Apparently, according to a random website I (Imogen) have just read, June 16th was National Fresh Veggies day. It’s sandwiched between National Lobster Day and National Apple Strudel Day, and we haven’t got long to wait before its Tropical Cocktail Day (June 28th) or National Meteor Watch Day (June 30th). I’m going to assume these are American holidays, and sure enough I’ve just googled the British ones which make a lot more sense: we have National Armed Forces Day and National Insurance Awareness day coming up, and not much else… ah England.
Going to level with you; I haven’t had a clue what to write for this journal post. Life has hardly changed since the last one. We still haven’t played any shows (Womad festival is our next - c’monnnn Boris let us loose) and although we’ve done a handful of great writing retreats and been ‘doing our own creative thing’ in other respects, playing as a three together onstage (or four, including Olly our percussionist) still feels like a distant dream. We often get asked questions like ‘what’s your favourite show been so far’ or ‘what do you like better, recording or touring.’ For me, it’s performing every time. I think my favourite shows have been the ones where we haven’t felt any pressure or expectation, and we’ve felt able to be more imaginative, flow and experiment and take risks.
Our first ‘show’ as a band was back in 2015 after a three month writing and recording stint in Scotland, where the three of us lived together in a bungalow in a town called Leven and wrote and recorded our first two EPs in a small room just off a local food bank. We decided to do a performance at the end of the trip for our friends and other people who had helped us with it all, and set up our instruments in the round, played through small amps and just did our thing. It was rough, unpolished, energetic and felt like the start of something. I still remember the atmosphere of excitement and possibility. Since then we’ve done a lot more, but consistently our best performances have been the ones where we’ve felt the most in control of what the audience gets to encounter, when we curate a moment we can all inhabit together and really feel connected, whatever that looks like.
If had to name a recent performance that has lingered in my memory as an audience member, it would have to be Richard Dawson’s set at Green Man Festival 2017. I didn’t really know anything about him before this set. I had heard a handful of friends recommending him to me and I’d listened to a couple of songs the car when we were passing through Newcastle on tour. I wanted to see what the fuss was about and dragged a couple of friends with me to the stage, not entirely sure what it would be like. Anyway. Shivers. The whole set was fantastic. There was this one moment in particular where he was singing a traditional folk song a cappella and stomping along to himself. The song was a long one, with a multitude of complicated verses and at the start of each one Dawson went up in pitch by a semitone. By the end of about ten verses he was red-faced, his voice was breaking and hoarse but he was still totally committed to what he was doing. The simultaneous power and fragility of it all made me cry and I genuinely shook with emotion as he screamed to a halt. It was amazing. I think I was so moved because it was radical, authentic, vulnerable, messy and powerful all at once. I was connected and transported to another dimension. Sometimes when it all gets a bit hard I think back to that moment and it inspires me to keep performing.
We’ve got a few shows booked in the Autumn and a couple of things in the pipeline before then (keep your eyes and ears peeled). We’re currently dreaming up ways that we can harness the energy and possibility of this new era into our performances and how we can create the connection and shared experience we all need after this long period of isolation. After such a long break it’ll probably be rough, raw and messy but also authentic, vulnerable and powerful - that’s the hope anyway.