Listening Party

If I think back on my travels, whether these have taken place on a skateboard, on a bus, on a train or on many occasions through books that took me to distant places or simply my own memories which allowed me passage back through spaces and times past, there has always been one thing that came with me on these journeys. You may have guessed what I’m talking about already. If not, the topic in question is audio.

Music and audiobooks predominantly factor as my primary method of company when I’m working in and out of studio. I have no idea to this day how I got away with this, but once while on a particularly tight deadline I staked out a bench in an airport where I sat as inconspicuously as I could manage, cutting artwork while waiting for an early morning flight (not something I’d readily do again). In the early days when I didn’t have a studio I worked at such locations as libraries, my friend’s bedrooms, cafes and share houses to name but a few.

The one thing that I have taken with me to all these places has been music. Music, audiobooks, podcasts when I could access the internet. Music has held me through so many points in my life that would have been a lot harder to push through had I been without.

I thought in this blog I’d give you a run down of some of the albums that have seen me through long days and nights in my studio, as well as audiobooks (embarrassing or not) that have kept me from going completely crazy with cabin fever when I’ve had large commissions I had to get through without too much social interaction. There are also a couple of podcasts I’ll throw in there for inspiration too.

2009 Jesus & Mary Chain Psychocandy, Mazzy Star She Hangs Brightly, Bat For Lashes Two Suns, múm Finally We Are No One, The Stone Roses The Stone Roses, M.I.A Kala, The Brian Jonestown Massacre Take it from the Man, Elliot Smith Either/Or, Okkerville River Unless It’s Kicks Garden State Soundtrack Compilation, Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Sufjan Stevens Illinois.

2010 The Innocence Mission Glow, Bat For Lashes Fur & Gold, Interpol Antics, Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever To Tell, Florence & the Machine Lungs, The Clean Mr. Pop, The Kills Midnight Boom, Kate Nash House Made of Bricks Santigold Santigold, Jessca Hoop Kismet Sessions, Renee-Louise Carafice Tells You To Fight, Panther and the Zoo More Fun

2011 Cut Off Your Hands You & I, Unknown Mortal Orchestra Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Decemberists Crane Wife, Bear Cat Xiong Mao, Kate Rusby Little Lights, The Shins Wincing the Night Away, The Clean Mister Pop, Cat Power You Are Free, Neutral Milk Hotel On Avery Island, Aimee Mann @#%&*! Smilers, Kurt Vile Smoke Ring For My Halo, Warpaint The Fool.

2012 Black Rebel Motorcycle Club B.R.M.C., The O.C. Mix 2 Compilation, The Pixies Surfer Rosa, Die Die Die, The Horrors The Skying, Deerhunter Halcyon Digest Regina Spektor Far.

2013 Alt-J An Awesome Wave, Agnes Obel Philharmonics, Die Die Die Harmony, Hole Celebrity Skin, Fever Ray Fever Ray, Where the Wild Things Are (Soundtrack) Karen O and the Kids, My Bloody Valentine E.P’s 1988-1991, Broken Social Scene You Forgot it in People, Santigold Master of My Make Believe.

2014 Arvo Pärt Spiegel im Spiegel, The National The Boxer, HBO Girls Soundtrack Season 1&2, Tycho Dive, Kurt Vile Walking in a Pretty Daze, Blair Die Young, Sharon Van Etten Epic, Deerhunter Microcastle, The Raveonettes Lust Lust Lust.

2015 Gold Panda Companion, The Sound Defects The Iron Horse, Little Dragon Machine Dreams, Sigur Rós: Takk, Wild Nothing Gemini, Joy Division Unknown Pleasures, Mulatu Astatke New York–Addis–London: The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965–1975, Bonobo Migration, Dum Dum Girls He Gets Me High.

2016 Underground Youth Mademoiselle, M.I.A Matangi, The Smiths, múm Finally We Are No-one, The Pheonix Foundation , Mogwai Les Revenants, Low Lullaby, Renee-Louise Carafice Power Animals.

2017 Feist Metals, Gold Panda Good Luck and Do Your Best Dumbo Feather Podcast, Phantogram, Charles Bradley No Time For Dreaming, Regina Spektor Remember Us To Life, HBO Girls Season 4 soundtrack, Bjork , Phantogram Eyelid Movies, 95BFM Auckland-Based Radio Station (via Simple Radio) Audiobooks: Ransom Riggs Ms Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children Books 1-3.

2018 Dum Dum Girls, Lowtide Lowtide LP, Kate Winslet voiced audiobooks The B.F.G/ Matilda Santigold 99c, Panda Bear Person Pitch.

"I do it Myself"... and other misconceptions I've learned (and hope to unlearn) from my three-year-old self

If you ask her, my Mum will laugh as she tells you about the aforementioned phrase and the importance of its meaning to me, when as a toddler I took some of my first steps to verbally assert myself.

I can’t even remember what it was I thought I could do on my own without her. It was probably putting on my own skirt or attempting to pour myself a glass of juice or something. I’m not sure what it was, but I can imagine she dealt with it as she usually dealt with a lot of my requests back then - with a bloody great sense of humour and a lot of patience when, as predicted I took twice as long doing my buttons up in the wrong order and so having to start the process again, and/or not content with pouring my own glass of OJ, proceeding to tip a large amount of the bottle’s contents all over the the kitchen table.

All in the name of independence.

I am really lucky to have had someone so understanding of my bizarre misperceptions of what it means to ‘do it yourself’. Anyone less accommodating may have thrown in the towel saying something like ‘Sure! Why don’t you just go and do that then!” ..thereby leaving me to it.

But not my mum.

Thinking back to my three-year old self and my desire to attain autonomy at the time, I pose my younger self the question - What was I really saying by insisting on pouring my own juice?

My answer?… I don’t need your help.

Although apparently I did, because no-one but me had juice that day.

See, as an adult I have had the same notions about my success as an artist (clearly I didn’t learn my lesson the first time) and I’ve noticed similar behaviour in myself as an adult, particularly regarding my obsessive need to assert myself as an individual artist, standing out from the rest, needing to prove to the world I’ve got this! even when it’s meant something takes me years instead of months, even when it’s meant a great deal of stress and loneliness working on my own versus building an extended network of passionate friends to help & assist with a bunch of stuff I could’ve easily avoided punishing myself over.

The happy end to all this is that I’m beginning to see sense in letting other people pour the juice so to speak.

The older I get and the more I work at my own skill-set, the more comfortable I am about not having to know how to do everything, and to concentrate on positioning myself to be willing to help others should they need what I’m great at.

This idea of having to do everything myself is one that has severely stunted me in my earlier years as an emerging artist and continues to rear its ugly head if left unchecked, so I’m checking myself. I’m checking myself today through this blog, I’ll check myself the next time I feel my knuckles tightening around my next project when I consider that I might not have all the tools necessary to make it as amazing as it could be with more hands on deck and I’ll probably be checking myself for years to come.

Because put simply, when you have other trusted supporters and collaborators, whether these be bandmates, fellow artists, family & friends who believe in what you do enough to come see it, or anyone else who turns up to say they like what you do so they bought a ticket to your show or they read your thing or they forwarded it onto their mate, you can no longer count yourself as a sole operator. You are now a part of a thriving community of awesomeness known as genuine humanity should you choose to participate.

Welcome to the club.