Everything, All At Once

Despite living with it most of my life, depression is one of the things I find most difficult to describe in conversation with those who don’t experience it regularly.

What’s wrong? What are you sad about? I’ve been asked.And therein lies the tricky part: two questions – always posed out of genuine concern – for which I have no answers. More often than not, there is nothing specifically wrong. No complicated issue to solve.

Most times I’d hesitate to even say I’m sad.

Depression just is. More of a numbness. An inability to feel emotions for much at all. Formless dread. Almost an out-of-body sensation, like a separation from myself and everyone else – even those closest to me. I’m not convinced I’m even doing it justice with this blurb.

So, because I tend to have more emotional clarity when mashing poetry and melody together – I made this song to see if I could better explain how depression often feels for me.


Behind the lyrics

In attempting to describe the inner nothingness I’d feel at my (frustratingly frequent and inescapable) low moments, it occurred to me that there must’ve been no greater vacancy than whatever void existed before all matter. Before the universe. Before deities dreamed us to life, or before the big bang exploded us into being. That felt like it could have been true nothingness.

So I started there.

before there was the universe / i can’t say what there was
i imagine it was dark / and i bet that it echoed
before there was anything / everything, all at once
from a thought or blazing spark / i think i know exactly how it felt

when there was nothing at all
no mind / no matter

For the second verse it seemed fitting to try to capture my inability to describe this feeling for people. I wondered how empty humans may have felt before language. Before we could speak to one another about our thoughts and emotions. That felt like it could have been nothingness too.

before we had a history / did we know who we were?
i imagine us living for so long / but never having words
to understand anything / everything, all at once
before we stopped and tried to talk / i think I know exactly how it felt

when there was nothing at all
no mind / no matter

I wrote the words in 2014 and have always been attached to them. I’m glad that in 2020 they found a musical home.


Am I a producer now?

No joke, this is the first song I’ve created all on my own.* Top to bottom.

Lyrics. Composition. No problem. I’ve got files upon files of halfway-there ideas. I’m always putting off finishing songs because, before now, I’d always lean on my expert pals for mixing and mastering – skills that, despite being a musician nearly my whole life, I’ve – surprise! – also put off honing.

As 2020 rolled in I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and to push myself to learn more about those elements of production. Maybe then I’d actually finish some music this year.


[An aside: During the song’s intro, the whale-like sound you hear twice is actually a manipulated sample of a ‘chirp’ recorded by the LIGO experiment in 2016. This sound depicts gravitational waves created when two far-off black holes collided. Felt like an apt easter egg to include for some reason]

Homemade song? Homemade video.

YouTube just doesn’t like songs without visuals (go figure!), so I thought I should get moving on that too.

Spending much money wasn’t an option however, so with free-for-use video, contributed to Pexels by generous creators, I stitched together clips I thought spoke to the subject matter at hand (at least tangentially).

Not wanting to call sewn-together stock footage my music video, I headed to my friend Brian Chard’s place with my .mov file and a projector to get a bit creative.

We shot on Sunday afternoon. By midnight, I was home and finished the first edit. On Monday, Brian gave it a few passes for colour and what not, and – boom! – now it’s online.

Why make things complicated right?

PS – huge thanks to Brian!


Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post and, more importantly, the song. If so, please share with your friends and on ur socials. I make music for enjoyment (and peace of mind) these days, but it still feels nice when it finds new ears. Furthermore, if the tune stirs your own thoughts/reflections on mental illness leave me a comment here, on YouTube, or on Instagram. There might be a deeper discussion worth nurturing if we chat about it with one another.

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