history

“Seen and Unseen” was recorded over a 12 month period in a guest house, where my wife and I still live now as I write this. This year of recording also included 3 months of teaching myself how to record music, learning the ins and outs of the software and bugging my musician friends on the phone, who are  much more adept in audio engineering than I am, about how to make a something sound good. Around this time, I was living in the east end neighborhood of Los Angeles, Silver Lake, and was working as a trauma tech in the ER of Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.  I felt a tremendous desire to get out of the noisiness and stuffiness of the city and was looking for somewhere else to live that is quiet where I could record my second album.  I found this area that I live in now on accident. I was driving the wrong way on the CA 2 Highway heading north away from the city.  Within a few minutes,  I  was astonished to see a beautiful lush and green valley that was situated in between a small mountain range known as the Verdugo Hills and a much larger system of mountains, the San Gabriels.

Almost immediately , as  I knew my lease going to be up soon in Los Angeles, I began looking for a place in this area called La Crescenta- a made-up Spanish word to describe  the crescent-like shape of the valley that it is within. I got the place and was in awe of how beautiful it was and how quiet it was. It overlooks the mountains and is surrounded by eucalyptus  and live oak trees.  I was so excited. It was all I needed.

Very shortly after this I got the simplest set up I could( in addition to the amazing computer a close friend gave me for the project) and turned my little house into a makeshift studio.

These songs were written over a 3 year time span. Some of them are older, written before I moved to California from South Dakota in 2009. Some of them were written in Los Angeles, in a little garden area of my apartment complex  in Silver Lake and some of them were written in the house in La Crescenta.

“Seen and Unseen” was a major musical journey for me. It marks a time in my songwriting life where I felt things moving into a deeper space and into a more expansive but  less certain realm. I felt intrinsically that I must fearlessly tread this new ground and do things that were different for me . I  hope the album demonstrates this.

I worked in the morning, the afternoon and often until the middle of the night. I smoked a lot of cigarettes, drank a lot of herbal tea, and made a lot of noise. I plugged my electric piano into a distorted amp, plugged in my electric guitar into the same noisy amp,  played the banjo, banged on my wife’s drum kit, recorded the sounds of the Santa Ana winds in winter, I sang like a Trappist monk praying in Gregorian chant,  sang in a scratchy tenor voice, , sang in a deep baritone  voice, sang till I cried, sang till I laughed and everything else in between. Mostly though, I kept working. Some days were amazing and fruitful and some days I wanted to give up and abandon the project entirely.

These songs are very special to me. These songs are typically never about one thing. Most of them are about several different things, ideas and feelings within one song.  Some of them are about love. Some about childhood. Some are stories and experiences . Some about happiness. Some are serious. Some of them are about nature. Some of them are just sounds and noises and some of them I don’t know exactly what they’re about. Some of them are more accessible and some of them are concealed and written in more of a codex. This dichotomy became a central theme in the project and thus became the title, “Seen and Unseen,”  which is a lined removed from an ancient mystical text- “I believe in God the Father, of all that is seen and unseen.” This line struck me very much in its parallel to life and our existence.  When I reflected on it more, it resonated with me. It seemed like a great and fascinating mystery on all levels- but especially the physical, spiritual and emotional levels.

But that’s enough words, I will let the music speak for itself.

I hope you enjoy the album as much as I have had making it!

I leave with you with one of my favorite lines from the album:

“Love is a beautiful war”

Johnny

 

 

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