Posts Tagged ‘burdens’

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2526: track by track

November 26, 2012

As stated in my previous post, my latest album 2526 is a loose diary of the last 2 years of my life, and focuses on love, and a range of facets of that emotion. I’m now going to take you through each track and tell you a little bit more about them all.

1. My Way / Sincerity

As one might surmise, these were originally two separate songs. “My Way” was a response to the burdens of parental love and pressure from those around you who know you best and suffocate you in their desire for you to achieve the best – at the same time as you love them for wanting the best for you, you can’t help but know that ultimately you’ll end up disappointing them. Try as I might, I could write a bridge for this song, and it was unfinished for ages. “Sincerity” came from wanting to write a song called “Sincerity”, and wanting to use the classic, hard-hitting beat from the remix to “It’s All About The Benjamins”; there seemed to be a real contrast between hard and soft.  But I couldn’t write a bridge for this song either, and it went unfinished for ages as well. One day, it dawned on me to just put the two together – the subject matter of the songs went well together, and while the overall tone of the songs is one of defiance and determination, there is also love and vulnerability. And most importantly, no bitterness.

2. Distance

This is one of my two favourite songs on the album. I was heavily into the song “I Miss You” by Beyoncé (from her masterpiece 4), and the night that I received the instrumental from Citizens of the World, I had been looking forward to Toby coming down to Bristol for the weekend (this was before I had moved to London) – we hadn’t seen each other for a while and I really missed him. Except that same night, he had called me to say that he probably wouldn’t be able to make it (in the end, he did). I was feeling melancholy and yet selfish as well, and the lyrics and melody to this song subsequently came in about 15 minutes. The lyrics so vividly capture the emotions I was feeling, and the vocal delivery is something that is supposed to be downbeat and yet sincere and heartfelt. The production is perfect. I am so grateful to have recorded this song.

3. Delete U

This song was written not long after Quiet Storm was done, and the piano intro is supposed to be reminiscent of Prince / The-Dream. I remember breaking up with one of my previous dalliances and just removing all trace of him from my life. It was intriguing that rather than tangible memories, we store a lot of initial information about friends and relationships digitally and so it’s all about “pressing delete” rather than throwing things in the trash. The use of terms such as “Facebook” and “Twitter” automatically date this song (probably to its detriment, although I personally don’t think it rings as unnaturally as the lyrics about getting off the Macbook and Facebook from Brandy and Monica’s otherwise-very-good “It All Belongs To Me”), but when I’ve dated my entire album through its title, it doesn’t really matter!

4. Important

I am well aware that this song sounds really similar to “Broken-Hearted Girl” by Beyoncé, but it’s not a bad song to use as a template and I really wanted the piano and drums to be straightforward – the vocals and lyrics are supposed to occupy centre stage in this song. I wanted to talk in an honest way about how it feels when you don’t know what is going on in a relationship, and whether your priorities and feelings really mesh with those of your partner’s. Are you on the same page? I left the song open-ended – we don’t know if the couple in the song stay together or break up, because although I personally tend towards the latter, the whole point is that life and love is not clear cut and the things we think we should do, we don’t always do.  Love is complicated.

5. Unforgettable

This song is a remix of / my spin on Drake’s “Unforgettable” from his first album Thank Me Later, and I loved the melancholy production. The chorus of my track I guess is a bit more reminiscent of the Nat King Cole classic; I wanted to have a rap song on my album, like “Armani Earrings” on Quiet Storm, but less incendiary and more vulnerable. The sample of Aaliyah just made Drake’s song so perfect. Mike has played such a big part in the last 3 years of my life that I didn’t know how to feel about it when he moved out of Bristol. Even though we worked together, it felt like we were drifting apart and I was sad about it. I wrote this song to encapsulate all of my emotions about the relationship with one of my best friends developing and evolving. Ultimately, I ended up moving a lot further away! I have grown up so much over the last 3 years, and I wanted to pay tribute to someone who had a considerable role to play in the man I am today. Friendship is love too, after all.

6. Phoenix Rising

This song evokes love as empowerment. This was the first track from Citizens of the World that I wrote to, and I had Nicole Scherzinger’s Killer Love album on repeat at the time, hence the namecheck in the first line. The production was ethereal, and I wanted a melody that really soared on the wings of the track. It was a challenging vocal to sing – particularly the end note! – but recording this track was really enjoyable because I got to do different and interesting things with my voice.

7. U Gotta Go

This song was much more fun and more upbeat – when I received the instrumental, it sounded so happy and pop! I immediately thought of “I Wanna Go” by Britney Spears – but I didn’t want to do something completely featherweight, so I flipped the song to make it a breakup anthem with some sassy lyrics about dumping a car in a lake that I cribbed from Tamia’s “Go” (aside: she is such a ridiculously talented singer!). I also wanted to make a poppy track that had some good vocal riffs in it – so I did that.

