Saboteur

Sometimes, the scariest monsters are ourselves

I’m excited to announce the release of Saboteur, my first original release to streaming, and my first song release in 10 years.

iTunes/Apple Music
Spotify
Amazon
YouTube Music

Find it on your favorite streaming service or music store from here.

So what does it mean? Why is there a monster threatening that poor kid in the album art?

Inside our head is a voice – one of many. The one I’m talking about is the one that remembers everything bad that ever happened: every embarrassment, every shame, every injury. If you’re like me, this voice is really strong. It wants nothing bad to ever happen to you – to the the point where it doesn’t want anything *new* to happen to you.

Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.

Dory, Finding Nemo

So out of this protective instinct, this little punk talks you out of doing anything you don’t know for sure will work – and even some stuff you *do* know will work. No risks. No sticking your neck out. Don’t stand out, don’t draw attention to yourself. Don’t set yourself up for any disappointment.

And it’s fueled by every critical thing you’ve ever heard, or said yourself. “Leave that to the pros.” “What makes you think you’re better than everyone who’s tried and failed?” “I’d be embarrassed if *that* happened to *me*. I’m sure not going to try that.” “That’s really hard to do. Hardly anyone succeeds.”

Always predicting failure. And when you listen, the prediction comes true. “You won’t ever make it.” If you don’t even try, of course you won’t. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This annoying little monster has a name. Your inner saboteur. Out of a misguided sense of protectiveness, it tries to keep you safe, wallowing in the puddle of mediocrity and “what if” and “if only”.

It looks a lot like this:

In reality, you are your own saboteur. You take on that persona when you self-sabotage by giving up before you try, or hesitate because you’re worried about how it might go wrong.

This song became about the thing that kept me from finishing and releasing this song

Pretty meta, yeah?

I had this song structure – music, melody – worked out some months ago. I had decided I would be releasing *an* original song, and this one was the closest to being finished. I just didn’t know what the song was about. After learning about this concept of the “inner saboteur”, I realized those words fit neatly into the end of the chorus. And because the verse melody had this snarky, sarcastic feel to it, it seemed like the perfect fit. Like I’m verbally ready to flick the saboteur off my shoulder like a crumb.

But it took me literal months to finish the song and release it. Why? Because I was battling my inner saboteur at every step of the way. The lyrics weren’t good. Was the melody the problem? Maybe this idea just doesn’t work. Ah, my mix sounds like crap. Every time I was ready to take a step forward, I had a great excuse not to, or to second-guess myself, or to stall.

The irony isn’t lost on me. The saboteur didn’t want to be exposed, if I feel like anthropomorphizing it.

Time and time again, I had to put my big boy pants on and tell the saboteur to STFU. Almost like plugging my ears and saying “la la la la la, not listening!” and just forging ahead even though that voice was telling me I should slow down, or question whether I should do this at all.

I let the melody and the lyrics just *be*. Instead of spinning my wheels on the mix, I hired a professional. Things once moving slow were now cruising along. When it came to the album art, I just threw something together, based on a stock vector. I’d decided there was no reason to belabor it anymore.

Ok. But what about the monster and the kid?

Here’s the story behind the album art… First: the kid in the picture is me, playing drums at age 8. The monster is the saboteur, already looming, picking up negative memories, already whispering warnings. It represents the fears and worries I already had, even though it was a fraction of the size it became.

I like how, in the picture, I look pretty oblivious to the saboteur and its effects. The cartoonish nature of the monster helps illustrate how the saboteur seems scary, and can take control until we really understand what it really is. Once you stop being afraid of it -or even just acting like you’re not afraid- it loses it’s power and shrinks.

Credits

I want to give a quick shout-out to some of the people that helped me along the way to achieving my long-held goal of independently releasing original music. (Aside: when I first aspired to do this years ago, services like DistroKid, TuneCore and CDBaby didn’t exist; so self-releasing a song to the world is pretty mind-blowing).

First, to my best friend and wife Colleen, who has been amazingly supportive and flexible as I’m making the shift to music as my “job”.

Second to my coach Karolyn, who helped me realize what Colleen knew all along: that music was where I really needed to be. She also introduced me to the idea of the inner saboteur, helped me recognize it, and worked with me to learn how to combat it.

Next, Gavin with Three Moons Audio in Seattle helped me bring the mix far beyond what I could on my own.

Everything else, you can blame me for: writing, performing, recording; even the album art. I love collaborating with other musicians, but taking a mostly DIY approach helped this be a more personal project, and it’s been a cathartic experience.

Lyrics

These pictures of my fear you planted in my mind
And keep me paralyzed so I don’t even try

I know what I’ve always wanted
You would have it only pass me by

I run this program you installed into my brain
You say it’s good for me, I won’t feel any pain

But it keeps me going nowhere
Stuck in a rut, afraid of who I am

You’re something I put on
Something I have to conquer
Not saving me from harm
My inner saboteur

You whisper words and then I fall into your trap
You’re just so good at it, you keep me coming back

But now I finally recognize you
I don’t need your bullshit anymore

You’re something I put on
Something I have to conquer
Not saving me from harm
My inner saboteur

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