As we pass the Autumn equinox, with candles lit, curtains drawn and cat cwtchd up into my side, I wanted to take a moment to update you on my album project.
My first stint in the studio produced 6 tracks – and I am so pleased with the results! Working with Jon has produced something greater than it’s parts, I cannot wait to share it with you!
If you’ve been following my progress, you’ll already know that I plan 2 parts to this project: the sound work (the album) and the visual work (a body of new artwork).
The project, which I’ve entitled ‘From Darkness Comes Light‘, is intended to consolidate the last 14 years of my mental health and music journey. Along my journey, I have met notable people, visited inspiring places and taken part in annual traditions which have aided in my recovery (ongoing) and shaped who I am today.
These experiences have inspired many a melody, and the album will be a selection of my favourites from over the years.
Since then, I have chatted over the phone with the musicians and the photographer I want to collaborate with. My next task (which I have allowed Lord Overwhelm to scare me away from the last few days!) is to email everyone with the relevant tracks and imagery ideas I have already.
I also need to consolidate the concept for them, which I am doing for you readers over these lengthy blogs – but I need to be succinct. Something that doesn’t come naturally to me… (could you guess?!)
Tomorrow… I’ll do it tomorrow… has this been anyone else’s mantra this past 6 months?!
I’ll let you in on an easy little hack which me and my Mum use when there’s stuff that needs doing and you keep avoiding…Set a timer! Decide on a minimum time commitment, set a timer on your phone and work without distraction until it goes off.
If you want to carry on afterwards, that’s the bluff you hope for, but if not, at least you’ve made a start! 10 minutes is all it takes… I’ll take my own advice on my tasks tomorrow…Now onto something else I wanted to share…
Nature is the greatest artist…
I first realised that light, nature and the seasons play a huge part in my mood about 10 years ago. These are my go-to ingredients for artistic inspiration and advice from on high. Walking outdoors and travelling to new places never fail to rejuvenate me.
Mentally, it’s always a gradual process of adjustment at this time of year as the light traders steal from the day to give to the night. Currently I’m being quite proactive in my self care in order to stave off the inevitable ‘seasonal droop’ which I experience each year.
I take a vitamin D supplement and serotone 5HTP which helps to boost natural serotonin levels in the brain. I also use a SAD light on my desk which I bask in all day whilst teaching.
Whilst the weather’s been a beaut, I have made the most of the outdoor opportunities available to me locally, too. I live in The National Forest – which ain’t all that foresty – but hosts many bike trails and public footpaths. There are also a number of wildlife reserves and wetlands.
I cycled over to one on Friday after work – but I forgot how much it makes my backside hurt! Felt great to have the warmth from the sun on my skin and the wind in my face.
People & Place: Making new traditions
The thing about all this COVID malarkey is that it’s really punched a hole in the rituals of my year. The festivals I usually frequent map out my year and have done so since I was a young lass!
Those festivals bring friendly faces that I might only see and speak to at those places. The synchronicity of people and place has been thoroughly discombobulated this year… but a change is as good as a rest, and actually it’s not been as weird as I anticipated.
At the weekend, I was roped in to play a Derby ram in a music video for Intarsia (Sarah Matthews & Jo May – check them out!).
As we travelled from location to location in and around a very warm and sunny Wirksworth in Derbyshire, I carried Harry the Ram over my shoulder, bedecked with strings of bells, and duly shook my funky stuff when called upon.
I became at one with Harry, channelling my inner ram, drawing from all the marvellous fools & beasts I’ve seen over the years. I found it incredibly liberating and it felt good to dance again.
We also did a bit of filming with some Morris dancers. I wasn’t expecting the deep emotional response I felt at hearing the sound of Morris bells – for the first time this year.
It’s normally a big part of my annual soundscape. This one’s been oddly quiet…The light was just perfect as they danced (check out the photo above) and Derbyshire has never looked more splendid.
The weekend culminated with a night shoot in the woods. There were fairy lights, paraffin lamps and a big bonfire – the light was exquisite!
I was in the ram costume most of the time so I could only grab a few shots from within the cloak – scroll up tp check them out – I think the effect is pretty cool! What do you think?
I felt a degree of normality return to my year as I pratted about, giggled and smiled with friends in the beautiful countryside – as I’ve been lucky enough to do most weekends in previous years. It felt like an appropriate new tradition to be performing to welcome in the Autumn.
I won’t spoil the surprise – you’ll have to wait and see the video which will be launched at virtual Derby Folk Festival. Plus, the concept (dreamed up by genius videographer Gavin Repton) is pretty hard to explain, but it will make sense when you see it! Intarsia also launch their debut album, which I did the photography for, so do go and buy a copy won’t you?
Part of our new normal will be the new traditions and rituals that form. Like remembering to take your mask to the shops…!
Our innate sensitivity to changing light levels and how we respond to the seasons is unchanging, despite the extra mental strain of living through a pandemic, so if you find yourself struggling, know you’re not alone and don’t suffer in silence.
Carve out time to share your story, write down your woes with some ‘brain draining’ free writing and make time for your melodeon! There’s lots I want to share with you here, about the album and the philosophy surrounding it, my early years with folk and music, my mental health journey but I’m curious – what do you want to know most about?
Let me know in the comments 🙂