I totally failed to notice that November 2018 was the 10 year anniversary of my debut album release, “Save Yourself.” Not only my first album as a singer/songwriter, but also my first as producer. 10 songs, 150 hours of studio time. The project was funded by a start-up record label that signed me as their second artist. It’s mundane these days, but at the time releasing under a record label and having my music available on iTunes was not being done by anyone else I knew (except for my label-mates). These days everyone claims to have a record label and anyone with $20 can release on iTunes (so get to work on your mixtape). We sold 200 physical CDs and some iTunes copies, which was a soul-crushing disappointment for me at the time. Being much more experienced in the game now, I know most artists don’t sell 10 copies. While I didn’t catapult to instant superstar status with my first release, those 200 discs made an impact.
People still bring it up from time to time - their love for it, their memories and the occasional bittersweet reminder that my following works never lived up to the first in their hearts. I get what they see (hear) in it. These days I’m trying to be competitive with contemporary popular music, creating within trends that will only be the temporary hotness. But the directive of Save Yourself at every step of the process was "timeless.” We wrote song arrangements that could’ve been recorded in the 60’s, I avoided any lyrics that would reference current events or anything that could age poorly. If they didn’t do it on a 70’s Stevie Wonder record, I didn’t want it on mine. For the most part (going full T-Pain Autotune on the last track was one of the less successful departures from the old school format).
Listening to Save Yourself as I write this, I’m surprised at how it holds up. I guess we succeeded in the mission to avoid sounding time-stamped. Sometimes my vocals bug me and I don’t love the mixing (which is why I went on to mix as well as produce all my future projects) but hey, we did alright. I’m also struck by how “on-brand” the message is with my current lyrics I’m writing with The Belief Cycle and my vlog series Positive Wave of the Day, where I give brief messages hoping to inspire positivity and personal growth. I wasn’t anywhere near the (imperfectly) positive person that I am today, but I had embarked on the quest for positivity. The song “Awareness” especially showcases this and is the source of the album title.
“Through this music I can see, maybe I could be, the one who, the one who saves me.”
For me it’s music, writing and self-development. Whatever it is for your life, "Save Yourself” is a call to beautify your existence from the inside out. I’m more committed than ever to that calling for myself - to become my best self and follow passion above all, at (almost) any cost. Oh and there’s a bunch of breakup songs too that are somehow also upbeat and positive sounding. People would often tell me in those days “you make feel good music!” The phrase stuck with me, inspiring my Hip Hop/Dance/R&B fusion album series “Feel Good Music.” Some of you reading this may have been there for my first album and didn’t follow my journey further, while others are currently following me for my feel good production style. Whether you like my pop vocal stylings or prefer to hear rappers over my good vibin’ beats, it was all birthed here.
I’ve spoken (typed) of “we” & “us” and this is the part where I finally thank my forever brothers Kevin Neyer, Ryan Marquez, Dave Shanle, Nick Savage (now my brother-in-law), Pete Lombardo, and Andrew Miramonti (who didn’t play on the album but performed dozens of shows in support of it). Their playing, co-writing, and friendship made Save Yourself what it is and to this day I involve these guys in my musical endeavors whenever possible. I also owe thanks to 15 friends that came to the studio to perform handclaps and backing vocals on the song “Drama.”
This was the most supported project of my life. I’ve reached exponentially more ears with newer projects, but the first couldn’t have come to fruition without that support. Thank you to the wonderful people that bought the album and attended the shows. I’ve gone on to perform at large music festivals and venues backing up other vocalists. Hundreds or thousands of festival goers don’t give me the electricity that 150 friends & family at Highway 61 Roadhouse bar & grill gave me at the Save Yourself album release show over a decade ago. From my childhood neighbors to college friends, it felt like people came out of the woodwork to support this album. If you’re reading this and are among those that bought a CD and came to even one show, I haven’t forgotten. If you were there for these times, I’d love if you’d comment to share some of your favorite memories, songs, lyrics, etc.
If you’ve never heard “Save Yourself” or I’ve inspired you to revisit it, I’d be honored if you checked it out to celebrate this anniversary. It’s on all the streaming platforms and digital stores. I’ll link you to the big two -
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/save-yourself/1325370826?uo=4&app=itunes&at=1001lry3&ct=dashboard&app=music&at=1001lry3&ct=dashboard