New York, echos, etc
Wanna know something funny? New York City has … a lot going on. I know, I know. Super shocking. Still, despite my New Yorker blood, I have spent the last 385 or so days with only one person, and am therefore finding it very overwhelming.
This overwhelm translates to being less prepared for weekly taalitalks now that I’m stateside. But hey man, we made a promise to each other that I’d do this for every Sunday I could muster. So lemme get these Sunday morning fingers to typing.
It is 90 degrees here in ol’ steamy NYC. Yesterday after a scheduling mishap with legendary photographer Janette Beckman in which it turned out she was headed to the Stuytown flea market and not our album cover photoshoot, I had a bagel with her name on it that needed to be delivered. I dropped said Russ and Daughters directly into her hands through the window of her cab while at a red light, earning, in her words, “the most New York experience [she] had ever had.”
High fives all around: I can proudly add that sentence to my snobby New Yorker card and keep it moving. Life this past few weeks has been sufficiently Gotham-esque.
The album marches on, too. After six months, this’ll be the last taalitalk before the recording really begins, so it’s important to me to check in with you. Good thing these ol’ fingers can type.
Wednesday I head to Los Angeles to put down some bass, drums, vocals, synths, etc.
This feels wild. And terrifying. And exciting.
It means opening this baby of mine up to at least five people, aka 10 new ears. I’m so excited, but I also feel apprehension and even a bit of sadness.
There’s the obvious, of course: This has been an almost entirely underground year. In it I’ve survived a plague, moved countries, adopted new and more healthy habits, and connected with you every week for just about six months.
I’ve learned how to heal myself.
I’ve learned how to take care of myself.
I’ve learned how to trust you and trust the process.
That part I’m most grateful for. A few months ago while still in Amsterdam and texting my friend Bri, I chanced on a demo I made in a kind of fugue state.
It was the first demo I ever recorded in our newly minted Manhattan home studio back in 2020. I remember sitting down, putting a drone part down on the synth and singing a stream of consciousness over that note. I don’t remember thinking it was very good. I was more testing the new mic than anything else.
Turns out it counts as a song, and the song is pretty great. And a little absurd in that, despite being sung in May 2020, it foreshadows the entire 365 days that follow its initial recording. I’m nearly sure the album needs to end with it, and have tentatively been calling it “How to Survive a Plague.” This title will need to be replaced, since there is already an incredible documentary about the AIDS epidemic with that title, but it’s a placeholder. Here are some RB notes below from ye olde Google sheet.
The song is flowy and thoughtful and tragic and hopeful. It works with the image of an echo.
I love the idea of echos. Sounds that travel and morph as they do. Sounds that hit each person different depending on where they’re physically standing.
Concepts do the same. If you’ve experienced trauma as many of us have, you know this conundrum. What’s happening and what’s your imagination? What’s an echo, and what is real?
I’m so aware of this as we head into opening this album process and as I walk through Brooklyn, which is just about 100% back to full swing. I play this “song” I stream of consciousness sang into a mic one year and one month ago as I walk on Vanderbilt Avenue, which is often closed to cars and just … full of human beings and vaccinated droplets.
We did it.
Or did we? What’s an echo, and what’s real?
Either way, I love this little relic we’re making.
The album will be a whole lot closer next time I write for you, and it is for you. It is for women. It is for seekers, adventurers, people with a sneaking suspicion that there always could be more. It is for Jewish people. It is for non Jewish people. It is for those of us with trauma, and those of us looking for a way to heal from wounds both mental and physical. And then, of course, it is for people outside of those spaces who can hear concepts and make them their own, aka my favorite part of music anyway.
It, along with you, has saved me and allowed me to cry little and big tears like the ones falling now while I write this.
See you next week with a lot more updates.
ps: if you’re new here or have been perusing and now want to join the community, the below helps these go straight to your inbox like the letter they’re intended to be.