Jodi Is Comfortable Ceding Control

Caleb Cordes (Sinai Vessel) catches up with his friend Nick Levine.

If I had to liken my friend Nick Levine’s music as Jodi to a singular kind of human moment, it’d be this: occasionally, when I am least expecting it, someone that doesn’t know me very well will surprise me by seeing through the outer shell I’ve trusted to sufficiently hide my vulnerabilities. They’ll cock their head, look me dead in the eye, and ask, “are you alright?”

My eyes tend to mist up immediately. Being seen for something I wasn’t prepared to acknowledge, and yet deeply want to offload, is a disarming emotional cocktail. It leaves me feeling obvious, silly, but all the while tenderly eager to allow my defenses to dissolve and accept the care offered to me.

It follows that those who most deeply prize connection can often be the most lonely — its presence is felt just as powerfully as its absence. Nick and I had formative experiences growing up in much the same kind of connective atmosphere, playing emo shows in basements, where open expression of emotion is encouraged, and community is easy to come by. As with so many communities in early adulthood, though, that ease was more often due to circumstance than it was intentionality. In the few years I’ve aged between then and now, it’s become only more and more apparent to me that those communities less frequently surround us by the same kind of happenstance. We’re forced to learn how to independently forge and cultivate those kinds of nourishing relationships to others, and often discover along the way that we have to figure out how to have a relationship to ourselves.

This is where the music of Jodi is so helpful — it embodies that tender care for and love of the self, the deep desire for and appreciation of community, and makes space for all the emotional experiences that come with life’s continual oscillation between communal and solitary experiences. Nick’s music reminds me to not develop too thick of a shell, allowing good things to disarm and permeate when they come along — as they sing in Blue Heron’s opener, “Reaching with my hands out/looking for something/powerful and soft.”

Nick and I have been in kindred contact for years now, but we became even closer friends once we realized we were going to make our newest records in the exact same location with the exact same people — and ever more so when the pandemic hit just as we were developing those incomplete projects. But our connection is even more than the sum of all of those parts, and I suspected that, in asking all the simple questions about Blue Heron in which I had genuine interest, the spirit of that connection would unfurl. And it did, in so many ways.

— Caleb Cordes

Caleb Cordes: I would love to start off by asking about where Karaoke came from — can you take me through the context of why and how you began that project? It was a bit of an experiment for you, right?

Nick Levine: It was totally an experiment for me! I wrote songs as a child — early on playing guitar, I was writing songs. But then in all the experiences I had playing in bands, you would just write a riff, bring it to the group, and collaborate on something together. So I didn’t really start writing songs — like fully fleshed-out, song-songs — in earnest until I was, like, 19. So Karaoke was really the first batch that I felt strongly about as an adult — if we’re not counting my first song, “Satan’s Hotel,” that I wrote as probably a 9 year old and recently unearthed footage of.

Caleb: [Laughs.] Unbelievable.

Nick: But yeah, so — that was a new way for me to approach music, and a new way for me to look inward. And so I was just working on these songs and trying to make something happen with them.

Caleb: Did the idea of arranging Karaoke as a collection of songs where you played every instrument come first as a method of organizing things? Or did you have a batch of songs and you were like, “Alright, this is my way of corralling them?” Which was the chicken and the egg there?

Nick: I’m trying to remember which record it was, but I have a distinct memory of listening to a record where the songwriter played everything with the person that I was dating right after high school, and saying that I wanted to do a record like that sometime, and being told that I couldn’t. And I was really put off by that. As a kid, I was, you know — an independent little shit. [Laughs.] I didn’t like being told what to do, but I really didn’t like being told what I couldn’t do. So that stuck with me. And I was like, I have to do this at least once.

That’s not the whole story, but that is one part of the motivation for doing it that way. And I also just wanted to! It’s just easier in certain ways. Teaching a band to play music is kind of like being a coach.

Caleb: It can be not very fun.

Nick: Yeah, it can be difficult. And the stuff I wanted to do on this record wasn’t all that complicated. It was sort of just the path of least resistance to do it myself. I felt like I had something to prove as well, for sure, but it was also just that I like recording by myself, you know? My process is extremely solitary. I don’t really get anything done unless I’m alone. Like, I have one housemate right now, and when she’s around, I can’t work on songs. I can a little, but I can’t really get into that space. And that is just the way that it is for me. So making a record like that was sort of just an extension of that whole thing. I have these ideas and I want to cultivate them and get them ready before I let them out.

Caleb: What was your musical context beforehand, leading up to acting on that batch of songs as Jodi?

