Singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist, miserabilist.
I wouldn’t say I have an easy relationship with music. Since I can remember I’ve had this thing where I feel too much. Life has always been too loud, too raw, too awkward, too uncomfortable. I’ve careered through life and made mistakes and said too much or done something ridiculous and I haven’t always learnt my lesson the first time. And sometimes I break into pieces which means I have to glue myself back together again and hope the damage isn’t too obvious. I don’t know what it’s like not to be like this, and over the years they’ve given it a few different names, but honestly I just feel too much and I can’t always manage my reactions to that. So music, being a thing that amplifies feelings for everybody, can be kind of dangerous to my state of mind. After one significant break-up I didn’t listen to music for about two years, and there are still songs that are off limits. When I’m in the car, or at a party, trying to work or trying to relax, there are a million songs which are not the right song and maybe only three or four that I can tolerate.
And then there’s live music and that’s hard too because I don’t find socialising easy and I feel uncomfortable in different environments, like when you can’t sit down or when it’s too bright or too dark or too noisy or there’s a weird smell or you see someone who hates you. I used to drink through the discomfort but that stopped working after a while, or at least it brought its own problems.
On the flip side, I love songs. I love lyrics and melodies and chord progressions and harmonies and solos and performances. I love singing and writing and being on stage. I love that strange experience of being a vessel for some universal energy which has a story to tell and wants me to shut up and listen and then translate it to someone else. I love playing in a band for the relationships and the connection and the sense of satisfaction when it all works out. I also hate playing in a band for the relationships and the disconnection and the sense of frustration when it doesn’t work out at all.
I want to make an album so these songs can exist somewhere separate to me and stop circling around inside my head. But also because there is so much I want to say, and the depths of terminal sadness and fleeting joy can only be properly expressed through music – any other form of communication is corrupted by confusion and doubt. The moments when I’m singing are the moments when I’m not getting in my own way. I want to sing and play and work with other musicians and travel around the place in one of those Winnebagos. I want to hear my music played in the background on TV while impossibly attractive doctors drink coffee and negotiate ethical dilemmas. In Seattle. The Music Editor for Grey’s Anatomy might read this and I have to be prepared.
I’ve waited a long time to focus on my music career because I doubted my strength, given everything I am. But recently I’ve wondered whether what I thought were limitations were actually the reasons why I have to do this. Maybe feeling too much is actually feeling exactly the right amount when you’re trying to make something meaningful. Anyway, I can’t stop now.