If music be the food of love, play on.

To say that 2017 has been somewhat ‘challenging’ would be a massive understatement. I feel emotionally, mentally, physically (though, that’s mainly down to eating my way through a lot of Nandos across the year apparently – as my tax return likes to point out) DRAINED. ZAPPED. Most definitely ABSOLUTELY like a lot of people – I have very much struggled this year. I have, at times, felt like I’ve been drowning… engulfed by a sea of political shit-storms, financial instability, professional uncertainty, all too fleeting waves of success, overwhelming social scenarios and all round anxiety, at times, that I may potentially be what people like to call ‘a failure’. One minute, I’m riding high. The next, stood in standstill ‘life traffic’. In a deep pit without a rope ladder.

2017 disguised itself as a massive steel-capped boot that walked on over to my already batshit crackers, extreme highs/lows life… and gave me the biggest kick up it’s ass. And boy, did it bloody hurt.

I do, however, want to share my experience with the emotional ibuprofen that I so often bang on about. An antidote.

To say that Music has saved me would sound dramatic to some but it has done just that. Through various jammy ways, working as a muggle for the majority of my year, this year I have witnessed a lot of live music. A lot of fucking GREAT live music, for the mortifyingly bargain price of handing out drinks samples and showing people to their seats.

And on every single occasion that I have been in the crowd, listening intently, I have asked myself:

‘Is there really any pain that cannot be relieved by the power of Music?’

I mean, even Justin Bieber helped me deal with a particularly dodgy life event. And on that note…

Growing up, I have always taken great pride in how diverse my taste in music is. There’s very little that I actively detest when it comes to musical genres. I even enjoy myself a bit of country nowadays, tripping to Nashville being a huge contributor to that. I stood on the Ryman stage where Johnny Cash proposed to June Carter and fell head over heels in love with the sucky, tragic romance of it all.

I’m reminded of memories through music, being the nostalgic tit that I am.

This year I saw Celine Dion in concert. It immediately took me back to winning my Primary School talent show singing My Heart Will Go On and listening to the Let’s Talk About Love cassette with my Papa, in a holiday  apartment in Turkey, way back when.

I saw The Killers and it took me back to Leeds Festival 2008.

I saw Green Day and it took me back to the Music Room in Secondary School, where I’d attempt to play drums to Wake Me Up When September Ends without flaring my nostrils – don’t ask.

I watched Blondie for a second time in my life, Phil Collins, Tom Petty two months before he tragically died, Stevie fucking Nicks, Elbow, Madness, Kings of Leon (who were shite but hey ho – free show)… all in the space of a Summer.

October came along. I turned up to work to find that I was, in fact, working a Morrissey gig. I’m gonna be honest, I say ‘work’. I did very little work that day.

Now I understand Morrissey is a marmite kinda guy. I watched as radio management had kittens whenever he mentioned anything remotely political or unjust, live on air. But you cannot deny that his voice is quite close to literal magic.

Material wise, his new album cannot be put in the same bracket as his classic hits with The Smiths. In fact, I can only really remember possibly one song he sang that day and I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed, upon reflection afterwards, that he didn’t whip out This Charming Man at the very least.

But what I do remember is being truly captivated by the presence of that geezer onstage. I remember hanging on his every word, hanging on every chord… absolutely fascinated by him. Fascinated by how he creates sad, folky tones and then unleashes a jazz-style vibrato to keep you guessing.

I remember taking in the crowd and how united everybody was. United and caught up in the same  moment. Amazed by how a voice like that can transcend the years and appeal to people in both their 50s and their 20s. I’ve never felt a connection like it throughout my years of going to gigs.

I left work that day on the highest of highs, with the realisation of how powerful music can be in bringing people together. I checked my phone and was greeted with the news of the Las Vegas shootings. I then got really fucking angry that the solace of music, for those people caught up in the awful happenings in Vegas, had been abused and tainted. Likewise with the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester and Eagles of Death Metal in Paris.

Because that’s exactly what music is to a lot of people, what it has been to me this year and what it will continue to be for years to come, regardless of the arseholes out there who have tried to stop this from being the case.

