The Raging Quiet

The first time I was touched in a way that made my skin crawl was when I was five years old. I never really felt my body was anything more than my body before that. It helped me walk, run, reach for food and carried me up the stairs. I’d never given much thought about my body being something for someone or something else so when I was touched in a way that made me freeze from shock, it changed me forever.

It’s taken me a long time to write this. Even when I wrote that paragraph above I left my laptop to just leave the screen. I don’t like to write about trauma. I don’t like to trudge through shit to get to the light

Except. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.

As much as I could drag you and myself through the experiences that have scarred me, I’m actually going to tell you about events that happened this weekend that held me up. That made me feel way less alone than I’ve felt in years.

On Friday, I had to take my car to my mechanic in my old neighbourhood in West Molesey. If you didn’t know, I lived in a guardianship there with a group of really disturbed people. Drug addicts, nascissists, you name it. I had an enormous anxiety attack before going which resulted in taking two hours to leave the damn house.

I finally arrive and meet my mechanics who I love. Not because they’re fixing my car and really help me out but because they’re not creepy. They don’t make sexual jokes at me. They don’t talk over me or leave me out of conversations about my own car. They actually got me fixing my own car and taught me how to maintain it myself. My hands became black from oil and my dress got covered in dust.

It was marvellous.

As I drove to my boyfriend’s it struck me that spending time with them and garnering knowledge had made me more calm than I’ve felt in months. I actually contemplated signing onto a mechanic course. I felt so good.

Later that night I joined a stag/hen do with some friends and we ended up in a nearly empty pub. In the corner of the place was a piano. I asked if there was a band on tonight and the bar person said no but I was welcome to play. So I did.

I’m not a great piano player but I can read chords and work things out by ear so the bride-to-be requested a few songs to which I played and they sang along. After a couple of songs an older man (Man 1) who had been sitting with his friend came up behind us and began singing a song over the song we were playing (same chords, different song scenario). So, we began singing along with him.

When I began to play again the bar person came up to me and told me that someone at the var had complained and wanted us to stop (the pub was nearly empty – WE were the biggest party there). When I asked who, he pointed to the man who had sung with us.

When I walked past the man who had complained and his friend (Man 2) turned to me from their conversation to stop me from getting back to the piano by saying to “stop my nonsense”. I said “Well, we were just celebrating their engagement but I’m sure there’s great music on the speakers here”. Instead of dropping it, Man 1 said to me “Yeah, well, I’m a musician and there’s a difference between tinkering on the piano and being paid to play, yeah? I get paid to play here every two weeks”. I immediately said, “Well, that’s the difference between you and me then isn’t it? I get paid to play and I also play when I want cause it makes me happy to make others happy. You can be both, mate”. When Man 2 tried to interrupt me I then said “You just get back to your scintillating conversation, mate. I’m sure it’s riveting. Bye”.

What surprised me was my groups reaction. They were all livid on my behalf. My boyfriend started going red in the face and wanted to approach the men but we both knew that wouldn’t do any good.

When we went outside to cool off (I was shaking from the adrenaline) one of my boyfriends friends came out with us and said, “Look, this happens cause you’re a woman and you know it. It’s cause you’re talented and you have the courage to just go play a piano in an empty pub”. Then he turned to my boyfriend who was still steaming mad and said, “Mate, that guy in there is a loser who has to parade his pub playing status. It’s cause she’s a woman but look how she held her own. She’s doing it right, mate”.

I’ll be honest with you. People. I’ve never felt more seen and supported by a bunch of humans. I’ve never had a boyfriend who’s witnessed me be treated like that and get so angry and upset. I’ve usually been told I’m making a big deal out of nothing.

I couldn’t and still can’t believe that two years ago, the tables would have been turned. I would’ve been told by my ex to “keep quiet” and that I “invite” this drama to my life. Friends would have told me that “that’s just the way it is” while staying silent as the men berated me. None of the people I was with stayed silent as I spoke back to these men who couldn’t just stay quiet. Some members of the group also told them to go back to enjoying their drinks and leave us alone. It felt powerful.

I’ve realised that…people who make you feel safe make all the difference in the world. People who have your back and see the injustice right away reinforces the fact that you can make a difference, you can make change happen when people band together.

I barely knew this group of people. They barely know me but they saw immediately that those two men were out of turn. Not one person thought otherwise. It was a shock to the system.

Earlier on being with those mechanics and just enjoying tinkering away on my car was because they made me feel seen and safe and I’ve recently been made to feel very unsafe…which made those two events all the more sweeter.

I had a friend who works in music as a tour manager and stage manager who I’ve known for a few years. They got me a couple of jobs with them which I loved. I definitely have a flare for being organised and physically active. I truly felt this man, who is 15 years older than me, saw me as a human who worked damn hard. They supported me when I was sexually assaulted in a guardianship, they helped me construct emails to the company I lived with when I was being harassed by a guardian in West Molesey. I let them sleep at my flat for free when we worked on a stage managing job in the area. I drove them to wales in my car when we worked a festival.

