Handing over the mic to artists/musicians who break down their new albums track by track/share the thought process behind the creation. Today we’ll hear from New York musician Jason Calhoun, whose album Jedidiah is out on Feb. 14 via Dear Life Records.
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Something that I would never claim to be is eloquent. I pretty consistently feel that I stumble over my words. The combination of social anxiety and sappy or sentimental tendencies leaves me constantly navigating this worry of what others might think and my constant need to tell people I know how much I love them and care for them. Add to this my natural love of quiet and, when able, to be constantly writing new things, and I tend to have a lot floating in my brain, and some ideas take quite a while to take any true musical form. Once I know the process has started, it becomes difficult to really do anything else until its over.
When I first started working on this record, I tried to lay down some ‘what do you want to do here’ sort of criteria. I thought about what making ‘sad’ music means to me (not going to unpack this totally here), but looking back on past projects, music, like for many was a way to process mental health struggles and navigate the personal situations I found myself in.
The sort of sadness (for lack of another word, as this is the one that was circulating my brain at the time) that I was thinking of when starting this new record felt greater than myself. A constant thought of ‘where does this go’ or ‘where does this end’ flooded my thoughts when I considered humanity, our environment, and my own relationship to these things and what I want to achieve, and how all actions naturally end up being some kind of political or social statement. I’ll be the first one to admit that many of these feelings were and continue to be half-baked, as once the actual music writing process begins, these become secondary.
I try my best to get out of my own way, as I have a natural propensity to over-analyze, over-critique, and continually doubt my own work. So if the music that I begin to write does not line up with these initial plans, I allow them to co-exist, and see how they relate to one another. In the end, at least for myself it all feels related as I know what I was thinking of at the time. I don’t think that someone is necessarily missing a piece if they are missing my side of the story.
Originally, I was hoping to write some thoughts about each track individually. When I sat down to attempt this, it became pretty clear that that did not make sense to do because of the way things came together for this album. Layers were applied in a way that felt almost clumsy, rushed, or thrown. The album felt like it was pulling me in all directions, in a way that was nearly out of my control. The constant obsession of this process hit its peak when I had more than I knew what to do with, and I realized I needed to strip away as much as I could to make anything sound remotely coherent. For this reason, I think a lot about collage when I listen back on these songs, and why I hoped for the artwork to have a similar quality when working with Ben on it.
There is a musical sloppiness in this album that I genuinely appreciate; trying not to dwell on minute details but being able to let go. Letting go can be one of the most fulfilling things you can do; I constantly grasp onto things that maybe do not even interest me, or do not line up with my own code of ethics, just because they may be a convenient way of showing that you are successful, or a ‘good’ person. For myself, the majority of things that are truly worth living for take an immense amount of time, work, and perhaps tedium or even boredom.
My favorite artists are those that are doing what they do regardless of if people are watching, because it’s part of who they are to create something. I do not feel like this is something that I myself have achieved, but it is an idea that continually inspires me to be working, learning, growing and changing in whatever way possible, even if it is very slowly. Change often takes a long time, but I feel more accepting of myself and patient than maybe I ever have.