WELCOME

Hello, I'm Cygne (looks intimidating, but it's pronounced seen). I just completed a fifteen-country tour in support of my latest album, Let It Breathe. Right now I'm taking a pause to do just that. Please enjoy the music and writing and if you feel moved to, please say hello.

Sign up to receive monthly inspiration & a special download.

NEWS

Take Me Home: White Sulphur Springs, MT 

July 26, 2013

I was invited to play a festival in White Sulfur Springs. Merle Haggard would headline, along with Todd Snider, Robert Earl Keen, and other names people recognize. As with other little acts I was asked to play for exposure, which meant a spot to camp in the high desert mid-summer. Having no money, no tent, and a very full car, I obviously said yes and began searching for local concerts to supplement my exposure (to heatstroke), and hopefully, shelter. 

On short notice options were limited; however just an hour and a half away a biker bar in Helena offered me the second set in a three-act metal show and $200. I was thrilled. My third grade state report was on Montana and one of my bffs is Helena, so how bad could it be? (This is why artists need managers.) 

The first act was a three-armed four-piece metal duo. Lugging his Marshall stack onstage with one arm the singer-guitarist-bassist provided me with a new definition for hardworking musician. He screamed, strummed, thumped while my teeth rattled against my chest. I wondered how the crowd would receive my acoustic ballads… but this wasn’t my first metal show. (Metalheads dig alternate tunings.) 

As I began the crowd was silent, attentive, supportive. Then the third act showed up and began dry-humping in front of the stage, shouting profanities and - from where I stood - preparing to kill me. There was a lot of tongue and a lot of fist. I started doubting whether I could hold things together when the sound guy and one of the bartenders dragged the humpers outside and restored peace. I sold a dozen CDs, packed up my gear, and opened the stage door… to a wall of flames. 

Having been obstructed from expressing his anger in general, and towards me, in particular, Humper #1 had set fire to empty boxes and beer cases, alarmingly close to my car. That is, about to explode everything I own. I stood in the doorway not knowing how to respond when once again Bartender and Sound Guy appeared, practically leaping over my head to put out the blaze. (This wasn’t their first metal show.) 

I drove back to White Sulphur Springs in silence, admiring the dark silhouette of the mountains... and smiling. For having survived another night on the road. For the audience, the staff, the musicians - even the humpers. For the money in my pocket and the songs that brought me here. For the festival organizer, who let me sleep in her Airstream. For the Canadians, who adopted me for the remainder of the weekend. For Todd Snider, who made the drive from California worthwhile alone. And most of all, for the exposure.

Thank you.

Current Inspiration: Donald Glover 

Our internet has been down since the storm (a couple weeks ago) which means that I'm even more out of the loop than usual (which is very out of the loop). Plus I live in the woods and my neighbors are (in descending order of population) bugs, birds, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, raccoons, horses, and humans (very rare sightings) and none of them have been online either. So I've been deeeeep in my hole and, I'll admit, proud of my monastic ways. I actually thought I'd be able to maintain them when back online. HA!

Now that service is restored I've been binge-watching Dave Chappelle and French children's movies, and tonight I fell into my favorite, "let's Google people I went to school with and feel shitty about myself." Yes... I do this. Very rarely, but after a long period of abstinence of course I'm going to go deep into the other extreme. And I'm glad I did. Because it led me to this: 

With hundreds of millions of views I guess this is old news now? Like that big wedding and all those funerals? We churn through everything so quickly now... and yet some things reach through the screen, grab us, and don't let go. 

Take Me Home: Land of Awes 


A few days ago I sat at my desk as the sky turned from blue to gray to green. In the time it took to go outside, close an umbrella, and turn on the electric kettle, a tornado whipped through the area, leaving me in the dark with my hot water. 

Hot water. If you know me you know it's my drink of choice. And I love a long bath. For years I've said it's the ultimate luxury - cold hostel, early morning train, crappy gig - all (most) forgiven with the addition of hot water. 

As birdsong signaled the end of the storm I felt relieved. We were safe. Then I thought: shit, I should've showered this morning. Then I thought: Puerto Rico. Gaza. Port-au-Prince. Aleppo. Kathmandu. Mumbai. Hundreds and thousands and millions without electricity or plumbing, with or without bombs and bullets whipping overhead, never mind an electric kettle. 
 
