Thursday, 14 February 2013

Un-doing

In life you will have just as many bad hair days as good hair days..
The water runs both ways down the drain.

You will have times of long and protracted undoing.
Just as life may slowly build up block by block, so may it fall down.. 
The un-doing..
Can be almost imperceptible.

Life is not an unbalanced sum of constant addition.
Not like it's sold.

There's division, leaving you with less, and straight out subtraction, less again, and more honest of a chop. Just gone. 

We tend to focus on next and more and plenty, not the waning, waning moon. 

The hair that falls out, strand by strand, collecting in bathroom floor eddies, picked up and put in a vast array of home fashioned bathroom bins, then to the big bin, and then away..
Away away..

When we lose someone, something, it is a shock.

But even trees die.

Sometimes of natural causes.
Sometimes because we'd rather that they be toilet paper.

Harsh realities of un-doing abound in this life.

Yet the waning, waning moon is mostly ignored, her full fat sister oft steals the show, so attracted are we to plenty.
Never has the life of the ascetic, the thin, the meagre been so wholly rejected by the mainstream as now.

"You're crazy! Put it on lay-buy. Shut! Up!"

Get Fat or get Rich tryin'.

...Or something like that.

                                          ****


At my age people keep getting married.

Is this another way of plus-ing one to ourselves? 
The great sanctioned addition.. 
Making ourselves bigger. More.
 Well, yes. As it often results in legitimate more. 
More people. Little ones. But they grow. 

I'm thinking of loss, of whittling, 
of hairs and hares and moons and Easter, 
(the pagan one, that was the promise of Spring, with Ostara, or Eostre, the Goddess, and the hares bounding by her sides..)

Funny how down here in the South the iconography doesn't fit the season. 
A Spring sprig is an Autumn branch, leafless or getting there.

But we'll celebrate the eggs and hares and new life anyway, even as our leaves turn and fall.

I'm thinking of my friend, an Autumnal girl, who has lost something. And is in pain.
The blocks fell away quietly, from the back of the stack, right in her blind spot, wouldn't you know it.

I'm just sitting with it, her loss. 
Ruminating on it I guess.
Because she has to.

I guess I think that by doing this, I'm sharing her load, 
Dividing it some.. though I have no proof to this effect. 
I've never trusted math. But I'll try anything for a friend who is hurting.

And because there is nothing I can add at this point,
but more subtraction. 






Saturday, 22 December 2012

Nude Rain

Sitting with my chipped, chubby yellow cup, full of the black sweet.. 
I remember that time that Nude Rain came to the Violet Town market. 
It used to be that way, that people would come.
Cool people.
Happening people.
People you could look up to.

Nude Rain were these loose and hairy wild women who sang a capella in a fresh, hip way. With hoots, whistles and amazingly bad ass complex harmonies. It was unpretentious and not at all daggy, which a capella can sometimes be. 
They were kind of a big deal to a girl like me in the 90's and they had a bit of a moment there. 
They sounded cool and they looked cool, had little tattoos, nose piercing's, wore petticoats, didn't shave their legs and had extremely long -or short- hair.. They were at all sorts of folk festivals, jazz festivals, happenings and what not.. and, the Violet Town Market, once.

My friends and I, I think we were 11-12 at the time, all stood round  slack jawed, and soaked them and their 'coolness' up. 
We listened to them sing their crazy brand of humanist sound.. 
And we aspired.

They made an impression.

Who goes now to the market and inspires the young girls, in real time? And would they even respond to a group of cool hairy wild women the same way that we did then? (With reverence, aspiration and years later emulation..?) Would there BE an appreciation of such fun, outside the cookie cutter role models now?  

Anyway, I think this train of thought left the platform last night and arrived in my conscious this morn due to some late night Google wandering in which I was enjoying the output of Aluka, another voice - only outfit from Melbourne.

Check them out on fb, here
http://www.facebook.com/alukamusic 

Beautiful stuff.

I wonder if they feel like doing any trips up to a little country market I know.....


Xx


Sunday, 16 December 2012

LETTER TO MY CREATIVITY



Dear creativity,
Muse, magic, whatever name and shape you take, you know who you are.

We’ve had glory days and God I’m tempted to rhyme that with whorey days, but lets just say- days where we’d both have rather been somewhere else..

I thought I’d write you this letter re. Yearning as you two are intrinsically linked for me. I know you both so well, but I probably don’t stay in touch with you like I should. And that’s not a true reflection of my deep feelings for you both.

Yearning, was my first love, where he were taking me I didn’t know, but he swept me off my earthly feet and upstream into wild, rampant imaginings with him.

And, he was sweet enough to set me up with my next big love, you, Creativity.
You came on strong and rocked my boat. Capsized it.
 I fell completely. In my carefree teens I pretty much worshipped you.
But though I’ve held you in such high esteem, I’ve neglected you too. Let you become an ‘outer circle friend’, and That, for one who identifies, albeit humbly, as an artist- is no good.

When I think about us in the old days, I see you so buoyant, sitting on the lawn in the isolated terrain of our youth,
head strong. Defiant.

You were cheerfully uninhibited and also very green, but you had a lot of chutzpah. You led me boldly into sing-a-longs at parties, then first bands and folk festival jam sessions,
into art class debates with teacher and also into experiments in bad teenage poetry. Thanks for that.
And though your range was very limited, they were great and prolific times for you and I.
We really cut our teeth. 
All crooked and craggy as they were.

Though I later got braces when I could afford it.
An analogy, perhaps?

