feeling things, losing logic (extended)

October 04, 2013

words by: Fajar Zakhri

Aside from supplying some of the slinkiest and funkiest beats and blips specifically designed for those night-time vibes, Dylan Amirio juggles between his daytime job as a journalist and nocturnal incarnation as a rising name in Jakarta's local electronic music scene. His sparse, abstract, and, as he puts it himself, visceral sound lets its freak flag fly in the most understated way possible---typically set to kooky, trippy visuals in live settings---and as such stands a cut (and then some) above the typical, trendy beat drops of the genre's inflection du jour. Globetrotter’s Fajar Zakhri met with the musician, known as Logic Lost, to gnaw on not fitting in, rejecting guilty pleasures and the importance of feeling. 

Globetrotter Magazine: Who are you and where do you stand in life at the moment?
Logic Lost: I just live life, man. I try to live life in the present. For me, it’s better to live in the present anyway, because if you worry too much about the future, you’ll never get there. You will forget what you do now, because what you do now will affect how you’ll do in the future. It’s about letting the universe flow, and that’s what I do. But yeah, my name is Dylan Amirio, I’m 25 years old. I have passion for music and writing. Back in school, I used to write a lot of poetry, fiction and all that—which I still do, but not as productive as before.

Globetrotter Magazine: Because of the nature of your work?
Logic Lost: Yeah, I’m used to writing every single day, so my brain gets exhausted in terms of writing. That’s why I channel it differently through music.

Globetrotter Magazine: You do have a music career. Would you call it a proper career or a moonlighting type of thing?
Logic Lost: I think I kind of have a career. I’d like it to be a full career, but it’s not really going anywhere yet. I’ve released one full-length album and an EP. I did release another unofficial EP on an American internet label, but I don’t know what happened to that. I’ve been producing since maybe four or five years ago, but I didn’t start going public until about two years ago.

Globetrotter Magazine: Why is that?
Logic Lost: I’ve had a lot of self-esteem issues since childhood that I’m still struggling with. So it took me three years to be like, ‘OK, I have to release all this‘, since the feedback was good, so why not release it to the world?

Globetrotter Magazine: And you release it to the world as Logic Lost. Why Logic Lost? Where did that come from?
Logic Lost: I used it unofficially when I was in high school, and it started as Lost Logic. I hadn’t done any electronic stuff so I was playing around with guitar and ukulele—it was more folk and lyric-based. When I decided to become public, I did a little research and was like, “Does anyone in the world have the name Lost Logic?” and apparently there’s a band with that name. So the logical thing to do was to reverse that.

I think the meaning behind the name is like, when you know what you’re doing is not right, but you do it anyway because it feels right and it feels good. You might even be careless sometimes, because you put your logic and your thinking aside for a while and sometimes I’m kind of like that.

Globetrotter Magazine: So you used to do a lot of rock-based stuff in the past?
Logic Lost: In school I played with a band and we did a lot of hardcore emo covers. So I screamed a lot. That was fun for a while then I realized that it was kind of damaging my throat then I stepped away from that. Then I started gravitating towards softer music. I didn’t start getting properly introduced to electronic music when I was in college in Australia since I had friends who were really into that stuff.

I think there are two live gigs that changed my musical life. One was The Gaslamp Killer. I really liked the way he carries his music: it’s very diverse and experimental, and it makes you dance. You can feel his energy radiate and it just hits you. He was one of the first electronic acts that I got into in the beginning. The other was Midnight Juggernauts. It was a typical DJ set aimed to make people move, but when I saw them, it made me realize that I had to go public with my stuff. I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to make people that happy with my music.

Globetrotter Magazine: Do you think it was a natural shift going from rock to electronic? Do you think it was time for a change?
Logic Lost: I didn’t feel like it was time for a change—it just happened. I guess as I grew, I tried to expand my musical horizon. Back when I was in high school, I was one of those kids who would judge someone based on their music taste. But as I got older, I went like, “What am I doing that for?”. Now I believe that if you like what you like, you can just enjoy it. It just happened naturally. Listening to music is my hobby, so whenever I hear something good or something that people say is good, I’ll check it out myself and see if I like it.