Just now I crossed the street to fill a pot of water from the lake so I can flush the toilet. I cannot describe the overwhelming awe and gratitude I feel for the soft rain, the full pantry, the proximity to water, and the ability to heat it. We joke about #firstworldproblems but I would happily, gratefully, ecstatically never shower or look at this stupid device again if only everyone had enough food, water, and warm, safe haven. 
 
I can't tell if my heart is breaking for the insane abundance right here, right now, or for the insane disparity right here, right now.

Cross-country highlights and everything on sale! 

It’s said that we overestimate what we can accomplish in a year and underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years. Similarly, I think we overestimate the length of a cross-country drive and underestimate the length of Pennsylvania. Sheesh. After I-I-I-O that final stretch of I-80 is lllong!! But I am so happy and grateful and relieved to have successfully completed another continental crossing. :)

Back at the starting line I feared I wouldn’t make it because after I sent the last email update I went outside and discovered that my car - along with everything I own - was gone. Before you lecture me know that I normally don’t leave anything I’d be devastated to lose in my car (mainly my guitar and my computer containing thousands of pages and hours of work). But as it was Sunday morning and people were waking up and jogging and smoothie-ing… and as I was on my way to sing at the OC Center for Spiritual Living (so much good juju)… and as it was just a teensie weensie quickie stoppie…

Yes, friends... I gambled my life’s work, my house on wheels, and my beloved panda bear... for a smoothie. But - under a crisp blue sea-breezy sky, pacing in circles, hyperventialing on the phone with the LAPD, trembling so hard that my teeth were chattering, I realized - hey - wait! - my car wasn’t missing! I was on the wrong block!

LMAO. Sleep deprivation is not only dangerous, it's embarassing. And in the best case scenario, it’s also hilarious.With a renewed sense of gratitude (not to mention pulse) I sang and journeyed on to Phoenix, arriving just in time for a pre-sleep swim. Floating underneath palm trees and a third quarter moon after having regained all my material possessions I recorded a memory I will replay anytime I doubt that I'm incredibly blessed and that the universe is a magical place to live (basically anytime I accidentally watch the news).

Then Santa Fe… oh, how I love Santa Fe! Lilacs dangled in sweet bunches of grape goodness and Meow Wolf is just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. The shows in Taos, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas were the perfect exhale to Let It Breathe.

Then in Denver I reunited with a soul sister and soul doggy and we walked around a lake until cherry blossom drizzle turned to rain. Then we watched Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and laughed and laughed until my heart felt very plump and pink. 

Then the serious hauling began. Denver to Omaha to Bowling Green to home. Halfway through Illinois I was pulled over for using my hands-free headset (apparently this is illegal in a bunch of states) but the real reason was that the (very nice) officer was looking for drugs. What's weird is that seconds before I'd been thinking about "Great Whites," which I'd written on the same stretch of road the last time I'd driven it (some five years ago) and I thought, "Oh, man, I hope I don't get pulled over and searched." #lawofattraction

Officer Nice questioned my Santa Cruz bumper stickers and the strange herbal fragrance (he hit his head on a smudge stick when he leaned inside the passenger window), but when he asked to look in the trunk what he saw either scared the hell out of him or he has good sense because my car was packed so tightly had he searched it I don't know if we would've been able to fit everything back inside. Like a parachute. Of stuff. 

He let me go without a warning and I was very grateful however I couldn’t help thinking that had I been wearing different skin our encounter might’ve gone very differently. The remaining thousand miles were solemn. I felt very shaken and sad. 

How to steady myself in these moments of despair? Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations (always).

If you can believe it I didn't listen to any music on this trip (except for a few works in progress) but I listened to a bunch of audiobooks - A Gentleman in Moscow got me through the desert and Year of Yes and Mom & Me & Mom got me home. I especially recommend the latter for this season of motherhood/Mother consciousness. I save Maya Angelou for emergencies, such as when I’ve lost all perspective and I’ve begun screaming (literally) in the final hours of a drive. Her voice is balm to my frayed nerves and her stories have me sitting upright and alert right through the finish line. Gratitude. Perspective. Grace. Wisdom. To know we are not just what life makes of us but what we make of life.

