Generational Gap


the first time they fought
was the first time she saw restlessness in your eyes
your voice was hollow 
and hers was high
one of a young lady
who thought she knew a little too much
at that age

you were saddened by the notion
that she would give herself
wholeheartedly to this boy
at thirteen
but little did you know
he was half of her world
and little did she know
love is temporary

the second time they fought
you scolded at her 
for not being good enough
yet what you meant was simply
‘i love you a lot’
but little did she know
that your love would be
unconditional
so wholesome and so warm
like soft daisies and hard waves

the third time they fought
the young girl raised her voice even higher
and louder than those hard waves
because yours is always so loud
she felt like she had to compete
you always felt so high
she had to tiptoe to meet your chin

she couldn’t feel love
but it was more or less
a competition
and she wanted to win
although
you never did
you wanted to let her know you loved her
but at seventeen, all she cared about
was loving another boy

the nth time they fought
all they wanted to communicate was
‘love me the way you want to be loved’


By Anna Vo

Sitting Down With Daniel Johann (Formerly Known as Salvia Palth)


After Salvia Plath’s indie-rock album Melanchole surfaced on bandcamp a few years ago, it quickly  became an internet hit. Gritty and intense, the album received cult success and became a staple album in the contemporary lo-fi genre. With a sound reminiscent of Teen Suicide and Neutral Milk Hotel, it’s easy to see why it became so popular. But this singular album was all the internet saw from Salvia Palth. While the name may be retired, the artist is not. Daniel Johann, formerly known as Salvia Palth, continues to publish his work on Bandcamp under the moniker Adore 1996.  I reached out to Johann to ask some questions, and I came out understanding the music industry in a new light—
that of a cult classic artist.

Lithium: How would you describe your music to someone who just discovered you?
Daniel Johann: I make music that makes me happy and reflects my environment.

Lithium: Why is it that Salvia Palth was only a single-album project? What meaning do those songs have in comparison to your other works?
DJ: I started writing this album when I was fifteen/sixteen, and at the time I was fascinated by Sylvia Plath in a macabre way which, soon after releasing the album, I realized was inappropriate. The name was also a homage to the Teen Suicide song “Salvia Plath” from Waste Yrself, which had a deep impact on me when I heard it back then. I stopped using it out of respect for Sylvia Plath's memory, but once music gets past the internet and onto computers there is no possibility of a rebrand, really. The album is essentially a solo album, with my good friend Ike Zwanikken playing drums on a few tracks, so in my view there is little to differentiate it from the rest of my discography except a few key points: I had just started to use a new [recording] program and did not understand a single thing about mixing music, so the mix is raw and prominently features digital distortion in a way that would be both difficult and foolish to recreate. Every guitar on that album is recorded clean, without distortion, and pushed so far into the red it's unrecognizable. 

The other difference would be lyrical content. I grew up in a completely isolated area called Golden Bay at the top of the South Island of New Zealand and went to an area school with 100 pupils for twelve out of thirteen years of my education. By the time I had started writing this album my year had reduced to around six people, and I only really had one or two close friends out of town. I wrote this album pretty much entirely for those out-of-town friends, and soon after moved for my last year of high school. This is essentially what the album is about to me.

Lithium: Do you remember when you realized that album gained a following on the internet? How did you react to your "success"?
DJ: I wasn't really aware at all until last year when I found out I was owed a modest amount of Spotify royalties - I had been poor my whole life up until this point, and I mean actually poor. So finally being able to live with a degree of certainty that I could provide all the things I needed for myself was a big signifier that people were paying attention. I find it weird, but I know that it was a right-place-right-time thing. I just hope that after all this time, people will still listen to what I've been working on when it finally comes out.

Lithium: How has your music evolved since you first started releasing it?
DJ: I just try to keep it new and exciting for myself. When I started out, I was recording everything on Apple earphone mics and mixing in a cracked version of FL Studio on my dad's computer. It was all just whatever I had access to. At this point, I like to think I've come a long way—I've been studying at the New Zealand School of Music for the past four years, and for better or for worse I have a [much more] balanced and informed style of production than I used to.

