I’ve always been tough on myself. I’m a perfectionist, a people-pleaser, and a lifelong misfit. Everyone has an inner critic – you know, that voice in your head that analyzes and casts judgment over your every action. Sometimes that voice can be helpful… but usually not. For years, I gave my inner critic more and more power until eventually she became my inner bitch. “This Means War” is about declaring war on that bitchy voice in my head that berated me and put me down.
"Hey you in the mirror, I hate that I hate you."
I started hating my body when I was 14 years old. I was just under 5’4” and hadn’t even broken 100 lbs when a boy at school told me I looked fat in a photo. While I wasn’t even remotely overweight, I remember I was wearing a big baggy shirt. The boy meant no harm – actually, it just occurred to me that he was probably awkwardly trying to flirt with me -- but that was a defining moment in my life. It was the culmination of 14 formative years of constantly seeing women portrayed in the media as only being beautiful if they were tall and extremely thin (and often objectified and hyper-sexualized, but that’s at least 3 other conversations). This standard was reinforced everywhere I looked, and became the impossible ideal that I would never live up to.
I’ll spare you the unpleasant details, but it has taken me years to heal from the subsequent decade of obsessive dieting and disordered eating. The saddest part is that there is nothing unique or special about my struggle. It’s so common that it's downright boring. This is the new norm.
"Words be my army, smile be my sword."
I’m taking my power back. And although I claim responsibility over my own thoughts and feelings, I don’t blame myself anymore. I blame society.
Now on the surface, things seem to be improving. You see more commercials and magazine ads featuring women with "real" bodies. And in these past few months, something has changed. Hordes of women are finally feeling safe enough to step up and publicly speak out against sexual predators. We are finally openly confronting the pandemic of sexual abuse and harassment, and this is barely scratching the surface of the problem.
Perhaps a paradigm shift is taking place. Maybe this is overly optimistic, but my dream for this song is that one day, in the future, it will be completely irrelevant.
"Tonight, this means war.”
Here’s what Indie Music Magazine wrote about “This Means War”:
"Dark, compelling and infectious, ‘This Means War’ should be on your TO LISTEN list.
Cage’s delicate vocal delivers lyrics which we can all relate to – self-doubt, insecurity and the constant struggle to feel comfortable in your own skin. It makes for a beautiful message wrapped inside a top class track which deserves to turn heads.
An excellent female singer-songwriter who has developed a powerful voice in every sense.”
Full article here: http://indiemusicmag.com/home/single-premiere-robyn-cage-this-means-war/
The Making of the Video...
It was March 2017, and I was ready for an adventure. It had been a while since I set fire to a piano, or hauled one out onto the petrified sand dunes. All of my music videos from my debut album, Born In The Desert, were filmed in the Utah desert, with scenery ranging from barren salt flats to stunning red rock gardens, slot canyons, and stone goblins. However, as much as I love Deserts & Fire, it was time for a change of scenery.
It was time for Mountains & Ice.
My longtime music video director Bryce Johnson found a photo of Donut Falls in the winter, and we were both instantly obsessed. The half-frozen waterfall in a cliffside cave looked like nothing either of us had ever seen before. Eerily beautiful and dark… like Hell frozen over. It was the perfect shooting location. To get there, you had to ski or snowshoe in and then climb a rope up an icy cliffside to get into the cave, and you had to do that carrying extremely heavy and expensive camera gear. Fortunately, I have a team of seasoned mountaineers, so that was no problem. :)
The next challenge was that it was 7º Fahrenheit. The only way to stay even remotely warm was to dress in many thick layers… not exactly the look I was going for. So, I threw a faux fur vest over my dress and into the water I went! The result was that I discovered that I’m actually allergic to the cold. No joke – I break out in hives if I get too chilled. It’s a real thing.
And that’s only the beginning of our adventure! We also had to search for medieval-looking ruins in the mountains, film a chase scene with a drone, and guide an amazing group of brave extras across a narrow pipe over a raging river. Truly, they were heroic.
At the heart of “Slow The Devil” is the idea is that we can only overcome our demons, both internal and external, with the help and support of others. Without the help of my extraordinary team, and the generous support of my followers, I certainly couldn’t create any of the music or the videos and I’m so passionate about making.
I consider myself incredibly lucky to wake up every morning and do what I love. Right now, I’m running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to release and promote my new record. It would be a huge help to me if you would take a moment to check out the project and consider pledging! Back the project at any level, and you'll receive access to an immediate free download of "Slow The Devil"!
Here's the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/629885626/robyn-cage-slow-the-devil
I started writing songs for this album over a year ago, but the story, the REAL STORY, begins not with a song, but with a conversation...
