Jessy Ribordy of Falling Up on the birth of "Fangs"

The Art Class is an occasional column written by artists about the creative process. It’s a place for artists to muse about the nature of creating, and to give the rest of us a unique window into art as it comes to life. In this entry, Jessy Ribordy, of the rock band Falling Up, describes the dream that inspired his band’s latest album.

It was, as I recall, a long and torturously dull train ride. There must have been something wrong with the car I was riding in, because the click-click-clacking was irritatingly rhythmic. Farmers were reading newspapers, their heads bobbling with the train’s movement. A woman, gently rocking her baby carriage as the passengers in passerby shuffled around in annoyance. My boots seemed to have enough dust on them from working the fields, that they shockingly kept my interest for minutes on end. Bored.

I gazed out the window, watching the low dark grey clouds boiling over the distant pastures. Looks like rain. Considering my luck that, if it was about to downpour, the other field workers would be envying my timely dispatch. Although a comical thought, my buddies, Francis and Clutch, haulin’ the tarp over the crops, it wasn't enough to keep me distracted. I was so consumed in boredom that I hadn't noticed the click-click-clacking was evolving with intensity. Were we speeding up? I peered up near the front end to see if I could spot a worker shoveling more coal into the engine. All were still. Everyone seemed to be sedated enough from the mundane rhythm, that it occurred to me I may have been the only one noticing the change.

I looked back out the window, and moving in haste, the grey clouds were now a menacing black! Stallions galloping the skyline and heading straight towards the train, which was now, roaring at breakneck speeds along the track. Was the conductor trying to out-pace the storm? Shaking, trembling, violent lashes, now the other passengers began to notice.

Suddenly all things moved in slow motion. The problem with a tragic event is, it always seems to move in slow motion, yet it's not the kind of foresight or advantage one would expect or hope for. Although moving at a pace that seems controllable, one is a slave to her motives; there is no stopping the event's tragic expectations, she only flirts with no intentions of altering. The train split in half. I watched the front end tear away down the tracks and then disappear into a dust cloud. My seat happened to be on the determined fault line and I watched as the sparks fluttered up below me, as our cart, still in kinetic motion, raced down the railing. At this point, the passengers were either screaming or dead. The wooden floor was bending up all around me in violent seizures. A splintery sound. And then I saw it. Oh dear God, there it was! Approaching with wrath like an accumulating demon—the greatest storm I had ever seen! Bellowing out my name and tearing towards me.

"Icarus!" roared the storm, "IIIIIIIIcarus!" She consumed me entirely. Numbness.

Then I awoke. 

I know, I know, what a horrible way to end a short story, but to end it any other way would be a lie. For this was a dream of mine, and not just any dream, but a reoccurring one, to the exact detail. And to make this even more of an interesting topic to discuss, I have this dream every time I start writing and recording Falling Up music.

The mystery of The Train Dream, as I refer to it as, now has the possibility of being somewhat solved because I did something I should have done a long, long time ago: I wrote an album about it. I think that it could definitely shed some light on the obvious intentions the dream is imposing. If not that, if could at least reverse the effects. I figured it a moment of brilliance the night that I awoke from the dream—why don't I just write the new Falling Up record about it? Perfect! Mystery solved.

And so Fangs was born. Out of all the Falling Up records, it quickly became my favorite. I got the chance to work with Casey Crescenzo, one of my closest friends and a man I consider a genius. We designed the songs with unique structures that, as a band, we have always wanted to experiment with. We tried to be raw and organic in instrumentation, choosing ambience over production, and hand-crafted synths by building effects onto basic sine waves (I know, totally geeky). As for the actual songwriting, I was able to evolve in a variation of directions that my “always-learning” career has pushed me towards. 

From whatever point in my subconscious it comes from, or whomever controls my dreams (I believe the Lucky Charms leprechaun has something to do with dream control. I mean, come on, what little kid doesn't dream of eating marshmallows for breakfast?), I am stumped as to what The Train Dream means, or why I have it. It has always been mysterious and confusing, but I believe that now things are going to be different because, for the first time, I finally took matters into my own hands.

Although … I maybe, kind of, sort of replaced all the characters with aliens and made the train a crazy spaceship, barreling towards a misty planet full of freaky creatures, hot mermaids, warmongering fat kings, and slime. I hope that doesn’t ruin my chances of figuring this dream out, but it makes for a fun concept record.  

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