Maybe it’s because of your initial buoyancy that I slipped into the habit of taking you for granted.
Maybe too it’s because you were so celebrated, We were celebrated, for what we assumed to be just a Fraction of our future reveal, we didn’t exactly sweat the process in the years that followed.

So soon enough when I was both busy and lazy being young, and supposedly care free, structures sprung up around you.

Boxes were built for you, rigid and inflexible, against your grain and against your nature.
I signed you up for things I’m not sure you were ready for, I bound you to partnerships, I signed you to record companies. I listened to the loud voices of others as opposed to yours. Sometimes you howled and sometimes you whispered, but I guess you just weren’t loud enough to take the lead vocal yet.. and plus, you didn’t even speak the languages that were thrust upon you.

All of a sudden at a tender age you were a commercial entity. And thus began our complications..
In my distraction, full of glitter and noise, I didn’t fully appreciate you or what made you tick.
I didn’t feed you and yet expected you to grow.

So, understandably, you took your sabbaticals, and though they left me nervous and panicked, feeling a loss of identity, I would change nothing to the set up in your absence.

But, my old friend, Creativity, I’m finally getting older and maybe Even wiser.
Saturn Returns, our Brutal councilor, has enlightened me with much new information on what it is that You need, ‘what you really want’, and certainly what you don’t!

So, I wanted to send this letter to you now, and tell you you’ve been on my mind and heart, to let you know I love and respect you and that I yearn for our glory days. Our fruiting season.

And you know I’ve yearned for a lot of things, I’m a grade A yearner (it Was my first love after all..)

I’ve yearned high and wide and hard since I could grasp the concept of ‘other’, pulling this ‘other-ness’ to myself with all sorts of emotional telekinesis. And often I get what it is I yearn for. But it’s you, and your return to a place at the core of me, that I yearn for now, and I wanted to tell you I’ve made some preparations..

An outer circle friend or mere ‘work mate’ no more, I can now offer you a protected and respected place of respite, a new studio workshop in my soul.. Pride of place once more on the altar of my life.

I’ve un-entangled us from contractual obligations, I’ve cut down 40- 60 % on people with loud voices pleasing, I’ve given the routines that you found so stifling a shake up.. I’ve increased your variety of outlets and made sure some of them have Nothing at all to do with boxes, or platforms, and can be completely private if you like. As I know you once felt over exposed and then were shy in the wake of it.

 I might even start doing regular yoga.. which would keep the place clean for you and free of the stress-mess that used to clutter up some of your endeavors.

It’s been at times a tough and dramatic developmental phase, dear Creativity, and maybe I had to do this bit alone, but an upside is that all the off-cuts from the recent renovations around  here should give you Quite a bit of material to work with when you move into your new studio.

So, how about it? A renewal of the lease agreement? A renewal of our teenage vows?

The hasty happy rose-coloured ones replaced by a firm thought out commitment, though deep and passionate as ever,
now focused on process and enjoyment, not results, or the expectations and projections of others..?

I’ll await your reply, my old friend.


By the way, how is your sweet side kick Freedom doing?
Some say he’s just your imaginary friend, a ‘concept’
But when you’re around, and we’re in fine form together, I can see him quite clearly, sitting there, winking at me..

Women Of Letters

I was recently asked to come speak, or rather read, at one of the excellent 'Women Of Letters' events, the last of 2012 in fact.
These curated open letter reading afternoons are an ode to the lost or dying art of letter writing, created and hosted by the wonderful and inspiring Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire. I was absolutely chuffed to be asked to come and contribute my letter with November's theme being- 'A letter to that which I yearn for'..  What a topic!

I was quite overwhelmed as it's such an open and complex question.
What DO I yearn for, what DON'T I yearn for? What IS yearning anyway?
Is it like longing, or different?
(my own personal theory was that yearning was more about something you crave which you haven't yet had, and longing is more the missing and desiring of something that you have had and have lost.. Webster's dictionary informs me they are pretty much one and the same.
Okay, glad we got that cleared up)

With a bamboozling array of 'things I yearn for' on my mind, I did my best to sift through the dross and get to the meat of it. I toyed with going for more humorous, contained or light angles, like the perfect dress/song/recipe etc. but found I couldn't tease them out into full blown heart felt missives. I guess I thought, here is an opportunity to investigate and share what's really going on in my head and heart of late, the changes I've been through and revelations I've had in the shadowy, sticky, sometimes tricky realm of yearning.

Posted in the next post is what I came up with... A letter to my creativity. And it's freedom.
It's a bit of an emotional spiel. I honestly didn't give myself enough time to refine it much, so it's not my finest piece of writing or even orating as I was for some reason nervous as hell on the day.. bizarre considering I do things akin to this for a living.
Patting a duck before hand helped calm me down though (Women Of Letters raises money for Edgar's Mission, an animal welfare charity. The lovely calming, charming duck came along as a representative)

Huge thanks to Marieke, Michaela and my fellow women of letters- Linda Bull, Nelly Thomas, Dani Valent and Alex Schepsi. All women and letters were amazing. I felt honored to be sandwiched among them.
There was both laughter (Nelly, with the hilarious verbal paying out of her crap-tastic first boss 'Dwayne', 20 years after the fact) and tears (Linda, a love letter to her father, all that he represents and her desire to be more like him. Just mention the word 'father' or 'dad' to a room full of women and we all seemed to start welling up, for our own varying reasons)

It was a great experience and it gave me a chance to explore and publicly re-commit to an old friend of mine.



