Conversations in Vulnerability
A podcast—accompanied by black and white portraits of the guests—that explores vulnerability through unfiltered conversation.
“There are so many things I want to do as a person. And some of them are just dumb things. I want to watch all these shows, I have all these books I want to read. I’m a comic book lover, so I want to read comic books. There are constantly little things in the day that I want to do. I want to go hang out and have a drink and sit on the balcony of a bar. But there is work to be done. So there’s constantly a fight between being a person and being this artist that’s grinding and still trying to make it.”
“There was an essay I was reading and Mary Oliver was quoted in it. It says, ‘One day you finally knew what you had to do and began.’ And for some reason, that really hit me. So when I came back [from the silent retreat] I thought, ‘I’m done. This is it.’ But I wasn’t. Three weeks later, I went to get some professional help.”
"I love nature and I grew up with so much access to it in a rural place in Vermont. Not just access, but that was more my home than inside. What I think about now, all the growth I've done, and learning about my nature, I think about the discoveries I made in the woods and I'm like, 'I was really learning about life then.' I remember my first moments of self-consciousness where I was standing—I remember it so distinctly—and just having this feeling like, 'Whoa! I'm me!' It was a period of a year where I kept being like, 'This is so weird. I'm a thing. And it's kind of awkward.' It's still happening now."
“There’s that phrase, ‘If you love something, set it free.’ I think that’s a principle that’s really difficult for everyone. Myself included. But it is something that I come back to sometimes. If you love something, you’re not trying to possess it or control it. That being said, I do think a lot of people are afraid of love and afraid of being vulnerable. Personally I think of being 'in love' as being willing to be radically open and radically vulnerable. I don’t really know another way to be. I usually try to demonstrate that to a partner. Being honest and open and sharing your emotions and sharing your spaces and sharing power.”
"There were some things I missed out on in some ways. My friends left for university and I was ready to do that, but I went into making a debut album. I knew with my heart it was what I wanted to do. It felt like a calling or a deeper purpose. But that idea of journeying with friends and going to university and having this tight group going through all these experiences together, it wasn't really something I had. I made new friends but a lot of them were a lot older than me and we got into music together, but I didn't have that same sisterhood feeling of, 'Yep, we went through college together.' But in saying that, you come to different maturities at different times of your life. I have that now in a really profound way. A really strong sense of female friends and male friends that I've made and shared so much with."
"I still have the journal that I had when I was fifteen. I wrote an entry that was basically, 'I want to die. I can’t imagine being in a wheelchair all my life.' I’m so glad I have that. And my handwriting was even horrible, chicken scratch, that’s how depressed I was. Seeing that is crazy. People have asked me if I can relate to that girl. There’s part of me that’s in there, but then there’s a side of me that sees it as just the circumstance. Even though those were valid feelings, I can see now how life plays out in the sense that there’s a core you that can go through anything and those circumstances will overflow. It’s just like water. You can be on top of the water, under the water, you can be feeling like you’re drowning. Then at the end of the day it’s still you there figuring out that this is a shit storm. Then, wait, there’s land. And you can see the water from a different perspective."
"I feel like in every relationship that I’ve had that’s dissipated has gone away partly because of that. I’ve been divorced twice. For different reasons, but there are commonalities in all of them. That is something that’s fundamental in all relationships. Everybody wants to feel as if what it is that they’re thinking or what it is that they’re felling is at the very least acknowledged in a way where somebody appreciates what they’re thinking. They may not agree with it. But they can appreciate that you experience it. So yeah, of course.
Even anybody that’s had a job. Anybody that’s been in a huge metropolitan city. You walk around, you’re on the L, you’re surrounded by millions of people and you’re not connected to them in any way.
There’s a movie where this woman is working in a bookstore—it’s an Hal Hartley movie, I can’t remember the name—she’s just standing in the middle near these stairs and she keeps saying, 'Does anyone need any help? Does anyone need any help?' And of course no one even acknowledges her. It’s universal. Disconnection is built into this society. In good ways and bad ways."
"Some of the best nights of my life are just sitting with wine or no wine or coffee or tea and just talking and learning from everyone’s experiences on the spectrum of humanity. There are so many variables that allow people to take these meandering paths that are so different that by the time you cross paths with them—even if they’re younger—they have, obviously, a mentality that’s going to be different because they didn’t lead an exact imprint of your life. And if you approach conversation, and you approach connecting with people as—instead of reacting to what feels different, really try to understand and learn, I think you can’t go wrong. That is part of what brings me a lot of joy in my life, is really trying to understand what makes us human in different ways, in different places.
