Tag Archives: Dreamers

Vivid in the Valley

5 Jun

silvery-ghosts-social

On this blog (and most everywhere else), I talk about dreaming big and having faith in those dreams.  I believe in this, and I try my best to walk the talk, but sometimes my faith wavers and the dream feels like it’s too far out of reach as unexpected detours take me miles away from where I’m headed.

It’s usually at that moment that someone or something presents itself as a hopeful sign of  Steve Jobs’ sage reminder that “…you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”

This week I discovered the debut single from the ambient pop group Silvery Ghosts, and as I began to learn more about the band – and the singer/songwriter behind it – I realized that this was yet another sign that sometimes the long way around is the only way to get to where you belong.

In the past five years, band founder Hank Kim has been through what he calls “an amazing, humbling journey.”  Kim, a native of Dayton, Ohio, released his first album, Blue Alibi in 2005 after having been introduced to New York indie rock mainstay, Mike Daly.  According to Blue Alibi liner notes, Daly, on the rebound after having disbanded his group Whiskeytown, “…became intrigued with the singer’s raw, idiosyncratic voice and melodic hooks, chronicling the jagged tales of misfits, rebels, and other bruised souls, flailing at the ghosts of redemption, in turns that are both comic and heartbreaking.”

At the end of 2001, in the wake of destruction, Kim and Daly walked into Soho’s Magic Shop and began the hopeful process of recording what would become the base for the rest of the album’s tracks.  Over the next two years, they worked with “…Dan Rieser (Marcy Playground, Norah Jones), drummer Alan Bezozi (Freedy Johnston), keyboardist John Deley (Dido), bassist Joe Quigley, and Sir Tim Bright, the renaissance man of Avenue U, who lent his distinctive touch to everything from the guitar and 6-string bass to the harmonium…” to produce an album that cleverly combined acoustic storytelling traditions with the yearning ache of Kim’s vocals and gave it a musical backing that transcended eras planting him squarely in the center of the power pop movement.

If you think I’m overstating the case, give “May/December Girl” a listen and you’ll see what I mean.

For various reasons, the album didn’t get the attention it deserved, but Kim was undeterred and set about working on his sophomore effort.  It would take him nearly four years to record Notorious Rainproof Smile, which moved Kim’s vocals away from the acoustic crooner style toward an edgier, indie rock sound.  The effort took its toll, and by the time it was ready for release he felt lost.  According to Kim, “I didn’t even bother to give the record a proper release.  I thought I was done as a musician and a songwriter.  I felt like the biggest fake – that I didn’t really have anything to say that anyone would want to hear.  All of the old demons were barking real loud.”

At that point, Kim let go of the music and began to reinvent himself by enrolling in acting school and starting his own business.  It wasn’t until 2010, after a failed relationship, that Kim felt the reemerging urge to create music.  In the spring of that year, he sat down at his computer and let loose the river of raw, uncensored thoughts and emotions that would become the basis for Love & Other Ephemera.

Finally hitting the studio in 2013, Kim tapped Nate Martinez (formerly of Pela and Theiving Irons) to produce the album.  According to the band’s website, together they worked to capture musical ephemera, a sound that Kim calls, “music without boundaries…the sense of searching for truthful expression that may or may not be relevant years from now but captures the emotional essence of a given moment in time.” They combined elements of modern electronic music and programming with traditional tools like piano and acoustic guitar as well as touches of Eastern sounds including the Saz (a Turkish 7-Stringed instrument with the intonation of a mandolin) and the sitar. Kim also brought gifted vocalist Kelli Scarr (who collaborated with Moby on 2010’s “Gone to Sleep”) on board for eight of the albums ten tracks.

In Silvery Ghosts’ first single, Vivid in the Valley, the combination of Scarr’s ripe, sultry voice languidly wrapping around the sophisticated ache of Kim’s trademark croon fans the embers and makes the song positively burn.  The official music video is currently being edited by director, Jeaneen Lund.

The release of Love & Other Ephemera on June 9 signals both the rebirth and the return of an artist who has embraced the pain of the past, recognizing that “All the twists and turns of the past were necessary for me to find my voice as a singer and an artist.”  As he looks forward to what is next,  Kim explains, “Silvery Ghosts is an opportunity to finally assert myself.  I feel like the training wheels are coming off with this record.  I may actually know what the hell I’m doing.  It’s a great feeling.”

Once again, I’m reminded that it’s the journey that matters. All of the twists, turns, and detours that create our rich, memorable lives are what we carry and, ultimately, leave behind.

The destination is simply the satisfaction of knowing we’ve finally connected all the dots.

Updated June 10: Lund’s video was posted, and all I can say is that this better come with a fire extinguisher because it’s SMOKIN’ HOT!

Silvery Ghosts will perform on June 23 at Rockwood Music Hall in New York.

Soundcloud:https://soundcloud.com/silvery-ghosts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SilveryGhosts
Website: http://www.silveryghosts.com

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Dreamer Profile: Dan Levinson

17 Nov

Dan Levinson - Photo by Miriam Kruger

NAME: Dan Levinson
WEB ADDRESS/BLOG SITE: www.civilunrestclothing.com
EMAIL ADDRESS: creative@civilunrestclothing.com

  • What is the dream you are pursuing?

I’ve started my own t-shirt design company, called Civil Unrest Clothing. I’m excited to see my designs on random people walking around the mall, the city, the world!

  • What inspired you dream about doing this project?

I’ve been doing graphic design work for a long time, and always love seeing my work in different places, publicly. I’m a big supporter of the City of Detroit, and also have taken an interest in the social atmosphere of late, regarding the public’s displeasure with big business, government, etc.

  • What challenges have you faced in order to pursue on this dream?

The main challenge, as is common for artists, is financial. It’s not difficult to produce the designs, and create a website to sell the products… but finding funds to market/advertise the products to the public, as well as finding multiple methods of printing the shirts, is proving to be costly.

  • What has surprised you the most about pursuing this dream?

I guess I’m a little surprised at the positive feedback I’ve gotten so far. I thought I’d get some good response from friends and family, because that’s what they do.  But I’ve gotten great responses and support from people I don’t even know that well.

  • What have been the most rewarding aspects of pursuing this dream?

See the above answer!

  • Is there anything you wish you would have known or done differently?

Not really, although there is more about social media, networking, and advertising that would really help me in marketing my site and products. Instead, I have to pay someone to do this part of the work for me.

  • Where do you hope this dream leads?

Well, of course I’d like to make zillions of dollars (ok, even a couple thousand would be nice) selling my shirts… but equally as motivating is the idea that one day I could see a celebrity wearing my one of my designs on stage somewhere, or getting my work recognized nationally or globally.

  • Who inspires you to dream?

There are many people who inspire me to dream… I’ve met some fantastic people over the last couple of years who are so creative, talented, and passionate about what they do. They inspire me to go above and beyond, and not sit idly and wish for something to come to me. I’ve got to go out and get what I want! No one’s going to give it to me. And passion begets passion. When I see someone who is so excited about what they do on a daily basis, it inspires me to raise my energy level up, and be the best person, designer, parent, friend I can be.

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