Nick: I was actually just revisiting this — did you ever listen to the Stability EP by Death Cab For Cutie? I had a really big thing at some point with “Stable Song,” which I think is on Plans — such an all-timer melody, a perfect simple song. But that reharmonized version of it, “Stability,” that was everything to me when I first heard it. I was like, “this is what I want out of music.” So that’s definitely one influence. I mean, all sorts of stuff — I was really into The Reminder by Feist.

Caleb: Wow! That’s amazing we both have those things in common — [Death Cab’s] “Cath…” was at one point for me the same sort of distillation of everything that I wanted to do, and The Reminder was a huge, huge record for me in high school. I think it was the first time that I discovered a record where the production and the songwriting seemed as important as one another, and they spoke to one another. It really made me excited about making records in general.

Nick: Definitely! And then eventually I was getting really into Mount Eerie for the first time when I was working on [early Jodi] stuff. Listening to Dawn a lot, listening to Lost Wisdom a lot. The stripped-down stuff mostly. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Fiona Apple’s cover of “Across the Universe,” which is the first place I heard that double drum trick. And, you know, [Duster’s] Stratosphere. That’s definitely a pretty essential background listen for what I was formulating.

Caleb: Yes, especially in the slow and sparse.

Nick: That was an experience. The first time I heard that record, I was like, Someone’s already done it. Like, wow, this thing that I thought that I wanted to do already exists. And I am so, so happy about it. It was like making a new friend or something.

Caleb: You know, it makes sense triangulating you with just those few influences — how it would land with Jodi. So what was your context with playing music?

Nick: I played in all sorts of contexts. I think I had a lucky experience in high school — getting to play with a handful of people who were really, really good in a way that I didn’t really appreciate for how special it was, for how abnormal it was. I have played in all sorts of bands, all sorts of stuff that mostly there’s no evidence of, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. [Laughs.] A lot of it was only on MySpace, and that crashed. And whatever show evidence there was, iPhones weren’t a thing. There’s some stuff on Adan [Carlo’s] old Flip. And some stuff on the old Meatlocker [DIY venue in Montclair, NJ] security-cam style footage. But that’s pretty much it! And I’m talking about playing a show nearly every weekend.

Caleb: What kind of bands were those?

Nick: You know — punk and emo, basically. There was a math rock band. A lot of it was 10 people total that would get together in different configurations where one person was taking point from the other. And in most of those configurations, either me or Adan or both of us were involved. There was a lot of stuff.

Caleb: To further guide that question, was there a general spirit or lesson that you took from collaborating with others that you draw on with Jodi now? I have your influences, but there seems to be something that’s more than the sum of those parts, and I’m trying to get at what that is.

Nick: I think the biggest thing I ever took away from that stuff was just to be comfortable ceding control. And to trust in some level of spontaneity. Whether that be in the context of handing something off to someone else, or in the context of recording by yourself and having an idea of what you’re doing, but basically improvising [on top of it]. Which a lot of Karaoke is. Those songs were already skeletons, for sure, but a lot of those parts were improvised in front of a mic and refined from there. That’s sort of how I work. Or worked in that context. 

Caleb: That makes a lot of sense.

Nick: Yeah, you know, like little arpeggiated guitar parts — stuff like that I am almost always writing on the spot. I’m in the funny position now with the new record where I’m learning how to play some of these songs. [Laughs.] 

Caleb: Some of what you’ve improvised?

Nick: Yeah!

Caleb: That’s incredible.

Nick: Yeah, like — we’re going to do a release show, and I have to figure out how to play a handful of these songs. [Laughs.] I’ve actually never really arranged this record for an actual band. Doing it for a recording is a totally different approach — or at least it can be, and in this case it was.

Caleb: Absolutely — you have to discern what’s important, what you want to stand at the forefront. 

Nick: Yeah.

Caleb: That’s fascinating. I think it’s really interesting to have learned a lesson in a collective context that you then ported to your internal world — to delegate what part of you can be free and improvisational and on-the-spot, and what can criticize and sort of pick apart what makes it and what doesn’t.

Nick: Yeah. There are the constituent parts that just have to be there — but in arrangement, there are all sorts of ways you can take something, and there’s no wrong or right answer. There’s all sorts of possibilities. It’s just a matter of taste. And that’s an exciting thing to have as a guide when you’re messing around in the studio. Because then you’re not overthinking about perfection, or what something should be, because it can be anything. I mean, I maybe say that only aspirationally. I do obsess. [Laughs.] 

