An Accidental Songwriter….and Moors, Music and Meditation

So, I had decided to try and become a singer song writer. To say yes to an unknown and no doubt competitive journey. Where would it take me and who would I meet by saying”Yes”? Perhaps I am a little crazy to try as a mum in her forties, living on the breadline in the middle of a field with no real experience of any of it. Perhaps naivety and ignorance shielded me from the path ahead. But, on the other hand, I have a gift, an unusual one but as my step mum had said ” Don’t hide that light under a bushel anymore”. Any gift should be explored and if one has no obvious work opportunities in front of  one then it is time to experiment.

I started with the competition that I had been a semi finalist in, and went and looked up what the winner had done. She had written an article in which she mentioned that one of the producers involved had been kind, liked working with artists from all genres and also unsigned artists. So, I thought I would ask him to have a look at my songs and see what he thought. He kindly replied and said he would happily listen to my stuff. So, over the course of the next few months I sent him some home recorded tracks and also found a guitarist to work with to make some simple backing for my otherwise accappella songs. I decided I wasn’t going to get too excited about it all or even look him up as it was all such a whisper of potentiality. At the end of several months he said he would like to produce me ! I was wowed and thought I better find out a bit more about him. I looked him up on the web and my heart jumped and sank all at once. He is one of Canada’s up and coming producers and has produced grammy award winning artists but he was of course in Canada. How on earth was I going to manage that?

A friend suggested I ring Xponorth as they are music industry development people up here. So, I duly rang them and talked to a lovely man called Alex Smith who, once he had heard my story felt that I should be given some attention and help. He did say though that I would just simply not get funding  to go to Canada as I am a complete newbie with no track record or experience. He invited me instead to come to the music industry marketplace event held in Inverness. Meanwhile the Canadian producer had somehow shown my stuff to an american manager who facebooked me with the message” “I have heard your tracks, your stuff sends shivers down my spine, would you like to come to America on tour!” I explained that I was not really at that stage and he offered to manage me from afar, which I accepted. At the time this seemed like serendipity but as time went along it became obvious that the music industry is very different over there, that he was very busy and that I would need someone who understood the British situation and the extreme challenges facing an artist in my geographical area. However, I will always be grateful for his help, support, kindness and for helping me at a later stage with getting the duduk player to play on my EP. However, I leap ahead….

I duly went along to the Xpnorth and chatted with various producers, three of which showed a cautious interest in my work. I went to to this event, knowing nothing with just an open mind and a wish to make nice connections. I particularly liked one older producer with shrewd but twinkly and kindly eyes. We chatted for ages and made a nice human connection. He expressed an interest and struck me as someone who was kind, down to earth, pragmatic,humourous, insightful and above all a lovely person who would be nice to work with in a creative way. He also liked my slightly quirky ideas about what I would like to do . I thought that this is the one I would like to work with, I like him and he has a constancy about him!

Next day I called Alex Smith and said I possibly had the interest of this lovely producer called Mick Glossop. Alex then told me that he is a very esteemed producer who likes slightly genre breaking artists(now,  am certainly that!!There is no category you could put my work in!) and that he had produced Van Morrison and Frank Zappa and that he is an absolute gentleman! I then replied saying”Oh yes, he was lovely but who are they?” At which point Alex told me it was time to come out of my cupboard!! I said I could tell Mick was a gentleman and that I wanted to work with him, because I liked him as a person. I had unwittingly chosen one of the most esteemed producers without any awareness! Alex told me I should see if the interest was sustained. I then e mailed Mick and he got back to me saying that he was cautiously interested but I needed a lot of development before I would be in any way ready to work with him. He said I needed to work on collaboration, performance, creating an online presence, getting a music and business manager and get some recording experience. He also said he was happy to give advice and to  keep him posted as to my progress.

I decided that this was a sensible road map of what I needed to do and knowing nothing it was a good anchor to refer to. Mick has been continually kind between now and then and always offered help, support and always, always got back to me. For such a busy man, he has been kindness itself and my initial perceptions of him have been accurate and he remains my producer of choice- even if I am not in the same league as the above esteemed artists…who I now do know about! I hope I can one day work with him. He has loosely become my mentor as I have gone along.

So, I decided to try and find more musicians. I found a lovely lady who plays as she calls it” a whole castle of early music instruments” and between her and Jerry, my lovely guitarist, we have mostly what we need with an additional person required for my flights of quirky sound imagination. For one of these quirks I decided I wanted a duduk on some tracks and put out a request on Facebook as of course one does not find duduks down the pub in north east Scotland! Many months later I got a reply from the most amazing duduk player from Armenia and he has played on two of my tracks…..

So, I was collaborating more and creating more instrumental lines…next on the list was performance. This has proved the most difficult of Mick’s remit. To begin with I went with Jerry to the local folk club, signed up to play at a couple of local festivals.I got a list from Alex Smith from Xponorth of e mails to try. I e mailed some of them three/four  times- none of them wanted me. I also asked around by word of mouth. I am just a bit too out the box, I think, for north east Scotland, people want traditional Scottish music or rock music. All the proper venues also had no interest in an unknown newbie. So, I have put on a couple concerts on my self and raised money for charity but the is not something I could repeat as costs would mount up. This adventure into being a professional songwriter can not make me even more out of pocket. That would defeat part of the purpose of it. I am still working on what to do with this one. But, where the is a will there is a way and necessity is the mother of invention…

The american manager put one of songs in a global humanitarian arts competition run by WCA. I really did not expect anything as it was a global affair but my song”When a Child Stands Alone” inspired by the plight of the abandoned Syrian refugee children won 6th place out of 10 finalists! I was  more than amazed. The organisers asked for concert shots and video and I had to tell them that I had only ever sung it in Jerry’s garden shed, where we did the recording! Everyone else I think who won, were touring professional musicians.

My brother in law agreed to be my business manager, for the times when I need one which is very kind of him and he has helped me with getting the ep  physically done, which is immensely kind and allows me to have a concrete product I can use for development. I tried to get funding for a website but in the end had to get my teenage son to help me make one. My teenage son has also done a beautiful and simple video for one of tracks. I think it is  sensitive and artistic work for one so young.

Next time I look at making the ep and where this leaves me now in this present day.



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