UGLY is a concept album inspired by my spirit animal, the deep sea anglerfish.
For years after meeting her in a vision, I denied any relation to her. I didn’t want it to be true that this monstrosity was my spirit animal.
I felt her calling all the while, inviting me to get to know her, despite her horrifying exterior….
but I avoided her, out of unspeakable fear of her mysterious light and menacing voice.
Once I finally decided to face her — and more over, become her — a wellspring of spiritual lessons and wisdom opened up to me.
I have found, through the making of this album, that everything I feared about her was actually everything I needed in order to live the life and be the person I’ve always deeply, desperately desired.
The voice I feared hearing,
and the light I feared shining,
was always my own.
To think, for so long I had cheated myself out of learning profound Truths from this creature, all because she was ugly.
Thus, UGLY explores the spiritual purpose of ugliness as a test of character,
which rewards the brave and punishes the ignorant.
It’s also about our “ugly things” — that which we try to hide from ourselves and others, like emotions, memories, desires, and even personal strengths. After all, as Marianne Williamson keenly observed, “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
UGLY sonically and lyrically depicts a journey into the depths of the psyche (symbolized by the deep ocean). Like the ocean, it disavows familiar structures in favor of fluidity and feelings.
Starting with the electrified anthem ASCENSION, we follow the anglerfish downward into her mysterious Inner World.
The album gets “darker” and “deeper” from song to song, facing progressively “uglier” truths until arriving in the deepest part of her ocean… and making a home there.
To begin our descent into the deep, let’s introduce our protagonist: Vajra.
Vajra means both “diamond” and “lightning bolt” in Sanskrit; a fitting name for an anglerfish, who is shaped by the pressurized depths and makes her own light in the darkness.
Vajra is pure lifeforce, raw electricity, Shakti — covered in lights all over her body. She knows Who She Is, she knows her power, and she does not hide it.
LIVE FROM GRANDIO CITY
As a creature of pure power, Vajra has no reason to doubt herself.
Or does she?
The world is at her fintips. Her light brings her all that she needs.
And yet, an inexplicable dissatisfaction haunts her, pulls at her.
She feels the strange beginning of desire.
Pleroma (/pləˈrōmə/, noun) is the name of the spiritual universe in Gnosticism, meaning “the fullness” or “the world of light.”
At this point in our journey, Vajra wonders, for the first time, if another world exists — one that isn’t ruthlessly cold, unfathomably dark, and painfully isolating, like the deep ocean that she has always assumed to be “all there is.” It must exist if she can imagine it, right?
Compelled by an unspeakable longing she has never felt before, she considers the possibility that she does not belong here… and begins to search elsewhere for “home.”
Vajra wanders aimlessly in the ever-shifting ocean. No matter where she goes, she is greeted only be hostile darkness, forced to make meanings of the Unknown… but her meanings are hollow, contrived, and empty, leaving her more confused with every turn.
At long last, the possibility is born in her mind, that maybe she has been abandoned by God.
Misunderstood by all whom she encounters, and despised for her self-generated light, Vajra questions her power for the first time, and in doing so, uncovers The Witch Wound.
The Witch Wound is said to be a genetic memory all women carry of the “burning times,” when powerful women were assumed evil and punished accordingly. Though this Wound lies outside of conscious awareness, it continues to subconsciously sabotage the unwitting keeper of the memory.
“Maybe,” Vajra thinks, “my existence is wrong.
Maybe my light is too bright.
Maybe I should hide.”
The confrontation of Femininity continues, as Vajra realizes that her mysterious longing—which catalyzed this journey into the dark Unknown—was desire for none other than her male counterpart.
The female and male anglerfish are biologically destined to mate unlike any other species on Earth: Because he is not capable of hunting for himself, he can’t afford to lose her — the formidable Huntress — in the vast ocean. So when he finds her, he bites her belly, and then his head then begins to chemically dissolve… until his body is permanently fused with hers. Their bloodstream becomes one circuit. In exchange for his seed, with which she may bring her creations into being, she feeds him her blood.
It’s a “Point of No Return” kind of love.
Vajra knows she cannot Love him without eating him alive, but she doesn’t want it to be true that her desire is so overwhelming, even her Lover cannot escape being consumed…
The revelation of Dark Femininity continues in this confrontation with The Sister Wound:
“Female violence is a specific brand of ferocity. It’s invasive. A girlfight is all teeth and hair, spit and nails — a much more fearsome thing to watch than two dudes clobbering each other. And the mental violence is positively gory. Women entwine. Some of the most disturbing, sick relationships I’ve witnessed are between long-time friends… Innuendo, backspin, false encouragement, punishing withdrawal, sexual jealousy, garden-variety jealousy — watching women go to work on each other is a horrific bit of pageantry that can stretch on for years. …[W]omen have spent so many years girl-powering ourselves — to the point of almost parodic encouragement
— we’ve left no room to acknowledge our dark side.”
— Gillian Flynn, “I Was Not a Nice Little Girl”
It ain’t easy making friends in the deep.
THE LIGHT IS
In which Vajra comes to terms with being a predator, designed for the purpose of punishing ignorance.
It’s writ large, in her sharp teeth speaking volumes on her destructive nature… her distended belly betraying insatiable cosmic hunger…
Luminous as she may be, there’s no denying her dark side anymore.
Vajra finally faces the ugliest thing of all: Her deepest fear.
ANGEL IN THE DEEP
Whereupon Vajra realizes that the Love she so deeply desired — which compelled her to search the endless ocean in desperate search of something she thought she didn’t have — was with her all along.
God did not condemn her, nor did God forsake her; rather, God made her with Love, to be who she is and to belong in perfect harmony with her oceanic underworld; a diamond under pressure; a light in the darkness; an angel in the deep.
And so Vajra chooses, once again, to fearlessly, brilliantly, shine.
LOVE IN THE VOID
And finally, a song from the male anglerfish’s pint of view. He is her, after all.
Gazing upon her, he sees himself. Unafraid of her ugly appearance, he dives deep into her Void-like belly, knowing that once he does, there is no returning to the world outside of her.
For his Love of Truth, he is rewarded in eternity.