Monday, September 11, 2006


On Saturday I went to Eastbourne again. It costs about twenty quid to get to Eastbourne, twenty quid that I do not readily have. It worries me that I pay this money, because I will run out soon. Before payday, of course. As is the norm. I do not, however, have a choice. I must record, and to record I must travel, and to travel I must pay.

It is a nice train journey down to the coast, though. Rolling green English countryside with its still-green trees and scattered livestock chewing. The train gildes through places with overly-quaint sounding names like Plumpton.

I felt relaxed by the time I reached Eastbourne. Staggering off the train with my cello I was greeted by Isaac and whisked back to the studio.

Coffee and chat over with, we started working on the backing vocals for the track I put down last week. I had already recorded the bass lines and main vocals on my iMac using the GarageBand software, and from that Isaac had filled out the track in his extensive studio filled with identical-looking switches and blinking lights. As we listened to the progress it had made througout the week we were joined by a man called Dave. Dave runs a company called Circular Sounds - - and has been quite taken with my songwriting. He sat in on the session as I created some backing vocals, offering his encouragement and suggestions. The microphone for recording vocals is, as it often is in studios, in a separate room. Sometimes you are placed in a little booth made of glass, and sometimes you stand in a room on your own, headphones (or 'cans') dwarfing your head, staring at a wall whilst singing into the upright mic. This can be isolating, but leaves less to be distracted by.

Each backing vocal had to be sung four times, as close to identically as possible. If the one take was replicated four times it would sound too artificial, but still each take mustn't deviate too far from the others. I sung three sets of backing vocals for three different points in the song, doing each of them four times. It took a few hours to do all of it. Dave told me that he was 'very impressed' with my studio technique, which is basically trying to get it right with as few takes as possible. That, he said, might have taken two or three days with another artist. As he looked at me interestedly, considering the amount of studio time, and therefore money, this might save, I tried not to let the pleasure at being called an 'artist' flush across my face.

We did a bit more work on the track, and then went for lunch at the local pub.

Over my Ploughman's (with Stilton) I listened to Dave and Isaac talk about people they know, we discussed music, London and work. We drank a glass of lovely red wine each. I have no idea what is going on here, I thought to myself. What does it mean that I'm here? These people seem to have faith in something that I can do, but I don't know what implications that has for my life. 'Just go with it' seems to be the advice of the people I've spoken to. 'It's win-win, for you, because you're recording your own stuff and people are hearing it'. Yes, hearing it and, it seems, liking it.

"Isaac told me you were good," said Dave, "and if you had been half as good as you are I would have been impressed."

I nodded, smiling. "Thanks."

I am going with it all. I will continue to travel to Eastbourne as many weekends as I can, despite not being able to afford it. I have to continue to do it all, but I can't help wondering when my life is going to change. When will I be able to spend my life doing what I really love, not just squeezing it in at weekends? Last night I went to bed with a sinking feeling of real dread as I contemplated going back to my weekday persona, five days of silently speaking to myself in clichés, phrases like 'means to an end' and 'got to pay the rent' floating around my brain incessantly. I dream of escape and of finally having something to show for all these hours of torture-by-mundanity.

Of course, my life is brilliant. I love London, I have fantastic friends and a wonderful boyfriend. My family are supportive and nearby. Nobody is attempting to make me into a merchant banker or a marketing executive. I have decent clothes and alright hair. I am not a social misfit and my skin is quite good. Things are good for me. My tenacity with my singing seems to be finally paying off.

Now, though, in what is I hope a transitional phase in my life, I feel more frustrated than ever. Someone is standing over me with a large metaphorical fishing rod, dangling everything I have dreamed off just outside my grasp and I am not at all sure what I am supposed to be trying to do to persuade them to move a little closer. Who must I speak to? What should I do? Is there anything I am not doing that I should be?

People are incredulous when I tell them that I am feeling a bit down. Things are going so well, they exclaim, clearly wondering whether I am just a huge drama queen. I don't think I am. Things are going well. It would seem. I have no evidence of this yet, though. I haven't seen any return. Of course there is also the fact that I have upped the stakes on the amount of pressure I put on myself. As things seem to get better and I feel like I am climbing up higher and higher I can only see the next summit, not the one I have just come to the top of.

In the last five years things have changed so much. The world is a different place now and yet still exactly the same. Change is such a peculiar creature, seeping in and baffling us with its simultaneous capacity for subtlety and blundering force.

I wonder what the next five years will hold, or the next five weeks, days or hours. One thing we can be sure of is that they will bring change, although how that change will manifest itself is gloriously and terrifyingly unknowable. I want change, I long for it, and yet at the same time the prospect of it horrifies me.

Horrifyingly thrilling. Terrifyingly wonderful.

Most of all, though, just flatly inevitable.


Blogger Curly said...

It sounds as though you're just waiting for something to go wrong with all the changing around. It's funny how we complain about our surroundings but then when an opportunity to change comes around, we get all nostalgic and "Oh, I did like a FEW things...." which of course turns into MOST things.

But it's all an experience that'll keep us on our toes and help us grow as people (not get fatter). Of course it'll work out though, it always does in the movies that I watch.

4:46 pm

Blogger Léonie said...

I suppose I am waiting for something to either go really right or really wrong. At the moment it could go either way!

You're right, Curly, it is all in the name of experience and, as much as I do worry about it, I wouldn't actually change it at all.

1:57 pm

Blogger Miss Devylish said...

I don't think it's wrong to get down.. You feel what you feel. And yes, I was agreeing w/ you the pressure can be difficult - plus the idea of hoping for something you want so badly and hoping it won't fall thru and you won't be disappointed. That's a lot of things to hope for! I can see how it can take its toll.

I certainly hopehopehope the best for your success little spritely one.. it's going to happen. And it's going to be awesome. :) xoxox

8:44 pm

Blogger Dancinfairy said...

As of next week I will have to drive through Plumpton to get to work everyday.

It is very nice.

I am so glad things are happening for you.

11:48 am


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