Anyone who feels like they need to discover themselves should try insomnia. Sure, I know it’s not a voluntary state, but I can say with relative confidence that most of the chronic insomniacs out there are not saying they need a lesson in self discovery. You learn a lot about yourself in the twilight hours, when most normal people are sleeping peacefully. In a small town, it’s eerie being the only person still awake; before I got used to it, an edge of panic used to creep up my spine at the very thought of another night staring down all the ghosts in my head. The mind is a lonely and sometimes frightening place when you have nine hours to lay in bed and explore it. There’s a maze of neurons in there firing away, and despite everything–all of the meditation and the chamomile tea, the pouring over boring textbooks before bed–they are never quieted. Eventually, after you have seen one too many sunrises, you become a shell. A ghost. You go through the motions but you cannot comprehend the reality. So you complain to the doctor and then they give you some synthesized chemical to take you away at night if it becomes too much. “Here’s some pills, you’ll be fine.” Just slap a Band-Aid on it and it will go away, right?
“You know i’m tired
Of living like a ghost
God only knows
I’ve given more than most”
You exist somewhere in between that space of slumber and wakefulness, tossing and turning as your half-dreams pull you down lucid tunnels. The alarm finally sounds, signaling to you that another night has passed without sleep. Time to face another day. It becomes difficult to look at tired eyes in the mirror day after day with little respite. Most people don’t understand why you feel like you’re slowly losing your mind, and the only person who might cool this hell is gone. Whenever human comforts fail, you must find another coping mechanism.
As with most occasions in my life, music became my solace. Somehow facing dawn was a little easier when Becky Jean Williams is crooning the lyrics of “4 a.m.” to you. There’s a way… It’s even better whenever you hear it live as the sun comes up, and you’re not upset about being awake anymore. Some of my earliest and most significant memories surrounding dance music were forged during Kaskade shows. Although I have since ventured futher into the more underground side of the music, the artists who initially pulled me in to the scene will always hold a special place in my heart. For me, experiencing a Kaskade track is uniquely nostalgic, liberating, euphoric and heart-wrenching all at the same time. I still get goosebumps every time I hear “Raining,” and “4 a.m.” still brings an involuntary prick of tears as I flash back to some times I’ll never forget and others that I’d rather not remember.
“I cover up scars
That emptiness has caused
When the chemicals take
Will it be me you dream of”
Just in time for his first appearance at Coachella since 2012, Kaskade is back with “Never Sleep Alone,” which combines ethereal vocals and a slight future house vibe that instantly reeled me in. Like a true Kaskade masterpiece, “Never Sleep Alone” awakens dormant emotions of the best and worst kind. It makes you confront your insecurities, acknowledge that your most inherent weakness is none other than a longing for humanity, and then it tells you that everything is going to be okay. That–to me–is what music is all about.
Grab your copy of “Never Sleep Along” via iTunes here.