3 Year Anniversary

Three years ago on April 1, 2020, I moved to the greatest city in the world – New York City. I moved into an empty guesthouse in Bedstuy, Brooklyn thanks to the gracious owner who was willing to risk his life for me, and with whom I remain friends to this day. We were both risking our lives, because I moved to the greatest city in the world at the very moment the pandemic crescendoed, when it was the epicenter, when 1,000 people were dying everyday. And, truly, the journey was the most terrifying experience of my life. Most notably, my arrival at Penn Station, alone, dragging along a duffel bag too heavy for me to carry, with a guitar on my back. I couldn’t control my shaking. I was so terrified walking through the hollowed out train station, mostly devoid of humans who were sheltered at home, and I absolutely could not conceal my fear. I felt like a moving target. And I looked like a moving target.

But my first encounters with those few New Yorkers at that terrifying time was the furthest from what I feared. The folks on the subway saw my struggle, and they went out of their way to help me. I find New Yorkers often do this, regardless of whether there is a deadly pandemic in crescendo. I believe it’s because we know that life here is not easy, but it is glorious, and it collectively makes all our lives better when we’re able to reduce the burden even a little bit for our neighbors. And that’s what happened to me on the subway on April 1, 2020. That duffle bag probably weighed as much or more than me. It was packed to the brim with dry goods and staple foods, since nobody knew what our future held. Even under those dire circumstances, New Yorkers still went out of their way, potentially risked their lives, to help me, a girl dragging her most prized possessions and a bag of rice through the subway. Trying to find her way “home.” 

Two individuals helped me carry the duffle bag. One assisted me up the stairs, the other down the stairs, and both disappeared on their own life path instantly afterward. One of them asked if I would like help, the other didn’t even bother, and my heart leapt when I felt my burden become lighter, only to find a large man had grabbed the bottom handle of the duffle so it wouldn’t crash down the stairs. The guesthouse host met me at the Gates J Stop and walked me to my new home. It was dark by then. He gave me some masks, a little hand sanitizer on a keychain that I refilled and kept for years afterward, and kind words. Then he left on his journey. And I was alone, left to find home.

Home is what I found. It wasn’t instant or easy, but I found true love in New York City, my husband Dang Anohen. I found our little townhouse in Greenpoint. I found my little job at our little boutique record label (with Dang’s help). We found our little skin cats, Koshkii and Princess Margaret Patcher. And I didn’t even know what exactly I was looking for when I came here. I just knew something in my heart had always called me to New York City, since I was a little child watching Oliver & Company and admiring the brownstones, since I discovered St. Marks Place as a teenager, since every tour that passed through as both a roadie and the performing artist.

I have never felt more “at home.” I feel so grateful for my life and my family – something more beautiful and more complex than my dreams could have ever created. 

I ❤ New York City.

Happy Anniversary! 

The Local Music Project in Erie County, Penna.

I’m honored to be included and featured prominently in the Blasco Library’s Local Music History Window Display located in my hometown, Erie, Pennsylvania. It’s deeply meaningful to be recognized for my music and documented by such a highly prestigious and fundamental institution as our library system.

Photo by Erin McCandless at the Blasco Library in Erie, Penna. Featured photo also by Erin McCandless.

Here’s a little about the project from Blasco Library clerk, Jessica Makowski:

“Blasco’s Local Music Display is located near our Heritage Room, and it celebrates the library’s Local Music Project as well as Erie’s Local Music history. The display will be viewable during October, November, and December of 2021.

[…] Along with the window display, we are also working on creating what we at the library call a vertical file, for the local music topic. Traditionally, a vertical file is a physical file in a metal file cabinet located in the Heritage room at Blasco that contains newspaper clippings of anything to do with the related topic, usually coming from (but not limited to) the local newspaper. This is something the general public can study(and/or make photo copies of its contents) in the Heritage room. […] In addition to using the interview form about your experiences with local music here in Erie for our window display, we are going to save them, probably to a flash drive, and include them as part of the local music vertical file.”

Here is the full text of my interview for the Local Music Project verticle file at the Erie County Blasco Library.

What part do you play in Erie’s local music history (past or present?//musician? Promoter? Venue owner?..etc)?

I would say I started out in the scene as a fan and, with the encouragement of my friends in local bands, I became a singer-songwriter myself. John Yochim of Erie band Pegasus Unicorn (among others) taught me guitar fundamentals. Bob Jensen of Basement Transmissions helped me write and produce my first original song and even accompanied me during my first performance of aforementioned song at the Edinboro Celebration of Excellence in 2009. Matt Boland of The Dirty Pickles always insisted I attend his open mics and perform my music live. My life would look very different without the love and support I received from the people making music in the Erie scene. And I love them whole-heartedly. 
What does music mean to you?

Music is the only thing that’s been there for me when I feel most alone in life. 
Please share one or two (or more) of your favorite musical memories from Erie, Pa:

I just played PACA [LiVE!] this summer, Sunday July 25, 2021. It was my first show with an in-person audience since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. I was super excited to find a bunch of my friends had driven to Erie from Pittsburgh to see my show in real life! 

Also especially exciting was sharing my PACA [LiVE!] set with my boyfriend, Dang Anohen from the New York City rock band, Sallies. We both live in Brooklyn and booked the show as part of our trip to Pennsylvania visiting my family. I love that I’m able to continue creating memorable live events in my hometown! 
Is there anyone we should know about (past or present) that has had an impact on Erie due to their part in Erie’s local music history?
Dave Schroeder (Digg !t Dave) is one of my best friends in the whole world and has been a pivotal member of the PACA Theater on State Street since 2013. He’s also a drummer and has played in a handful of local bands including Matty B And The Dirty Pickles. Currently, he books and produces PACA [LiVE!] – the theater’s response to the COVID pandemic, which is about to hit 50 consecutive livestream concerts without missing a single Sunday (although, when I verified this information with him, Dave informed me that two of those broadcasts were reruns!). 

