You can’t start the healing until you feel the feeling
As my album ‘Chosen Daughter’ is released on Friday I thought now would be a good time to tell you the story of why I made it.
A couple of years ago I woke up on a Saturday morning feeling overwhelmed by all the shit that women and girls suffer. It was around the time of all the #MeToostories coming to light and I was feeling beaten down by all the horrific experiences being shared. On this particular morning I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t sickened, and I wasn’t even motivated to try and make things better….I was just sad. Sometimes I do feel sad, I guess, about how hard it is to be female in the world; knowing what I’ve been through because of my gender, and, worse than that, knowing I’m one of the lucky ones. But there isn’t always space to feel this, partly because maybe if we did we wouldn’t be able to carry on with the business of living our lives, but perhaps also because we’re trying to prove we’re not as weak and pathetic as the culture tells us we are. We have to be extra strong because women who display emotions are discredited, even labelled hysterical. Besides, Pop Feminism tells us we’re super women. We can buy the mug to match. But what can we do when we just feel sad?
On that Saturday, I wanted a record to listen to that would soothe me and sit with me in that sadness. I wanted a woman to sing to me: I’ve felt this too; it’s hard sometimes; you’re not alone. I wanted to feel it was ok to not always be fighting, but to sometimes be crying. To recognise that oppression and abuse is something that we internalise and perversely inflict on ourselves. To recognise, too, that freedom isn’t just something that is externally granted or withheld, but something that has to be found within. Only I couldn’t find that record. Not specifically. I found angry records, and empowering records, and records that were a different kind of sad. And so I thought: ‘oh, I’ll have to make one.’ And that became the guiding principle of ‘Chosen Daughter’. What might a teenage girl need to hear? What might I have needed to hear on that shitty Saturday morning?
My producer Mattie was really supportive of this and together we leaned into femininity and melancholy. We made the music delicate and vulnerable: freeing the highest parts of my vocals and embellishing the songs with lush string quartet arrangements (written by Kate St John).
The reviews that are starting to come in are focussing heavily on the content, particularly on elements of my family history. I can understand this; these stories are interesting and I’m grateful for any and all coverage that helps my music reach people (the problem of gender imbalance amongst reviewers is a topic for another time…) But I want you to know that these family stories were just the jumping off point for the album, not the landing place. It isn’t an academic exercise or an episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ It’s music. It’s a song from my soul to yours.
Forgive me if it seems like I’m telling you what to feel about this album. I really don’t want to do that. Part of the conundrum of promoting an album is that giving background and information about the songs helps to get interest and maybe coverage, but takes away your listeners’ freedom to interpret the music for themselves. I just don’t want you to be put off by the facts. I don’t want you to hear me in the songs: I want you to hear yourself. Same goes if you’re a man; I hope you enjoy the record, even if it wasn’t made specifically for you.
And so for those of you who haven’t already got your copy of the album through my crowdfunder, I hope you’ll listen to it when it comes out on Friday. And if you do, I hope you’ll listen not with your head but with your heart. If it moves you, then that’s the only kind of success I’m looking for.
Thank you for reading.
p.s. photo by Elly Lucas