hello, famolly, and welcome to yet another installment of Behind The Music. it’s been a minute since the last entry. and by “a minute” I mean, like, 5 months. this past fall was an extremely busy season for me and I thank and appreciate all of you for sticking around and for your patience as I continue working on other things outside of my music. before we get into this entry, I’ll share an update about what I’ve been doing lately for those interested. if you’re just here for the music, feel free to skip ahead until you see the video of the song. I won’t be offended, promise.
since August, on top of playing a few amazing shows, I’ve gotten married and completed another chunk of coursework towards my professional degree. you may know my husband, or at least seen him at a show. yes, Vito, my main roadie and merch guy, is now my husband. I cannot express in words how grateful I am for his support and encouragement in my music. he has the kindest soul and I could not ask for a better life partner. if you haven’t yet, I encourage you to say hi to him at the next show. he’s a great guy. regarding going back to school, for those of you who don’t know, I only moonlight as a musician. I’m currently working on my Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology, which is going to continue taking up a lot of my time and energy over the course of the next 5-6 months. when I say putting my music on the backburner is torture for me, I mean it. I am in a constant battle between wanting to lock myself away in the studio to create and knowing that I must pour most of myself into other things right now if I want to accomplish all of the things I’ve been wanting to do with my life, which includes furthering my career to better serve others. I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day, more than 7 days in a week, and a way to deprive my body of sleep without causing it damage. that being said, there are still weekends, holidays, and breaks, and I have had an insufferable case of creator's itch since Crystal Eyes wrapped up and shows have slowed down. what I’m saying here is that I have indeed already started working on my next musical project. unfortunately, I don’t have an estimate as to when it will be finished, but keep up with me on social media and you’ll be able to keep track of how things are progressing. I promise it will be worth it, and I’ll keep writing and sharing poetry in the meantime. I know I tend to be an intermittent poster, but I hope none of you forget how much I love connecting with you.
now, onto the music. more specifically, the song “emptymidnighthighway”, which is the 6th track on Crystal Eyes.
the inspiration for this song first came to me as I was driving back home after playing a small string of shows in Colorado in the summer of 2021. traveling with friends and family makes for many treasured memories and experiences, but I find a unique sort of healing and peace in solo road trips. when you travel alone you’re forced to do a lot of self-reflection. you get to know and figure out a lot about yourself. as I was driving through Kansas back towards southwest Missouri in the middle of the night, I was struck by one of those moments of enlightening self-reflection. if you have never driven down a stretch of highway running through rural Kansas at 12 AM, let me try to paint a quick picture for you. It is extremely flat, you are likely the only person on the road, and there are patches between the streetlights that can feel very dark. basically perfect conditions for the low hum of the motor to lull you into a trance. it becomes very easy to begin dissecting your own mind. I began to ponder how much has changed since I started recording my own music about five years ago. poetry slams, open mics, local festivals, performing for sold-out crowds, shows outside of my hometown, two eps, and my first album, all done as an independent artist. it has been wonderful, every moment of it. I then began to think about the other side of this coin, which is something that I don’t talk about very often. it is a dilemma that often forces me to inspect areas of my mind that I’d rather leave untouched, so it tends to be very uncomfortable to me.
I don’t know if I’ve shared this with you all before, but I struggle a lot with balancing my musical endeavors with my career. I’ve had many friends and family members ask me if and when I’m going to pursue music more seriously. I hear comments about how impressive my production quality has become, how much fun people have at my shows, and how my lyrics can hit close to home. I have a whole room in my house devoted to it, for God’s sake, and don’t I love doing it? shouldn’t that be the ultimate goal, to love what you’re doing?
yes, I suppose it should be. so maybe that’s why people look so surprised when I tell them that I’m not sure I will ever drop everything else and focus solely on a career in music. I don’t ever want to lose the love that I have for it, and the more I think about letting myself completely drown in it the more real that threat becomes. don’t get me wrong, there is a special zeal in my heart for making music and playing shows. even when you spend hours unloading and setting up your gear only to have an audience of none, there is nothing like it in the world. but the thought of dropping everything else in my life to focus on building a musical career is terrifying to me. most of it is a fear of losing myself and my ability to live my life authentically. when I look at the musical artists who have had the biggest impact on me, most of them reference this loss of authenticity or a calling out of the “grass is greener” mentality that so many people tend to have about being a working musician. (a few examples: “Roses” by Watsky; “Burned Out” by Dodie Smith; “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish; or some of the responses of Tyler Joseph, lead singer of Twenty One Pilots, to the enormous and far-reaching popularity of the band’s 2015 album “Blurryface”.)
this is the battle I began fighting with myself as I sped across the plains of Kansas that summer night. what am I doing? why am I doing it? could I be doing more? should I be doing more? on and on, ping-ponging back and forth in my brain. I could feel my heart start racing. my finger tapping the steering wheel. all of the joy I’d experienced in the preceding days playing around small towns in Colorado began slipping away. in all the internal chaos, I began losing myself. I rolled down my car windows in hopes that the crisp night air would help me ground myself. the glow of the street lights passing above me created a silent rhythm, to which I tried to focus my attention. after a few long minutes of dividing my attention between the road before me and the patterns in the lights, the stars, the lines on the pavement, everything began melding together and I finally felt the two sides of my mind slowly fall back into a state of homeostasis. there is a balance to be found in all things, and I often get tangled up in the dividing lines.
emptymidnighthighway is a representation of freeing yourself from those knots and molding them into a form and harmony that you can manage, that you can understand.
I have only recently learned to truly love and appreciate my life for what it is, the highs and the lows. changing everything means starting that process over again when I haven’t truly had the opportunity to fully savor the sweet spot that I have found. the family that I’m making and the communities that I am helping. I am not always happy, but nobody ever is. that is simply part of being human. I would be a fool to think that my music, at any scale, could ever make me invincible to the human condition. but I always find contentment and fulfillment when I am serving others. at this time in my life, I believe that I am spending most of my time pursuing the things that will help me do that most effectively. there may come a day when the pursuit of a musical career becomes the more effective way for me to reach out and serve others, and if that day ever comes I think I’ll be able to make the jump with more confidence that I will be able to remain true to myself and the purpose behind the music. of course I will continue to work hard and remain vigilant to reach that point. but until I feel I am there, I will continue to focus my energy on how to best serve others, and my music will remain a tool to do just that. I am grateful to use it any chance I get.