8. Sabo

This is my other favourite song on the album, because it is very personal and meaningful. Obviously, it’s addressed to Toby and it’s about him and us. I am so deeply, romantically and truly in love with him. He bought me a ring from Thomas Sabo for our 6-month anniversary, and I still wear it every day – I love it (black and silver are my favourite fashion colours, after all!) and I am so proud of it. I wanted to write a piano ballad the old fashioned way – chords and lyrics on top, no digital production – so that’s me playing the piano (the microphone isn’t great for recording the piano, so that’s why it sounds a bit honky-tonk). I was also in love with Beyonce’s “1+1” so I wanted to have some powerful vocals in the bridge, that really pulled out the soul that I wanted to express. The song turned out exactly how I wanted it to (honky-tonk aside), and I always knew it would be the end song / finale to my album.

Once again, I hope you enjoy the album!

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day one.

August 16, 2010

I will keep this entry brief as I’m exhausted, but I had my first day at my new job at Cirencester College, and it was epic but a success!  I did not enjoy the 5:45 wakeup, especially considering I had trouble getting to sleep the night before as my body clock is programmed not to sleep before midnight and I was half-consciously hyper about the job.  In the afternoon I could feel my fatigue kicking in briefly, but 20 minutes later I recovered and got a second wind, plus Rachel (the new girl who also started today in my faculty) felt the same so it might have just been a result of the information overload.

My main worry was the transport, as this week Mike is on holiday in Cornwall (he starts next Monday, and he will give me a lift on the way) and so I’m getting the bus to the train station, then the train to Kemble railway station and a taxi from there.  If the bus in the morning was late, I would risk missing my train; if the bus went too slowly, I would miss my train; if the train was delayed (although this would have had to be by a considerable amount), I would miss my connection to Kemble.  But this morning bodes well as everything ran smoothly, and I was lucky enough to be able to jump straight into a taxi (despite my connecting train being held up 5 minutes) and get to Cirencester College before 8:30 (I didn’t have to be there before 9am today, but my official start time will be 8:30 so it was a nice trial run). The taxi driver was kind and friendly, which was another good omen for the day. Transport-wise, as soon as my new colleagues heard that I was relying on public transport this week, they organised between them to collect me from and run me to the local station every morning and afternoon more or less, so that will save on taxi fare (which is a financial burden lifted!). I was really touched how welcomed everyone made me feel, and how well I got on with Rachel and all my other new colleagues, both those I had met previously and those who were new faces.

As for what we covered, I was a little overwhelmed by the information (although in comparison to last year, apparently they’ve made it a much less intense start!) but most of it seems to make sense and I have more or less sorted out everything that I need; Thursday and Friday are enrolment days following the publication of A-Level results, so that will be the first day I get to meet students, which is both exciting and daunting, but after today I feel more confident about it.  I am finally a grown up, even though it still hasn’t sunk in that I am actually employed there, I have a real, full-time, professional job and I am not just pretending or on placement! My confidence will hopefully grow.  A sign of things to come is that I have just made my own sandwiches for lunch, whereas as a child (and even as a young adult!) my mother always made my sandwiches. It’s time to take control!  I’m feeling tired but feeling good and positive and I hope that this week goes well 🙂

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end game.

April 18, 2010

It sounds silly to say, considering the last 8 months that I’ve had, but sometimes I still feel a waste of space.  I get down sometimes and I feel so indecisive, so useless… I don’t know what I want.  I have made huge changes and huge improvements in my life, and I am so grateful to that and I appreciate things like I never used to, so I don’t feel I’m being ungrateful or taking anything for granted.  It’s just that despite everything seemingly going my way for once, despite the career change I’m making and the reasons I have for doing it, I still wonder… what is it all for?

I always hated the question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I’ve never had any idea, apart from when I was a child and I used to fantasise about running away and catching a plane to America at age 13, so I could be a superfamous pop singer by the magical age of 17.  Needless to say, that didn’t quite pan out (although I am very proud of my latest album Quiet Storm) and since then, I’ve felt at a loss, and somewhat a failure, for not having achieved that ridiculous and yet wildly romantic childhood dream.  In much the same way as I’ve been academically brilliant, I have always been able to sing, dance, write songs and play instruments because I just always assumed that I was capable of those things.  I never doubted myself, and through sheer force of will and plain naïve arrogance I turned out to be really good at all of that.  The only time I’ve ever failed any kind of test was my driving test, and 5 years on I’m making moves to finally erase that failure.  Generally, I’ve believed in myself and it’s pushed me to the top.  So why am I not famous, successful, rich and happy?

