The concept for this project is meant to express the different stages of my experience with grief in losing my father to addiction and mental illness. 

 

The songs were created from scratch over the course of three days, a song each day. I worked collaboratively with Juan Carreno who’s producer alias is Ariza. We had worked on a couple of co-releases previously and the energy in the room working together was electric and unlike any experience I had previously had with another musician. When I had the idea for this project I knew he would be the perfect fit in executing my vision musically. 

 

Up until this point in my career I have been working with different producers on singles here and there, but felt reluctant to approach a full project. I knew I wanted a collection of songs to feel conceptual and concise without being contrived. When I got down to thinking about all my experiences and everything that's happened in my life I realized there was a lot of trauma that I had been avoiding approaching creatively. Thinking and talking about my loss often felt uncomfortable, I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me and I felt like I had moved on and it was a part of my past that I didn’t want to revisit. What I came to understand about these old feelings stored away is that there were many people in the world who had experienced grief, addiction, mental illness and had no outlet to express or process through these feelings.  My ability to transform an emotional experience into something tangible and even beautiful has always been extremely healing for me and I started to realize that it could be healing for others as well. I knew that it was important for me to share this story with the world. It was hard for me to even remember what that fresh grief felt like since I was 17 when he passed and I had grown so much since it happened. I started to look through old journals and poems I had written during the time and it all flooded back to me. I think that some part of me wrote these stories imagining them from the perspective of my father and his grief in losing himself to his own demise as well as my own perspective of losing him from the outside. The videos were shot over the course of three days with help from friends in film, I wrote the screenplay and co-directed it with my talented friend Andrew Garcia who's known for making pieces that are very emotionally moving. They are meant to take place as a 3 part short film following the character through internal isolation, external searching and over indulgence, and finally a balance of the internal and external, acceptance and a sense of wholeness. 

Part I : Alone

I remember when I first went back to school after losing my dad, I felt so isolated. I felt like no one knew what to say to me or how to be there for me. It was the first time in my life that I realized no one could understand how I truly felt and what I was going through.

 

Musically that feeling is expressed first through the stark piano drone note which establishes an uncomfortable and anxious tension, like when you wake up in the morning and forget for a minute that something terrible has happened. When the chorus drops, the tempo change hits you like a ton of bricks. It represents that youthful realization that the world is not a perfect place- like when you find out Santa isn’t real.

 

Visually these emotions are represented by a haunting red tinge that makes reference to early horror films. We see our character restless and sleepless, alone in a stagnant bedroom haunted by her own dark thoughts. She runs herself a bath in an attempt to cleanse herself of her sickness and grief. The only way it seems she can outrun the cries of her distant memories is to submerge herself completely. 

Lyrics:

I’ve been filling the spaces 

in the palm of my weak hand 

I’ve Got nothing to offer

To make you understand 

Been feeling so graceless 

Been losing the purpose 

I’m searching for something

that no one can give me 

It keeps on reminding 

 

I’m alone 

I will always be 

On my own 

 

When I notice your absence 

In my reoccurring dreams 

And I start asking questions 

The answers been hiding 

I hope that it finds me

 

The gift of existence 

Should be enough to fill me up

But there isn’t a substance 

That could fill my empty cup

 

Obsessive and restless

Compensate for lack of love 

Searching for something

that no one can give me

it keeps on reminding

 

I’m alone 

I will always be 

On my own 

 

no matter who I love

No matter where I go 

Body holds onto soul

And when I rest my bones 

It’s written on my stone 

Everybody dies alone

Part II : Enough

After resorting to extreme isolation and turning inward for many months I started to search for external factors to fill the empty space inside me. I searched for it in drugs and alcohol in an effort to feel closer to understanding my father’s substance abuse but all it really did for me was make me feel more numb.I searched for it in people, trying to fulfill the love and validation that had been taken out from under me. I starved myself, I over ate, I slept too much, slept too little. The emotions I felt during that time are encompassed in a single question- “Will it ever be enough?”

 

The visuals for this song are set in a chaotic night through NYC where we see our character searching for whatever it is that she thinks will make her feel whole again. She finally feels release when she finds herself at the ocean, a ritual to cleanse and clear the pain of loss. The ocean scene was a really important setting for the project overall. 

 

When I first moved to the east coast, I brought a little bottle of his ashes and spread it in the sea to feel his presence more strongly in my journey into young adulthood. I had avoided going to the ocean since spreading his ashes because it often felt too painful. It was particularly cathartic filming this scene as I entered the waters to meet the rising sun. It felt like a big emotional release, In that moment I felt closer to him then I ever had and I realized that some part of him would always be with me. 

Lyrics:

 

Running on nothing been walking all night 

Struggling trying to ease my sleepless mind 

Discipline didn’t ever sit right

Bitterness sinking in 

Maybe it’s just part of my design 

 

I need a quick fix 

need something different 

whatever this is, I keep wondering 

 

Will it be enough to bind me? 

Will it ever be enough to feed my appetite?

Cause I’m never satisfied with what I’ve got 

Will it ever be enough to bind me? 

 

Caught up in the moment 

Getting caught up in the high 

Betting my everything 

On those silver lines 

Loving don’t pick me up like it should 

Longing don’t give enough but I know it hurts me so good 

 

I need a quick fix 

Baby just give me it 

I know it’s fleeting 

But I just can’t quit 

 

Will it be enough to bind me 

Will it ever be enough to feed my appetite

Cause I’m never satisfied with what I’ve got 

Will it ever be enough to bind me, bind me 

Will it ever be enough?

Part III: Feel it all

After isolation, after endless searching, I reached a point of understanding. Maybe that hole within me might not ever be filled, maybe that deep pit of darkness was something I needed to explore to make peace with it. At a certain point in my grieving process, I realized I could no longer numb and push down my emotions. I wanted to feel everything, I wanted to accept the reality of my situation and live life to it's fullest, finally understanding it's fragility. I was wearing a mask to appear stable, to make others feel more comfortable. I could only find healing when I was able to approach the pain head on. Musically this feeling is expressed with major chords and a danceable groove, textural elements like pizzicato strings and soaring harmonies. The visuals are a continuation of the story from the second song in the trilogy, we enter the scene emerging from the ocean having found release, finally. Our character makes her way to a roof as the sun is rising and she is moving, singing, back in her body after feeling removed for so long. Entering the chorus we see a group of dancers emerge, symbolizing the parts of herself she has been hiding away. This is the first time in the trilogy we see her connecting, supported, whole again. We filmed this video on father's day and I remember feeling his presence a lot that day, I felt a serendipitous message of hope and encouragement when there happened to be bootleg fireworks going off on the street below that made it into our shot. Though the pain of losing someone never really goes away, the way you learn to live with it can change and develop over time. This project overall is a visual and auditory representation of that change.

Lyrics:

 

I’m feeling everything at once

it’s always all or nothing,

at least I’m feeling something

Other than numb

Cause it’s been so long

Open my eyes to see what’s real

Been living an illusion

I need a resolution I

’ve taken the time to heal

And I’m starting to move on

 

I want to feel it all

(Living life from the outside looking in Seems like a real safe place doesn't it)

I want to feel it all

(I been Keeping face for the hell of it Now I just wanna feel everything)

 

I’m getting dizzy from your touch

It used to never phase me

Your love is gonna save me If it doesn’t take too much

Cause I never have enough

 

I want to feel it all

(Living life from the outside looking in Seems like a real safe place doesn't it)

I want to feel it all

(I been Keeping face for the hell of it Now I just wanna feel everything)

© 2019 Miette Hope