John Helix – Tune Out, Turn Off, Disconnect

Tune Out, Turn Off, Disconnect John Helix Album Cover

San Diego-based indie singer-songwriter John Helix is releasing Tune Out, Turn Off, Disconnect on March 4th. It’s the follow-up to Helix’s 2015 critically acclaimed album Chronic Happiness. The album’s title takes its cue from Timothy Leary’s famous acid-laced dictum. Accordingly, Helix pounds, strums and sings his way through a contemporary existential crisis and it is a joy to behold.

Helix describes his sound with German term ‘Weltschmerz’ which essentially translates to romantic sadness – a feeling of generalized sentimental pessimism. Reflective, pensive and full of bittersweet nostalgia, Helix creates melancholy pop songs laden with double-entendre and insightful commentary, a sound that has increasingly attracted crowds of generally disillusioned but not hopelessly cynical fans.

After listening to and loving Helix’s albums and being a sometimes depressed indie music blogger, I asked Google simply: Are indie music listeners depressed?

The first result was a blog post from The Guardian of questions and answers posed to the Indie Professor. Here’s the question asked by Richard Minkley via email:

I’m quite into Radiohead and realise that their music is quite depressing or melancholy which gives it a bit more of an edge. Why is depression so often linked to good music?

The Indie Professor’s answer began:

As Poe wrote in his exposition on The Raven, “Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariable excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all poetic tones.” This sentiment is not an aesthetic universal, but the product of the same ideologies discussed above. In melancholy, the puritan distrust of sensual pleasures meets the romantic value of extreme emotions.

Puritanism rejects indulgence and if you can’t indulge yourself, what better way to experience emotional intensity than to gather pleasure from pain? The more acute the emotional experience, the more validating it is. This is why much of the music that is the heartland of indie culture is melancholic, disconsolate and miserable. The taste and sensitivity to experience pathos shows that one is a member of the aesthetically elect. The intersection of puritan/romanticism takes unrequited longing as superior to physical satisfaction. Physical satisfaction is seen as the dominion of other music genres; hence the uneasy relationship between indie and dance.

Another result to my Google question was an article referring to a 2008 study where preferred music style is tied to personality. Here’s how indie music fans are described: They have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle.

I found this information interesting while reviewing Helix’s new album. It’s relevant because the album started out surprisingly upbeat until Helix tore his ACL in a jiu-jitsu tournament. The injury and 8-month recovery resulted in a somewhat self-destructive headspace and left Helix feeling disconnected from friends, family, lovers, and even his own sense of self. This dark and heady vibe quickly crept into the material, along with the pull of a variety of artistic influences, including Mark Rothko’s abstract expressionism, Woody Allen’s pedantic humor, and the raw intensity of John Lennon’s early solo work.

The album’s title was ironically not reflective of Leary’s dream of the happy ones being turned-on day-trippers journeying toward a communal destination. In contrast, Helix finds individuals groping for human connection in a cotton candy consumer culture. Reflecting upon this, Helix asserts, “I feel my message is a nice antidote to the prevalent ‘buy this and click this’ mentality, which to me is the opposite of searching for real meaning.”

In the end, Helix finds catharsis in the culminating track, where the narrator of the album concludes that even though he has gone through the depths of hell, the isolated place he finds himself doesn’t reflect who he really is. Helix is quick to point out that the heavy lifting was a catalyst for positive change and looking back at his creative process, notes, “I felt so lost and disconnected from the world, but all along I knew there had to be a way back, because so many have walked this road before, it’s almost like I’m retracing their steps”.

You can stream the cleverly-titled track “Roman Tic” below and buy Tune Out, Turn Off, Disconnect on March 4th.

Connect with John Helix:
Official Website

R.I.P. Lucy 2000-2015

There are thousands of cute cat videos online. Today’s motivational post and video are dedicated to my beloved cat Lucy, who passed February 28, 2015. I took this video of Hamlet, Lucy’s best friend, grooming her quite recently. Lucy had pancreatic cancer and I was given just moments to make a decision to put her to sleep. I didn’t know she was sick and she and I hugged goodbye. I kissed her sweet head and it was over quickly. I cry every day I miss her so much.
Within the same week, Hamlet, my feisty and sweet 15 year old, was diagnosed with small cell gastrointenstinal lymphoma. Hamlet began to get sick on Christmas Eve 2014. He saw 2 vets and is under the care of an oncologist. He has a very good prognosis and began chemotherapy pills last night. In addition, he takes chicken flavored prednisolone. He is a fighter and we’re praying he will enter remission.

