On The Spot

It’s been quite a while since I wrote a blog post. I figured it was overtime for an update.

Life has been busy; I won’t bore you with long stories or too many details. My health continues to be a thing that gives me many complications and grief, with new conditions/ailments/symptoms rearing their painful heads. Meanwhile, I am continuing to write, record and perform music, and I am very actively gigging. Besides the odd solo show, I am regularly gigging as one half of the prog-folk duo The Secret Magpies, performing our original songs, and I play with the original rock band Stevie Jones and The Wildfires.  I’ve also recently had national radio play on BBC6 Radio Music, something that was very exciting, indeed.

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So, it may appear that I am in demand. But, it is a seriously a challenge to stand out and get noticed among the glut of music that is out there and available these days. I am only now beginning to embrace digital media and streaming, in the effort to get my music out there to YOU who will hopefully listen and even share my music with others (word of mouth is still the best advertisement).

Do you use Spotify? Do you like music that is distinctive, emotive and intense? If so, it is you who I am appealing to in an effort to increase my music’s reach.

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For a while I have been using the hashtags #supportoriginalmusic and #supportindependentartists. What I do like about Spotify, as a streaming service, is that it allows its users to discover more of what is out there off the mainstream. Sure, you can stick with what you know, what is familliar and comfortable, but where is the fun and adventure in that? We miss out on so much when we do that.  I have personally discovered artists I had not known before by using Spotify – artists I now love. And, when you follow an artist on Spotify, it updates you whenever artists you have followed release anything new – so you don’t miss out on new music coming from your favourite artists. This is beginning to sound like an advert for Spotify, and in a way it is (although, I can assure you, I am not on their payroll and they have not commissioned me to plug their app…more’s the pity). I’m not trying to get you to download Spotify if you don’t already use it and don’t want to use it; my aim here is to engage with people who are already sold on Spotify and use it regularly*.

 

What I am doing is fan-fishing. I’m not going to deny it. I’m looking for people to follow me on Spotify.  I don’t write and perform music for it to sit on virtual shelves. I know my music is not for everyone. I am a particular niche. While being trans-genre, or cross-genre, or multi-genre, whatever you want to term it (because sticking with one genre is just far too fucking limiting!), my music isn’t EVER happyclappypoppyfluffy. It is more moody and edgy and about all the anquish, frustrations, longings, sorrows, struggles and pain and grief of this life. Many of my songs deal with longing for death. Ocassionally (as in my track Siren Song), I delve into the realms of fantasy and mythology. But, nothing I do is what anyone would call ‘happy songs’. So, if you don’t do morose, move on now. If, however, you question and rail and scream and cry at the general madness of the world, or if you tend toward introspection, over-thinking and daydreaming, my music may just be for you!

So, with no more ado, I leave you to (hopefully) go listen for yourself. If you dig what you hear, please click that follow button so you will be updated when I add more music (I am presently recording a brand new EP which will be released in the next month). Thanks for reading and listening.

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*If you aren’t a Spotify user and you are still interested in checking out my music, it is available to download or stream from i-Tunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Google Play Music, Pandora, i-Heart Radio, Deezer, Napster, Tidal, Pandora, Bandcamp, & YouTube Music

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Patina

If you leave sterling silver on its own, to the elements, it will turn black with tarnish. However, if you wear it, it will continue to shine while developing a patina that protects it from tarnishing. There’s a metaphor here. Clouds and their silver linings and such. Life IS the cloud – dark and thunderous and ocassionally viscious with lightning strikes. But, there are shining moments; there are the precious, small, silver victories. I would right a song, but the whole thing is so all over the place that it would be difficult to get the lyrics to coalesce. Instead, what I am going to do is write some prose here. Perhaps the song will come later, but I’m not going to obsess over it.

Last night I suffered a disappointment when a gig was cancelled. Last night I felt shock, this morning I feel discouraged. But, before the malicious pain of life hit me in the teeth again, I had been thinking about some of those small victories. I’d like to wear these, so they will continue to shine in my mind.

Tuesday night at The Y Theatre, my hand being held tightly by a dear friend, the warm glow of both my performance and simply my PRESENCE being appreciated.

