Eyelids is a band of five knuckleheads from Portland, OR who have known each other for over 20 years. We’ve all played in other bands (The Decemberists, Guided By Voices, Elliott Smith band, Stephen Malkmus) but never all together at the same time. It was a fluke, friendship band that accidentally made music others enjoyed! This song was produced by R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and we animated it ourselves (we are not animators–so it was fun to break the technology in front of us with naivete).
As you might imagine, pursuing a life making music has been a double-edged sword. On one hand, it saved my life. I was a southern stereotype. I grew up in a trailer in north Georgia under the charge of a single mother and, despite a small home, the emptiness there felt enormous. As my father raised another family in a nearby town (something I didn’t realize until my half-sister, born the same year and a day later than myself, found me on 2007’s version of Facebook), I struggled to find self-worth and subsequently became enmeshed in depression and suicidal ideation from a young age. I now know that this is a constant struggle for countless people, but in my younger years I was nearly paralyzed by how absolutely unlovable I felt. Writing songs gave me a place to store and to process these complex emotions.
I started learning to play guitar around 2005 and by 2012 I was a bonafide musician. But as the dream grew closer, reality came into focus. A career in music alone was untenable and getting worse with every tech-forward change to the industry. A seven-day work week was a must. I was waiting tables, teaching lessons, emceeing open mics, and playing gigs. In 2018, I was on the precipice of my 30th year and still struggling to pay rent much less save for anything. The scarcity trauma of my childhood was triggered daily by bills, overdraft fees and the general squalor in which I lived. Self-worth was still evading me.
Enter advertising. One of the Atlanta coffee shops at which I hosted an open mic offered to let me manage their Instagram for a small monthly fee. It was flexible, remote, I was self-managed, and they paid me actual currency that I could trade for things. So neat. I began devouring all of the information on social media marketing I could find online and even added a client or two to my fledgling business.
Ultimately, this pursuit led me to the Creative Circus where my little affair with advertising became a marriage–and an identity crisis. Was I abandoning my musical passions? Giving up? Selling out? Nope. Absolutely not. And hardly. Around the same time I accepted a Kilimanjaro-sized addition to the albatross that was my student loan debt, I also launched a Kickstarter for my first full-length album. And it worked! The next two years were brutal, but so rewarding. I had no car, but was somehow waiting tables at one restaurant, bussing at another, teaching 20+ music lessons a week (back when we had to do it in person), attending portfolio school full-time, and recording an album during the breaks between quarters. In December of 2019, I graduated from portfolio school and in May of 2020–this absolute dumpster fire of a year–my debut album, Jasper County Blues, was released. With no advertising budget or previous notoriety outside of a niche group of Atlanta-area folk music enthusiasts, this album hasn’t made much of a splash. It’s Spotify plays peaked around 130 a month and now hover modestly around 30 a month. And I’ve never been more proud of anything in my whole fucking life.