When I moved out of the horrid place at West Molesey and to west London, I found a great housemate, good new friends I could see. I was doing more work around stage and not just performing (which honestly, every musician should do. It really puts things in perspective) and it really felt…things were elevating up.

In January my friend asked me to have sex with him. Behind his partner’s back. He also said if I said no he would still give me jobs and would make good on the jobs he had already offered. that included vocal recordings and being booked to do an album for an artist. It’s good to put that in so you can’t be accused of having insidious intentions, right?

I read the message and immediately wanted to vomit. I thought it was a joke. I read the huge text where he tried to justify him asking by claiming it was because we were friends, he needed more exercise and his doctor recommended it. That we “got each other” and “I think it would be really nice”.

I want to make it clear that he didn’t tell me he fancied me, or liked me, or mentioned me at all in fact. It was a huge text about him and his needs and his desires and his justifications on why it was ok to ask me to have sex with him. I don’t know what’s more shit, but being seen as a sexual object and him having literally no perspective on how it would’ve made me feel made me so fucking sad. The guy knew I’d been assaulted while I knew him. He knows it’s not the first time I’ve been assaulted. He knows I have no family unit that looks out for me. He knows I’ve had therapy to deal with a lot of trauma. He knows.

And still…did what most men do. Put their ego first.

I said no and informed him that if he meant what he said about the jobs, I’d like the details. He of course said so and again sent a long message justifying his reasoning for asking for sex, none of it about me by the way. All for him.

The reason this was awkward to write was because I was worried he’d turn nasty. He used to host my website which I’ve now taken back. He offered to help me with my music two years ago and he did. He helped me enormously which is why I don’t know why he decided to fuck up a friendship for asking for something that quite frankly, he could ask his partner for.

Part of me feels like he did it because I’m not well-known. He certainly doesn’t treat signed artists like Jade Bird, who he recently worked with like this. Perhaps because I’m unknown or he believes I’ll never become “big enough” to ever taint his rep by talking about what he did.

Later on he asked me about a job where I’d be learning to be a guitar tech and shadow him on this job. I was sick the month before and couldn’t afford to take the time off. I explained this and said if there was an opportunity to do paid work I’d be able to take the time off work to do it.

His reaction was “Wow, really?!” and went on to say that he wasn’t offering me unpaid work, he was “offering to pass in-demand skills and knowledge”.

Yeah. It’s still unpaid so I reiterated that I was very interested but couldn’t work for free at that time.

He responded “I tried to help. You’re clearly not interested…I was offering MY time (and knowledge + skills) for free to you. I will not in the future”.

I replied saying I couldn’t understand his anger and hoped he had a good gig.

Of course we understand his anger. He’s embarrassed that I rejected him and for someone who knows what it’s like to try and earn and get by, he essentially offered me to work four days completely unpaid because his skills alone are worth me not being able to pay rent and HOW DARE I SAY I NEED MONEY TO LIVE??

“I’M TRYING TO BE NICE TO YOU, EMILY AND YOU’RE MAKING IT DIFFICULT WHEN YOU DON’T ACCEPT MY INCREDIBLY GENEROUS OFFER!!

We get it.

After that…I realised he’d gone and done what I usually do. He’d burnt that bridge down.

So that’s why I can write about it. Cause seriously, what can he do? So, he’ll bad mouth me to his “contacts”. I don’t want to work with men who abuse their power by asking for sex from their colleagues.

I don’t want to work with men or women who condone, enable or brush away this behaviour.

I’ll be nervous about posting this but I also know that this is going to set me free.

I had a gig recently where I spoke about this experience on stage and a man came up to me afterwrads and jookingly said “Will you have sex with me?”.

He went on to find me a gig and message me inviting me out (oh, men, when will you listen?).

At the gig I was talking to two audience members during my break and this man came up, put his arm around my neck (oh god, the covid alarm) and said, “Yeah, I met Emily when I asked her for sex at her last gig” and me being me I responded “Yeah, and he never got it and that’s why he won’t stop fucking go on about it”, to which this man removed his arm and said “Fuck off”.

My boyfriend was at that gig and didn’t see that interaction but did see that same said man singing my praises outside to people in the pub before we had that moment.

I get told by people, even friends “I don’t know why this happens to you/I don’t know where you find these people”, which I’m going to lay down right now, annoys the fuck out of me. Please stop saying that shit to people.

Here’s why:

A) No one gets to pick the external events in their life. We make decisions based on learned experience and as much as I was not given a healthy, constructive upbringing and taught the tools necessary to counter attack trauma, I went to therapy and still remain curious and I’m a damn quick learner. You won’t find anyone quicker than me who can learn what’s good for them. If someone wants to be abusive or shitty to someone, that’s on them and making it about the person who is being subjected to shit by other people is AGAIN enabling abusive behaviour. The world is rough cause we made it that way, so it stands to reason that we can make it better by addressing it directly, not through the bodies that have been shot in the firing line.

