I never could’ve told you my first album would be a collection of love songs. I was trained as a classical(ish) composer and then as an experimental sound artist; I’ve played music both prewritten and improvised. I have many ideas and opinions on creating music, but until sometime late last year, I couldn’t have told you love songs were a meaningful part of my repertoire.
After all, that’s not exactly how it’s done in music school. I wrote string quartets and piano solos because I had to, and I left my own songwriting sensibilities at home. I eventually started writing about sexual assault and gendered violence, but even that was from a place of educating, of embedding, of making the audience stare down an uncomfortable truth.
Happy relationships did not have a place in my music, or at least that’s what the forces around me led me to believe. My friends and collaborators almost always found their way into every piece I wrote, and I name-drop colleagues and peers in my dedications time and time again, but for a gender-marginalized person in male-dominant fields, admitting to love—admitting to being someone else’s girlfriend—often felt like admitting weakness.
I’m still unlearning that lesson, but the past year has found me writing love songs, in various formats and instrumentations, of my own free will. Each of these is based on experiences I’ve had with people I’ve loved; I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with two of them in putting the project together. Yes, I could have done something darker or more “serious” for my first effort. I could have slaved away to get only the highest-quality recordings instead of deciding I was happy to play with lo-fi sounds and odd mixes. But why bother with any of that when I can find (and cultivate) so much beauty out of what’s already in front of me?
It came as a bit of a surprise, but this is WEAKNESS. Welcome to the ride.