One more week

Somehow I’m coming to the end of my adventure. Just one week left. My brain is moving fast leading me to talk to recruiters about getting a job. I need to remember the things that I want next.

I have just arrived in Seattle. It’s a short ferry trip over from Vancouver Island where I’ve been staying in Victoria for nearly a week.

Victoria is full of creative people. There’s a great combination of inspiration from humans and nature. The parks, coastline and mountains combine with Sunday’s fantastic show put on by Drag Kings and Queens to leave a delightful creative cocktail in my mind. I have been writing a lot and honing my tracks. Always honing.

I am excited to put them out and it feels a bit different this time. I might need to borrow willing ears to listen to the tracks so far. Give me a shout if you’re honest, kind and prepared to listen to unfinished tracks. Once again, there are feminist themes and the exploration of being whole but in a relationship.

I hope the creativity continues in Seattle. Sydney aside, it is the only place I have been before on my trip so far. I am staying at the same hostel. It feels good.

This post has been fairly wittering … to sum up: I’m excited to be writing, I loved Victoria and it’s great to be back in Seattle.

Thanks, again, for reading.

Em x

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Community and Artist Development

As I travel I am shuffling and challenging my thoughts. I am considering more what I want to do when I return to the UK… and more specifically, Manchester.

Many of my ideas have directed me towards the importance of community and artist development, in each case, around music.

At SXSW there was a lot of talk around the lack of artist development from labels combined with a lack of time for artists and bands to be able to explore their sound and style before being written-off (literally in the accounts).

At the same time, as a *bedroom musician*, though I have time to work on my own sound, there is a lack of feedback until I get to a point where I’m ready to record or perform my music. At that point the stakes are higher because being in a studio costs money and being on stage in front of people is a big deal if you’re like me.

So… I believe that community is key.

I want to create a space where women making music and sounds have the chance to meet up, work on music, give and receive feedback on tracks and eventually play together and support each other.

This is currently named The Daphnies, inspired by Daphne Oram.

If you are making music in Manchester or beyond and would like to get in touch or be involved somehow I’d love it if you’d send me an email at embriarmusic@gmail.com.

I’ve made an Instagram account so please have a look for any updates.

Cheers

Em x

Monica’s mother and me

How goal setting turned me into Monica’s mother.  

We live in a world of #youcandoanything. Like many people, I bombard myself with empowering Instagram quotes. I have become quite the inspiration addict.  

Inspiration should be handled with care. 

My best sources of #youcandoit quotes combine two themes:

  • #followyourdreams (i.e. focussed goal setting); and
  • #selflove (i.e. be kind to yourself in the process).

The result: set goals and hope to achieve things whilst being kind and encouraging yourself as you make moves to begin, work and achieve.

In my experience, the first without the second causes fatigue, adrenaline overload and an unhealthy tunnel vision.

I hadn’t considered how my #selflove was manifesting itself and had a horrible realisation.  There is a disastrous internal miscommunication going on.

So… to the Friends analogy.

Everyone’s seen the Friends episodes when Monica’s mother directs a constant stream of criticism Monica’s way.  Let’s presume that this is well intended and that she loves Monica and wants the best for her.

Monica and the rest of us perceive the criticism as destructive and mean. The reaction: resistance, anger and a shutting down. 

Just like Monica’s mother, my goal-setting-self has the best of intentions.  When I set goals I want the best for myself and it comes from a place of self development.  

However, when I communicate the goals to myself my gut hears (or feels) me:

(A) guilting myself into doing things; and 

(B) feeling shame when I don’t manage to do those things.  

I have realised that, despite my good intentions, my inner voice has become as destructive and mean as Monica’s mother.  

I use this voice in relation to creative productivity, eating, exercise, posture… all of it.  Demanding impossible standards and criticising failure.

Now that I’ve noticed, I’m trying to be kinder and it seems to be going well.

Recommendations

I’ve tried a few things to teach my goal-setting voice to be kinder.  Here’s what I’ve found helpful:

  • Big wishes:  The classic  coach question is:  what would you do if money, your ego (etc…) wasn’t an issue?   Instead ask:  what would you wish for yourself in your life in relation to your work, home, creativity, family, [insert other important categories].  Write constantly for 2 minutes, 5 minutes or 20 minutes and see how it feels.
  • 3 daily wishes:  each day, instead of writing a to-do list, make three wishes for yourself that day.  Be as specific as possible.  Again, see how it feels.
  • Listening out for Monica’s Mom:  Always listen out for Monica’s Mother voice and, where possible, try to rephrase the criticism and be kind.
  • Done list:  Taking time at the end of each day to do a “done” list rather than a to do list can be satisfying.