B) This happens to me a lot because I’m not the archetypal woman that the majority of society believe I should be. I’m confident, I’m expressive, I don’t like fading into the background, especially when it comes to music. I’m curious, I’m brave, I make big decisions, I take risks and I do it completely on my own. I don’t have a constant family unit or even that many friends who live nearby. This shit happens to women who push outside the boxes others are constantly trying to shove them in because ultimately, we don’t like women like that. I do, by the way. Women like that are fucking glorious. And until I meet more women like me, I’ll continue to work towards being the blueprint of the woman I want to be.

I’m forever grateful for Instagram for connecting me to women who are fucking suffering in their own ways and pushing through it to do their joy. I’m awed by the stories people have told me about them. I’m blown away by the increase of men in my DM’s who are genuinely supportive and have witnessed my transitional stages in life over nearly 10 years and they’re still with me.

So fuck no, I’m not going to let other people’s projections fuck me up or throw rocks on my path.

I’ve always said my mother was the most terrifying figure in my life and if my own mother couldn’t fuck me up, no one else is going to either. Not one or two and not a crowd of them. No way. Pain comes back around but always to a tougher skin and like I said, I’m a quick learner.

Right now I’m concentrating on finding a job so I can be excited to earn money again and push it into my music. I want to be kind to myself and be kind to my music. For too long it’s been something I use as a trauma response and it deserves more than that. I deserve more than that.

I will say that two men who stood up for me on Friday night are playing with me at Hanwell Hootie.

I’ve been raging quietly to myself for months and I finally feel ready to roar.

Thanks for reading and always, thanks for being here. I love you all very much xxx

Honest August

It’s Bank Holiday Monday and I’m sat at my desk at 3pm looking out the window and my mirror from time to time.

Guys, I have no idea what’s going on.

I went away camping with the same person I’d recently broken up with, We live together and that’s difficult. It ended in a nightmare. They began drudging past stuff up when I asked them about something hurtful they said to me (classic misdirection for those that don’t want to address the hurtful things they’ve said/done) and I just lost it. I was set to cycle back to London or Cheltenham to see my Granddad. Anywhere but where I was.

Ugh, I went back because of damn comfort. Fucking, bloody comfort.

We got the news that our property is being demolished and we have to leave and I’m actually heartbroken. I’ve really enjoyed living where I am and I’ve loved my space here. The guardian situation definitely went downhill when I had all that hostility from that guy I lived with (who has since moved back to his hometown for work) yet now we have to move. I’ve loved it here.

I have no idea where I’m going to go. I had planned to move with the person I was seeing but we decided to split up places which means I have no idea where I’m going. I’d like to remain a guardian because it’s cheap to live by. It enables me to do a lot more. I can’t imagine having to give more than half of my monthly earnings in rent. I would never be able to do music if that happened.

I’m overwhelmed. That’s what I am. What about you?

I’ve cried all night and all day today. My face hurts.

If you didn’t know, I’m not working with that producer anymore. Apparently being on Spotify is a REALLY big deal for some people. So much so that they think swearing at you in texts is suitable, especially when they claim that their therapist didn’t see anything wrong with it.

FYI if you ever use your therapy as a weapon do shrink down someone else’s valid feelings, you’re an arsehole. End of.

I’m crying a lot whilst I write this so I have to stop. I’m sorry it’s not a really in depth look at this month. I’m feeling too depressed and I wish I could be better right now.

One thing I wished was that more people checked in on me with genuine concern. That’s lacking a lot at the moment. In general we’re uncomfortable with people crying and I cry a lot because I can. Why hold back? Tears are healing.

I’ll let you know when I can tune in again.

Stay safe, stay kind and question yourself.

Love Emily xxx

 

July In The Sky

I’m watching Tina Turner’s: What’s Love Got To Do With It? on DVD. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend you do because it’s amazing. Whenever I feel a bit shaky about life, I’ll put it on to watch. My mother and me watched it once and I got hooked, same with Little Richard’s 2000 TV film. I’ve always loved seeing musicians who have fought their way to the top. It’s inspiring. It’s exactly what we need in our lives. Knowing our limits are external and internal and we can definitely get control of the internal with enough work. When Tina first sings at the club for Ike Turner and his band it reminds me of when I first sang at the Blues Kitchen in Camden for their jam night on Sundays and I asked to sing “Baby, What You Want Me To Do” by Etta James and the guitarist immediately said, “I get my solo, yeah?” It wasn’t a question.

I stood up and began to sing the song and if you know it, you know there’s a lot of opportunity for band members to come in with the solos they need so badly to look amazing so I just went with it a couple of times. After the second verse the song is usually finished but, I don’t know, something came over me and I lifted my hand and sang, “One more time!” and began to sing the song an octave higher until the lyrics “And down that road I go!” which was super high. I’d practiced in my bedroom in my head. I couldn’t sing loudly in any flat I was staying in. No way. I was so close to people living in a flat, I daren’t sing out loud in my room. I just knew I could sing it. At least in my head. So I did it. On stage. In front of hundreds of people and…I just felt the air change. It was like everyone sat up with a straight back, including the band and it erupted in cheers. I love moments like that. Afterwards I shook the band members hands and left the stage and I just walked on out there with my friends following. Then I smoked a cigarette and went home. I didn’t want to stay. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I wanted to go home and re-live the moment I let go on stage. That’s the best part of singing, you know. Crowd reactions are glorious but the best part is the silence after the song has finished.