Lithium: What does your typical writing process look like?
DJ: For me, the writing process must be varied—this is true in many aspects of life for me. I'm terrible with routines and rituals, especially when it comes to music. I have generally kept to the idea that a song is only good to listen to if it is fun for me to play, which generally means dividing the songs into distinct segments. I do everything by ear and have an almost nonexistent understanding of basic music theory, so everything is based on purely textural play. Functionality comes second in my opinion, with musical texture being the true driving force behind recorded music. 

Lithium: What would you say is the biggest challenge you've had to overcome as a musician?
DJ: After I wrote Melanchole, I worked on a follow-up called Winter for a long time. It was pretty far along. Then, I lost my laptop in a house fire. I ended up releasing a version that was taken from old mixes... It was maybe 60% done when I lost the master tracks. 

Lithium: Do you have any upcoming projects you are working on? 
DJ: I've got probably over a hundred [unreleased] tracks from the past four years. [There are] heaps of electronic stuff but also some of my favourite guitar songs I've ever done, too. I don't know when or how I'm going to release [those] yet, but hopefully something new will materialize sooner or later. There will also be a vinyl reissue of Melanchole in the near future, so there's something to keep an eye peeled for. I'm gonna be doing this forever probably. I don't have anything new planned for release in the immediate future but a lot of stuff in the vault, so who knows. 

Lithium: If you could collaborate or tour with any artist who would you chose?
DJ: [I’m going to] pick a few ‘cause I'm bad at choosing: Phil Eleverum, Ma$e, Brian Wilson, or Springsteen could probably could probably all drag me out of hiding, and I wouldn't be too mad about it. I'd go anywhere if mid-2000s Imogen Heap called me up.

Lithium: Who are some of your favourite artists right now?
DJ: At the moment, I've been getting back into The Lemon of Pink by The Books and Paul de Jong's solo stuff, I think it's hilarious. Also a lot of electronic music, Arca, Mesh, Lotic, Seiho, DJ Spinn, DJ Taye… a lot of Brazilian music like Elza Soares, Meta Meta, and Cornelius. I just listen to whatever I can get my hands on. 

Lithium: What is something you find to be underrated which you think everyone should check out?
DJ: I don't know. Everyone's into different stuff. I don't like to pretend that my tastes are particularly unique or prescient. Maybe I would say shortwave radio. That's pretty underrated.

Lithium: What advice do you have for new musicians?
DJ: My advice would be to be less trusting and to take control of digital distribution very early [on]. It costs very little to get your music on Spotify and Apple Music these days independently. If you can't see the person in real life, only trust them if you can be sure the deal is in your favor. Find ways to make your art sustainable, both mentally and financially—this will be different for every single person. The music industry is a minefield.

Lithium: What's the best and worst part of being an independent artist?
DJ: The best part is having no one in your business, and the worst part is how the entire musical landscape is full of hacks who paid their way to the top. That’s okay, though.

Lithium: Do you think because of that, there's a sense of feudalism in the way the music industry is built? 
DJ: It's a tangled mess of multiple independent distribution systems, all [of which are] antiquated and designed for a world that is not globalized in the sense that it is now. It's all just bureaucracy and middle management. I try to stay out of all that or do what I can myself. When I say "paying their way to the top" I guess I'm joking for my own sake a little, because this is a perfectly acceptable way to become a popular independent musician. There are so many moving parts (read: human beings with their own motivations) involved when it comes to getting publicity for an independent artist, and most of the time independent acts with mainstream/name recognition made their way there not only with hard work but through the help of well-placed promotional items and being highly connected. I don't have any hate for this, but as someone who has lived in New Zealand their entire life, the idea is pretty amusing. At this point, I just like to stay out of it.

Lithium: How do you think the system can better accommodate independent artists who have less connections and money? 

DJ: I have no idea. Especially in non-Western countries, this seems to be an issue. The only way it seems you can make money in independent music these days while still staying truly independent is by chance. I'm very grateful to have lucked out a little bit. 


Interview by James Straub

Ambiversion













The words “social interaction” bring mixed feelings to me. At times, with the right people, I am thrilled, jumping, giddy, and excited. Being with my best friends, meeting fascinating new characters or at a creative gathering of some sort, I am glowing. However, there is an equal amount of fear, hesitation, and uncomfort lying beneath. I recoil from many people and the horrible, awkward small-talk associated with acquaintances not yet friends. It's difficult when you're surrounded by extroverts bursting with energy, urging you to join them in fast-paced conversations and mundane activities. During these moments, there is nothing more physically and emotionally draining than being with people with whom you do not wish to interact. 