And then I woke up to this. 
Spring. In the spirit of moms, dads, grads, you, me, Meow Wolf, friendship, lilacs, cherry blossoms, Officer Nice, Maya Angelou, and the daring red squirrel I watched dash across a four-lane freeway during morning rush hour - everything in the store is 20% off and all music ships for free! 

Happy Mother's Day. May you birth something glorious. 

Cygne

 

 

 

Current Inspiration: my record player 

For the first time in over four years I woke up and turned on my record player. As I lie on the floor listening I re-realized that one of the many things I love about music is its movement - not just of the music being played, but of that which is playing music. Records, CDs, cassettes… revolution. Revolution is essential to music. Music is essential to revolution. 

I feel fortunate to be alive when music still spins. It’s so magical! Like earth, chakras, breath... maybe this is why streaming doesn’t work for me. Aside from the fact that everything’s compressed to shit and makes my head hurt (not to mention that artists aren’t fairly compensated) it’s energy is so… scattered. One song streams and spills into the next, a big jangly mess of all the wrong keys. Even when I play my favorites, they never make it past the porch. My body remains locked. In need of revolution. 

Maybe I’m loopy after driving 4000+ miles but I’m always loopy and that’s the point. We loop. We spin. Might as well commit to a groove and let it play out. :) In the spirit of spring spirals and new nests everything in the online shop is 20% off plus FREE SHIPPING on everything that spins! 

So happy to be home again. Different yet same home. What a trip. Sending an email as soon as I upload the pics.

To sing up the earth 

Happy Earth Day! 

With the Pacific in the rearview and desert winds calling me east I'll have many opportunities to appreciate Earth today. I hope you do, too.
Before I launch I wanted to share this clip from To Spring from the Hand, a film about the life and art of Paulus Berensohn. It inspired me so much last fall (you might've already seen a clip on the blog) that I doubt I'd be on this journey had I not seen it. (Though you know I love a road trip.) It feels especially relevant today as we honor this eARTh project we're all part of. If you're feeling a little stagnant or in need of inspiration here you go

To be inspired we must first exhale. Otherwise there's no room! We need space - where would Earth sit without all this space? - so that we can welcome inspiration. Children are so inspired (and inspiring) because they scream all the time - wow! wheee!! wahhh!! - creation moves through them. They surrender to the chaos. They are chaos. They let it go. Their aliveness is contagious (or really annoying if you're in close quarters) because their embodied expression of chaos reminds us that we, too, are alive and capable of expressing whatever unique form of creation is being called forth from within us at any given moment, never to be repeated or replicated, though echoed through eternity-infinity-space-time-whatever's-out-there-in-here-everywhere-forever-et-cetera-I-don't-understand-but-it's SO COOL!

Overtime adults try to hold on, box up, and put a price tag on this magic. It becomes stagnant. So immersed in our projects - our "work" - we forget to exhale. We cling what once inspired, our vision narrows, and our focus becomes mastery, production, survival. Our work becomes our worth. I must do this to keep on living. My life depends on this. I'm worthless without this. Blah blah blah. Obviously I'm speaking from personal experience. 


I worked so hard to make a living with my art. It was killing me. All I ever wanted was to express, connect, experience, create. Fortunately I never lost this awareness but I struggled more than I needed to, becoming hooked on noise rather than trusting the sweet desert song weaving through my spine. So I started to exhale... and I'm still exhaling... and I'm still alive. Art is inspired. Earth wants us to bloom.  


As Paulus says, "This earth is alive... and the function of the artist is to sing up the earth. It isn't to make a career, it isn't to be famous, it is to sing up the earth." We are all artists and Earth is our greatest teacher. We can chase carrots, or we can grow them. We can struggle for likes, or we can embrace love. We can suffer through life, or we can celebrate our lives.

It's easy to take what we love for granted but Earth has so many creative ways of getting our attention. Thank you for paying attention. Thank you for being here and for creating your unique beauty. I look forward to sharing these creations with you in the months and years to come.  

Love, 

Cygne

P.S. Here are SW tour stops this week: 

Apr 22 FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CA @ Center for Spiritual Renewal, 10am 
Apr 26 TAOS, NM @ The Mothership, 7pm
Apr 27 SANTA FE, NM @ Oxygen & Healing Bar, 7pm
Apr 29 SANTA FE, NM @ Center for Spiritual Living, 10am