the songs of 2018

Looking back on any year is always frustrating because no word could ever fully describe the wide array of emotions one experiences in a span of 365 days. This year was interesting… I found myself seeking closure in the first half of 2018 and rebirth in the latter. Thankfully, I found both of them, and I would be remiss to say that this process was not largely facilitated by music. 

This year, I became fully aware of how powerful this medium is. I began to understand that I could more clearly express myself and my headspace – which oftentimes is quite difficult given how abstract those feelings can be – through the moods, colors and life songs create. 

I had previously consumed content passively and over the course of the year, learned to more actively participate in the emotion an artist is trying to convey. Finding this resolve in music, I allowed many of my worries and fears to come to the forefront and allow the world these songs and albums produce to help me feel things more completely. In doing so, I was able to expand my capacities as an artist, friend and human. 

Through music, those stories I captured became more whole and colorful. Now, looking back on 2018, I have countless memories that will be forever bound to certain songs. From dancing with Logan in the kitchen of our San Diego AirBnB while listening to “Your Tempo” by Kasbo on loop for thirty minutes, to sitting on the roof with Drew while listening to folk music and trying to come up with vivid stories that matched the song’s mood, to being in the very front row for Odesza’s set at Panorama in New York City, to being enchanted by Billie Eilish as she performed “copycat” at Music Midtown in Atlanta, to using the “Arrival” soundtrack to channel my innermost intellectual and creative thoughts, to creating an entire passion project surrounding Lorde’s “Perfect Places,” and onto getting alerts for any and all things Maggie Rogers… at the end of the day, one of the most beautiful things I’ve learned from these experiences and countless others is that art – in all its facets – creates community and I hope that in the years to come I will continue to treasure it as such. 

So… here it is, my 2018 in songs (in no particular order):

 

Perfect Places, Part 9 [Thanksgiving]

over the course of the past month or so, I have been looking through all the pictures I have taken on my cameras and phone… sifting through about ten thousand images took a long while, but it was an incredibly cathartic exercise.

this thanksgiving, I was and am grateful for the moments that taught me the importance of spontaneity, vigor and passion. I have recently begun to understand more clearly how powerful living for each experience is — not planning too far in advance and not thinking too deeply about the past. I’ve created some of the most vivid memories over the past four or so years… I’m grateful for each one and all the people each has brought into my life.

so thank you all, friends and family near and far, for giving me the opportunity to grow alongside you.

Perfect Places, Part 8

All I really have to say is that junior year has been incredible — life in Chapel Hill is better than ever and I’ve never been more excited about life than I am right now. And so, to get this going, here are some of the people that have made all of this possible. Huge love always.

Paso a Paso. – Vintage Blue Originals 006

In this Original we spoke with three UNC students that spent their summers pursuing their happiness. From Kenya, to Colombia and onto our nation’s capital, we seek to highlight something a bit more abstract in this piece – ­something that will hopefully inspire a new conversation regarding what we do with our time off from school.

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day to day // as seen on instagram

For over half a year, I have been posting songs onto my Instagram story. While it is surely a pretty ordinary and perhaps annoying thing to do, I’ve kept on with it because it has been insanely cathartic to have a platform where I could share the soundtrack of my life.

This entire project started when I began to assess just how powerful sounds were becoming. As a visual artist, it was difficult to comprehend how they could be more vibrant than visuals. I realized that in our world we cannot always view something that is visually inspiring... But through sound and music specifically, I have had some of the most vivid experiences that have allowed me to conjure dreamy creations unlike anything I have ever seen.

In an effort to share this journey, I started posting the songs that got me through the day, the songs that made me smile, the songs that made me cry, the songs that inspired me creatively. It’s difficult to quantify the impact this deeper appreciation for music has had on my growth as both an individual and artist, but in looking at things more holistically, it is clear to me that music is a valid way to heal, grow and learn.

Life is not always happy or easy, but it is very beautiful. Songs too are not always upbeat or danceable, but they’re artistic statements worthy of celebration. This playlist by no means has a particular “vibe” – it merely intends to take you along for the ride. I hope the songs, in the order they are presented, can depict that for you.  

Perfect Places, Part 6

With each installation of this project, I have come to understand more deeply what "perfect places" actually means. I would've never imagined that I could so easily combine my interests for landscapes and locations, with the love I have for the people that bring those to life for me. The last two weekends have confirmed that my notion of "place" is undoubtedly founded in an uninhibited joy for life... as always, grateful to know these people, and even more grateful to share these experiences with them.