In both the colorful and monochrome images, the extrovert grasps at an unknown entity of exploration, adventure, and new experiences. Behind, the introvert pulls back, begging to stay at home, relieved joy found in quiet contemplation and cancelled plans. I used red to represent the bold presence of an extrovert and blue to illustrate the sensations of introversion. Ambiversion is hinted at with the physical interactions between the two, as well as the clashes between the two colours in some images. Other emotions left for the viewer to interpret are portrayed between the two personalities, which show what usually goes on in an ambivert mind.

These photographs describe both the separation between introversion and extroversion, as well as the murky confusion of ambiversion; ambiversion is a blur of craving the company of others and loving the feeling of alone. In between this divide, the ambivert blends together the beauty of both personalities; though it is difficult for the introvert and extrovert to completely understand your social behaviours, being an ambivert is wondrous.


Photos by Anova Hou
Modelled by Jada Berglund and Chloe Bray

Chromatic Scale







This series is all about breaking the box, deviation from the norm, and forgetting protocol. Last week in my guitar class, my teacher told me I couldn’t perform an original chord progression I came up with because it “broke too many rules.”  I say let art just be. This piece breaks rules in that it’s full of technical errors and the shots are grainy. But yet, it’s still vibrant, commanding attention, and conveying emotion. The title is a play on words. A chromatic scale is a musical scale (tying the series back to my guitar example from earlier), but chroma also means color, and the photo set is all about color!


By Ines Donfack

Cover Up




It is natural for humans to mask their emotions. Bottling up feelings and emotions is something I personally do. I essentially walk around with a mask that makes me seem fine, like every aspect in my life is perfect, but in reality there are aspects of my life that I keep to myself, and that’s not necessarily healthy.    

These photos show the divide between how a person looks on the outside and how someone feels on the inside. 


The subject in the photos is a close friend, and the images relate to his personal experiences.


By Rhys Grail

On Fallen Trees


Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

- “Fall, leaves, fall” by Emily Brontë

11 P.M. My apartment, Baltimore.

There’s a tree outside my apartment window, and the leaves rustle in the wind as rain beats against the windowpane. The sound instantly takes me back in time. It sounds like school nights spent in my child bedroom, when I would lie awake listening to the rain. There was a tree right outside my bedroom window that stood tall against all the rainstorms. If I close my eyes and listen to rain against the window and the whispering of the leaves, I’m fourteen again, at home safe, still a child. Just for a moment.


The tree outside my childhood home no longer stands. It was cut down along with the other tree in our front yard, the cherry blossom tree with the pink buds that bloomed every spring. There was never any need to go see the cherry blossom trees in D.C. We had our own perfect cherry blossom tree right there in the yard, outside the kitchen window. I can still remember the way the tree felt, the way the rough bark scraped my hands when I climbed the tree. I loved climbing that tree, and I had it down to a science. First, you grab hold of the long, sturdy branch and use it to propel yourself onto the lower, thicker branch, which you’ll need to sit on. Then, you can hoist yourself up onto the branch directly above the first branch. Like I said, it’s a science—one that frankly, I didn’t even know I still remembered. But it’s beside the point. That tree is gone now. 


Now when I go home to visit, I think about how our front yard looks like a graveyard. The front yard looks barren, with only a raised mound of dirt where the cherry tree used to stand. My mother tried to decorate it and put a bird feeder on it to make it look less sad, but to me the bird feeder looks like a headstone. A headstone for the tree, for the pictures taken there and the memories created. For the flowers that no longer bloom.


Ever since my Grandmother died, everything reminds me of death. I cling to everything that reminds me of life. I think of things in my home that she touched, and imagine that they still hold some piece of her, echoes of her touch.

I close my eyes and picture her leaning against the cherry blossom tree in our front yard. When I open my eyes, the yard is empty.


My parents tell me that they are planting new trees in our front yard. Crape Myrtles. Three of them. I hope maybe the new trees will make the yardmake my whole familyfeel alive again.

Listening to those leaves, I go back in time. Just for a moment I am fourteen again. Just for a moment, just for a moment.