I’d be really interested to hear ways that others deal with this inner voice.

Thanks for reading.

Em x

Escape the City

If I’m honest I joined Escape the City’s Idea Accelerator programme last summer because I was terrified of quitting my job as a City lawyer.  I hoped that being around others who had made, or were preparing to make, a similar “reckless decision” might normalise the whole thing for me.

This basic objective was fulfilled and, as I write from my travels in the US, I reflect upon my Escape experience.

The Escape team are currently recruiting for the next London cohorts. Check out their website at https://www.escapethecity.org. If you get involved, do drop my name and if you have any questions you’d like to ask me, please get in touch.

I have always written music but have been afraid of releasing into the world.  Before starting the Escape programme I had also written a children’s book.

The Idea Accelerator programme was a 12 weeks spent with 29 other humans who all had their ideas to accelerate.  The majority were start-up business ideas but the principles really worked for my creative projects.

Here’s how the Escape experience helped:

(1) Community

I gained a community of risk takers who not only normalised the idea of leaving my responsible job but celebrated it, supported my idea and were a weekly source of inspiration.

(2) Break it down 

When I turned up to the course I had my music, my book and this blog in mind.  I was trying to funnel them all in the same direction as one idea. In going through the exercises and processes on the course I quickly realised that these were three separate ideas so squishing them into the same funnel wouldn’t work. I then decided to focus on my book: The Unexpected Adventure of Ammerella Twigg.

(3) Reveal the yellow brick road

Once all the pieces were broken down, the amazing Escape team: Dom, Ben, Skye and Mia, were there with A3 pieces of paper, post-it notes and Sharpies to provide a pathway to pursue, explore and test the idea.  This was hugely helpful for getting through the blocks that fear can put in the way of progress.

(4) Break it down, again

Next was to break the book idea down into its most basic form. How could I get it into the world without spending all my money?

(a) I printed 100 very basic versions of the book and gave them out to people, encouraging them to pass them on. These were my Beta readers. The more the books were passed on, I hoped that the more objective the feedback would become.

(b) I delved into bookstagram and contacted Instagram users who loved books. I sent three sample chapters to individuals who were interested in reading them.

This all gave me hugely helpful feedback so that I could get to the re-write.

(5) Acknowledge the fear

Putting yourself out there with your idea whether it is a piece of music, writing or a business is hugely scary.  We usually hear stories after the success has happened so all those “rock bottom moments” seem romantic. They ain’t.  The course and the community meant that there was support, inspiration and mentoring to keep those heads above water.

(6) Ask for help 

Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle taught me to be an independent woman. They neglected to teach the next lesson: asking for help is not shameful. Sometimes other people have skills that can be hugely useful to us and that they are willing to share.  In asking the beta readers for help, I learned that not only do people like to help, sometimes they are grateful for the opportunity. This absolutely blew my mind.

Where I’m at and how you can help:

I’m making music, traveling and writing as I have hoped to do for years but not been brave enough.

  • Listen/follow: My first single, Parity, is available on Spotify… and please follow me by clicking on the button below, because 11 followers is never enough 🙂

https://open.spotify.com/follow/1/?uri=spotify:artist:0iolxnLHUhuYBeytiq95zm?si=E-zR8Sg4S0iAONwH1JPGsA&size=detail&theme=lightBe a beta reader: I’m looking for readers of version 2.0 of my book.  Get in touch if you’d be interested in reading (embriarmusic@gmail.com).  You can read more about it here.

  • Host a gig: I’m coming back to the UK in the summer and am keen to share the music I’ve been making on my travels.  If you’d be interested in hosting a gig please get in touch (embriarmusic@gmail.com).

What a few of the founders are up to 6 months on:

  • Lizzy founded 18.TEN Housewares during the course and has been working on her beautiful designs which rethink common homeware products such as egg cups and toast racks.  These products are due to be launched at Spotted Top Drawer in September 2018.
  • Natasha went from banking to baking and founded Bakit, which provides kits of ready-measured ingredients for delicious cakes, delivered directly to you.  She’s kindly offering a 30% discount off your first order using this code: FIRSTBAKIT.
  • Sarah founded urban plant boutique: Succulence London, providing good-looking greenery to your homes, offices and Instagram feeds.  She now has a shop in Walthamstow and she’d love to see you (Incubator 4, 6-10 Central Parade, 137 How Street, E17 4RT).
  • Tash, our decluttering queen, founded Light Style Spacewhere she helps the hoarders among us to simplify their homes in a kind and non-judgmental manner.  Tash will also help you sell valuable items and will give you any profits made as long as you spend the cash on experiences not things.
  • Tash and Lisa met on the course and teamed up to co-found And The Future which starts with a bootcamp to make you more conscious about living a more sustainable life.
  • Has founded The Drapery, where women can have existing outfits altered to truly fit them, or have their own clothing designs made from scratch. Confident, comfortable clothes. Designed by you and made by The Drapery with a 10% discount if you refer a friend.
  • Martha created Freemans Tea, a most excellent tasting unique blend which she is continuing to perfect.

