Puma Simone

Category: Songwriter Stories

Puma SimoneI began writing Reality my senior year of college. A work study at the campus audiovisual department, I was afforded the opportunity to record anytime given it didn't clash with the department's recording schedule. Slow to recognize my blessing, a couple months til graduation I decided I would make the most of my last days and record several songs for me to take with me as I entered the "Real World" as so many adults had hinted toward. Always a defiant and stubborn individual I ignored my Aunt's concerns of graduating with a philosophy degree and being able to survive. I, like every other past, present, and future college graduate, was running on a high. That high of late nights with no consequences, deep conversations with new friends, and an identity independent from my parents and my childhood. I knew things were going to change but I had faith that I was equipped- I would conquer the world as I had conquered campus parties as the resident DJ via smooth transitions and popular songs. I would not compromise, I would continue to fight for social justice, and continue to quit jobs that did not make me feel fulfilled. I did have sense enough to secure a position in NYC as a teacher, expecting to eventually find a gig doing music. Just in case my aunt was slightly correct, I would have income until I could eventually branch out on my own.

Certain I would never be a "slave" or drone, I was still optimistic about my future and changing the world. I had become confident within my four years- the most social and comfortable I had ever been- I was performing poetry at open mics, actually dancing at college parties, and earning a reputation of being "cool and laid back." My work study gig at the audiovisual department was a plus and complimented my cool demeanor. People would walk by me amongst the huge mixing board, quality listening monitors, and top of the line microphone and somehow it reflected me. Thou the equipment was nothing I could afford especially on my work study paychecks, the fact that I even shared the same space was valuable. With graduation steady approaching I realized my 8.75/hour job- though it was only enough for club outings and alcohol consumption- was a rare opportunity and most likely the coolest gig I would hold for a long time.

Not knowing where to start, despite having several songs written prior, I decided I would book time in the studio and just create from there. I always liked the idea of starting fresh, always wanting to start new beats or notebooks despite never fully completing the last one. The night prior to my assigned time in the studio I began creating a very simple beat on Fruity Loops (a production program ). Not sure what was to come out of what I was making, I started to think about what to talk about. How would I make the most of the last month or so of "the best four years of my life" - as often described by those who had graduated from college years ahead of me, and had long adjusted to the mundane routine of adulthood and responsibility. I started to reflect once again reassuring myself I wouldn't be them, and eventually my confidence began to wear. Will I see my friends as often? Wait, we wont all be in the same state?! What if someone gets married? What if someone moves to another country? You mean I can't just walk down the hall? No more campus parties?! Being a college senior no longer seemed so admirable as I started to realize things WERE going to change whether I liked it or not.

All the while the beat in the background, and thoughts in my head:

"I need a moment...A moment in time.. to figure it out just give me some time...."

"You say...What goes up must come down is it always true?"

It flowed so naturally because in the same moment I was wondering if there was a way to avoid the inevitable. If my mom and aunt always knew best because of life experience. At that point I half believed I could defy the odds, that I would experience slight discomfort, but eventually would find something as compelling as my four years in school. The song started off sort of playful, a revolt of sorts against the established, the certain:

"I don't want to meet reality not today or tomorrow"

singing it expecting I never would. I never fully completed the song but after graduation l played the partially completed recording over and over at times inspiring me, most times causing me to fall into depression, recognizing time waits for no one.Fast forward four years later, I had been tossed into the "Real World" ,chewed up and spit out, broke as hell, graduate school dropout, sub-teacher no health insurance or summer job, recovering from a horrid relationship from two years prior and feeling so low I purposely avoided people from my past out of fear they would notice my once bright light now dim. Finally back home from NY, I was far from the independent teen who had left home without looking back. I was watching the years add on and realizing I was no where close to where I wanted to be and wasn't confident enough to pursue the one thing I really wanted: music. I had never stopped making music in fact I did it more than ever. I had began to rely on it as an escape from jobs i hated, but couldn't leave due to bills and student loans. I had a lil' studio set up (nothing like my college days) that I would record songs and listen back- the majority never making it to the ears of anyone else. I would spend hours dancing to my own songs dreaming of stages as I had done as a child, only to remember the years that had eluded me and I would once again get discouraged. I withdrew into solitude and became addicted to any poison that could bring me closest to where I wish I was. I wished I had made the most of the last four years; I figured I could never obtain my dream.

In a last attempt of sorts, I decided I would create a demo with songs to pitch to other people- I would settle for songwriter/producer if I could never be an artist. It was really a decision made out of lack of funds and needing something to profit from. I figured if I could at least be involved with music somehow I'd be OK. I remembered "Reality" and began to create a whole other beat- using mostly my own vocals:

"Ba, ba, ba-a- ba ba..."

I revisited the song, now with the intention of someone else singing it. This allowed me to be honest and emotional, reflecting on the past four years and acknowledging my vulnerability:

"I don't want to meet reality not today or tomorrow, I tried to laugh it off, laugh it off"

The last couple of lines representing the transition from playful to painful. Once done writing, I booked time in a professional studio- I figured I'd do it right. I had been so scared in the past to rap or sing around people, I had become comfortable recording myself. I figured my recording would be a reference track so I just let loose figuring I would never have to actual present it as mine. I sung my heart out- unconcerned of how I sounded- I put everything into it and as I presented it as a song to sung by someone else, everyone told me that they couldn't see anyone else singing it- that my voice fit it perfectly. Revived, completing the song gave me a new perspective on purpose and time.

All in all, "Reality" saved my life .