Here's my letter to Santa/The Universe/God/Creator/Great Spirit/All-One/Whom It May Concern:
I wrote "Miracles" last New Years' Eve when I returned from Europe. Between the refugee crisis and the attacks in Paris I was desperate for meaning and purpose. My friend Stephi urged me to make a list of my desires so that I might reignite my imagination and find joy again. At first it felt ridiculously indulgent to want for anything while safe, warm, and well-fed. But soon the words started flowing and I found myself laughing. The original version of this song (basically a list of what I want) was over forty-five minutes!
This summer I brought the lyrics to Steve Rossiter at Axis Sound and over the past several months we've (he's) transformed it into the opus you now hear. You can pre-order the album now on bandcamp and in the webstore. If you can, please help support the refugees by donating and voicing your concern to your representatives.
I hope you enjoy it, and that "Miracles" inspires your own. Here's to a miraculous 2017!
Greetings! I'm Cygne, a songwriter-guitarist based in Santa Cruz, California (looks intimidating, but it's pronounced seen). I just completed a fifteen-country tour in support of my latest album, Let It Breathe. (Enter your email to the right and I'll send you an acoustic version!) Right now I'm taking a pause to write-reflect-record-reeeelax and I'm documenting my discoveries-uncoveries-recoveries here as well as on Instagram. If you feel moved to, please say hello!
Can't believe it. Everything sounds so good. I went for a run in thirty-degree weather today and I was smiling so hard listening to it my gums froze! AGH! Steve (mystery-man-muscle-shoals-dream-team-joy-machine) outdid himself turning my lil acoustic demos into an album I love more and more and more and more with every listen. For six months we've been talking nearly daily, going back and forth and sculpting these songs out of the ether. And now an album is born!
Insanely grateful. What a year. It's been challenging for all of us and I hope these songs are good friends to you, as they have been to me.
The public release will be in early 2017 (you can order limited edition signed copies now) and in the meantime here's some loving music that's keeping me mellow through album-release-holiday-baking-mania.
Happy New Year! So much love!!
Today my rainbows are the veterans at Standing Rock. <3
Get on the phone. Call your representatives. This spreadsheet does practically everything except the dialing.
Cease to do business with big banks. Move your money to a credit union (no fees!) or support a local bank.
Consider contacting and/or boycotting these companies.
Consume less, create more. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Pick up trash. Grow things. Even a pot of herbs by the kitchen window can remind us of our connection to the planet (and reduce packaging/emissions). Buying directly from local farms benefits the environment and supports your local economy (plus your food will taste better).
Move your body. Breathe deeply. Be in nature. Be with other humans. Listen. Call a friend. Journal. Look for role models. Be a role model. Volunteer. Practice gratitude. Be kind. Unplug. Tune in.
Walk, bike, carpool. Allow other vehicles to merge. Travel at a safe speed.
My friend Daryl Wein posted this amazing list to Facebook (social media isn't all bad):
Want to know what specific action you can take post-election to help turn things around? Zoe and I made a list! Re-post and share with others. We would like to encourage you to really double down and commit to action; not just to talk the talk, but to walk the walk if you care about the future of our world. Many important issues are under attack like climate change, immigration, reproductive rights..etc. As much as we would like to, we cannot just resort back to life as usual. Actually do something! 1 hour a week, it's not that hard! Make a reminder on your iCalendar if you have to. Here's a practical list of action items you can start with....
1) Support Keith Ellison for DNC Chair
2) Oppose Stephen Bannon for Trump's Chief Strategist
This is a known anti-semite, misogynist, racist, and his appointment is being celebrated by Neo-Nazi's countrywide. The most effective way is to call. It takes 2 minutes! They have to pick up. Make your voice heard.
Paul Ryan- (202) 225-3031
Mitch McConnell- (202) 224-2541
3) This is a great resource to figure out any phone number of a senator or congressman in your area to call and fight for an issue you believe in with a guide for talking points!
