How was your internship at the record label and how did it help your career? My internship with OIM Records was really the start of everything for me. I had been customer service jobs while trying to find the courage to make a career change, and this internship became my 6th and 7th workday each week where I just absorbed as much as I could. Sarah Sexton and Jeff Saltzman really took me under their wing and gave me a behind the scenes look of what it took for indie bands to get heard. I was compiling college radio lists, sending EPKs, and even learning to mic drum sets with Jeff. Now that I am recording and releasing my own music, I am able to take what I learned with them and apply it to so much of what I’m doing now, both in and out of the studio.
How was the journey leading up to your debut track, ‘Lost’? The journey was long and full of doubt haha. I spent most of my life trying to find backdoors into the industry, working behind the scenes and thinking that would be enough for me. I’ve always written music but had zero confidence to perform or release anything. Instead I learned audio engineering, wrote for other artists, did session vocals here and there on the weekends, but worked customer service jobs all week long trying to make rent. When I finally decided that I no longer wanted to live for the weekends and that I’d try actually giving myself a chance to go for a career in the music industry, I took the leap as an artist. But even in taking that leap, I didn’t quite know where to go next or what to release first. And then my grandma passed and I started writing a song for her. Then the road to my debut track paved itself.
I know your debut track, ‘Lost’ comes from a personal place, Did you learn anything about yourself while recording it? It does, and I definitely did. I really thought that I was going to release one of the many songs I’d been sitting on for years for my debut track, but when my grandma Nanny passed away, that all changed. She and I were incredibly close all of my life, and making the move here to LA in March of this year was extra hard considering I wouldn’t be able to have lunch with her all the time like we did, but I made the move for my career and she was so supportive. But when she passed away during lockdown the following month, I was heartbroken. After driving home and spending her last days with her, I drove back to LA and immediately started writing and producing “Lost”. At times, I think maybe she wrote it because I can hardly remember the writing process — I wonder if it was the sadness that makes it hard for me to access the memories of creating this song or just how dream-like this year has been in general. In this process I learned not to care how I am perceived by others. Life is too short to care what others might think of you. I always knew that, but my grandma passing helped me really believe it. So now I’m just going to do what makes me happy, and if someone else just so happens to feel connected to something I write, fantastic, and if not, that’s actually (for the first time in my life) really okay too.
What was the concept behind the video? For my “Lost” music video I worked with a long-time creative collaborator and great friend of mine, Ash Danielsen. We shot some footage in the desert that would later be spliced into a glitchy, dreamscape made to mimic the swells and emptiness of the grieving process. After losing my grandma, I would have incredibly realistic dreams of us together, lucid dreams of us hugging each other and not wanting to wake up, and then awaking the next moment in shock because she was gone again. I wanted to try and capture that feeling best I could by using old 8mm film footage of my grandma raising my family, juxtaposed with me wandering the desert without her today.
How was it being on-set of your first music video? It was not anything like I had imagined considering it was a socially distanced, 4-person team consisting of myself, Ash, his assistant Rainer Schmidig, and my partner Kat Aquino, all doing the best we could with what we had. And yet it was more than I could have dreamed of. It was a small, intimate, low-budget production for an intimate song that I produced and wrote, and my partner Kat mixed. It felt very appropriate.
Will you be more vulnerable in your music? & If so, why?
Absolutely. I no longer want to hide behind masks. I crave connection, rawness, and vulnerability in others, especially right now. And I’m done with thinking that my vulnerability is weak when I see it as strength in others. And considering we’re all just sitting at home (or at least should be) right now, what better time to be vulnerable than in social isolation haha.
What is your writing process like? It depends on the project. For my own music, I can start as a few chords on the piano with nonsensical humming that I later fill in like a mad lib depending on the mood the chords give me. Sometimes the song is completely written as a poem before I then try and format it into a song. And sometimes I blueprint out the entire story of the song before writing a single lyric or chord. Writing is the most fun for me as it feels like one big, emotional word game so I let myself run rampant with my own music. When approaching a gig for hire with another artist, it usually starts with a “therapy session” vibe where I just listen to them spill about whatever is happening to them, or whatever consuming their mind at the moment. The more someone has to say about a subject, the more substance exists for a song. I love being able to write on a song that is cathartic for someone going through a rough period in their life! It is one of the most rewarding parts of being a songwriter for me.
You wrote the lyrics for ‘Let’s Eat’ short film which was amazing. How did that opportunity come about? Thank you! Yeah, it’s making its rounds in festivals right now, but I cannot wait til it’s out for the public to view! The original song and soundtrack for Let’s Eat is by the amazing Max Loh and the collaboration of several incredible lyricists. I was actually introduced to the animation studio team for the purpose of auditioning to sing for the soundtrack, but we have been so blessed to snag Katherine Ho (Crazy Rich Asians) to sing it. So instead I offered my services as lyricist and background vocalist. Working with that team was an absolute blast.
Is it easier to write your music for other people vs yourself? Great question. Wow now that I think about it, I think it’s actually easier for me to write for others, but only in the sense that if they like it or don’t like it, I get immediate feedback from them. It’s not about anything but pleasing the artist in that moment so I’m able to hyperfocus on just finding their truth in a session. Whereas when I’m writing for myself, sometimes I am still trying to uncover what the hell my truth even is! If that makes sense. Having that “therapy session” with myself can be a million times harder than helping a friend through something. I’m working on that.
When can we expect the EP and can you tell me anything about it? My EP will definitely be released this year, though the dates are still being finalized. All I can say is that I am blessed to have met some truly amazing people to help me bring this EP to life, and I am excited to get a little more adventurous and experimental with these songs to show more of who I am as an artist.