Categories
Thinkspace.

Deeper Still.

Contrary to what those closest to me think, I’m not my Own worst critic. In fact, that idea is redundant.

Your own worst critic.

It’s meaningless.

What you’re supposed to be is completely honest with yourself, for better or worse. know your strengths. 0am your weaknesses.I know there’s things I’m really great at. I’ve got a damn fine ear for a melody. I can come up with some cool musical landscapes. If they gave Grammys for action-packed chord changes, I’d have a few on my mantelpiece by now.

But there something I’ve not been doing well. Not because I’m not good at. Just because… I dunno. Maybe I got scared.Lately, I’ve just not gone deep enough. My story has been about technology and access ibility, and that’s allgreat… but it’s not the whole story. Not by a long way.

The big reason I’m here now, late-blooming, is because of mental health issues. A lifetime (so far) of mental lsealth issues. Depression, anxiety, substance is alcohol abuse-they’re all been there, holding me back. It’s been a brutal ride-my inner turmoil has been amplified to life threatening volume at times. And just lately, with everything going so well, I thought I’d escaped all that.

So, in recent years, when I should have been dealing with stuff, I’re just beaten myself with guilt. I have a life with my soul mate. The actual one. We have 3 im possibly beautiful kids. We have real, meaningful security in life. I have a career that mostly consists of people giving me money to kick stuff off my bucket list.How dare I be depressed, eh?

But still, my demons are there. And I ‘m realising, slowly, that it’s not a destination. It’s never going to be a ticked off, packed away thing. Being okay is a transient state. It’s an endless process. And I need to be okay with that.Music has always been the way I make sense of me and my shit. And I stopped seeing it that way. I started seeing it as just a job.That’s not why I picked up a guitar in 1993.

To have a job.I was trying to understand myself and my place.This isn’t a criticism of the opportunities I’ve had. It’s not the glove’s fault that I ‘ve been tiptoeing.I dropped the ball.I stopped letting myself feel, or deal with anything.

Music is the only way I’ve ever known to fix things. I’m not fixed. I may never be. And I need to be okay with that. But I can keep fixing. I can keep doing. And I can use all these beautiful tools and opportunities to do what matters to me the most.Music is a great job, but it’s way more important than that.

And I am more important than it. It’s the best tool I have to be a better version of me.

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Uncategorized

The Back Story. Why It’s Taken So Long. Part One.

It’s fair to say, l’ve had a muddled career. 3 years ago, I thought it was over before it had really started. It sounds awfully dramatic, but I was fully expecting to have called time by now. I couldn’t move forward as a live performer. At least not in the model I was working in.

The solo acoustic troubadour model never really suited me, in retrospect. I play guitar, I’m solo, that’s just where I landed. I was never particularly good at it. My teenage obsession with Nick Drake was fully revived in 2015. I had a body of songs indebted to Pink Moon, called Flesh + Dust. It’s complex finger picking and open tuning felt authentic-I’d arrived at my place with the acoustic guitar. I’d finally found myself on this instrument.And then my hands really started to fuck up.

I was pushing myself HARD. And I guess, looking back, it was too far. My trands would tighten up, then shake, even after a few minutes playing. It got worse. I could barely get to the end of a song. It was no better in the studio. Comping takes piece-by-piece was a sin to me, and I couldn’t even do that.

So I figured, I was done.

If you’d told me then I was month’s away from Imogen Heap handing me a pair of A. I. Cyborg gloves that would mean I could play music in thin air, I’d be wondering what the hell you’d taken…

Categories
Thinkspace.

Demolition.

All kind of weird icky feels. It doesn't matter how I feel.
He's one of my biggest influences. His LPs are forever in the soundtrack to our lives. He was our eldest son's first favourite singer.
He's also my go-to example of how fucked the music industry is around mental health + relationships. I remember a review of Love Is Hell saying something along the lines that his heartbreak was ' 'our" gain.
We're celebrated the broken, dy s functional relationships of our singer / songwriters since forever. Now, we're just beginning to have a conversation about the damage that happens behind the lyrics.

It's long overdue.

All kind of weird icky feels. It doesn’t matter how I feel.