Caleb: Sure, yeah — as do I! But to even achieve any portion of your creative process being improvisational, and giving yourself that leeway, is a really beautiful thing. I find that’s often difficult for me to do if I’m not projecting the “responsible parent” role onto another person in the room — which then allows me to go into a child’s-play, “sandbox” kind of mode.

Nick: Well, yeah — which was the total joy of working with Tommy [Read, Blue Heron producer].

Caleb: Right, right!

Nick: Not to jump ahead.

Caleb: No, that leads into my next question — I would love to be taken forward from the release of Karaoke up to whenever you started to think about an LP. Was there something in the response to that record that made you curious about what came after? Or were you already on that path and wondering about what the follow-up would be like as it was finished?

Nick: Yeah, I definitely was. I mean, I’m sure you’ve had the experience that while you’re working on a record, the next batch has already begun. And some of the stuff on the new record is that old. “Power” is that old, “Hawks” is nearly that old. Early 2017 ideas, I think — or at least they’re close. So I was definitely not thinking Karaoke was a one-and-done sort of deal. I had more exploring to do. 

Caleb: When did you first begin to visualize what Blue Heron might be? For me, a record always feels like an almost inevitable end that I’m coming to. It’s like there’s a shape in the dark and I’m trying to feel it out. I’m wondering — what was its shape to you? What did it feel like at its earliest stage?

Nick: It felt like nothing for a long time, honestly. I think truthfully until maybe midway through 2020, I wasn’t even really sure that it made sense as a record. There were earlier songs that didn’t make the cut, there were earlier iterations of trying to record that also got scrapped. 

The thing that I find hardest about recording alone is that you can’t really just focus on your performance ‘cos you’re thinking about how you’re recording as well, [even] aside from the logistical goofiness of pressing record on a computer and running over to an instrument. I second-guess myself about what I’m doing, and that can get in the way. It’s too much to think about. So a freeing part of the process with Karaoke was that I basically did it all with one stereo mic. That sort of limitation allowed me to get through it. But when I was trying to record these new songs, it felt sort of stale.

Caleb: Wait, so you first tried to record [Blue Heron] in the same way, just alone?

Nick: Yeah.

Caleb: Wow!

Nick: Yeah, like — I have some scrapped recordings that were cool, but for whatever ineffable reason weren’t totally it. And I knew that. So, fast forward to some point in 2019 — I got invited to do a session on pedal steel for a band at Tommy’s studio [Lazybones Audio, in Silsbee, TX]. I had not met Tommy, but I knew all the other musicians. I said yes to it because it seemed fun, and also just ‘cus I wanted to check that space out and see about maybe recording this thing there, because it just wasn’t happening at home. I didn’t really know what to do about that. And [Tommy and I] just totally hit it off! We were scheming from practically the moment we met each other. So that was a really exciting development. And then I figured out how to make it work with money and personnel and came down for the first session in December of 2019. We recorded, like, 10 songs then, and I think maybe five or six of those made the record. It was just me and [drummer] Andrew Stevens. And then I ended up coming back two more times to keep working down in Texas. And it just continued to take shape as we went along.

Caleb: Along what lines did that take shape? Like, what criteria had you begun to discover that made for the cutting of other songs? What unifying spirit was there?

Nick: Well, it’s always a telltale sign which songs you want to work on and which ones that, once you’re into the process, you find, like, “Damn, we haven’t really done anything to those basic tracks yet.” I think that is a pretty clear indicator of what is not as exciting. 

Caleb: Was there a common element among the songs you were really excited about?

Nick: Yeah, they’re all in G. [Laughs.] Yeah, they all felt real to me. They felt true to me. I don’t have a better way to describe it. Every song that you write isn’t a hit, and it’s kind of hard to tell for some time. And so it was really just the ones that still moved me however many months later. Those were the keepers.

Caleb: Did you go back home and write more in the direction of the keepers?

Nick: Yeah, I did, and even beyond that — I mean, “Go Slowly,” the first single from the record, I wrote that in Texas. That was written during these sessions. So, that is one of the newest ones on there. The actual newest one is “Slug Night,” which was part of a song-a-day thing I did with Nandi [Rose, of Half Waif] in July 2020. We were working on the record and I wanted to sneak some newer stuff onto it, you know? Because I was like, this is what I’m most excited about right now. Those definitely both helped the whole thing kind of make a little bit more sense to me. They both have their own important role.

