I go through phases of reading books about music. Sometimes I need to give my mind and ears a break and take a step away from the activity that dominates my life; other times I need to hold close, re-examine, and try to better understand the thing that I've chosen to do on this planet. I was in the latter phase when, while on tour in Washington DC, I picked up a used copy of Daniel Levitin's The World in Six Songs, hoping to pull myself out of a musical funk. I got a lot more than that.

This book describes how making music was crucial to the evolution of humans. It points out that music was present in virtually all civilizations and cultures in known history. Levitin goes on to look at just why it was so critical to human survival, examining music making from the viewpoints of religion, social interaction, brain function, and more.

This is something I really needed to read right now. There is obviously a huge, terrifying change happening in the US, and while on our first tour of Europe, we've been watching it unravel from afar. I've been feeling helpless, wanting to be a strong part of the resistance yet confused about how my role as an artist might allow me to do that.

This book has been a necessary reminder that music is important and has always been--it has literally been a means of survival for our species. And throughout all times of political upheaval and cultural disintegration, music has remained a powerful tool, whether it's used as an outright vehicle for protest or it captures emotion in a way that pure language can't. So I'm drawing strength from knowing that music has a unique capacity to bring people closer together and spark action in others, as evidenced in the evolution of humankind.

Half Waif's new EP form/a is out now via Cascine. Stream it in full below.