As the sole member of the office Party Planning Committee, I have come into my busy season and have struggled getting a post out to you this week. But as I was listening to the final draft of my upcoming album on the bus this morning, it got me thinking about that project and what exactly it means to me… and I thought some of those musings would make for a good early Thanksgiving post.
If nothing else, I feel that the album is a celebration of voice–and I am pleased that I have been able to utilise my full range and various techniques across the tracks. Nothing fills me with more joy than singing. I find the intake of breath and then the rush of sound actually physically exhilarating. It clears my head and lightens my heart. It is incredibly spiritual.
Confession time: I have felt both empowered and utterly embarrassed in creating these songs. Before this year, I had never even tried to write my own music. It always seemed to me (due to the examples in my life) a Superior Male Musician task, and that I would fail as a mere singer. I took a backseat, happy to sing other people’s words and notes. It took me getting to a desperate point creatively to sit down and write my first song, Dance Violent. I was sick of waiting on other people to give me something to sing, sick of not knowing any musicians over here, sick of not producing anything of artistic value, and sick of not using my voice.
I’m glad I got fed up because I was pleasantly surprised by how naturally the writing came to me and am happy with what I have produced. It has been incredibly empowering and healing for me to sing my own lyrics and melodies.
But, on the other hand, the shadow of Superior Male Musician hangs over me evermore, and I am embarrassed by my music. Sometimes I feel totally humiliated–especially when I try to plug something on social media/have to act confident enough to attempt to peddle my wares. This is reinforced by things like the one person in my office who actually listens to and appreciates music (a Superior Male Critic) admittedly not even bothering to listen to my songs… as if he just assumes they are going to be bad. (One time he even managed to offer me some unsolicited advice about my music after explicitly stating that he had never listened to it.)
This fear and embarrassment (and having absolutely zero network in London) is why I have been putting off trying to play live anywhere. The songs are all me, so I’d have to stand there and sing with backing tracks from my computer to get the full range of instrumental sounds. I recently had the privilege of seeing Annie Clark (alias St Vincent) on her Fear the Future tour. For this tour, she has made the (apparently controversial) decision to sing alone on stage with just her guitar and backing tracks. A lot of ‘fans’ have complained about this, demanding a live backing band. I read one internet comment from some dude that said, ‘It was simply not enough’. Besides these people entirely missing (and proving) Annie Clark’s point ……….. if St Vincent isn’t enough on stage by herself, WHO THE HELL IS?!
But you know what? I bet Annie Clark doesn’t give a fuck. I mean, look at her–does she look like she cares what other people say and think of her?
So, I’ve been trying to be overall more proud of what I have done than embarrassed by it. In Pocket Bible, I have created a lasting memory of my years spent in New York. I have filled the album with emotions from then and now, and it feels good. I am proud of my accomplishment. (And including a bunch of pictures of myself in this post is part of that exercise in empowerment–what would Annie do.)
I am also proud of the self-sufficiency of my work. Pocket Bible is 100% me, even down to the (probably shitty) mixing and all the recording that has occurred in my living room. That said, I couldn’t have done it without the encouragement and advice of a lot of incredible people. The people in my life who have encouraged me in this venture have definitely outweighed those who have (either through words or silence) discouraged me.
So, in anticipation of Thanksgiving and the album ‘launch’ on 8 December, I’m going to take a minute to thank some of the particularly encouraging people for their hand in Pocket Bible.
Jeff – While being one of those Superior Male Musicians, Jeff has never made me feel bad about my musicianship. I’ll admit, I required his validation of my songs, and fortunately, I got it. Jeff has helped me immeasurably every step of the way, listening to both my whining and my music and offering solicited advice. I really value and respect his opinion.
Charlie – My cousin Charlie has also been super supportive. He actively asks for songs and readily offers invaluable opinions and encouragement. He has always made me feel that he is genuinely enjoying what I am producing. Every time I have wanted to give up and be quiet, he has renewed my sense of purpose with his wise words.
Sonia – Despite working full time in Manhattan whilst being Super Mom to a toddler in Brooklyn, Sonia always has time for me and my shit. Poor thing, like Charlie and Jeff, she’s also heard various manifestations of every track on the album. She is a wonderful friend who is always pushing me to continue moving forward. Unsurprisingly, one of the tracks on Pocket Bible is entirely about her.
Mary Alice – My aunt Mary Alice has always been one of my biggest fans. After I released my first single, she emailed me to tell me that she knew my grandmother was ‘smiling in heaven’. Now, my grandmother really was my biggest fan, and Mary Alice’s statement made me so happy (and tearful). It’s actually making me very emotional now, thinking about how my grandmother rode all the way to Athens (Georgia) to watch me perform in Tartuffe when she was unwell. That would have been the last time she saw me on stage. More than anyone else, I always feel that I have disappointed her most by no longer performing, so I do like to think that she can still hear me when I sing.
Colby – Even though she is mostly unacquainted with my constant frustrations and anxieties of confidence and we are not in daily correspondence, Colby was the first person to actually purchase one of my tracks. She also joined Spotify just to follow me. For a struggling artist, these little things are actually huge, huge things.
Matt – I barely know this person (an acquaintance I met once), but he has continually expressed an interest in my project and has even helped compare various versions of some of the tracks. I really appreciate his enthusiasm and positivity.
Helen – Also someone I barely know in the ‘real world’, but as an internet presence, Helen could win the Most Supportive Person in the World award. It’s clear through her blog (that I’m always going on about to you guys) she has touched a lot of people’s lives–and I am lucky to be one of them! I appreciate her genuine, agenda-less interest and support of both my work and the work of so many others. It’s surprising how much a simple comment or a ‘like’ can mean when you’re wading through the silent sea of social media.
Mom & Dad – I don’t think they particularly ‘like’ my ‘type’ of music (they also want a live backing band probably aren’t crazy about some of my slightly dissonant harmonies!), but I know they are there for me. They nurtured my talents from a young age and enabled my classical training. And they never. missed. a. single. performance.
Ben – Of course, as my partner, Ben must suffer the slings and arrows of my moods and general insanity… and this deserves thanks. If he hadn’t told me he liked my first song (and meant it), I wouldn’t have written the rest. Additionally, most of my songs wouldn’t even exist without the events and emotions he has inspired in me ❤
This list is in no way exhaustive. But is representative of the gestures great and small that can mean so much to an artist. In a lot of ways, Pocket Bible has been a very lonely and vulnerable pursuit, but it has ultimately been buoyed by numerous people I am fortunate enough to have in my life.
Now who wants to help me with photography and making a music video????
xWG // @dazeandweekes // @weekes
Do you also want to rock my world and be supportive?!?! Here’s how!
Visit http://www.weekesmusic.com and subscribe to my super cool music blog and see what’s up! The posts are really short (unlike this one) and you get free songs! You can also stream stuff if you wait a reallllly long time for it to load! Be patient!
ALSO – You’ll be able to purchase the full album digitally online when it comes out! Okay okay, I will be making some actual physical CDs for purchase (for people who still have CD players???), so you can be in touch via email through my Contact page if you might possibly be interested in that too!
As always, you can listen on:
I love y’all.