Recording my debut solo EP has been a rather long process – I actually started the first arrangements back in the summer of 2014 up on the west cost of Scotland in a croft with no electricity but glorious views across Gairloch Bay. When I first started arranging the first of the songs, I didn’t play the harp and I was still struggling to do more than simple strumming on the guitar. I guess you could say that the journey to making my EP has been beautifully tangled up in my journey to become a better instrumentalist.
It did look as though the EP would be finished before Christmas last year but, frustratingly, I came down with a cold virus that kicked my immune system about for around 3 months. While the husky grumbly voice is fab in many ways, it’s not how I normally sound so I had to be patient, allow the virus to burn itself out and rest my voice so I wouldn’t damage it.
Thankfully, the virus did kick the bucket and last month I was able to find time to record again. It only took two sessions and one more editing session to get the first cut of the EP.
One and all, I give you the first cut of ‘The Gates of Elfinland,’ my debut solo EP:
Now is the point where I have to listen through the cut and make notes on anything that isn’t quite right – ‘ear work’ as my wonderful sound engineer Simon Fairbourn calls it – so it’ll still be a bit of time before this lovely creation gets sent off to the replicators (along with fabulous cover art from Kevan Manwaring) but I’m hoping to have the EP ready for sale in time for my gig at the Swindon Folksingers Club on 22nd June.
Keep watching here or on my twitter feed for more news on my EP!
I’m trying something new this year, after some encouragement from my partner, Kevan. I’m making a conscious effort to put aside an entire day at least twice a month for creating.
In the past, my creative time has been mostly slotted around everything else I do which often means I have very little time just to create. Even when I get to the point of being able to create, I’m often too tired. This, in turn, has left me feeling frustrated and, yes, I will admit wanting to walk away from creating things altogether more than once because of the stress the wanting to create and not being able to.
I’d almost forgotten how much creating and working on new material boosts my mood and gives me a sense of accomplishment. Thankfully, I got a reminder when, as a challenge, I learned and recorded myself singing a new folk song for #TradSongTues earlier in the week (before the cold virus really kicked me down).
I suppose it seems obvious that I should have put aside a serious amount of time for creating but in a world that is increasingly becoming worrying to live in putting such time aside seemed very much like a selfish indulgence when I should be doing something more ‘useful’ and helping others. I didn’t want to be self-absorbed or only concerned with my own life; breaking from the ‘me first’ mentality seemed like an act of rebellion but perhaps I took it too far. What I failed to take into account is that I work a full time job that is nothing to do with my creativity and that I am involved in various community related pieces of work – it’s not like I don’t help out in my communities. It’s not unreasonable to take two or three days off a month to do the things that make my heart sing.
Of course, me being me, I needed to have someone else say “it’s ok, go and create” before I could actually allow myself to set aside time to do it. Thank you, Kevan, for being the one to say it.
I’m not writing this to justify my choice; it is, after all, my time and my decision. I write this more in case anyone reading this is finding themselves in the same situation. It’s ok to take some time out and to create art, whatever your art form is. Art gives us hope, provides a little escape from the grind of the world, opens our minds to other ideas and possibilities, allows us to spill our souls onto pages, out of instruments and mouths etc. Art is important and so is the time for you to create.
Today has been my first ‘creative Saturday.’ I was a little slow getting off the mark, deciding what I wanted to work on and tapping into the creative force within me. It’s had a long nap so needed some prodding. Perhaps I didn’t achieve as much as I thought I would but I still did it. I created today and I feel great. At the end of today, I have a harp line for one of the tracks on my upcoming EP and a lyric inspired by a book I recently read (Wychwood by George Mann in case you’re wondering); if I hadn’t put aside today as a creative day I wouldn’t have either of these things.
I’m looking forward to more creative Saturdays going forward and seeing what comes out of them. If you are looking to schedule in more time for your own creativity then do it, don’t feel guilty for doing so, and enjoy yourself. The nitty gritty of the world will wait for one day. Let’s see what wonders we can add to this world of ours to make it a more bearable place to live in.
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