As The Light Keeps Shining On
As published in the Japanese magazine BEEAST
March 2nd, 2016 – New York City
In my life, a simple gesture has often revealed itself as being something quite significant. So when Ben, bassist in Your Favorite Enemies and someone I consider my brother, offered me a writing book with a fabulously uplifting quote from Ernest Hemingway engraved in golden letters, I knew it was as special for him to give as it was for me to receive, Hemingway being not only one of my favorite authors, but the words themselves being profoundly significant for me. Ben knows I rarely allow myself to profoundly dwell into most of the adventures I myself invite brothers, sisters, friends and loved ones to not only share with me, but to live to the fullest. It’s while meditating over the nature of those words that I’m writing my very first column for BEEAST magazine, and it’s while contemplating my resolute decision to write as I feel, rather than how I want you to perceive me through words, that I’m opening up today.
I’ve been in studio for several weeks now, and I’m leaving for New York City in a few hours… and as sunrise awaits its invitation to expose its colors to what looks like a reluctant dawn, I’m pondering over those words over and over again:
“In order to write about life
first you must live it”
– Ernest Hemingway
It’s a little past 5pm, I’m in New York City where I played the iconic venue Pianos the night before with my band Your Favorite Enemies. It’s been an incredible concert filled with a pure emotional uplift and an absolute devotional let go. I have only rarely felt so atoned with the invisible essence of music than last night. There’s a spiritual reality to music that simply can’t be touched, explained, nor envisioned; you can feel it, but you can’t totally explain it, nor portray it. It’s a genuine kind of sensation that is impossible to emulate, or, at best, to fake. Last night was like that… A generous gift of love communed between people, all different by nature, but who surrendered themselves to the collective intimacy of the moment. Again pure, again absolute. If truth had colors, I would say that I saw more shades of its distinctive freedom shine last night than I have ever allowed myself to see the vibrant luminosity of happiness in my life so far. It was bigger than New York itself. It was a journey to the end of our illusionary need to control what we can’t explain, the other end of our shadowy perception of what needs to be as we can constrain. Last night was everything I’ve ever longed for… needed.
The last couple of months have been quite intense for me and the band, both emotionally and physically. We are a true “Do-It-Yourself Artist Entrepreneurs” unit, as we manage everything from songwriting, album recording and video production, up to every step of our merchandising creation and every single aspect involved in being part of the music business. I haven’t seen time go by, and time has the cynical ability to play with our situational perception of fantasy and facticity, turning our vision of life into a blurred motion of sensation measured through affective dizziness and wishful state of confusion. I haven’t seen daylight in a long time, and it’s not that I haven’t set foot outside my nightmares; I have. But sometimes, night shivers become a tearing plague for silent lovers on a late morning goodbye. It doesn’t have anything to do with how high you might stand; vertigo can be a matter of heart and soul. It’s a wolf howling in an indistinct and vague prose to a moon we all tried to run away from at one point in our lives. That road trip to New York City came as a blessing for me, as a perfect canvas to reinvent the colors I so often tried to escape, as an invitation to die and be reborn without thinking about the consequences of losing myself for good… to feel human.
When we left from Montreal early in the morning, in the cold of what looked like the birth of another gray and foggy lonely day, I didn’t exactly remember what outside shimmers looked like. I’ve been in studio for the last couple of weeks, working on our latest album, “Between Illness and Migration” Deluxe edition, revisiting all sorts of vivid and vibrant feelings from one song to another, facing the joys and desperations that gave birth to what became a very personal album, seeing faces of people long gone, hearing the unaltered reflection of the broken man I was through the voice I had hidden my misery in, putting light on innocent senses I used to reveal only once immersed in the false security of the dark… The sounds of a drowning soul looking at the reverberating color of the surface undulating in peace as it falls deeper down.