It’s unbroken peace.

I love how that’s never going to leave me. How singing makes me feel.

I think about this a lot more now there’s no gigs or tours. We still have online gigs. I can do a live concert whenever I want but it just doesn’t beat being there in the flesh. I miss it.

I decided that since lockdown was so atrocious what with living with some rather nasty characters, no job and no certainty, I decided to make something certain.

I bought a car. An old banger.

I have bought my insurance and my tax and I’m ready to go and learn. Why have I done this during a pandemic? Job’s are scarce and people are being made redundant left, right and centre and I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to keep my job if the UK has a second wave (which we will) so…I figured this was the best time. I’m getting sick of feeling limited and I’ve been limited like everyone else.

There was never enough money to learn to drive growing up and I want more independence. I’d like to be able to tour one day. I want to be able to leave my house when I want because being trapped during lockdown was awful.

There is never a “good time” to spend money but there’s always a good time to further yourself. Things cost money. Trying to do new things costs money. That’s a fact and instead of limiting myself, I find ways to make more revenue. It’s a risk and it’s scary but what’s scarier is staying in the same place over and over again. Lockdown taught me that. Never have I felt more hopeless than when lockdown struck and I was laid off.

So, I’m taking steps.

The best part of lockdown was beginning to record. Me and my friend made an album of songs I wrote last year, plus one I wrote during lockdown. I can’t believe it sometimes. I did not expect to write or record anything and yet…I did.

I’ll release soon. Once we’ve finished. It’s very different and it’s a sound I’m excited about. I’ve always loved the idea of experimenting and working with different people. For the first time I’m working with someone that I feel I can really communicate with. Who won’t stamp my ideas down and won’t tell me “You can’t do that”. I’m instead talking and working with someone who is focused on opportunity not on obstacles.

I have a quote on my board next to my bed that say’s (amongst other quotes) “Surround yourself with people who think as big as you”. That’s imperative for growth in anything, not just music.

Take a step. Be brave. Loads more is possible than what is in front of you.

Now I’m going to go and drive my car around the car park….

 

June Bloom

You know,  

I planned to write this blog about June on the last day of the month. I usually always do because I always want a blow-by-blow write up about what’s happening just before I press “Publish”. 

But you know, it’s been pretty wild and enlightening. And only in the last 24 hours. 

For those that don’t follow me on Instagram, I was told by my Granddad that my mother wanted to reach out to me and he had reassured me that she was clean and was trying to sort her life out. My mother has always been involved with drugs or drink so it seems unlikely but hey, I’ve changed a lot, people can change if they want, so I thought “Why not?”. We all want a connection with our parents. They raised us. They kept us alive when we were incapable of keeping ourselves alive. It’s natural to want to bond with that person. Well, I sent off my first letter and I mentioned what I was doing during lockdown, how my house had been, that I was glad she’d gotten a house and she had her own garden. You know, the normal “first letter” things. I said that I could understand why she had done what she’d done when we were kids and she wasn’t able to make may good choices and I understood and I hoped she was in a better place. So…. 

My Grandpa forwarded her letter to me (no one in my family is allowed my address) and I open it to find a very abusive letter. Saying that “reading your diary made me realise you hated me and I didn’t know why”. That I was a “great liar even at five years old”, that I “lied about having a good time in Bristol for your acting audition”. She went on to talk about my music and that was actually a nice bit but when someone’s emotionally bashing you and making stories up, it really does not mean a thing. 

For context, my mother read my diary because she noticed I wrote in a notebook when I was 13 so she waited until I left for school and went to look for it. She then proceeded to wait until I got back home from school and read it out to her friends on the phone. When I tried to grab it back from her, she refused and threatened to hit me if I tried. I never punched my mother back until there was one time when I was seventeen. I was always too afraid before.  

It’s funny my mother didn’t read in that diary about how this guy in my class grabbed my hand and made me rub his penis (which was hard) and how I pulled my hand back in disgust and my “friends” laughed at me and called me frigid. This was in the middle of German class and I was too afraid to tell the teacher. It’s funny how my mother didn’t read the parts about her niece’s boyfriend who was touching me up when no one was looking and walking into my room when I was changing after school. Or how I was upset my mother would let him unlock the bathroom door to pee and watch me shower while he peered at me through the pyrex shower doors. It turns out he was supplying my mother so I guess she had priorities….  

She read the words, “I hate mother. Why doesn’t she die?” – which is extreme I know – Yet I did hate her. She abused me every day. She failed to protect me from other abusers. She laughed at my discomfort around boys and men. She was a terrible, terrible mother. So yes, I wanted my abuser to die because I felt like if she didn’t, I would need to die to escape it. 

