KMM: I’ve listened to “By the Sea” 15 or more times to try to ask you the right questions about it. Out of all the songs I’ve heard from you this one is the most different. What was your difference in approach for this song?
SA: “By the Sea” is kind of a pleasant deviation from the norm but I don’t think I really approached making it all that differently compared to other songs. I think the music and lyrics were just coerced from a different place in my mind this time around. I’ve been having a recurring dream for the last few months of [my girlfriend] Jennifer and [her son] Makai and myself at a somewhat uninhabited beach with the waves crashing and birds flapping and squawking rhythmically. I tried to recreate the progression of the dream’s rhythm in this song so that’s why it sounds really ethereal, wavy, and dreamlike. “By the Sea” happens to be the English translation of Makai so the entire concept came together in a kismet fashion. The whole situation within the dream seems to be really overwhelming for me but at the same time all I seem to be focused on is Jenn and Kai, just content to be in their company. I think that’s kind of indicative of where I’m at in life right now.
I hope you know me as love
You shine as bright as the sun
KMM: What do you mean when you sing “I hope you know me as love”? It’s a powerful statement but I just want to know if my thoughts on it are right.
SA: I think it’s one of those lines that means something different depending on who’s listening so your thoughts could be just as correct as mine are. For me, it comes from this deep necessity within myself to want to be good for Jenn and Makai, but going even deeper, good for myself and for humanity as a whole. It comes from a place of wanting to be associated with positive emotions like love, compassion, and understanding. It’s the acceptance that despite being deeply flawed, I am worthy and capable of giving love and that the love I allow myself to give to others will be my true masterpiece when my story is complete.
KMM: Do you think you are good for yourself and others?
SA: That’s a simple question with a complicated answer. *nervous laughter* I think that now more than ever I am in a position to be good for myself and for others. There is a caveat to that, though, that I’ve kind of noticed throughout the culmination of my relationship. I do good things because I want to be good and strive to be good. Whereas, Jennifer, for instance, does good things because she is inherently good. That’s one of the reasons I fell in love with her, actually. I saw that in her and wanted to be able to manifest that reality for myself and I think so far without even realizing it, she’s been teaching me how to do that. I think when you meet someone who unknowingly and unconditionally motivates you to turn your shortcomings into attributes and build each other up, that is love in its purest and most revolutionary form.
Every time we say goodbye
Know that another hello will come
KMM: Which is where your last album left off. So where does this song and the album it’s on fit in with Social Anxiety’s story?
SA: That’s a good question that I’ve been thinking similarly of recently now that I’m making this album. I think my music is all about echoing desires and how I accomplish completing different chapters in my story. “The E.P.’s of S.A., Vol. 1” set the precedent for my prevalent mania in my music and my need to want to escape with drugs and codependent relationships. “Love + Other Drugs” established my desire to get off of the drugs and experience some sense of normalcy and routine and do away with codependency. “The E.P.’s of S.A., Vol. 2” charted my initial growth and the setbacks to my growth after L+OD culminating into my relapse. “Vol. 3” exists as this kind of limbo state where I’m post-relapse and trying to place my feet on solid ground and get right in the head again and ends with the demo of “(Exhale)” which I re recorded and added additional lyrics to with a whole different musical accompaniment (for this upcoming album) which displays my motivation to keep moving forward and see my situation not as a setback but as an opportunity. “Standards & Practices” carries that positivity forward and builds on it despite the occasional setbacks I face with my own self-deprecating behaviors and documents how through the use of psychedelics I was able to purge my body from the compulsion and cravings of opiates and barbiturates. “WEIRDO” echoes my desire to break my self-defeating routines even further and learn to love myself and also then find someone who finds me worth loving as well and kind of documents how I did all of that. The new album which I’m calling “A Collection of Pop Songs For Today’s Youth, Vol. 1” is this arthouse initiative of mine to document how I’m finally allowing myself to love others wholly and coexist with my flaws and insecurities and kind of grow beyond them to be the kind of person I always hoped I could be.
KMM: I love that title. Is this the first time you are making it public?
SA: Outside of my small inner circle of friends and loved ones, yes.
KMM: So is this album a pop album?
SA: In some ways, yes. In most ways, no.
KMM: Care to elaborate on that?
SA: Yeah, sorry. That was an incredibly vague statement. It’s the kind of pop album that the world needs to exist. Or the kind of pop album I felt the world needed to exist at this moment in time. The music goes from heavy and chaotic to sweet and serene all within the same track sometimes and the subject matter is very anti-pop. My focus with this album was to make an anti-pop album dressed up as a pop album. Social Anxiety works best when it is the antithesis of the norm and so this album sheds these blood, sweat, and tears to lead by example the only way I know how. As you can tell from “By the Sea”, worlds are colliding within that track. The rest of the album kind of follows suit in a similar yet audibly different manner.
KMM: A long time ago we were talking and you mentioned that every Social Anxiety song is written for yourself but occasionally you may have another specific person or persons in mind when you are writing it. Is this song for Jennifer and Makai?
SA: Completely. You know, a year ago if you had told me that I’d be in a relationship with an incredible woman who had a child, I would have probably called you crazy and walked away. Not because I saw anything wrong with either of those things, but just because I was so far removed from thinking about my future that even thinking about that possibility was alien to me. The relationship with Jennifer seemingly came out of nowhere. Here I was, this single guy just living life and being in love with life and out of left field comes this beautiful, enthralling woman with this wonderful and adorable son and even though we’ve been together for a bit now, I still wake up every morning trying to wrap my head around how fortunate I am to be where I am with the people I’m with and doing the things I’m doing. I’m filled with so much love and compassion nowadays that it honestly overwhelms me and scares me a little – but in a good way. I just never thought I’d have a family of my own and now I’m kind of building one up and growing into it on my own and it’s taught me how to love properly and appreciate the love I’ve been lucky enough to receive already. Being around Makai has taught me to see the world the way he sees it. To him everything is interesting and new and while being a little overwhelming, he’s just so excited about life. For the longest time, I had lost that sense of childlike wonder but now it’s back and I have him to thank for it. I’ve tried to take that childlike approach to my music now and it’s added all these different nuances to what I’m creating. With “By the Sea” I wanted to showcase what allowing yourself to love wholly is not only capable of doing for you, but also for others. For the longest time I avoided thinking about the future because I didn’t think I had one, but the events leading up to my relationship with Jenn and Makai showed me that I do have one, and then having Jenn and Makai in my life cemented the type of future I now knew I wanted to have. I just wanted this song to serve as a grand statement to the both of them that I intend to do right by myself and them always from this point forward because I love having them in my life and really appreciate their presence. It’s a scary, overwhelming, but exhilarating and exciting feeling.
KMM: I’m really happy for you, it seems that things are going well.
SA: Things aren’t perfect, but perfection isn’t the goal, happiness is and it’s just something that I am actively working at every minute of every day. I’m in a good place right now though and am so grateful to be where I’m at.
KMM: Is there a release date for the new album?
SA: Yes, “A Collection of Pop Songs For Today’s Youth, Vol. 1” will be out on Echoverse Records on October 26th of this year. My 25th birthday, actually.
KMM: That’s awesome! Can’t wait to hear it! Thanks so much for chatting for a bit.
SA: Thanks for having me!