Excerpt from Alex’s SFCC exclusive blog. Read the full version here
In memory of Glenn Branca, one of the most incredible musical geniuses of all time. His loss will be greatly felt forever
There are moments in your existence that you can easily point out as the beginning of what would become a succession of very bad life decisions. And trust me, it can start earlier than we think or would like to admit. With a little bit of perspective, you can identify those moments so clearly that it’s quite difficult to see anything else when you look back for answers or clues to explain what went wrong, what could have possibility derailed the course of your already so brilliant journey. Well, if I think as my 13-year-old self was thinking back in the days… So let’s go back down memory lane, which seems to have become the mantra for “Out For a Spin” – and somehow a cheaper kind of therapy for me…! Anyway, here’s the story:
I was 13 going on 14. I was already creating trouble (and troubled). I was dealing with high school life like my friends were dealing their time in juvenile facilities. For me, school was pretty boring on the good days and awfully depressing the rest of the time. But somehow, I have always managed to be a A-grade student, which is strange by all accounts considering that I’ve had to deal with a light form of dyslexia from as far as I can remember and that I have never attended the same school for 2 years in a row until high school, sometimes having to change schools 2 or 3 times within the same year due to my folks’ financial instability. Different cities, different schools, different bullies, different worlds… Tough times for a kid trying to fit in, to blend in.
Anyhow, I always found myself being integrated into those “special” classes supposedly assembled to offer a more advanced academic program to the students who had a little more learning abilities (or more time to do their homework!) than the others. This became utterly weird for me in high school, as I was not only the sole student in those groups who didn’t understand the concept of being dressed cool, of having European summer vacations, or even what it meant for a family to have 2 cars (every car my parents owned were as different as the clothes I was wearing compared to the others… trust me!). So that was my so-called life; elementary school was being beaten up every time the last bell rang, no matter which new school I was attending, and high school was… well, complicated to say the least 😉
Dear brothers, sisters, friends, fans and loved ones,
I hope you are doing wonderful, as we just let go of 2017’s fair share of emotions and presently dwell on the already full-motion stream of the utterly promising 2018. And with the invitation to redefine ourselves that comes with all the passion of such new beginnings, we can envision to unfold life with a renewed faith in the most hopeful of all dreams, one color at the time, one discovery after another, breathing with exaltation and excitement, living in the present tense, knowing that tomorrow will somehow take care of itself, as it always does.
I can say that the last 12 months have made of 2017 quite a mesmerizing and deeply significant year for us all. Us, as a band. Us, as friends. Us, as a family. It has been a seasonal period rich in moments, generous in fulfillments. Both collectively and personally, we discovered, as much as we rediscovered, the meaning of having a joyful “togetherness”, took the time for a simple smile, lost ourselves in communing laughter, contemplated the beautiful grace we have to grow alongside each other still, even when separated for some time – and we’ve been for quite some time.
In fact, maybe that’s why 2017 has been such a significant year for us. Me being away, drifting for a while in order to find a little of what was left of myself, realizing that even if the truth may reside in places we can’t fully comprehend, freedom always blooms from the honesty we have towards ourselves and those we dearly love. We tend to fight our personal shadows with so much alienation that we inevitably become darker than the shadowy companion lights create around us. Our personal pilgrimage might lead us to the end of the world, but it rarely finds us settling down where we initially saw ourselves kneeling at dawn, enlightened in let go, in acknowledgment, in acceptance, maybe… Something far from the fatalism of our covenants, our personal dogmas, evolving certainties and other make-believes.
Therefore, I guess it’s no wonder that I’m presently seated at the very same table where the journey began for me, almost 2 years ago, in Tangier. The very same place where I worked on the band’s latest book project “A Journey Beyond Ourselves”, where I wrote so many songs, but most importantly, where I’ve been able to find peace gazing at the sea from early morning to dusk, from my ever-growing fear of abandonment to the liberating grace of silent introspection, of personal reflection and retrospection. Some talk about emotional cycles, a rebirth of sorts, while others talk about getting back to where your soul belongs, where you’ve been in another life… I don’t know… Maybe it’s as simple as finding a place where you can look at the reflection in the mirror without having to bear the burden of being yourself, the deception of what you became… A place you can call home, be received as whoever you may be in that particular moment in time. I don’t know… Tangier is all that to me… Elusive as honesty, as love, as death and everything in between… The sum of all, or the sum of nothing at all.
And it’s quite significant for me that, adding to the amazement of how unbelievable of a voyage our common life story has been over the past 10 years – and what a crazy decade it was, made of numerous collective miracles, witnessed within ourselves and into others – I had the great privilege of inviting my brothers, my sisters, my friends and fellow life partners to my place, Tangier, where we have the incredible blessing of establishing a recording studio in order to work on sounds, on words, on colors, on images, that we’re all opting to turn into songs, lyrics, paintings and movies in order to discover and rediscover who we are as a band, as friends, as a family… Uplifting pieces of hope we are impatient to share with you all.