Monday, 22 October 2012

Too Many Too / Girl Stories

I'm listening to Ruby's Arms by Tom Waits at the tail end of a long sunny Monday which was dressed up entirely in Sunday's clothes

Quite unlike the Emperors new clothes, this day's garb was high vis

The tell tale Sunday style embellishments of too many coffees, long gas-bagging conversations,  back street roaming, of Instagramming the alley cats and the world around us were swinging carefree from my hemlines

Clinking heavy they were, against my best friends equally as truant Monday-Sunday switcheroo

So we bathed, indulgently, in our ability to waste a good five hours just shooting the shit, when we should have been cleaning up the studio, our designated creative space.
We could've, should've, would've cleaned it up too save for not bloody being able to when there is a nagging back log of gas and giggles, girl stories that urgently need to come out first before we can really get down to the more 'serious business' of deciding what art we're going to make and how

Want gets swapped for need
Want for need     want for need

Water colours-terrariums-posters-paper mache

Time
Time, which we had once almost too much of, now squeezed into these
adult play dates

The bus, phone, class, tree time... is gone.
Except for the occasional big night out or New Years Eve -here it comes again- which will often warrant some dedicated midnight tree sitting and we'll sway as we once did with the rhythm of the wind, feeling small, wild and aloft 
tummies flipping, eyes wide, skin pulsing in a pharmalogical renaissance   

But for now and for these days, scheduled scheming in the studio it is

Better than no scheming at all

It's a funny mix we purge in there. Plans for world domination cross hatched with the airing of deeply held insecurities.  Confident yet overwhelmed

The wild and the mundane

Arrogance and excitement, me
Ideas too. Lots of them. Too many

Dreams into raging works, she
Thoughts. Feelings
Too many too

Some times we're older and sometimes we're not any older at all







Sunday, 19 August 2012

House Hunting Out of Season..

Sunday, you are so bitter-sweet.
Sweet with your slow and steady wandering, with meandering coffees and teas, calling of long lost friends, casual sock washing and loose schedules of entertainment. 
Bitter, with the creeping knowledge you a
re finite.
Not just you Sunday, but me too.

A sense of impermanence has permeated my day.. A transitory mellow ennui fell over the places I lay today like a mohair blanket. Time travel was also a part of it. I curled and I read and I was 11 in the cosy cabin home of my youth, girt by the mist addled Strathbogie mountains, The Hobbit in hand. Then I spoke to a friend who took me to 17 when we first moved to Melbourne together, when 'catching up' wasn't a concept, their company a given, still in the every day swing of completely interconnected lives like in high school, like in family, where their business is your business, everyday.

Maybe it's the end game of a week that shook and blew and threatened to slip, but Sunday feels victorious, feels luxurious, and I'm looking to the week ahead to cement this gauzy feeling of impermanence. Transition is my favored mode. Even when it's tricky. Even when you're house hunting out of season.

I think Feist knows what I'm talking about. Xx til next time


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Okayyyyyy,


It's been a long time between posts. I know.
Song's came out! Life got busy! Nights got full! 
Please forgive me.... ;)


I want to recommend a book. Not just any book but a strange and amazing work of poetry-prose called "Letters To Emma Bowlcut' by Bill Callahan 
Bill is usually a musician -one of my favorites- with some seventeen releases to his name. 
(Well, some to his former moniker 'Smog''s name)
And this is his first novel. Novella. Book. Prose. 
It's a book of letters, from an unnamed male protagonist to a woman we never meet, Emma Bowlcut. 
He himself has only met her once, at a party, and proceeds to send her this magical, sometimes abstract, sometimes direct barrage of words (which many ladies will wish they were on the receiving end of, I'm sure..) I'm not really certain what it is, it kind of defies categorization if you ask me. It's just... beautiful. Here, let me copy-paste you some proof..


You’re right, I can ‘prattle on’ in my letters. A more supportive friend would have described me as ‘on fire.’ In my defense… I have no defense. I love you.


When I moved, I unearthed the diaries I kept for ten years. I sat and went through them and they were a worthless burden to own. People will say it’s tragic I threw them out, but I know it isn’t. I don’t feel I have a true perspective on anything.


 At the heel end of day, I need my glass of wine. Christmas lights for the brain. In lulls we assess the gulls. I don’t want to destroy anything. But I want to know what I can destroy. I am possessed by the conviction that I need you like blood needs a vein to get from one place to another


“You are the reason I get out of bed. To tell you that I have gotten out of bed. Yours are the only questions I want to answer. I live to pocket all the question marks, as many as I can, in your life. To discard them discretely when you’re not looking.” 


And this, a gem that made me literally put the book down, shake my head and savour the moment (though that happened a lot..) 


I think fish became humans because they didn’t have any way to pistol whip each other.


Amazing. Highly  recommended. 


I'll be back soon I promise with a post on some writing of my own. 


Ciao for now, I hope you are well and surrounded by things and moments that make you put your book down, shake your head and savour the moment.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Talk To Me

MELBOURNE EMERGING WRITERS FEST. TALK CONT.

Now of course sometimes singers are just singers, entertainers with amazing voices, and God bless ‘em.
But I think I came up and was exposed to my heroes in a time when the artists often were the writer, sharing a personal, heartfelt, sometimes bracingly honest account of their life, their love or their pain.
The PJ Harvey’s, Liz Phair’s, Veruca’s and Billy’s and Curt’s delivered words that were honest and unique to them. And I adored them for it.
I still do.
I remember being completely besotted with PJ Harvey’s Dry, the mix of her almost violent poetry, delivered with menacing authenticity, who WAS this woman? What had she Been through?  I was transported to a dark yet beautiful place with a warrior queen who howled and moaned and used old blues language and tones so perfectly and convincingly, though she was a young white woman. She created a completely authentic world that sucked me in and under effortlessly.

