Blog I wrote for BBC6 Music Sept 2011
‘Get busy living or get busy dying’ Shawshank Redemption.
I returned to the UK from a short stint teaching English in South Korea in January this year. My inspiration levels were flat lining. I was down to my last ten pounds and desperate for work. I thus found myself in a terrible temp job that only just covered the rent. As I was cold calling away my mothers shrill voice would echo through my mind ‘I told you you should have…’
My head was spinning and I was in a creative black hole. But I wasn’t going to admit defeat. No way. I needed to do something. Fast. A few years ago I had embarked on a project to blag it into twenty festivals – get backstage and interview some famous musicians, editing and uploading the videos swiftly overnight on a Sunday ready for a Monday morning where I would then go to my day job. From that I was lucky enough to win some online competitions that resulted in two things; a video camera from Vodafone and a laptop from Pepsi. This got me thinking.
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” — Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
Life needed to be re-evaluated. I needed to get inspired…motivated…to take some steps to reach some goals. I had lost my way. And… I desperately needed a haircut. The hairdresser I had visited in Korea had not understood my hand gestures and I was sporting an awful ginger mess which made me want to cry every time I looked in the mirror. Life was not where I wanted it to be.
Fittingly Aloe Blacc came on the radio ‘I need a dollar dollar, a dollar is what I need’.. this got me to thinking. About wants vs needs.. living vs surviving.
‘The best way to think about reality, I had decided, was to get as far away from it as possible’ (Haruki Murakami)
I decided to embark on a personal creative project. I would call it ‘The Inspiration Series’. It would be a journey of self discovery. I would follow in the footsteps of Brian Topp from Spaced and drive myself artistically using the attributes: anger, pain, fear and aggression to get myself into a more marketable position. I would explore the question ‘how far can you get with a little help from the right places’.
“I can choose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It’s all a question of how I view my life.” Paulo Coelho (Eleven Minutes)
Surrounded by rising unemployment levels – I had to think creatively how I could possibly work around my situation.
‘Be like water making its way through cracks’ (Bruce Lee)
With a lot of perseverance and hard work I went about filming/editing and presenting a series of short video blogs getting help from friends who wanted some experience. Using brand interaction and taking opportunities as soon as they landed my way… my summer… went a bit like this:
I hope you got something out of that. We are certainly living in tough times. So I will leave you with a quote that I found motivating from Michael Jordan…
If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. (Michael Jordan)
Or as Lucas from Empire Records says’.. ‘Damn the Man…’…
A recent blog I wrote on blogging for BBC6 Music
Well Blog is a shortened term of Weblog.. Replace the letter b with a v and what
do you get – yes.. the word vlog. Clever eh..
Urban dictionary describes the term vlogging as ‘the next in the evolution of
narcissism – taking the idea of a blog to the next level’
I would agree with this in some sense. There’s nothing more exciting than a new
video posted getting 100’s of hits and people enjoying your work.
I got into ‘vlogging’ on the 12th of December 2007. I remember that day as if it
was yesterday. It was my birthday, I was watching The Good The Bad and The
Queen at a small gig and I bumped into someone who was working at MTV who
had forgotten their camera. I lent them mine and bam! An idea was born! The
excitement, rush and accomplishment of documenting and attending live gigs
took over and my creative streak wanted more.
I was in the same situation as a lot of people – working 9-5, what a way to make
a living – I was barely getting by it was all taking and no giving.. I wanted to
move ahead – but I didn’t know how –(gotta love the Parton). So I remember
approaching Art Brut in a club – and I asked them to say in to my camera ‘Get
these girls into every festival!” I sent this video to lots of companies and Virtual
Festivals took a bite and said .. ok then.. and that was the beginning….
Running on a tank of pure naivety and lust for adventure I embarked on my blag
blog idea – which was to get into the festivals using the tickets we were given
by VF and get backstage and interview the musicians. I would then rush home
and stay up all night editing to get it online before work at 9am on a Monday. I
was usually sleep deprived but my mind always felt content. It was hard when
I started because I no one would give us an interview because we were so
unknown. There was a lot of waiting around for interviews that potentially might
not happen. This is where having a really passionate team with you is really
important, as is keeping everyone upbeat and enthusiastic.
I ended up being shortlisted for two CH4 Talent awards, won a prize with Pepsi
and winning a Vodafone competition. I would never have dreamed that would
happen. I was voted through 3 rounds – and won the ultimate prize of being
flown to New York to interview Usher. This was by far the best experience of
my life! I had never been out of the EU and there I was doing it in style – picked
up in a limo – and being treated like a VIP for four days. It was really flattering
winning that competition and a great feeling that people had liked my work.
This brings me back to the idea of video blogging being narcissistic. I believe
it is important for artists to have a certain amount of healthy narcissism.
Freud argues that healthy narcissism is an essential part of normal
development. An artist is always evolving and I believe more likely to
be comfortable exploring themselves. For me – my videos’ are not so much
about my ego –but a chance to be creative… a journey through my career if you
like. I film/edit and present and I have a vivid imagination. The festivals are a
stage for my ideas and an opportunity to bring some of my daydreams to life.
There is nothing more satisfying than someone liking the video or appreciating
the context of the video.
I have just started a new project called The Inspiration Series’. It’s basically
challenging the idea of those without money becoming self sufficient and getting
by – by brand interaction. Or ‘brand hopping’ A term I would like to coin please
if someone hasn’t already. Chilly Gonzales has just recently been involved.