So, in that refreshing creative new space of ours, Ben and I, with Sef’s collaboration, gave life to a new musical project that should be released this upcoming spring. It’s something very different from everything we have given life to before, an artistic landscape made of blissful and galvanizing emotions, a conceptual project inspired by the resilience of those who seek, by the solidarity of those who stand with those who kneel, by the triumph of an idea greater than oneself, of pure love born out of desperation. We are very proud of that project and can’t wait for you all to discover its nature.
As for Your Favorite Enemies’ next endeavors, the upcoming few months should be rich in communion, as the 6 of us are now assembled in Tangier until April to explore and experiment together, which has always been our way to firmly resist the temptation of creative convenience and comfort. The only perspective of being reunited here is already magnificently inspiring, to say the least, so we can’t wait to see what will emerge from the blooming sea of our artistic heartfelt revivification.
Impatiently awaiting the moment we will be with you all, we want to wish you a fulfilling and exhilarating new year, knowing we will see you very soon, may it be for a cherishing hug, a mutual smiling instant shared, a concert or a musical type of communal ceremony, or someplace on the road somewhere.
Much love to you all,
Alex, alongside Jeff, Miss Isabel, Ben, Sef and Moose
PS: Make sure to join the band’s fan club (SFCC) for more info on the upcoming projects and our current North African adventure.
As published in the Japanese magazine BEEAST
I stood in front of my bedroom door with probably more excitement than my 2 little furry boys MacKaye and Leonard, who were crying and barking for me to quickly open up. That pure loving moment is what has kept me coming back home on a regular basis in the year that has gone by, separating me from actually being able to say: “Alright, I’m back home.” I never thought the last year would go as it did, even if I didn’t have any plans. Days became weeks. Weeks turned into months. And without further notice, I found myself wondering if I would ever come back at all, which I believe wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for writing the book “A Journey Beyond Ourselves”. I was that emotionally damaged, but realized I wasn’t that definitely broken after all. You can run as far and as long as you want, for all the good or wrong reasons. Time doesn’t heal… Only forgiveness does.
It was somehow special for me to be back in the studio last night, after what felt like an eternity. It was special to stand in a place with so much history, with so much of our tears, laughter, mourning dreams and exulting success. I didn’t expect the place to be anything else. Again, it’s what we decide to make out of all those moments that determines their nature and therefore their emotional implication. Last night, without any other reason than feeling it, all through the freedom by which I live my life now, I was even able to share with the others. I used to keep any personal emotion to myself, so this reminded me how something as simple as being in the same place as the others had never been quite that simple for me before. Sharing some song ideas and revealing a little of the emotions that came with them was good to me… it was simple.
Some of the things I shared were about the fact that, in the midst of the world’s present chaos and its everlasting new grieving morning after, I felt it was time for me to give life to the words of compassion, grace and mercy I kept on writing about in order to purge the intolerance and fatalism that roams around, following every unbearable and crushing act of revolting terror we are either part of, may it be as victims of anger or powerless survivors, or disconnected from, may it be to protect ourselves from hate or as an acknowledged denial to live without fear, whatever it may be or not. As I told a dear friend who asked me to write a text for an important newspaper after a recent act of abominable and revolting horror, I wasn’t able, as shameful and disheartened as it may sound, to keep on writing eulogies anymore.
We are totally devastated by the horror that occurred last night in Manchester, a city that has always been very significant for the band, and where we have so many great friends and family members. Our most compassionate thoughts and purest prayers go to the families who have been ripped from the blessings of their loved ones, and to everyone, who just like us, feel helpless in front of such monstrous and abominable acts of hatred and violence.
Every morning following such a horrifying display of disasters, might they be perpetuated in familiar places or far away, reminds us how fragile gathering peace and communal empathy look like before the implacable nature of hatred… How the price for forgiveness and love seem to be more and more difficult to pay for people of good will… as we are to be facing the most horrible fears and dreads there is, which is to become the same monsters we are now so deeply despising… At least that’s always my personal decision to make.
Let’s embrace life; it’s always the most inspiring way to honor the ones we have lost and to respond to hatred and terror.
PS: We also want to thank everyone who sent us messages inquiring for the safety of Jeff and me as we are just coming back from the UK… Sorry it took time for us to react, we are as shocked as you all are… One thing is for sure, though; your affection is once again so inspiring to us all. Thank you for reminding us the power of true love.
