The Carefree Hard Times (2019 re-release)
The Carefree Hard Times is a sonic portrait of interrupted youth. We wrote the first songs for the record (Game of Whispers and The Tempest) in 2013, while still in school. Our plan, like so many others, was to graduate and pursue music while supporting ourselves on part-time work; the bohemian dream of the 20th century. However, the 20th century was over, and like so many others, we found ourselves caught between the hammer of high-and-rising rents and stagnant wages at our humble jobs.
It is said that the millennial generation, hard pressed to find gainful employment at home, are obliged to travel in order to seek it out. So it was with us. In September of 2013, we touched down in Budapest, Hungary, there to stay for the next year. Funded by a Fulbright fellowship, we were charged with fostering communication between the Magyar majority and the persecuted Romungro (Roma or Gypsy in local parlance) minority. Music was our most powerful tool, and our time in Budapest taught us volumes about the workings of music in the context of social and political life. We finished tracking in our Budapest apartment, flush with the folkloric vibrancy of Hungarian music–and also with the emotional intensity of life in a country at the forefront of the nationalist, neo-nazi wave that continues to spread throughout the western world. “The only ‘Gypsy Problem’ is the persistence of segregation and prejudice,” Micah told a parliamentary delegation at Kossuth Lajos tér. The delegates suddenly remembered urgent business elsewhere, and left without answering. Weeks later, we recorded crowd sounds from a massive rally outside the Parliament for use on ‘Hipster Song.’ “Náci haza,” chanted the crowd. “Nazi go home.” The lessons of resistance, of solidarity and strength in the face of a hostile regime have stayed with us, and are embedded in our music.
We finished mixing The Carefree Hard Times in 2015, and printed a small edition which we sold out on our first tour, the following year. However, by 2017 we were once more struggling with the cramped quarters, high rents and low wages that plague the American public. We both moved back home, and put our energies into Side Hustles and other projects. In 2018 we moved to Boston to go back to school and began playing together again as an acoustic duo, but the Carefree Hard Times kept sitting there on a thumb drive, buried in a box of cool rocks, driftwood and snake bones we found on one of our cross-country drives.
In the aftermath of releasing Micah’s solo album, “Zara and the Electric Gamelan” and Emma’s solo album “What is Done in Love,” we rediscovered the Carefree Hard times. Upon listening back to it, we agreed that while many aspects of our work have changed, there is something deep and honest in this far-flung, well-loved little record that still resonates with us. Maybe it’s that we’re still young, still guided by idealism and nourished on dreams. Maybe it’s that now, with the shadow of nationalism dark and threatening over our own country, we are fortified by the resilient spirit that lingers in this music. Or maybe it’s just that we like to be reminded that even the hard times can also, sometimes, be carefree.