Paul Kelly was another huge inspiration and influence.
I’ve been marinating in his music from a young age. And now that I’m getting older and my style has changed and matured, somewhat, I can detect his influence a little more in my songs.

His scene setting is some of very the best in my opinion, and he achieves the rare, and obviously very my taste, feat of keeping it simple and honest, while being hugely emotionally affecting.
His writing and his ability to create these amazingly intimate, authentic scenes, even from the perspective of a child, like the child in the backseat of They Thought I was Asleep, is something that moved me then and now, and showed me how deeply moving even a very accessible popular song could be.

So the PJ’s and the Pauls were up there as my idols, as well as  too many more to name. Their gift for expression and way with words and songs lit lights in my eyes and stirred the ink in my heart.

I was determined to express my self in kind, to paint My world and as best I could tell the stories of my young life, full of school politics, heart wrenching crushes, crushing defeats by wenches, popularity contests, feelings of intense isolation, idealism and over-reaction, you know, the whole teenage experience.

And it seemed to work.
I hope if nothing more that I provided back then, an honest voice from a perspective that’s sometimes over-looked. That I conveyed convincingly and passionately the beauty and of course the Angst of the fleeting world between childhood and maturity.

It’s awkwardness and intensity were pretty fertile plundering grounds back then, and songs have always come quite easily to me since.
It’s making them mean something that’s the trick.

Life translates into verse quite rapidly for me, and as I said it’s long been my desire to express myself that way. I’m driven to do it and am lucky I can devote so much time to it.
Sometimes I feel I express myself more clearly and can be more honest in my songwriting than in everyday life.
I’ve heard other writers say this too. That there’s a cheeky freedom in the form that’s quite addictive.
Another appealing element of the process is often writing a song about something helps me understand it better. I sometimes even look at a more cryptic batch of lyrics as an emotional forecast, as they often hold the key to what is going on in my sub-concious, hinting at things that I haven’t yet expressed. Or even realized.
Cheap therapy as they say!

This is also probably a bit strange for people who know and love us, as our inner lives and loves are grist for the mill, and pop music being such a public over-share of an art form, out it all comes.
I’m sure lots of writers find this, walking that sensitive line of telling other peoples stories, exposing private lives that are intermingled with your own.
Dating a writer or singer is definitely not without it’s risks!
As what better material is there than the juicy and constant rumblings of the heart. The frictions we turn into fiction.
So beware…

But surely it’s worth it, getting a song written about you must be an okay pay off, but lets just hope it’s an Angie or Wild Horses as opposed to a You’re So Vain or an Idiot Wind. Ouch..

So,
To wrap up my own ramble of the heart, I think I can distill what I love so much about and find so fascinating in songwriting.
That Music as a means of story telling, is so accessible, yet so personal. So ancient, but also relevant.. and so incredibley diverse.
 It’s an all encompassing and inclusive art, it connects us and exposes us, in the best way possible. It is ultimate communication..
All that and you can also dance to it.

Thank You. And Happy writing!

Okay, that's all she wrote (and spoke) that night. It was such a pleasure to be asked to come and share my (rather enthusiastic) feelings towards and personal history of word-love. I just found out two more of my friends have started blogs, great blogs. Will link them next post. What an interesting time where we share in this way, so widely, so freely. With the honesty, candor and good intent I see in most of these e-offerings, the newest sons  and daughters in a long family lineage of story telling techniques, I think it will bring about great things. Xx Ella

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Just keep on walking.. Uh, I mean talking..

Here, folks is the next installment.

 EMERGING WRITERS FEST. TALK CONT....

The mix that lives in song, of expression, relation, connection and sometimes voyeurism is obviously a potent one and of course has long had the whole world hooked!
Maybe the analogy of music as a drug is just as apt as the religious one, as we seem to be drawn to it just as powerfully.

Either way the common ground is we often have an intense relationship with our chosen music. We’re a bit fanatical about it. We celebrate and covet it.
Saints and Sinners all, we dig it hard.

I first became interested in writing when I was quite young, in fact I don’t think I can remember a time when it was not number one or at least top five on the list of things I wanted to be.
I’ve always held writers in such high esteem, it could have something to do with my parents vocations as well,
growing up Dad taught English Lit and Mum, Drama – but not at my school (thank god)
Dad was also a bit of a crime, pulp fiction and film noir obsessive and wrote screen plays for kicks on the week end.
So there was always scripts around as well as novels and poetry and I took like a worm to a book, reading this, that and everything..

A curious mix of  Shakespear, Chandler, Tarantino, Tolkein, Isabelle Allende and Graeme Greene, as well as teenage staples like John Marsden and Isobell Carmody, kept me hungrily page turning as a youngin’.
I loved it from the start, the worlds that were there to run off into, the witty language, the myriad characters, the adult and emotional landscapes miles from my own experience.
I loved trying on challenging stuff, aware that my little mind was being opened further every time I opened a book. And there were so many to choose from, I really was spoilt for choice.

But just as early as I loved them, I wanted to have a go myself.
Telling these stories and creating these characters just sounded  like too much fun.

Apparently I was always a teller of tall tales, no problem with embellishing a re-telling of daily events to feature some dragons, hidden tunnels, secret stones, a betrayal or two.. and that was during class time. Recess and lunch, forget about it.

