My new single “Sombras” (Shadows) I wrote it when I first moved to Los Angeles, CA. At the time I wrote the song I didn’t know no even a single soul in LA, it was difficult to make friends you can trust in this city of angels, where some angels are dark and some are living in the light. One night I was walking down in Hollywood boulevard between highland & la Brea, I kept walking and walking. All of a sudden I found myself in a dark alley where I could see my shadow, there I realized I was not alone, that I am really with my shadows all the time and also felt other people in the world must be feel that way at some point in their life and this is when Sombras (Shadows) was born. People in the world have their moments of solitude and what better way to celebrate that by writing a song that other can connect with so they do not feel so alone. We all feel pain, feel sadness, feel happiness, we all are humans and carry the same emotions. Sombras (Shadows) is about connecting with others through the pain, sadness, happiness because are in this world together, together we are one.
I wrote the song “This is Life” to be a bit of a gut check for how we’re living our lives. Worldly and materialistic things can take such a forefront with us these days. With cell phones, computers, cable TV and movies, new clothing trends, cars, and everything else you just have to have, it’s easy to push God to the backseat. I do it every day, and where have I found myself after getting what I thought I needed? The truth is that I’m not where I thought I would be. We, as a world, look to so many things to fill voids in our lives, when we really should be looking to the only One who is worth focusing on… Jesus.
Fortunately, we have a faithful Father who loves us enough to sacrifice His Son for us. Though we’re not always faithful to Him, He has and always will be there for us, planting reminders, (sometimes subtle ones and other times painfully obvious), to bring us back to Him. What hurts the most, at least in my eyes, is how strange and almost abnormal it feels during those moments when we DO manage to put God first in our lives and forget about everything else around us. It can even feel so strange that you can question your own reality, asking yourself, “Is this is how life really is, or am I dreaming?” The fact that you have to question things when you’re in that situation is what’s wrong with this equation. That feeling, the feeling of the presence of God, should be what you’re used to. It should be… normal.
Now, we won’t fully know what the presence of God is like till we go to be with Him one day, but until then, we should be striving to experience more and more of God’s presence and shutting out all the temptations around us. Our song, “This is Life”, can serve as a reminder of where our priorities lie, how true and faithful our God is, and how everything around us can dim in the light of our Savior when we put Him first in our lives.
This is the story of how the song “journey of you” was written. Dave, the mandolin player and myself, Danika, the singer are married and 2 years before we had our first little boy, Gus. It was Halloween and we had dressed Gus up as a furry, little lion. We were all set and ready to go trick-or-treating at my sisters when Gus fell asleep on our kitchen floor. We were actually living in a small garage that we had somewhat successfully turned into a living quarters at the time. With all the anxieties of being new parents we were pretty unsure of whether we should wake him up and put him in the car or just let him sleep. We decided to let him sleep and we sat there next to him on the floor as Dave pulled out his mandolin and I pulled out a piece of paper. I think we were both feeling quite content with where everything was in our lives at the time. It took all of a half an hour to write the lyrics and figure out the melody and music. Then we brought it to the rest of the guys and they really worked some magic adding their parts. I was a bit unsure being the only girl in a group of six if they would accept the theme of the song but they really dug it so I was glad we went ahead with it and it made it on the album.
Most every other song that I’ve written the lyrics to on this album has been written in our minivan. Usually in a parking lot. “My Privilege” I wrote when I was in a Starbucks parking lot waiting to meet up with Dave… I was kind of grateful that he was taking so long. The idea of the song had been on my heart and in my head for the past year. I had gone down near Yazoo, Mississippi to visit with my aunt and uncle. A little back story, she and my mother were so close growing up as their mom had died when they were both very young and they grew up on a poor farm in the heart of backwoods Mississippi. They each sacrificed so much for one another and relied on each other very much. I live near Milwaukee, WI and she won’t talk to me more than a few minutes at a time on the phone : ) so I cherish my time when I’m with her visiting. This visit she had been particularly sharing with stories of her and my mom growing up. She told me how they used to sing gospel songs on the radio Sunday mornings (which was surprising as my mom can’t carry a tune) and how their dog used to babysit my mom when the rest of the family had to go out to pick cotton in the field. Going down to visit my aunt and uncle was like going into a whole nother world. There is such a stark contrast as to the way they live their lives. My aunt and uncle have always taken such good care of each other and are so kind to one another. It is very apparent that they love each other so deeply. One of the days on my visit, my uncle said to my aunt with his big ole deep southern drawl, “Nancy if I ever get like that just do me in, pull the plug please” and my aunt Nancy’s response with utmost sincerity was “John, absolutely not it would be my privilege to take care of you.” I’m not sure how that conversation came about but unbeknownst to them that moment really stuck with me and touched me. I truly look to them for how two people who love each other should treat each other throughout their lives. I was glad to have some how captured the feeling or perception of my aunt and uncle’s love for each other in this song. Since then unfortunately my uncle has gotten very ill and the song has begun to take on an even deeper meaning.
Until the End was originally written for the short film “This is Kelly” about the heaviest man to ever finish the LA marathon. Weighing just over 400 pounds, Kelly had to overcome not just physical obstacles, but also his own insecurities about finishing the race knowing that so many people didn’t think he could do it. I was truly inspired by Kelly’s determination and feel like all of us at some point have gone through similar challenges where we just needed people to believe in us. And I’ve had such a positive reaction to the song I now plan to include it on my next album.
“Tehran is a song about the Green Revolution in Iran. After a controversial election, people took to the streets to protest the results (as it was seen by many to have been a rigged election). The Iranian government responded with brutality, but the masses weren’t deterred. Soon after, the wave of revolution has spread throughout the whole middle-east. The song has only a short chorus, “In the darkness of the night, we will be marching into the light. Bloodstains on the walls and on the street, we will keep on fighting till we’re free”. These lyrics reflect the protester’s courage and determination, and hopefully serve as an inspiration to fight injustice wherever it may be. “Tehran” is also about giving a voice to the voiceless. No demographic is more suppressed in the middle east than women. As such, the two women on “Wanderlust” (vocalist Sasha Masakowski and cellist Helen Gillet) are given solos.
All in all, it is a song about empowering the powerless and a message of support to those who are fighting for freedom.
Our record, “Wanderlust” is a record about the world in the 21st century. The world is shrinking every day thanks to the internet and other advancing technologies. Cultures from all corners of the globe are accessible by the click of the button. As such, the sound of “Wanderlust” is a blend of many different styles and genres.
The first song on Wanderlust, entitled Brothers, epitomizes this. Brothers is a song about the human race. People focus too much on what separates people. Brothers is a song about what makes us all the same. It is a song about unity and oneness. Its sing-song melody is simple and catchy. While it has vocals, the song has no lyrics. It is meant to be a universal melody that can speak to anyone, regardless of language. Stylistically, Brothers is the pop song of the record. It has a very modern sound (with synthesizers and electronic drums) yet it has several qualities that tie it to tradition (improvisation, tribal-esque drums, call and response melodies). Hopefully, the effect is that Brothers is a song without time and place, and can serve as inspiration to someone from any walk of life.