They say perseverance pays off. That might be true, but you have to have a truckload of resilience because sometimes the elusiveness of success can be a hard pill to swallow. When do you say enough is enough? Cygne Noir began almost 4 years after I quit trying to "make it" in the music industry.
In 2008, after 12 years, 2 bands, over 100 songs written and many concerts played, I figured success had passed me by. I hadn't broken into the business and by most industry standards, it was too late. So after much consideration and hesitation, I went back to school and traded my guitar and mic for a chef's knife and jacket. After getting a degree in Culinary Arts, I moved to Spain to work and get a fresh start. That's where I met my wife, who after hearing some of my songs, insisted I start writing again. By the end of that year we had relocated to Germany and I began writing and recording again.
At the end of 2011, with only a laptop, a keyboard controller and a microphone, I began working on the first Cygne Noir EP, Celebrate Love. My time in Spain and the experience of falling in love, had given me plenty of ammunition for new songs, but I wasn't ready to commit to a music career. The rise of streaming services and my dissatisfaction with the music industry in general, made it an easy choice for me to just enjoy making music without any expectations. No band and no shows allowed me to work on my craft and learn how to use new recording software.
Although In the Mornings was the first song written for the album, Broken Walls, which I had begun writing in Spain, ended up being the first single. It was released on Valentine's Day 2012, one week before the Celebrate Love EP came out.
One month later, after spending a few weeks with a very stubborn melody in my head, I went back in the studio and ended up writing and recording the catalyst to my next EP in one afternoon. To this day, Reach is one of my favorite songs. The rest of the EP, Wake Up Your Mind, came together quickly and was out by the end of that same year.
Happy and with a belly full of wine, at the end of a dinner party at my house, I picked up a guitar and started serenading my guests. I played a few tracks I was in the process of writing and a few tracks I had written over the years. Then we got into a conversation about music and they asked me why I hadn't recorded or released some of those songs. Although I wasn't sure if they really liked the songs as much as they said they did, or if it was just the alcohol talking, I decided to start recording a few of them the next day.
I spent the next three weeks tracking and re-arranging them and ended up with a collection of songs, written at completely different times of my life. Surprisingly, they all kind of just fit together, at least in theme. It was a wonderful experience which brought back a lot of memories and helped put a little focus on where I wanted to go, musically.
Halcyon Days Are Here Again became my first full-length album. The opening track, Gloom, is a song I wrote with one of my former bands, Marqui Adora. It also includes, Gravity, This Isn't It, Barcelona and A Perfect Day. All four are songs I'd written during my time with Marqui Adora but had decided to keep for myself. The closing song on the album, Cascade, is a mellower version of a song I wrote and recorded in 2001 with my first band, Lunabelle. The album also features my first and only instrumental to date, Face of a City.
The following year, was the summer of 'Get Lucky'. I had started playing guitar frequently again and was exploring styles I hadn't played before, like disco and funk. The result was Smile at the Sun a collection of five songs that sound like a grittier and poppier The Whitest Boy Alive meets Stevie Wonder with Johnny Marr on guitar. The EP is a blend of indie rock, 60s soul, shoegaze, funk and synthpop, and was heavily influenced by the music that fueled the studio breaks. Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, a bunch of stuff produced by Nile Rodgers, The Strokes' Comedown Machine, Air's Virgin Suicides and Daft Punk's Random Access Memories.
One day, while pondering the meaning of life, I began strumming my guitar and ended up writing the outro to Love is Not Enough. At the time the song was called 24 Bars, because that's how long the section was. The song came together fairly quickly, except for the vocals, which I changed a bunch of times. There are at least four different versions of this song floating around, but this is the one that made the grade. It's a song about being in a really bad situation, but you refuse to leave it because you think things will eventually get better. It's like being trapped at the bottom of the ocean.
Villians was inspired by David Bowie. The music was written about a month before he passed away and the lyrics came a few weeks later. The song was meant to be included in the Across the Sea full-length but it just didn't make it. I have another version with guitars which may eventually see the light of day, I hope! Even though Villians wasn't included in the album, it definitely set the mood for the recording sessions that followed.
Across the Sea is my newest album and it was released on June 19, 2017. In retrospect I'd have to say that this is the mellowest, most guitar oriented and organic record I've done so far. The songs are about things coming to an end and the need for change. The last song You Can Have Everything, in contrast to most of the album, is a call to action, with just the right amount of melancholy, and the perfect way to put an end to this chapter.
If you made it to the end, thank you for reading and for your time. Be sure to click on the links below to follow me on social media and I look forward to bringing you more music in the future!