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Sun Tillikum

Neo-Romantic piano-based music inspired by Chopin and the Pacific Northwest

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Hide Behind A Mirror

Self, where is your pride and what is your life?

You hide behind a one-way mirror so they won't see

What you would be without your safe reflective walls

I give a smile back, a tiny flash of happiness cracked

Say yes I'm fine when I'm really not

Reflected feelings not my own

Protect my cold and lonely heart

Self, you're hurting me

You hide my heart away in a fragile house of silvery glass

I can't throw stones at the cause of my pain

It's outside looking in, not seeing


Self, you've got to stop

Shiny mirrors dazzle some, but it's not you they see

Blank and numb, just a cold phantom lost in a field of light

I should break the mirror but I can't

If I break nobody will be there to put the pieces back together

Broken glass shards in my heart

Don't you think that they would hurt as much as being alone like I already am?

Life In Secrecy

Burning, twisting sharp regret, no way to forget

Loss of a thing that never was, hope for a life I've never lived

Invisible, shut up now, just go on with the flow

The names they call, they hold a thrall, make me doubt all I know

But it's nothing you deserve to live a life of secrecy

But I don't have the nerve to call them out

And make them see what their words do to me

It's a sin, don't give in, my nature's just that grim

Life is not for me to live, happiness prohibited

So lock it up, don't come out, my love stays on a shelf

But who are these to claim disease is why you are yourself?

Then the darkness closes in, down, down, down

Rushing fear, it hits you hard, that you just don't belong

Oh the darkness closes in, down, down, down

A devil whisper in your mind, "The world just wants you gone!"

Stand up strong, don't look back, you aren't in the wrong

Who you are is who you'll be, beautiful and free

So drop the knife, find your life, and live it all for love

It's not too late so damn the hate, be brave and rise above

'Cause it's nothing I deserve, to live a life of secrecy

When I don't have the nerve to call them out and make them see

No it's nothing you deserve, to live your life in secrecy

Burning Time

It's a beautiful day in the city of rain

The clouds are all gone for a while

Traffic is bad and parking's a pain

I might have to walk for a mile

But with nowhere to go and some hours to kill

It's a nice day just to sit still

To grab a notepad and write something sad

Or hone my musical skills

I'm burning time in Ballard with paper and a pen

Sipping a brew and thinking of who I'd like to see again

Friends on the fly tell me goodbye

And they're leaving the city of rain

Maybe you've heard that this place

Is the northernmost in the states

With a population over 500K

It seems that among the restless young

Someone would want me to stay

But that is my problem in the city of rain

My sorrow endures all year round

It falls from the sky and soaks into the ground

And I don't know why I'm still around

Just for today the sunshine burns and time slips through my hands

I'll wait until the weather turns to set out for brighter lands


The day passes by and I still don't know why I'm sitting alone in the sun

But I know the time is coming when I will take my turn to get up and run

I'm burning time in Ballard with paper and a pen

Sipping a brew and thinking of who I'd like to see again

Friends on the fly tell me goodbye

When there's sun in the city of rain

Bleeding Breathing Human Being

She went to the forest and got so high

She felt that she should be able to fly

She looked to the sky and cried

"Someone, come save me now from all these lies!"

I wish I was a bird so I could rise above the threat of men

But if I can't I'd like to be a bleeding breathing human being

No gods were heard, no answer came

But one she knew and denied in vain

The game she played with blame and shame

Weighed her down with the same old pain

I wish I was a tree so I could lay down roots and foster life

But if I can't I'd like to be a bleeding breathing human being

I want to dance, to be carefree

To love, embrace authentic me

To break out clear from the puppet strings

To rage and cheer against the god machine

I wish I could feel safe and real in my own decaying flesh

So let me be and you will see a bleeding breathing human being.

Sailor Of The Sky

They say you are grown when your bones stop lenghtening

Flight feathers in all bright and strengthening

Soon you will leave the nest for the sky

And soar away into freedom and light

I watch and I wait and I look for a sign

In the rocks and the rain and the swaying of mountain pines

Crying, why can't I just learn to fly?

Then I hear, near, a sailor of the sky

Nor everyone's wings work as they could

Some are small or weak and misunderstood

But you are complete malfunction and all

You're valuable, beautiful, just how you are

I watch and I learn and I build my own craft

For the rush and the yearning to rise above every laugh

See me climb, I'm doing just fine

Living free, a sailor of the sky

They're shooting me down, launching grenades

It's unnatural, sick, an offensive charade

Why can't you just stay confined to the ground?