Solace.

Sanctuary.

A getaway car.

We celebrate with music. We grieve with music. We fall in love to music. It’s personal. It’s relatable. There is always one song that fits a moment and that is the beauty of it.

In true ABBA style, I’d like to say thank you for the music. I love you.x

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Backflips

One of the hardest things I’ve had to accept as I’ve grown older is that I’m not good at everything I do. I grew up being good at things, academically and artistically. I grew up being good at picking things up, throwing myself in at the deep end, being relatively good at everything I did.
Apart from gymnastics.
Don’t get me wrong, I was ok at it and I absolutely LOVED going to gym as a kid. I was part of Riverside Display Team, who I travelled around the country with. We competed at, and won on one occasion, the British Championships in Liverpool and we performed all over Europe, even at Disneyland Paris (which was mint FYI).
But I was always scared to take a leap of faith when it came to gymnastics. I mean, being afraid of heights in a team building things like a 21 man pyramid probably didn’t help. I was scared to try being a ‘top’ when it came to big balances. I was also weirdly afraid of going upside down whenever we performed outside. I don’t know why that was, maybe I felt like the sky was caving in on me or something.
I was limby, gawky and clumsy and on paper, not the perfect candidate for being part of a sturdy structure of human beings.
It took me 6 years to pluck up the courage to try for my first backflip, just a casual back handspring.  Once I achieved that, I never looked back. I can still do them today. In fact, I’ve showcased them at several dance calls, whenever the team have asked about anybody being able to do tricks. What’s absolutely hysterical is that, if I know people in my audition, they are always so surprised when I put my hand up to volunteer my acrobatic services.
I just mustn’t look like the backflipping type, whatever that is.
That feeling of surprising people, pulling out something completely unexpected, is actually such a funny, great feeling. It really makes me laugh, wholeheartedly.
Right now, in this moment whilst reflecting on that feeling, I’ve come to think that maybe that’s a similar feeling to the one we get when we break through a mould. When you completely abolish somebody’s idea of you, throw them off course, fuck the system and make a pigeon hole look a bit like Donald Trump… a stupid, shitty thing that spouts uneducated assumptions and complete nonsense to anybody that will listen. (That probably makes no sense to anybody but myself, apologies.)
And so when I dream of breaking the many moulds in existence, and setting all of the pigeon holes on fire, I hold onto that feeling that I get when somebody is surprised by my backflip. Sky’s the limit bitches. It’s not falling in on you, even when you feel upside down.

Melbourne // Photo Series

My love for street art knows no bounds and Melbourne was certainly not short of the stuff. Be still, my hipster beating heart. Magical.

The World Loves Pigeon-holes and I Don’t Know Why: I understand this title is weird.

This is the first post that I’m about to ‘free write’, so far in my new blogging expedition. From this point onward, I have no agenda. I have no planned analogy to share, or story to tell about a lesson I have recently learnt. I’m taking a leaf from my own ‘pro-creativity’ book. I’m taking a curious step out of my comfort zone and I’m just going to willingly write and share what comes out, right now, in this moment.

Today, we lost an icon. David Bowie.