Also, the day is Bristol? I had an acting audition that she and her terrible alcoholic boyfriend took me to. I spent a day doing the audition. They spent a day drinking. They picked me up in the foyer where all the other parents and tutors were there and were very loud in a drunken manner. Then on the way home we were stopped by police for their drunk driving. If I had said to my mother at the time “Mum, why did you drink? Why can’t you stop?”. Not only would I have been slapped around within an inch of my life, I was terrified of her. You can’t imagine (unless your parents were the same) what it’s like to wake up every day and your mother is abusing you. Every. Single. Day.  

So, to receive this letter was just….the nail in the coffin for me during this lockdown.  

I’ve not had a great time with housemates, my job situation is precarious right now and then this.  

Well, I fell apart. Then I called my Granddad. He was understandably upset for me and very disappointed in mother and yet I managed to figure out that I just had to move on. I was very hurt and I felt even more isolated and alone but…what can you do? You carry on. I knew there was no point in explaining to mother. She wrote that she was so “confused” as to why I hated being at home and I just knew she’d rewritten our childhood in her head. For her, she was the victim (always) and we were the bullies (us kids).  

A week later it’s my mother’s birthday and I call Granddad because even though I would never talk to her, I almost felt bad that my mother might not get a call. However, it escalated. My Granddad announced that he would not be telling my mother that I’d spoken to him about her letter and gotten her upset. He didn’t want to cut her off and wanted to try and build a relationship with her. I explained that I had never considered that anyone gets cut off. I explained that what she had sent me was abusive and not the action, words or intentions of someone who is trying to “build a relationship” with their child. I explained that the reason people like mother talk and act the way they do and consistently so is because there isn’t anyone around them to call them on this and calmly explain that this was not a healthy route because it hurts everyone. My Grandpa immediately got on the defensive and said would I prefer it if he cut her off and I AGAIN explained that asking someone to consider their abusive behaviour is not an invitation to an argument. I explained that I needed his support on this. I explained that mother had spent years abusing me (my siblings too but to respect their privacy I won’t mention their journey) and she was literally continuing the saga SEVENTEEN years after kicking me out. That’s not the actions of a healthy, stable human. My Grandpa got defensive and said it wasn’t his problem and that was it really and he’d let me talk for 10 minutes so he wanted to go (FYI if you say that to someone – that you’re counting minutes, congratulations. You’ve demonstrated that you’re incapable of listening). 
The cord just cut. 

Three years ago, I was staying with my brother in Australia and I’d noticed that when he talked about the women he knew; he was talking about them in a derogatory way. How one girl he knew was “good to the lads” because she has shagged them all. It really upset me to hear my brother talk like this so two nights after I’d been there I spoke up and asked him whether he’d considered how he spoke about women because the way he speaks about them is how I’m actually treated on a pretty regular basis (hey, male culture, it’s shit). He immediately got angry and defensive and when I tried another way to communicate by saying, “How does it make you feel to know I’ve been through those experiences then?”, he responded with, “I don’t care about it. I don’t care what you write about on Facebook. It’s nothing to do with. It’s not my problem so I don’t’ want to hear about it”.  

 

Guys. My heart broke. 

 

My Grandpa found this all out when I got back and never called my brother up on his behaviour but then, one time I had dinner with my Granddad a year ago and had to explain what rape was which my Granddad vehemently denied ever happening in his day because the office girls he worked with were sometimes “up for it”. 
 

So you see, my family, whether they realise it or not, fuel this toxic behaviour that ultimately fires at me and it’s painful that they want to scrub my words out rather than learn something because seriously, it costs you nothing but time and whats a bit of time learning a new, healthy skill? 

If things couldn’t be more taxing, a guy I was seeing turned out to be a completely horrible person. I mean. I only figured this out properly last night and I’m prepared for the mourning and the pain that happens even when you know someone’s bad for you. Yet I’m also just really glad to be out of it and oh god, I can’t wait for this guy to move into his house. Just another guy who vehemently denies being responsible for anything bad and instead blames my emotions, or my sensitivity. Not his complete lack of authenticity or ability to self-question. Instead, I’m told I talk “too much”. I make life “all about me” that I make out my issues are, “worse that everyone else’s”. I also know this was my self-sabotage. I deliberately chose someone who was emotionally unavailable and it’s because feeling underappreciated but close to someone was better than my own company. I no longer think that.  

I think things are as bad as how you handle them. I don’t know many people who could take on toxic housemates, an unfair job loss, a horrid partner ALL during a lockdown and still come out going, “Well, let’s try again” and secretly, I think that pisses of people more. That you can be knocked back and still get up at the end. Their issue, not mine. 

Here’s the thing, I’m never ever going to censor my feelings for anybody. I’m not going to pretend I’m ok when I’m not and when someone upsets me or says something inappropriate or wrong, I’m going to say so. I’m not afraid to do that. I am not afraid to put my feelings first when people are doing something shitty because they’re clearly out to hurt with no regard for who they’re hurting (including themselves). Just like I’m not going to censor myself when things are going really well for myself.  What I despise is that during this time, I’ve been made to feel that voicing my fears and my issues so that I can find clarity for the next step is considered selfish.  