We’d made a video on Record Store Day at Rough Trade – where we blagged an
interview with him.. he liked the end result –and invited me to the Isle of Wight
Festival with him.. (lucky eh!?)… it was such a great day and so strange to see the
festival from the point of view of the artist. Not all my videos are brilliant but I
am enjoying the journey which is the most important thing – and practice makes
perfect. It’s like Seasick Steve said to me once at Bestival… ‘Don’t give up… you
give up and you surely ain’t gonna get where you’re going’.
‘My mind has been dull since the days of my youth’
Last night was my first ever trip to the opera house…no no no.. you’ve got it wrong.. I’m not talking about The Opera House in Bournemouth – I’m talking about the Opera House.. oh sorry wrote that wrong I meant to say ‘The *Royal Opera House’ you know – the one full of prestige – the one that started up in good ole 1728… you know that’s probably about five of your grandparent eras ago I reckon…
So anyway – I was very very excited to get a press pass to one of the hottest events in town. And I mean THE HOTTEST. As I enter the slick walls of the royal building I look worryingly around for the press desk.. on my way there.. I was cornered… ‘she looks different’ ‘yes her!’ someone shouts…. They wanted to take a photo of me. A photographer for a documentary on ‘art’ to be shown within the very same building it seems. So I stood there trying to look arty and sophisticated and that I go to the royal opera house nearly every Wednesday don’t you know… whilst they took photos of me for their exhibition ‘Wayne McGregor’s Deloitte Ignite 08’ – apparently of the different sorts of people that go to operas. As I said I go every week.
So I’m sitting.. waiting for the lights to go out.. at the front of the opera house.. when Phil Daniels asks me to stand up so he can get to his seat. Then Dave Rowntree enters and sits to the left. And I have a flashback to 1994. Of the billions of posters on my wall of Blur. ‘Are you reviewing?’ the lady on my right asks interrupting my thoughts on how although Dave Rowntree looks older he still looks pretty much exactly the same except for his glasses and maybe being a little bit chubbier. She is the classical reviewer for the guardian.. and I think fuck.. I bet she’s the dogs bollox when it comes to operas. I bet she could operaeat her way right through my blog and …as I’m mumbling some crap about blag blogs back at her.. thinking ‘why oh why didn’t I just say I was working for a nice respectful paper’.. she turns to me.. mid sentence …and looks me in the eye – ‘the most important thing in reviewing is to be confident with your opinions’.. she states… So BOOMshackalack… here we go..
It was shit. No only joking. I’m just trying to hold your attention here for more than a second. The performance started with an animation. The animation led into a great performance. Ok I’m stuck.. what do people say in these review things? I look over the guardian ladies shoulder to see.. nope. Its too dark. Damnit. Its like being at school again – why wont’ the *opera house let people take photos.. tsk.. writing is so..personable… so here we go – my review..
The Monkey starts of quite irritating in the beginning.. he is a show off and wreaks havoc around him. He is set aside by the Buddha for five hundred years however and is finally released to redeem himself on a mission to look after Tripitaka to India to bring the holy scriptures to China. And the basic story is – they meet people along the way. No not a tin man .. a pig.. no not a scarecrow.. a horse.. (see where I’m going with this) the tale does have a similarity to The Wizard of Oz but of course Monkey: Journey to the West is actually a 400 year old fable still read today in China… wikipedia however (good ole trusty wiki) does cite that –
“The Wizard of Oz has been translated into well over 40 different languages. In some cases, the story proved so popular in other countries that it was adapted to suit the local culture. For instance, in some countries where the Hindu religion is practiced, abridged versions of the book were published in which, for religious reasons, the Tin Woodman was replaced with a snake.”
So it could be questionable as to whether either of these have ever had any influence on each other. I would predict the wizard of oz would have been influenced by Monkey: journey to the west.. what do you reckon? Anyone still reading this?
So as the story commences – you really do fall in love with monkey’s characters as he begins his pilgrimage. The little guys got balls. Well he is a guy yes – but he has extreme cheek and charisma. He really is hilarious at the Volcano City – where he abruptly stops the romantic singing bringing the audience back to life like a bolt, as the storyline mocks the occasional slowness of the plot. Chen Shi Zheng – the Director and sidekicks – Albarn, Hewlett and Dalian– have done an amazing job of bringing this story to the West.. the martial art is truly amazing and the set design is beautiful. The only shame is that the subtitles are at the top of the stage. This makes it really hard to read them and watch the performance. To be honest I kept missing most of the storyline as I was far too enchanted with what was happening on stage. But this wasn’t much of a problem as I still got the story. Honestly. I did.
The performance ended with a standing ovation. (Did I cut that description too short? Sorry but I really do think you should just go see the show.. honestly.. I really cannot describe it as well as it will be visually pleasing to your eyeball).
As I leave the *opera house I see Paul Simonon standing with a group of people. My mind flits back to the story he told me of him blagging it into an art gallery in Paris (Latitude 2007 video diary).. and 50% of me wants to tap him on the shoulder and tell him about my first ever ROYAL opera house experience wondering if he’d appreciate the story. But instead… I put on my headphones.. and laugh to myself about how truly random life can be. About how important it is to be an irrepressible Monkey. And how lucky I am to be going again with my friends on Saturday…