Your Sadness is Power & Self-Honesty is Always First. - Indie Music on Tap: S2E4
posted 07 Oct 2019 by Krister Axel
It's real. You are right to feel that way. Right now, nothing is normal.

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So, in the spirit that honesty should come first, I will explain a few things about this podcast: the story of the timing for these episodes, and also of how I got here.

With music from: Brothers Page, The Bergamot, Max MacVeety, and EMIAH.

First, it's a bit of a joke: I say these podcasts are weekly, but it's more like twice a month. We are busy up in this place - we got kids, and family visiting, and I'm starting a career as a 360 photographer. But the main reason that the timing is all off is that in the end of August, I had the idea of starting to make episodes early, and then my LibSyn account posted before I wanted it to - I'm still not sure where the error was there, but the short of it was that my first episode was posted three weeks before it was supposed to, and I've been playing catch-up ever since. Let's just say for this season at least, we will be posting twice a month from now on. That just makes it easier.

And then, my story. We are talking about depression this season because it is something that I struggled with for a long time. Now that I am out of it, sort of, I feel very much like in a certain way I was asleep for a period of time. Being depressed is like losing someone you love. It is a weight that sits on you. It will never go away. Which is why I say, I am only partially no-longer-depressed. I make it work for me, which is I think the only thing anyone can do. I've turned that sense of indignation, and disgust with the status quo, into this passion I have for writing blog pieces, and talking to no one in particular for long periods of time. Which now, only has to make sense to me. So, for me that's the explanation: I have channeled my depression into a mild sense of social monkishness and a passion for helping other musicians to get their music heard. Now it all makes sense.

So if you are listening to this, and you are depressed, ask yourself: why is this weight on me?

The answer is, of course, because you can handle it. Remember that, it is important. Because instead of obsessing about removing the weight, maybe we can work on handling it better; maybe there is a value to that weight if we can transform it somehow. And that has been my message all along: that depression right now is a logical reaction to the World At Large; that if you're not at least a little bit depressed right now you're probably not paying attention; and that as someone who cannot help but feel this sort of cosmic empathy that can create depression across long distances, that makes you special. Different. You look around and you see chaos. There is a disconnect between the reactions that people should be having to the political realities of the day, and the deep complacency that we see all around us. Greta Thunberg talks about this. It's real. You are right to feel that way. Right now, nothing is normal.

The way I see it, if you are old enough, there are only two questions left: what do I have, and what should be I doing? By having, I mean what tends to look like love. When you pay attention to something, and you have an appreciation for it, they say that you 'have a love for something' - I think language is important, and in this case, very telling - because in that case, you DO have something. Something no one can take away: an experience, a perception, and a lasting affinity. To love something is the greatest gift of all. So in terms of what you have, and by that I mean what you love, what is the best way to use that gift, or those gifts? We mentioned Dan last week, and as a simple recap: We heard the story of someone who wishes that they had been redirected by some kind yet assertive voice early in their life, to have chosen a different career path. So if you are depressed, and have a similar feeling that's you are on the wrong path - first of all, know that that is more common than I think anyone would like to believe; but secondly, even if you could go back, would you really? Would you give back everything you have, and everything you have had, and everything that's possible for you right now, just for a shot at some mythical fresh start? Different parents? A totally different family, and new friends? Maybe. I have never understood that - even if we wanted to, we can't go back. It's just wasted energy.

I also wanted to announce our first book giveaway: You may have noticed in the last few weeks that we have been publishing poetry on CHILLFILTR, and I have also been working with Hachette Books, and we are giving away 2 signed copies of their new book, More Fun in the New World, which has been very well received this year and comes on the heels of a Grammy-nominated bestseller (Under the Big Black Sun). More Fun in the New World features independent chapters written by people like my old friend Tom DeSavia (Elektra, ASCAP, SONGS, El Camino), and Jane Wiedlin from the Go Gos, and John Doe of the band X, just to name a few, and it really spells out a lot of what feels now like forgotten history, because it covers the post-punk scene for rock on the west coast from 1982-1987. We really need to remember this stuff: for example, the way the record labels treated those pioneering ladies of the Go Gos, happily fueling their drinking binges and infighting by working them way too hard, with no breaks, simply because the band members didn't know how to go 'from playing their instruments, to saying no.' Sound familiar?