Several months ago, I posted this on my blog:
“Last Spring, I embarked on a great adventure. Packing my ukulele, a battery-powered keyboard, and my songwriting journal, I spent a week alone camping in the remote red rock desert of Southern Utah. No internet, no cell phone service, and not a soul for miles – except for rattlesnakes (I saw three!) and a chorus of coyotes that howled every night. It was magical. ”
However, shortly after returning to my home in the mountains, something changed. The hot summer days felt colder as the climate of my country became increasingly charged with negativity. The atmosphere of divisiveness and fear found its way into my music.
One morning, I woke up with a song in my head. ‘Slow The Devil’ was a gift from the songwriting gods and the closest thing I’ve ever written to a protest song. I realized that the music was helping me through these dark times of uncertainty and disconnect.”
Shortly after publishing that blog post, I learned that one of my friends, a key member of my creative team with whom I've enjoyed working for years and for whom I have massive amounts of respect and trust, was on the opposite side of the political spectrum from me. I had to ask myself some hard questions. I’ve declared that my goal is to help create Unity, but will my song only create further divisiveness? As an artist, I refuse to compromise, but is there a bigger and more important message here?
So, I did something I’d been dreading – I spoke with my friend, and despite my trepidation, we had a great conversation! One thing he said particularly resonated with me: “We may have voted differently, but at the heart of everything, we are more alike than we are different.” When I thought about the way he and I live our lives, and the interests we share, I knew he was right.
We can have causes we stand for and opinions we hold dear, but that one crucial conversation with my friend reminded me how much we need to LISTEN to one another. What we really need is understanding: finding common ground through conversation.
My last album was about loving what makes you different. In the past two years that conversation has evolved and deepened. Slow The Devil is a call for Unity & Connection, through not only loving what makes you different, but loving what makes others different as well. ‘Unity’ doesn’t mean we should all be the same. Unity is about celebrating diversity! Each of us is a unique blend of biological inheritance and personal experience, yet as my friend said, “At the heart of everything, we are more alike than we are different.”
**I'm currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to release and promote the new album. Pre-order Slow The Devil through this campaign to help me get my music and message out into the world: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/629885626/robyn-cage-slow-the-devil **
Last Spring, I embarked on a great adventure. Packing my ukulele, a battery-powered keyboard, and my songwriting journal, and I spent a week alone camping in the remote red rock desert of Southern Utah. No internet, no cell phone service, and not a soul for miles – except for rattlesnakes (I saw three!) and a chorus of coyotes that howled every night. It was magical. Songs poured out of me, starting with an optimistic ukulele number called “Flying Machine.”
However, shortly after returning to my home in the mountains, something changed. The long, hot summer days felt colder as the climate of my country became increasingly charged with negativity. The atmosphere of divisiveness and fear found its way into the music, its sharp edges softened by my heart's longing for peace and unity.
I felt powerless and afraid. One morning, I woke up with a song in my head that I call “Slow The Devil,” a gift from the songwriting gods and the closest thing I’ve ever written to a protest song. I realized that the music was helping me through these dark times of uncertainty and disconnect.
This is not the album I set out to create. I had intended to write something quirky and desert-inspired, but the muses had something different in mind. This is not a collection of political songs – far from it. These songs are about Demons, Dreams and Duality. They're about Darkness & Light and above all, Unity & Division.
Blending electronic and organic instrumentation from producer extraordinaire Caleb Loveless, the tracks range from beautifully intimate to majestically epic. The album is a journey, beginning with the call to arms of “Slow The Devil,” to the battle cries of “This Means War,” holding onto our hearts through the bleak aftermath of “Fallout,” and bringing us all back together in the healing harmonies of “Bit By Bit.”
My hope in sharing this music is to help restore a sense of community and connection, by exploring these darker emotions, and through this process, finding solace and reconciliation.
I don’t believe that “Unity” means we should all be the same. For me, Unity is about celebrating diversity. My last album was about self-expression and loving what makes you different. This new music is about loving what makes others different.
TOP 3 ALBUMS OF 2015
My three favorite albums from 2015 each had a totally badass lady at the helm. Grimes, Susanne Sundfør, and Callie Crofts of My Fair Fiend all write their own songs, self-produce their records (!!), and basically run their whole operation. Grimes and Callie Crofts even designed their own album artwork. These women are forces of nature and are a huge inspiration for me, as shrewd businesswomen and uncompromising artists.
Susanne SunDFØr - Ten Love Songs
Sounds Like: Symphonic Baroque meets aggressive electronic music.
