My new album launch: Songlines 

You may break, you may mend, you will learn: You have in your hands a clear-voiced reminder of the unnegotiable importance of personal stories, their potential for transformation, their channeling into art, into fractured, crystalline multiples of their creators’ beings.  

-- Otosirieze Obi-Young, Deputy Editor, Brittle Paper. 


I have something big to announce today and you are the first to hear about it :)  

I am officially starting work on my next album. It's called Songlines and it will be my biggest, boldest, and most ambitious work to date. I haven't figured out the full title yet. It will be something along the lines of Songlines: songs/journeys in/of creation.  

The idea came to me sometime in mid-2020 while I was looking for my next project. I was feeling completely overwhelmed with everything that the Trump administration was putting the world through. It was traumatic.  

This got me thinking about trauma in my own life. The more I examined it, the more I became aware of moments in my life that I either didn’t realize were traumatic or that I’d downplayed or just flat out ignored. The memories of these moments, however, persist and have been calling out since their creation.  

The more I became aware of these moments, the more I realized that my next musical work must deal with this. So I went on a journey to explore these moments and to develop a metaphorical mannequin to drape them over and give them form.  

What is a songline?  

Before I get to songlines, an aside: titles. I must have good titles for my music. It’s a bit of quirk of mine, but I cannot complete a song without a good title. The right title must always smacks me in the face like a wet fish leaping out of water.  

Recently, I read an article about Australian Aboriginal belief systems and came across a word that I’d never heard of or seen before: songlines.  

  • NOUN 
    a route through the landscape which is believed to have been travelled during the Dreaming and which features a series of landmarks thought to relate to events that happened during this time.  

Aboriginal Australians believe that before there was the world, creator ancestors made epic journeys across Australia that brought the world into being. Songlines are songs and music that recount and perform these journeys to celebrate and share across generations. Songlines connect place and creation. They put geography and sacred knowledge in place. Some people use songlines to navigate with.  

Each group of people has their own songlines for the ancestors' journey across the part of the land that they inhabit. And so, songlines create common ground between groups of people. Like counterpoint, they come together to create a greater whole.  

Am I Dreaming?  

I just love this idea of songlines. I learn more about it everyday. The idea for my album is to tell the stories of my life; examining moments of trauma and healing and celebrating both for what they have created and the creative energy that they have given me to make the next moment.  

In some ways, I am my own ancestor and creator. The paths of my life have defined me and have imbued within me the creative energy to make each moment into something. I am mature enough and wise to be able to reflect on the arc of my life and take part in shaping it. In other words, moments of trauma have defined me so far but I do not yet define the sum of my life. And I do not want them to.  

So I want to use the creative energy my songlines have given me to shape something new, something healing, something positive. I still suffer from private shame, guilt, anxiety, and a plethora of other neuroses that have left me jagged and I want to be free of them. They are the unknowable scripts that wet my lips and tongue, to paraphrase Umar Turaki, but that I have a hand in writing.  

Songlines will be demanding and poetic. Human beings are not simplistic creatures that conform to and consume and handful of neatly packaged emotions. I resent this idea that pop music can only be a neatly shaped bullhorn selling a lifestyle. I have a loftier goal here of writing nuanced and complex pop songs that can still resonate with people.  

I have finished the preparation for the album and will begin working on demos, which I will release and perform as I write them to see how the songs and people dance together before I put them into an album.  

I'm putting a lot of long-term planning and thought into this album because, if anything, releasing Precious taught me that these things take time to do properly and to do with justice.  

Next week, I will tell you about some of the themes and songs I have in mind for the album.


You may break, you may mend, you will learn: You have in your hands a clear-voiced reminder of the unnegotiable importance of personal stories, their potential for transformation, their channeling into art, into fractured, crystalline multiples of their creators’ beings.  

-- Otosirieze Obi-Young, Deputy Editor, Brittle Paper.

The pedagogy of the isolated 

2020 knocked us all flat on our backs.

Whilst I was flat out, I took the opportunity to do some reflecting on what I've learned this year... 

It's not "pants," it's trousers.  

I will never get this one. People are always correcting me. In South Africa, it doesn't matter what it is. If it goes over your legs (except for stockings of course) and buttons/zips/ties/belts up, IT'S PANTS. 

I learned to really enjoy cooking.  

In all honesty, this is probably THE BIGGEST thing I learned. I can't believe that I've completely swung on this. I used to detest cooking. Now I just love choosing interesting recipes and buying the right implements and ingredients. I love the preparation and melange of smells as the spices roast, the butter sizzles, and the onions pop. 

I now love my Sunday afternoon cook-a-thons. 

I am doing my thing 

I’m doing my thing when it comes to music. No more competing and comparing. Becoming OK with this has made life so much more pleasant. There’s no more pressure on me to keep up in a race that I've realized I don't want to run in anymore.

Some people can spend hours a day on social media. I cannot.

The anxiety of feeling left behind is gone. I can finally focus on what’s meaningful to me, which is music that resonates with me first and foremost. And that is key. 

I’ve kind of accepted that fame and fortune are probably not for me. And even if they were, that ship has long sailed. At this stage of my life, I just don’t have the energy or time to spend doing things that don't mean much to me or which are just resonations of my insecurities and fears. 

I’ve calmed down and learned to respect the muse inside me. I guess the muse been waiting all this time for me to be ready to handle it properly and treat it with respect.

No more rushing, there’s plenty of time. 

