By educators I was born and raised outside of St. Joseph, Minnesota in Stearns County, USA along side Watab Lake--Wadab Zaaga’igan. It’s spoke of for the long-vanished spruce roots which lined its banks. The river of the same name winds in tribute to the Mississippi--along which I attended school. Here, once, was drawn the false border between the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) and Dakhóta Oyáte. Ironically, our settler culture which drew this line has been truly erasive in this place. This, I would realize in adulthood. I pursue to understand it now.
Water has defined my grounding. In the Minnesota borderland, at the home of my maternal Grandparents I was also raised. On the opposing side of highway 11, their 65-acre, Northwoods dwelling sits in reflection of the Rainy River. Now I reside near one of the largest freshwaters on Earth, at the Head of the Great Lakes. Onigamiinsing.
For the urban uninitiated, here we learn to build Bonfires. To play in the Snow in sub-zero daylight wind chills and gut animals from the time we can walk. Even if you don't continue to do these things, or not with fervor, they are prevalent all around and make for a more grounded, less mediated experience on this Earth. Family and work ethic and survival [thrival] knowledge are key to being safe, happy, and sane. Lifestyle scenes mean nothing–camaraderie built on shared, depoliticized aesthetics without these formerly listed core values will not get you through the Winter, or when hard times come and the winter is in your blood. The fumes of stacked ash, birch smoke, and chainsaw fuel are not roots music tropes or trending brewery selling points, but the very real, comforting aromas surrounding family. Home and Hearth.
I was taught to wash oil from my hands with gasoline and old cotton. We are often characterized as raw, down-to-earth, close-to-Earth. But they always forget that this place is about everyday metaphysical self-reflexivity. The most fascinating phenomena more often occurs right in our hands, not our heads.
From the time I learned to read and to write, I lived in the shadows of death. After ten years of unexpected endurance, my Father passed away when I was twenty years of age. Hence, I emerged anew; grief met with a more powerful relief. Relief of the burden of illness. A toll that, also to the uninitiated, is foreign and unknown. But I grew learning to see it in the eyes of others. To hear it in the words unspoken in a crowd. In the effect of the jokes and idioms that the innocent toss around unknowingly like an acid appearing as water. For some of us, words that are so casually vernacular may heave great weight. Language has long Memory and great Power; there is tremendous responsibility in wielding it.
My older sister, and only sibling, is to blame for my taste in music, literature, and film–not to mention the irritating level of dissent and incessant geeking-out I'm trying to calm in an attempt to pursue what I'm likely misidentifying as 'maturity'–enabling through tolerance. As I likewise attempt to perform, write, and record, this influence seems pretty important. I suppose.
My Mother, forever generous, bestows upon me the talent of keeping my own affairs well enough attended to, to be dropped at a moment’s notice to care for others. Most often that means reading in between the lines of inflectionless messages projecting from screens and knowing that healing wrongs even a little involves quality lying about why university course assignments are late. And is worth failing classes. It means never being drunk, truck keys in reach, cell phone on, and being as well rested and as healthy as possible as often as possible. To support those who have gone to hell and back and those who you hope will never have to: that’s the best art I do. Trying my damnedest.