Favorites tracks: Memorial, Fade Away, Darlings, Slowly, Delirious
Why I Love This Album: Every once in a great while, an artist comes along who makes music I love so much that I feel it was made just for me. Sundfør's ethereal otherworldly soprano soars with gut-wrenching vulnerability over epic orchestration and hook-laden pop beats. It is clear that Sundfør delved deep into her emotional well for Ten Love Songs. My favorite lyric from "Memorial," my favorite song of 2015: "I know you are heartless, 'cause you took off my dress and you never put it on again."
Hear more: http://susannesundfor.com/
Grimes - Art Angels
Sounds Like: Candy-flipping at a dance party on the threshold between Heaven and Hell.
Favorites tracks: laughing and not being normal, Flesh Without Blood, Realiti, Pin
Why I Love This Album: When asked about the title of her latest album Claire Boucher (AKA Grimes) recently posted on Facebook "I refer to the demons in my head as Art Angels." Her new album is unapologetic electronic dance-pop, filtered through the dark creative vision of a true oddball. Dance-pop is normally not my thing, but I couldn't help but get completely addicted to this album. Grimes is operating at the height of her artistry, as a songwriter, a producer and a visionary.
Hear more: http://www.grimesmusic.com/
My Fair Fiend - Making Monsters
Sounds Like: The illegitimate love-child of Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle) and Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs).
Favorites tracks: Trapped Like A Ghost, Tourniquet, Making Monsters, Symbiotic Stare, Midnight Sun, Very Long Shadow
Why I Love This Album: I'm very proud to say that I was a Kickstarter backer on this album, because I knew it was going to be extraordinary, and Making Monsters didn't disappoint. Callie's vocals range from pristinely angelic to tortured banshee, singing hyper-intelligent poetry over aggressive riffs and haunting guitar hooks. Every track on this album showcases masterful songwriting and world-class musicianship.
Hear more: http://myfairfiend.com/
Here are my other favorite albums of 2015, in no particular order:
Adele - 25
The Lone Bellow - Then Came The Morning
Alabama Shakes - Sound and Color
Josh Ritter - Sermon on the Rocks
Florence + the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
James Bay - Chaos and the Calm
Torres - Sprinter
FKA twigs - M3LL155X
Aurora - Running With The Wolves
Favorite Songs of 2015
I'm on a list-making roll! So here's a Spotify playlist of my favorite songs of 2015...
The "Born In The Desert" music video premieres Wednesday, Sept. 23rd on GroundSounds.com. Here's the story behind the video....
Last January, a team of 12 people took an 1860’s piano, an antique clawfoot bathtub, a drone, 50 gallons of water, a pressure washer, and two golden retrievers into the middle of the Southern Utah desert to shoot a music video.
The first thing you should know is that the Utah desert in January is brutally cold, even during the day. Although the temperature was in the 20s, I had my heart set on emerging from a clawfoot tub filled with black water. So first, we had to figure out how to get a several-hundred pound tub and 30 gallons of water into the middle of the desert. Director Bryce Johnson just happened to have a giant water storage barrel. My parents happened to have a Jeep and a trailer. Next, we had to figure out how to make the water warm enough that I wouldn’t get hypothermia. Our first evening of filming, we lit a small fire under the tub and used hot coals to heat the water. It worked… sort of. I was still hypothermic by the time we wrapped for the night.
The next day, we ventured into a slot canyon, where the sandstone cliffs create a chasm so narrow that you literally have to squeeze through the tight sections. Not recommended for claustrophobes. If you are lucky enough to be in a slot canyon at exactly the right time of day, a single godlike beam of sunlight will stream down to the bottom of the canyon, and the effect is magical. Luck was on our side, and our timing was perfect for capturing the glorious slot canyon light.
One of the reasons I love working with Bryce is that he is a genius with creative problem solving. I told him that I wanted to make it rain, in the desert, at night, and he presented a water storage tank, a pressure washer, and lights. So we made it rain, epically, and again I became mildly hypothermic.
For our last day of filming, we returned to the mesa with the piano and the tub. This time, I was adamant that the tub water be warm. We lit a giant bonfire under the tub and stoked the coals until the water was hot. It was fantastic! I doubt there was ever a hot tub with a more majestic view.
The whole experience of shooting this video was incredible, even when I was on the verge of freezing to death. I couldn’t help but think how extraordinarily fortunate I am to live near such an awe-inspiring location. I’m more fortunate still to have a team of such talented people who not only braved the freezing weather, hiked through slots, and hauled a tub and piano, but they did it with such enthusiasm! Words cannot express my gratitude for the people who made this video happen, including my Kickstarter backers, who made this whole adventure possible.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the golden retrievers, one of them was lying in the shade behind the piano while we were filming. The other one decided that the soapy black tub water was delicious.