I spent a lot of my childhood sitting around in recording studios, peering at my Dad through the glass separating the sound engineers and producers from the musicians. As my Dad and his band hefted amps and instruments out of vans and into venues, I’d carry big round coils of leads and cables, one over each arm. I had my own pair of earplugs that I’d wear as I sat in the wings at my Dad’s concerts, and a pair of earmuffs to wear over the top because it was still too loud.
My toybox was full of maracas, castanets, tambourines and penny whistles – I had my own tiny tape recorder, and I’d make up songs and pretend radio shows which I’d then record onto cassettes. (which weren’t old-skool at the time, if that gives my age away at all…)
So even though I was never pushed, I think my parents were delighted when it transpired that I could hold a tune, and they were happy to scrape money together to pay for me to learn the violin when I asked for lessons at about seven years of age.
While it turned out that the violin was not for me, my background in music meant that I picked up the piano really quickly, and managed to achieve grade 8 in both classical singing and oboe by the time I left secondary school. I took part in youth orchestras, wind ensembles and choirs as well as writing and performing lots of music with my friends for fun during my teenage years.
Despite not being a Christian, I had a choral scholarship at university and sang with my college chapel choir several times a week. I was so immersed in the world of classical and contemporary music in my formative years that once I reached adulthood and was released into the world like a bewildered baby bird, thrust from the nest of rigorous education, I felt a huge sense of loss.
It was around this time that after a long break from the ‘music scene’, my Dad found his way back into music and started to approach people with whom he’d made music before, as well as new friends he’d met since he moved to France. Inspired by him, I sought out some new musical friends too, and found my incredibly talented friend Robin, with whom I’ve been singing ever since. My Dad and his friends have managed to create an album which I can only really describe as a shape-shifter. To those who haven’t heard his music since the early days of The Perfect Disaster (the band for which he is most known), this new album will seem delicate and understated, in contrast with the gritty rock riffs from ‘back in the day’. For people who are coming to his music for the first time, I imagine the album sounds brooding and eclectic, new and nostalgic all at once. When I listen to the album, I hear the culmination of a thousand melodies, plucked and perfected throughout my childhood; I hear the zip closing on the front of a tent and the soft sound of my Dad singing by the fire outside; I hear the rain beating down on the roof of the deserted and dilapidated mill where my Dad lives now… I can also hear my own voice, since I was lucky enough to sing backing vocals on a lot of the tracks. I am very proud of my Dad for coming back to music and for being brave enough to release another album after so long, and he constantly inspires me to be more creative and make more music myself.
Let's just ignore how short my dress is in this photo... I know it probably wasn't completely appropriate for a father-daughter outing, but meh...
So I know it’s probably too early to be thinking about New Year’s resolutions, but next year, I’m going to be making a lot more music. It’s been decided. This year has been The Year of the Flat. Next year is a brand new chance to be more me. Which means more music! Saying it here means that you guys all have to hold me accountable!
If you want to listen to the music I make with my friend Robin, click here, and if you want to listen to my Dad’s new album, a beautiful, moody-folky album (including lots of wailing from me), then click here. It would make my Dad very, very happy indeed.
P.S. Here's a video of my Dad and his old band, in the olden days (the 80s) being very rock'n'roll...