There is a lot of significance to this song that I haven't really mentioned to anyone, so here goes.
The instrumental arrangement started as some rough ideas when I was first working on Machines With Human Skin again and first learning the ins and outs of Logic after being a Pro Tools user for many years and not really doing much of my own music at all for almost a decade. So a lot of the pieces of this song are some of the first ideas I came up with...and I wanted to preserve the sort of initial lo-fi, smudged round the edges feeling.
I came back to it again about a month later and wrote some lyrics, but they weren't doing what I wanted them to and I scrapped them. Then last year I was at Cold Waves LA talking to Ged Denton (of C-Tek/Der Prosector/Armalyte Records) about my music and he said I should write what I want...and not to worry about trying to fit into anyone else's definition. It seems obvious but it's always worth hearing again from another musician.
C-Tek proceeded to blow my fucking mind with their set. Even the sparsest sounds held the audience in complete rapture. At times I was holding my breath. They went from brutal beats to stripped-down desolate synths sweeping all around us. I bought the reissue of Cut/Darker immediately; I literally ran to the merch booth. I was really inspired by the mood they had captured.
The festival was over and that Sunday, I went downtown to wander around art galleries and try to take my mind off the post-Cold Waves blues. It was sunny and 75, like usual. I was sitting on the bus and I just started writing these lyrics about how I felt after I had top surgery. It was so weird to be writing these really dark lyrics on such a sunny day. And it was emotionally difficult because it took me right back to those first few days of surgery and then recovery.
I had a very hard time recovering because I struggled desperately with post-op depression for months, and a huge sense of grief and loss for my pre-transition self. I was still early in transition and still felt so much guilt and shame. It was cold and gloomy and rainy and I was tired of feeling so incapacitated and so sidelined by the simplest tasks. I felt so vulnerable and apart from myself. It was the exact opposite of how every other trans person seems to feel after gender-affirming surgery.
I would drag my ass to work and everything just annoyed me. It hurt to turn on the faucet or to sit at a computer and type, which made my job miserable. My stomach was in knots and I hated food but I also hated being hungry. My chest looked beaten up and sad and I was still sort of horrified by this. The rain was relentless and it felt like I would never see the sun again. I would come home and take Vicodin and then cry myself to sleep.
I didn't really surface until April. And then things started to get better again. But that was probably one of the darkest places I've ever been to.
The chorus speaks to my fears, in my worst moments through a Vicodin haze, that I had died under anesthesia. The second verse speaks to not only the physical pain I felt, but the sense that I was now a liability, a burden, because I had altered my body in a way that went against what society expected of me. By this point we were up to our neck in the Trump administration and they were constantly inferring that LGBTQ people are a burden, dragging down the progress of society. Many industrial bands write political songs all the time. I would say that in a way, this is just as political.
The release date, December 8, is the three-year anniversary of my top surgery. I asked some friends to remix it for me because I wanted to take away some of the emotional weight and see if it could be made into something different. They have delivered 100% and I am so grateful.
If you're trans and you're trying to figure it out or you've just had surgery, I want you to know that it's not all doom and gloom, not at all! There will come a day, many days, where you'll look in the mirror and things will start to make sense again...and the darkness will give way to the light.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it..there was a lot of talent involved in these remixes, and please feel free to check out their other releases! Thanks again for your support..it means a lot to me.
You can pay what you want for this album or any of the singles. All proceeds will be split equally between the Oakland LGBT Center and Darkest Before Dawn.
released December 8, 2019
Lyrics: Adrian Halo
Vocals/Bass/Guitar/Synths/Drum Programming: Adrian Halo
Joy Thieves remix: Dan Milligan
Spheric remix: DJ Spheric
"The Light" remix: Slighter/Colin C
"Anesthesia" remix: Adrian Halo
Album art: Adrian Halo
Lying on my back
Burning when I breathe
Everything’s too bright
Watching myself bleed
Terror in my dreams
The pills that make it dark
Blurry crippled memories
So vivid and so stark
Am I awake or am I dead/
Beaten Black and Blue and Red
The sunshine turns my scars to white
Can’t tell the darkness from the light