I don’t believe in regrets. But if I did, I would have plenty to outlive. The melancholic tones of those songs, of those words, hit me like a faithful tide reaching shore on a regimental beat. It’s like revisiting a picture book filled with the images we hated the most, only to realize or to admit to ourselves that every picture is a reproduction of everything we are deep inside, revealed in a cruel but accurate way. If stories can be rewritten, life cannot be reversed. It’s what we do with it that makes us grow, it’s what we accept and let go of that makes us free from our deepest fears, our darkest secrets… just like a journey where blinded confusion becomes a radiating rain of colors gently falling over our head before blessing every single one of our footsteps into a lit path back home. Besides all the technical aspects that come with crafting a deluxe version for “Between Illness and Migration”, the affective dimension beneath such creative revisitation and explorative reappropriation is the blazing honesty that gives birth to such an artistic journey’s incandescence. Not the loudest amp, nor the heaviest noise can fake itself into such truth. For me, art is about that journey through the bleakest and most cheerful seasons of your soul, a pilgrimage to touch the invisible, to witness the intangible, if there’s such thing as impalpable eloquence and beauty… to capture time, to fondle impermanence.
I have always loved those band road trips. I never travelled as a kid, coming from a very humble family, but my imagination always had the ability to transform my difficult childhood into the most fabulous expedition I could have dreamed of. So I guess I kept that hopeful and dreamy open-minded spirit regarding travelling. I find every single one of our band’s trips a wonderful reflection of where I am, not geographically, but in my life, a pure reflection of the man I became, both as a bandmate and as an individual evolving within the intrinsic culture of being in a group. I knew that short trip to New York would be incredibly significant for me. Once again, it goes way beyond music. It’s another invitation for me to totally immerse myself in the essence of what it means to be human, to be touched, to be fragile… to believe. And for me, everything revolves around that same waving disruption of faith and doubts, in finding a way to transcend every single time I failed myself attempting to surrender my dreadful whispers to the altar of someone else’s gentle caress on my desiring senseless face. That’s why I’ve never seen my road trips as early morning runaways. I might have tricked my heart into becoming a blinded skyfall over my permanent self-indulged miseries, but I have never disguised a smiling au revoir into an everlasting goodbye. Even if I have often wished I could become the lies I told myself so many times, I am nonetheless thankful I have never been able to do so, to convince myself to capitulate. The furthest trip is an inside one.
Last night’s concert has been an inside journey made of an equal mesure of vulnerability and intensity, a pure state of heart and soul giving the iconic venue Pianos a slow motion stream of eternity and a delicate nuance of whispering fervency that only blooms in the reflection of all emotional uninhibitedness unfolding itself through the fragile balance between feeling free and being set free. At least, that’s how I felt. Elevated by brothers, sisters, friends and loved ones, by a singular fellowship, real, honest, humble, a unique heartfelt agape defined by its sacred kind of unconditional abandonment… whatever it means for each and everyone of us present in that venue, well-known for its artistic broken dreams and its instant fame. But last night was not about stardom and make-believes, not about fallen stars nor unthroned kings and queens. It was about that dazzling epiphany where noises and innocence become one effulgent voice clamoring its soulful resolution to live. It was an emotional landmark. At least, that’s how I see it.
Therefore, I’m incredibly thankful for the peaceful vibe we breathe in as I’m writing… our New York City trip has been truly peaceful and deeply contemplative, which is a perfect representation of the stunning sunset that still showers the whole island of Manhattan in a bright display of yellow, orange and red, all simultaneously reverberating in the magnificent American East Coast’s early spring’s blissful blue sky. That magnificent view felt like home and the profound sensation of serenity floating around undeniably defines every grateful word we confessed at the Bushwhick Inlet Park a few minutes ago, as the band gathered earlier for its traditional toast to friendship, to devotional grace, let go and faith. I don’t think I could have found a better moment to start writing my first “Beauty of Noises and Waves” personal column.
Just as the light keeps shining on… and if “in order to write about life, first we must live it”… well that’s what I have lived in New York City. Next stop: Austin, Texas.