sophcw at gmail dot com
Scrape your knee, it's only skin.
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I recently went through sudden, drastic life changes that were completely out of my control and not by choice. All of a sudden, there was no stability in my life; everything I’d viewed as constant slipped away. In this weird way, it became a catalyst for a drastic shift in my creative life as well. When the bottom falls out and you have to crawl your way out, when you get to the top, you’re alone— and you’re different than you were. If you let go and give yourself over to it, you’re lighter and freer, too. The album’s about fiercely holding on to what’s true and unapologetically abandoning what’s not.
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Mentall illness, depression, insomnia, personal troubles, and financial troubles aside, I do not at all mind living a life where I do something different every day and I have to be resourceful in order to do the things I used to take for granted. I did a focus group on cell phones yesterday (for money, obviously), and it was pretty disillusioning to see how deeply people care about the stuff they own. As right now I can hardly afford to pay for necessities, not to mention, like, a flat screen TV or something, our society’s religious devotion to consumerism is all the more apparent, and even more depressing. If I can make enough money to survive doing things I don’t hate and experiencing interesting art (which you seriously have to try to avoid in NYC, even if you’re broke) with people I care about, I really don’t need much else. Maybe someday I’ll be like “my Google™ brainchip is telling me that I only have 3.7 menstrual cycles left to have a child!” and I’ll need to deal with that, and if by then we aren’t living in The Road or The Matrix or Waterworld or whatever maybe I’ll have to settle down, or maybe I’ll just decide I want to, who knows! I guess the point is believing in things and trying to live according to those things might be worth it, and either way I’m finding out.
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It’s almost 5 pm. Today I woke up at 7:15 am and put on the clothes and make up I’d normally DJ in. I took the subway to NYU and walked a few blocks to a casting agency that I’d been called to for an audition (something I’ve never done before). I was early and the people there mistakenly thought that I was a client instead of “talent,” which they found hilarious and I found somewhat anxiety producing. They called my name and took pictures of me and then told me that was it and I left. I took the train back to Brooklyn, got a bagel with lox, organized and promoted several events my band is involved in and hung out with my roommate and her boyfriend before she went to work. I had an interesting Facebook discussion about the morality of porn and was about to take a nap when I got a call from a lady I met randomly yesterday in Rockefeller Center who is releasing an iPad app of poetry for children beautifully illustrated with watercolors. I guess I’m going to do freelance publicity for her. She also invited me to come to her Long Island beach house over the summer, which I thought was a little strange seeing as I’d just met her for about fifteen minutes yesterday and this was the longest we’d ever spoken, but whatever. Now I’m going to clean the litter box and maybe I’ll actually take a nap.
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A chart I made last night while waiting for the train depicting the relative levels of “togetherness” of Lena Dunham, Lena Dunham’s character on Girls and myself.
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I’m writing this because I’ve found that giving other people advice helps to calibrate my own internal compass — no matter how much I try to drift into objective and wise council for others, I will be talking about myself. That’s all any of us ever does, we talk about ourselves and sometimes other people find themselves in what we write.
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I am very hungry and we have food but my roommate who just moved out owned most of our kitchen stuff so we literally have one pot and like no silverware or other cooking utensils. My roommate made a grilled cheese sandwich in the pot earlier tonight and I just ate cheese.
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And I just realized I have lived in a different place on my birthday every year for the last 7 years:
Maybe next year, for the first time, I’ll still be here.
5-10-15-20 is a regular feature on Pitchfork where we ask musicians about the music from their lives in 5-year intervals; I’ve done fun interviews with Johnny Marr and John Cale. If you wanted to do one I’d love to read it. I’ll add mine at some point. You could give the year for each age.
5: James Taylor “Sweet Baby James” (1995)
My family is full of musicians, so even though I couldn’t have cared less about music myself until I was in my mid-teens, it surrounded me since before I was born. I have many memories of my parents sitting around playing piano and guitar and singing songs they loved, and my mom would sing my brother and I to sleep almost every night. This is the song I most remember her singing. Up until I was five, we lived in a house my dad had built in the 70’s on what used to be a commune. It was a twenty minute drive down a dirt road to the strange small town by the Russian River that I went to pre-school in. Every winter the town would flood and sometimes we’d be stuck up on our mountain with no electricity for days. Though it’s about the midwest, and I lived in California, this song captures something about the tranquility of growing up somewhere that felt distant from the chaos of civilization.
