It’s fair to say that every person who tries to create music, art, poetry, writing or whatever experiences ‘peaks and valleys.’
There are times when it all seems to be coming together, the creative juices are flowing and you’re able to present the ideas in your head in the way you want to. It’s a good feeling; almost scarily good because you want to capture it, to harness it, to make the most of it, fearing that tomorrow it might be gone.
There are also times where nothing seems to work. The ideas aren’t coming, you can’t get across what’s in your head and the various inner voices of descent and despair come a’knocking.
The writing of my second to last album ‘Hermit and the NotWe‘ was one of the ‘valley’ times. Every step of the process was an uphill battle; with the equipment, with the software, with the writing, with myself. That I got it written and produced at all is testimony to the ‘other‘ stubborn voice inside my head; the one that won’t let me quit this music malarkey, no matter how much of a struggle it is.
My next and most recent album ‘And Into the Woods‘ however was the polar opposite of this. Ironically, finally accepting my depression opened the creative floodgates as I once again used songwriting as a way to express and make sense of living with mental health issues. Creatively it was a great time; I couldn’t get the ideas down fast enough, and it was as if the songs ‘needed’ to come out.
Since this time, in true cyclical fashion, the creative ‘valley’ seems to have returned. It could be a result of putting a lot of my mental energy into trying out radio presenting. It could be because I’ve finally started medicating my depression with pills that seem to dull the anxiety and dark feelings, but also at times the creative ‘edge’ to my music. It’s a ‘trade-off’ that for the moment I’m willing to make, because it’s making daily life a lot easier to deal with, and hopefully makes me a lot easier to be around.
Ideas seem to be coming more like ‘jigsaw pieces’ (how many metaphors can I fit into this post haha!) rather than fully formed. I have an album title, I have some good riffs, I have many many lines of lyrics; but at the moment, it’s not coming together.
Gig-wise, I’m finding the stage nerves are almost unbearable at the moment, and about 70% of the time I’m coming off stage wondering why I went on it; berating myself for my musical limitations, my shyness, my inability to enjoy myself doing something I’ve always wanted to do.
Today unfortunately was no exception. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful to be asked to play at one of the best local festivals around, the Lymelight Festival. I’ve wanted to play it for years and I’m chuffed that I finally got to play. Other friends who’ve played have come away saying it was one of the best live experiences they’ve had, such as Emily Jones, the superb singer/songwriter and new bass player in the mighty Don’t Call Me Ishmael, who played on the main-stage this weekend.
And the gig itself went ‘ok.’ I played on the Signal One ‘Acoustic Stage.‘ Due to a poorly acoustic (‘Kochanski’) at present being repaired, I took my ‘spare’ temperamental Royal acoustic (‘Sidney’) out. For all the worry that it would sound shite, go out of tune and generally be shocking to play, it did it’s job respectfully. I played a few bum notes, but for the most part played and sang alright. The audience was pretty apathetic throughout, but it didn’t overly get me down.
- And Into the woods
- How the Other Half Live
- Midnight Logic
- I’m Just Gonna Be Me
- Sophie Draw
A certain ‘why am I doing this‘ feeling; that I’ve had for several gigs now, was ever present. Yet the ‘keep going, you’ll find your enthusiasm again, if you give up now you’ll never be able to create music again‘ voice was not far behind it.
So, it goes on. Writing music is what I’ve done, what I’ve always done since I was 12. I’ll bounce back, I know it.
Big thanks to the Lymelight for letting me play. Like I say, it’s not the festival or anyone else’s fault that I feel this way. I’ve just got to work on getting my ‘mojo’ back again. I’ve been in the valley plenty of times before, and always climbed back up to the peak.