Singles take time to make and release 

To be fair, I knew this. But the experience of releasing Precious slapped me in the face. I crammed what should have been three months' worth of work into about...a month. Throw in several high-priority projects that I needed to complete at work and I was broken. 

For my next single, I'm working on a timeline of about three months. I've already started working on it and have the music and basic idea for it. I'm also going to be investing considerably more money into production and promotion to ensure that I get the best and show people what I can really do. 

I need to let go of South Africa

I’ve lamented on several occasions how much I miss South Africa and have spent considerable energy pining to go home. What's the point of this, really? If going home means so much to me right now, then I should go home. But I know that I would always wonder if I gave London enough of a chance. The cycle would just go on repeating, and what is truly most important is being present and embracing everything that the current moment offers. 

Letting go doesn't mean forgetting my beloved South Africa or turning my back on it. South Africa will always be there and so there's no point in holding on to the guilt and sadness I feel for having left if I'm not going to go back just yet. 

"I cannot imagine anyone wanting to love me" is just a thought that can be unthought

I've never felt very lovable, romantically speaking. I'm prickly, difficult, moody, weird, very ambitious, and I do not make it easy for guys to love me. I'm not sure if this is a reflection of not loving myself or the anxiety associated with being loved. Regardless, the impact of that thought is that I've never put my energy, serious energy, into building a loving relationship with anyone. 


Sometimes I wonder if I’ve lost that ability to fall in love, or if there's something wrong with me? 

I cannot imagine anyone wanting to love me. 


What I've learned this year is that those are just thoughts. They do not reflect a reality that I am actually unlovable. What they reflect is the need for me to work on myself to be able to put those thoughts and feelings to bed.

I have to remind myself of this every day. 

I do not want to be defined by these thoughts.

They can be undone, or at least minimized. 

I am a very good friend 

I am a good listener. I pay attention. I make an effort. When my friends need me, I'm there. I try not to be lazy in friendships. My utterly disastrous attempt at building a circle of friends here has reminded me that I am a good friend to have.  

 

Paris Hilton and a purple gorilla called Baba Yaga 

I was at a wedding reception. I don’t recall anything about whose wedding it was except that there was a massive wedding cake on the stage. Paris Hilton was in the audience. She looked a little different - almost like she has some of Nicole Ritchie’s features. 

Paris suddenly ran onto the stage. She was going to run into the cake, but it disappeared and she ran straight into the wall. She fell over backwards in a somewhat comical manner. My vision, which took on the feel of a camera, slowly panned to downwards to the left to her black glasses which were on the table where the cake was. 

There was another part where Paris was standing on a small ledge just above the ocean. I don’t remember much of it though. It was surrounded by beautiful tropical plants. She was doing some takes in front of a camera. She was making weird noises and faces. It was actually quite spectacular to watch. She was really good. Again, she looked totally different, like she was Nicole Ritchie. 

The dream then cut to a random lady swimming just below Paris. I was now in the ocean looking at everything beneath the surface. A huge manta ray-like creature was chasing fish to eat them. It had two mouths. The bigger one opened to reveal a smaller but identical mouth which could stretch out a bit further. Both mouths were lined with teeth, which shredded the fish as it caught them. The fish the became birds and the ray became a black crow. It was chasing them through the trees. I can’t remember any more of that dream. 

Then I was in a tree at the foot of a grassy hill. A camera crew was below me trying to get me to come down. The trees branches were black and dry, but I was able to climb to the top of the tree fairly easily. I got entangled in the branches. I feel like Brad Pitt was below, beckoning me to come down. I wouldn’t. Out of the corner of my eye, Paris came rolling down the hill. I think she was yodeling or something like that. 

Back to me. 

The crew started to climb the tree to get me down. I lodged myself up in the very top branches. I remember stepping back a little and a branch broke. It refocused my determination not to come down...to escape. 

I spied a thick branch that I thought I could swing off to I don’t know where from. But as I started to swing, a massive toy gorilla grabbed me from underneath. I think the gorilla was purple. Its name was written on its chest: Baba Yaga.

I'm a Nancy Boy 

Last night, I dreamt that my former French lecturer, Giuditta, and I worked for Nancy Pelosi. She took us with her on a trip to Durban, I think. We were at my home in Durban and Nancy went into my bedroom whilst Giuditta and sat in the lounge chatting. I was telling Giuditta that you do not mess with Nancy. She will take you out. 

Nancy was in my room for a while and when I went in, I saw that she was organizing all my recycling. I told her not to and that I would do. She stormed out in a huff and said she couldn’t believe I keep my recycling in my room. I told her that I don’t want to have to go to the bins every time I need to throw something away, so I keep it there until I’ve got a lot. We got into an argument about it and Nancy swiftly rounded on me and said she’s sending me back to Washington, D.C. I pleaded with her not to but she refused to budge. I eventually gave up and tried to be civil towards her in the hopes she would change her mind. But it didn’t work. We were actually really nice to one another. She acted like it was nothing that I’d been home barely a few hours and was already having to go back. She put me on a DHL plane as well. 

At some point, I’m not sure if Nancy became a cat or the cat was hers, but a ginger kitty arrived. Giuditta was feeding him sandwiches and Nancy laughed and said that she’s just trying to get on Nancy’s good side by feeding the cat. Giuditta smiled, looked at me, and said, “well it’s working.” 

We drove to the airport on the seashore in an open top land rover. We stopped to do some sight seeing and Nancy jokingly rolled her eyes and tutted every time I tried to be nice to her to get her to change her mind. 

The dream stopped there.