Who am I? Where am I going?

Who am I? Where am I going?

standing out in today’s soup of sounds

In the sixth season of “The Sopranos”, the episode “Join the Club” finds Tony Soprano in a coma after being shot. We get a trip into his psyche, where in a dream life he loses his identity, assumes another person’s identity upon finding their license, which then gets him into hot water with some Buddhist monks over a scam caused by this person. For a brief moment he breaks out of the coma back to waking life. In this moment of sheer rawness, being throttled between coma-dream life, waking life and death he looks up towards his wife, Carmela, and says “Who am I? Where am I going?”  I saw it the night it aired in 2006. I was 16 and those questions immediately moved to the front of my mind.

I’m a mixed race, pansexual, self-employed Buddhist living in LA. My mother is a strong independent Southern Black liberal woman and my father is a work-in-the-office Spanish New Yorker republican…. Really, who am I? They met/had me in Jacksonville, Florida where I learned quickly that I fit in nowhere. Too Black for the Spanish side, too Spanish for the Black side and I didn’t look like anyone else I knew. Around 15, I got my first guitar after hearing Jimi Hendrix, and dove into writing songs. Put some Muddy Waters in my lyrics, Jimi in my guitar and then arrange it like Jeff buckley. Sounds dynamic, sure, but still… Who am I?

 8 years later, I’m in Los Angeles writing songs, playing shows, and marketing myself without getting any closer to knowing who I am. It took me 8 more to realize I was writing for people instead of from myself. So I threw together my best set of songs into an album called “The Heart Part Is The Hard Part” to sort of lay to bed what I had been doing. Load it, promote it, release it, move on. Now what?
There are no enemies that can instill more fear in you than you can in yourself by asking the questions “Who am I? Where am I going?”. 

Today’s music is like gumbo: there’s a lot of it and you’ll rarely find the same mix in each scoop. Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish. Harry Styles, Kendrick Lamar, Drake. The 1975, Cage the Elephant, The Strokes. You know instantly who these artists are when you hear them. Same goes in the sub categories: Real Estate, DIIV, Fontaines D.C., Bakar, and so on and so on. Every time I hear any of these people I think “How did they find it? How did they find a sound that’s theirs and say this is IT”? 

Whoever you are reading this now: How do you go beyond your upbringing, the shit given to you without your consent as a child, and then see through the vines of the world today to find out who you are?  To those of you who haven’t found it yet: How does that sit with you? It sits on me like the sun in July as a kid in Florida; it burns. Every new thought is better than the previous thought for a minute, a day, a week. Then another thought feels even better than that. It’s like saying the same word over and over again until it doesn’t sound right anymore (try “fork”).  I could whisper more, sing less, stick with the pentatonic scale to write melodies, but then how do I fit the words I want to say in those melodies? Words that make me feel closer to being ME. Today I only want to write songs that sound like The Veils for the rest of my life. Tomorrow, there’s no way you can’t talk me out of finding a way to be the philosophical Bruno Mars. 

But I have learned two things thus far. One, less is more; I can explain in detail everything  about an oak tree, or I can give you an acorn to plant for yourself.  And two, the fact that you’re doing anything creative is beautiful in itself considering the number of people who say ‘someday’ to themselves, or who can’t by way of their living environment. To even have a creative thought in this ever-producing Industrial society (which is slowly fading, thankfully) and act on it regardless of how far it takes you in the Industrial society eye is just fucking magic. I thank whatever Goddess Muse archetype that gives me each and every creative moment and I work with that. 

Okay, but like, is that it? There has to be more, no? If I’m flying through with 2 albums, 3 music videos, and a single every month then why am I still seeking land to dock this boat? 

 And there lies within the human condition my third thing: Maybe, just maybe, the one saying “Who am I? Where am I going?” is who I am. The Seeker archetype. From that view, where I’m going is, in fact, right here and now. The flower doesn’t ponder its bloom, the bee doesn’t ponder the pollen, and the hive doesn’t ponder the honey. So be kind to myself with each new song draft.

Afterall, even a middle aged Mafia boss once walked into a psychiatrist’s office.

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