Do you have a favorite Erie venue ( past or present)?
My favorite venue as of 2021 would have to be the PACA Theater on State Street. I remember when it was still just a dream in Mark Tanenbaum’s head and he was showing me blueprints of the 1505 building while we were chatting in Perry Square. It’s been truly amazing to watch a cultural center grow and expand from it’s prenatal stages. I’m eternally grateful for my strong friendships in the Erie music community. 

My favorite venue from the past is The Beer Mug on Liberty Ave., which has since been torn down. That joint had zero pretension and was 100% dive bar. Bands could find the booking calendar and just write their name on the date they wanted. When I’m told to imagine my “happy place,” I legit always thought of standing in the back of The Beer Mug. RIP. 
What is your favorite genre and what do you love about it? 
Grunge – it’s raw and real and about as close as I can get to the style of music I think I’m creating. I’m not really sure what kind of music I make. I’m not going for anything specific. I’m just doing what feels right. 
Do you have anything else you’d like to share regarding your thoughts, feelings, memories, etc about Erie’s local music history?

Back in the day, when I was in high school in the late 90s and early 2000s, kids under 21 were able to attend shows in bars between the hours of 4pm and 8pm. I remember seeing shows at State Street Tavern and Sherlocks when I was 13 years old. I think it’s a great creative and real-world social outlet for kids that I never see these days. I’m not even sure if it’s legal anymore! 

Dreams of Joy

Jonathan Davis photographed by Sébastien Paquet

THIS. This is the joy of which I dream. This is the face of my dreams for reality. This, what I imagine to be, pure elation of crowd energy and connection through music – ultimate connection with hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands…

Distant connection through the void and toward the ultimate connection, to the love-eternal that is music.

I remember seeing KoЯn in the amphitheater just this summer, 2019. Of all the times I’ve seen my favorite band, this one, I remember the happy moments. I remember Jonathan laughing, talking to us, the tens of thousands of us piled up to the fence in the back, and saying something like, “You made my fuckin’ dreams come true, y’all!” Or some other such in his easy So-Cal cadence.

That, I remember most, the few moments he took to talk to us, to thank us, to inspire hope in us. To remember the exact words would be to quote a moment that cannot be quantified into words (says the author).

Remembering much more than inexorable extacy or the intoxicating lights silhouetting the movements of rockstars and decorating the inside of my retinas.

Seeing Jonathan walk onstage with his bagpipes, greeted by a stage of mirrors, looking into them, then looking out towards us.

Looking into the mirrors, then out at us…

The Dichotomy of Doom & Hope

Liss Victory back tattoo

I never felt unsafe in my country until after 9/11. Just “coming of age” as a teenager, I was more consumed with angst than world politics, I assume. But that event really changed the whole world. And when I set about building the art for the master canvas of the human body that is my back, that feeling of doom and endless war inspired it.

The two towers in the foreground are meant to represent the Twin Towers. It’s subtle, as the scene also encompasses a feeling of post-apocalyptic helplessness. Over the years, I’ve felt consumed by many personal wars: suicide, depression, anxiety, abandonment, abuse, etc. Conversely, over the years, many of my friends and loved ones helped draw components of this overall piece (which remains unfinished and this photo is too old to show newer elements).

I drew the two characters at the bottom. The girl represents myself, and my feelings of inevitable demise. The riot cop… well, I never really identified who “he” is, but perhaps he is another reflection of myself. “He” (always thought of him as a man) is trying to save the girl, who is resigned to the destruction. Maybe he reflects my hope. That even with bombs falling, even with our “endless regime change wars,” we can still fight.

Perhaps I’ll title the final piece, “The Dichotomy of Doom & Hope.”

To quote a work of art I greatly admire, “I can’t say I’m very pleased with where my life is just now… but I can’t help but look forward to where it’s going.”

Join us for an auto-rickshaw ride!

Whoa! One of my favorite parts of India is the convenience and versatility of the auto-rickshaw (which I like to call tuk-tuks for some reason. Maybe it is Wes Anderson’s fault). I shot this video in Mumbai. At our home base in the neighborhood of Chembur, as well as our trip to Bandra, the rickshaws are ubiquitous like NYC yellow cabs. But their versatility is unparalleled! These little go karts are the conquerors of urban India’s roadways! As well as an authentic and adventures way to travel and view the city. I had heard the traffic is otherworldly, but you don’t know it till you live it! And crossing the streets? Well, there’s a technique to it. And it’s def not legal in the States. Haha! Take a ride with us! See if you can spot the cow!

Arrival: Bengaluru

Culture shock? Not really… After over a year of preparation, research, reading, and engagement with my குடும்பம்- kutumpum, this environment looks, smells, feels, and definitely sounds (honk-honk) more like the realization of a dream. In my first few days in urban India, it seems like everything I love about the city, condensed, with its very own flavor and array of specialties found nowhere else in the world.

In Bengaluru on the jula.

Release Week

This is it.

The culminating moment of my musical life, cut to vinyl, crafted from my heart. It feels like I tore the arteries out of my body and used them to string my guitar. Then I set about recording the noise and presenting it to the people like some kind of carnival display.

Well, I feel like I’m on the Rollercoaster – all adrenaline, excitement, and fear. Listening to the click of the chain on the tracks. Coming up closer and closer to that crest.
We’ll barrel-roll down that first hill and it’s gonna be a hell of a ride.

This is it.

The most important thing I’ve done thus far. In my whole life, really.
The “Kodachrome Heart” vinyl record.
This Friday.

This is it.