Wednesday afternoon coffee with another friend, just because she wanted to come and hang out with me…  and, now I’m crying as I write this, because to me it’s such a major thing, such a precious thing, and I wonder at the pain I feel because of years of being rejected and unfriended, the sheer amazement I feel at someone desiring and choosing to spend time with me. The dam just seems to break and flood me, when what I want is to feel the happiness of this, not the pain of the past or the fear that life won’t allow me to keep such friendship. And so, I dry the tears and compose myself, and write it again: Wednesday afternoon coffee with a friend, just because she wanted to come and hang out with me.

Winning over another mum at the school who used to ignore or avoid me/avoid making eye contact for whatever reason, but now she smiles, waves and says ‘Hi’ when she sees me. Small victory, huge triumph.

These are the things I want to put on and wear around my neck and on my fingers, that their sparkle could be seen in my eyes – could continue to be seen BY my eyes, which now, writing this, fill with tears again. Tears I have to wipe in order to keep typing. There really is a song in this somewhere…

I have another friend who longs for acceptance in a certain place.  I feel so for her and her struggle. She and her husband came over last night after my gig had been cancelled (they had actually been the ones who were supposed to babysit for me so I could do the gig), and we caught up on what’s been going on with them of late. A sad tale, really. Rejection and prejudice has wreaked a toll, and yet she goes back for more. And, even though this woman is so very different from me, I can see myself and the years I threw myself at the walls of various humanity, looking for entrance in their world(s). I have come to see so many other things. I let the rose-tinted scales be ripped from my eyes and, finally, I never went looking for them again. The BPD will often make me start to tilt at those bloody walls again, but I’m quicker now to see the bruises when they start to appear and not keep hurling myself at the same human walls over and over again until, broken and bloody and irrevocably scarred, I limp away with what’s left of my heart. I hear that song again…

I have succeeded in writing this post. See it shimmer , a whisper of light within the hard steel of the grey. Today, let me wear the silver. May I keep on wearing the silver.

 

 

Searching For You

C.S. Lewis said, ‘We read to know we are not alone.’

This is also why we listen to music. And, ‘if sad songs say so much’, as Elton John has rightly said, then my songs speak volumes.

This post is about me finding the right fan base for my music.  See, I know I’m not alone out there in what I suffer with major depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, chronic pain, suicidal thoughts and everything that goes along with these conditions. In writing this blog, and reading others, I have certain proof that I am not alone. And, yet, we are all uniquely alone in what we individually suffer. My music helps me to express and, in a very magical way, make beauty come from the horrific thing called life/existence. This is my gift. However, in another way, it complicates matters, because, with it, comes the intense frustration, anger, and sadness of not seeming to be able to get my music out there to the people it will most speak to and resonate with.

The thing is, I need a fan base—and I KNOW you’re out there, I’ve even spoken to a good number of you. Now, there are just a whole lot of people who aren’t ever going to like and support my music (even those who rave about my voice and talent), simply because they can’t relate to it.  I need to find those of you who will relate and find some comfort, expression and solidarity in what I do. I know I’m not alone, but I seem to keep pitching my music to the same people who don’t understand what I am going through in my daily life in general. In this way, I need a very specific audience. I know that audience does exist.  And, I truly believe it is an audience that NEEDS a musical voice.

I don’t want this post to just be some advertisement. And, I don’t want it to be me begging for people to check out my music like some sad failed loser of an indie artist. This is simply me putting out a search to see who’s out there in this Blogdom that my music might touch. ‘Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?’

Yes, I know that even for those of us with similar health problems, our musical tastes are not all going to be the same, of course…  but, if you are a music lover, just check my stuff out – if it vibes with you, then great. I do incorporate a wide range of styles in what I write and perform, so there’s a good chance that something I do will hit the spot.

I’ve just released a new studio album for digital download.  No, I am not giving it away for free (giving away my stuff in the past hasn’t helped me gain fans anyway). Musicians have bills to pay, like all craftsmen/craftswomen. I REALLY shouldn’t have to explain this, but in this day and age where musical talent can be faked with software and those of us with real gifts are left in an industry bankrupt and bereft, without a leg to stand on, many of us feel forced to give our lifeblood away in any desperate bid to get noticed. The thing is, most of us literally cannot afford to do it. I cannot afford to do it. Furthermore, it’s worth far more than the modest price I’ve put on it anyway.  I owe it to the other fine musicians and the exceptional producer I worked with to bring this piece of art and labour of love to completion to not just ‘give it away’, as if all our hard work meant nothing. Good music, real music… it costs something.  It costs those of us who make it – it should cost those of you who hear it. It’s part of the deal – it costs us all, but we ALL get so much in return…look at it as an investment. And, finding something you personally can relate to…well, that value cannot be understated or underrated.