Maybe I had a hyperactive imagination or a small case of something that would now be diagnosed and medicated, but didn’t we all?
I suspect, seeing as this room is full of writers, you could all relate to how real and easy these other worlds were and are to slip into..?
The imagination I had back then is still something I try and re-visit and tap into. Not so much for the dragons but the open mindedness and the inexhaustibility.

As a proud wanna-be writer I reveled in and romanticized writing down these fantastical plots and pre-pubescent poems that I was sure were my future. But it was around 12 or 13 that I had a bit of a ‘Sonic’ revelation.

My other rabid love, music, was coming on strong and becoming increasingly the louder of the callings.. the inevitable result being that I started experimenting with merging the two fascinations, and so a big, big, and rather loud, penny dropped.

Never being the most thorough person in the world, finishing my grandly planned stories always was the up hill bit. Much more of a short stories type a gal, I had trouble maintaining enthusiasm for the long form. To this day short stories are some of my favorite literature, and the song is possibly the shortest short story of all.
Well, not in Every case, Arlo Guthrie, Frank Zappa, Nick Cave- I’m looking at you.. ;)

But I’ve come to realize that My strength as a writer lies more in the three minute thirty seconds kinda camp. My favorite thing is when I’ve said all that I want to say in a verses, chorus, verse, maybe a middle section and a last verse.. possibly same as the first.

It may sound formulaic, but the pop song ideal, when perfected is pretty magic.
In country, folk, blues, and so many of the great songwriting traditions this repetition and quite simple structure really lets the story shine and it sometimes shocks me with it’s ability to make concepts come to life so quickly.
And so humbly.
You almost don’t expect it, the force of emotion that can be prompted from such a common and kind of an unassuming formula. But, as with most creative endevours, to do it brilliantly but simply, without using every colour in the box so to speak, is probably the harder and less achieved of the tasks.

I liken it to haiku, this pop song writing process.
Another form that probably comes across as simple and maybe a little one dimensional, boxed in by it’s constraints, but when it’s good, it’s SO good, and it’s undeniable.
When it sets a scene, evokes an emotion and has spun a beautiful tiny moment for you, in just 17 syllables.. That takes some mastery.

My first steps spinning songs, were far from masterful.
I’ve tried to cast my mind back to my very first complete song, and I recall it was subtle as a mallet.
Biting off so much more than I could chew it wasn’t funny, I believe it was something about the war in Veitnam, War was bad, Peace was good, People should get along..
Sung with the emotional authority and outstanding naivety of a 12 year old Joni Mitchell fan.
Yes, my emerging writer had begun to emerge, and she was tackling the ‘Big Issues’.. ;)

But sage advice in the form of that old chestnut, ‘Write What You Know’ was thankfully bestowed on me somewhere down the line -probably another a gift from my wisend and song soaked parentals - and soon after that I moved into my ‘Teen Angst as the One True Muse’ phase, which I’m glad to say, as much as it still had generous lashings of naivety, was received with far less wincing and felt more authentic to me.

This positive response set me on a course I didn’t quite expect to be so dramatic. Soon my books and diaries that were always covered in lyrics and poems were being distilled into a much grander work than I had intended them for.
I had hardly mastered my craft, in love with it though I was, I was just trying to keep up.

.....Okay, that's enough for now. There's still more.. No steak knives though, sorry.

Xx Ella


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

When you talk that talk...

                         
This is a speech I gave for the EMERGING WRITERS FEST last year.
It was lovely to be asked along to The Tote in Melbourne to speak and listen. The theme was music, or song, or something along those lines..
Anyway, I thought I'd put it up in installments as it's pretty long. I sure can waffle about the things that I love. Enjoy! (I'm keeping in the smiley faces and winky faces, that is where I'm using a 'joking tone'. Happy to say, there was lots of laughter and a warm reception, the aural equivalent of smiley, winky faces...) 


* “I’ve been wondering all about me, ever since I seen you there, on the cliffs of your wild cat charms I’m riding, I know I’m ‘round you but I don’t know where. You have slayed me, you have made me, I gotta laugh half-ways off my heels, I’ve got to know babe, will you surround me, so I can tell if I am really real?”
These words, from probably my favorite song, from probably my favorite writer of songs, Mr. Bob Dylan, could easily be applied to just that, song itself.
Bob might not have been intending it so, but I hope he wouldn’t mind the analogy.
The language of song, it’s ability to make us investigate our selves, know if we are really real, be utterly wild cat charmed, laugh half-ways off our heels and the rest of it, has always fascinated me.
As a muse, the language of song itself, and other people’s mastery of it, for me, has almost no equal.
Well.. Except maybe heart break… ;)

Mercurial and molten, so expressive yet so refined, so different a delivery from singer to singer, so different a message from writer to writer, sometimes laden with stories of  the greatest import and crucial lessons for unfolding generations, sometimes a purely physical kick, a bawdy lustful concoction to get limbs flailing rather than heads scratching.
But whether it’s a heart string that is being pulled, a brain that is being stimulated, a memory that is being conjured, an ancient myth or archetype being given life for the zillionth time
or a critical message being relayed in the heat of the moment,
it’s the words that get you there.

They are the wings that rhythm sprouted, giving her the means to fly. And to embellish, explain and transport.

The almost unending variables in both song and songwriting make this a pretty daunting art-form to talk about.
Hard to define, and difficult to teach, as anyone who’s run a songwriting workshop can attest. I personally believe in no hard and fast right and wrong with lyrics and song writing, just - did you get us there?
Did we feel and think and move?
Not always in that order and maybe not all in the one song, but hopefully one of those boxes was ticked.
And if we were moved to do all three, well that’s one hell of a song. That’s my kind of song. 

