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Gratitude amid Lost-ness

I woke up around 9:15 this morning, threw on some baggy sweats (that did not match), and after my coffee and smoke on the fire escape, walked down to China Town. It’s cold and gray today, which in theory I like, but the older I get, the more I realize my partiality toward this time of year is rooted more in nostalgia, or what once was, and less in real-time mental health benefits or lack-thereof. I went to the bank, purchased another coffee, and sat in Washington Square Park listening to Tupac and Anaïs Mitchell and texting back in forth with my mother. 

At 11, I got an a call with my sister who has been assisting me with all things Ashton York Music. So far, we’ve just been dialoguing, but she wants to help me with social media and booking. We’ll see. I can tell it sounds like a fun and creative challenge in her mind, but I am patiently awaiting that moment when she, too, hits all of the walls which have blocked me for so many years. I’m used to starting from scratch, brainstorming, making something out of nothing. But it’s a difficult place to live and you begin to realize over time that without financial resources and real connections, there really aren’t a lot of ways to climb over the walls. I’m optimistic, still. Stronger than ever. Probably smarter than I was before. I felt really defeated over the last few months, but I think I’m over that now. 

I’ve just finished editing my next YouTube video. Everything feels so inconsequential right now. I’ve been sharing new content with the same people for years now and can’t seem to branch out. Everyone has advice or ideas for me. Some of it’s great, some of it is well-intentioned and insanely misinformed. At least I have a community around me who tries to support me within their means. Very grateful for that, honestly. 

Yesterday, I noticed that Spotify had removed a portion of my discography from their platform. In large part, this was due to a lapse of judgement when I decided to take a stranger up on a “Spotify Promotion Campaign”. He fucked me over real good and I’m left to decide whether to re-upload my music to Spotify, or take everything off. I’ll wait and see. I wrote about this incident pretty extensively on Instagram, and just 24 hours later, I recognize how poorly formulated my thoughts were. I noticed a huge uptick in viewership on my story. I guess Instagram loves to promote drama. People really reacted to the story, and I find it fucking irritating honestly. Where are the views and responses when I release a video or share a blog? I think it’s more algorithmic than anything, but over the years, it has felt impossible to generate any hype over my work. My best performing posts have all been dramatic. I think back on my campaign to re-release Nightmare In Your Arms, and as hard as I tried… crickets. I ended up with 2o donors and very short of my goal. Those twenty people have always been there for me, but it’s been so hard to reach beyond them. 

I really am having a good day, despite how bitchy this post is. 

I’ve got three singles to release in the coming months. “April”, “Like Autumn”, and “Betray You”. I’ve been thinking about how to do that. Do I want to continue on with streaming platforms or should I just sell everything on my website? I know how arrogant and/or flat out stupid it looks for an artist to not have a social media presence and streaming platform distribution. But I also know how much I care about my work, and how little I want to play the games. I think social media is nonsense, honestly. If being myself (which is what I’ve always done) is not good enough to build a following, then I don’t want to do it. I just don’t. If you watch my story every day but never once share my work, respond, support, etc, what is that actually worth? In my mind, there’s this Utopia in which I tour around and build a small, loyal fan base over the years. They visit my website, and buy records, and join the email list, and follow along with this blog. They don’t value convenience over art. They like my music and support me directly. That’s the dream. Is it doable? I don’t know - what do you think? Leave a comment! 

Let’s end on a high note here. I’ve just returned from the best little vacation and I’m feeling refreshed, focused, and determined to tackle some areas of weakness in my life. I spent lots of quality time in wonderful company and we hiked, rested (a lot), cooked, built fires, enjoyed an insanely beautiful house on the bay, etc. I’m feeling really grateful for my house, my people, this city, my job, etc. I love how much freedom I have and how much space I’ve created for myself. I’m looking forward to developing all the film I shot on vacation. I wrote to Anaïs Mitchell’s management just to say how much her last record means to me. Would be cool if they forwarded it to her. I have lots to look forward to this year. I feel overwhelmed but I know that hard work and resilience can really pay off. I hope my music travels a little further this year and that it finds folks who need it. 

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