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Track-by-Track: Karmic Neighborhood Discusses the Music on the Film ‘Equinox the Musical’

Armand Ruby of Karmic Neighborhood gives an in-depth look at the songs that make up the upcoming feature film, ‘Equinox the Musical.’



Musicians who help create Karmic Neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Karmic Neighborhood.

Armand Ruby and Julian Colbeck of musical group Karmic Neighborhood have released the preview soundtrack album for their upcoming feature film, Equinox the Musical, much to fan excitement. The 14-track album complements the feature film in conveying the story of two homeless young lovers who discover that forgiveness, gratitude and love can be the keys to navigating life’s most challenging circumstances. Some cosmic themes featured within the album include perseverance, forgiveness, gratitude, love, selflessness, and every emotion in between.

The 14 songs on the Equinox Preview Soundtrack album are sung by a diverse set of characters in a variety of settings, with a wide range of musical styles, all helping to tell the film’s story. The record begins with the exuberant, electrified dance tune, “It’s a New Day,” introducing listeners to the musical film’s cast of characters. The groovy, Latin-inspired song “How Do I Start Over?” is sung by two middle-aged social service professionals who harbour a secret attraction. The rest of the preview soundtrack traverses a wide range of genres and is concluded with the closing ensemble number, “Equinox.” The frenetic Surf-rock tune “Living Loving” acts as a coda and will play during the film’s credits.

Karmic Neighborhood seeks to emphasize that everyone has a story, no matter how apparent it may be on the surface. Equinox the Musical reveals the stories of four homeless individuals – two young lovers with troubled pasts, an elderly wise woman who has lost everything except her dignity, and an attorney recovering from the depths of addiction – and the people who support them on their way. The public face of homelessness is too often someone suffering from serious mental health issues or addiction, but many others endure the indignities of a life gone awry with quiet dignity. At a time of great social upheaval, the world needs to see and hear this tale of compassion and perseverance in the face of conflict.

Armand Ruby – one-half of the core duo behind the project – sat down to give us an in-depth look at the tracks that make up the album and explain how they tell the feature film’s story.


1. “It’s A New Day”

“The 14 songs on the Preview Soundtrack album all help tell the story of Equinox the Musical, so they are sung by a diverse set of characters in a variety of settings, with a wide range of musical styles. The set begins with the poppin’ electronic dance tune, ‘It’s a New Day,’ sung by – and introducing – the cast. The lively choruses, proclaiming ‘It’s a new day’ as the characters arise and start their day, acknowledge the underlying difficulties faced by those characters: ‘Maybe today the clouds will have a silver lining.’ The verses are aspirational if not entirely optimistic, with a healthy touch of skepticism thrown in by Phoebe, the homeless wise-woman, ‘Maybe today pigs will fly over City Hall.’”

2. “You Must Be My Valentine”

“‘Valentine’ is a tender ballad sung as a duet by the two homeless young protagonists, Jason and Katie, backed simply by Julian Colbeck’s gorgeous piano arrangement. As storm clouds imminently form over young Jason, the depth and sincerity of their true love, expressed beautifully by the vocals of Santa Cruz locals Kristen Trayer and James Durbin, becomes their abiding light in the darkness. ‘Valentine’ expresses the conviction of truly/deeply/forever love that is familiar to many youthful lovers.”

3. “How Do I Start Over?”


“Juxtaposed against the youthful certainty of ‘Valentine,’ ‘How Do I Start Over?’ is a duet sung by two attractive 40-something social service professionals who have been harboring a secret attraction. Starting tentatively and morphing into an energetic Latin groove, the tune’s question is posed by two would-be lovers who aren’t sure how or even whether to begin again in love. Full of the uncertainty that comes from having been burned by a previous relationship, this tune will resonate with everyone wondering if they should take a risk, get back on the horse and try to love again.”

4. “Song of Wonder”

“With Jason getting kicked out of the shelter, Katie is facing some hard challenges, flashing back to the difficult events that led to her becoming homeless. Moving from scenes of urban desperation to the beauty of the redwood forest, she defiantly sings ‘Song of Wonder’ as she rises up from the uncertainty and turmoil that surround her. In the intermixing of humanity and nature, ‘Song of Wonder’ shows the resiliency of the human spirit, with Katie’s determination to overcome adversity and be a force for good in the world. The soaring arrangement, featuring the brilliant playing of LA guitarist Andrew Synowiec, supports the gorgeous vocals of Kristen Trayer, creatively expressing her inner Bjork.”

5. “Where Do I Go Now?”


“Imagine you screwed up, and your whole scene is falling apart. You’ve managed to get kicked out, or fired, or both – and now you literally don’t know where to go. Angst is the word of the day, with an unhealthy dose of despair and a side helping of ‘WTF just happened?’. That’s what happens to Jason, the lead male character in Equinox the Musical, in what is known in the film biz as the story’s ‘precipitating event.’ Suddenly about to be homeless and thrust out on the street, to say he is feeling vulnerable would be an understatement. The tune’s intensity is conveyed brilliantly by the desperate, soaring vocals of rocker James Durbin, backed by Andrew Synowiec’s searing guitar and the pedal steel brilliance of San Franciscan David Phillips.”

