I’m back in New York after an incredible week in the UK, where I performed in London for the first time in my life. London has always had a special place in my heart…I’ve even envisioned living there. That’s why these concerts were so special for me. Being on stage in London was literally a lifelong dream come true. My teenage self would be proud.

I’ve found myself growing enormously as an artist this year. Back in February, while performing 20 shows in a month in Germany, I was able to really focus on my craft. Performing night after night really shows you what about your performance is sustainable, and what is not. Some of my songs are about challenging experiences I’ve had in my life, and misguidedly, I’d kept reliving those experiences on stage, assuming that it’s my responsibility as an artist to “keep it real.” What I discovered in my first week of shows in Germany was that “slitting my wrists” so to speak on stage night after night was not sustainable, and was in fact very unhealthy. I wasn’t in the same place I’d been in when I’d written those songs. I was no longer feeling those hard things they’d been written about, or that I was singing about. But, I was nevertheless keeping myself stuck back in that place, and it was running me down. There’s a way to play songs you’ve written about complicated subjects, without unraveling yourself in the process every night. I came to understand that the story is already there––in the music and in the lyrics––I can simply perform the song, no explanations or over-dramatizations needed. People will connect to any music through their own experience, if they do at all. What I went through in order to write the song is actually irrelevant to the listener. How that song makes that listener feel for themselves, is what’s relevant. After all that I’d gone through, I found the thought liberating.

Following this powerful realization in February, I’ve been able to find a warmer, more intimate connection to my audience every time I play. I’m no longer blocking the access to my music by trying to recreate some stark emotion from the past. I’m using the emotions of the present. Holding on to the past in that way is really a crazy concept now that I think of it…after all, singing is not acting. I find that as a performer, these days I’m always trying to find ways to be more authentically me…if anything, I’m trying to simplify. To “try” less, and to “be” more myself. That’s why I found my performances in London so rewarding. So much of life goes into trying to fit in, trying to act the part, trying to fake it till you make it. This time I felt like I managed to have some of my most honest moments of my life on stage. In a city that I love, no less.