Musical Digest: Cloud Emery "Elysium"
An Invitation to Elevate Beyond the Realm of Ecstasy
Recently I've ran across a cliche that said to pay attention to phrases in books, random signs on the street, sounds echoing in the distance and music. Why does a certain sound emit making us turn our heads at the exact moment a car is whizzing by? Why does a flower suddenly appear in our rearview as we're thinking of it?
It's not like our brains are these gigantic incubators of formulas forming an algorithm, programming the universe to overshadow our perception with 'advertisements' and an infinite amount of cookies...is it? We stumble across each element by chance, but don't get it twisted...mama universe speaks in various tongues.
The universe sends these elements our way to broaden our scope. Music, the genres you gravitate towards, is just the tip.
Today's digest is dedicated towards a song I ran across by chance whose title was thought provoking. Cloud Emery's "Elysium" - here's how this record and I became acquainted: I wake up every morning with the intention to discover new upbeat music, built on the fundament of epic lyricism...everything about this song was intricate.
First, let's digest the title. For Greek mythology fanatics and fellow readers, we know that this word derives from Latin, Greek Elysion. Its initial definition is prescribed to a sort of heroic graveyard, "home of the blessed after death, the final resting place of the souls of the heroic and pure". At first glance, it's a little eerie and dark, but we can make the connection that the final resting place is a place of state of bliss or delight...an ecstasy.
I sat down with Stefan Forintos, the man behind Cloud Emery, who explained to me how he is drawn to the word: "it’s a really cool way to describe a really intense sense of happiness, but there’s actually a video game I played as a kid called “SSX Tricky” it’s a snowboarding video game - the course is called Elysium Alpes, it’s a really snowy track reminding me of my childhood. It’s sort of the divide where you’d want to move forward, have new experiences, but then there’s always a situation where you look back on things you like a little bit more and you can view them through that nostalgic lens."
Stefan and I share the knowledge of knowing what it's like to live in two very different places. There's the place that brought you in, the place that made you and the place that changed you. We don't necessarily have control over how or why we're brought in to a certain part of the world, but one thing is for certain. Any place will leave its trademark. Any place can have an influence.
Stefan recalls the effect each city has had on his path towards pursuing music. "I spent most of my life in Detroit and outside of Detroit; I was more into rap music, traditional hip hop. There’s a lot of elements that I derive from traditional hip hop, things that I got exposed to in the Detroit area, working in circles and working with producers here. Then, I moved to Miami a couple years ago and stayed there for two years and [was introduced] to a completely different set of cultural, lifestyle choices, and that affected my writing process and the way I began to approach music. I almost wanted to change my creative process to adapt to my new environment. A lot of that song is about the conflict that I had between being in Miami where it’s sunny and beautiful all the time, it’s what people love. Whereas I wish I could have a cup of coffee on my ice cold porch, look out at the snow…"
As a fellow midwesterner, I agreed wholeheartedly. Chicago can be gloomy, disgusting, dangerous, sloppy and cold, but when it finally allows for some warm weather to seep through and the sun to peek through the narrow passages of the skyscrapers...it's breathtaking. When I'm traveling or staying put in a place outside of Chicago, I begin to fall into a mirage where I long for snow, the cold, the rain...breaking away from whatever beautiful and exotic realm I'm in.
I need to feel, damn it.
That said, the song's first verse starts off with a hook:
Said I've got a bone to pick
Cause you and I both thought that we were over this
I've been trying to rearrange where my focus is
So you've been cordially invited to stay the fuck away from me and coziness
My interpretation of this is it's a discourse between nostalgia and desire (in the sense of wanting to move forward with life). I love personifying abstract thought, so in this situation I believe that nostalgia is the culprit and the root of the problem where it's preventing the person from "rearranging their focus".
In a politely sassy sort of way the message is poignant: nostalgia can fuck off while I work on carving this path that has allowed for a cozy, carefree and beautiful lifestyle.
The thing about artistry in any form is that it's never truly finished.
Stefan related to this by saying: "I think having a finished point is kind of foolish. Artists are always developing and I may have sounds that I’m a little bit more comfortable with now, but I’m always looking to expand and break convention in any ways that I can. [without losing an audience or people who are traditionally used to listening to my music]".
Striding over to the second verse...
I'm not used to living like these cyborgs, I need a virus
I need miles of open air to breathe and a pocket full of reminders
I'm better off with a let down, I'm fully aware of habit
But these days I don't even know, yeah
I walk the breezeway dreaming of the snow
Can't make up my mind, I can't make up my mind oh no
Cause we can't even sleep it's like the time won't flow
I'm just stuck here in the moment with my mind all froze
The fast pace hustle-and-bustle of the city interrupts the steady flow of a creative, empathetic and reminiscent mind. There's a longing for a pause, an escape with comforting thoughts of the past and present as "reminders" can count for both.
The conflict Stefan alluded earlier to is fully present here. He's eclipsed by sunshine, light breezes missing the snow. It's hard to find oneself in a city that is the polar opposite of what you're accustomed to.
"Stuck here in the moment with my mind all froze" is the perfect allusion to the longing of where the mind, our vessel, wants to be...
It's good to acknowledge the privilege and beauty in being able to experience both because it can be a benefactor in writing lyrics.
"On the subject of lyricism, song meaning and starting to develop a sound that fits...I’m a strong proponent of writing music that’s more based on a feeling or a sensation rather than a specific subject matter...Think of situations as glass half full - you miss “the snow” but you’re blessed with options and having the opportunity [to experience life in a different city]. The turmoil I feel right now is [so unique] because a lot of people won’t have the opportunity to feel that," Stefan explained.
This brings us to to the last verse:
Wake up like early mornings, all I wanna do is fuck
Lets travel to another planet just the two of us
We just needed time to be on our own
falling through the sky like Geronimo
Fuck a Met Gala, lets go ball out at the iHop
Hate to see it coming, but you love it like an eye-drop
and I write these words on my iPhone
She saved my life, so she'll be wherever I go
I think the last verse perfectly wraps the entire concept of the song together because it hones in on how self-reflection is so vital to the personal and professional development of one self. There's artists who are authentic and then clout chasers. The artistry is always going to trump any fancy, shmancy perk, such as a Met Gala.
It's saying that no matter where you are in life, it's important to go back to basics. Remember the humble beginnings, the simplicity of dining out at iHop after a night out, coming off the existential high...
Writing lyrics, poems, stories on an iPhone or in a notebook brought you to a platform that allows you to fully explore that path; publish your content, stream your music, film your visions and make them come to life. The simplicity of putting stuff down saved you and will always be with you. Don't forget where you've came from.
Queue the song below.