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Globetrotter Magazine: What’s your earliest musical memory?
Logic Lost: When I was a kid, I wasn’t really into making music—it was more about listening to music. I remember when I was 8 or 9, I was living in Australia for a while, and I would be interested in whatever was on MTV so it was a lot of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, the Spice Girls… So you could say pure pop music was my launch pad. I didn’t start gravitating towards rock music until I moved back here in the early 2000s. The first tape I bought was Green Day’s “International Superhits!” and I loved it so much, I had it for years until it wore out.

In middle school I was introduced to a lot of emo, punk and metal stuff as well then in high school everyone started sharing songs and bands and was just united by music. It didn’t matter who you were, as long as you had music to share, you were equal and I loved that so much. But emo sort of became my foundation, bands like Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance and all that. Then I got into post-rock stuff and became a metalhead for a while, I would save up a lot of money to buy CDs and shirts just to maintain my love for this particular genre.

Globetrotter Magazine: Who influences you in electronic music?
Logic Lost: There’s one album that I think had I never listened to it, there would be no Logic Lost: it’s “Replica” by Oneohtrix Point Never. When I listened to it, I was taken aback and went like, “Oh s---, this is really good stuff”, and it inspired me so much, it made me buy my first electronic set and do my own music. And I haven’t stopped since. So that’s a major influence. I’m also into a lot of drone stuff, because I’m into music that makes you feel deeply. But my basis really is ambient. So I would say that if I were to be classified in a genre, I would rather be an ambient artist than an electronic artist, because there will always be ambient parts in everything that I do.

I also love people like Four Tet, Jon Hopkins, The Chemical Brothers, Trent Reznor, The Gaslamp Killer, Boards of Canada, who are probably my biggest influence stylistically because the way they layer sounds is very masterful. I also love Aphex Twin, Björk… there’s one new artist named Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, she’s a fabulous synth player. A lot of atmospheric stuff, basically. I just want to make people feel as lifted as I do when I hear their stuff.

Globetrotter Magazine: How do you usually discover music?
Logic Lost: As is the case my whole life, whenever I like something, I would do a research on it. I would start with an artist that I really like, then I try to branch out, I dig through their discography and whole career. Then I would notice how significantly these artists changed over time, and it made me realize that music is a living thing; it’s something that evolves and progresses, it never stays the same—unless maybe rock music. You see bands like AC/DC or KISS and how they have a formula that works for them despite their line-up changes. I like these bands, but the way they make music is not exactly the way I want it for myself.

I also like to browse for artists on websites like Last.fm, you go from one artist to another and it becomes a never-ending cycle. Come to think of it, for the past few years there hasn’t any day gone by without me listening to music, there’s always something in my head.

Globetrotter Magazine: Comparing your current stuff, which is more atmospheric, wordless and free-form, to the more traditionally-structured type of music that you used to, what is it about this approach to music that interested you?
Logic Lost: It just uplifts me and moves my heart. To me, music is dynamic and anything that you hear, even street noises, is music. Music in essence is a bunch of sounds that make you feel, right? So I’m more interested in the raw aspect of it. But it doesn’t mean that I’m abandoning structure. Maybe my first album, Runaway, wasn’t very structural, but I challenged myself with the latest EP, If I Trust You. I thought, “Maybe now I could try to make something more pop, more sensible and structured.”

So I started listening to a lot of pop music like Madonna and Justin Bieber, and I studied structure and tried to channel that in the EP. In a way, it’s experimentation too because I was experimenting with structure, I wanted a more controlled result and it worked. I’m personally very satisfied with the EP, it made me confident in using different styles of music and putting them in my music, because I’ve proven that it can work. I’m not a purist—I reject Puritanism in any shape or form, and this isn’t just about music. Nothing is pure or stays the same. You have to be open to change. Everything has to be open to change.

