‘Music has always been a tool for me to express and work through the difficult emotions’

Once at her lowest, Alice Limoges celebrates highest point of career with new song

Mon, 02/15/2021 - 11:00am

    ROCKPORT — Following mental health battles and after a move back to the Midcoast from fast-paced New York City, singer-songwriter Alice Limoges has transitioned into the next chapter of her life, now feeling she has reached what is, thus far, the most productive point of her musical career. 

    The last time Penobscot Bay Pilot spoke with the Rockport native about her musical career, in 2014, she was 19 and working on her second album, As Close As You Can Be Without Touching. 

    Since then, she has released a third album, The Space Between, she wrote and recorded herself as an undergraduate student at SUNY Purchase. 

    She also has racked up a touring schedule that has spanned seven years across the Northeast in Maine, New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Boston.

    Her song "No One Underneath” was a semi-finalist in the 2019 International Songwriting Competition. 

    Following her days as a student at Camden Hills Regional High School, she was accepted into the Berklee School of Music and New York University, but opted to major in studio composition at SUNY Purchase, where she graduated magna cum laude

    “Of all the programs, the SUNY Purchase program is so much smaller and more one-on-one,” she said, at the time, noting she has personal relationships with her professors. 

    Those personal relationships paid off for her as she has collaborated on songs with professor Jon Jetter, who produced four singles with Limoges that have been released with more collaborations poised for release on her forthcoming album, It Stole Myself From Me. 

    Limoges, who is featured on the Grammy Award winning album Ageless: Songs for the Child Archetype by Jon Samson, is proud to release her newest single “China We Don’t Use” today, fittingly releasing the song after Valentine’s Day.

    Limoges searches, and finds, ways in the song to express feelings of romantic love, in a time when affection can take on so many other meanings.

    The song’s title is a metaphor for the romance put on hold, while fulfilling the roles of loving oneself and one’s family that are just as, if not more important, than falling into romance.

    The song, a news release said, carries an innocence like that of the young girl starring in the video, as she plays with an antique China tea set. The girl gives life and purpose to the porcelain teacups and kettle that would otherwise go untouched and unnoticed.

    “The fragility of the objects is like that of friendships and familial relationships that Limoges feels get swept to the side in the search for romantic love as we grow older,” the press release said. 

    Thanks to her newfound creative muse in the Midcoast, the new single is a departure from Limoges’ prior work. 

    “There is no backing-band to distract listeners from the tranquility achieved by Limoges’ voice and piano playing,” the press release said. “The simplicity of the production amplifies the palpable emotions the singer attempts to express to a potential lover.” 

    The video was shot at St. George’s Salt and Fir Farmhouse and Camden’s Mount Battie with filmmaker and fellow Camden Hills Regional High School alumnus Stan Grunder tabbed as the director.

    Limoges and Grunder previously worked together for a music video for a song, “Dream”, on Limoges’ first album, when she was 16. Both since moved to New York before permanently returning home to the Midcoast amid the pandemic.

    “We decided to shoot the music video partially on top of Mount Battie at sunrise on a freezing Halloween morning,” said Limoges. “We also shot a story of a family friend’s daughter, Hadley, breaking delicate china, gluing it back together, and having a tea party with her stuffed animals. We shot this segment at an Airbnb in Saint George called Salt and Fir Farmhouse. Seasons Downeast made us a beautiful bouquet.”

    Limoges is pleased at how much better the filming process for the music video was here in the Midcoast, compared to filming in New York City. 

    “All in all, I think it turned out to be one of the best music videos I’ve made and the process felt stress free and natural,” Limoges said, excited at the prospect of future collaborations with her fellow Windjammer graduate. 

    The song and accompanying music video dissects the isolation felt when one is struggling to cope with mental health, as the song was penned following Limoges’ release from a psychiatric facility after a mental health emergency. 

    “I struggled with depression since eighth grade and during college was diagnosed with bipolar disorder,” said Limoges. “Music has always been a tool for me to express and work through the difficult emotions I went through because of the cards I was dealt. At a few points, I was so depressed that I didn't feel safe at home and admitted myself to a psychiatric facility. I no longer was enjoying anything I used to enjoy such as music or being with other people.”