Your life is a sham and your mind is unsound

I hear what they say and I throw it away

'Cause I know who I am and I will not be led astray

See me climb, I'm doing just fine

Living free, a sailor of the sky

Show Us The Road

Another cold morning, another dark day

The news is more stories of lives thrown away

When will we turn and find solid ground?

When will we mourn the sisters we've drowned?

Living is like a highway at night

Curves in the dark, we can't see far

When will we see what the future will hold?

When will the dawn show us the road?

The powerless rise then fall right back down

Predators in disguise are burning our town

When will we learn, take hold of our fate?

When will we turn on the murdering state?


It's a long, long run to the bittersweet end

And time will erase everyone's face

So what will we say, what's our excuse

For feeding decay and enforcing taboos?


I wrote this song in 2010 or 2011, after spending most of a party alone in a corner next to a large mirror, and imagining pulling it in front of me to disappear. I actually recorded and edited the entire thing 2011, and reused some of the old mandolin and synth audio in this remake.

The final verse captures my repressed gender dysphoria at the time. I was still a couple years away from realizing that my inability to connect socially was related to intentionally suppressing my femininity.

Originally all in second person, Life In Secrecy is from 2014, when I was simultaneously deconstructing the evangelical Christianity I was raised in, and coming to terms with my femininity and attraction to men. I still wasn't ready to accept myself, and this was my last attempt to continue the album before I transitioned.

I started working on it again in 2019, and changed the pronouns so I could sing it as a duet with myself. I had always enjoyed songs where I could sing along with both a man and a woman, and practice my feminine tone. When I switch voices between "my love stays on a shelf" and "but who are these to claim disease", that's not an edit.

"Drop the knife" is a reference to my self-harming habits, something a huge number of queer people raised in oppressive environments struggle with.

While visiting Seattle many years ago, I found myself in Ballard on a sunny day with several hours to burn before meeting a friend. I went to a combination taphouse and coffee shop, on a street corner directly across from a Starbucks and another coffee shop. The ambiguity of "sipping a brew" was intentional...I had both a coffee and a beer while writing the song.

I knew I wanted to use the imagery of the "city of rain" as a metaphor for depression, but I had to do a bit of rewriting in 2019 to capture that feeling. I always felt like I was frozen in place by depression and anxiety, while one by one my friends found their places in the world.

"Just for today the sunshine burns and time slips through my hands..." Because when you have distractions from the pain, it's easier to keep ignoring it.

I wrote this tune long ago, for a contest run by a Christian author. I constructed it to fit the words of a song from his novel. It's one of my favorite tunes, so I wanted to redeem it with a queer and anti-religious message. This is the first new song I wrote after transition.

When I was living on the road named Sun Tillikum in North Bonneville, WA, there was a trail behind the house that connected to dozens of miles of trails alongside the Columbia River. There, in the forested Fort Cascades Historical Site, I spent hours every day in the summer of 2018, wandering around stoned and trying to untangle two decades of self-repression and denial.

"Rise above the threat of men" calls back to my lifelong fear of being around men, being forced into men's spaces and having to hear how they talked about women and queer people, and being sexually harassed as a small child in the men's bathroom.

"Bleeding" is equally a reference to menstruation, and the sentiment "we all bleed red". The "puppet strings" and "god machine" call out the authoritarian violations of bodily autonomy by evangelical Christians.

Sailor Of The Sky has another very old tune, which I made to fit a poem a friend wrote for a mutual friend of ours who was struggling with their health. I reworked the music a bit and wrote my own lyrics in 2019.

The main theme of this song is accepting and working with your disability, despite encountering resistance from society as a result. "Malfunction and all" is a subtle reference to the song Malfunction by Steam Powered Giraffe.

In addition to having hEDS and fibromyalgia, I experienced the endocrine dysfunction before transition as legitimately disabling. It's upsetting to be told that the lifesaving medical care I need to function as a human is part of an offensive "costume" or "delusion".

"I will not be led astray" is a response to my dad, who after I came out as bisexual in 2015 asked, "Who is leading you astray?"

The original version of this song was written in 2012 at a coffee shop in Indiana. It's the only song I've written for guitar rather than piano, but when I rewrote it for this album I decided to use piano as the base instrument to keep the sound consistent.

I had just done my first and only semester at college, and my mental health was extremely poor. I struggled to imagine a future for myself, and tried clinging to a good but ultimately doomed relationship with a girl I'd known for years, as a way out of the dark uncertainty.

"The murdering state" has two closely related meanings: our condition in America as a perpetually violent and greedy culture, and governments (like America's) that neglect and abuse their most vulnerable citizens.


I released this album on Valentine's Day 2020. The theme has, sadly, been extremely relevant ever since.

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