Come to think of it, that holy trinity, the feel, think and move caused by song, is about as close to any kind of religious leaning as I get.
Maybe it was too much late night Leonard Cohen when I was a kid but I think if I picture my vision of heaven, it does look something like a tower of song. 

And in a way it is my altar, my place of worship. When I’m deep, deep down in the enjoyment of a song there’s a definite sense of the earthly melting away, I feel connected to the correspondence that is happening, the stimulating of a shared human experience gland. It gives me a sense of the divine and wonder in everyday life and highlights the beauty in life's everyday machinations. 
It too can take me to very solemn places and lets me feel things I have not experienced, shedding light on dark things that a conversation or lecture alone could not illuminate.

To Be Continued.....

Thursday, 10 May 2012

"How do you feel?"

Continuing on from the last post,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8o2VAKPCtFU

The harmony in the chorus just KILLS me. As does all that precedes it and comes after.
Tinkle old reverby piano, and burn on forever.

The album version.......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6Gzly1HGeo&feature=related

"I can't seem to see through solid marble eyes"

Aghhhhh!

Today's mission should you choose to accept it....

Today I woke up and all I wanted to do was sing, sing and play guitar, at the same time.
I scrounged for the capo, I searched for the pick. I found no capo, I ALWAYS have picks. My handbag sometimes doubles as a shaker it is so laden with the little grey plastic discs that rattle and wantonly bounce around in there.

I felt a strong urge to hear then learn then play the song Piano Fire by Sparklehorse.
 It's A Wonderful Life is one of my go-to records, it has it all. Lo-Fi, but not flat, it has both moments of delicacy, sensitivity, as well as stretches of stomping thumping distorted fuzz.
Backing vocals provided by PJ Harvey don't hurt either (they in fact Make the tracks they're on) and there's a track sung by Master Waits too. Heavy hitters both, in the highest.

Oh Mark Linkous.
(Sparklehorse = Mark Linkous)
You sad sparkling beauty.

Within a couple of months of each other in 2010 Mark and one of my other most beloved and admired musicians, Vic Chesnutt, killed themselves.
Mark shot himself in the heart outside a friends house.
Vic passed away on multiple meds and painkillers in hospital.

Sorry the post just took such a dark turn. It's not what I think of when I play their music, as I so often do. It's A Wonderful Life is on it's 3rd rotation of the morn, that's what I mean when I say go-to album, I mean it hypnotizes me and I end up listening to it all day.

But now, back to my dusty Maton, 'little lady' as I call her.
(There's 'Big Girl' too, a Taylor, but she doesn't get played as much)
..to practice these quick chord changes of Marks, with these rusty as hell fingers.
What a gorgeous fucking song.

Xx

Friday, 4 May 2012

'Get busy living or get busy dying'

'Hey there,

apologies for last month's extreme quiet on the western front...
I've been struck down with the 'here comes Winter' blues and had some ailments to battle, but I'm now functioning again and back at 'work', if it can be called that.

A new part of my 'work' life is the fun and footloose role of being the host of Red Bull's Bedroom Jam competition, check it out here   http://www.redbullbedroomjam.com.au/
It's an exciting honor indeed, interviewing and mentoring these super young bands as they work their way through the rungs of the comp.







Photographs by http://gregoirezimmermann.blogspot.com.au/ 
(Big thanks to the gang at Dr. Denim for the awesome spicy chili jeans I'm sporting here. They perked me up and made me feel Spring/Summer warm on this effing frigid Autumn day! http://www.drdenimjeans.com/collection/ )

I'm really loving the diversification of my work life at the moment. There are times being an artist, especially now a solo artist, where one becomes, well, a little bored of themselves and peddling their  wares. That's not to say I don't love it, my music career, truly I do, but I've been doing it for QuITE some time now and I often crave new experiences, working in a team, meeting different people and trying on different hats and you get the picture..

The hosting/DJ'ing experience has been such a good turn for me so far. With RADAR -
http://www.radarmusic.com.au/ - the FM show and the incredibly fun Saturday morning TV show (aired in regional areas only, bugga) I get to interview some of the best new acts in the land, and debut the newest offerings from some great international, more established artists too.. (like Kasabian, below!)


I co-host the Monday to Thursday show with the very dedicated Byron Cooke. He's an authority on the more urban, R'n'B, rap (is that even what it's called these days?) ((haha)) side of things.. whereas I am more from the indie-rock-folk-electro-whatever else that isn't urban school. I think we complement each other really well in that sense. Also, he's pretty funny and cracks me up regularly on air. I swear a few snorts and chortles have made it through the cough button safety net. He lives for making radio so has been a great person to be learning with and from, and I do believe we've just been nominated for an ACRA (radio industry award) which is excellent to see that the show's being received so well. 
Byron has a website too http://byroncooke.com/ 

Well that's all for now, stay warm, stay well, and never, ever let the man get you down.

Xx Ella











Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Patience, yeah yeah yeah..

Feeling a strange mix of impatience, excitement, exhaustion and something else tonight...
a bitches or witches brew that's got me feeling somewhat out of it.

Maybe it was just the early morning, maybe it was forgetting to eat, maybe it was watching too many film noir dvd's before bed last night (Double Indemnity, The Maltese Falcon, Laura.. then Battle Royale, I know it's not film noir, it's just awesome)

I trialled (can that really be how you spell trialled? Or trial-ed?) two new songs at The Famous Spiegeltent the other night, Low High and In Tongues.
It felt really good, a bit like an awkward first date that you can sense is going to get better.
The talking too fast, too much, or not enough. The chipping your tooth as you bite down too hard on the fork. The regret of ordering marinara, red blobs of stain inducing fishy-fused sauce flying through space and time onto white napkins and ill-chosen white dresses..