"I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. Love for me, in terms of a romantic love, is two people coming from two different worlds and coming together and making a new world that is fit for the both of them. It usually comes with a struggle, but obviously, the romanticism and the beauty that comes from the struggle and from the infatuation you have with each other is this thing. It feels like if you were alone in this world the whole time, all of a sudden it’s like this energy has been with you the whole time, and it makes you feel like any moment that you felt alone, you weren’t, and now you know you have this thing.
I’ve been really struggling in writing about love and trying to figure out how to represent it. And I think that’s what it is. You see it in movies and books and everything, and you see two people coming together and they take a part of each other and start to adapt in their own lives until they’ve created a bubble that works for the two of them."
"There’s something that terrifies most partners about having a partner who they know if they left me, I’ll be totally fine, and perhaps if I left them, they would not be totally fine. That’s an imbalance of power. I also really expect a lot from people. I expect the best from myself, but I also expect the best from other people. Which is unfair because I shouldn’t really hold people to my own personal standards, but I really can’t. I’ve tried to work on it. I was single for four years and in that time I did a lot of work on myself, but that’s one thing I just can’t get past. If I can’t have someone who’s up to my standards then I could just hang out by myself. I don’t need money, I don’t need someone to constantly be with me, I can find sex when I need that, I don’t want to have kids. So I don't really need anything from anybody else. When I have a mate I just need them to pay attention to me. But that’s pretty much it. Pay attention and be thoughtful. You never have to buy anything for me. That’s never necessary."
"One thing I realize and I love about collaboration is that you could never do it by yourself. After all the years of doing Stars of the Lid, to be able to again find someone like Dustin—because it’s only been since 2011 when we put out our first record, so it’s in infancy still. But it’s been pretty fruitful and it’s resonated with people. It’s actually been great to find a way to collaborate with someone again at this level. I find it very rewarding. I also find it very easy—every artist says they don’t have an ego, I’m sure I do—but it’s nice to realize this later in life that sometimes you have a belief, 'Oh this song needs to sound like this' but to just trust someone else and to give some of yourself to someone else, it’s kind of romantic in a way. It feels good that sometimes I might not think it was the best idea, but someone feels strongly about it you can say, 'Hey man, let’s follow your lead on this one.'"
"I had a boyfriend that I was leaving and he kidnapped me. He beat me up and drove me to the north shore of Hawaii and put a gun to my head execution style and told me he was going to kill me. I thought I was going to die. When your life flashes before you—that was before my kids, so it was just life in general. I think now if that happened, my kids would flash first, and friends, family, and just life, just walking down the street. I enjoy just walking down the street and the wind blowing, watching a rose grow out of the ground. Everything is just so much more beautiful after you almost die."
"I’ve always had a feeling that I was motivated to do more or be some sort of messenger, not in a messianic sort of way, whether it’s through art of whatever. Deep down I’m an extreme sort of person. 'If you believe in this, would you die for it, would you go for it?' If you wouldn’t, then you probably don’t totally believe in it. I’m a big fan of history and everyone in history who has made a change has died for it or they’re in jail for it. Leonard Peltier. He sacrificed his life for it. My fear is when and will I have to make that decision between being just a regular modified artist or messenger in this world or do I go and die for it. That’s my fear."
"I’m probably most proud of some of the long friendships that I’ve been able to keep in my life. And that we help each other grow. That affects my music, so it’s hard to say—if it’s only music, there are so many things that are connected to that. I’m proud to have these 25-year friendships that have been in my life, that we continue to push each other, and help each other grow."
"I try to be as healthy as I can in every phase. I try to eat good and exercise, I do a lot of exercise. I try to pursue spiritual goals and stuff like that. I’m constantly trying to erase blindspots. Try to look at myself in the mirror. Try to get a clearer picture of who I am."
"So that allowed me to be sort of free to just enjoy the experience and be grateful that I was there and my parents were there and we could just celebrate that together as a family. Which was awesome. And it was meaningful for me and it was meaningful for them especially considering that just twelve years before I had a fifty percent chance to live and cancer and everything."
"Witnessing a child being born—your child being born is, ah, yeah it changes you forever, there’s no doubt about that. We went through it twice, we have two girls, and they’re a big part of my life and I love them, and yeah, it’s a pretty easy answer to be honest."