I'm on a self-pointed residency in South Belfast. In the mornings, I feel a rising sense of impatience in my chest. I pop up off my floor level bed, grab a cup of tea, and think for a moment. Inevitably, I've been listening to a lot of music first thing, refreshing myself through the absorption texture, sound, beat, blend.
This week, I've been listening to a lot of Fresh Prince, Grimes, and Ikue Mori for inspiration. I find the only thing that can energise me, break me out of my mindset and keep flying forward is to hear sounds that are nothing like what I do. Break break break. I'm hungry for tasty new music. Send me sounds!
I'm playing new songs and art sounds at Accidental Theatre in Belfast on November 4th. Come on out, y'all! I'm intrinsically excited to share my new stuff with you.
I'm most inspired by music that comes from a tradition very different from my own. There was a time I was playing Flamenco jazz with a Flamenco guitarist from Northern Ireland; I was singing in a Latin American covers band with a couple of guys from Chile; I was doing Sun Ra stuff. How do you learn from these traditions - from which I find freshness, new approaches to honesty in creativity, words that keep me from sinking into a kind of white-centred approach - without totally ripping them off...? I find with my work, there's little risk of appropriation, but I don't really listen to much music by people of my mixed up heritage that inspires me (except Grimes, d'accord). I want to peel back the veil that we've put up to separate ourselves and look behind it and step in where invited. Is music in the digital age nothing if not an invitation to enter into experience? I'm not sure.
I'm still here, still on the move. Well, literally just in Belfast moving about from place to place, grateful for my community here more than ever. I'm coming up against a lot of challenges these days, namely because I have also reached The End of My Known Plan for 2016. 2017 holds another pile of good things, but I'm not sure where 2016 will take me next. I have a to-do list that requires a certain number of items that I don't have in one place (including that same internet that prevented me from blogging most of the time I was in Austria!). This is causing me great anxiety.
Somehow, though - through hard work, asking questions, and a bit of luck - I am currently fully able to sustain myself from any place in the world with a few extra borrowed or rented bits of gear.
OK, so I've reached goal 1 - be able to live anywhere and still work. Goal 2: make art whilst doing that. There's the clencher: I'm so focussed on the logistics of where I'm going to put my body and my stuff (South Belfast? East Oakland? Central Virginia? Southeast Austria?), that I am not spending time doing what I love except in small, wedged-in moments here and there. Still, my songwriting has morphed along with me and I'm surprised at the twangs that are coming off my guitar and the words that it plucks out of me.
I had the immense pleasure of playing at the beautiful Bronte Homeland Church at a gig hosted by the inimitably positive Lucie Corcoran. She is a pioneer in Northern Ireland with a passion for site-specific gigs in unusual places. You should check out her JAM Nights on Facebook if you're in Northern Ireland. She knows what she's doing.
So goal 3 is to apply to more places, goal 4 play more shows, whilst goal 5 is working in the background with goal 2: record a new album for release.
Life is difficult; of course, it presents challenges and setbacks for everyone, whether you live in one house, are single, have a kid, have a full-fledged family and full-time job. It's difficult when people idealise about my life; don't worry, I fantasise about your fixed abode and sense of community. It's difficult knowing that people I care about can't see the day to day reality of my life, the chaos of moving gear around, of dragging my stuff everywhere. BUT would I change it?
Yes, I would have a base, but I would keep exploring and writing in new spaces. And for now, I realise I am in a position where I can imagine where I want to be and, with some time and patience, go. It is not easy and I'm not financially well-off, but I'm floating.
If you're reading this - and I know you are - drop me a line. I'm looking for shows and tours in your neck of the woods.
I'm really amazed at the number of you who have messaged me about my blog. It means a lot. When you're travelling with no community, it's touching to know that folks care enough to click on the link and read.