Poetry by Charlotte Smith
Photos by Sophie Allsop

College Cured My Media Addiction and I’m Not That Happy About It

Illustration by Deema Alawa

Before coming to college, I was a self-diagnosed media junkie. In high school, I consumed information feverishly in the form of books, audiobooks, podcasts, documentaries, YouTube videos, and online magazines and newspapers. Despite a heavy course load with several AP classes and an after-school job, I didn’t find it challenging to stay up to date. During this time I was able to stay informed on all the latest news in politics, art, literature, and even science. I have never felt more knowledgeable or confident about what I could offer to conversations or class discussions. I loved the feeling of being able to contribute an opinion formed from actual knowledge of a subject. 

In college, I imagined, I would continue this rapid consumption of books and news and everything else. I would continue to be on top of current events and what was happening in, say, the art world. But this wasn’t the case. 

It is hard to understand the dynamic of living away from home on a college campus until you experience it. One of the things that no one tells you is that empty moments are a scarcity. At home, even when I had homework to do, I would have time to myself before dinner or in the morning while doing my makeup or when sitting in traffic on my way to work. I don’t experience many empty moments in college. I live with someone else, I share a communal bathroom, I eat dinner in a crowded dining hall, and I travel—for the most part—with at least one other person at all times. 


Would I rather listen to NPR while sitting in Los Angeles traffic or talk to my friend who is sitting in the passenger seat and grew up in a different state? Would I rather read a book about the racial divide in politics or attend a lecture hosted by the woman who wrote it? 


There is also the pressure of gaining experiences in college. I don’t mean pressure to go to parties or do drugs or anything like that. I mean the pressure to try new foods, to travel to new places, and to have interesting conversations with thoughtful people who somehow ended up in the same room as you despite the fact that they grew up an ocean away. There is so much to empirically learn in college. Sometimes, when I do catch empty moments, I feel guilty. Can’t I always read this article later? Maybe I won’t have a chance to talk to the other person who is sitting alone in the common room. 


This type of learning through experience is an entirely different way to stay informed. I am not just reading words about issues or the opposing position, but meeting people with lives and opinions and stories. 


Ideally, one does have to choose between going out with a friend and keeping up with current events. The stories that friends and books and newspapers tell are all equally as important. Yet, between being a full-time student who writes ten-page essays far too often and going to work, it can be difficult to pick up the newspaper for even ten minutes. 


I wish I could explain why it is so daunting. Maybe ten minutes a day won’t make my grades drop dramatically, but sometimes I feel that way. 


Now that my first year of college is ending, I can only try my best to be better. When I get one of those rare quiet moments when everything is still, I grab my book. When I walk to class, I put in my headphones and listen to NPR or This American Life. When I have a free minute on the computer before class, I skim through the top stories on the Atlantic website. I wish I made more time for reading the news, but at the same time I am not willing to give up my time due to the infinite supply of intriguing people who surround me. I need to figure out how to incorporate both aspects of being an informed individual into my life. 


For now, I will renounce my addiction to media and stave off until the summertime. 


By Megan Loreto

Daydreaming




Photos by Natalie Carranza 
Modeled by Deja Kumar

Civil Wars Have No Winners


The first time you meet Greg is in passing—
he gives you a slight nod 
as you bustle off to school 
or work 
or whatever important place to which you’re always going. 
You feel your chest crunch,
but brush it off because all you remember of him is his 
black hair flopping over his green eyes,
and how can something this small flip your mood entirely? 
You don’t let this happen.
There’s a lot of work to get done
And little to no time to do it. 
You have to grind, grind, grind. 
    
The next time you meet Greg,
you’re at a coffee shop 
shoveling through stacks of work
and aching for another espresso shot. 
You get out of your tiny safe corner to order a lifeline,
but little do you know you will meet with your dead end. 
You order, Greg replies. 
All you remember is his silk voice merging with yours,
the slight throb in the back of your head. 
You take a refreshing sip of your coffee 
and move on,
because the work isn’t going to do itself, is it? 

You meet Greg again as you’re laying in bed, 
waiting for sleep to anchor your eyelids. 
First you hear his silk voice singing you lullabies, 
then you feel his slim fingers running through your hair 
as if to sooth you. 
But your head pounds,
your chest is tighter than ever,
and what’s worse is that you have the uncomfortable urge 
to cry. 