Globetrotter Magazine: So you don’t believe in guilty pleasure?
Logic Lost: I don’t. I don’t need to feel guilty about what I like. I like everything. There’s no such thing as good or bad music—there’s only preference. If you like something, you like it; and if you don’t, just don’t listen to it. But it doesn’t mean that what you don’t like is bad. It’s just not your cup of tea, so drink something else. Unfortunately here in Indonesia, some people still judge you for what you listen to. I had this band called To Forfeit and we played this emo revival stuff and one day we were doing a small gig and I had this J Dilla shirt on, my guitarist wore a Drake shirt and my drummer put on an A$AP Rocky shirt. We didn’t even plan it! And after we played, some kids started asking us questions like, “Why are you guys wearing those shirts? They’re not a good fit here.” And we were like, “Why not? Because they’re hip-hop artists?” and they couldn’t respond to that. These rappers are as emo as it gets. There’s a thread between Drake and My Chemical Romance, for instance. Their sounds may be drastically different from one another, but both artists sing about love and loss. Hip-hop is not just about sex and party all the time. You have people like from Wu-Tang Clan rapping about space and science or the newer ones like Skepta and Stormzy. I think that makes for an interesting shift in hip-hop, which used to be very street and hardcore but now rappers are using their feelings.

These kids didn’t get that and are still trying to differentiate how people in a particular scene should look like, down to the shirt that you wear. So it gave me a good observation about how people think the local music scene. I’m not saying that everyone in the scene is like that, but I came across these people who are stuck on their rigid, identity-based way of looking at things. And that’s not the point. You don’t have to be tied down to a certain mould. Whenever I’m inspired, I try to make something out of that inspiration in my own way. I don’t have to imitate anyone. But that’s not the case with a lot of bands in Indonesia, they see what they like and they try to imitate that as much as possible because maybe for them there can never be anything beyond that. They just stick to the blueprint and to me that doesn’t make them interesting.

There’s also a lot of “my music’s generation is better than yours” mindset going, which is bull---- because there’s always good music. You just don’t want to open yourself up, you don’t want to dig deep. Even on the radio there’s still a lot of good stuff. All you’ve got to do is open yourself up and listen and you’ll find something.

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Globetrotter Magazine: Let’s talk about our generation’s current penchant for the 90s revival.
Logic Lost: Oh the 90s were very cool. A lot of good things were happening back then, like rock music dominating the airwaves, hip-hop was still a niche and a lot of the films and TV series are still unbeatable to this day like Beavis and Butt-Head and Daria. Those two shows are more relevant now than they were in the 90s if you think about it. For instance, Beavis and Butt-Head was basically just about two stupid guys who were so oblivious to the world that it actually meant something in all their pure, unadulterated honesty. And I think that’s what’s missing in today’s world. People are not honest or direct enough. Or shows like Spongebob Squarepants, which actually has quite an adult sense of humor. But then again, you have stuff like Steven Universe or Gravity Falls in this day and age in all their surrealist humor, so that’s good. It’s also interesting that we don’t watch a lot of TV anymore these days and we used to grow up with that. Now we live with the internet and watch more YouTube than actual television set.

Globetrotter Magazine: That certainly correlates with our generation’s embrace of electronic music, doesn’t it? What do you make of it? Especially since it has become a global culture in a way…
Logic Lost: I guess it’s social progression. Society progresses as the time progresses—what’s big now might not be big in ten years’ time because things take turn in becoming big. It’s a cycle. In the 90s, it was rock music, in the 2000s, it was hip-hop… and now it’s electronic. Technology is much more advanced than before and you can make your own stuff in bed or on your mobile phone. You don’t have to buy a lot of things, you can just use what’s already in your phone as long as you have the will. It makes things more accessible too for people who want to try out and make music. And for those who want to take it to the next level and buy specific hardware, it becomes an entry point for a lot of people to become artists in general. When it comes to music, it’s not about what you have, it’s about how you make your music with what you have. If you have the will, something might just come up. It’s just a lot of trial and error as long as you don’t get discouraged too easily, then everything’s going to be okay.

Globetrotter Magazine: Do you think that living in Australia had something to do with your exposure to electronic music?
Logic Lost: Yeah definitely, especially when I was in college. There were always shows happening around in Melbourne, where I used to live, which is like the music capital of Australia. You would have every other international act paying a visit to the city and I really relished that, so I tried to watch every artist that I liked, which cost quite a lot. I used up the money that was intended for my first six months of college in only two months just to buy tickets. But I don’t regret that a single bit, because it was very worth it. I got to check out a lot of things. It became my education. Even if there was no major gig going on during the weekend, you could just go to some bar and some DJ or band would be playing and you would go like, “Whoa, that’s great stuff.” The exposure was just everywhere, even in the backyard! I had neighbors who would be playing music in their backyard but I would be too shy to ask what they were playing.