    Lying in bed with an old friend a few weeks following her release from the psychiatric facility, the line, “I can't love you right now but I want to learn how,” popped into her head, and remained engrained in her mind over the next few days as she mulled it over. 

    “I thought about how for so long I'd been searching for love or a relationship and have been unable to find it and now that it seemed more available, I wasn't ready to accept it,” she said. “Then I began to think about how there are so many other kinds of love in our life that get pushed aside in the quest for romantic love. I thought about my mother's China collection that we never use and it all came together to make this song.” 

    The time Limoges spent in the hospital was a life-changing experience, she noted in an interview, as she gained tools to cope with her bipolar disorder. Music continued to be part of her coping mechanisms, and has served as a propeller for Limoges to reach the current point of her career she calls the highest point she has been at musically. 

    “I pivoted back to my guitar and piano, singing in the common room among other people who were all at a difficult crossroads in their lives,” said Limoges, of her time in the psychiatric facility. “Many of my songs were about my struggles with my mental health and seeing how it helped everyone there renewed my vigor for music.”

    Through hard work and dedication, Limoges now finds herself back on the right track, thanks to work with her therapist, who has taught her valuable skills to combat her bipolar disorder and provides an avenue to vent, much like her music. 

    Despite the opportunities and experiences New York City has presented over the years for Limoges, she longed to shift to a more peaceful life surrounded by nature, much like is found in the Midcoast. 

    At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March, Limoges was asked by her mother to return home to Rockport for a few weeks to wait the initial days of the pandemic out. 

    “As soon as I arrived, the feeling settled over me that this move might be a little more long term,” she recalled.

    Limoges transformed her room into a recording studio to continue creating music and began hiking a few times per week.

    A private music teacher, Limoges has been able to grow her business during the pandemic and boasts a full roster of students she works with remotely. 

    “I absolutely adore my students and having them gives my life so much purpose,” she said. “I used to teach driving between homes in [New York] and now I get to teach from my home studio. All the stress is removed and I get to focus on just being there with my students and mentoring them.” 

    During the initial months of the pandemic, Limoges hosted livestream concerts weekly on her Instagram account featuring another artist with both artists sharing songs and stories.

    As the Black Lives Matter protests swept the nation, Limoges used her online concerts to fundraise money for charities assisting People of Color, which led to Limoges’ collaboration with local artists such as Mehuman Ernst, Ian Doran, and sound engineer Geoffrey Parker to hold a June benefit concert in the Camden Village Green. 

    Limoges has been steadily releasing new songs to her Patreon each month from her home, with the songs slated to be released in a series of three EPs.

    Limoges’ return to the Midcoast transformed her writing, particularly as she works on one of forthcoming albums, set for a 2022 release, featuring each song tied to the Maine way of life.

    “Ironically [the days of COVID-19 have] been the best period of my life creatively and personally,” said Limoges. “The pandemic has been a very fruitful time for me.” 

    She has written about the desire to return to a simpler, more natural way of life and the differences of New York’s blossoming spring flowers to Maine’s snow-covered roads in March.

    She’s written about a magical night on Beech Hill watching the comet Neowise pass by, running into the older version of the girl she once babysat, and about falling in love with her boyfriend of seven months, Andrew, and the adventures they have embarked on, such as a trip to Monhegan Island when they first fell in love.

    “Being home has allowed for a shift in my songwriting away from the dissonance of living in a place where I didn't feel happy to songs about feeling free,” she said. “My bipolar is very well managed now and it leaves space to write about love and the land. In the summer, I would do a lot of solo hikes and write songs or paint on top of Bald Mountain or Beech Hill.” 

    Limoges’ return home is precisely what she needed to bolster her career to its highest pedigree, and her recent securing of a residence of her own in downtown Camden affirmed her intentions to live in a place with a lifestyle that brings her happiness and love. 

    “I thought I needed to live in a big city to have a successful music career, but slowing down has had me producing the best music I've ever written,” she said. “With the internet, you can build a music following anywhere.”

    Even right here in the Midcoast.