When you're too excited to eat what you ordered anyway.
Kinda like that..

I'm going to have to start meditating again to see me and my lack of patience through till album release time.
Just playing live a little made me realise what a strung out weirdo I can be without it in my life.
Not rehearsing, which I do lots of, but performing. Sharing. That's a vibe I cannot tap anywhere/way else. And I love it.
Comes right after writing the first verse in the hierarchy of my favorite things about being a musician/performer. My friend JoJo Smith, an amazing troubadour blues soul creature who has been at it for years, who still gives electrifying performances every other weekend and is older than my mum..
She calls it the 'Love Light'.
She sings a great jazzy song about it.. (and those two words are usually mutually exclusive for me)

The light that you feel you're under and being bathed in when you're having a good gig.
It's really a privilege when you get it.. that rosey orange glow. That's how I imagine it anyway, it's probably different for everyone. That glossed over look from Bill Withers to Janis to a concert cellist, it's a sign that they're in their 'love light'. Some people get all religious about music (I think I am one of them) probably because of this very feeling and I can't imagine what Gospel singers must feel having real faith AND a good gig? Phewwwweeee,
that'd be out there. Talking Al Green Dalai Lama radiance out there.

That's got to be the title of a Bob Dylan song, surely.
Speaking of God.

Well, I better take these ramblings inside, but in short I am busting to get out there and play my album, which I'm sitting on like some anal retentive bird on an egg, make that cloaca retentive, LiVE.
To sweat and sing and see and saw. Take the stage and the back stage and the no-mans land in between to my bosom and squeeze it. There will always be bad or difficult gigs, but the good ones make them wash out, into mere memories, for a night or two anyway. The good ones give you life long lasting gold flecks in your heart that don't come out.
The only catch is they itch when they have been kept in the dark too long, they tickle and tug at you to put them back in the light of their maker, the rock what they was chipped off, to flare up in salute to the glowing orb of the love light.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Kentridge

Wow,
I just made it to the back of the Autumn edition of Broadsheet and got hit in the face by an ad for a William Kentridge exhibition at amci, 'Five Themes'......

I haven't been very aware of Kentridge as an artist but a quick bit of googling revealed I am familiar with quite a bit of his work. It's absolutely stunning... I am writing this in an actual hurry so I can get back to googling him and his images (moving and still) and make a time to go see this exhibition with my posse.

8th March- 27th May Open daily at acmi, Fed Square
www.acmi.net.au/kentridge

His work looks to be my perfect combination of feeling, meaning, impression and execution. Dreamy yet not so obtuse and abstract that it's a closed door. There's an off kind of humour in there too. It's very, very  much my cup of tea.

I'll see you there.


One of his animated works

Random Works


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Little Word Bits

Hi all,

if you follow me on Twitter you'll probably know I have a thing for poetry..

Whilst furiously cleaning my room (well, setting it up actually, a good two months after moving in, in an attempt to stave off a horrendous mood) I found a notebook (so many notebooks, there is a little bookshelf dedicated to them, mostly highly embarrassing first drafts of songs) in which were some poems from last summer.

I wrote these on a sunny day off at Mum's house.
I've been getting into Kerouac beat style haiku, these are loosely in that vein...
Enjoy!



Sun burn,
       skin red and sensitized
A gift from Helios,
        the King


                                                          Blue glass hookah
                                                                                    on potbelly stove
                                                                                                      in a small town chinoiserie

        Mother is
        pushing dead things off the roof,
        with a stick


                                                        Guilt,
                                                    the subterranean motivator


Perfect sling shot tree
A giants fork
Missing middle finger


                                                                                Buddah is looking at me
                                                                      through the window of
                                                                                Summer's last days




                                      Sigh. Sigh.
                                   Harrumph.
                               I wait around for love.
                           Again.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Holy Molé

I just had to come back, (two blogs in a day?? what's going on?) and put this up...
Bob Dylan's theme time radio hour put me onto this.
(there's a whole 'nother post brewing about BD's TTRH... The. Best. Thing. Ever.)

Billy Stewart. Boy oh boy.
Maybe I don't hate scat.
Amazing voice and always an amazing song, no matter the interpretation. This one is FAR OUT.
Buckle up. It's long but the ending is insane and well worth the ride.
I defy you not to have a boogie/good day/ Great day after this.....

Ciao!
(sorry 'bout the lack of hyper-linkage) (is it hyperlinking? who needs it anyway. in my day copy and paste was all we had and we had to walk 16 miles in the snow just to hit copy and...)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0XHILMyYrU

Lemon Drop 1974

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVrc72C1wgc


Usually I shun scatting, but Ella Fitzgerald was basically half trumpet.
I've always been proud to have this lady as my namesake.
She was a powerhouse. All class. Her version of At Last rivals Etta's in my opinion, in a different, subtle way. Something 'bout those E_ _A names huh?
(hmm, has there been any amazing Emma's I'm not aware of?)

If the morning is sluggish, if the day is bleak, which today isn't, it's actually beautiful outside, but whatever, Lemon Drop is the tonic.