Perfect Places, Part 5 [Southern California Road Trip Edition]

This semester has gone by rapidly, as there has always been something to look forward to. From long weekends spent with friends, to anticipating warmer weather, to planning spring break, and onto dreaming of summer, spring is the best time of the year yet it goes by in a whirlwind. For this exact reason, I've found myself living moment by moment, without any regard for what's to come ahead to what's already happened. So I've figured it's time to think back and look ahead because it's been a hectic semester, but in the best way.

The most important thing I hoped to get out of my spring break was taking time to recharge, and do something a bit wild. I wanted to go somewhere new, explore, and make this break from school my own. With the help of some incredible people, I had that immense opportunity. From getting lost in Joshua Tree National Park, to exploring around San Diego, to discovering secluded beaches in Dana Point, it was everything I hoped it would be. This break gave me the perfect amount of time to recharge, and it inspired me as I head into this final stretch of the year.

It's On Us. – Vintage Blue Originals 004

“My most vivid memory is my sophomore year at the event. When I got there I had this moment when I saw all these people assembled at the event, and had given up their time to be there,” Cassidy discussed, as she begun to see the event as someone who survived sexual assault, “It was this real moment where I could reclaim my community. I felt like UNC was a place where people support me and embrace me. I was so in awe that this was a thing that people were committed and excited to do.”

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Bounce Back. – Vintage Blue Originals 002

“When I came home and felt in a safe enough space, I started speaking out about the things that were happening. I urged those around me to check their community members, and understand that some were allowing this [abuse] to continue. Through that advocacy, many women started reaching out to me and asking me to help them through emotionally and physically abusive situations. I began realizing that this wasn’t just a personal issue. The personal is political, this wasn’t just a terrible thing happening to me, but really a systemic issue of men taking advantage and women being victim-blamed. Because of this experience, I decided that I wanted to create a place in my community where people who have had these struggles could come and know that they are supported,” said White.

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Why Wait? – Vintage Blue Originals 001

“I don’t think that anyone has one clear passion. We are all dynamic individuals, so I try not to put myself in a box. I think the coolest projects come from people combining different interests and life experiences. Those things that do not really seem like they can connect, but then you find a connection and you run with it. It can produce something no one has ever seen before. That philosophy motivates me to say yes, and try as many different things as possible,” said Diekema.

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Perfect Places, Part 3

This semester I put a lot of my energy in figuring out where I belonged. I think everyone thinks about this subconsciously because we all naturally gravitate to those places. Despite that, I had a more intense desire for understanding, and I consistently wanted to put my finger on it. About halfway through the semester, I began this series so I could recount those memories that made me feel like I belonged. I never wanted to forget them.

Photography has been central to this experience. I have always been a personal artist, but after taking a photojournalism course that forced me outside the parameters of my own being, I have realized that my interactions and feelings are the essence of my work.

So here we are, the end of another semester... and as many people know, “leaving,” even if it’s only for a month, is always a bit ~difficult~ for me. In an effort to bring things together, I want to conclude this first stage of the series in a bit of a different way. While my previous posts were odes to certain individuals, this post pays homage to actual physical locations that remind me of those people... because through them, these locations have become so-called “perfect places.”

Here I share the first and last pictures that were taken of me this semester, and some shots from in between. Kenan, Smoothball, UNC, Surf City, Carolina North forest, Maple View, Rosemary street, random pastures, the Lodge, and so many more. Thank you for the memories Fall ’17 it’s been better than I could have ever asked for.

Perfect Places, Part 2

Grateful for many things, but this Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful for the people that have helped these “perfect places” become home to me.

Home. From 18 years living in Miami, to my brief months in Alaska and Cape Town, and onto currently living in Chapel Hill – I have begun to understand that “home” is not bound by time nor is it bound by specific places; it doesn’t need to be physical, it doesn’t need to be tangible. Home is a feeling... it is a sense of belonging.

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all the people that have helped me come to this realization. From my parents and brothers that are always there for me, to my extended family that always makes me feel loved, to all my friends that make life all the better, and onto the strangers that have unknowingly redirected the trajectory of my life... thank you.

Perfect Places, Part 1

While locations can be defined through addresses or in relation to a landmark of some sort, a sense of place is far more difficult to quantify. The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much my sense of place hinges on the people I surround myself with, and the memories I share with them. For this reason, I have been making an effort to take more pictures of my friends... not doing anything particular or out of the ordinary, but simply living our life in this great place. These “little moments,” as I have begun to refer to them, are many times overlooked because we yearn for those momentous occasions. Despite this, realizing that the little ones can be just as meaningful and just as sweet is something I have been internalizing. So, these are some of my favorite shots from this semester, and hope to continue working on this project as the year progresses. Stay tuned…