I think the best part of reading these chapters is, as an independent musician myself, understanding that we are in a subsequent iteration of a universal corporate mindset, which is to treat customers and talent and even the environment as something to be bought and sold. The history is here, hiding in plain sight. The story of Jane Wiedlin is of course that the show goes on, and that life outside of the world-phenomenon status that she and her bandmates enjoyed for a time can also be fulfilling and exciting and worthwhile. She and Charlotte Caffey, also of the Go Gos, have written compelling personal accounts of what is like to go through the meat-grinder of fame. It's ain't pretty - and we should treat our stars better than we do. Just ask Avicii, or Elliott Smith, or Chris Farley: in the worst cases, the world that an artist has brought so much beauty into can feel like it has nothing to give back to them. And that can be a tough pill to swallow.

So anyway, it is a fantastic read. if you'd like to be considered for a signed copy of this book, shipped straight to you from the offices of Hachette Books, please visit and register. It only takes a few seconds, and we will be picking winners after episode 6, in mid October.

We are going to get to the music, and after that I want to finish with a recap of the points that we have covered on this season so far. We are counting down the top videos on our Vimeo page, and at #1 is Brothers Page.

Brothers Zach & Josh Page wrote Back To You about how creating music and sharing it with the world can bring people together. This electronic folk-rock pop number joins an acoustic guitar with a deep rock vibe and electronic production-flourish, offering a high-energy confection that will resonate with fans of The Chainsmokers.

Both brothers have fantastic stories to tell: Josh is a veteran of America's Got Talent, where he was a member of an opera-singing trio, FORTE, while Zach played in the all-teen band in Jason Robert Brown's "13" which had a run on Broadway. In the last few years, they have amassed a huge following on Instagram, writing weekly mash-ups and singing covers of popular songs for their fans around the world. The brothers share an infectious love for the art of songwriting, and together they weave harmony and melody in a way that offers a fresh perspective on songs that are already in the public sphere. For example, one of their most popular Insta posts is a mashup of "Wake Me Up" and "Hey Brother" by the legendary Avicii that has been viewed well over a million times. Brothers Page are a perfect match for today's fast-paced news cycle: on Instagram, their weekly updates are a grab-bag of melodic pop hooks, TV theme songs, and guest-singer cameos, and they never disappoint.

Back to You, the latest from Brothers Page, is a barrage of pop hooks that showcases a laser-sharp sibling harmony and the impressive musicality of two rising Instagram celebrities.

Next up at #2 is a husband-wife pair that I think is amazing. The Bergamot just dropped their debut album release "Mayflies" along with single Young Again. This introspective track looks at the future through the eyes of a young, ambitious boy, who is determined to make a better world in the face of a challenging future.

Young Again takes a wistful look at the personal transformation from innocence to adulthood, and creates a vision of what is possible. As we make progress through the milestones of life, it is important that we stay in touch with our truest self, and an unbounded sense for the power of rebirth, and redemption. With their single Young Again, we enjoy an opportunity for constructive hindsight in the wistful rehashing of a beautiful past. The Bergamot joins a sense for understated gravitas with their talent for acoustic pop and a gorgeous duet harmony that has earned them fans from around the world. The future is bright for this husband-wife musical duo and their signature blend of compassion, poetry, and melodic rapture.

