Category Archives: New York City

Behind These Walls

Okay, so I’ve completely failed at keeping this thing even semi-up to date. My bad. But it’s a new year…so I have a chance to redeem myself (expect some posts in the next couple of weeks, which will most likely taper off by March as per all of my other resolutions).

So back in early November I released my 2nd EP “Through Haze”, which has 6 tracks I’ve been recording for the past 2ish years. I was talking to my Mom about how 2 years is a TON of time for 6 songs, and I had this epiphany of why it all took so long. Unlike the rest of my life, music is the one thing for me that has never had a deadline. There was never anyone checking for milestones, expecting some type of concrete outcome at a certain due date. There was never anyone saying I needed to complete a couple of tracks, to get to the next level of my career. There was never anyone depending on my song, so that they could do a task of their own. And there was never anyone forcing me to put in the time to book recording sessions, hound producers to find ones willing to work with an unsigned artist, and email every single music outlet possible – hoping they would feature an artist who really had no type of backing or following. There was no driver in all of this, except for myself. And life easily gets in the way of everything.

I’ve previously mentioned that it’s been a hard balance to find time for my regular job, music, hobbies, and life in general. I’ve never been the best at prioritizing and I often think that may be my big regret when I look back. There are times when it gets hard to prioritize music, because there really hasn’t been any type of “pay back” compared to other parts of my life. I work, so that I get “paid back” money. I meet friends, so that I get “paid back” memories. I often forget that the big “pay back” for me with music is really my actual sanity. Music has always been my therapy, and writing has been my way of tracking and remembering my emotion during different life events.

When I first started writing “Behind These Walls”, I had just been let go from a job that I moved to NYC to do (literally I was bawling on the subway on the way home, playing this song on my headphones and writing lyrics…I looked more insane than the homeless man next to me, eating his own hair). After a big company merger, I really had no idea what was left of my career – which to me was the thing that defined me as a New Yorker. Anytime I met someone new, their first question was usually “what do you do in the city?”. Not having an answer for that left me feeling completely unsure of my identity. Yet at the same time – I was posting new music and putting pictures on social media of how happy I was. I used social media as a mask, to show that I was incredibly lucky to be living this life – despite how confused I was and how unsure I was (and still am) of what the future held. I think in life I had built up walls to hide behind – all to avoid looking weak. We continue to soldier on, even when we may be crumbling inside sometimes.

And that’s truly what we wrote the song “Behind These Walls” about. It’s by far the most personal song on the EP, and includes only cello & piano. We recorded it at The End Studio in Brooklyn, and really just sang through it a couple times to make sure the sound was as raw as possible. The rest of the album is a lot more produced. The rest of me in general, is a lot more produced. But this song is the most honest piece of my music and myself.

 

P.S. You can download it for free on my soundcloud as well. Big shout outs to Nick Stubblefield and Jordan Garner for the cowriting action – y’all be the wings beneath my wings forreal.

Hope everyone had a great New Year 🙂

Shilpa

 

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2015…the Year of Real Memories

He always stood on that corner though. That corner right below the large red CVS sign with the automatic doors, which weren’t always so automatic. It didn’t matter if it was pouring rain or if it was sweltering heat – he stood there with the exact same expression, the same demeanor…just watching. He wore the same torn up black sweatshirt, with holes in both elbows from his years of being out on the streets. Observing every pedestrian passing by, studying the details of their face; I assumed he somehow knew every facet of my life. I felt every walk home from work gave him another glimpse of myself, another secret I unintentionally shared with him or story never meant to be told. I always slightly tilted my head up to look up at his tired face… wondering, “what happened to this man?” I’d then quickly return my eyes to the ground and scurry past him sheepishly. His eyes had an innocence in them like that of a child and his face always seemed to be in a semi-permanent smile, like he was almost greeting people. It was puzzling for me to see someone who had so little, still maintaining some bit of personality, some inkling of pride.

What did he dream of becoming? What happened that steered him so far away from the person he sought to be? Was this the life he imagined? I had so many questions for him, yet each day I went along the same path maintaining the same pattern of behavior. I felt guilty as if I was doing something wrong and constantly wondered if he envied the life of the people around him. I wondered if he envied the large amount of wealth that defined New York City, the residents with their 3 cell phones tapping away, perpetually late for their 9 a.m. Tuesday meeting. I wondered if he felt needed, purposeful, or loved. Did he have aspirations that were never fulfilled?

But I also wondered if he felt sorry for me and for everyone walking around me in uniform. Could he read the stress on our aged faces, groaning over how much money was made or lost that day, trekking to unfulfilling jobs – just striving to fit in with society norms? Did he secretly smirk at everyone on their iPhone, who missed the beauty around them because they had to answer another incoming client email? Did he see that 11-year-old kid on his cell miss an important moment with his father due to his Snapchatting? Was he wondering how and why we made decisions, which drove us into ultimate unhappiness? All this time I had been judging a man who actually appeared perfectly content with his life…never taking a step back to evaluate my own.

I’ve pondered on what my main New Years resolution would be for this year. I’ve drafted many versions of this blog post since January 1st but as I sit on this plane back to New York, this will be the final draft for a resolution. And that is…to be in the moment more. To enjoy every second, to savor the present, to put my phone down and embrace life and try to lock it in my memory and not just on social media. To take notice of the world around me, to listen, and to focus on solutions instead of dwelling on problems. I want to make sure I’m doing something I really want to be doing, and not just something that has become automatic, habitual and expected. For 2015, I’ve taken inspiration from an unexpected place. A man on a lonely corner on 42nd street has inspired me to be happy, to live, to feel, and to just be.

Lots of love,

Shil