There’s that cheesy old saying “If you love something set it free, if it comes back it’s meant to be.” Or something like that. Anyways, I grew up loving and playing music despite the dark places it took me. Music has really saved and almost destroyed me.
In middle school in the early nineties, when I first got into Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr and all the other great bands of that era, there was a sense of finally hearing what I was feeling inside. It made me feel less alone and connected to something bigger than myself. Then high school came and in the underground music scene in Florida I got really into drugs and alcohol. This lead to me running away, getting locked up, finding and losing love, hurting people and myself, friends dying, and then me almost dying. I had various attempts at getting sober throughout my teen years and a brief stint in the Hardcore Straight Edge scene. I also got into writing zines and feminism mid nineties with the whole riot girl movement listening to Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and later Spitboy. Through my struggles music was there for me in various forms putting words and sounds to the complicated feelings I was having growing up until I finally got clean for good in 1996. I’m currently working on a Young Adult novel about all of this (more on that later)
I played in a few bands, Miss July in college in Florida (1999), and then Terset (2005-6) and Wu Wei (2007-8) in New York. While it felt amazing to work creatively on music with other people, it was also rife with difficulty. I’ve always been a super independent person so working with others can be really challenging for me. As anyone knows playing in a band is like being in a romantic relationship with 3 or 4 other people, schedule conflicts and different ideas and ambitions are just the tip of the iceberg. One of my favorite music documentaries is Some Kind of Monster about Metallica’s relationship problems. It’s kinda funny to see a bunch of tough metal guys talking to a therapist about their feelings, but I’m sure that movie is something any band can relate to.
So I quit playing in 2008 after Wu Wei broke up. It was just too depressing to invest so much time and energy in something and then have it fall apart. The truth was I really had a lot to do with things going awry. See, I needed music to fix things, to make my life better, to be my everything. It wasn’t just fun to me, I needed it to go somewhere or it felt like I wasn’t going to be okay. I alienated my bandmates and it was like watching a car crash that I couldn’t stop ’cause I new I was out of line. I’ve never been so close to losing my sobriety Walking away sent me back to therapy. I was so confused about what my life was without music at the forefront. So much of my identity was invested in it, it was like losing a limb. I stopped going to shows because they just made me sad. It was heartbreaking, but the hiatus turned out to be a good thing. It made room for other things in my life.
I focused back on my writing, interviewed and bunch of poets, and wrote Dogs of Brooklyn. I built a dog walking business and got certified as a dog trainer. I traveled to Prague, Berlin, Mexico, upstate NY, and France. I fell in love and got married to a wonderful non-musician. None of this would have happened had I still been so hyper-focused on playing music. There just wasn’t room for anything else. But I still listened to and missed it a lot.
About a year ago, I started fooling around with world music loops and my guitar and started recording things in Garage Band on my computer. It felt good to play again but it was hard to motivate without anyone else involved. Then a few months ago I reconnected with a girl I knew from another band in New York, Kelly Irene Corson from The Art of Shooting and Sleepwalker. She was in a similar place with music as I was so we started talking and playing together using loops, drum machines, guitars, and vocals. It feels so good to be playing again. I don’t know where it will go but I’m finally at a place in my life where I can just enjoy playing and not need it to save me. I have a great life with or without music.
We’re in various stages with several songs and have started calling ourselves Neon Grlz. Hopefully, we’ll have some recordings up soon and maybe even start performing again. But its so good to be in the creative cave just writing again. We just got back from a few days upstate in Woodstock playing music all day in a house up there. Don’t worry it’s not any wimpy folk stuff, we haven’t lost our angst! I am so grateful there’s more to come…..