new way of being. to uncurl and to be open and upright, to know that the weight of things can be let go and that it is possible to walk forward lightly.. lightly my darling..
i think you can tell a lot about a person by the kinds of photos they post. it's like a strange portal into the way they're seeing the world around them at any given moment. every now and then i examine my own photos to see where my soul is; what i have my eyes opened or closed to. i notice that when i am going through something hard or challenging, when i am rediscovering parts of my soul, i tend to post a lot of photos of myself.. of me from different times in my life in different phases of growth. it's almost like i'm trying to remember some part of me that i seem to have let wander too far, and it is my strange way of reeling it back in, of remembering it. i've been doing this a lot lately and i think it is directly related to the fact that i am going through a great transition right now. i am shedding layers and growing new ones. life is not always kind when flushing out those things we need not hold onto anymore. i am remembering hidden away pieces of my self, of my soul, that seemed to have shrunk over the years. it is hard work, the uncovering of self. the digging up of lost relics of our most beautiful parts and piecing them back together so they can function again. so they can function more beautifully and wholly.
i remember when i was coming out of a very dark time in my life, one buried in the weight of depression, my brother saying to me, 'your photos have been so beautiful lately. it's like your seeing the world around you again for the first time.' i hadn't even realized until he'd said that that the photos i had been posting were of the world around me rather that within me. i was finally looking up. i was seeing the ocean and the sky and the sun again and i could barely take it. i wanted to absorb it in every way possible.
i think it's ok to have these different phases. ones of self reflection and inward focus. they are just as necessary for growth as the ones where we are looking upward and outward. i sometimes forget that i might not see the brightness of the sun as clearly if not for the days spent wandering aimlessly about in my own misunderstandings and sloppy self discovery. just some things i am thinking as i lay here sifting through old photos and remembering who i am..
it seems a bit ironic now, to be releasing an EP titled 'happy' in such an unhappy time. but i wouldn't want it any other way. i never could have predicted the state our country/world would be in when we chose february 3rd as our release date. sadness, heartache, loss, the joy and pain of love, clinging to happiness, letting go.. these are the narratives that fuel great art. they are the themes that fuel human connection and bind us together in shared experience. they awaken us from within. in the last 14 days i have felt all of them. my soul has been stirred to action. to protest. to quite solitude. this EP took 3 years to finish. it feels like a strange gift that the universe would allow it to be poured out into the world NOW, during this time, when hearts seem to be more open than they might have been otherwise.
it is also a gift that i chose to self release this EP on bandcamp. i couldn't have planned this, but am so very grateful for platforms like this, because today - friday, february 3rd - for any purchase you make on Bandcamp, they will be donating 100% of their share of the proceeds to the ACLU Nationwide. so, even if you don't like my music it's still worth purchasing for $5.00 😜(or your own price if you're feeling generous).
stream and purchase HERE
keep pouring your own light and love and creations. i hope you might find some piece of solace in this offering of mine. ❤
“who but the artist has the power to open man up, to set free the imagination? the others - priest, teacher, saint, statesman, warrior - hold us to the path of history. they keep us chained to the rock, that the vultures may eat out our hearts. it is the artist who has the courage to go against the crowd; he is the unrecognized "hero of our time" - and of all time.” -henry miller-
a few years ago my brother and i made this short film and didn't know what to use it for or what to do with it. when i was thinking about a concept for this music video we remembered this and thought, 'ah! it would fit perfectly with this song!' and, we were right. so here it is, years later, where it was always supposed to be.
// 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.
Submit your story to Letters to YVYNYL.
"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