Caleb: Whenever I’m writing a record, or sort of feeling for that shape in the dark, sometimes early on as a challenge to myself I kind of begin to develop a set of rules or values — 

Nick: Yes!

Caleb: Oh, that’s awesome — I’m glad you responded that way. What were your rules, and how did they change?

Nick: The rules this time were really more lyrical than anything. The main one being, say it directly. Say it simply. You know, don’t talk around the thing. I think I can credit Bill Callahan as the big influence on that. Another one being, avoid not taking a stance. Like anytime you’d say “I guess” or “maybe,” it should be revisited. So, those were big ones. There is a lot about this record that I think is a step forward from the last one, but I really think that actually the lyrics are the biggest difference, the biggest maturation. And the thing I still find the slipperiest.

In terms of trying to make the record take shape, a lot of these lyrics changed a bunch. Some of them were finished being written a day before I sang them — which is for better or for worse the only way to get things done sometimes, with a deadline absolutely breathing down my neck. Which was a hard thing about the pandemic, because I couldn’t use playing a show to do that. Because that would definitely be the way. So if I wanted to play something new, I had to finish the lyrics.

So, yeah — you start to notice things in a collection and you try to emphasize them. The themes in the record are things that I was organically writing about in different contexts, in different ways, not necessarily realizing I was doing it. And then after the fact, in the middle of the process with all of them, [I was] assembling and massaging. It begins to take shape in that way as well in a way that it can’t song-by-song.

Caleb: What was your context like when you were writing this record? I imagine a lot of time spent in solitude, or driving alone. This was all when you were living in upstate New York at the time, right?

Nick: Yep, but some of it was written in Chicago as well — the older stuff was written in Chicago. So, like, “Power” and “Hawks.” That song “River Rocks,” the little instrumental one — that’s a variation on a riff I’ve been trying to find a home for for like, a long time. Eight years, something like that.

Caleb: [Laughs.] I do the same thing.

Nick: But the rest of it, yeah, upstate New York. You know, wide open farmland. But also that juxtaposed with living on a state road. So, yeah, a lot of driving through nature, a lot of walking through nature. Also, just traveling a lot. I mean, I don’t know if it’s directly related to being on tour or not, but this is kind of a record about wandering. Or at least, it is wandering, even if it’s not about that. There’s motion baked into it. It’s wandering in search of meaning, but it’s also literally wandering.

Caleb: Yeah, absolutely — there is so much motion on this record. There’s always a sense of moving from place to place, but there’s always this sense of a return as well. Which leads to a question I really wanted to ask — time and again you seem to return from scenes of confusion or distress to this notion of “following the sound,” or this refrain of “finding that note.” That process seems like a kind of shelter for you. I’d love to hear you talk about what that might mean.

Nick: Sure! Well, at least in the case of “sound,” I am hoping to use the fact of the double meaning there — sound, like music, but also like following around a body of water. There’s a lot of water on this record. So, “following the sound,” that’s again the notion of exploring, of clawing at meaning. “Dim forager/lost in the dark/following the sound” — that’s me. I’m the dim forager. So, yeah, just trying to make sense of a private experience in the world. It’s not about solitude so much as it is about …

Caleb: Subjectivity?

Nick: Yeah! And having an internal experience of what’s going on. It’s not necessarily alone, but it’s experienced individually. It’s just chasing that down always. And finding some answers. But that maybe the answer is the search itself.

Caleb: Absolutely! That definitely resonates with my experience of the record. It doesn’t so much seem to arrive at conclusions so much as it seems to take for granted the fact that wandering — although it may yield some provisional conclusions along the  way — is not going to arrive at an end. Ever.

Nick: Right!

Caleb: You’re going to go back to these notes you’re trying to find again and again. I really like the line in “Get Back” — “Once you’re losing the thought/you’re allotted half as much once you get back.” What does that one mean for you?

Nick: That’s just the feeling of something slipping through your fingers. Like, the big idea as a handful of sand you can’t really keep your grasp of. Which is how I feel about dreams all the time. Every time you feel like you’ve arrived, you just as quickly feel like it has eluded you.

Caleb: Yeah. I draw a connection between that theme on the record and the theme of “going out to find friends” and feeling that connection dry up again and again. Which I’d relate to being an actual manifestation of finding some kind of truth in a collective atmosphere and then, of course, an evening ends — or you don’t find your people — and you wind up as you were before. [Laughs.] Which, even the best kind of collective experiences do boil back down to you having your own subjective experience.

Nick: Right, right. But also — I don’t know if this is just a lesson for me after the fact, or if this is at all in the text itself — I think that the meaning you’re searching for when you’re looking for friends is friends. Like, there’s nothing that matters more.

