Dissolve Records Xmas party 2013. A small but meaningful gathering.
Somehow, like it does each year, the year is winding down and giving cause for reflection on what’s happened and perhaps even why. Each year I remark that it’s been a wild year and I can’t imagine how the next year will top it. And each year it does. One constant in my life has been change; change in location, vocation, family situation, all of the majors. 2013 was highly emotional. I looked more closely at myself and found reality to be both appealing and sobering. This year I’ve confronted many of the stories that I’ve used through the years to explain life and myself. It turns out that many of the stories are untrue and though they were very useful narratives that helped me through difficult situations I don’t need them anymore. It turns out that reality experienced without the filter of these stories is an intense place full of individual and unique moments.
Shifting perspective has resulted in deep consideration of work, art, talent, family, and place in the world. Not a trivial list of considerations. What do I want? Why do I want what I want? Do I come from a place of greed or benefit? Each question manifests in decisions large and small. This year the decisions seemed large and led me to new work, a new perspective on family, and a profound understanding of how loneliness and isolation as a kid had shaped my view of the world as an adult. Growing up as an only child in the city with no father and a working mother left me alone a lot of the time. Free to roam I learned how to protect myself and how to walk the line between trouble and danger. Street smarts have helped me throughout my adult life but the narratives that I developed around poverty, self protection, and isolation were powerful and pervasive. In my mind, if things were to go bad, in any situation, the results would be catastrophic. Everything would be taken away and I would be destitute. I had no sense that things could be ok until this year when I saw that these were simply stories. The stories don’t actually exist.
Since Saira and I drove to Miami from Windsor at the end of 2001 we’ve lived in 10 places in 5 cities including Miami Beach, Miami, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Bellevue. I’ve started 5 businesses, sold 2 of them, left all of them in good hands, and am in the process of getting the fifth, Dissolve Records, up on its feet. This is a new industry for me though it’s not the first time I’ve launched into something without experience. When Saira and I first drove into the States with I had no work permit. After a few months in Miami I bartered with an immigration law firm exchanging tech consulting for my visa application and within a few years I became a US citizen. The business in Miami was a US sales office for a Canadian tech company had 3 months of funding and the rest I would have to go out and find in the form of new clients in a city where I had no contacts. I had no sales experience. When Saira and I moved from Miami to New York I had just obtained a green card, started my own business, and bought a condo. On its face it was financial suicide but we made it work. I sold that business and became a partner in something larger which we then sold 6 years later. In the middle of that deal I was working to start a new business in Bellevue. We moved from Brooklyn literally 5 days after the NY business sale was closed. We had lived in New York City for 7 years and gained 2 beautiful children. The moving truck carted away our apartment in Park Slope, we flew to Jamaica for two weeks as the moving truck drove our stuff across the country, then flew to Seattle and into the new house that only I had seen. And there we were in Bellevue in the middle of the night wondering if we had locked all of the windows.
In Bellevue, life started to shift. The work I came out here to do ended earlier than I had anticipated and that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The company I co-founded is fine and will make a nice dent in the world. I find myself less concerned with how I appear to others. Whether I’m interesting or relevant. I’m much more able to relax and believe that things will be ok. That there’s no impending catastrophe.
It then seemed natural to start making music again. Likely as a result of my work building companies my first instinct was to also start a record label so I started Dissolve Records. I initially created the company as a vehicle to release my own music but that quickly changed as I collaborated with a friend and now we’ll release his music as well. It feels great to collaborate and to invent and record music. The spontaneous approach feels good and will no doubt lead me and the label into places that I can’t imagine today. I hadn’t planned to have the business up and running this quickly but here it is. A platform to publish music and art. In the new year we’ll release a series of albums, videos, shirts, posters, and other projects. We’ll do live performances, record music in other cities, explore new genres, and find new people who also want to experiment and express themselves. We’ll be analog and digital and naive and smart.
For me, music is about exploring the world and myself in an honest and raw way. Removing the filters and communicating directly and emotionally. This kind of communication is opening me up and forcing me to ask difficult questions and to ultimately figure out what it is that I have to say. So far, the results are quite different from my expectations which I take to be a positive sign. There are times when I have a clear idea of a track, but then over complicate and muddy the concept and the confusion becomes very clear in the music. Sometimes the confusion can be tense and powerful while other times it’s just crap. When things come together, something beautiful happens in a moment and an idea moves into an entirely different direction and blossoms into something new that was lying just below the surface. Often there’s a visual that emerges at the same time as the music. A dream.
I’m finding that each of these dreams reveals an identity. At once a memory and a premonition. A piece of myself that was always there but only came to life under certain conditions, in a certain place, at a certain moment. These moments connect over time and form constellations and ultimately a map that I can slowly understand and navigate. If I close my eyes I can see and hear the dreams which lead into composition; an attempt to communicate directly but without language.
I really have no idea where this will lead but I know that making and performing music will give me a way to listen, to speak, and ultimately to connect with the world. Collaborating with Matthew has been wonderful with each of us taking the other in unexpected directions. Between us we’ve worked with music, video, photo, dance, and storytelling so there’s much more room to explore. I’ll keep putting it out there.