I confess I’m tearing up a little right now. My debut Mandarin-language album, 昨日的未来 (Yesterday’s Future), is finally finished and available on major digital retailers. My very first music video is also online.
My journey as a solo artist began in 2008, but was plagued with too much self-doubt. As early as I can remember, I was told so often I wasn’t good enough, so much that I believed it. Naturally, this translated into my lack of confidence in my vocal ability and my songwriting. I relegated myself to the background for many years, concentrating on demoing and writing for my band and supporting other artists. While I loved every minute, I still held onto the desire to step out and try it on my own.
Nearly five years ago, I became a father, and I believed I finally had the right reason to retire those dreams and refocus on this great priority that lay ahead, but even as I busied myself with the responsibilities of raising two small children, something in my body and mind was trying to speak to me: I was unfulfilled.
By the time I finally decided to return to music, I had even more insecurities and wrinkles, but there was a lot more courage than there had been before. For the first time in my life, I set out to prove to myself that I was good enough to do this.
Having done my own demoing for such a long time, I decided to attempt a different route, scouting producers to help reimagine my songs. Each of the three producers I eventually selected had very different musical styles and working processes, but all of them impressed me, not only with their technical expertise, but also their great musicality. These three guys have become my new musical heroes. They’ve taken my songs to places I never thought they could reach, and they’ve helped me to grow as a vocalist and songwriter. It was such a delight to be able to banter back and forth about chord progressions, key changes, and vocal effects. They simply got it. Listening to each new mix made me feel like a kid in a candy shop. I didn’t know what new surprise I was going to get.
Trying to make an album while simultaneously juggling a full-time job, kids, and school was challenging, and forced me to use any pocket of time I had as wisely as possible. I would go through mixes with my producers, and write lyrics on the train on the way to work, finalize melody lines with my voice notes anytime I could steal a quiet moment, and record piano tracks and vocals after tucking Aria and Hunter into bed. Too many nights I was too exhausted to even plug in my microphone, and too many times my body reminded me I was stretching myself too thin, but like with many of the things that fulfilled me, I found the time, space, and energy to keep going.
The challenge in writing this album was to communicate my thoughts in a language I had never developed full proficiency, but it was a challenge I intentionally took on, and the reason I’m most proud of this record. The other even greater challenge I had to face was putting my songs to the test in the live setting, but thanks to my newfound courage, I was finally ready to take my songs to the road. I’ve already made several live appearances in support of the record.
Each song on the album can be traced back to a major moment or realization in my life. The one thread tying them together is the beauty of life’s unpredictability, and hence the title Yesterday’s Future. Another important message I had with this album was for my children. I wanted Aria and Hunter to see that Daddy, even in his late thirties, still has dreams left to pursue, and is working every day to challenge himself and find ways to be better.
To my husband, Daniel, who slept in the home office at night just so I can record vocals without distractions. You’ve always been the one that encouraged me to keep doing what I do, even in moments I stopped believing I could. I love you.
My producers Ilya, Sasha and Patrick: thank you for helping to bring these songs to heights I never imagined possible. Your gifts and dedication to your craft never fail to inspire and amaze me. Thank you for teaching this old dog some new tricks.
My co-writers Kelvin, Patrick, and Anita: thank you for sharing your immense talents with me.
My babies, who will always be a part of my set list. I love you so much.