My songwriting years were most prolific in the early Oughts, drying up practically overnight once I became a professional artist. By degrees, the compulsion to record music came back like a craving for chocolate. But I didn’t want to try to write music like I did in the old days, which always felt laboriously slow.
To speed the process up, my solution was to record myself playing live and improvised. After all, I had been classically trained for decades and most of my time in front of a piano was improvisational anyway. There was only one problem: my live playing wasn’t nearly as good as the music I wanted to make.
So I practiced playing live… For years. I even recorded myself on occasion, pretending distant hands and a foreign heart penned the notes while I listened. After rediscovering the recordings some time later, I found a few moments that held a coup de foudre spark, and compiled them together in this collection.
As a disclaimer, these songs are completely improvised, and you know as much as I do about what’s going to happen next; which you can constantly hear through the music. Most of these tracks end abruptly as I paint myself into a corner, move to the wrong key, or fumble over my fingers. Some songs stay focused, others meander down a lazy river of arpeggios until they let out to sea… This is literally what I sound like when I practice, no different than if you were listening down the hall.
Now, why in the world would unpolished, accident-prone practice sessions justify a project? One: at a practical level, if you make beautiful music and nobody hears it, did anything beautiful happen at all? No. No it did not. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so should you.
Greater than the first, two: I want to do more of a warts-and-all approach to presenting art. I live in a professional world where you and your project can be deathly imperiled by a few pixels; and the pillars of that world are braced with a precision that catalogs colors by the million-millions and can cut them all down to the width of a single electron. Being sloppy with art, messy with acting, goofy with writing, and unpolished with music isn’t just liberating. It’s life-affirming.
And greatest of all of these, three: I used to believe beauty was the result of painstaking iteration. Having spent more time looking at other artists of all possible mediums and ambition, I don’t know what I believe anymore. I just wanted to explore the idea that maybe, just maybe, beauty can exist without compulsion.