Globetrotter Magazine: How do you contrast that type of culture between Melbourne and Jakarta?
Logic Lost: You don’t get as much exposure here. The clubs tend to be very segmented to the point where everything is the same. The big clubs either play EDM or trance or tropical house, and that’s it. I mean, it’s good for once in a while, but that’s the only thing being played then it gets boring and that’s why I don’t really go to clubs anymore, except for stuff that I really want to check out. I’ve been criticized for that because it’s supposedly made me passive to the scene, but I’m really just more selective about what I want. And it’s not like I don’t want to be a part of it, because I do, but I want to do it my own way. Maybe I’m too idealistic in that way…

The independent music scene is still very much centered on rock music anyway. There’s not a lot of flexibility in the electronic scene, especially with the type of ambient stuff I’m doing, I don’t really fit comfortably into anything here. So that’s why I kind of go at it on my own and only share it with people who actually care about it. There’s a lot of collectivism as well, and these collectives don’t really collaborate with one another—it becomes competitive instead. Everyone wants to stand out. This is why you don’t get a lot of collaborations in the local electronic scene… it’s like segregation within segregation. I think that’s an inherently Indonesian trait in a way. I see more collaborations happening at the moment though, but not in the bigger picture sense of things, because you kind of still have to know certain people to get there. There’s no ecosystem yet either. In other countries, you would have all these labels and they partner up with venues, they have their own artists and artists collaborate with one another, and that leads to labels collaborating with one another too.  

Globetrotter Magazine: Why do you think that is?
Logic Lost: I just think in our society artists are not regarded very highly. You’ll have to become a doctor, a banker or a public servant if you want to be seen in a distinguished light. They get paid very low and the social structure is very low too. So unless the social structure becomes higher, as in artists becoming more appreciated by the government and the society in general, it will continue to be a lost cause trying to sustain a music career. And it’s not just here—it’s the same in Singapore, Malaysia or even Hong Kong.

But if you look at places like Australia or England, that’s where you can make it because the ecosystem is there and the social structure is there. Artists are regarded highly in these places and there’s an actual audience. People care about you. Everyone’s helping you out, even the government. That’s not the case here. Our government doesn’t care about the arts; they don’t give funding to arts because it’s not important to them. And I think if a country only focuses on the economics, it’s just empty. It’s soulless. And art is the soul of society.

I’m afraid there won’t be any development in the local art scene. Right now everything relies on the people who make arts. It’s up to the artists to make themselves known to the point where enough people take notice of them. You look at bands like Senyawa, for instance. Nobody really mentions them here, but their artistry is so appreciated in the outside world. I still have hope, though. It might not look very good at the moment, but I know things change. But change can only come from the society, not from the arts. Artists can only do so much anyway. But I have hope for everything and that everything will be better in the end. Some things just take more time than others.

Globetrotter Magazine: How do you position yourself in the local electronic music scene?
Logic Lost: I don’t think I can do that because I don’t think I quite fit in anywhere. My music is not very danceable, it’s more visceral… So the only way for it to work is to perform it live. I’m actually growing more bored with the idea of DJ-ing, because I’ve realized that I should probably commit myself to doing something great instead of focusing on DJ-ing. I still love to DJ, if anyone were to ask me, I would definitely say yes, but I don’t want it to be a career because I might be burned out by that and I wouldn’t enjoy that after all. I don’t play a lot of live gigs, to be honest, because not a lot of people ask me to anyway. Even when I do, I always play stuff that I make myself, like for my EP launch last February. And in the rare occasion that I do play live, I try to make it different from anything I’ve done in the past.

Like right now, if I were to play, I wouldn’t play anything from my first album because I’m not in that mindset anymore. I’d either play my new stuff or stuff that I assembled recently, which is what happened in the EP launch. In that show I played a couple of songs from the EP and a bunch of unreleased stuff that I plan to put on my next full-length release. It’s currently in production but taking a very slow time to materialize. But I really want the second album to hit people in a way that they never felt before. I have my ambitions; I just need time to make it happen.

Globetrotter Magazine: How’s the progress going for that one so far?
Logic Lost: I need to make sure that it’s great and I need to have the confidence that it’s going to be great. There are probably only two tracks that I’ve recorded so far, three that I usually play in my live sets but haven’t recorded yet and that’s about it.

