With an album titled “12 steps to forgetting your ex,” you may assume that an article written about it will be about a stormy roller-coaster break-up and the emotional trauma left in its wake. Thankfully, it’s not! It’s a highlight reel of what a lovesick person can endure, and ultimately learn to love internally and externally amidst the throes of heartbreak. A syuzhet narration of how I learned to requite the love of the goofy dude in my mirror.
In retrospect, a year after my colossal breakup, the world decided to give me reprieve and allowed me to meet my best friends. We made an album. Those two simple statements are actually life changingly profound. These friends pushed me to get in touch with my best “crazy.” They put me onto John Prine and Bon Iver and opened the doors to my soul. While I had begun to feel enlightened, I also debated whether or not I should seek medical attention and contact a psychiatrist.
The brutal day I split with my ex, I was in hell. My coping mechanism is and has always been music. Aside from losing my girlfriend I also lost my friend and engineer Ben Lidsky to an NYC move, so I had no one to record with. I despondently texted Ben asking, actually begging, him to link me with someone to get in the studio with. Due to my obvious desperation, he threw me the number of David Marinelli, a friend from jazz camp he’d met as a kid.
The next day I showed up at the doorstep of David’s Burbank home, and started recording right there in his bedroom. Normally in a session I would come in, record my verse and leave. When I first met David, I did just that. I yelled a song for 40 minutes that ended up being too angry to make the album, then left. It was a different experience for me off rip because David is a true musician who can play tons of instruments ( flawlessly lol). Until that point, I was only making songs from beats that people would send me. Creating with David from the ground up allowed me to explore new ideas and sounds I didn’t even know existed.
Over the next couple of weeks, I was at David’s almost daily. We wouldn’t always make music. Sometimes we would go on walks, other times we would just talk. He had also gone through a recent break-up, and we both used those moments as a catharsis. I credit that time for making our music a whole other level of special. We expressed feelings based on our own personal experiences, and yet, they resonated with each other.
A month into recording, David and I realized we’d created a wild amount of songs. At that time I had no intention of making an album. However, I realized what we were doing was different. It needed to be delivered as an entire collection, rather than one story. One day we were making this song called “Jerry! Jerry!” It needed a guitar. So, David called this guy Lil Doink and we instantly connected. I knew his name wasn’t Lil Doink, but I didn’t care, I thought it was hilarious. I fucked with him not even wanting me to know his real name. (Of course, at some point someone had to ruin it by yelling for Mikey.) Yet, to this day he is still saved in my phone as LD.
David Marinelli and Mikey Ambrosino soon became my musical partners and more importantly my brothers. We were constantly making music and for the first time, I discovered my natural and authentic musical self. I no longer felt forced or rushed. We would just be hanging out and a couple of hours later realized we had finished a song. This album just happened. It’s a bunch of emotions and ideas thrown onto a blank canvas. It doesn’t have any worries or repercussions from a previous set of standards. With “12 Steps to Forgetting Your Ex,” you get a bunch of normal ass dudes navigating their respective understandings of life and love.
Ultimately, I’ve learned more about myself in the past year than I did in my previous 23. I’m finally understanding who I am and what makes me happy. This newfound awareness translates to my music and my interpersonal relationships. Working with pianos, guitars, drums, even a french horn has enabled me to try new sounds and ideas. I began this journey with self-doubt. Having now met people who unconditionally love me for me, I now know that – contrary to popular belief – I’m not so bad. Subsequently, I now realize I have a lot of love to give, and I’m not afraid to do so.
Watch the breathtaking video for “Denial”
Photo Credit: Daniela Salinas