Thank you Escape the City.

Austin and SXSW 2018

I’ve gone a bit quiet again. I’ve been at SXSW this week.  It’s been a total dream.  There is such a collection of people who are really great at what they do.  These people are here to share and grow their ideas.  It’s how life should be all the time.

Austin is a great city and I had a few days of it before this festival began.  Many companies have taken over shops and bars for the festival period and the main roads are closed.  The city is behind the music.

 

The best things I’ve seen are:

  • The bands and artists (check out Billie Eilish, Saint Sister, Findlay and Boniface)
  • Linda Perry (may I refer you to my Instagram tribute)
  • Photographers scrambling around on various floors to get their photographs

Most of all it’s been very interesting to observe the panels and conversations that I’ve chosen to attend.  Lots of focus on community and artist development.  Ideas are definitely brewing.  I will see where the dust settles after being thrown up in the air this week.  Ideas for new chapters…

It’s been so inspiring to be around great music.  I feel full of words and beats, ready to make more music and bear with myself.

That’s all for now folks.

Thanks for reading.

Em x

Nashville

I came to Nashville because I wanted to go somewhere where everyone was a songwriter.  For much of my life I’ve felt like a bit of an oddball for my songwriting habits.  Here, one of the first questions that I have been asked by some is: “are you a songwriter?”

“Yes!” I say (…before confiding in the question asker “though I’m an electronic musician… don’t tell anybody”).

Here, however, there is a huge lack of snobbery and a huge amount of sincerity and people have been very accepting of this.

A bit about Nashville:

Broadway

Broadway is a road downtown where, from 11 am to the early hours of the following morning, people play music on stages. In the majority of places the stages are beside the entrance so the musical offerings can be heard from the street, landing on eager ears. So you have (mainly) men with their backs to you as you walk down the street.  I love this in the week rather than on the weekend.  My favourite thing is that people sing and dance to songs that I haven’t ever heard before and I feel like I’m in a parallel universe. They are mainly cover bands but will do originals if you ask nicely.

My favourite places are Nudies and Tootsies for live band vibes. For chill guys and girls on acoustic guitars, Famous on 2nd Ave is great.

I think everyone should go to Nashville’s Broadway at least once in their lives. Despite myself, I can’t help but smile like I have a shoehorn wedged into my cheeks every time I hit the road.

Music Row

Another quieter but fascinating area of Nashville is Music Row. There are several streets filled with studios, record labels and music.  Due to the local government requirements, most of these buildings need to maintain the outer facade of a residential property.

I visited RCA Studios which is where Elvis recorded a lot of his hits. It was wonderful to be in the studio and so close to the instruments and gear.

Bobby’s Idle House is the only bar on Music Row and they host a writer’s night on Thursdays.  Three writers go up on stage at a time and take it in turns to play songs.  Janet, one of the organisers, has said I should let her know next time I’m in town so I can play my songs.  I have a feeling I will be back.

I have just 3 more days here and, as I write from an East Nashville coffee shop (where I feel in a very familiar reality), I am so happy.

… I even wrote a country song with my new friend, Megan.

Em x

Fiji Paradise

The bloke in the travel agent said that I should pop to Fiji in between my Australasian and American adventures.  This would give me the chance to relax and lie on the beach for a few days.

Although I’ve never really been a hot-weather-beach person, Fiji sounded too wonderfully exotic to fly over.

I arrived here four days ago to experience wind, rain, thunder and lightning. It’s been so loud that I’ve wondered whether I am, in fact, afraid of thunder.

I have relaxed, but in my own way. I’ve been recording music.

The music has come out in a mixture of commercial songs I would like people with big voices to sing (a few are here via this private link for as long as I am brave enough to keep it here), and a daily practice that I started on Tuesday where I’m collecting sounds and trying to weave them into more coherent song-like arrangements.

This has told me what I know already, I love the rain. I should be disappointed that my time in this paradise has been interrupted. But this was perfect for me.

The photo is a glimpse of sunshine on this, my last day in Fiji. Maybe today will be less productive!

Em x