This is Krister Axel with Indie Music on Tap, S2E3 - all the important messages are the quietest. We are going to continue discussing the issue of depression and how it affects musicians, and today our focus is going to be on the power of messaging.
With music from Hollow Coves and Kelsey Walden.
The fantasy of better parenting - rule #1: start with gratitude. I had an interesting conversation with a friend over the holiday weekend. It made me realize how common it is for someone to be stuck in a negative feedback loop. And that's what I mean when I talk about when people are closed down. So let's take a look at this one real quick: This is Dan, we'll call him. Dan is a middle child, who was always rebellious and found his voice as a sibling by pivoting away from the domineering first child, and the happy-go-lucky last child, as a sullen and precocious artist. That was the academic path Dan chose for himself: art. One that I myself still hold in very high esteem - I have a great respect for artists.
Dan did not enjoy a massive financial windfall in his professional life, but nevertheless lives in one of the greatest cities in the world, has a beautiful family and spouse to be proud of, and has built a small but successful online business with help of social networks like Instagram and Facebook. Dan isn't happy; and part of him wishes that someone, some trusted voice of authority, had sat him down and told him that being an artist was a bad choice that he should not have made. He pines for a career as an industrial designer, something artistic but that also would be more lucrative. And I was genuinely surprised, because Dan is older than me by a few years and should know better then to let himself be trapped in such a self-destructive stigma.
Here's what I believe: if you want to move forward in the present moment without prejudice, you need to move from a place of acceptance, and gratitude. It is acceptance of what is real, along with gratitude for what we have, that creates the best future for the single human, as well as a collective Humanity. So if we are going to be happy and grateful in the moment, we need to accept what has come before. If we have regrets we need to let go of them. If we have anger, we need to express it so that it doesn't live in our hearts. And we need to look back at our entire life and accept every moment for having been vital to us being right here right now. If you have a thought, a part of you, that wishes some stranger had tapped you on the shoulder to tell you that your life could have been different - that is the wrong thought. The goal has to be redemption. We need to redeem ourselves for the decisions we have made - anything else is allowing the past to dictate the future. And I've talked about this before: as children they tell us we are alone, that we are on our own. They are wrong. The truth is that we are all together.
Nothing refracts light quite like music does. Even in the darkest of times, melodies change moods, and harmonies lift hearts.
Hollow Coves share their honest outlook on life with an eloquent, engaging, and entrancing take on indie folk. Their debut EP Wanderlust has reached nearly 200 million streams since 2014, and paved the way for this talented duo to sign with Nettwerk Records. Their full-length debut, Moments will be out October 18.
Initially conceived in Brisbane and finished in Europe, the lead single When We Were Young pairs a soft beat and lush acoustic guitar with reflective lyrics, and a warm, pensive nostalgia. The Brisbane duo of Ryan Henderson and Matt Carins provide a peaceful and melodic space with their music that has helped many in their native Australia and around the world to handle difficult times. Only a few years ago, Matt and Ryan decided to ditch their day jobs—as a carpenter and civil engineer, respectively.
Now, these two young men are looking to engage their growing fanbase by offering a continued access to their unique language of the soul, written with heartbreak and redemption, and a sort of wisdom that is grateful for all of the little things.
How's this for a message: in the US, we regularly mistake pathology for intelligence; at the same time, we regularly mischaracterize deep emotional intelligence and empathy as weakness. I have painstakingly crafted that message for myself, because that's what feels true to me. The thing is, you won't find that message anywhere. The closest thing will be the works of Buddha, and Lao Tze, and on to Alan Watts, and even Malcom Gladwell. But the first four decades of my life fell squarely into a place where the message that feels right for me, was nowhere to be found. In a lot of ways that's why I founded CHILLFILTR. But until I did that, I felt very lost, and a big part of why we're doing this season 2 on depression, is so that I can share my epiphanies with you. So I will start at the beginning.
