This was a big song for me in my early twenties, a time when I was never more miserable in my life. And it was obvious on my face. While out at a bar a complete stranger was compelled to tell me I was the most depressed person they had ever seen. How nice! I took a drag of my cigarette, a sip of my Tanqueray and tonic and said blankly, “You’re right”. This happened to me not once, but twice Two different bars, two different occasions. Same look of misery.

It sounds completely ridiculous for a young, twenty-something female who had a boatload of friends and scores of great memories to have any reason to be sad. But it was an aimless time and I had an aimless attitude. I was morphing into a young adult and felt alone and misunderstood by everyone around me. So in a search for some music to help, this colorful CD caught my eye, Self’s Subliminal Plastic Motives. I stepped up to the listening station and my jaw-dropped. Every song was a revelation that spoke to me and my evolution into creativity and adulthood. I bought it and let my freak flag fly. It played loud, I sang loud and danced hard as the music inspired my soul. My mom was not a fan, not with the lyrics, “I’m so low that I wish I was dead.”

A few months later I caught DJ Bret Hamilton on the radio doing a contest on 103.9 WDRE. He was offering tickets to the Self “Sonic Session”, a performance with the band and a small gathering of listeners. What were the chances of catching this contest! My new favorite band! My palms and armpits got sweaty and I grabbed the phone. I couldn’t bear to think of not winning. And then he answered. I was caller 13 and I won. What luck!

I had a handful of tickets to give away and let me tell you, it was not easy. No one knew who this band was but me. I still only know about 7 total people who know the now defunct band. Needless to say, there was considerable begging involved in generating enough interest from people to accompany me to this epic, but small performance. I managed to coax my brother Stephen, Nichole, her sister and we ventured to Philly on May 6, 1996.

When we arrived I remembered I had a friend that worked for WDRE by the name of Dan Fein. We used to work together at the supermarket when we were 16. A few months before we ran into each other at the West Coast video and there he was in front of me, carrying a cooler. I looked pretty cool myself knowing this radio dude and stuff. Me and my posse got out of the car and I shouted, “Hey Dan!”

What a long wait. Self had what was described as a “crazy perfectionist sound check” with tons of gear so there were hours to kill before they went on. I had talked to everyone ad nauseum and turned my attention to catch up with Dan. We chatted, and chatted, and chatted. It was a good warm up to the show. Self went on and rocked the small room with keyboards, synthesizers, guitars and a vengeance. It blew my mind and definitely some ears. There I was; I discovered this band, I won a contest, I was supported by friends and family and I saw this band live. I was So Happy and not, So Low.

So what happened to the band? They released a few more albums, all inspired by the likes of Beck and Prince (you can see why I loved them) and never returned to Philly.

And what happened to Dan? He called me a few weeks later and asked if I wanted to hang out.

We got married 5 years later.

Self did a 20th anniversary show of Subliminal Plastic Motives in NYC a few years back at Gramercy Theatre. Dan and I were front and center. I let my freak flag fly once again.

Looks like I won more than a contest on this day 24 years ago. I won the heart of my beloved husband.

Dan and Andrea 1996 and years later with Matt Mahaffey from sElf at TEDx in Nashville