icon
ˈʌɪkɒn,-k(ə)n/
a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration
David Bowie was an icon. He was a singer. He was a songwriter. He was a musician. He was a record producer. He was a painter. He was an actor. He was, in the words of British Vogue, ‘unarguably fashion’s king of self-invention’. He was, creatively, pretty much everything. He broke down walls. He took the things that made him stand out for being ‘different’ and, instead of disguising them to fit in with the times, he made them more obvious. He embraced them, he highlighted them and he exaggerated them.
Now I won’t babble on about the legend that is Bowie much longer, but he is a damn fine example of how greatness can be achieved creatively. What does it take to be like that, to be like Bowie? Do many of us have incredible ideas buried deep inside our brains that we personally think are completely stupid, but could actually turn out to be a stroke of genius? How will we ever know if we don’t test the water? Is the key to creative success a combination of an initial idea and… plain old bravery?
On a personal level, I don’t think my ideas are good enough. I compare my ideas to those of others far too often. I am my own worst critic. Majority of the time though, I am my ONLY critic. My opinion is one single opinion. There are many times that I have disagreed and debated over various films, pieces of theatre and books with my peers. So who am I to say that my own idea is bullshit, when somebody else out there could think ‘Now, hang on. I think we’ve got something here’? Somebody else could have a different opinion to my own. Is that so daunting? If so, then why is it so daunting? Creative ideas are only developed and constructed further when they are opened out to a wider audience, when they are put up on their feet, when fresh eyes are unleashed upon them. Why wouldn’t we want to develop our ideas?
I’m currently burying my head in various books, one being Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. A stand out quote, so far:
“Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share them with others. Show early and show often. It’ll be pretty when we get there, but it won’t be pretty along the way.”
What I take from this is that I need to man the F up, take that idea that I think people will think is stupid and put it out there. Invest my time into it, inject some love into it and feed it. Give it a life outside of my own head.
Another thing. What I feel David Bowie did, over the course of his life, was to not give people an easy job when it came to defining him creatively. One minute he was trying to make it as a popstar, the next he was inventing the incomparable alter-ego Ziggy Stardust and after that, he was busy carving himself a successful film career… just a couple of MANY creative routes he decided to go down. People were all ‘oh David Bowie, he’s a singer. Oh shit, no he’s an actor. Oh shit, no… he’s… what is he?’.
He just existed. He existed and he produced truly original works of art. He, himself, was a work of art. One of a kind.
Today, we are living in a world that likes to label and pigeon hole people. Stereotypes are rife. They are absolutely EVERYWHERE. In the media, in the industries we work in, in the towns we live in.
Creative pigeon-holing is all round, to put it politely… a bit poo. Creative people are usually free spirited, always jumping at opportunities to try absolutely EVERYTHING. So any form of restriction is frustrating, being labelled for being a particular kind of anything can be a tiny annoyance in what is an all-round, fantastic life we may be leading. It may not be even that we want to go down that ‘different from the norm’ route, right here and right now, THIS INSTANT… but it would be just nice to know that the option IS there to have the opportunity to try something new, when we do fancy it.
The truth is… sitting around being bitter and complaining about it will not solve anything. You can post all of the Facebook statuses/tweets in the world about how frustrating it is to be stuck in a pigeon-hole… but that’s not actually making a smart move towards identifying how to, perhaps, solve the problem. So, how do we get around this pigeon-hole bad boy?
We have to get off our asses and create some shit for ourselves.
The one thing people can’t restrict you from doing is creating in your own time. Let’s face it, if you want something badly, you will, more times than enough, do anything to get it.
e.g. I will save up a month’s wages for those Kurt Geiger thigh high boots and I will be living off beans on toast for the foreseeable, as a result.
Beans on toast.
Why should our creative lives be any different? (This is the part where you ignore the beans on toast bit and pretend you never ever read it. ‘Twas only added for dramatic effect. They do look good though.)
Speaking from the area of my chosen career path:
You want to be in a straight play and can’t get seen? Write your own. Or investigate new writers who need people to read through bits and bobs. Experience is everything, if anything!
You want to play a villain when you haven’t a bad bone in your body? Watch all of the Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock, Tarentino you need. Read all of the books. Learn those evil monologues.
Can’t find the particular colour scarf you want? Learn how to knit and knit one yourself.
You want to be in a rock band but you sing like Julie Andrews? Broaden your musical vocabulary. Sing Paramore in the shower. Blast Royal Blood in the car. Listen to the greats, starting with David Bowie.
Be Bowie in a world full of contoured faces and man buns and all that in-season rubbish.
Be one step ahead of the game. Be a creative mastermind and play people at their own game.
Earn the right to be looked at in different light, prove your worth. The key to success is hard work and determination, and all that bollocks.
EDUCATE YOURSELF. PREPARE YOURSELF. SURPRISE YOURSELF. SHOW YOURSELF OFF.
Lord above, I’ve surprised myself. I didn’t know I’d end up here at the end of a free-write…