Change is good.

Aaron Shafer-Haiss and Keenan-Keaton Payne tracking some fantastic rhythm section parts.

Aaron Shafer-Haiss and Keenan-Keaton Payne tracking some fantastic rhythm section parts.

Well, sometimes change is hard. And not all change is good (climate change, changes to laws to prevent people with female bodies from receiving healthcare, most of the changes that Tennessee is making to it’s laws at the moment, etc.) but - on a personal level - change has been good for me this month.

Two big things that are happening/have happened in June: I’m moving to a house as opposed to the lovely but little condo I live in now and I had my first round of recording for a new project that will release early next year.

First the recording. I’ve been planning this for a few months now and it’s very exciting to see it coming to fruition. If you had asked me what I would be recording this time last year I would have told you that I would be writing a vaguely Pagan rock album. But life happens and suddenly in January I had an album’s worth of songs that told the story of the end of a rocky relationship and the process of reclaiming my power after someone tried to crush it out of me. By writing cathartically and impulsively, I had documented the feelings of isolation, anger, grief, strength, and empowerment in song. Looking back, I realize I had written myself out of the relationship long before I was actually ready to leave.

Despite the powerful emotions tied to the music, stepping into the studio last week initially felt like another just task to complete. I had worked both day jobs and closed on a house in the days leading up to it and was in full “get this massive to-do list done” mode when I entered the room. But then the rhythm section started playing and I found myself both lost in the music coming through the speakers and the music that still only exists in my imagination. I also found myself really feeling the songs for the first time in a few months.

Aaron got some incredible sounds with all this fantastic world percussion.

Aaron got some incredible sounds with all this fantastic world percussion.

Working on these songs dropped me back into the middle all the pain and love I had felt. Part of my moving on from this past relationship was naming the emotional abuse I was receiving, and that gave me a sense of righteous anger. It made it very easy not to go back and to take the focus off the lost love and abandoned dreams. But hearing these songs brought back those memories. I did love this person once even if I don’t anymore and my heart did break and I did dream of building a life with the person I wanted him to be - even if it was based on false hopes. It reminded me that he wasn’t a villain and I wasn’t a victim, even if we both stepped into those roles at points. Hearing these feelings realized by some incredible musicians has been surprisingly emotional and draining, but also a deeper level of catharsis that I didn’t realize I was waiting for. Most of what’s done is drums and bass, but I’m already mentally prepping myself for what I’m realizing will be the very intense process of recording vocals in mid July.

All of this is to say, I think this is the most powerful music I’ve ever created - at least on a personal level but I hope it will feel that way for listeners as well. It’s going to be a while before I can share it with you all, but I’m really looking forward to that moment.

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The move is less emotionally complex but more stressful than recording. This will be the second time I’m moving in 8 months but it’s so worth the pain. I currently live in an amazing condo; it’s a fantastic bachelorette pad. But when I bought this place a few years ago, I didn’t have a 50 pound dog who likes to put her head on the bed and stare when I make out with the new boyfriend and I miss the rental income.

So I’m putting my head down and working as many hours as I can at the day jobs to make this move work. My hope is that - in the long term - this new space with a yard and bedroom door and music room will give me more opportunities to create music and art. But in the short term I need to hustle. So if you don’t hear from me for a bit, bear with me. One of my favorite podcasts, Tarot for the Wild Soul, talked about leaning into spaciousness in June and I’m doing my best to take that advice to heart. I’m going to spend some time working and basking in my new fruit trees (pears, peaches, apples, blackberries, raspberries, and mulberries), but I’ll be back with a bang in August and the fall.

Blackberries picked (and immediately eaten) in my new backyard.

Blackberries picked (and immediately eaten) in my new backyard.

Love you all and can’t wait to share my next adventure!

Melanie

Don’t worry, I checked: dogs can eat blackberries and Tipper loves them!

Don’t worry, I checked: dogs can eat blackberries and Tipper loves them!