A year of release
The year began in relative silence. So much so that I barely remember January or February. In Montreal we were kept inside with a strict curfew for the first weeks of the year, wiping away any memories that may have been made and kept. All the shops were closed and the thought of going out to a bar or a concert was distant. I have pushed the darkness I felt in those months so far to the back of my mind that I wonder how I even got through it. No one speaks of that time now, or if we do, it is a reflection on how we are changed forever because of it.
I’m writing now from the room I grew up in. I watch the birds from my window, overlooking a quintessential Toronto alleyway and a sprinkling of backyards. There is a beautiful, majestic maple tree which my window frames near-perfectly, and I think that if there was ever a tree I didn’t want to fall down, it may be that one.
These are the days when I survey the year, and begin to think about what the new one may look like. I like these weeks, the last of December and the firsts of January, because they bring a hopefulness; that we will carry all we have done into the new year, make new plans, craft new dreams. They also bring quiet reflection; how have we grown, what we have left.
2022 was quite the year. The start of my record label, SSURROUNDSS, and with it the release of my sophomore album, Ideas of Space, in April, and Dawn to Dawn’s debut, Postcards from the Sun to the Moon, in October. I released 4 music videos I directed, found myself in The New York Times, played an unforgettable album release show at PHI Centre, flew to Newfoundland to play Lawnya Vawnya, had a full page spread in Le Devoir with Dawn to Dawn, my first feature as a vocalist was released (Khotin’s “Fountain, Growth”), and to top it off I went small-scale viral with my posts highlighting the current (gloomy) realities of the post-covid music/touring industry.
An impressive list to read over, but I am never satisfied, always chasing a dream or an idea of what my life should look like. The thought of how to continue, how to grow, how to do things right, but there is no right way these days, is there?
Onto my fourth cup of coffee, light fading, an open journal and my Christmas gift of Brian Eno’s diary next to me, I think of how much I like to write and how I neglected this little letter. Many were started, none finished, always a thought in my head it is truly unbelievable how much is expected of artists now and shouldn’t this be for pleasure. I long to find more time for writing, and less time stuck to a screen. I browse alarm clocks online, consider buying a flip phone and finding a used digital camera. Then I think of all the notes on my iPhone; detailing dreams I soon forget, song titles for later, and all of the artist and movie recommendations that friends mention in passing; and of course the recordings; late nights in the studio, voices and piano song from a street corner in Berlin, saxophones winding through the New York subway. Oh to be at the mercy of the mini computers in our pockets, the world just a click away.
I have always been nostalgic towards the end of the year, making detailed lists of my favourite songs and memories. A thought recently has been that a certain streaming service has led others to be more publicly nostalgic - declarations of career milestones, the race to be an artists number one fan, or the media frenzy which drives publications to rank songs and albums over one another (more often the label’s marketing budget being the thing which pushes artists to the coveted number one spot). I may sound skeptical, but I do love to hear everyone’s year end round ups, not only of music but of memories, often which are tied together.
When I think back on the year my mind darts to the extreme highs; of walking on stage to a screaming sold-out crowd at the Danforth Music Hall, of DJing a packed Système with Dawn to Dawn in high summer, of seeing my song in The New York Times, of watching sunsets with my friends in the countryside, of nights spent in the studio listening to the same euphoric loop, over and over again. It takes a little more energy to think of the countless days hunched over my desk, phone calls with the pressing plant to resolve vinyl delays, the disappointment from cancelled shows due to covid, or the opening of (seemingly) endless emails of rejection. All part of the big picture, all working in tandem to help me understand myself better, the truth being that I truly do, this year especially.
If you’d like to read about my favourite music that came out in 2022, you can do so over at Brooklyn Vegan.
Thank you to everyone who supported my work in one way or another this year. Means everything & I couldn’t do it without you. Until next time,
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