Self-care is considered selfish by those who don’t care about themselves or others.  

Think about it. When you try to improve your life. If you give up sugary drinks or start working out, if you try to change your life for the better, how many people do you know who would actually be happy for you? How many of them would cheer from the sidelines and still support and encourage you to keep going if you fell of the wagon a bit? I guarantee not many. So if you start changing how your mind works to a less toxic, less abrasive, less angry way of being/doing/thinking, you scare people because they’re used to you being a certain way AND it shows that they are not growing WITH you. 

When you find your boundary and stick to them people who you thought were your friends/partners call you selfish, “too” sensitive, callous, arrogant. I’ve lost count of the number of partners and friends who tell me I’m demanding, that what they do isn’t enough, that they can never get it right and you know what? 
When you’re emotionally repressed and have never addressed that, when you’ve never wanted to be better for yourself, let alone other people, when you’ve never questioned your OWN motives in life, when you purposefully walk around blaming everyone else for your shortcomings, when you feel being sorry and accountable is a weakness, YEAH, you will SUCK at supporting your partner and friends. And all those things I just listed need to be PRACTISED. They’re not one-time miracles. 

They’re consistent steps into the unknown. THAT’S why the “support” they’re giving ISN’T enough. It’s not a habit you pick up and drop after six months because it worked the last two times. It’s a lifelong skill that gets better and stronger and healthier the more you practice it. You know what the guy I was seeing said last night? He said I never listened to him and I said, “What do you mean?” and he said, “You don’t let me be. You don’t let me be myself. You never ask about how I’m doing”. After some toing and froing he actually meant that he had been given a diagnoses from his doctor about a mental issue he had and I reminded him that I had asked him about this because he had started a fight with me the morning he received the letter but it took five days for him to explain why he had been so shitty with me, I asked him what the doctor had said and that whatever it was, it wasn’t a death sentence and could be worked through and he just walked away and never told me.  

Last night he said, “If I tell you, you’ll throw it back in my face”. 

And therein lies the issue. The reluctance to be vulnerable. The need to batter the other person down because they have an inability to be in their truth, with themselves and others for fear of it being used against them. You can’t make someone responsible for your repression when you are actively repressing yourself. People can be cruel when they hear about mental health. Fuck, I’m sure lots of my exes describe me as crazy because I had the audacity to say that their words/actions were harmful to me. Do I care? No. When I meet people who have the audacity to throw my vulnerability back in my face and weaponise my mental health issues in an attempt to score petty points, (and PLENTY of people have) they’re out of my life forever. That’s the risk you take when you’re open. I feel I can be open with fans on social media and I also know when you share pain, when you share mistakes, when you share your vulnerability to people you KNOW are listening, you grow and you connect to others and it’s just beautiful. Vulnerability MUST be practiced if you want meaningful connections with people. 

Does it frighten me? It sure fucking does but I won’t allow fear to be my leader. And the whole being sensitive thing? Has anyone considered that it’s because I’m PAYING ATTENTION. That actually I’m listening closely to what’s going on and what people are saying and I can feel it because I’m actually allowing myself to instead of squashing my emotions down and foolishly believing that I’m “safe”. 

We are so badly trained on how to care for others and ourselves. It’s ridiculous. We don’t practice kindness and none of us know what a proper apology is (please do not look to our government on apologies – it’s the worst attempt at being accountable that I’ve seen). Do you know the number one reason why children don’t apologise? It’s because their parents never accept their apology.  

For example: 

Parent: “You shouldn’t hit me like that! What do you say?” 

Child: “Sorry” 

Parent: “And don’t ever do that again. I’m so sick of this behaviour. All I’ve tried to do is make a nice dinner for you and you…” 

Yeah. Parents need to just say “thank you”. Literally. That’s all it requires because to expand and further berate the person is telling them that an apology comes with more aggression. Not on. We’re even bad at saying THANK YOU. Have you ever gotten an apology and you’ve responded with “Thank you for apologising. It means a lot” and then that person responds with something like “Well, yeah I am sorry and I think you should know that you also upset me”, thus taking back their apology.  

When you’re sorry, you’re sorry and you don’t take it back. When you accept an apology, you acknowledge it and don’t use it to throw more fire at someone. We’re bad at that and the country needs to practice more because we suck with vulnerability, empathy and our own emotions. 

So even though it’s been horrendous, it’s been the biggest lightbulb moment of the whole lockdown mess. I realised my worth doesn’t lie within people but with myself. I’ve learned that being with someone out of convenience is not the same as being with someone because they respect you and listen and want to do better as much as you do. I’ve learned that me self-sabotaging and clinging to people who are unhealthy is me not believing I can weather storms on my own and instead of trying, I decided to sit out in the rain with no umbrella with this guy and kid myself that someone really cared about me and someone wanted to grow with me. I was wrong and that’s on me. The red flags were all there, I just ignored them. I will never ever do that again. I’ve learned that everyone is in threat mode and that includes people at my job and I can’t always converse the way I did before lockdown. I have to be so much more delicate and sensitive now. I’ve learned that this pandemic is a real fuck for most of the people I know including myself and we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got yet we will continue to struggle. We will continue to do hard things and I know we can bloom from it.  