I look to my twin Ciara. She was born on the exact same day as me, and in her life she’s accomplished exactly what I wanted to but never did. Where did I go wrong? Did I ever have a chance, or was it just luck?  If I had my life over again, what could I do differently to end up where she is? Does that mean my achievements are nothing? I’m not going to brag about anything I’ve done in my life (the last paragraph sounded plenty up myself for this entry) but I know that I’ve achieved things which are pretty decent, some would say admirable.  But it means far less to me than perhaps it should, because it’s never really gotten me anywhere that’s mattered to me.

But then, looking at what the music industry is, especially now, I think perhaps I was naïve in believing that I could give up everything and just be famous.  Having the talent is one thing, but I don’t know if I have the stamina to stick out the years of churning out radio-friendly fodder to get to a stage where I can call some of the shots and have any sort of creative control. Especially now, where I’ve got to the stage of clearly becoming an “adult” (i.e. old) because I find 90% of what is played on the radio recycled garbage.  As I’ve grown my musical identity, I have gained more fixed ideas of what I want musically and who I am, and I certainly don’t fit into any of the current moulds.  I would not last five minutes on X-Factor and similar programmes, because even if I have the talent to make it, I don’t have the obedient personality which can be crammed into a shiny black suit and forced to sing mundane cover versions with choirs and key changes.  Frankly, I’d rather die.

But then, we all end up dying anyway, right? So I have let’s say, 65 years, to make something of my life.  Ideally, I want to have a life where I’m remembered for all time, but that doesn’t seem to be too likely does it? Either I go on a killing spree (which is a little bit messy for my liking), or I become a leading politician (I’d rather go on the killing spree), or I do something incredible on a grand scale.  This incredible thing was going to be the super-influential singing career idea, but I guess I’d rather sing for my friends and those online who appreciate my music (THANKYOU ALL btw!) and get to write, produce and sing the music I want, which means sacrificing the fame. Oh well.

My logic for going into Careers Guidance was to do an incredible thing on a smaller scale.  If I can’t have / don’t want the burdens and trappings of fame, I could still touch people’s lives as an individual, because doing Good Things gives meaning to my life and my actions, and it’s the meaning that I truly seek.  Just as my friends and I influence each other (again, thankyou all of you! YOu know who you are), I would like to be a good influence in people’s lives when they need it most, to enable them to progress and achieve what they want.  If it’s a less grandiose dream, it still has its heart in the right place, I feel.  And perhaps one of the people that I advise, that I support, that I help, will become the superstar I always dreamed of being.  That would make me feel incredibly proud, and perhaps that would be enough. I just hope that I do get a job as a guidance worker somewhere, because I finish this course in 2 months (it’s flown by, hasn’t it!) and I need the money, I need the experience and I also need to get my own place and not waste any more time!  Otherwise I will end up dying, and not having made anything of my life on whatever scale.  And that would be a disappointment and a waste of myself.  I need to make my life a life worth living.

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self-control.

September 7, 2009

The past couple of days, I have been in various situations which have prompted me to think about the values of restraint and self-control.  Most of the time they are positive: I have a spreadsheet on my computer to track my evening snacking, and in the last 6 months I have managed to reduce my evening snacking to only 29% of a month (this is more difficult and more impressive than it sounds, believe me).  Restraining from this has complemented my gym regime and I’ve lost weight and toned up as a result.  I’ve been restraining from spending too much and buying too many pretty things because it’s only now that I’ve got money coming in again, and despite enduring desperate cravings for certain items, I realised that these cravings pass and I don’t need the things I think I need as much as I do.  (I am still getting that Gucci bracelet in the next month or so, make no mistake.) After wrecking my Nintendo DS during a bout of throwing a Naomi I have been making a conscious effort not to get so annoyed at Street Fighter IV on my PS3, and just taking a breather when I get frustrated.  I have been cutting down on my cigarettes only to preserve my voice, and it seems to be helping (or at least not getting worse), and I don’t feel quite as guilty.

Today at work, I seemed to be having a good day, working for my two bosses Cass and Kerry.  I was mainly helping Kerry today with endless spreadsheets, and I’ll continue doing that tomorrow.  However, Cass popped his head around the door after lunch and asked me if I could help him move some boxes from one room back to another (where they originally were, and where I moved them from right at the beginning of my job about 6 weeks ago). I felt sorry for him when he found out they had to go back, and it turns out that when I agreed to “help” him, I would actually be doing it by myself.  Fine, I said, I would go and do it when I came to a break with Kerry’s stuff, which I did.  I was barely physically able to move one of the cages full of stock (there were 6, Cass had told me there were 5) – Cass envisioned the whole task would take an hour or so, and then I could reload the cages once I was finished.  After 2 cages, the second of which I had to get a policeman to help me with when it came to pushing it up the slope towards its destination, I was aching and drenched in sweat.  And quite pissed off!  I couldn’t do any more, Cass had gone for the day so I couldn’t explain that the cages were just too heavy for me to physically move (and I am no weakling), and there was no way it was possible for me to empty them all before the end of the day, let alone fill them up with more stock.  (I am also quite confident that Cass did not fill up the cages himself, otherwise he would not have asked me to transfer them all within one hour, because he would have realised that that was an unrealistic and fairly dangerous demand!) I felt that I might let him down in some way (though I hope he will understand, he is usually very reasonable) and I hope that he knows by now that I am the farthest thing from workshy.  It’s just not physically possible for me to do, especially not within tonight’s time constraints.  Tomorrow if I have half a day to do it, and the cages are split into (much) smaller loads, it might be possible.  We’ll see.