Globetrotter Magazine: So no date penciled in for the second full-length?
Logic Lost: No, unless someone gives me a deadline then I’ll probably try. I usually give myself a deadline, though. When I have the time, I’ll come up with my own deadline. But right now, I have a lot of finished songs that I want to put out in the meantime. Now I would say I have enough materials for two more EPs, but I’m going to focus on the second full-length because these materials don’t have the vibe that I intended for the album. So I could probably put out an EP this year, but I would need to find another outlet do that, a label that would be committed to releasing my work. I’m also currently working on a collaboration with a local R&B artist named VVYND, which is exciting, he’s a cool guy who’s open to pretty much anything. And so am I. If I find a collaborator whom I’m comfortable with, I will stick with them. When the vibe is good, why stop at only one thing? That’s the ultimate artistic relationship to me.

Globetrotter Magazine: How do you differentiate making an EP versus making an album?
Logic Lost: A lot more work goes into making an album, definitely. To me, an album has to flow as one, so there are more things to think about. EPs are looser, I’d say—there’s more freedom in that, because it could just be a bunch of experimentation ideas that you try out and feel like putting out. Like in my case, If I Trust You is basically the songs that I made almost two years ago after the first album came out, but they still have an underlying theme that connects them so it became an EP.  People’s attention span is getting shorter too. So I’m more comfortable with the idea of EP as it’s more compact, and I don’t have to say too much to make an impact. I only have to say what I need to say, and if it only takes five tracks to do so, then so be it.

Globetrotter Magazine: You mentioned having self-esteem issues, and that can be a problem for someone whose job is to perform. So how do you approach it? How does that work for you
Logic Lost: Performing always feels incredible because when I’m performing I always get in the zone and sometimes I don’t really pay attention to the crowd, and that’s kind of my way to cope. But sometimes I look to the crowd and see someone feeling it, it could make me cry. One time I was opening for two folk acts and when I came on, I thought since my music sounded different than what the audience might have expected, I was like, “I’m just going to play.” And when I started playing, I remember this one girl dancing to my music. And it made me feel like, “Oh s---, this is amazing, this is what I want to do.” That was a real confidence booster.

In general, I just get lost in the zone and I know quite a lot of performers who do that. But I try to balance it out, when I start feeling tired, I’ll turn the tempo down. You just have to be aware of what’s going on, without obsessing over the crowd. That’s what I’ve learned after performing a couple of times.

Globetrotter Magazine: Would you say performing is more about expressing yourself than catering to the crowd?
Logic Lost: It’s both. It depends on the crowd though. If the crowd seems ignorant, I’ll just do my thing. But if I can get the crowd with me, it becomes a community. I’m up there anyway, so I might as well play the best that I can. I try to perform 100% all the time. In my early days of performing, I would freak out over the smallest error on stage. But as time passed, I’m more chill about it. No live performance is perfect anyway, there’s got to be small error somewhere.  And if you can work it into the music, that’s even better.

Globetrotter Magazine: Your live performance is also heavy on the visuals. Is the visual aspect of your performance important to you?
Logic Lost: I always try to match my visuals with what I feel or with what’s going on inside of me. I went through an unrequited love type of situation in the past and I tried to match that feeling with the visuals of one of my past performances. And I had people come to me after that performance and tell me that my set made them feel something. And that’s what I always try to do. If other people feel the same way, that’s good.

Globetrotter Magazine: What kind of venue do you feel most comfortable performing in?
Logic Lost: I really like theaters, because they usually have great acoustics that fit with my music. Especially with my type of music, I want people to reach deep into their hearts and pull out their feelings as they listen. I simply try to cater to the atmosphere, even when I play in clubs. But in theaters, you kind of get full control of the atmosphere and that’s awesome. So I would like to do more theaters in the future. My ultimate goal is to play with an orchestra or a choir to really create that ambiance, if I were to make it far as Logic Lost.

