How Loss and Remembrance has
Influenced Mike Cerveni’s Music Career
Story by Ryan Percy
Photography by Ahmad Moussaoui
Losing someone always hurts. They are gone and they leave a hole behind in your heart. While you still have the memories of them there is still something missing.
Their absence leaves a feeling you only begin to understand when you walk into a room and see their spot empty. It hits hard and fast, a deep swelling and longing for another moment, no matter how brief. You just want to see them again.
Music does a lot of things, it holds up a lot of emotions, it tells a lot of stories. In his new single Shooting Star, Mike Cerveni taps into the raw emotion of missing someone.
“This song is about my mom who I lost 14 years ago,” Cerveni says with a soft smile but sad eyes as he dredges up a mixture of happy and sad memories. “For Shooting Star there’s a lot of things she’s missed. I got married in 2013. I have a son who’s five years old now.”
In the music video one of the most powerful shots is Mike coming to his house and walking in.
He finds his father and his son sitting on the sofa together, the spot on the sofa his mother used to sit at now empty.
While in the storyline of the video his mother is merely in the hospital due to COVID-19 in reality that spot had been empty for decades. His son had never even seen his grandmother sitting there before.
“I’m always wondering what it would be like if she could come back just for a moment to witness all the things she’s missed,” Cerveni says, eyes getting slightly teary, “Because I think about that every day, the pain isn’t there as much since it’s been so long.”
While Shooting Star is a song about remembering and missing his mother, it is not the only song about her. In a way Cerveni’s music has always had an element of being a tool of remembrance for her.
“I’ve always played music, always wrote music,” Cerveni says. “I grew up in a musical family. I always saw my grandfather play guitar and when I was 11, I decided I wanted to learn it too. I started writing my own music at 16 and my mom was always encouraging me, giving me the confidence I needed and that I still have today. When she passed away, it gave me the push to lean in and create music professionally and that’s when I made my first album.”
Two of the tracks on that first album, A Miracle and Right Now, begin the story of pain, loss and longing Cerveni experienced. Both are filled with joy, hope and love as Cerveni sings about wanting to help, to be able to do anything to help her and wishing for a miracle. But what he recognized is that while his songs were his words, they would have different meaning when falling on the ears of others.
“The interesting thing about making music is I can write about something very personal to myself,” Cerveni says. “But when it’s released and other people hear it the meaning gets portrayed in a different way based on their own life. The song becomes something more than you imagined. It isn’t my song anymore, it’s everyone’s song and the meaning becomes even bigger.”
From that kernel of creative outlet comes something greater. As an artist Mike’s work may be his own personal output of anguish, joy, sorrow and all other emotions but it is the listeners who it affects. Listening to a song can be therapeutic, it can help one come to terms to loss, to celebrate, to bring us to tears.
“To me making music like this is therapy in a way,” Cerveni says, “It helps you heal, helps you cope with things and eventually feel better. “
With Shooting Star Cerveni wanted to do something different. He wanted to take his own personal anguish of missing and loss then turn it towards something everyone went through.
It’s about COVID.
Regardless of how you lay on your opinions of the COVID-19 pandemic it affected you. People could not meet, families were forced to meet via online means and everyone was worried one way or another.
During the lockdowns it was a time of anxiety, depression and struggle to maintain our social bonds.
Sometimes those bonds were severed with the dull tone of a flatline.
“I wanted to tie in something relevant,” Cerveni says of working with his video production team and deciding on the core storyline for the video. “Even though it hasn’t happened to me personally, that specific event of trying to rush in and the doctors won’t let you in is something that has happened to others.”
The video and the song are contrasting elements. Mike admits the video is nearly entirely a downer. However, the song itself, lyrically is a half measure of both good and bad, the silver lining in the storm cloud.
“As much as I wrote the song about wishing she was here to witness everything,” Cerveni says with a soft sigh brought on by old memories. “I think the message with it is knowing she’s watching down on all of us and she’s very proud.”
Mike hopes to continue making music, not just for himself but to continue keeping his mother’s memory alive.
“The main reason I still make music is because without her I wouldn’t be created and I wouldn’t be able to make music,” Cerveni says. “It’s a way of me keeping her memory alive for myself by honouring her in this way.”
He says the message he wants taken away when someone experiences Shooting Star is simple but one everyone needs to hear.
“No matter how much you wish they were here,” Mike says. “They see you and they’re always proud of you.”
If you would like to experience Shooting Star for yourself along with the rest of Mike’s acoustic rock stylings you can find his music on Apple Music, Spotify and most other places music is available to stream. The music video is available on YouTube at mikecervenimusic.