On the outside it looks like I’ve changed tack. Someone asked me how I frame the art and music within my practice the other day.
These days I’m more comfortable talking about this because I do actually have it “framed” in a way.
After weeks and weeks and weeks of painstaking drawing and colouring I’m now in a music studio. I’m reviewing a selection of songs, consisting of a bundle of lyrics, a few basic recordings and half-baked ideas. A sketch book if you will. Dan is helping me look at them objectively. This is a crit. Which elements “fit” the philosophy, which are worth pursuing, which are ripe and which need to stay on the tree for further thought and development.
My art background has helped me here. Decades of self, peer and group crits become professional habit. My beloved songs can take it on the chin. If the chorus isn’t good enough then it gets picked at until it is.
As I listened to yesterday’s recordings at the table, I catch sight of those labels. It is equally valid that I can attach them to the songs. It works. It’s interesting.
The songs I’m working on are for me. They’re not attached to the drawn and stitched this time… Or not at the moment at least. These ideas are not band songs. Either lyrically, musically or conceptually they are too heavy on the Elena to pitch to the band. This is another first. At the moment I don’t know what will become of them. Dan asked if they would be an album, or at least an EP… They might. I’m unsure of the shape of them yet. This weekend we examine them, shore them up where/if they need it. After yesterday they’re more real already. I have divided them into piles now, and know which three or four we are ready to push towards a basic recording. Those we will look at again today. The discarded three will go back in the pot for another day, and there are three or four more that need a little extra something that I shall work on before the next session.
So I use a different media. So what? My themes are the same, my philosophy remains the same… Occasionally poked at by Dan to check. My working methods actually are remarkably similar in the way I collect and manipulate material… Gather, compare…. Then select…. Then work into some more. I could just as easily be stitching or drawing.
This part of the work was (comparatively) easy to find a parity. And now I’m comfortable with it. I’m comfortable with how a recording fits with the rest of my output. What is not so easy for me to articulate still is performance. But that is getting closer. And I care less that I’m unable to accurately state why performance is important. It just is, and I love it… So it obviously should be there in the mix.
To be honest I’m the only one that’s bothered. And that I think is just part of the artist I am. I’m far more methodical than I like to admit. I’m not messy in the making and I don’t like to be messy in the thinking. I like my thoughts to be clear. Especially as I like the work (in whatever format) to be ambiguous. I still enjoy that point of balance… The point at which people have been drawn in by the outward pleasantness, the comfort of beautiful embroidery, or a well crafted song, with interesting chords and decent harmonies… The point at which its too late…. They suddenly see the ugliness when it’s too late. They suddenly hear the lyric and understand that the song is about rage and jealousy, couched in metaphor and gold thread. That’s where the good stuff is.
And I think that point is where the performance lies… I’m capitalising on what I am… How I look, at last, is useful. I am a grey haired, overweight woman in a marks and spencer cardigan…. I’m singing about anger and death and infidelity with a sweet mellow voice to the rhythm of a bossanova or a delicately plucked waltz.
It’s all the same stuff really.