conway court

This is just a quick note to say that I’ve decided to bring the Two White Cranes project to a close. I feel like most of the songs I’ve written as Two White Cranes, even the ones I wrote recently, seem to belong to a person I don’t wholly feel like anymore. I also feel really tired of trying to promote myself and my music. Not because that’s not a great thing to do, but because I’ve been doing that, and supporting other people to do that, for what feels like a long time. It seems like now is a good time to have a little pause.

I’m pretty sure I will keep writing songs as it’s one of the things I like doing the most but I’m not sure what I’ll do with the songs or what they’ll sound like so we’ll have to wait and see.

I want to thank everyone who has supported me and Two White Cranes; all the people who’ve played with me and recorded me and put me on and come to watch me and bought my music. Its incredibly nice to know that people find something to enjoy in the thoughts I have and I hope I can make something even more interesting in the future.

I will still be playing in two super cool bands TOWEL and TOP KNOT the band sometimes.

I have recorded a few last Two White Cranes songs in my living room which you can have for free here
https://twowhitecranes.bandcamp.com/album/conway-court

I will keep this blog open and probably I’ll keep using the name two white cranes for writing any further opinions I have on Bruce Springsteen in future so keep an eye out!

Thanks very much everyone xxxx

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miso

this song is about how, almost a year ago now, i moved from bristol where i have mostly always lived, to brighton where i was actually born but have mostly not lived.

moving city is a really hard thing to do, especially when you are sort of set in your places and people and surroundings. i am very glad i moved and i’m very happy to be living by the sea. my favourite thing is the way sometimes the sea seems to move itself into the streets of the city, wrapping all the cars and lamp posts with thick white sea fog. i also like the people here and the flat i live in and the cats i have.

i am glad i found a way to express how sad it feels to feel new and unsure of everyone and everything and how its weird that i often can’t remember the name of the street i live on because its a bit like the name of a street in bristol but not quite and i get confused.

i hope you like the song. i recorded it myself in my living room and eventually it will be part of my next album which might be called conway court.

 

i have some shows coming up:

Friday April 21st – Pop Recs Ltd, Sunderland
Monday April 24th – Mono, Glasgow
Thursday April 27th – Wharf Chambers, Leeds
Saturday May 6th – Deadpunk Alldayer, Bristol
Tuesday May 9th – Hoxton Bar, London
Saturday May 27th – Roll for the Soul, Bristol

 

 

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permissions

In making the songs on my new furore ep (which you can listen to here) I was attempting to give myself permission to do something new. To not worry about whether anyone liked it and to trust my own feelings and opinions about sounds and how they fit together. I also wanted to give myself permission to sing, without any other instruments distracting from my voice.

I don’t feel that I look the way I am supposed to onstage and often when I am playing solo or in bands I feel that I am doing something wrong or that I shouldn’t be there. Even though I’ve been playing in bands for over ten years now I still feel this way.

In furore I am giving myself permission to look and sound the way I do, without any guitar to hide my tummy, no frets to look at. At times I have thought about the lack of instrument giving me the opportunity to be more performative, to move and use my body as an instument. Its something I would like to do, but I am also being very gentle with myself. Above all I beleive in being comfortable on stage. There are so many reasons for us not to feel comfortable on stage and some people use that and react against it, moving themselves and thats great. But it is also great to be very still and do what you feel able to do on stage. Just the process of being there and making music is a performance. So I am giving myself permission to do what feels ok which at the moment is standing still with my eyes closed.

I hope that these permissions help me to make music and live performances that make other people feel that they can allow themsleves on stage, in whatever way they feel comfortable. If you are afraid that is ok because it is scary to make music you care about in front of other people. I think a lot of performers don’t really know what they are going to do or feel on stage until they get there. So many messages we receive tell us that we are not good enough to be on stage, to make music, to express what we are thinking. But we are good enough.

