Songs for Black Days: Vespera's Cairn Tse-Lalonde | Revolver

Songs for Black Days: Vespera's Cairn Tse-Lalonde

Guitarist shares 5 songs that have helped him through dark times
cairn-studio-credit-jonathan-schwartz-web.jpg, Jonathan Schwartz
photograph by Jonathan Schwartz

Rising Seattle act Vespera was born out of founding frontman Jonathan Wolfe's need to transform his feelings of "despair and isolation" into music. To help in that pursuit, he rounded up drummer Jonathan Schwartz, bassist Paul Anderson and guitarist Cairn Tse-Lalonde to help bring his dark, moody, cathartic creations to life.

Tse-Lalonde, for his part, adds a hefty dose of riffs and Deftones-esque atmosphere to tracks like "Deafening, Dissonant," from their forthcoming album The Thoughts That Plague You. And like Wolfe, not only is music an integral part of Tse-Lalonde's self-expression, it's also a resource he draws from when times are tough — which is why we asked the guitarist to contribute to our "Songs for Black Days" series, presented in partnership with Hope for the Day, in which artists share some of the music that has helped them through dark times. Below is what Tse-Lalonde offered up.

Linkin Park - "Somewhere I Belong"

It's okay to not be okay with yourself. "Somewhere I Belong" is about stepping out of your comfort zone and putting effort into finding yourself. This is a song I started relating to after realizing that there were parts of me I needed to change. No human being is alone in their struggle, and it's when we look into ourselves openly and honestly that we reach our full potential as people. 

John Mayer - "Stop This Train"

Becoming aware that inevitable mortality is on its way to claim your loved ones can be tough. After noticing how members of my family were visibly getting older, I found myself struggling to accept that. No matter what we do, we can't stop time from taking its toll. All we can do is accept the fact that our time on earth is limited, show gratitude whenever possible, and do our best to appreciate the important people in our lives.

The Acacia Strain – “The Hills Have Eyes”

When I first listened to this song, it was one of the most aggressive pieces of music I had ever heard. Sometimes we feel pressure from society to act, look or be a certain way to feel accepted, and it can weigh us down in a serious way. "The Hills Have Eyes" helped me fight my demons that constantly criticized me for not fitting in. This track still crushes, and no matter how old I get, I don't think there will ever be a time when I won't get pumped from hearing it.

Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! - “Taking Chances”

A good number of people in my life have been reluctant to pursue their true passions out of fear of failure. Instead, they've chosen a less fulfilling but safer route for the sake of stability in life. I came close to doing the same thing myself. "Taking Chances" is an anthem for self-confidence and encourages you to chase your dreams. This song helped me break free from many doubts that got in the way of achieving my goals.

The Chainsmokers - “Don't Let Me Down (Illenium Remix)”

Discovering this remix was the spark that slowly helped me get out of a long rut. Rather than the lyrics or the song's message inspiring me, as is typically the case, it was actually the lush soundscapes and uplifting chord progression of the instrumental that pulled at my emotions in a way I had rarely experienced before. Since that first listen, I've taken a full-on dive into the world of electronic music. At a difficult time in my life, lllenium's remix made me excited to open my mind to a completely new realm of music, and for that, I'm extremely grateful.