Caleb: Yeah, I completely agree.

Nick: There’s truly nothing that matters more. And you know, I’m really not trying to hype up a solitary experience as this true way to get at what matters. This is sort of the byproduct of not being able to get at what matters.

Caleb: Yeah, I feel very much the same way. [Laughs.]

Nick: I mean, even the whole scheme of, like, a solo record, and doing an interview, and talking about myself in this way — this is the part that I wish didn’t have to be here. I want no ego involved in any of this.

Caleb: Well, ‘cus it’s about connection, right? It’s not about being worshipped or being understood for the sake of being understood, it’s about sharing in that connection with other people. Which is the reason I suspect I wouldn’t be as driven to create songs if I had ample access to the kind of connection I’m craving all the time.

Nick: Exactly, exactly. Or, you know, my songs would be happier. [Laughs.]

Caleb: Oh, right, yeah, they would be drastically different. Mine would too!

Nick: Yeah, I mean — you want to talk about the ways that old music continues to influence me — I just kind of don’t know how to write a happy song. And whether that’s from a whole childhood of listening to emo or not, there’s a lot I’ve had to consciously unlearn about how songs work to even get where I’m at now. I was on the cover of a playlist called “Sad Jams” today, so I’m not so sure how far I’ve come. [Laughs.] But, I don’t know. I heard a Lily Konigsberg song the other day, and was just like, God, I am such a fool — why don’t I write fun music? But the answer is that I kind of just don’t know how.

Caleb: Yeah, I also find that extraordinarily difficult. I think it’s telling that whenever I conceptualize writing “fun” music, I think of it as, I have to get some things figured out in my life first. [Laughs.] Which I think is telling of the role that songs play in my life. 

Which is another question I wanted to ask! There’s of course a whole spectrum of why people make art and the role it plays in their lives. Some people seem to just make it as a recreational hobby, some people go at it from a conceptual angle, and then for some people it’s really connected to their own sense of emotional processing. I feel like it’s the latter for me, and I feel like it might be that way for you.

Nick: It absolutely is. Though I want to push back on the idea that this is all autobiographical, because it’s not. But it absolutely is a way I think about myself and a way I talk to myself. Like, a lot of this record is in the second person, and that allows me to not say “I”, but to say “you,” and that allows me to assume a character — of Jodi, I suppose — that can know better than Nick. Or can, you know, have an outside perspective. Or can at least ask questions.

Caleb: Are you “Softy” as well?

Nick: I’m Softy. [Laughs.] Yeah — that’s me. It’s me and it’s not, you know? It’s other people too. And it’s fictional as well. But yeah, it isn’t not me.

Caleb: Again, that goes back to the idea of us finding community with ourselves in song for lack of having that same community in our manifest life.

Nick: Yeah, exactly. Which is such a funny little trick that we pull on ourselves. [Laughs.] It turns out to actually be pretty interesting, I think. I hope.

Caleb: Sometimes I wonder if some of the trouble is that we know how to talk to ourselves so well that we might hope for the same in quality in others, or in the relationships we stumble upon in the world. I was actually talking to our mutual collaborator Andrew Stevens about that the other day — the tendency to sort of positively project upon others the qualities that we ourselves have. 

Nick: Yeah, I mean, we’re all projecting all the time, so it might as well be positive. [Laughs.] I do want to give the benefit of the doubt to all of my homies.

Caleb: Yeah, big time same — it’s the only way that we can afford each other the margins that we need.

Nick: Yeah, that we absolutely need.

Caleb: I wanted to ask if there’s an image or a memory of a particular place that you return to more than others when you’re writing these songs — there’s sort of hints dropped about a state park, a river, et cetera.

Nick: Yeah, there’s a few real places! There’s a park in Chatham [NY] that Zack [Levine] and I would play basketball at. If you walk deeper into the park, there are some woods, and there’s a stream. And that was only a fifteen minute drive from where I was living. That was a big spot for me where I was just doin’ good thinking and processing. State Park, that particular one is Joshua Tree. Climbing around on those big rocks. “Riding the dog, heading down to my friend” is taking a Greyhound to see Tommy.

Caleb: Going back to the idea of water, why do you feel like that’s such a powerful metaphor for you?