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the jelas

i wrote a review of the jelas ep Beetroot Yourself 3 years ago and facebook memories just reminded me, but also the original site it was on has gone! so here it is. I still 100% love the jelas

The Jelas/Lego

Today I did two things: I watched The Culture Show documentary about Lego and architecture, and listened to The Jelas’ new EP Beetroot Yourself.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03vkt8l/The_Culture_Show_2013_2014_Lego_The_Building_Blocks_of_Architecture

/
http://timeofasking.bandcamp.com/album/the-jelas-beetroot-yourself

I always think of The Jelas as smart and complicated. To me any song in anything other than 4/4 is complicated but I think by anyone’s standards The Jelas are pretty intricate. They are angular and fidgety and their lyrics are poetic and funny and it all fits together perfectly but only just. Listening to their new EP Beetroot Yourself makes me think about complexity in art. How its one of the best, most rewarding things a piece of art can be. But how it also can be terrible and off putting and self-indulgent and elitist. The Jelas are none of these things, but why?

I think the components of a Jelas song are really wonderfully accessible. The vocal melodies are really strong and simple and they carry the songs forward. The guitar and bass riffs are controlled and the drums are melodic to me, rather than repetitive. In fact there’s a complete lack of repetition, which is probably where the sense of complexity comes from, but familiar elements keep you listening. Furthermore the lyrics are totally and completely beautiful. They are poetic, filled with imagery and metaphor but Colin and Nat’s delivery is so unaffected they never come across as pretentious, only truthful. They do the things that the best of lyrics do which is talk about both the mundane and the profound in strange and exciting ways.

“The Italian coffee maker is tall and has got broad shoulders, he’s the definition of a tough barista”

In the documentary I watched this morning Tom Dychoff showed how the invention of Lego coincided with the epoch of post-war architectural ideals. Ethical and imaginative, modernist architecture put together simple, plain, unadorned spacial elements (so bricks) to create socially oriented buildings and cities. Dychoff draws a link between the simplicity of Lego with this focus on easily constructed egalitarian architecture. He also compares Lego builds to the post-modernist structures of the late twentieth century, brightly coloured shapes collected into fantastical towers.

I imagine this EP as like a city, built of so many little lego bricks of riffs, melodies and rhythms. Where The Jelas stand out is the freedom of imagination that goes into their songwriting process. What they create is an asymmetrical tower block, with square turrets and tiny triangular windows filled with pus but the elements are the same bricks anyone would use. Their subjects are universal concerns; long term relationships, illness, time.

The feeling of egalitarian, utopian concerns are not imagined. The Jelas are super DIY and unwavering members of the Bristol music community (I’ve borrowed their amps and drums loads of times). Their songs are generous and are created from the perspective of ardent listeners as well as talented musicians. This EP is powerful, beautiful and fun. An example of imaginative play enacted and formalised into a real life thing, like a lego pre-fab. True DIY.

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alexandra leaving

A death is a good time to remember a life; to reflect on how lives affect and interact with each other. Reflection goes on for years after a person is gone, forever shifting in the memories and realisations left behind.

I remember listening to Leonard Cohen in the dark of the wine shop I worked in, after hours, when we had locked the doors and turned the music up and opened a bottle. Jane told me to listen to this: her favourite Leonard Cohen song. Different to my favourite Leonard Cohen song, but in this time of his departure its this shared memory that comes back to me. I can see her clearly, sitting on a wine crate, cigarette in one hand, glass in the other, eyes closed.

“And you who had the honor of her evening,

And by the honor had your own restored –

Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving;

Alexandra leaving with her lord.”

It is remarkable that one person has written so many words, so perfectly poignant, so ready to be repeated to ourselves and to each other. But everyone, when they depart, leaves behind moments and words and memories and making sense of them takes forever. There is something very sweet in mourning someone collectively loved, collectively known. There is no need to explain this loss to someone.

When my dad passed away, almost two years ago now, I had so little understanding of death and grief. I had had no experience of loss like that. I didn’t know what to do or expect or feel even. And I had no way of explaining it to anyone else. I don’t think the process of mourning and remembering him will ever end, of making sense of our life together and our lives apart, before I arrived and after he was gone.

But I know that every time another person leaves us, especially these artists, who meant so much to him and to me, it is another chance to process, to reflect, to feel sad and happy and most of all grateful for the people who’ve shaped us. My dad loved Leonard Cohen, he loved all kinds of music and there is no question that this is what he gave me, and how he shaped me. And with every passing year and every passing inspiration I remember a childhood filled with music and think about how it led me to the life I live now. 

