My dear and precious friends,
I hope you are doing good, that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe, that you all remain hopeful regardless of just how distressingly similar to the end of 2020 the beginning of 2021 presently feels. Still, I want to believe that 2021 will be a year made of defining moments and joyful uplifts, even if it might be even more challenging and troublesome than last year has been. I know it might sound like some wishful thinking on my part, and maybe it is… However, that’s how determined I am to approach and foresee the upcoming months; one day at the time… Regardless of what will fill those days; clamoring cheers or sorrowful grief. I know it’s easier said than lived, trust me, I often feel like it wouldn’t take much more for me to slide in those dark emotional places I have always promised myself to stay away from at any cost. We’re not all emotionally equipped and wired the same, some days are better than some, while some are less than others. It’s the choice we make with what we have that guides us through the good like the bad days, even we feel like we don’t have any of the control we would like to have over our own tragedies and celebrations.
That said, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned - or realized - in 2020, it is the fact that we all have the benevolent and compassionate opportunity to invite those in need with the generosity of our imperfect but honest opened arms, as much as we have the graceful and empowering benediction to reach out for others welcoming refuges when we feel like losing our emotional equilibrium. Regardless of our personal conditions, I always find a great deal of comfort in that communal kindness we offer each other with so much kindhearted goodwill. That, more than any self-convincing mantras I may repeat in times of need, is an essential part of my daily devotional reflection and one of the fundamental elements of my optimistic view. People, as damaged as we can be, are what inspire me the most to face those days as they come. There’s a wonderful freedom in letting go into somebody else’s embrace rather than trying to hold on to my own, even more so when I know that I don’t have the strength to hold on long enough to keep my heart from another painful fall. And like most of you, I do know my way down… So if I have to fall, I want to fall in caring hands so I can find my way back up…
New Album: Standing Under Bright Lights
Therefore, with that idea in mind, it was utterly important for me to start the year with a positively refreshing perspective, with something so meaningful to me that I couldn’t wait to share it with you. And that little something is the magnificent album and movie project “Standing Under Bright Lights” that has been recorded and filmed during the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal on July 5, 2019.
In fact, that project encapsulates many life-changing elements for me. It represents a moment of death to self and a dazzling renaissance as well, for so many different wonderful and bleak reasons. That concert almost didn’t happen… I was deeply struggling with the idea of leaving my relatively safe emotional space. I don’t think there was a day passing by without me seriously thinking about canceling the whole thing and leaving for Tangier once and for all. I was so confused and irresolute… Uncertainty is such a lonely place to lay down in. There were so many intimate obstacles that felt impossible to overcome…
Some of those struggles revolved around the idea of getting back into the light. It had been more than 3 years since I had been pretty much removed from the public eye. I didn’t know if I wanted to go back and give any hope of me coming back for good. This event would mark the first time I performed under my name after having fronted Your Favorite Enemies for 12 years… Would I be able to do it? I always had to fight anxiety, depression, insecurities, and fears associated with getting in front of people, so it was crazy for me to jump right back into it after everything it took to be at peace with it all following my time in Tangier. What kept the event alive, regardless of all the despair I was going through, was a firm desire to honor my father’s memory, who had passed away 5 years before that night, by playing a revisited incarnation of “Windows in the Sky” in front of family members and friends. That was the only reason that kept me going. Otherwise, I would have been crushed by all my doubts and fears… that much, I know.
I think that having to go through it all gave a more reverend and humble approach to that moment, like a sacred perspective, in a way, free from ambition and self-indulgence. And I guess that’s why it became a liberating turning point for me, why it became a celebration of life rather than a sorrowful eulogy. It was finding an unexpected beam of hope in otherwise pretty grim circumstances. It was an uplifted communion rather than fizzling entertainment. And that’s why I wanted to share that moment with you, as a way to encourage you and to honor your support as well, to show my gratitude for your welcome, may it be when I went back on the road and you so generously “adopted” me from that instant on, or via the warmhearted openness of your private messages, the letters and cards we send each other… You truly are precious to me…
I’ll have several other opportunities in the upcoming weeks to share more of the intimate insights that make “Standing Under Bright Lights” such a purposeful project. It’s important for me to take the time to do so properly. I didn’t want to rush anything, so it will go on from the album/movie pre-release on February 5 up to its official release date on April 16.
So if you have any questions about the project, may they be technical, emotional or artistic, please don’t hesitate to write to me. I will try to answer them in all honesty.
About The Shipping
I think if there’s something I have regular nightmares about is shipping. I know it’s presently everyone’s problem if you’re not called Amazon Prime, but for everybody else, it’s a real struggle. At least, it’s been quite a challenge for us as team, even if we decided to go with private couriers in the very early stages of the pandemic. Regardless of our best efforts, delivery time remains quite a puzzling situation. Packages are being delivered, but it’s insanely slow. I’m still receiving some of your wonderful birthday gifts as we speak. I’m super happy, but my birthday was in November…! You know what I mean? My mother has yet to receive the Christmas card I sent her early December (I swear I sent it, Mom!)… All that to say, it’s quite frustrating.
Thankfully, it’s not that slow everywhere. Some of you kept receiving your packages within 2 to 4 days after we shipped them out, may it be to Germany or Japan. They take much longer to arrive in France… Go figure! It’s driving us crazy! The silver lining, though, is that most people who ordered before Christmas are starting to receive their packages. Those who ordered at the beginning of the year haven’t experienced much delay, if any at all. I’ll take that as good and promising news. But again, there are no words to express my gratitude for your patience and understanding. It means a lot to me and it’s a relief for the hard-working HTR shipping team members as well. Thank you!
What About “Standing Under Bright Lights” Shipping Delivery?
I know that most of you are avid vinyl collectors and, just like me, you have now accepted that ordering a boxset or regular LP as a pre-release means having to wait much longer than anticipated before you get it. But you won’t have to worry about any of it, as I made sure you will receive your copy of “Standing Under Bright Lights” on the street release date of April 16, if not even a little sooner. That’s the bright side of having my own label and an amazingly dedicated team to run things swiftly for you. So I’m very happy to let you know that shipping won’t be an issue!
Your friend and brother,