I'm currently laying in bed at 9:05 am, on Thursday, September 8th, 2016. My laptop overheating on my bare thighs, my son climbing on me like I'm an elm tree, and my daughter practicing crawling on the floor, while she grunts and yells incoherent thoughts about being a 7 month old monster, blood-thirsty for her next victim (you'd have to know her to appreciate that sentence).
I write something like this every time I upload a new project to Bandcamp. In a lot of ways it's a rite of passage for me. After spending months, chipping away at an album; re-writing it; re-mixing it, and making it as great as possible, I finally get to finish it, and release it. Which is as harrowing as it is liberating.
I'm not a fireman -- I've never pulled a women from her Ford Explorer seconds away from an engine fire causing it to explode on the interstate. I don't lay tile-floors, or perform any kind of carpentry or masonry (at least in the literal sense). I don't risk my life arresting drug-dealers for a living; nor do I risk being shot at by police officers for selling drugs, for a living. I don't do anything that puts me in physical danger (knock on wood), other than tour long months on the road, which, has unfortunately been the cause of many tragedies for artists.
However, I do, as many other artists do, perform labor for a living. Seth Godin refers to this as "emotional labor." The act of exploiting your inspiration for creative output when it's available, and, conversely, regressing into the dark when the inspiration leaves you, and external or internal rejection takes place.
This album took a lot of emotional labor to make. I made four different albums to get to this one. One of which, will be released shortly after this. The other two, which will not be released, were excellent exercises in learning about myself as an artist, what my capabilities are, and where I need to improve.
Perhaps the greatest lesson in all of this, which is a lesson I've learned repeatedly, and will continue to learn. (Seriously, I go through this every single time.) is that I keep improving, and that no matter how great I think something I created is; 100% of the time I will grow past it, very quickly, and it will become deficient, and I'll see it as an inaccurate representation of who I am.
This is called perfectionism, and there's nothing perfect about it. It's a deep, genetic, artistic flaw. An album will never be perfect (this album isn't perfect). So in order to get it to the point that you can call a truce with it, and release it: you MUST make it honest.
I'm proud of this work. The songs are about the themes I'm experiencing in my mid-30's. Some are related to me, some are related to my friends, or people I know. I don't know how to write songs as a 22 year old, or 27 year old, young man anymore. That's not who I am. So while I appreciate the passionate letters and messages I get, telling me to go back to who I was in 2003, or 2007, or 2011... I can't.
Congratulations is about every single celebratory, high-stakes experience you can have in life, and about the horribly dark, devastation that always seems to be hiding right behind it.
This album was recorded from December 2015, to June 2016. It was mixed in July 2016, and mastered in August 2016.
released September 13, 2016
Michael "Seven" Summers
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