Writing for Blanko

When I married Joe, I knew I was marrying a man who had already found his first love. That we can share an experience in the creative process that consumes so much space in his world is one of the most enjoyable aspects of our relationship. (Note: this is the least naïve statement in this entire post.)

I was not gifted with a musical talent, but my love for music has been a central part of my life for a long time. I believe that creatives build their communities in ways that are both translucent and panchromatic. This isn’t a contradiction, but rather a description of the complexity I see underlining the essence of art.

I believe artists are naturally drawn to one another. No matter my city of residence, I’ve always found a group of people who inspired me to create. Long before Joe and I dated, a community of musicians in the Triangle took me in and encouraged me to be my most creative self. Whether through photography, curating projects, or lyric-writing, I’ve always found a canvas for my inspiration.

My attachments to this stimulus and productive energy increased my desire to be around people that challenge my own way of looking at the world. Many of the incredible humans responsible for expanding my creative mind are now my closest friends. I choose to surround myself with people who choose to contribute beauty to our world; and, on occasion, I am inspired to make my own offering. My contributions have been acute, miniature really, but the efforts continue to feed my soul.

No purely creative endeavor has ever been more rewarding than writing lyrics with Joe. Stories and sentiments form meaning, inspired by vocal melodies and chord progressions. Our process is simple and collaborative. We started writing together five years ago on the first Blanko record, but Ocean Meets the Animal offered an entirely different opportunity. While I contributed to a spattering of lines across the album, two songs feel like part of me.

Berry represents a deeply personal story for me; and though I know no one will ever hear what I hear when the song is played, I hope the sentiment will seep out and inform the listener’s impression. The foundation of the song, the instrumentation, existed long before the words were written. It was on a hike that Joe and I finished them together. It was the mood and form that created the canvas for the story, which was inspired by a complicated love, the inability to rely on truth, and the desperation for respite in a relationship burdened by loss.

While the lyrics for Berry are written about a specific experience, All We Are was written from a place of reaction to a movement, and the desperate need to be better. We were sitting in a window seat on Main St. eating sandwiches. It was after the election and our hearts were heavy. We discussed the importance of the role of lifting up those who have less access to a platform and amplifying voices not as easily heard, that we both felt we should be embracing as allies. We talked about Black Lives Matter and our privilege, and how we wanted/needed to do better.

It is with a humble and honest hope for reprieve 
Deserving not a moment in this serenity
You were looking for higher ground
We lead you to the sea
In hand with humanity
A gesture incomplete

Break free from our founded form deny immunity
Keep peace in an open forum a silent form of speech
We are looking for higher ground
And there in thought we meet
In hand with humanity
A gesture incomplete

I will continue to write. Even when it’s not very good, I can’t help but put words on a page; most will never make it out of my journals. More than anything, I hope to continue writing with Joe. It is one of my favorite exercises in creative expression.