A.M. Sokoll

I was never expecting it to have this big an impact.

My first full-length album, Wings on the Way Down, is dropping Wednesday, August 25 (I’m not sure whether to technically call it a debut considering I released an EP less than a year ago) and considering the world we’ve been living in since March 2020, it’s fitting this is a quarantine project.

The album is inspired by my time in therapy in 2019. I had seen multiple therapists prior to then, but those sessions were just my ideas and feelings being reinforced (which is vital sometimes, but not for what therapy costs). What I wanted was to be challenged, to be told something I didn’t already think or know. And of course, when I got that, I had [insert spoiler alert here] an existential crisis.

During these sessions, I watched the framework for who I thought I was crumble. I always aspired to be extroverted, social, someone people wanted to be around. But there was a dissonance between who I was internally and externally. Wanting to be part of the fun usually meant a lot of people pleasing and saying yes when I wanted to say no. It’s something I had overvalued my entire life – social approval and acceptance. It was exhausting. I was miserable. My therapist could see it, and from there the work began.

Those sessions were from July to November 2019, and in that period, I got better at being alone, being my own person. I had a blast exploring forgotten passions and continuing to hone my musical skills. I set aside time every day for solitude and learned to be comfortable in that silence. I had a lot of time for that when the pandemic hit.

The album, which was mainly written over a six month stretch of quarantine, is designed to match the turbulence of personal development and discovery. It isn’t shy with its themes of challenged identity, isolation, self-reflection and independence. Hourglass, a key track from the album and one you can listen to now, epitomizes these themes in both lyrics and instrumental. The song is about learning to make peace with your past so you can focus on your present and future, and the importance being in not where you’re trying to go, but how you plan to get there. 

The track very much contributes to the essence of this being a quarantine project, as many have had to work through, and overcome, such similar internal struggles throughout the pandemic. Forced isolation is absolutely brutal, and I feel for those who are navigating how to reenter the world with calmness and confidence.

Musically, the album is a melding of old and new tastes. I’m originally from the suburbs of Detroit, and the city’s rich musical history and culture are forever a part of me. I wouldn’t trade it for any other city. Two things I love about Detroit music are the luscious instrumentation of soul, jazz and Motown, and the propensity to push boundaries and do something new, a la garage rock and techno.

Speaking of electronic music, that’s where living in Seattle has really shaped my production choices. A continuous goal for everyone should be broadening our perspectives, and I had to move 2,000 miles away to broaden mine. A big part of that is what I listen to and am influenced by. 

Living in both Detroit and Seattle have not only shaped my palate but also my instincts. I want to break every rule in a beautiful way, and that’s reinforced by an album about me learning to be my own person. 

I want you to listen this album, but more than that I want you to go see a therapist, or download a mental health app, or sit alone in a room and take a deep breath. Any of those actions, or others to better yourself, could very well be what puts you on the path to a better tomorrow. And who knows? It could be the start of something you’ll be unbelievably proud to accomplish. 

Wings on the Way Down is available for pre-save and pre-order now. A.M. is holding a drawing among those who pre-save on Spotify where one person will receive $100 and an additional $200 will go to the charity of their choice. Learn more about it. Follow A.M. on social media and stream his music at linktr.ee/amsokoll

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