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Reasons to make an album

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about making a new album. I have made two under the name Two White Cranes and I’m very happy with them both – both seemed to be enjoyed by the people who heard them and both really accurately capture particular (and very connected) periods in my life.

The process of recording and releasing both was super interesting. The first one I recorded for free because of the very kind Matt Stevens who let me come to his place of work over two weekends and use a demo studio to make them, and he used his prodigious skills to make them sound good. I got very confused about how to release that album but eventually I put it online for pay what you want and a very surprising (to me) number of people bought it and I used that money to press some CDs with the help of Stitch Stitch records.

The second album was recorded at Sound Savers in London with the very nice Mark Jasper. I paid for this recording with my own money. This was partly because Trust Fund (a band I was in at the time) had been given some money by a record label and I got a bit of that money and decided to use it to make the Grubs and Two White Cranes albums. I guess at that point in time making music seemed like the most important thing to be doing so it seemed like a good thing to spend money on. I then split the cost of making CDs with Stitch Stitch again and Oddbox records made a tape version. Later on Happy Happy Birthday To Me also made a tape release in the US.

So basically that’s how I did it before. Once I did it for free and once I used my own money. But now I don’t know what to do. Although its amazing and liberating in many ways to make a record for free it relies on luck and it also means not paying someone to do it, which feels unfair as I know so many really brilliant and self employed record producers.

I’m not really in a position to pay to make a record again right now but if it was something I really wanted to do I could save up I’m sure, if I was determined. The truth is though making an album no longer feels like the most important thing in the world. I want to be able to live in the city I’ve just moved to (Brighton), which means having a job. And I guess I want to read books and swim and stuff like that. After I’ve paid for rent and chocolate and other important things I could definitely save up what’s left to make a record fund. But that takes time and there’s this weird thing I have with songs where I get very afraid they’ll get too old to record and then they’ll never be recorded, they’ll be forgotten. That’s a big fear I have. What if these songs stop seeming worth recording after a year or so of living only in my brain. The other thing is they tend to get bigger and more complex, the longer they stay in my brain. And when I eventually do record them they might not have the simplicity that is probably my favourite thing about my own music.

Another thought I’ve had is trying to get funding. I’ve looked in to some funding options and they sound good but the main problem I come up against is trying to convince myself, let alone someone else, why I should make an album. I guess I do know why I want to make an album – because its fun and meaningful and satisfying. And perhaps I feel like I need to quite a lot. And because it gives me such pleasure when people listen to my songs and tell me they like them and that they mean something to them. That feeling is just honestly the absolute best. Those reasons are all so selfish though. I have no idea how it would help the rest of the world if I made an album. I suppose I do know that I can inspire other people who feel they want to make music and that’s one of my favourite things about being in bands.  But I can do that by playing live and probably better because when I play live I make all my mistakes so everyone knows that anyone can be on stage if they want.

Camille said I should make some demos myself which I think is a good idea so I’ll try and do that for now, in my bedroom. I suppose the interesting thing to me is that the decision to make something and put it into the world sometimes seems so easy and sometimes seems so hard. But what I’m trying to think is that the difficulty and the indecision are not necessarily signs that something is not worthwhile or not good enough but more signs that I am understanding more about the process of creating something. Speed and simplicity are not the only valuable qualities in music (although for a long time I felt they really were!) and it is probably ok to take my time and let some songs fall away if they need to. 

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Cafe Kino

I’m currently preparing to leave bristol which is something I’ve done before but it feels a lot more final this time. One of the main reasons is that although I’ve made a lot of connections in bristol in my roughly 20 years of living here (on and off) this time I am leaving the biggest and most immovable one which is Café Kino. All my other connections are friends and bands and family members who will visit and tour and send me facebook messages. But Café Kino is so much more than a person or a place.