I was watching a video from Simon Synek, and he was talking about his theory of concentric circles. Find your core message, and plant a flag in the ground. But until you find a path that is free of setbacks, it will be natural to feel frustrated and alienated. That was me. So it's important to come to a point where you stop looking for other people to give you the answers. And that's not to say that you can't ask for help; but I can speak from experience and say that it's not a given that someone will be able to connect with you about what might be most vital in your mind. This is always where I mention that story from Rainer Maria Rilke, who states very clearly his personal opinion that the most important moments in life are going to be those spent in solitude; and moreover, that the greatest epiphanies will be almost impossible to share, one on one. This podcast attempts to circumvent that sense of circumstantial destiny, because, although he was an absolute visionary, these letters are more than a hundred years old. It is my belief that technology arrives in the nick of time to save Humanity from itself. And it will be newfangled systems of messaging and engagement very much like this that will be at the forefront of that movement. I believe that because it feels very possible, and also because it is necessary. Without a massive influx of DIY authenticity, I think the systems we have for disseminating facts across social platforms, are doomed. And that can be traced quite far back, in terms of when exactly political messaging became a weapon. Last season I discussed the assassination of Julius Caesar; today we are going to have a quick brush up on the history of the Cathars, also known as the Albigensian Crusade.
I'm not going to get too far into this because it's fucking tragic, but it's also an important reminder of the kind of cycles that are at work here. Humanity has a pretty shitty track record, and this is perhaps one of the worst examples.
The Albigensian Crusade or the Cathar Crusade (1209–1229) was a 20-year military campaign initiated by Pope Innocent III to eliminate Catharism in southern France. The Crusade was prosecuted primarily by the French crown and promptly took on a political flavor, resulting in not only a significant reduction in the number of practising Cathars, but also a realignment of the County of Toulouse, bringing it into the sphere of the French crown and diminishing the distinct regional culture and high level of influence of the Counts of Barcelona.
And with this entire way of life that was completely crushed by a Roman Catholic ideal, we lost the last bits of what was a sense of political morality known as PEERAGE. For an episode about messaging, I had to mention what was certainly one of the greatest systems of political honor ever constructed by humans, that was crushed for only two reasons: Cathars did not trust the Catholic church, and did not believe in taking vows. So they were eliminated. Their culture was decimated, and their bloodlines were deleted.
And there is the story of grandma, who took a risk and it paid off. This was the grandmother of a friend who, when she was young, had risked buying a business with her then-husband, and it flourished in a few years, and that taught her the lesson that risk can be good. She was excited because I was telling her about the business I was building, and shared her story with me. I love hearing it, but I also couldn't help but wonder how many times she had told that story. That her one success, that meant so much to her, created a message that lived for her entire life - that risk is inherently good, somehow.
Which isn't right for everyone, of course - risk isn't just good for everyone. There is a type of risk that is perhaps perfect for everyone, but it is by no means monolithic. But she happily goes through the rest of her life telling people to blindly take risks because it worked for her, once. Now imagine hearing that, taking some badly thought-out risk because in a moment of weakness you sought advice from the wrong person, and now you're blaming yourself. Everyone tells you to follow your heart, but no one gets any training weeding out the good messages from the bad. And you can't blame grandma, she's just talking. It's just a simple fact that when the wrong messages reach the wrong people, the wrong things happen. So the Catholic Church got the message that these non-oath-taking, personal path to God people needed to be taken out; and the Roman Catholic Empire was happy to pour gasoline on that fire. And now, no one remembers that there was a system of honor and respect in place, and above all, one that created fairness and equity for all citizens, that was systematically and horrifically destroyed in one of the worst genocides in human history. One that also happened to be civically open-minded in a way that the Catholic Church never was. The Cathar mindset, and the worldview that encompassed what we now know as peerage, was surprisingly modern. Destroying that branch of socio-political evolution set back the gay rights movement by hundreds of years. The main points of contest between the two groups, at the risk of being overly reductive, were based on money, restrictive thoughts on sexuality, and fealty. I would argue that those same forces are the current enemies of social health. Once more with feeling: the forces of financial greed, dogmatic attempts to restrict otherwise healthy human behavior, and political power structures, have systematically been at cross-purposes with a physically and emotionally-healthy society, for at least 800 years.