4) Donate to state-level Democrats in fierce recount/run-off battles
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a pragmatic progressive in an important swing state, needs your help. Roy is ahead by 1,600 votes in the race for Governor of North Carolina, but facing a potentially expensive recount, he needs to raise $1 million to ensure every vote is counted. Roy's opponent, the incumbent Governor of North Carolina, signed one of the most homophobic pieces of legislation in modern history, and presided over poll closings and other tactics clearly designed to suppress the vote on November 8th. Contributions of even $100 will help ensure that North Carolina will get the pro-choice, environmentally conscious governor its voters chose on Tuesday. Click here to contribute.
Foster Campbell is headed to a run-off against John Kennedy for Senator of Louisiana. Let’s help him seize this opportunity to pick up another seat in the Senate and move the count to 49 Democrats vs. 51 GOP.
This is just one of the wonderful activist groups out there trying to make a difference called Art Not War/Humanity for Progress started by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Laura Dawn. They have over 100k subscribers already and are wonderful at organizing around important issues.
6) Donate to Standing Rock:
The Standing Rock Nation needs help in defending their sacred land and clean water from the Dakota Access Pipeline.
7) Donate to these organizations that need our help now more than ever if you care about abortion rights and racism and gun control...etc. You can give $5 bucks, it helps!
-Southern Poverty Law Center
-National Resources Defense Council
-Everytown for Gun Safety
-Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
-CARECEN, the Central American Resource Center
-National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)
8) Support Investigative Journalism like ProPublica.Org, Mother Jones, Ms. Magazine, the Women's Media Center, and the Nation by subscribing....
Trump has been more than clear that he will be incredibly punishing towards the press, and with Stephen Bannon in tow, Freedom of the Press hangs in the balance. You may feel disappointed in the media's coverage of Trump, but the free press needs our support.
9) Frustrated over election coverage and fluff pieces and click bait pieces...etc, which only helped Trump get elected? These are the email addresses of the "public editors" at these news outlets, who are supposed to monitor the reporting ethics of the orgs. Write to them and tell them you want better reporting next time
10) Myron Ebell, a man who doesn't believe in climate change is set to be in charge of the Environmental Protection agency under the Trump presidency. How bout that for irony. If you believe in science and our environment, sign this new petition!
The White House already removed one crucial petition with 100,000 signatures to remove him, which is outrageous. They are not listening to the people. What can you do? Call those motherfuckers... find your representative below and make your voice heard!
11) Not seeing something to do on here for you, go create something on your own! A small piece of art, a video, a song, a dance, a poem... whatever you can make and share it with the world. Self expression is the best expression.
Lastly and most importantly, take care of yourself. There is a lot of fearful, painful energy bubbling up right now. Find the support you need - therapy, community, creativity, exercise, healthy food, adequate sleep and rest. Our best selves are required now.
Here's a recent interview from The Mercury News on changing my name and letting it breathe:
By PAUL FREEMAN
PUBLISHED: November 16, 2016 at 6:27 pm | UPDATED: November 16, 2016 at 6:29 pm
When an artist has released 10 well-received albums, toured the world and built up a following, the one thing you don’t expect is a name change. But that’s exactly the move that Laura Meyer made three years ago. She’s now Cygne (she pronounces it “Seen”).
Cygne means “swan” in French. And this singer-songwriter’s music has, like a swan, evolved, becoming ever more striking and beautiful. And using the pronunciation “seen” suggests becoming more visible.
“I tried on a few names a few winters ago. I was recording an album and it just felt like, creatively, I had to step away from this identity that solidified over almost 30 years, just for artistic freedom and expression. So I lived and recorded for about three months without a name, which was a really cool experience,” Cygne says, laughing. “To be meeting people and have them ask you, ‘What’s your name?’ And not really know.
“And then I knew I wanted to choose a bird. I do love the swan. It’s transformative, a creature that exists between worlds, both in the water and in the air. I went through Google Translate, looking at different languages. And as soon as saw ‘Cygne,’ I knew that was mine.”
There was trepidation about losing the hard-earned recognition she had garnered as Laura Meyer. She wrote to her fans.
“I explained that I wasn’t becoming a diva or losing my mind. I just needed to have some sort of separation that would free up my creative, spiritual side. That was the intention and people have respected it and have totally embraced the new name.”
