Monday, April 03, 2006

Monday Melée

Today it is Monday. The sun is shining intermittently through the white clouds that are scudding across the sky. It is a damp but bright April day. I am on my second cup of coffee. I am listening to Feist.

My sister Sophie turned twenty-one on Saturday.

She came over from Paris on Friday and went to stay in Ealing with my other sister, Alex, on Friday night, accompanied by five of her friends from Paris.

The whole night was lovely. It worked out really well, and I think Sophie had a lovely time. The other bands were great, and my friend Lily twirled her tassels and peered through her feathers, much to the delight of everyone in there. There were lots of people there, some I knew, some I didn't. Sophie was charming, a wonderful hostess. It was a cool venue, in the crypt of a church in Camberwell. It's dark and has a cave-like feel to it, with alcoves and tables with candles on them. The stage is low and there is an upright piano on it, and it is this combined with the stone walls and flickering candlelight that lends the place a timeless, jazz-esque charm.

I spent most of the night trying not to get too drunk whilst simulatenously attempting to deaden my nerves with wine. I am not sure whether I managed to achieve this delicate balance, but after nearly having a panic attack at about eight thirty and acknowledging that I had three hours before I went on, I felt that wine was probably a good course of action.

At about eleven thirty Andy and I got up to do our set.

I was drunkish. This turned out not to be too much of a problem, however. Not so much drunk as relaxed, I think.

I sang four of my own songs and two jazz standards.

I can hardly describe the feeling of standing on stage singing words that I have written, in a way that came from my very own head. I cannot articulate how terrified I was that, in spite of all my hopes and aspirations, my music would turn out to be just, well, not that good.

In some way that moment was the most crucial in my music career so far. What if people listened to my songs and weren't moved? What if it didn't stir them? What if everything I had been aiming for had been for nothing? What if all I'm capable of is singing other people's music?

I took the microphone from the stand and turned to Andy. He smiled reassuringly at me, and I smiled back, nodding slightly. Slowly I scanned the faces of the people watching me. I smiled at them. I looked at them, trying to work them out, and watching them try to work me out. I watched my family and friends look at me, hoping, I imagine, that I would be good enough in my own eyes.

When I go on stage, whenever I go on stage, I like to try to understand who is where, audience-wise. To work out what the situation is and what my place is within it. Whether they want me to prove myself or whether they are on my side. To understand who will participate and who will just watch.

There are the people who understand that they themselves are being watched and analyzed by me, as well as other way around. These are the people who visibly react to the music, who smile and who move, or who nod at a lyric or open their mouths at a note hit or sustained. Then there's other type of audience member, who does not want the attention, they want to blend in and watch quietly, they don't want the limelight. I like to know who is who, and where they are. I like to interact with the former and not embarrass the latter. I like knowing exactly who is where and what they want from me. I like gauging the reactions of individuals as well as the group.

This sounds perhaps a little pretentious, but it's what I like doing. I don't know whether I can do it with success, yet. I think it's an important skill, though, and one that has to be learned.

It's strange, actually, because as a result I don't think I'm aware of myself very much when I'm singing. I almost wouldn't even be able to tell you what I look like or what I'm wearing. I wouldn't be able to say how I was feeling. My sense of introspection slips from me, there. It's the only time it goes.

As I clicked my fingers to give Andy the tempo I think I just thought "Right then. Here goes."

We started, Shades of Blue, an upbeat blues, and I saw people react.

I think they liked it.

I think that the whole set went better than I had hoped.

I think perhaps it was a success.

Bloody hell.

I was relaxed (ahem, drunk). I felt so comfortable. I chatted into the microphone at points. I was not quite 'relaxed' enough to tell any jokes, a fact for which I am very, very grateful. Not that my jokes aren't great, of course, but, well, basically, my jokes aren't great. This doesn't stop me telling them on a regular basis, as you know, but I am nevertheless very relieved that I managed to stop myself saying them into a microphone to a room full of people.

It was brilliant. The experience, I mean.

Yesterday, when we went to Camden, Bec bought me a beautiful bracelet, a big one like a cuff, with a lovely green stone in it. To say well done.

I think Sophie had a good time. I saw her flitting about, looking happy.

I have another CBT session tonight.

I'm looking forward to it. I want to make changes in my life and I want to learn how to be brave enough to do that.

Before I go, I just want to share with you this bit of graffiti I saw in a pub on Friday night, on the back of a cublicle door:


Well, it made me laugh.


Blogger Dancinfairy said...

You have been tagged.

3:01 pm

Blogger Dancinfairy said...

Oh and congratulations. You must have posted that in the last few minutes because well it wasn't there when I checked before.

I am glad that you had a fun evening :o) sounds like a really cool place.

3:07 pm

Anonymous Adrian said...

Sounds like the weekend was a rousing success. Glad the singing went well.

I bet a few more times like this and you'll be telling jokes. I bet "I just flew in from New York and boy are my arms tied" will go down a storm. You can use that royalty free.

3:19 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah, i used to pass that place every day but never went in.

that grafitti sounds fantastic- things like that are why i spend far too much time in public toilets.

4:38 pm

Blogger Miss Devylish said...

Aww.. I'm so proud of you!! That's great! I'm sure you were fabulous.. you're going to get so good performing in front of people won't be nerve-wracking.. it'll be fun! Congrats!

5:40 pm

Blogger Rebecca said...

Well done again honey. you were amazing. it was perfect. see you later tonight xx
ps he called!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

6:02 pm

Blogger Ant said...

That was a really good description of interacting with an audience - it's a bit less glam than singing, but I can totally relate with presentations that I make...

Congrats on a successful night!

9:27 pm

Blogger hen said...

Wow... you write so well. I feel like I am one of those gap mouthed, scary stary wide eyed fans already and I haven't even heard any off your songs.

12:05 am


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