10: Backstreet Boys “Shape Of My Heart” (2000)
I honestly did not care much about music in 2000. However, I did own the Backstreet Boys album Black and Blue on cassette, and I have a distinct memory of listening to it after reading Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass for the first time. Books were my real passion, so I remember my emotions around the book (which is still one of my favorites) connecting with this pretty sappy song. 2000 was also the year that officially ended my pretty blissful childhood and began my angsty teen years. I had decided that I needed to be popular (shockingly, not in the cards), and constructed a step by step plan by which to achieve this which included, quite pragmatically, watching TRL every day and shopping at Limited Too. This song was on TRL all the time, and I remember watching the music video while mentally taking notes. I didn’t have a strong preference for either N*Sync or Backstreet Boys, but I do remember, in a moment of proto-hipsterdom, lying about not liking either in order to seem cool.
15: Death Cab For Cutie “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” (2005)
2005 was the year I discovered music. It came about in a ridiculously shallow way. After a few months of downloading pop music semi-randomly off Limewire I decided I really, really needed an iPod, for entirely status-symbol purposes (those white headphones, man). When I got one for my birthday, it came with a playlist of free songs. One of the was Title & Registration by Death Cab. I liked it more than any of the other songs on the mix, and through iTunes “People Who Bought This Also Bought” I ended up discovering indie music. Plans came out that year and this was definitely the song mentioned the most on my Livejournal. Pretty immediately after discovering music I actually liked I became completely obsessed with it, and thankfully I had one friend who was willing to fall down the music fandom rabbit hole with me. By mid-2006 we were meeting the bassist of Death Cab at their Greek Theater show (and walking by Ben Gibbard backstage, OMG) for some sort of radio interview she was doing. I probably cried while listening to this song and contemplating my lack of a boyfriend (sorry past self, you didn’t get one until after you dropped out of college).
20: Robyn “Dancing On My Own”
2010 was probably the weirdest year of my life (with the exception of every year since then). After a year and a half of being miserable at Brandeis, I transferred to NYU, dropped out for financial reasons, spent six months at home in California also miserable (including a brief interlude as an angsty pizza deliverer), got an internship and moved back to New York. This song was one of many that soundtracked the weirdness of that year, but discovering it was the most explosive musical moment for me. The second I heard it I knew it would be important to me, and I began to listen to all of Robyn’s music obsessively. When I really like something, I feel a compulsion to share it with as many people as possible, and I remember forcing every friend I saw to sit down and listen to this song, punctuated with my own outbursts of enthusiasm about it. Eventually Robyn influenced my decision to bleach my hair, and got me in the Wall Street Journal (?!?). Life is very, very strange.
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I currently have $2,788 in my checking account, and less than $200 in savings. Tomorrow I need to pay my rent which is $725. I owe my dad $3,200 for saving me from the awful housing situation I got into in September, but I have a feeling he’ll forgive most of it, or at least allow me a long time to pay him back with no interest (thanks dad). I also owe almost $2k from taxes when I was permalancing last year.
These are the things I am thinking about on the last day of my real adult full time job. I have no job in line to replace this. I went to a club on Friday night, one that’s popular with people I wouldn’t normally spend time with. I was told to get off a couch because some guy had “paid $1k to sit there.” I felt kind of bad for him. The people I talked to that night asked what I did, and my answer was “I’m in a band, I write, I DJ, I do some other things,” and I realized what it feels like to be on the other side of that interaction I’ve had so many times in this city. It’s terrifying.
Last night I was paid to cover an event for the first time, and it was the first show at the new Silent Barn, something a lot of us have been waiting for forever and never really believed was going to happen. Being in the space and seeing what they can create there was so inspiring, I can’t wait for it to become even more amazing than their old space. They wrote their budget for January on a piece of wood in plain sight and I watched a girl paint an increasingly abstract sun and sky around it. I’m so glad there are people in this community willing to commit their lives to making weird art together.
2013, I think I’m ready.
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