Globetrotter Magazine: Seems like you’re always open to collaborating.
Logic Lost: Absolutely. You’ll always need people to get somewhere because there are things that you just don’t know and you need people to guide you and give you support, and they make you better too. Sometimes when I’m doing a DJ set, I would slip in some of my friends’ tracks because I genuinely love them and what they’re making and I want people to know that. And if by chance I make it big someday, I want to carry a lot of the people that I feel like they deserve the spotlight along with me. I don’t want to succeed alone because you just can’t succeed alone.

Globetrotter Magazine: Do you share your stuff with these people? Or do you tend to keep them to yourself and rather put it out there to basically a bunch of strangers?
Logic Lost: I tend to keep things to myself because when something’s not done yet, I won’t want people to listen to it. But sometimes I do share it to certain people and ask for their input. I’m a private person in general, so I get shy about showing people what I make and I’m not really open about my process.

Globetrotter Magazine: What’s your songwriting process usually like?
Logic Lost: I usually jam on my Ableton until I get something that I like. Sometimes it would take days or even weeks… I even have songs that took months to finish. But some songs only take only 10 minutes. I’ve learned not to rush my creation, because creativity takes time.

Globetrotter Magazine: Let’s talk about your other career as a journalist. How do journalism and music correlate with one another?
Logic Lost: Well, journalism is not really a passion, but I like to write and journalism is the only place that can accommodate my writing skills. The downside to that is probably I don’t get to write as much personal stuff as I used to because it’s a job and I do it every day. I actually haven’t written much personal stuff in two years. But someday I’d like to publish a poetry book with everything that I’ve written since high school up to now.

Globetrotter Magazine: I’m just wondering whether the fact that journalism is your daily job in which you must adhere to a certain narrative structure prompts you to express yourself in this wordless and free-form type of music…

That’s probably the case, considering in the past two years I haven’t been able to express myself as eloquently in words as I do in music. I do feel like I express myself better in music. But we’re going back to the correlation thing, and I think there’s some of that. For instance, when I make music, I choose which synths sound the best, what kind of atmosphere I want to convey… And I write, I look for words that are fitting and can convey the point that I’m trying to make. I think writing is also musical in terms of the curation, the atmospheric aspect, the attempt to convey a message. In the end, a completed work of writing is like a completed work of music.

Globetrotter Magazine: Do you plan on singing?
Logic Lost: I do. But the hardest thing for me to do is come up with melodies, and that’s why I collaborate with people who can do it well. I plan to do that on the next album, though. I see it as a challenge too—if it turns out well, I’ll keep on doing it but if I suck, I won’t do it again. But I won’t know until I try it, so I will.

Globetrotter Magazine: Do you use your voice differently now compared to your band days?
Logic Lost: Oh yes, definitely. I’ve figured some things out now. I actually took vocal lessons last year and I discovered that I sing more comfortably in a low, baritone voice. But interestingly my vocal teacher said I had the same voice range as Bruno Mars! I don’t think I can go that high, but I was told that I actually can. So that’s interesting and makes me think like, “Okay, maybe I haven’t tapped into that potential.”

Globetrotter Magazine: How important is public recognition from you? Do you like the attention? Do you want the attention?
Logic Lost: I do, of course. I have dreams and hopes for Logic Lost to be big. I want to do a film soundtrack, for instance. I’m not there yet, so I can try my best to reach that. Like this interview, whenever someone is willing to take some time to listen to what I have to say, it’s awesome. Whenever this kind of opportunity comes up, I’ll gladly put aside anything I’m doing. Even when I have to work, I’ll get it done as soon as I can so I can devote my time and energy for it.

Globetrotter Magazine: What do you want people to get out of your music?
Logic Lost: I don’t want to just entertain people. I want people to come to my shows and feel, and that’s what usually happens. That’s why I don’t think my music can be viral. It’s too visceral. People don’t really want to feel all the time. But music is my way of communicating, and having people feel my music is the best kind of achievement I could get.

Globetrotter Magazine: Where do you see Logic Lost in the next five years?
Logic Lost: Logic Lost is a part of me. It’s something that I can’t separate from myself. I really want this to succeed. Sometimes I’m very worried about not succeeding, because I feel like this doesn’t succeed then I don’t succeed. But I also realize if I worry too much, I won’t enjoy the process. For now, I can only do what I do and make what I make. If people listen, that’s good. If they don’t, so be it. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ll wait and see. I take life as it comes at the end of the day.

All photos c/o Logic Lost.