So, this album isn’t a freebie, but you can listen to the tracks on bandcamp without paying; however, if you want to own the album and listen whenever and wherever you are, get the special bonus track and extra artwork, as well as support me as an artist (I’ll be eternally grateful), well, then, surely that makes the tiny monetary price a worthy investment.

Thank you for reading and listening. I hope I will hear from you soon.  Most of all, I hope (there’s that four letter word again) my music will reach who will most benefit from hearing it. I’ll finish here and let the songs speak for themselves.

A Thriving Imagination

I recently rediscovered Instagram and, in doing so, the world of “micro videos”. It’s keeping me creatively occupied during this particularly trying time, offering bursts of talent, like shops giving out tiny samples of perfume or food.

It’s the creative flavour of the month, a needful outlet; a challenge, to encapsulate, in a mere 15 seconds, the essence of a song and/or performance.  A calling card, of sorts. Maybe these bite-sized music videos will catch the right ear, or maybe they’ll collect virtual dust like so much of what I do…but, for now, they’re a fun way for me to express.

I say challenge up there, like it’s a good thing. In artistic and (specifically) musical endeavours, this is so. In general, however, I don’t like a challenge. Life overwhelms me at the best of times; I’m just not good at it…this living thing. I struggle. But, art…

I may not be able to handle the struggle, but what I can do is make things of beauty and value in answer to the struggle…not an answer for, but in answer to.

Life is cruel. I hurt. I cry. And then, I create.

Maybe, just maybe, I win after all.

Don’t fret? Apparently so.

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Here’s a picture of frustration for you, and a personal metaphor.

I’ve been considering my inability to play the guitar. In theory, this instrument should not evade me. I should be able to play it. It isn’t like it’s difficult, or a mystery. Except, I just can’t. Like being able (or, rather, not able) to cope and function in life, the guitar remains a source of failure.

It would be nice, helpful, perhaps profitable, if I could play such a portal and versatile instrument.

It would also be fantastic, helpful, etc., if I could make and answer phone calls and face social situations (i.e. going out my door), not either fall apart in or, alternatively, avoid stressful situations (stressful situations = life), not wish with every breath that it’s my last breath.

But, the guitar won’t let me play it…no matter how I’ve tried. And, life is just as contrary and hostile.

I can still make beautiful music, of course. Just as I still have moments of happiness, small victories while, ultimately, losing the war. But, the things out of my reach affect me greatly.

For the musically (or, humorously) challenged, the title of this post is a play on words… the guitar being a fretted instrument.  Don’t fret. Ha! Get it?

Why can’t I make the guitar and life sing for me? Well…it is what it is.

Not sure how to end this one. To stay with the music analogy, this post feels rather open ended and not resolving to the home chord…but, eh, I do that in songwriting all the time. So, yeah…life being as it is, I find it fitting to leave this…

A Picture of Freedom

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Eyes closed, wind in her hair, a look of…relief on my daughter’s face, as she spun on the spinny-see-saw-thing at the park; I could tell, this wasn’t spinning; this was flying. This was a moment of blissful freedom. I watched her, remembering that feeling.

There is a school of thought that I’d like to adopt that says that everything that happens is an opportunity to learn, to grow. This is that optimistic thinking which asks in any situation, “What can I learn here?” This is the type of attitude that clings to the hope that there is a reason – and a benefit – to everything.

What I know is: Life is hard and, ultimately, no matter your philosophy, it is unfair. Even with the balancing of everything through karma, the fact that I exist and have to go through these lessons, whether I want to or not, is unfair.

Yes, I want to cultivate a learning consciousness, a more positive outlook… it’s either that or sink deeper and deeper into despair and hopelessness.

May I find and nurture peace within myself, may I actually learn the lessons I’m meant to – let me find a purpose for the pain and struggle that is existence. But, please, please, please…let me also have moments like these, pockets of freedom, my eyes closed against the world and its sorrow, the wind in my hair…give me relief. Let me fly.