That was the 13th century. How many mistakes do we get to make?
Now for a musical break.
When John Prine starts a record label, you pay attention; and when he signs an act for the first time in over a decade, you pay attention some more. Kentucky-native Kelsey Waldon brings a fresh vibe to the Country sound, with a voice that feels plucked from the foothills of Appalachia, and a throwaway-cool that feels just right.
She has received wide praise from NPR and has toured consistently with other artists like Jamey Johnson, Tyler Childers, and John Prine. Anyhow is the lead track off of her new record White Noise/White Lines, due Oct. 4th, which does well to reignite the connection Country music has with the spiritual alchemy of making something from nothing. Anyhow is a story of finding that spark in the darkness, when it almost felt like there was nothing left. With a deft lyrical hand, Kelsey Waldon gives cover for anyone choosing to go their own way - this song is about you.
Listen to the right people, and find your story.
The appropriateness of some of that self-help stuff is totally contingent what kind of personality you have. I was just reading something the other day about how proud someone was of reinventing their life six times; and they're not done yet. That can feel like an attack if you're an architect, because you're saying to yourself: are you saying I am less somehow for not having reinvented myself over and over again? That lies at the heart of the divide itself. so the one person hears that statement and feels invigorated and the other feels totally attacked. The self-help book for architects is called stay the course and you'll be happy; nut the self-help book for gardeners is called change with the seasons.
Let me tell you of a classic architect moment - my friend is a very talented sound engineer. I go to him for all kinds of projects, and he never lets me down. He knows how to make things sound good, and he's got the equipment to do it. So I'm over there working on a track, we start talking a little bit. He mentions how he thinks talented people are only born talented, which is a very architect thing to say. Things can only be the way they are. He says, all my life, when I run into a music teacher I always ask: has anyone ever actually become really good? Has anyone surprised you by finishing the class knowing way more than you thought they would starting out?
And he says the answer is always no. But here's the thing about gardeners: Even if the answer is no, and neither he nor anyone he has met has ever witnessed a talent emerging that didn't feel predestined, does that really mean it's impossible? A gardener tends to leave room for things to change, whereas the architect tends to think that a little empirical evidence is all it takes to make broad, reductive claims. Who is right?
You are. You are right. Everyone gets to be the hero in their life. And if you are like Dan, and you feel like you have been on the wrong path for sometime, you only have to do two things. But you have to do them in order: Step one forgive yourself for exactly who you are exactly right now. Everything, especially the bad stuff. Especially the things you feel guilty about; especially the secrets you haven't told anyone. All of that is okay. Step 2: move towards what makes you happy. If you do one thing everyday to create beauty, friendship, or kindness, then you are making the world a better place, and you are healing yourself in the process.
We are going to close out this week with one from the archives. This song is hitting Spotify and all other streaming platforms in the end of September. I performed this song more than 10 years ago, in my friend's studio on Cherokee avenue in Hollywood, and somehow the master only showed up last year on a hard drive in my garage. This is the only song that I've ever played electric Bass, and it's one of my favorite vocal performances. I am also playing piano, and guitar. My friend Angel Roché Jr. on cajon. I hope you enjoy it, and we'll see you next week. This is Easy, by Krister Axel.
This episode of CHILLFILTR®: Indie Music on Tap was brought to you by Krister Axel and The River South®, and was produced in Southern Oregon with help from ASHLAND IO LLC. We support our local community and are proud to be underwriters for Jefferson Public Radio. Our blog pieces are published weekly at CHILLFILTR.com, the podcast is available at IndieMusicOnTap.com, and our video feed is broadcast to Tibo subscribers on Euro Indie Music TV.
Come back next week for our first ever top video countdown, and a recap of the topics we've covered so far in season 2. As always I appreciate your support. If you are suffering from depression, please reach out to your community for help.
Thank you for listening to the third episode of Indie Music on Tap, Season 2.
Simon Sinek - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp0HIF3SfI4
Rilke - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainer_Maria_Rilke
Cathar Crusade - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albigensian_Crusade