I was cycling on my bike recently and I saw this concrete street and through a crack a flower was growing and I thought, “Hell, if a flower can grow between two hard places, then I can too”. 

Here is a list of books and podcasts that continue to help me during lockdown with my mental health, my relationships with people and my music. If you listen/read any books that you think I’d enjoy, I’d love to hear about them!

Books: 

Untamed – Glennon Doyle 

Unfuck Your Brain – Faith G Harper 

So, You Want To Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo 

All About Love – bell hooks 

Podcasts: 

My Favorite Murder 

Unlocking Us – Brene Brown 

My Mental Breakdown 

 

 

Because I’m currently recording new music. 

Yeah, I waited until the end to say that. 

Love to you all. Stay kind, stay open hearted and minded. 

 

Emily xxx

Dis-May

IgnoranceIt’s Sunday evening. It’s 18:30pm. I’m watching Friends on Netflix (thanks Kaylee) and it’s the one where Rachel gives birth and I found myself crying a lot. Yeah. It’s a comedy. It’s also not real. Lately I’ve been crying a lot at sitcoms and films and even Tik Tok videos…I don’t think it’s about the stuff I’m seeing on Netflix….

Coronavirus is still going on. I don’t know about you but I don’t feel good about how the government is handling it. They remind me of the popular boys in school who were such dicks and were rude and shitty to everyone but for some reason, they remained popular. They ruled with fear. They bullied and jeered anyone who spoke against them. THAT’S how it feels to watch the news now. It doesn’t feel good to live in a country where the “leaders” are blatantly cruel, vindictive, unaccountable and selfish. It doesn’t feel good to know they’re not looking and treating everyone with the respect they deserve and it feels terrible that they’ll allow people from their own party to break the rules and be allowed to maintain their wage and their status. 

All I think is, “Wow, no wonder people are so shitty in general”. How do people learn to be compassionate when our leaders aren’t? How do we teach children to be accountable and responsible when every time we turn on the TV we see the government (and USA) doing the opposite? How can we learn to be ok with getting things wrong and attempting to make things right when people in positions of power omit from that completely with lies and avoidance? That government does not represent me. I do not wish to replicate the blueprint of who they are. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about George Floyd and how he died. I’ve been thinking about how shitty it is to be black. I’ve been thinking about Sandra Bland and how the hairs went up on my body when I heard her screaming in her car after she was pulled over by police. She later died in the cell they held her in. I think about how black people have been ignored for hundreds of years and every experience of violence and abuse they’ve been through has been ignored. Pushed aside. NOT VALID.


I think about when I post on social media about racism and because the majority of my audience are white, they ignore it because they’re uncomfortable. They “unlike” and they “un-follow” and I realise how racist my following is. What a privilege to just be “uncomfortable” and not in any way affected by police violence. Not everyone on my social media is like this but it’s enough that the silence is deafening.

And I realise how sexist people can be and how a LOT of men that follow me do it because they find me attractive and I serve their interest in that way. It’s gross.

On top of all that there have been personal events that have added to the pain.

Friday afternoon I made the decision to stop doing live videos with my classes because although school has opened I am not permitted to be there to avoid contamination. Also, one of my contracts hasn’t even bothered to tell me this. I found out through a parent. When I called my Granddad about it he said, “I know you don’t want to hear this (btw, saying that means you should stop talking and perhaps think before you start to speak. If you KNOW that what you’re about to say is going to upset the person, don’t say it until you can communicate in a way that WON’T upset them), but I really think you should just get an ordinary 9-5 job”. I said, “Grandpa, I had a job where I worked 3 days a week and I could afford rent and save my money, more than I did when I worked full-time”, he responded with the same statement, “Well I do think you should put that music aside and concentrate on something more stable”. I said, “I am not going to go work in an office where I’m sexually harassed and patronised because I’m at a desk” and before I had even finished that sentence my Grandpa started speaking over me saying, “Sexual harassment? What ARE you taking about? I’ve NEVER heard of someone being sexually harassed in the office and I’ve worked in offices my whole life”.

That’s right. My Granddad. A 93 year old white male, told me that because he’d never heard of sexual harassment himself, so clearly my experience was invalid and “never happens”.
I actually said that then I said I had to go and hung up. I’m still extremely hurt and upset by it.

I sat there at the kitchen table for a few minutes and just felt isolated and abandoned. You turn to family to help and they run you off the road telling you you’re ridiculous, you’re over-reactive. That ultimately, your experience doesn’t matter. Of course my granddad didn’t say I was ridiculous but it was his inability to hold space for my voice that hurt the most.


Recently, I got offered a job as an administrator for a software company through a friend. I was thinking maybe I could do that job for a while. I mean, nothing else is coming up but then the woman said, “The boss is a pretty, you know, old school character but I’d be there to protect you”. I KNOW she didn’t mean it to come out that way but it still really hurt. A woman, telling me, “Sexism happens and you’ve gotta be nice to these old boys or you won’t have a job but don’t worry, I’ll be there to tone YOU down so you don’t offend these abusive assholes”. It’s not what they meant but that is ultimately the message.

