Underwater Sunshine

I am still buzzing from last weekend. All of the wonderful experiences keep running through my mind. Last weekend we played at Underwater Sunshine Fest, a music festival curated by Adam Duritz, who is an amazing and rare human, from Counting Crows. The whole thing felt surreal, validating, nourishing, and… right.

From the moment we got there, Adam and everyone else were so welcoming and kind. Many of the people we met knew of our music already and they made me feel so seen and heard. I felt comfortable immediately. There was an instant sense of familiarity and family.

I create music that is intensely personal and, so often, I feel I am sending it out into a void. Anytime I get something back, it’s a comfort. It reassures me that I exist. That what I am sending out is landing somewhere. Each return is sustenance. This weekend was an all-you-can-eat buffet of sustenance. And I’m still on a high from it all.

I had the opportunity to connect to some amazing people – fellow music makers and music appreciators. One of my greatest aims in being an artist is to develop connections with other artists. To have a community. To feel like I’m part of something bigger. I felt like that happened last weekend.

I was talking with a beautiful artist who I connected with on a soul level at the festival about how so often as musicians we arrive at venues, set up on stages, and play shows where we feel like it’s an imposition that we’re there. There is friction. The space doesn’t always feel safe. It’s a slog. There’s sometimes a huge outputting of energy to move forward and little return. It can be exhausting, emotionally and physically. Underwater Sunshine festival was not like that. I felt special last weekend. Like the winner of a huge honor. Like everyone wanted me there.

With this kind of support behind me and the psychic confidence that comes from having it, I feel like I can go forward with more energy and drive. It lets me see a pathway in front of me. It makes me feel like I have gotten somewhere. Like I possess the ability, the merit, to progress. To achieve all of my goals.

I usually see concepts as images in my mind and I see our musical journey as an image, too.

It goes like this: we began in the middle of a dense wood with thick brush and undergrowth all around us, the vegetation so impenetrable that it was impossible to see through. We had no guarantee (or even indication) that there was anything beyond the jungle we were nestled in. But we believed that there was something out there. We began hacking at saplings and grasses, slowly making a path as we went. It was hard work. Exhausting. So much work for so little movement. Sometimes we had to stop. Sometimes we lost time wondering if our struggle was pointless. But we kept going. Because we believed that there was something up ahead. We were in that place for a while- unsure, tired, frustrated. Sometimes I go back there, emotionally, even now. But then we started to see glimpses of sunlight. We got signed to a record label and light started streaming in. We basked in it. And we kept on hacking.

Last weekend I felt like I had reached a clearing. A place that I could come back to. A spot to rest. From this clearing I can see the jagged path we carved to get here. Looking forward, the underbrush is not so dense. Around the clearing I can see trails. Connected pathways. Some are deer trails, overgrown but still marking a route, and some are more well-defined. But there are pathways around us now, nonetheless, that we have connected up with. We have access to these. And this clearing is a place that I can come back to anytime I want. There was something up ahead. We have reached something. The pure validation of that realization bolsters me. I feel really proud of what we’ve achieved. Shawn and I. Together.

I feel like we’ve made it out of the jungle. Don’t get me wrong, there will be more hacking up ahead. But we’re not in the middle of nowhere anymore. We have a place to rest. Paths to follow. People to walk with. Sunlight to feel on our faces.

I think it really hit me after the second night. We had played our set at The Bowery Electric. James Campion had introduced us to the crowd before we played. The crowd had listened. After, we saw Eddie, the senior sales director at our label. He had come all the way from LA to come to the festival. We also hung out with Red Wanting Blue, our label-mates and good friends who also played the festival, and with Mikaela, my good friend and the business director of our label. Back at Adam’s apartment, we were all sitting together on couches. It felt comfortable and right. I looked around me and was struck by all of the amazing people I was among. People I respect. People I can learn from. People I love. And I had a moment of pride. All of that hacking really led us somewhere. I felt like I belonged more than I ever have in my musical career. More than I have most of my life.

I am truly overwhelmed with gratitude to Adam and his team for choosing me to be part of it all. I’ve said before that this journey I am on has its ups and downs. This weekend was such an upper I think I’ll be able to live off it for a long time.