A Month of Dreaming
Hey everyone! It’s been a month since the release of my debut EP, Because I’m Dreaming, and I wanted to thank you all for your support. It means so much to me that I’m able to have friends singing along when I’m playing Lilac Girl, especially when the Lilac Girl is on stage singing with me (there will be video of that out soon). In honor of the first month coming to an end, I thought I would share the stories behind each of the songs on the EP.
I wrote Asleep over Spring Break, 2018. I was with my family in a condo on Hilton Head Island. It was one of those condos that was specifically rented to tourists, and it had the stereotypical ocean decorations all over. The interior design was pretty ugly. Starfish were hanging on essentially every wall you could see, and there was a legitimate fishnet hanging from the ceiling in my bedroom.
As I sat with my guitar on the couch, I realized how the space felt like an illusion. No one actually decorates their houses or apartments like that. It was the epitome of that awkward capitalist fever dream where the big businesses try to convince you of your individuality and uniqueness in advertisements while still trying to sell standardized products to large groups of people (I’m looking at you, Coke and Pepsi).
I enjoyed the trip a lot, and I especially love spending time with my family, but I just couldn’t shake the strange feeling. On the third day of vacation, the concept finally came to me:
In general, the current social media and subliminal advertisement infatuated culture of America loves to build little fantasy worlds. We want to believe that we are initiating change in our society with retweets and Instagram posts. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with posting about issues you’re passionate about, however, I do think it is important for the posts to be a reflection of actions in the real world, not be the actual action itself. We can’t solve anything with likes because awareness and the initiative of change are two separate events. In the chorus I sing, “And you can try to wake me, from the deep.” I feel like that’s pretty straightforward given the context. The line is intended to clarify that I’m discussing the “woke” culture thing. The following line, “Just because I’m dreaming - Doesn’t mean I’ll fall asleep,” is a bit strange. It’s addressing the denial of the fact that we as a community are failing to solve the pressing issues of our time. From climate change to discrimination, we blind ourselves by saying we’re doing our best with a tweet.
Lyrical meaning aside, I want to thank Noelle Dennis, Annie Hawkins, and Mr. Jasper for their help on this song. It was the first time I had the opportunity to work with musicians outside of myself on something I had written, and it means a lot to me that they really came through with amazing performances.
Let me get this out of the way, this song is creepy. If you have a sensitive stomach, I would stop reading and skip to Lilac Girl. It’s loosely based off the story of serial killer Herb Baumeister who lived in Carmel (about fifteen minutes away from where I live) in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I don’t want to explain the story in-depth, but if you’re interested in the details, you can read about it here. It’s terrifying. The bare bones of it are these:
Baumeister would go to gay bars around Indianapolis and bring men home with him to his Tudor-style mansion called Fox Hollow Farms. Once there, he would get them to partake in erotic asphyxiation. He would strangle the men to their deaths, and leave their rotting bodies in his backyard.
I wrote the song from the perspective of a gay man who found his former lover at the Farm. I think the chorus has the most direct and emotionally-charged lyrics I’ve ever written:
“Oh my God, it’s really him
Left in ribbons razor thin
But I can see it in his eyes…”
If you like songs like this, a few months after writing Fox Hollow I heard Sufjan Stevens’ John Wayne Gacy Jr. and based a lot of the production in recording my song off it. It’s haunting and beautiful.
I wrote Lilac Girl in the Summer of 2018. Most of my close friends had just graduated, and were leaving for college in around a week, so I thought it would be nice to write something for them. Coincidentally, one of my favorite people in the world (Leigh Roberts I love you) had just introduced me to Phoebe Bridgers’ music. I loved the production of her song Funeral, and I wanted to try something similar but less depressing. I took the fingerpicking melody and gentle vocals, and out came Lilac Girl. As I sang it more, I realized that the song was specifically about my girlfriend who was leaving for college, so I altered the lyrics to be more symbolic of the experiences we had together. Although it’s not the most complex song I’ve ever written, I love how clearly it conveys how I feel about her.
I love you Lilac Girl.
Once again, I want to thank you all for listening to my songs. I love being able to share my own stories, and I love hearing yours. If you ever want to chat about songwriting, independent release, or pretentious films, feel free to DM me on Instagram @gvn.cly. I hope you have a wonderful day :)