I never made music when I was 21. I wanted to be a painter. I lived in an apartment with friends in Vancouver, and my room was full of cans of toxic enamel-marine paint. I would wake up at 3:30 p.m. and paint on my bedroom wall, this crazed fresco, a hellish umber landscape that glittered street light reflections from the enamel paint. I had to sleep by my open window because the fumes were atrocious, and I started to deteriorate, but the fresco was really coming along.
Some of the roommates were amazing musicians, some of them passed away. I think the song “When You Turn on the Light” describes walking into my bedroom in that apartment.
One time I came home from a late afternoon walk and the building manager was standing in my bedroom looking at the painting with a look of wonder but also fear, and the fear turned to anger when I walked in. She kept her food in our fridge because her roommate kept stealing her cream cheese, and we used to dread the sound of her key turning in our lock. But it meant we could eat her cream cheese. When she confronted me about the fresco, I told her I was enriching the apartment and lied about my standing in the world, describing upcoming shows in Milan and Turin. And Toronto, for believability. She left and we were evicted a bit later but I think it had more to do with other things and not just the fresco.