December 2014. With no real set plans or goals, me and one of my best friends/brother Jonathan Kemp boarded a flight to Germany for about a month. The stories from that trip are endless, and the three songs that came from intentionally disconnecting from our normal lives are incredibly special to me. A year and a half later, I'm proud to present this concept EP, that I hope can mean a lot of different things to you. For one, travel is sensationally inspiring. Its important to constantly broaden our understanding, and this short trip was definitely chalk full of that for me. Obviously there is a bigger story to tell than just two kids traveling Europe (literally everyone I know has done it at some point.) There's a lot of different meanings in these 3 songs for me, I just hope however you read into it, that you'll allow yourself to ponder. The trip was an escape from the thoughts I'm too scared to abandon. When you listen, try to take a step outside yourself and really think about love, life, death, sex, drugs, god, existence...emptiness. It's ok to not understand.
People hate to be told on a mass scale (facebook posts etc.) what to enjoy, what to disagree with, what is funny. I find as a songwriter, craving meaningful interaction has me just about calling it quits for social media. If you like a sound or a thought on this EP, how about you just send it personally to someone you think might also enjoy it. See if we can spread a something a little closer to real human interaction. Love ya. Hope you enjoy the new tunes.
A song about the connectedness of humanity. I wrote it on a day off after visiting the Rhine river. I found out that week my cousin Joseph had gotten in a car accident that changed and ultimately 11 months later concluded his wonderful life. This has been the most devastating blow to my humanity, and it truly haunts me that I never was able to play him this song. In a strictly physical manner, when we pass on our flesh becomes dust and goes into the ground, becomes particles, and is evaporated to make rain.
There is a clear, and massive chain reaction of water, so the poet in me likes to imagine Joe is still floating down The Rhine and out into the great big ocean. Losing him has cost me so much. And I know when you lost him or her, it feels like losing yourself. Like water, we are all connected in that way.
If you ever said the sentence "bro, I really wish you were a girl right now this would be so romantic" this is the song for that moment. Köln is a stunning city in Germany, and I don't know that I've ever been so inspired by a place. As Jonathan and I roamed around, I tried to imagine what it would be like to fall in love in such a magical place.
It's important to understand yourself. It's more important to forgive yourself. While wandering the streets of Berlin on New Years Eve I understood deeply that there is so much in life I can't control. I'm sorry about a lot of things, and I wish I could be more than I am. People change.
There are a handful of key people that made this project happen. Here they are:
Jonathan Kemp: Photography/Translation/Train Navigation/Friendship
Brendan St. Gelais: Producer
Zack Zinck: Audio Engineer/Mix
Jonathan Berlin: Mastering
Alex Lunardeli: Composition/Arrangement/Directing/Producer
Yours Truly: Guitar/Vocal/Piano/Writing
David Davidson: Violin
David Angell: Violin
Kristin Wilkinson: Viola
Sari Reist: Cello
Album Art Design: Andrew Glenn
The recording process was the smoothest, and most creatively fulfilling thing I have been a part of. Alex composed masterfully, and the players were seriously some of the most phenomenal musicians you could want to meet. The strings were done in two hours, all tracked as a quartet. All tracking was done at The Smoakstack in Nashville.
all photos by Jonathan Kemp unless its a picture of him. Then I probably took it.
The Disposable-Camera Project
Because I was traveling with a professional photographer, I gave myself a small creative project to take a photo with a disposable of every person I met who had significant impact on our trip. I did this and meticulously numbered the photos with a corresponding journal entry. I didn't retake the photos digitally, and its hard to fully explain the sinking feeling when I got the film back and this was the only photo that developed (X-Rays and cheap cameras don't get along). I was honestly really angry. I cussed at a Walgreens employee (like a total douche) and felt I had wasted so much time and creative energy. As a year and a half has gone by, I realize there is something beautiful about using an artistic endeavor to get to know people, and then ultimately losing the finished product. The final piece was simply human connection, and though the names and faces will fade from my memory as years go by, the lesson learned is to seek to know people whoever long your paths cross for. The one photo that saved is of our host in Berlin, Louisa Strickelbruck, a brilliant photographer and captivating person who inspired much of the song "Berlin" with her charming hospitality and fascinating view of the world. People are worth knowing, and not for a picture to hang on the wall or blog about, but just for knowingness' sake. Be kind to one another, and take care of yourself.