A shift in her outlook can be heard, from the Meyer recordings to those of Cygne. “There was a lot of personal struggle in those earlier songs. With Cygne, because there is this slight separation from my personal identity, I feel like my songs are more universal, thematically. There’s always going to be struggle in the music. What makes us sit down to write is some sort of angst and need. But with Cygne, it’s much more ‘we.’ And where there’s a struggle, it’s much more ‘Ah, this is where the light is. This is where the path is.’ So lyrically, it’s holding a higher vibration.”
Spending so much time on the road, there’s a level of exhaustion, which Cygne says clouds the head. “Every year, I need to allow, in my calendar, a gap to rediscover the role of music, the passion and the power, and not just look at it as something that I need to do to pay the bills. It’s always a struggle for people who are using their art to make a living, keeping that creative spirit joyful and vital. That’s the primary job. And we have to protect that.”
She is now completing “Let It Breathe,” her third album under the name Cygne, following “Rise Up” and “Passenger.”
With a successful Kickstarter campaign, Cygne is able to fully realize her vision for the new album. It comes in the wake of her experiences in Paris, during the 2015 terrorist attack.
“It devastated me, naturally. I still am processing my whole world view. Being on the road, I’ve always both looked for and expected the good in people. With the attacks in Paris, it felt like the world was collapsing.
“It’s a strange time on Earth. I was feeling disconnected from the necessity of music, not on a personal level — it’s always my joy and my therapy — but I thought, ‘I should be volunteering at a refugee camp. I should be doing something to create a better world.’ And then the realization came that doing what I love, if I make my intention creating a better world, is the best way that I can serve. After this round of questioning myself, I feel a strong renewed sense of purpose in my music.”
Born in New Jersey, she studied classical violin for 10 years. But she wanted to be Tom Petty. She picked up a guitar, experimented with recordings and played open mics as a folk-blues-rock artist. “I was pretty eager to get my voice out there, before I had something to say,” Cygne says, laughing.
After graduating from high school, she recorded her first album in 2004. Cygne transferred four times in college, but found a home at NYU’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study.
“It was while I was taking a meditation class there that I first heard a voice telling me I had to change my name. It took me seven years of mulling it over and not feeling ready to do something that radical. But it got to the point, when an emcee would introduce me as Laura Meyer, I felt this shaking in me, because Laura Meyer was the perfect student and the good girl and shy. Growing up, I was really shy and quiet. So that would be conjured. And now, when someone says ‘Cygne,’ I feel like I can stand a little taller. It reminds me of what I’ve chosen to do and what I want to do. It’s definitely shifting my way of being in the world.”
Cygne returns to Europe to perform the “Let It Breathe” songs in the spring. She is currently based in Santa Cruz.
While in the Bay Area, she has been performing regularly at Off the Grid locations, including Mountain View, Belmont and Cupertino. She plays the Palo Alto Off the Grid on Monday, Nov. 21. (That location is in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which, under a different name, is where The Beatles stayed for their last concert at Candlestick Park in 1966.)
“While I’m local for a while, it’s nice to see the same friendly faces every week. It’s a relaxed, family atmosphere, great people. And I love that it’s outside. It’s such a stark contrast to a lot of the rock ’n’ roll settings that I’m in, these dark caves, late at night,” she says, laughing. “This is really wholesome.”
A new attitude is developing with her new name. Fully produced with drums and lots of guitars supporting Cygne’s expressive vocals, moving melodies and poetic lyrics, the new album promises to be uplifting.
“The content is very much about transformation and finding the light in the dark. It’s about letting go and not being afraid of letting go. Even with these huge shifts that are happening — environmentally, politically, globally — we’re OK. This is just life on Earth and it’s always been chaotic. But we can still be happy, throughout all of it.”
And through her songs, Cygne helps to make audiences happy. “I can see that music does touch people. I might not ever be famous. I might never be rich from this. But I feel I must do it. And in taking that leap of faith, it also inspires people to do that themselves, to live their truth.”
In the evening I ventured to the metro with my guitar and Patti Smith's M Train. But I couldn't focus. I felt really agitated. Again, this happens, and the fatigue/stress of living on the road makes it difficult to distinguish between intuition and paranoia. I switched trains and noticed a dozen or so soldiers marching through the station. Not uncommon, but my hairs prickled.