Nick: I think that it’s just the motion of it. It’s the sort of the constancy of it, juxtaposed with the fact that it’s always moving. Like, thinking about a river or a creek. Its whole way of being is motion. The only reason we hear a river is because of the rocks in it that the water is colliding with. And thinking about sound as a collision, and thinking about life as a sort of goofy series of incidental collisons. I find myself really taken by it. I was also just really letting myself love swimming for the first time in my life.

Caleb: Wow! It’s the best!

Nick: It’s truly the best. And I always had body stuff that had me preoccupied. And basically now I have enough tattoos on my body that I like it again.

Caleb: That’s so wonderful!

Nick: Yeah. So I have found myself in a position where I can totally let myself go and love swimming and it is the best.

Caleb: Does the record cover speak to that experience at all? It is an incredibly vulnerable photo. And also just an incredible experience to submit yourself to, but also to be photographed doing.

Nick: Yeah. That particular water was a little inhospitable. We took that pic in January. My feet were numb for a like an hour after spending 15 minutes in a suspect body of water in the southwest side of Chicago. But yeah, water and air are sort of the elemental nodes or poles of this record — birds and water, birds and rivers, birds and streams. So this is the marriage of them.

Caleb: That makes sense — the heron’s on your back, your feet are in the water.

Nick: That line in “Blue Heron” the song — “Great blue heron in the lake swimming/you’re on your back now” — when I got that tattoo on me, I could become the “you” in that sentence. “You’re on your back now,” that’s my commitment to embodying this idea. 

Caleb: You’re both the “yous” in that sentence.

Nick: Yeah! It’s kind of about surrender. Surrendering to something out of my control, to something bigger than me. And the image of the blue heron, of this chance interaction with this massive, beautiful bird that you really only see if you are lucky and being pretty still, is just kind of a reminder that there’s so much out there beyond what we see, but also beyond our grasp. And that is me submitting to my reverence for the unknown and for my smallness, and embracing that. And letting that be an empowering and freeing thing rather than something that causes me anguish.

Caleb: That’s the whole thing. [Laughs.]

Nick: Yeah, that’s kind of the whole thing. 

Calen: I feel like life is a series of getting better at doing that — at least hopefully, ideally it is.

Nick: Ideally, right. I think so too.

Caleb: That leads me right into my last question, which is sort of a question about inevitability and surrender, and one that I’ve asked myself a lot: do you think that you can help but write songs? I thought for a long time that music was something that I’ve elected to do — and maybe in some sense it is — but a lot of times I can’t help but feel doomed to it in both a positive and a negative way. I’m never not thinking about doing it, it seems like the most natural thing to me. So, do you think that you can help but write songs?

Nick: I don’t think I can help it. Or at least not the way that I am now. This is just a way that I’m habituated into experiencing my life and working through things. I don’t know — I was talking with a friend earlier today about how being a person is kind of just being a collection of habits and biases, and this is a big one for me. Like, this is a pretty central one to my whole experience of myself and the world right now.

Caleb: It’s the way we arrange our lives!

Nick: It is, it is. We were also talking about how I think the best and most important thing I’ve done in my life as an adult is pick up pedal steel, because it taught me to be okay with being bad at something. It taught me to go easy on myself. And eventually, you know — I’m not bad anymore. I’ve worked my way up. That is a huge reminder that if you can stick with it, you can change. You’re not a fixed body in the world. And that’s a really powerful thing to be reminded of when you’re no longer a child. Because so much of what I think we are kind of conditioned to understanding is that it’s too late once you’re an adult. 

That’s not to say I think songwriting is a thing that I should learn out of. [Laughs.]  It’s one of the ways that I’ve learned to be. I could slow down, I could focus less energy on it, for sure. But I think that it would still always come out in some way, and unless I found something else to replace it with, I would be left feeling unfulfilled.

Caleb: Right. For me, it seems like this way of continually submitting myself to new challenges, and finding out new things that I can be wrong about and bad at in a very constructive and cumulative way.

Nick: Absolutely. I mean, writing songs is a combination of a lot of different skills. And it can be those skills in all sorts of combinations, so it is kind of a continually new challenge no matter how many times you do it. Which is part of what’s so exciting about it. So, yeah. I don’t wanna stop! [Laughs.]

Caleb: Nor do I. 

Nick: Yeah, well good.

Caleb: Let’s keep going.

Nick: Let’s keep going.

Jodi’s Blue Heron is out July 16 on Sooper Records.

Caleb Cordes is a songwriter, musician, and writer-on-occasion living in Nashville, TN. He is the sole member of the project Sinai Vessel and yet insistently calls that project a band. Sinai Vessel self-released their third LP, Ground Aswim, in October 2020.