To deny anyone’s rights is to deprave everyone from their rights. We might not understand, we might not be comfortable, we might not even agree, but one thing is for sure; the moment we deny equality based on our beliefs or on other people’s differences, we become accomplice of the hatred that each and everyone of us had to face, are facing or will face one day for simply being who we are. By acknowledging who we are, whatever it might be or not, it is to assume what others might be or not as well. Want it or not, we’re all strange, weird or wrong for at least another one. And this is what makes the world a far more captivating place to evolve in than any homogenized dictature created by our fears and what we rebuke. At least, true or not, that’s where I stand… Human rights for all… no exception!!!
New York has always been a fascinating living entity for me. More than just an iconic name to hang onto, it is like a world revolving on its own, almost a fictional concept of sorts… It’s as if time never had any kind of authority on its evolving motion tides. It feels like the center of everywhere you may try to look at; the past, the present, the future. Blissful joy and apathetic misery. Everything we’re trying to leave behind and all we’ve ever wished for. Addiction and freedom. Community and self-reliance. It’s a symbolistic imagery of liberty and an implacable opulent stronghold. A pornographic indigence and a sanctified ambition.
Like a mirror reflecting its vision of the world it creates and destroys, it’s a romantic illusion for everlasting love devotees. A refuge for those in need of a new beginning. A theater for anyone longing for a brighter light to shine. A hideout for strangers. A noisy crowd for those fleeing their own silence. An ongoing picture of past nostalgia and future envisioning. It’s a busy street for an anonymous writer, a mystical fire, a mysterious desire to kneel for, an elevation of our own contractions. It’s the beauty of all creations and the chaotic natural disaster that comes with it. It’s what it tastes like to be God in your own rights, and what it means to truly be human.
I grew up in a storm, ever too old to believe and too young to really care. Most live to say goodbye, some die to feel alive. And as close as it might be from home, reality always seems to be the furthest of all places to reach out to, as if the distance between a dream and its incarnation remains the greatest one to overcome. And on that foggy and rainy night of March 1, 2016, walking on Broadway, drinking wine surrounded by loved ones’ laughter and amazement… That moment wasn’t New York City. It was resolutely greater than any of its dazzling lights and its vibrant skyline. It was family… As magnificently simple as it is. As inspiringly empowering as it is. Family… and its unique ability to allow its own to be, between a dream and its incarnation, whatever they are or might be.
New York City… “Most Live To Say Goodbye – Some Die To Feel Alive”
Thoughts following the events in Sainte-Foy
It feels awfully more painful for me to write a message like this one… Not because madness came violently ripping life at home, but because it gets harder and harder for me to look around without sounding hopelessly cynical or disconnected…
It’s as if the world, more than the reality in which it seems to revolve around or grow in, was getting blurrier and blurrier. As if every time we were forced to look outside our own lives, we had to helplessly witness another bright color disappearing before our very eyes, suddenly unblinded, if only for a brief moment, by the despicable horrors that frightfully seem to be coming closer and closer to what we thought was our safe haven of existence.
It feels awfully more painful for me to muse about hope and love and peace as “terror” keeps inviting itself at the table of communion, bringing with it its abominable darkness, as if such a dreadful evilness was challenging everything that I am, everything that I believe in, everything that defines the compassion I turned into actions, forcing me to look deeper and deeper every time, to take a look at myself. But everything inside of me would rather keep looking the other way in order to deny myself the sole existence of such hatred, to rebuke it all, to keep living, as if… as if what…? Sometimes, I’m just too confused to even be able to lie to myself… “Everything will be ok”, I keep whispering. But how do I know? I keep wondering. Is it ok to be confused? I don’t know.
Since the Charlie Hebdo atrocities, the multiplications of abhorring hateful tragedies, their associated images and videos, what disgusted me the most remains the high level of apathetic nonsense we keep hearing in the different public tribunes. “Experts”, “specialists”, “observers” and “commentators” feed the flow of every possible easy and generic bullshit seconds only after the news are out. This morning, the garbage I heard was beyond intelligence from both sides of the political and social spectrum. I was disgusted. People advertising their books, their conferences, their services… no compassion, no empathy, no sympathy, no grace, not only from the tip of their lips as they advertised themselves. It made me so sick. I was just too repulsed by such lack of sensitivity to fake it through the day. It was beyond imagination. And since Donald Trump has been elected President, God knows the degree of insanity we have heard from all possible sides, from depicting women as sexual objects to be grabbed to walls, refugees bans, assassination jokes, all the way to publicly talking about bombing the white house. The political and social rhetoric is now too monstrously depraved of sense to simply be seen as ridiculously pathetic anymore; it’s hideous.
