southern california and the music born of it are in my blood. i was born here, too, and i live here now. it’s a place of extremes in either direction, but most of the time the sun at the magic hour or the night blooming jasmine in the breeze or some fleetwood mac turned up with the car windows rolled down is enough to help us ignore what ails this place. Now here i go again i see a crystal vision…
the quick story goes like this: after a stint in new york city, i spent about eight years living in this apartment on wilton place in hollywood. it was really small but i didn’t mind because it was kind of like a tree house, and anyway it had everything I needed: a nice tube amp with a few shelves of lp’s, plenty of musical instruments, and a couple good microphones that attached to gear for recording ideas. my mom gave me our upright piano that now doubled as a desk to write on. when I was a little kid, harry nilsson made up a song for me on that same piano. i had a feeling that someday i’d sing songs, too.
so much went down on wilton: so much extreme shit around apartment fires, run-over pets, broken spirits and hearts gone cold. but there was always music, always my songs, and always this giant avocado tree in the sunshine outside my window. so-cal comfort. I wrote and recorded three albums there. a few songs were on tv shows and movies, and by some miracle people all over the world started letting me know that these transmissions from my tiny room were reaching them and keeping their souls warm.
i still had never sung a note more than 20 miles beyond the city limits, and a couple years ago I decided that if this music thing was gonna be real, i needed to make a change. i so badly wanted to move and i wanted to move forward! i felt stuck. i knew that the only thing that would make it happen would be to dream up some songs that no longer reported on and kept me living in the past, but that needed to dictate my future. i wanted to make something that sounded like the place i know, but maybe not a complete throwback to sounds like joni mitchell or csny – those are untouchable – just something new that feels good to be around and reflects my life here.
i asked my friend and musical wiz, scott seiver, to produce it with me and to get it well-recorded over the course of a couple months. he’s also a great drummer and can play a lot of instruments, so we covered a lot of ground between the two of us. my fairly sane but insanely talented group of friends in town (check those liner notes) played and sang and celebrated these songs with me and have everything to do with the songs sounding the way they do. a year later we somehow conjured the amazing shawn everett to mix it. my brother makes the album cover look like the music sounds.
so now i’m writing to you from a house not too far away from hollywood with orange trees in the yard and a one-year-old cat named ocho sleeping next to me and the album is coming out in June, thanks to the great people at vagrant records! i expect that some amazing adventures are on the horizon and hopefully along the way we’ll get to play the songs for you in person, wherever you are.
every word on this album is true to me. every line and each note stands for something important: it’s my own manifesto. it’s my own religion. my own cult of one. “don’t freak out” has been my mantra ever since keefus and benji hughes played their version of baby it’s your life for me. augusta vail has become my personal lord and saviour. i still drown it in white wine every now and again. best of all, what came of that seed of change has grown into the flower in my head, and it continues to bloom. I hope that you put it through your headphones. I want it to be like a flower in your head, too. your sun is coming up, and you’re still alive.
as above, so below.
from los angeles