Today I’m thrilled to introduce everyone to Spencer LaJoye, a talented folk/pop singer-songwriter who is sharing an early listen to their new single called “Someday You’ll Wake Up Okay.” The track comes from their new album, Shadow Puppets, that will be released everywhere music is sold on February 16th. Spencer LaJoye shared, “There was a time in my young adulthood when if you’d have come to me from the future to say, ‘Hey kid, someday you’re gonna wake up and feel okay,’ I would not have believed you. I was so uncomfortable with and ashamed of myself, my body, and my desires. But the truth is that I wake up almost every day now feeling okay. I wish my younger self could know that, so this song is my attempt to tell them.” I was also able to catch up with this artist for a brief interview below.
What is the story behind this song? What is it about?
I was driving through Harvard Square last fall when I saw this group of young college students standing outside the subway stop. A few of them looked supremely uncomfortable, but they were smiling through it, and it took me back to when I was in college. One of them, in particular, was pulling their sweater up around their shoulders, and I just remember being a young adult and wanting to cover myself up all the time. Looking back, I’m not sure how much of that was just awkward young adult stuff and how much was gender dysphoria, but all of those uncomfortable physical feelings coincided with the most devoutly Christian years of my life. It was a perfect cocktail of shame. I was very much not okay. So this song is a letter to a younger self to let them know that someday, all that changes.
What does the song mean to you? What do you hope that it means to those who listen to it?
I guess “Someday You’ll Wake Up Okay” isn’t a promise, but it’s a possibility. When I sing it live, I’m just singing to my younger self. I’m sure that 20-year-old wouldn’t even recognize me now. But I always wish I could go back in time and meet them, because they didn’t have an example of someone like them being okay. I want to go back, take them by the shoulders, and say, “Hey, [insert deadname here], I’m a wiser and hotter you. You’ll never see it happening, but someday, you’ll wake up and be me. You’ll wake up and basically be okay.” So that’s what this song is to me. And I hope it can help other people do some effective parts work, too. If not, it’s also just really fun to listen to. Chris, my producer, and I got up to some weird stuff, and Joe Causey, our mastering engineer, said it reminded him of Wilson Phillips.
The lyrics are really great. Do you have a favorite lyric line or two from the song? Why do they resonate for you?
I like, “You’re acting so much older than you need to. No one told you that’s not freedom.” It’s amazing how much time I spent in my youth trying to convince myself that the endless cycle of guilt-shame-repentance-forgiveness was what freedom felt like. No one ever told me otherwise. So how was I to know about the possibility of a God who wasn’t threatened when I felt good? These days, I think that’s exactly what/who God is – the good stuff. And we’re all made of it. We don’t have to be so hard on ourselves.
Do you find songwriting to be therapeutic — a way to work through things or process things? Did writing this song serve you in that way?
Kind of! Like good therapy, songwriting is also a lot of work… and though that work can be tearful, sometimes it’s more like math or a puzzle. Sometimes, therapy is about putting into practice new narratives and self-conceptualizations. With this song, I wrote it specifically to be compatible with a vocal looper when performed live, so I went at it like an architect rather than a poet; I’d already done the emotional processing of the song’s content in real-life therapy. But every time I sing this song, I feel like I’m practicing parts work. That young person in me is always there, and this song gives me an opportunity to show them some compassion.
What is next for Spencer LaJoye?
I hope it’s something fun. There is a whole lot of travel in my future. This year, I have a couple full-band shows on my tour schedule, and that feels expansive and exciting. What else can I tell you? I’m not trying to be cryptic, it’s just – oh! Cryptids! That reminds me, I’m writing a musical.
Photo Credit: Daley Hake