He’s one of my biggest influences. His LPs are forever in the soundtrack to our lives. He was our eldest son’s first favourite singer.

He’s also my go-to example of how fucked the music industry is around mental health + relationships. I remember a review of Love Is Hell saying something along the lines that his heartbreak was “our” gain.

We’ve celebrated the broken, dysfunctional relationships of our singer / songwriters since forever. Now, we’re just beginning to have a conversation about the damage that happens behind the lyrics.

It’s long overdue.

Categories
Creative Practice.

Go Be You.

Alt text: a handwritten note, which I have not yet been able to transcribe. Looking into a way of converting these hand written notes. Irony overload: handwritten blog posts are more accessible for me, not accessible at all for some of my readers… I’m working on a solution xx

Categories
Creative Practice.

Go Deep or Go Home.

It’s kind of a cliche to talk about creativity as an elusive thing. Terms like “Writer’s Block” validate our perception that inspiration can escape the gravity of our ambitions at any time. I’m less and less convinced that this is true.

It doesn’t follow that I am therefore inspired all of the time, sadly. Imagine! If I’d found the “cure” to writer’s block! And look at you; finding this blog post. Together, we’ve turned the key, and unlocked endless creativity. Sigh. It’s a nice thought. I’ve done almost nothing, except noticed a side door we can maybe squeeze through.

The sense, the essence, the flavour of creativity is a mindset. You know what focus feels like. In NLP, we might refer to it as a state. The internal “weather” of our emotional inner landscape is incredibly vivid when we feel creative. It may appear elusive, like it comes from nowhere, but we can kinda game it.

If you pay enough attention, you notice the things that get you in that kind of flow. Listening to really great music will reliable fire up my ego with enough “I wanna make something THIS good” enthusiasm. Finding quality work to inspire is easier than ever.

Of greater threat is distraction, which is (surprise surprise) easier than ever to find. Social media is gravitating further towards toxicity in many of our lives, and I’ve personally been slow to respond. Tellingly, I’ve noticed more and more great minds I admire are stepping away from the noise. Between Brexit, Trump, Inspo, and the endless chatter of not-much-at-all, there’s never been more information thrown at us more indiscriminately. It’s just noise. It seemed comedicly unrealistic when Marty McFly Jr sat down to watch 12 channels at once, but that’s literally the future we live in. As a minimum, we should be honest with ourselves about how bizarre and unhealthy our social media habits are.

My life is a little disjointed now. Kids bring endless joy, but seemingly endless responsibility. Three school runs chainsaw straight through my day, and any hope of working for hours and hours uninterrupted is long gone. But that’s just life. Most of us have reassuringly normal responsibilities, few of us can live the retreat life of the fictional artist. So that’s why it’s vital to keep that headspace intact. Keeping our creative internal weather conditions stable. I get yanked around by my schedule, but if I can stay in the right state, I can always pick up where I left off.

So I’m focusing on nurturing that space. Be ready. Be open. You don’t actually have to do anything. Thoughts think themselves. The clever bit, the real skill, is turning the volume down enough to hear them.

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Uncategorized

Radio Static.

“Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the painter who dares and who has broken the spell of ‘you can’t’ once and for all.”

Bleary eyed, I’m staring at the white box. Where the text goes. There must be something meaningful to say.

It’s been a strange year so far. Everyone under this roof has been ill. Bugs, injuries, colds, flus; we’ve been wiped out. Cabin fever has me spooked. I’ve no idea how to make anything right now.

There’s good news. Strange news. I applied for a grant before Christmas. Arts Council England’s Developing Your Creative Practice award. I won. I WON. I keep saying it out loud. I’ve got the green light. I applied to fund the development of the new live show. My first tour, The Gloves Are On, was… all of the things. It gave me a career. It gave me an audience. It gave me headaches. All the things I wished I could have achieved, I get to shoot for now.

That’s important; you can’t do everything all at once. You just can’t. That’s totally obvious, and yet we try to. As an artists, we want to be every aspect of our expression immediately. Right now. But we can wait. We can take our time.

So the canvas is blank. The books are balanced. And the diary is clear. Now I have to clear my head, rub my eyes, and focus.

Eyes most definitely on the prize.