In addition to this considerable irritation, I was trying to call my mother at work to get a lift home on her way back, since I was staying at work later than usual; it took me over an hour to get through to her work on the phone, and even then when her colleague answered the phone, he asked me to call back again in 5 minutes (I said no, and told him that I would rather my mother called me back – I think I had been calling that shop enough for one day).  So I was quite annoyed about that, although in both cases I know that nobody was deliberately at fault, and that I should keep my rapidly rising anger in check.  Somehow, I managed to do this, and me and my mum exchanged stories about our frustrating days on the journey home.  I bought 2 dvds at Tesco (Bride Wars & Notorious) and plan to relax with some chocolate Mars drink and good pudding (tonight will be a night where I probably will snack – I plead extenuating circumstances!) watching one of them.

The final straw tonight was when I got home from work with my mother, only to have problems deleting a message from our answerphone (which hates me); apparently, it senses my finger on the delete button and refuses to work, though I have witnessed my mother deleting messages and she does nothing different from what I do.  My parents both made a comment and I exploded, prompting my father to mock my “grumpiness”.  I stormed off (I was definitely grumpy, but there was no need to point it out – what do you think you are going to achieve by highlighting my bad mood?  Certainly not make me feel better…) and sat in the small computer room on the floor, and my mum came in and said that just after I’d left, he had done the same thing to her (her day had not been great either).  I didn’t have a massive explosion of anger, but there just comes a point where you can hold things in and hold things in and be aware of not pushing your anger or frustration or emotions onto other people, but just holding your tongue and taking deep breaths and dealing with frustration calmly and rationally… and it all spills out anyway.  Some people just don’t seem to realise that they pile burden on top of burden on top of you, and I’m not superhuman – eventually, after enough pressure, I snap, just like anyone else.  Is that a fault of mine?  Should I have more self-control?  Or is it an issue where I restrain too much and let things build up? When is it right to not say anything and deal with your issues by yourself for fear of upsetting or alienating someone else, and when is the time to speak up and say “I can’t take anymore”, before you explode?  How do you know when the right time to do that is?  In short, how do you predict when enough is enough?

As I said at the start of the post, although I recognise I have a temper (which developed due to Street Fighter and also due to various trying situations at the Perfume Shop), I am fairly good at controlling it, especially around other people.  But yesterday, discussing Jill’s death with my parents, I think I was the one who put my foot in my mouth.  I was asking about what kind of cancer she had died of – a reasonable question, I thought.  My mother didn’t know.  I found it odd that Jill’s husband, despite the fact he had spoken to my mother at least 3 times in the past couple of weeks and had asked her to pass on updates of Jill’s health to mutual friends of hers and my mother’s, had neglected to mention what type of cancer she was actually suffering from.  I understand people being private, especially in times of suffering and grief, but I thought that generally, people suffer from lung cancer or breast cancer or cancer of the womb or cancer of something.  If you say “She has cancer”, the automatic question is surely “cancer of what?” I found this weird that nobody seemed to know, and that Graham had not passed on this vital piece of information to my mother, especially if my mother was then supposed to inform other people herself.  And yet, my parents were both like “you don’t ask that kind of thing!” I understand not wanting to probe into someone’s grief, but I found it strange that the question had not been asked, and even stranger that my mother hadn’t been told in the first place!  Yet after our discussion, I felt like I was somehow unfeeling or tactless, and that I had said the wrong thing (my father’s sister also died of cancer – to this day, me and my mother know very little about it).  I guess that everyone deals with death in their own way, and I understand that grief is a private and individual process that not everyone wants to share or shout about.  But I don’t understand people not asking basic questions; I later spoke to my mum about it and she said that I hadn’t upset her at all, but that as you get older, you learn more and more as you get older not to disturb others’ fragile emotional states.  I understand this already, but I just don’t know the rules about what you talk about and what you don’t talk about in times like these.  If we don’t speak up and ask questions, even about fragile or poignant situations, how do we become better informed? Is it more respectful to be silent and remain in ignorance? Is restraint really the better option in this instance?  I don’t get why people don’t talk about these things.  If we did, then maybe it would clarify, if not ease the grieving process / understanding of exactly why Jill died.  So I don’t really know at all just how much restraint or self-control is a good thing after all.