Food and love

Ever since I joined Weight Watchers I have been meticulously tracking my food and activity through their website and mobile app. What needs to be tracked additionally is my emotional state and mood and how it translates to my food choices.
Love and food are so closely enmeshed in American culture. We share dinners on first dates, we celebrate birthdays with cakes and candles, we cook for people we love. Those are all happy occasions.
What about when you are blue or sad or have no love in your life? That’s when I have turned to food, becoming an emotional eater instead of eating to feed myself. It has been like that for me for several years.
Guess what? Things are getting better! This past New Year’s Eve I was really feeling down. Out of nowhere a band tweeted me that they loved my blog and would I review their single. I hadn’t even posted anything since May. On January 2, I revived my blog and it has been amazing. I love interacting with you who are reading and commenting. What started off as a music blog has morphed into something more personal.
I like sharing my recent experiences with Paul and I will continue to share. I am so much happier than I was a month ago. I have a man in my life who cares about me and is affectionate. The Blizzard brought us closer the last 2 days. I have been making good food choices and eating when I am hungry – learning what it feels like to eat for nutrition and energy. I can do this!

Snowmaggedon 2015 in NYC with Paul

NYC has completely shut down for a snow day today. And that’s when it becomes apparent that having someone special who lives in your apartment building to hunker down with is like really nice.
Five days ago Paul and I spent an amazing day together. We’ve actually spent time together every day since. It was really nice to get a call from Paul yesterday inviting me over as NYC began to shut down.
We talked and ate and tried to find something worth watching on TV. It seems Paul and I don’t have the same taste in movies. I prefer a rom-com and he likes a darker drama/crime film. We do however both love old Errol Flynn/Olivia de Havilland movies, so that’s something to consider renting in the future.
I will admit I am glad I did not have to be alone yesterday. As a single gal, when big events occur and I have no one to share them with I get depressed.
Already things are turning around as Paul is coming to my apartment to watch the Superbowl as I have the flat screen TV. I am looking forward to that.
It has been really nice spending time with Paul. We are definitely good friends. I love that we are neighbors. But aside from a regular good night kiss, it feels more platonic to me. That may be a good thing. I don’t know yet. For me, relationships can take me on an emotional roller coaster. I definitely felt it the day after our first kiss last week. I have so many other things I’m focusing on right now, like trying to get into a computer coding course and working on my writing and this blog, I don’t know if I even want to go to that level. I just really like how things are now.
I will leave with this funny thought: I read that people were posting on Craigslist last night looking for a “Blizzard boyfriend or girlfriend.” Only in NY, kids.
(Photo above is an empty Grand Central Station.All public transit is closed.)

Live Through This – NY1 New Yorker of the Week

I’m going off-topic today to highlight an important organization.

This week local Time Warner Cable news network NY1 profiled Live Through This as their New Yorker of the Week.

Live Through This is a collection of portraits and stories of suicide attempt survivors, as told by those survivors.

I have personally lost several friends to suicide. It is pervasive and no one talks about it. There are also many blogs in the WordPress community whose topics are depression. Kudos to those bloggers for trying to squash the stigma associated with mental illness.

Here’s an excerpt from the Live Through This website.

Live Through This exists for many reasons. Here are some of them:

· It humanizes the issue of suicide by putting faces to the numbers. The survivors who share their stories here are real people who have been through hell. They are also engaging, fascinating people whose voices deserve to be heard. It asks you to look into their eyes, to see their humanity, to find empathy.
· Everybody should know the basic tenet of suicide prevention: If you’re afraid a loved one might be suicidal, ASK. The thought that asking might be putting the idea into your loved one’s head is a myth.
· Depression affects 1 in 10 people–a huge number–but stigma is everywhere. That stigma often results in shame and silence, and the severe depressions that result in suicide frequently go unnoticed. What if this was affecting your mom, your partner, or your best friend?
· The media sensationalizes suicide for stories. You’ve inevitably heard of Aaron Swartz and Tyler Clementi, but how often do you hear about suicides that don’t come with a snappy headline? How often is a story on suicide presented with a sympathetic view of mental illness, or information on warning signs and strategies? Not often.
· Each suicide affects 6 people intimately: I have lost dear friends to suicide. Have you?
· Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, and it’s on the rise. And here we are, afraid of it. I’m convinced that the simple act of getting people to talk about it will save lives. It’s a serious public health issue, and one we can do something about if we can just set our fears aside.

Live Through This

And finally, if you know someone who is depressed, reach out to them. You could save their life.

Every Brilliant Thing – Reason #1009


In Every Brilliant Thing there is a list given by the son to his suicidal mother of brilliant things about life to make her want to keep living.

Here’s the list item I was given to say out loud, when prompted during the show.

Just a sneak peak as my review will be posted soon. I have a lot to say about Every Brilliant Thing and I’m still digesting Sunday night’s performance. Incredible show. Stay tuned…

Every Brilliant Thing

On Sunday evening I will be going to the Off-Broadway show Every Brilliant Thing at the Barrow Street Theatre. It’s a one man show about a son whose mother is suicidal and he comes up with a huge list of reasons she shouldn’t kill herself – but wait – it’s actually supposed to be funny and uplifting and I can’t wait to see it. I will post my review next week.