Monday, January 05, 2009

My tiny little world

Too much time has passed, too many of my old posts start in a similar vein but here goes. Of course, I am spurred on by a bit of enforced spare time while holidaying in the Isle of Wight and a nostalgic jaunt through a few old posts. As I chuckle to myself, secretly enjoying my own distant wit and find myself wondering exactly who it is/was who writes/wrote those old rambles I get my tenses confused. It is nice to find that a few blogs have linked me ( and indeed it is a shame to find that my only sporadic attempts at blogging have infuriated some to the point of removing me from their links pages. Fair's fair. The bloggers world exists in time. You're only as good as your last post.

I make no excuses. No, I do I do! I am ashamed at my lack of literary excursions but I am aware that so often there is little time to be made. I work full time office hours at a rather tedious job , I spend my remaining time writing, recording and performing music with various bands. I even have to cook, wash up and clean the bath occasionally – not to mention spend time with my loved ones. Time is everything and time to write has been shunted, it has been demoted. It doesn't get the place it deserves. Like meaningful exercise and reading the papers – it is an occasional beast. It is a luxury, an event – not part of the programme. I am wise enough to know that if I ever harboured that strange urge to one day write my magnum opus (it'll come), it'll only be worth reading if I keep my writing hand in during my lifetime. That or have someone ghostwrite it. And what would be the fun in that?

What is interesting then? Let's start with activity. Graeme Walker is always a busy bee. Always an inspiration in his ability to be constantly creative. Life is creation – life is the artwork and space is the place to do that creation. He is continually working and projecting outwards towards communities, to artists and to helpers. His interests are everywhere and everything. Currently he is transforming a derelict and disused old bus depot into a working space for artists. Graeme's use of the internet to power his projects is fascinating. Always there is a blog for each new project, a document, a reminder, a call for further help. The project name is The CoachWerks and you can read up and see the pictures here: (

I myself have thrown all my energy at music. Music, one of the more transient pursuits. Why do I do it? That's a good question. Why put all this energy and time into something that doesn't guarantee any recognition or success or money or a pension? And of course there are enormous sacrifices that are made for this lifestyle and this kind of pursuit – never do I have money or time or a sense of satisfaction. However, these things can be turned on their head. I never have time because I use my time – I grab my time. I am never satisfied because I am always working towards something. And these things are of a transient nature. Take a gig I organised in November. Curated, organised, promoted to death in order to spend many stressful hours running around making sure everything is just so and the lights are right and the sound is right and the people are smiling. And the pay off? Sitting and watching Richard Dawson growl his massive heart out to a packed and rapt room who all feel they've witnessed something truly new and truly special. And the satisfaction? I did this – I created this room – I made this happen. And importantly, I participated, performing the opening set with my band Laish Quartet, singing songs that I wrote, playing these songs that I rehearsed and recorded with my friends for hours and hours. Music is a work that reaches beacons of activity, like much of life I suppose. Success defined by an evening's warmth, a shared event – something far from average. Something unique. And I remember Effie turning to me with glowing eyes during The Leisure Society's beautifully bare and intimate performance earlier in the evening, “this room is just so full of love.”

What a strange thing then. To put all this unpaid work into something for a couple of hour's glory. But what is the alternative? I could never bear going to so many gigs in my youth and feeling that I wasn't one of these people. I couldn't bear not feeling worthy of that stage, of feeling that I was participating with this. This was what made me feel lazy more than anything, to not be doing that which I loved – that which I followed with all my passion. So much I have learned about the importance of chords and melody, of words and voice, of arrangements and instrumentation, of organising and leading rehearsals, of recorded techniques and musical production, of reverbs and space, of aural as well as visual aesthetics, of performance, of communication also verbally with an audience, of preparation, of music as commodity, of marketing and design and promotion. Of silence.

And what is there to show for this? For a start, a new record label. The Willkommen Records imprint, an opportunity for us friends to pool our collective resources, contacts, mailing lists. To stamp our authority and our quality upon the world. To release the music that we pour ourselves into and hopefully give ourselves a chance to let it breathe in this particularly artistically saturated of times.

And I find myself tired of writing already. My how my stamina has waned, my writing fitness has all but disappeared. And yet I could stand and sing my songs for hours, improvising, reworking old classics by heroes and by friends. There is my fitness.

2009 I hope will be another busy year. A year to release some music into the world. To work hard on these songs, probably written in a matter of minutes but pored over for months, endlessly scrutinised and rearranged and performed and criticised to the point of utter confusion. But this is the work. And this is the lesson, that the work must be done and it must be finished and it must be released so I can move on to the next thing. And there is no goal, there is no finish line, there is no sense of achievement bar those few moments of elation when celebrating our triumphs with friends and strangers in these dark rooms. It is always a process whether you're famous or successful or not. Always we are on the road and always we are without money or a proper bed or a sense of stability. But at least we are alive.

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