Many of our closest friends and fans don’t know this, but almost all of the lyrics on Rise & Shine and Albedo are inspired by Carl Jung‘s works, as well as my own experiences fighting multiple addictions, depression and the struggles of individuation. Writing this music was the most effective way I found to integrate everything I’ve learned from the countless philosophy and psychology books I’ve read over the years and applying the life lessons I’ve learned along the way.
It’s extremely troublesome and sometimes even dangerous to turn to your circle of friends or social media network for support when you’re going through a rough patch, but the music is always there as a projection surface. I wanted to create music that acted as a mirror both for myself and the world around me. I did this by limiting my lyrics to cover only things that were 1) true for myself 2) true for my friends around me and 3) relatable to the world at large.
When I would tell friends that I wanted to fuse psychology and music together, I’d always get a chuckle out of them. “You mean, like how music has always done? Like, since forever?” Yeah, kind of.
The night before I submitted Rise & Shine for distribution, I realized that every single line of every single song had come true throughout the process, if they weren’t already. My life was changing all around me in the most synchronistic way possible. I’d write a song about stress and the very next day my entire body was in pain and shaking with anxiety (I don’t plan on releasing that one, ever). I’d write a song about motivation and the week after I’d have a “nothing can break me” attitude towards everything. Repeating the songs over and over again as I worked on them turned them into magical mantras.
It’s not obvious to most listeners (because generally nobody really cares), but this music has been the beginning of my own personal alchemical process. I broke myself down and built myself back up with the habits I needed to steer my life towards my “gold”, the ideal version of myself. I quit the career that I’ve hated for the last decade of my life and set out to be who I really am.
In the time it took to write and record the Albedo EP, my life started to change faster and more drastically than I ever could have expected. I lost and let go of some of my oldest friends, quit multiple drugs simultaneously, eliminated a lot of shitty food from my diet, adopted an even more monkish attitude towards my music than I already had, experienced what some would call “rock bottom” in terms of financial distress and the list goes on and on. I started seeing things much more clearly because of this. By the time I completed the lyrics for “Shadow Knows” , I knew I was in the worst of it and the light at the end of the tunnel was so fucking dim that my own music was the only thing keeping me going.
When you’re in this depressive rut, with all of your shitty choices coming back to haunt you and your karmic debt insisting to be paid, life doesn’t leave you many choices. You either clean up the mess you made or you’re going to go through it all over again, like a never-ending hell.
Writing “Shadow Knows” gave me so much clarity about my own psyche and the people around me that the hell I went through was completely worth it. I can now say that I’ve faced my shadow, picked it apart, shined a bright light on it and integrated it in a healthy way. Now I can continue making music to help others who are stuck in the “darkness”.
Having read everything Jung has published, I felt I was perfectly prepared to handle my situation myself. In fact, I wasn’t alone. My bandmates, my friends and family, the love of my life and my music helped keep me strong and determined to face my problems and work towards becoming the ideal version of myself. I’m not there yet. I never will be, but I’ll work towards it every single day for the rest of my life.
When you read something or listen to a song that’s meant to target the lowest and most desperate parts of yourself, you don’t consciously feel the weight of the words. Most of my favorite bands like Tool, System of a Down and Rush have always had such a cryptic and almost indecipherable approach towards pointing these things out in their lyrics. Tool likes to mix Maynard’s vocals in such a way that you’re forced to READ the lyrics to possibly understand them. SOAD has a tendency to cut out meaningful words to fit the song’s rhyming meter or simply to avoid being too serious. Rush likes to use more narrative symbology and it gets lost in translation most of the time.
All of these guys draw influence from Jung (whether they know/admit it or not). They’ve done incredible things for people over the years by giving them a glimpse at what truth and awareness might be like.
With “Shadow Knows”, I wanted to make it clearly obvious what’s going on. Most people refuse to go to a decent therapist for fear of being labeled “crazy”. In reality, almost everybody today has a giant mountain of darkness looming over their heads and they never even notice it. If this one song could explain to them the clear cause vs. effect approach to analyzing themselves, it might actually do some good for some people. It might get them to engage a therapist, or at the very least motivate them to work out their issues themselves.
In the middle of the song, there’s a sample of Jung’s famous 1959 interview where he states that “the only real danger is man himself. He is the great danger.” I couldn’t have made it any clearer. If we all take some time to clean up the psychic bullshit we have built up throughout our lives, we might have a decent shot at turning this world around towards a more positive and sustainable future.
It doesn’t need to be pointed out that almost ALL music has this type of influence today. The light vs. shadow symbolism in all genres of music, the archetypal images that make it to the mainstream and all the beautiful meaning that gets lost in translation all point to the same tendency we have as humans to let our unconscious manifest in our art.
Thank you for equipping me with the knowledge to keep this going, Dr. Jung. I’ll put it to good use. And thank YOU for reading this! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic if you have any. Until then, I’ll just assume nobody knows what the hell I’m talking about. 🙂