10) Trance

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The summer of 2010 was easily one of the worst summers of my life. Coincidentally, it was also the most creative summer I’ve ever had. I won’t go into too much detail about my life story here but basically, the vast majority of my time growing up outside of school was spent in complete isolation and that didn’t change until my freshman year of college. Even though I was extremely awkward and didn’t know what to do in most social situations, the simple fact that I was constantly surrounded by people my age with whom I could interact with made me much happier than when I was in high school. This all came to an end when summer started, however, and reverting back to a life of complete isolation was really hard for me. Additionally, my family was in the process of moving to Colorado so other than my immediate family and two of my high school friends, I pretty much had no meaningful interactions with anyone and spent three months sleeping on couches and floors in various locations while waiting for the summer to end. Watching everyone else (via social media) enjoy their summers and experience what seemed like genuine happiness really didn’t help either. (Side note: I now understand that most of what you see on social media is a carefully constructed image that is often misrepresentative of a person’s life but as a rising sophomore, I was not aware of that at the time.)

My two main methods of coping with this summer were writing songs and producing instrumentals. “Getaway” and “Clockwork” (off of Fundamentalism) were both written during this time period and I taught myself how to use Ableton Live. Since I had nothing better to do, a typical day would go like this: wakeup, turn on computer, start Ableton Live, make a beat, make another beat, maybe make another beat, shower, then go to sleep. I would also eat and use the bathroom at various points as well. Even though many of my first Ableton beats came out extremely robotic, I eventually mastered the ins and outs of this program and went on to make some of the best beats of my life. This resulted in an unreleased album of the best instrumentals from that summer called Brainstorm, an album that I never wrote lyrics to because I was incapable of writing songs that would do it justice. “Trance” was one of the tracks off of this album.

When I produced “Trance,” I was sleeping on the living room floor of my grandparents’ house for a week while my parents led a trip for an at-risk youth program that they had started. At the time, my cousin’s kids were also staying with my grandparents since he was too busy working to look after them. As a result, my grandma would turn the TV to Nickelodeon every morning and leave it on all day long while I abused my eardrums with my headphones in an attempt to drown it (and the kids) out. One of these mornings, the beat for “Trance” came to me in a dream while I was still sleeping. I don’t remember what the dream was about, but I do remember waking up and having the entire thing playing in my head (including the scratching of that “Mr. Invisible” sample by The Grouch). As soon as I opened my eyes, I immediately grabbed my computer and pressed the power button. Now at the time, I was using an old Black Book that had 2 GB of RAM and took forever to turn on and load everything. So when my grandmother walked in shortly after, said “good morning,” and turned on the TV, I was absolutely horrified. Fortunately, the cable box had to load before Nickelodeon came on so there was still hope that I could get this beat out of my head and into Ableton before Dora the Explorer ruined everything. After about 30 intense seconds of nervously glancing between the loading bars of my computer and the cable box, my computer booted up and I launched Ableton Live. I was able to get the bells, drums, and bass line down before children’s tunes started blaring out of the TV speakers. If I had woken up less than a minute later, “Trance” would never exist.

Since the scratching of that “Mr. Invisible” sample was always supposed to be on this song, it’s been called “Trance” since day one and I always wanted it to be about how the media manipulates and brainwashes people into behaving a certain way or holding certain beliefs. I was incapable of writing such a song at the time though and remained incapable of writing such song for the rest of my time at Stanford. In fact, I remained incapable of writing such a song during my gap year in Colorado and during both of my years at NYU. By the time 2017 came around, I had all but forgotten about this beat and was focused on finishing the production for Origins. I was having difficulties with the tail end of the album though and the original beat that I had for track 10 just wasn’t working (I had ironically called this beat the best beat I had ever made when I first finished it lol). So in order to save time, I dug through the vaults to find an old beat to replace it with. This eventually led me to “Trance” and since there was (and still is) a highly polarized political climate with people believing all sorts of crazy shit simply because they heard it from the media, I decided that the time was right to finally write this song. So I wrote it and over seven years after I originally made the instrumental, I finally released the song the way I originally envisioned it. Along with “Bacon” and “Profit,” this is one of the best songs I’ve ever written and I really wish it was getting more attention than it currently is. At the time of this writing, it’s by far the least played song on the album.

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