So, a recap. For episode 1, we covered Architects vs Gardeners, The Myth of Fully Automatic - and we realized that for some people, the world feels like it isn't made for them. Episode 2, Wherein we discuss the importance of finding personal stillness. - which means, finding a way to separate ourselves from the past, and moving forward in service of our true self. Episode 3, we discussed the fact that All the important messages are the quietest. Maybe we haven't figured everything out yet - and maybe we still need to evolve as a species, in ways that have to do with empathy. And now, we are discussing the process of finding power in our sadness. Well, in a lot of ways, that is exactly what music is about: the process of taking negative energy, and difficult experience, and using them as building blocks for beauty. In a sense that is all we can do. And although I would be insane to think that a small podcast with limited readership can do anything to really change the world, the point here is only to show that I have gone my own way, and you can too. I built CHILLFILTR, and Indie Music on Tap, from nothing and for no one in particular, simply because my heart told me to do it. I am proud of that, and no one can take it away; now, more than a year later, I am firmly on a path that my heart designed. I encourage anyone with gardener mojo and a passion for something, to just go for it. You can spend your whole life waiting for someone to give you permission: so just give yourself permission and get on with it. The only thing holding you back is a fear of failure; and failure is nothing but a chance to start again.

And now, more music. The video that came in at #3 is an interesting one - I found out after accepting this submission that Max is a friend of a friend: My buddy Chris Lovejoy is also a drummer, and also from Los Angeles. He and Max have crossed paths here and there, and I enjoyed making the lyric video for his track SEEN. That post got picked up on the Apple news Hip Hop channel saw a lot of activity - I pulled some photos from, and if you watch it I think it has a really crisp flavor of urban mystery, with perhaps a small hint of voyeurism. This is what I wrote.

Max MacVeety has immersed himself in a wide range of musical forms, but is most inspired by music that fits under the umbrella of social expression: hip hop, soul, funk, reggae, afrobeat, and blues all share a sense of solidarity with everyday life. This is music for the people, by the people, and brings together the ethnic roots of rhythm from around the world.

His touring and recording experience includes Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Lyrics Born, Crown City Rockers, Jake One, and many more. Max is now heading up Bunkhouse Recordings, a production house dedicated to original music production and artist development located in Long Beach, CA. We made a photo-video for this track, and scrambled together a few photos of Max along with some found-photos from the internet. The result is a slick drum groove with a buttery bass-line and some electric guitar-candy over the top, backed by series of images that explore the gritty details of urban life. SEEN, the latest single from Max MacVeety, is a shout-out to underrepresented people everywhere: this is your time to be heard.

Don't forget: we are giving away 2 signed copies of the new book, More Fun in the New World. Just head over to, and sign up. Your chances will be really good, we don't have a lot of entries yet, and you will not be disappointed - it is a fantastic book. The drawing will be in the end of October.

The last entry is from Scotland, EMIAH is a pop songwriter with a knack for catchy melodies.

Scottish Pop/R&B vocalist and songwriter EMIAH has recently teamed up with fellow Scottish songwriter and producer Stuart McInnes, for a series of worldwide collaborations. Not an artist to stay in one lane musically, EMIAH has worked in a wide range of genres including House, EDM, RnB, and Hip Hop.

Having grown up listening to Whitney Houston, Usher, and Destiny’s Child, EMIAH's style of neo-soul channels those influences through a modern lens of dance beats and pop melody. Her music is supported on major playlists by Sony, Tidal, Ministry Of Sound, Deezer, and Apple Music, and she's had radio airplay across the UK, Europe and the United States. Siren explores the magic of attraction, and outlines the hook that a certain voice can have on you, falling gloriously prey to that essence of mystery, and possibility, that can exist between two people. EMIAH's voice is a gorgeous combination of energy and flirty compulsion, with a sticky, danceable hook that draws a bold and dynamic contrast with the understated verse progression. Siren is an inviting step forward for this Scottish pop star in a collaboration with Panuma and Tokyo Project.

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, the podcast is available at, and our lyric videos are available on our Vimeo channel. You can watch this podcast as a video here.

The artists featured in this podcast:

Brothers Page, The Bergamot, Max McVeety, and EMIAH.

About the Author


Krister Bjornson Axel

Ogdensburg, New York

Paris, France. Madison, Wisconsin. Los Angeles. Ashland, Oregon. Ottawa. I write music, I write about music, and I write code. See also: photography, prose, podcasting. I have 1 gorgeous wife, 2 amazing kids, and many interests.

Recent Awards: 2020 ND (Photo) Honorable Mention, 2020 Accenti Writing Contest Finalist