6. “Everybody Needs to Love”

“This song was inspired by real events. Working in an office in Davis, California, I’d often see a scruffy guy sitting on the curb around the side of the Jack in the Box fast-food joint across the street. Just a quiet, sad-looking little guy, not the least bit frightening or offensive. One day I decided to say hello, and then impulsively asked the man if he’d like a sandwich, to which the man gratefully agreed. That first time, the man carefully cut the sandwich in half, saying he’d save the other half for later, poignantly showing me how valuable my little gesture of kindness had been. In that moment, I realized that I needed that gesture of loving kindness as much as the homeless guy did. In Equinox the Musical, “Everybody Needs to Love” is a duet between the curmudgeonly Professor, sung here by yours truly, and the compassionate Amy the café waitress, sung by Ariel Thiermann. In the story, the Professor complains about the apparently homeless man sitting outside the café, but in reply Amy shares her understanding that he’s in fact a veteran suffering from crippling PTSD, and her kindness opens the Professor’s heart to a more sympathetic view.”

7. “Love Can Set You Free”

“In this upbeat rocker, the despondent Jason is desperately trying to pull himself up out of the morass he’s landed himself in. Leaning on the love he’s experienced in the midst of his troubles, he sings, ‘Love can set you free if you let it be and open up your heart; Every day can be an opportunity to make a brand new start.’ Convincingly delivered by James Durbin, singing in his native rock element, this tune is an example of how to make the best of a bad job, to use a phrase familiar to my musical partner, Englishman Julian Colbeck.”


8. “Where Will He Go Now?”

“The counterpart to Jason’s ‘Where Do I Go Now?,’ this track is a desperately plaintive cry from Katie, agonizing over what will happen to her beloved Jason as he is about to head out into an uncertain fate, threatened by a group of punks bearing ill will. Sung with utter desperation by Kristen Trayer, the tune is again backed by Andrew Synowiec and David Phillips on guitar and pedal steel.”

Cover art for 'Equinox The Musical' soundtrack by Karmic Neighborhood

Cover art for ‘Equinox The Musical’ soundtrack by Karmic Neighborhood

9. “Gratitude”

“Continuing to attempt to keep from falling into an abyss of depression, and drawing upon inspiration he finds in those around him, Jason celebrates his ability to draw upon gratitude for his life, even as it seems to be falling apart. James Durbin’s inspired vocals again deliver the sentiment as he sings,
‘Everybody knows right from wrong
Yet still sometimes we fail
Sometimes we blunder
Good intentions may pave the way then
We veer off the path
It makes you wonder
But still sometimes the grace comes shining through
Gratitude yes gratitude
Makes me feel alive inside
Gratitude yes gratitude
Connects me to the world outside’”

10. “You Still Shine in My Eyes”

“The third love story featured in Equinox the Musical involves William, the attorney/recovering addict and his long-suffering wife, to whom he is returning after an extended stint in rehab and the homeless shelter. Their tender story is told in this song of devotion, and love that endures through all of life’s struggles.”


11. “I Learned to Forgive”

“Forgiveness is a mysterious thing. We might think that it benefits the person being forgiven, that it’s something we do for someone else. But really we do it for ourselves; we are the ones who benefit most when we can forgive someone who has wronged us. Replacing our resentment and anger with compassion can have the magical effect of restoring our sanity – freeing us from the burden of obsessing over the wound. This message is powerfully delivered in ‘I Learned to Forgive’ by the compelling vocals of well-known Santa Cruz vocalist Tammi Brown, backed by a dynamic instrumental arrangement. There are echoes of Nina Simone in the combination of Brown’s moving vocals and the song’s social message.”

12. “That’s Me”

“Many of us may never have to face a moment in life where we literally don’t know where to turn. We have to make choices, of course, but usually we have options. Imagine facing a crossroads without any obvious path forward, and no option to go back from where we came – yet forward we must go. In this track, we find young Jason leaving his beloved Katie behind and heading out into the unknown with his backpack, guitar, and an old suitcase. Having lost the comfort of a place to call home, he puts the bravest face he can on his plight at that moment: ‘every place that I arrive, that’s me on the other side.’ In the bigger picture of who he truly is, ‘the other side’ also can refer to a transcendent reality, an identity that lives beyond the realm of the senses.”


13. “Equinox”

“Just twice a year, on the spring and fall equinox, there is equal day and night, equal darkness and light; a picture of balance – everywhere on earth. Balance can be similarly fleeting in our daily lives. How does someone in less fortunate circumstances – someone who is destitute, or even homeless – maintain any sense of balance in the daily struggle just to survive? Everyone has a story, and when we see someone on the street, we often have no idea what their story is. Equinox the Musical reveals the stories of four homeless individuals – two young lovers with troubled pasts, an elderly wise-woman who has lost everything except her dignity, and an attorney recovering from the depths of addiction – and the people who support them on their way. Their interconnected stories are reconciled in the epic closing ensemble number, ‘Equinox.’”

14. “Living Loving”

“‘Living Loving’ taps into the surf punk culture that is a signature of life in Santa Cruz and other coastal California towns. This track will play during the film credits, providing the audience with some light-hearted relief after experiencing the emotionally charged ending of the film. ‘Living Loving’ is a no-holds-barred surf rocker featuring James Durbin at his energetic best. It’s an ebullient celebration of life, wrapped up in a high-speed surf rock fireball…”


Dawn Jones is the curator of the V13 imPRESSED Column. Previously known as imPRESSED Indie Music Blog, Jones and her team joined forces with V13 in 2020 to collaborate on an exclusive column on V13's site (imPRESSED) to bring a niche focus to the rapidly evolving indie music genre. Dawn is also the founder of Pressed PR - a boutique PR agency that focuses on PR for independent creatives. Pressed PR’s team works on a variety of campaigns partnering with independent filmmakers, independent artists, and independent labels. Pressed PR’s music clientele has landed in the pages of Billboard, Atwood Magazine, EARMILK, HYPE Magazine, and many others.