Then the concert! Like many nights which follow strange, anxious days it was an absolute joy. A friend from Los Angeles showed up unannounced, a little boy danced and wiggled on the carpet, and there was so much love in that room I perceived a soft golden glow between the audience and me. I silently repeated "I love you" to each person as I sang, and I thought I could happily depart the earth, having experienced such bliss.
Then the agitation returned... what's going on? Was it mine? Was it the audience's? Again, it's hard to distinguish. A man in the back corner pulled his cell phone from his pocket and began shifting in his chair, texting and scrolling anxiously. I kept singing and focusing on the light, but a dark cloud had entered the room. When I finished the concert the rest of us found out about the Bataclan.
There was a fire? It was a shooting? How many?! My brain couldn't process the information it was being told. Since the metro was shut down we hurried to get a taxi, his last ride of the night. The driver frantically texted loved ones as we sat in traffic surrounded by blue ambulance lights, not knowing what would explode next. My elementary French couldn't make sense of the radio but understood perfectly the terrified sounds beside me.
When we arrived back at the apartment I stood frozen in my jacket for nearly an hour before my friend coaxed me to get in bed, not that any of us slept. I couldn't stop thinking about the people in that club. I thought of all the musicians I know, the concerts I've been to, the stages I've stood upon. The night before I'd performed a concert a couple blocks away from the Bataclan, and ended up eating a baguette on the sidewalk outside. 24 hours and that could've been me. Why hadn't it been? What the fuck?! The world is fucked!! My innocence was gone. My worldview, destroyed. My home - the stage, my oasis - no longer a safe space.
However by far the most lingering, deeply disturbing thought is that I experienced such a teeny, tiny taste of terror compared to what millions - MILLIONS - of our brothers and sisters face every day. 13.5 million Syrians. Neither my brain nor my heart can process this knowledge. I still can't. Every day, every time I'm on stage, every time I'm lying in savasana in a cozy yoga studio I'm thinking about our fellow humans and what they must endure. And I'm very sad and very afraid.
The terror struck again Wednesday morning and every day since, with reports of violence against our Muslim family, our lesbian family, our gay family, our transgender family, our black family, our brown family - OUR FAMILY. Tears come in waves, anger surges, grief and shock swirl. More than ever we can't rely on our government to take responsible action on our behalf. We must take responsibility for our actions and for the actions of the government that claims to represent us. NOW.
I just donated to the International Refugee Assistance Project with the money raised by backers in the making of Let It Breathe. It's a drop in the bucket compared to what needs to be done but with enough drops buckets are filled. Thank you for your generous contributions. If you're in the position to donate more please do. More than anything please pledge your love, kindness, compassion, and willingness to help heal the division of the human race. You are urgently needed.
I wrote this song last April when I was deep in existential crisis in Seattle. More than any artist Leonard taught me to "go there" - to be brave and to face my inner darkness because if we're ever going to illuminate the world we must first access the light within.
I can't cry for Leonard. Maybe it's because I've already cried too much this week, maybe it's because now it's quite easy to imagine he's in a better place (!), or maybe it's because I never felt like he belonged here anyway... so much more than our man, he was our guru, sage, and visiting angel.
Thank you, Leonard. I sure hope we can make love next time. <3
I've made a career out of feeling lost - first by putting existential crisis to music, then by constantly traveling. After spending each day not knowing where the hell I am it's tremendously satisfying to land each night onstage somewhere, exactly where I'm "supposed" to be. It gives me a false sense of control, and it distracts me from that greater, deeper lostness that's been driving since day one.
Repetition is soothing. The rhythm of the wheels going 'round and 'round lures us into a sense of safety... it even convinces us that we're progressing or changing because, after all, when we look out the window we see we're moving and it looks different out there tonight than it did this morning.
But stopping? Feeling the loss of feeling lost? That's a whole different story.
We've been sitting at this fork in the road, thinking we know which way we want our country to go but held up by the millions of voices shouting conflicting directions in the giant unmeditated head that is the United States. We just want to GO! We're tired of waiting!! GIVE US THE WHEEL!
But just like we're never really lost - we only perceive ourselves to be - we're never really separate. After the election is over and some voices are angry and some are happy and others are hungry or indifferent or horny or sad - no matter what, all these voices will still occupy and share the same space.
Let it breathe. What could be easier? What could be harder?