At the end of 2015, local musician Cygne (pronounced “Seen”) played a show in downtown Paris. The next day, terrorists killed more than a hundred people just a block away.
This wasn’t the only eye-opening moment the singer-songwriter experienced during that European tour. She recalls seeing refugee camps all over Copenhagen, and in nearly every town she visited.
“I was very aware of having this magical passport that let me fly across borders. Meanwhile, it’s the largest humanitarian crisis of my lifetime,” Cygne says. “It shifted my awareness, trying to come to terms with my own privilege and place in that.”
This trip inspired her latest album, Let It Breathe. Cygne has made an album nearly every year over the past decade, but the intense emotionality behind the record, combined with a larger recording budget—thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign—made this a particularly potent collection of indie-folk. She was able to mix folk, blues and chamber elements with grace, beauty and incredible passion.
Though she calls Santa Cruz home, she’s not in town as much as she’d like to be. She’s on the road a significant portion of the year to make ends meets.
“It feels wild to be 10 years into something and still feel like it’s so hand to mouth. There’s fears about sustainability,” she says.
Not that she’s complaining. She’s grateful for her lifestyle, and that Santa Cruz is her home when she’s not pounding the pavement. Originally from the East Coast, she studied classical for a decade before focusing on songwriting. Nine years ago, she stayed at a friend’s house in Seabright, and decided that “this was the best place in the world.”
If all goes well, she’d like to take some time off of touring and work on a nonfiction book of reminisces about her travels that analyzes the concept of “home.”
“I’ve learned a lot from being with other people and seeing how many ways there are to live that work for people that wouldn’t work for someone else,” Cygne says. “I am in my thirties now, and it feels different for whatever reason, and I don’t know if the reasons are valid or if it’s just convention. I’m trying to be open.”
INFO: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 21. Discretion Brewery, 2703 41st Ave., Soquel. Free. 316-0662.