It's been seven hours and fifty-seven days,
Since I wrote my loves again.
I try writing every night and day,
Since I wrote you loves again.
Since I've been gone, I can do...I can do whatever I want,
I can write whomever I choose.
F🚀🔊k it. That's enough. I can't torture this song any further, unless??? No. Ok. Poorly paraphrased from Sinead O'Conner's Nothing Compares To You, who practically owns this song far more than the original songwriter Prince.
Welcome to the latest edition of Sonik Eff'n Matter. It has been almost two months, 57 days to be exact, since I've last written, and I apologize. The greatest thing about a mailing list is that you don't need to look for it. You don't need to check a website to see if anything new is out there. No need to gin up news when there exists none. I had initially intended this to be a once-a-week newsletter as I rebuilt our website, but life got in the way. More importantly, the state of my mental health. These days, it comes first and foremost. And yours should too.
In less than a year, I will turn 50, and science-willing, I would like my second act to be one where I am more relaxed, less stressed, light on the drama, easy on the panic attacks, fewer depressive episodes, and easier going. For those that know me, this is a tall order. One of the reasons the original Sonikmatter ended was a nearly year-long depressive episode that only felt better when I drunk stupid and reaching for meaningless 'relationships' that were a little more than an elongated one-night stand. Friends joked about my two-week rule as it was the terminal length any woman could put up with my insufferable ways while I made counter quips that two weeks were enough to see anyone naked, and there was no way to see them more naked than within the lust-filled period. Some day I may say more about my childhood, but at this point, there are too many dark corridors that I am still not openly comfortable with, and I will leave it at that.
About six years ago, I quit drinking. Cold turkey. And I was a miserable son of a b***h for a while after. Drinking was something I did for years. I've always had problems communicating with other humans. The internet is far more accessible with its asynchronistic communication, so I drank to socialize in person. Until my twenties, depression happened once every few years, but it would leave almost as quickly as it showed up. It started to be an annual event with each passing year in my thirties, and a few more weeks would be appended to this schedule. And in my forties, it was practically an annual event that it *MIGHT* leave for a couple of months if I was lucky. And then I just checked out. You know the rest, Sonikmatter just disappeared one day.
My forty-ninth birthday was a few days ago, the same day Earl Simmons, better known as DMX, passed away of a massive heart attack. He was just a year older than I am today. At the age of 14, Simmons said that his mentor, rapper Ron Ready, passed him a blunt that f—ked him up. He had smoked before, but this had been laced with crack cocaine. Ready was an adult more than twice his age and found it humorous. It wasn't the first time an adult had betrayed him.
In 1970, Simmons was born to teenage parents and immediately abandoned by his father. His mother was an addict and had two other children before giving birth to DMX at age 18. By all accounts, she did anything she could to survive and anything to take away her own pain, ensuring that her offspring would repeat the same cycles she did. Her many boyfriends abused Simmons both physically and emotionally, and "she beat two teeth out of my f—king mouth with a broom."
DMX ran away at 13 and met Ready a year later, who took him under his wing, continuing the abuse he had always known.
Simmons struggled with bipolar depression, substance abuse disorders, and other issues arising from his childhood traumas for the rest of his life.
On April 9, 2021, Earl DMX Simmons lost his life to a drug overdose. He was a musician, an actor, and a father.
Depression, mental illness at times may seem to be the norm for creative individuals. Some of us are lucky. Some are not. I have personally known far too many that have succumbed to substance abuse. A former roommate, Steven Hatfield, died a few months after leaving my home — I had kicked him out for crushing and snorting medicines I had kept to stay alive. If he'd had stayed, I would have been enabling his addiction, and his family had said they were going to get him the treatment needed.
Like so many others, he had gifts that he wanted to share with the world creatively and emotionally. He had hoped to beat his addictions and become a rehabilitation therapist to guide others through.
He wasn't the first friend nor the last, but he was one I had honestly thought would beat his addiction.
I have known many musicians professionally with substance abuse issues, many with squeaky clean personas. In 2016, we lost one of the most amazing musicians I'd ever seen, Prince, to a fentanyl overdose. To this day, friends that knew him still claim he couldn't have a substance abuse disorder. And since this time, a few others in his orbit have perished the same way, with the same folks claiming it is not possible.
DMX grew up poor with almost no resources and parents that wanted nothing to do with him. My friend Steven grew up with caring upper-class parents who ran pharmaceutical corporations. I grew up somewhere in the middle. Depression, mental health issues, and substance abuse can happen to anyone regardless of one's upbringing.
I have worked with several organizations to stem the deaths due to overdoses in my city and state. A year ago, I ran a political campaign to represent my district to change laws that punished addiction and pushed those with substance abuse issues into rehabilitation instead of jail. I have said that I would not bring politics into our musical newsletter, but I can safely say that I had support from across the spectrum with my platforms. We may all treat politics the way we do team sports, but in the end, most of us want the same things — we want our friends and family to be happy and healthy. I lost pretty heavy-handedly to my party's pick after they plowed $75,000 into his campaign compared to my $500, but given that I received a third of the votes, I think my message was well received.
These days, I volunteer with Overdone Lifeline, specifically their Community Harm Reduction and Improved Outcomes Team (CHARIOT). We help distribute Naloxone/Narcan, which allows for the reversal of opioid-based overdoses and being on call as a first responder to help law enforcement administer these reversal drugs in a way that is compassionate and non-stigmatizing.
If you'd like to donate to the cause, please visit Overdose Lifeline's website.
If you are suffering from mental health or addiction, please speak out to a friend or a professional. Don't remain silent. I know I did for years to the point even those closest to me didn't realize what I was hiding.
I promise I'll speak more about depression, mental illness, and substance abuse at a later time...but I thought today might be the time just to lay out my cards. I've delayed publishing this entry for almost two months as I've been focusing on what keeps me happy and sane-ish.
Some of the things I have been working on in my labs? I have been focusing on getting my electronics workbench built and stockpiled. I have made a few additional macro-keyboards, and I may give away one or two as I learn! These are great for creating hotkeys for your DAWs and soft-synths. I have a brand new standing desk, motorized, that can hold almost 200lbs of equipment that may become my new synth station! And I've slowly been building a video studio into my music studio so that I can once again do YouTube demonstrations. My editing? Not so great, but improving!
Oh yeah, if you want to read more about the Oberheim DMX, the drum machine where Earl Simmons found his namesake, read on here:
With that, my following newsletter should show up in far less time than the last. Thank you all for reading, and thank you for being my friend.