In fact, after the horrific events that occurred in Istanbul on New Year’s eve, I promised myself to stop writing about those tragedies. When words aren’t enough to share the true dimension of my feelings, I would rather leave others who still have enough strength to do it. But after receiving so many messages from friends from all over the world, from different cultures, religions and social, economic and political spheres of life, I realized even more that it’s not my weakness, nor my confusion or my doubts that I should fear, but silence… The true serum to everything that leads to or feeds bitterness, sorrow and hate remains our desires to keep inviting, to keep welcoming as we are, to keep taking chances…
As I’m writing, I’m still as confused as before, if not more. I still feel powerless, disgusted by it all. But it’s what a dear friend from Morocco recently wrote to me that keeps vibrating in my heart today. “It’s ok to be discouraged, to be confused or even scared. We all are. Love, peace, the world… nothing’s a lost cause as long as we care. As long as we care, there will always be hope, my friend. Keep walking your path and remember, when you are discouraged and want to give up, that there are people like me who do care about you.”
And as I keep whispering “everything will be ok” and keep wondering “how do I know?”, I guess, after all, that it’s because I’m one of the millions who does care that I know it will be ok. Thank you for your messages and for welcoming me. My family, my loved ones and I are safe. It might seem like the world gets more and more into the bleakness of black and white, but I know that the colors I thought were lost were safely held in your generous and sharing hands, my dear brothers, sisters, and loved ones… Let’s keep shining!!!
As published in the Japanese magazine BEEAST
“I am now convinced that Tangier is a place where the past and the present exist simultaneously in proportionate degree, where a very much alive today is given an added depth of reality by the presence of an equally alive yesterday. In Tangier the past is a physical reality as perceptible as the sunlight.” – Paul Bowles – 1958 – The Worlds Of Tangier
There are moments in life that are so incredibly significant, so deeply impacting, so purely real and genuine, that we can barely grasp their true nature, that we can’t truly capture their essence, as they seem to be so completely remote from the tangible laws of what we call “reality”, of all the elements we need to define into words not only to make sense out of them, but in order to believe in their authenticity so as to reassure our logical perspective from the emotional realm of our complete affective uncertainty, so as to build a new layer of life upon such significant moments, as if defining the wonders we can’t truly understand had the ability to make them true, tangible enough to acknowledge their existence and therefore their transforming effect on us. Well, that’s how I can describe what I have experienced during my passage in Tangier; a dazzling reverberation of self.
As published in the Japanese magazine BEEAST
“If you want to be happy, be” – Tolstoy
I’m presently in Morocco, only 2 days in what is scheduled for me to be an 8-week residency in the utterly inspiring city of Tangier. I’m having a glass of red wine on the upper roof terrace of the Dar Nour, a magnificent guest house I right now live in, a place I already call home. In the middle of the kasbah of Tangier, I face the warm North African sun that generously offers a last display of its bright and vivid lights before slowly setting in a poetic fading evening motion. The wind gently caresses the welcoming surface of my face, fresh breeze from the sea, reflecting the pure blue of the sky, mirror of world, that steadily dances only a few steps from where I stand. The perfect scenery reveals the attractive charms of Spain, inviting me over and over through the sounds of the ocean… Too beautiful to deny, too delicate to refuse, too desirable to withhold.
In answer to the Nice attacks
“Once more”… While hate keeps spreading terror and horror on the persistent monstrosity that defines its path, it is hard to envision the day where such atrocities will be but a painful memory of a time deprived of love and color.
“Once more”… While the world divides itself upon slogans and their dichotomy, that the terror induced by images becomes a fight of audience ratings led by mass media and that the term “matter” become the reflection of a political campaign that prioritizes their agenda of cultural antagonism.
“Once more”… We are hit, we are knocked down, we are stripped down, we are being divided, radicalized and isolated, we are afraid… but most of all, we are dehumanized.
“Once more”… Once too many times. Always unbearable, unacceptable, this fatalistic expression haunts us… “What can I do? Is there really something to be done?”
However “once more” has the ability to remind us that, despite a deep sorrow, we are still standing, wobbling and fragile, but united in front of this tenebrous breach of hate.
“Once more”… May we have the courage to remain in the light while facing the dark shame that is hate, may we believe that through our faith in life and love we will win over apathy, animosity and malice.
“Once more”… As hard as it may be to resist to our own darkness and to becoming a shadow of sorts, may we have faith that one day, beyond the horizon of our deepest beliefs in humanity, we will see the expression “once more” become the reflection of a day where we will be able to gather and celebrate, free from the anxiety born from the fear of “the other”. And this day will be a magnificent one, on which we will be able to build, all together, no exception.
So today, I must resolve to offer you my thoughts, my prayers… My brothers, sisters, friends and loved ones, while I know that my words cannot ease your suffering, or even comfort you, I can only express my most sincere and unconditional love to you… While different, it is this love that unites us and that will be able to build us up… “once more”.