"Thank you ladies and gentleman, thank you so much"

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Photo Diary of An Upcoming Something























Ooooh this was fun. Chilly, fence climbing, bramble fighting midnight fun.
I will elaborate soon. But for now here's the behind the scenes.. scenes. Photos by Taja. Thanks TT.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Enthusiasm Eggs

I went to see PJ Harvey at the Regent theatre the night before last.
I've been excited about this gig to the point where in the weeks leading up to it I've consciously been 'not thinking about it'. I even limited my playing of the record that she's here touring, the amazing Let England Shake. 
This most recent record of PJ's has got me, and the rest of the music loving world it seems, in a bit of a tizz.
The good kind of tizz. 

Though it's dark in nature (but what's new? This is PJ..) Let England Shake is one of the most engaging, thrilling even, records I've heard in ages.
Is it Because she's working with such sad, raw subject matter - war, namely the great war, the battle of Gallipoli and current war in Afghanistan- that it gives me chills so?
Is it so effective in it's chill-delivery because the production, like the songs themselves, is bare without being overly minimal or particularly 'low-fi'? Is it the playful and experimental way she uses a slightly shonky sounding brass ensemble (of players that haven't played in 20+ years) and samples of reggae hooks and wailing middle eastern women.. a fascinatingly wrong but right combination of sounds.

Apparently PJ she started work on researching and writing words alone for 'Shake quite some time ago, saying she didn't want to start on the music till she was lyrically happy first.
Maybe it's this very considered approach, this crafting and collating of words, stories and substance that makes it stand out from the pack and pack such a punch.
(try saying that quickly)

Whatever the exact reason, the specific combination of good calls that make up awesome, this album ends up a wonderful experience that is greater than the sum of it's parts. 
Peej and her right hand men, John Parish (check out his instrumental solo album, How Animals Move, it is amazing) and North Melbourne's own Mick Harvey (we share a suburb, yay)  have nailed it.
They've brought a moving, poetic and important thing to life.

Anyhow, let me move onto the gig.
Needless to say expectations were high. Though as I said I did Try not to get too worked up about it, not so though one of my dear friends, who booked us our tickets and was Visibly nervous and quite highly strung when we met up outside the theatre.
Her nerves were to me understandable, even if not shared, and it reminded me of one of the main reasons we are such good friends. We both care deeply about things like this. We don't have many acts or records a year that we get truly worked up about, she even less than me, so when an album comes along ticking so many of your boxes that you didn't even know where lying there, dormant and tick-less, well it's hard not to put all your enthusiasm eggs in one basket.

Two Irish coffees and a red wine later our gig going trio were slightly more calm and collected and ready to absorb whatever was to be offered.
We hurriedly power-walked and 'Butoh' ran (I'll explain that one another day) down Collins street to make the oh-so-grown-up stage time of 8.30

The gig, sorry, it wasn't a gig, it was a performance, with minimal chatter, and certainly no banter, 
Well it was, like it's start time, mature.
Beautifully so.

Paced and pitched with confidence and clarity, Peej worked through most of 'Shake, almost in album order too, save for a few switcheroo's and additions. 
Her set up was quite austere, just (exquisitely played) drums, she on guitar or auto-harp, a Wurlitzer/synth combo, guitar and occasional bass from Mick with Parish on guitar as well.
These men also had the fun job of triggering the wonky horn lines that are such an integral part of the record, and extra wing dings as samples played on keys. 

In short, I loved it.
The way it was simple, bare boned, letting the songs themselves and PJ's unconventional but more impressive than ever vocals do all the heavy lifting..
PJ's new high pitched vocal style, developed for this album, is reason enough to respect the lady and the effort she puts into pushing herself as an artist. 
Dedicated to finding a light to shine on and balance out the album's dark undertone, this lilting, quite youthful vocal approach gave her a way of delivering heavy lines not so heavy handedly. 
Live it had me transfixed. 
It's creepy but it's pretty. It's child-like but wizened. 
Her performance lay somewhere in a curious land between theatrical and laid-back.
I know that sounds like an oxymoron, theatre hardly ever being in my experience 'laid back', if Only..  it just felt very natural. 
Though her corseted black gown and feather headpiece (which my other, near-sighted friend thought was a set of horns! Hey she's dark, but not That dark..!) gave a nod toward theatricality, her over-all vibe, was just, real. 
She didn't overly play up the drama of the words anymore than just singing them beautifully and whole heartedly.

Maybe it's this conscious care meets understatement vibe that hit the nail on the head so directly for me.
Maybe I'm feeling over-exposed to and over-stimulated by the current musical climate, space gaga's and no-pants aliens... (not to mention the S&M loving aliens.. wow)
It feels sometimes like the stylists have taken over the industry, and the one with the spikiest glittery shoulder pads to place upon their beauty queen wins..
Songs with meaning, wether personal or global, this is what I am really craving.. 
I do love an artist who dresses for the occasion, but must every single day be an occasion? Or is every day just one of those no-pants-alien days for these ladies?
When all the focus is on style and none on substance, pop looses it's way, and it's place in my heart. When the two meet, in a timeless two-step, aided and supported by one another, then, we're cool. 

PJ is a lady who knows how to work with both. Powerfully.
I could go on forever with 'why it was awesome' minutia, but I must wrap it up for now..
I left the concert feeling elated.
I felt inspired and hungry. 
I felt connected and proud, of and to what I'm not exactly sure. I think I had a sense of being a part of the musical community that I wish to be in, the one in my heart and mind where people release records like this and play shows like this more often.
Also, It made me more keen than ever to push myself, to stay on track with all that I'm doing in preparation for my own album, to keep my compass clean and true.

A great night, that spilled from a great concert into post-great concert don't want this night to end wanderings and ramblings with two of my closest friends.
Like all good things, the night must end, but I can happily say, that the heart-raising and eye-widening effect of that night has stuck for three days now..
And counting.