You give Greg a disguise, you call him Stress. 
You dress him in clothes that barely fit his body. 
His shirt is all the work you need to get done, 
his pants are a reminder that you need to work out,
and the belt around his waist is the pressure of pleasing society.
But, you can deal with all of this—
all of these tangible, technical problems. 
You decide that tomorrow you’ll get rid of him. 
You will do all of your work,
you will hit the gym twice,
and then you will be Perfect
With a capital P.

And you do all of this,
thoroughly, 
completely. 
Day after day,
you wake before your alarm.
For a couple of weeks, you are distracted,
you do not notice his hyena laugh. 
But Greg is there in the background, he is always there
 —in the mirror of your gym, 
making you coffee (no milk, no sugar, just black black black), 
mocking your yoga poses, 
singing lullabies as you fall asleep.
He is there, 
he is everywhere, 
but you are too busy to notice. 
You bustle in and out, 
always in a rush to do this, 
to do that, 
to do everything. 
You don’t give yourself a second to breathe—
if you have a second alone,
you might just notice him, 
and then you might just
cry. 

Soon, you forget how to breathe. 
You notice yourself trying to catch your breath
in the dip of a conversation.
You push, 
you grind, 
you work and work and work, 
you let breathing turn from a necessity to a luxury, 
your lungs collapse.

You crash into bed after that busy day 
and set your alarm for 6 A.M. the next morning,
gulp down melatonin, 
turn off all the lights,
and close your eyes 
But daylight comes,
your alarm snoozes,
your pillow is just so so soft, 
and you just can’t get out of bed today.
Greg is back.
He is giving you CPR 
—his breath is yours again.

His disguise starts to fall apart as the days pass— 
it’s harder for you to get out of bed, 
do work,
be inspired, 
be alive. 
Greg sits on your chest 
so you can’t get up,
and then he whispers, 
everything you do is wrong,
you lazy, 
selfish 
fool. 

He says you must pay him back for saving your life, 
for teaching you how to breathe again. 

First, he asks you for small things. 
He asks you to make the AC colder,
to take out all the blankets, 
curl up in bed with him and take a long, long nap.
You wake up four hours later.
He’s full of energy,
jumping up and down on your bed. 
He says he’s hungry,
peels you out of bed,
pushes you out the door. 
You stand in front of the coffee shop in your pajamas
and fluffy slippers,
swallow the dumbbells in your throat. 
He asks for everything your money can buy—
coffee and muffins and pancakes and waffles
and Nutella, don’t forget the Nutella. 
The food comes,
and he takes over your body, 
inhales the hash browns in front of you,
then licks off the plate to make sure your stomach aches
until you’ve given yourself a ketchup makeover. 
You get up to clean up his mess, 
go to the bathroom, 
wash your hands, 
unzip your pants
to his whisper:
fat.

You pray he will stop asking for things, 
You pray he will go away. 
You say tomorrow will be better,
tomorrow will be better.
You lie to yourself.
But soon he asks 
for things with no premise.
Soon, he begs you
to quit studying,
cuddle with him in bed,
build walls between your friends,
drink till you can no longer think, 
give your love away to strangers
that fill the loneliness in your chest,
destroy yourself until you can no longer feel.

Soon, he gets bored of not feeling,
pushes you to self-destruct
as red waterfalls
splash down your wrist. 
Soon, he asks
why are you still 
alive?

At one point, you can’t take it anymore. 
You ask for help. 
The psychiatrist gives you a yellow pill 
that you can never swallow right.
You cross your fingers 
that you will be Happy
with a capital H.

Now, you introduce him as your depression, Greg.
He is a chameleon. 
To some, he is transparent, 
they say all you need is exercise 
and a healthy meal. 
Others look right at his cocky smile,
but never into his piercing eyes. 
They refuse to acknowledge his existence, 
because you are not crazy.
He is the master of disguise.
You call him the 
black sheep of your life,
the nemesis, 
the imposter,
the debbie-downer,
the wet towel, 
the party-pooper.
You call him Greg
Because 
You’re too afraid to admit
That your worst enemy 

is yourself.


By Dvita Kapadia