Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Ivan Arteaga - May 29th, 2011



Love and companionship

Seeking but never finding

Whether because you don’t exist

Or because I’m only pretending

I have not yet decided.

Why am I afraid of my emotions?

Feigning progress and health

Yet all the while




Always uncertain, because


I’m afraid of what I feel.

I have not written any kind of poetry probably since an early high school assignment. However, over the last few months I have begun to attempt to connect with my emotion as a human being and I thought I’d give it a little shot. I’ve been looking for all different forms of connecting with the essence of my self because to be honest I’ve been out of touch. I’m confessing to you, the reader, that I am not good at allowing my emotions to truly surface, and to face them. In fact, it has been the crux of my inner personality for quite a long time. It’s not so much that I have a hard time expressing my emotions because in a lot of ways, I feel very free to do that. It has simply been the issue of connecting to raw/guttural emotional responses with my conscious and reasoning brain, staring at them in face, accepting fear, accepting love, accepting pure sadness, no matter what it means to other people, and no matter how much it will hurt to accept. You could imagine there is just a big barrier between that smart internal voice that we all have inside our head, and those almost physical feelings we experience in our bodies.

Lately, I have been trying to pursue and DO the things that actually make me feel like I’m being true to what I need and want, in order to be healthy. This is contrast of my usual escapatory dive into too many consecutive hours of bad television shows or movies. Actively working on “me” over the last few months has had palpable result, and upon reflection I have also realized that I have never had problems with improvising music, or imbuing whatever music I might be playing with the full range of emotion I have to offer it. In fact, improvising is often the most free I ever feel in expressing those emotions that I have a harder time facing. It was only until recently that I discovered I could actually use saxophone as an avenue to consciously focus and release certain feelings. In the spirit of confessions, I will tell you that writing music has been an extremely difficult task for me since however long ago I first wrote anything (which was really not very long ago). I have found that because of the specific nature of my personality, the act of sitting down to write music has always been daunting, and I’ve typically been most effective at it when there is no choice but to complete a piece (College assignment, Racer Sessions, Operation ID poker game, etc). The few pieces I’ve written that came out of more just an emotional output - because I “felt” like sitting at the piano and playing something - always came out to reflect me a little better. I’ve even been hearing several close friends expressing these same sensations lately.

I think I wanted to share all of this with you because I’m only just beginning to really explore “me” deeper, and writing music for this Racer Session felt different. I don’t think the music is really much different from what I’ve written before, but the experience of spending the time writing music felt less like a chore than in the past, and more like a really nice opportunity to explore whatever happened to be on my mind musically. An acceptance just being able to jot something down that comes to you. All of that knowledge we might have as musicians and composers can often get in the way of just expressing what might come out if we simply play, and connect.

Joining me will be Cameron Sharif and Evan Woodle to continue the second of our little two-week Racer Residency!  J

** As I finish re-reading this, another thought occurs to me. I have definitely had music writing experiences very similar to what writing for this session felt like. I think the last few months have allowed me more to recognize and actively engage the state of mind that made writing “feel” better, as well as playing situations that feel great. Perhaps we can all use reminders now and then about how and what makes us feel better, and more nourished in our life pursuits.