I became involved with Kino when it first opened on ninetree hill in 2006. I volunteered as a front of house assistant for a few shifts before I left for university. I remember sitting at the window, reading middlemarch and hoping no one would come in because honestly I didn’t know what I was doing. I was so shy then; I was scared of everyone there, but the founders of Cafe Kino were a group of extremely welcoming, caring, thoughtful people. They taught me how to make coffee on the beautiful machine (which lasted until 2015) and over the years everyone involved have taught me thousands of other things. How to listen, how to express your ideas, how to run a venue, how to make a kino burger, how to make a rota, how to do sound, what to listen to, what to read.
I visited Kino a lot when I was away at university, watching it grow, watching it move across the road. I remember helping to prise up the concrete covering the beautiful tile floor and refurbishing chairs in my holidays. When I returned to Bristol in 2012 I started working there full time. My time at Kino has completely changed me as a feminist and a musician which are probably the two things I identify as most strongly. The people I have worked with there have inspired me in countless ways. It is the only place I have ever worked where I always felt good about my abilities and how I looked, where I felt emotionally supported and understood. I’ve done customer service in so many environments and it’s the only place where, despite it often being insanely busy, I’ve felt confident and sure that my colleagues are there to help. I have listened to/watched/performed more music there than in any other place in the world. I have been there at cleaning 7am and at 1am. I have been there with boyfriends, family members, new friends, old friends and touring bands and its always been a friendly, happy, exciting place to be.
I urge all of you to support the places like this in your cities, which are not only important because of the art they foster but also because they are amazing places to work, nurturing skills and ideas. Most of all I want to tell you that co-operatives are an incredibly powerful and radical thing. I try to use the principals of respect and responsibility I’ve learned from working in a co-operative in all areas of my life; in my other jobs and my bands and in my relationships with other people.
Anyway to finish my love letter to Kino I just want to list some of the musical and culinary experiences I’ve had there that have affected me the most.

Top 5 shows:
(I can’t remember the dates or even years of any of these shows sorry)
Harry and the Potters + Martha + Frozy – Grace Denton put this show on in the summer and it was the most packed I’ve ever seen the basement. There were loads of young people, everyone was jumping around. This was the first time I ever saw Martha and I also spent the rest of the evening hitting on harry potter so it was honestly the best night of my life.
Glenn Jones + Headfall – Headfall are some of the most important people in Café Kino’s history. They also happen to be the best band in Bristol. Glenn Jones made one of my favourite albums to play on Sunday morning shift. So yeah this gig was pretty perfect.

Ichi + The Middle Ones – This was part of the incredible year with the middle ones. Anna and Grace did one show a month for 12 months with a whole loads of amazing supports. This one was fun because the basement was being redeveloped and the show was upstairs. Ichi was incredible as ever and The Middle Ones played on ninetree hill and I sang with them.

Tenniscoats + I Know I have no collar + secret Rachel Dadd – This show was super magical. The tenniscoats played totally un amplified and they were just incredible. Everything about it was awesome.
Los Cripis + Bellies + The Sorry People – Los cripis are an amazing garage band from. We took them to the hillgrove afterwards and made them eat pickled eggs. Bellies really nailed it too.

Honourable mentions: Every Hallie & the Annies set, The Nervy Betters, Jeffrey Lewis, MXLX, Pete Shadbolt talking about physics.

Top 5 food/drink:
Spicy Burger with a hash brown and peanut butter – The spicy kino burger is one of the human races greatest inventions. The burgers take fucking ages to make but it’s totally worth it. Also the mayo that we make at Kino is better than any other vegan mayo you can buy and I know because I’ve tried them all. You can only add fun extras like peanut butter if you’re friends with the chefs which I am.
Bacon sandwich with vegan cheese – The day we got vegan cheese at café kino was really a day to remember. If you add it to the bacon sandwich then you’ve got a guaranteed party.

Black Americano –drinking a black Americano in Kino on a quiet morning is an incomparable pleasure.

Any soup Jenny has ever made – Every chef at Kino is incredible and they all have their own talents. Jenny is really a flavour machine and her soups really make me happy in a way I didn’t know soup could.
Every cake ever – cake at kino is so much more than cake.

Honourable mentions: Dave’s cold brew, fizzy espressos, Jen’s ice teas, the coleslaw, curly fries.

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