Interplanetary Traveler Acoustic Demo

I wrote Interplanetary Traveler sometime in 2007, after Choreography came out. It was a weird time in my life - a low point. I had worked so hard on Choreography and had amazing feedback about it, but after it’s release I still felt like a failure. I had secured a label to distribute the album in France, but in the US, meetings with Atlantic had fallen through. I put the record out myself through CD Baby, begrudgingly. I let go of my NYC apartment and was back living in my hometown. My go-to fall back position.

Choreography was my third album, and this was my third time in retreat, exhausted and broken-hearted by the music business, so confused by all the simultaneous adoration and rejection that comes with it. It’s always been hard for me not to care. I write songs and play music no matter what, but why would I share my music with the world if it wasn’t wanted? Being so encouraged by some, and so rejected by others results in some emotional math that eventually overloads my operating system and I crash.

And when that happens, the songs don’t come. And when the songs don’t come, I’m lost.

I’ve never been one for routine. I crave new experiences. I love meeting new people. I don’t believe that my perception and understanding of the world is intrinsic; but that it has been formed by my environment and the people in it. It continues to evolve and expand based on new experiences and cultural influences. I think we are mainly fueled by unseen forces, and we don’t see them because we believe we are self-determined. I think that “the way it is” is actually “the way we all agree it is”, and the more opportunities I have to poke holes in “the way we all agree it is”, the better, I think. But it can lead to a lot of inner conflict, trying to sort through all the input, discover problematic subconscious beliefs, and decide what to keep and what to toss.

So there I was, in my fall-back position, feeling cut off from songs, rejected by the industry, and questioning myself, my perception of reality, my life-choices, and my value system. A little bit of that questioning can be good and lead to creativity, discovery, innovation, forward motion. But too much can be destructive.

In 2007, I went too far. Everything about me and the things I had been doing seemed flawed and to blame for the “failure” of Choreography (which it turns out, is my most popular release, averaging over 100,000 streams/month even now 13 years later without ever having had promotion or industry support). At first, when I questioned and rejected everything about my Choreography-era life, I felt so free and so good - and the songs came back! Still in my hometown in Virginia, I wrote Interplanetary Traveler, Pictures From America, and Sweet Lazy Day. I felt totally validated; this must mean I’m on the right track! And within a few months, I whole-heartedly ran away from myself.

In my state of utter self-doubt, I became vulnerable to the influence of a cult-like group. I took on a sanskrit name, adopted their clothing, their lingo, their diet - I was fully infected with their pseudo-spiritual groupthink. I left Virginia and instead of going to northern Europe to build on the promising inroads I had made there with Choreography, I went to Australia, where this group had a base. I recorded this demo there.

I had thought of the song Interplanetary Traveler as a kind of joke song just for my own amusement, but it wound up being the anchor for my next record of the same name. That record is somewhat tainted for me. It reminds me of how lost I was at that time, how untrue I was to myself, and how long it took me to unravel the web I had gotten myself caught in. But there’s a lot that I still like about the Interplanetary Traveler record, and a lot of it was still ‘me’. Maybe like 80%. In the other 20%, I can hear the cult.

But the demo I posted on my homepage today is Interplanetary Traveler just as I wrote it. Voice and guitar. A one-take performance. Just me, as I am when I am alone, doing my favorite thing in the world.

Lauren Hoffman