The same thing happened before the COVID-19 business. A friend who took my photos invited me to a poetry night (not my thing but hey, I’ll support) and she said, “The guy who runs it, well…he’s a character and because it’s you, you may have to take him with a pinch of salt”. I knew what man she was talking about and for the record, the guy is a misogynistic, rude bastard who I played for once and never returned. Once again, a woman telling me to tone my morals down instead of telling an entitled, shitty man to back off and grow up. And it’s crushing. It’s fucking crushing.


But I didn’t say that to my Grandpa. I didn’t see the point. People would say, “But he’s 93. He lived in a different time”. But here’s the thing, my Granddad is living in MY time. Where deep, dark shit still happens except instead of it being rumours it’s filmed and put on the news and pushed on every timeline social media has to offer. The lesson is there for us to learn. If we don’t look at history we can’t see where we can improve and shit, do we have a lot to improve on. Don’t tell me people can’t learn something new. It can’t be learned through comfort when the subject itself is uncomfortable. I love my Grandpa and I also don’t stay silent about these topics with him, even when he’s uncomfortable.

Ignorance. It’s the silent killer. I live with a woman that’s so ignorant, when we spoke about how domestic abuse calls had gone up crazy high (700% MORE calls. Before that there were 100 calls PER HOUR) and my housemate said, “Well, these men are beating their wives because they’re stressed from being in lockdown” to which I said, “Men beat their wives because they like to beat their wives. Lockdown or no lockdown”.
But then, when Pornhub made their services free during lockdown she also said, “Maybe now that porn stuff is free these men will stop beating their partners”, again completely negating to understand what domestic violence is about – power and control.

Ignorance is not a skill. It’s pure laziness. Not only do you sound like you’ve never read a book, met anyone outside your family or that you’ve dropped out of the sky, when you talk about something you know nothing about, you look really fucking stupid and callous. And instead of knowledgeable people speaking up and correcting people when they proudly spout the wrong information, they stay silent because being smart, being well-read and vocally CARING about an issue while informing these people of it, isn’t considered polite.

It’s the whole “learning to fail” thing. No one wants to fail. No one wants to look stupid. Hey, guess what. If you think you’ve been right all your life, you’ve probably done a lot of shit things and said terrible things about and to other people. If you’ve never been called up on your attitude it isn’t because you’re perfect. It’s because you’ve mastered the art of finding people who are just as ignorant as you.

I have a very small selection of friends who are extremely good at calling me on my bullshit. If I say something harshly, or I want to react too quickly to someone or something, my friends are there to help me filter, to ask questions, to give me a wider perspective before I shoot my mouth off. Even my followers on Instagram call me up on shit if I’ve posted something that’s wrong or ill informed or just offends them. It’s horrendously embarrassing when it happens but I want to make sure I don’t do it again. I don’t want to lose the lesson. I’m thankful that these people want to discuss these things with me in order for both of us to be on the same page.

It’s another reason why I love therapy. I learned to filter reactive thoughts rather than attack with words but before I was like a drunk cowboy with a loaded gun. I was shooting off everywhere. That’s ok. Humans make mistakes. You don’t KNOW what’s right unless you go wrong but as I said at the beginning, how do we learn this when the UK is represented by men and women who do the opposite?

We all lack self-reflection and awareness. We’re trained not to. You have to be courageous to examine yourself and ask why you do what you do and why you’re the way you are. That’s why not many people do it. I’ve known people who have gone to therapy for 10 years and they’ve addressed nothing. They just think handing over £30-£100 per week IS their work. It’s not.

I broke up with a guy who was doing therapy because he seemed to think that because he managed to get his butt in the therapist’s office each week, it meant he was working his issues and things with us. He wasn’t. He was being lazy. The work happens when you apply it to EVERYTHING outside that therapy room. That’s what people don’t yet understand. The hard work is YOUR work.

I once dated a guy who was very posh and owned a lot of books about psychology and anxiety yet did no work on himself. You can read every book on it and yet if you’re not applying it to your every day life, you as well just stop. Read a comic instead. You will get the same result in your life, a brief moment of contentment before you slip back into old ways.

People like that remain ignorant and therefore don’t have the power or the resources to be there to help themselves or others.

Take the angry housemate issues I’ve had recently. The guy was pissed that he couldn’t have his gf round. Yeah, it’s shit and annoying but not a reason to harass another housemate (me) EVERY DAY for 6 weeks. An annoying thing happened but then he chose to be aggressive and a bully every single day. That’s choice. That was essentially an easier route for him than just knocking on my door and talking about it.

Think of how much nicer the atmosphere would have been if they’d had the capacity to sit and talk about what was REALLY bothering them. How much calmer and friendlier would the lockdown have been between all of us housemates if he had had the resources, emotional maturity and wisdom to have a conversation.
Nope. Instead he got malicious, he got cruel and he deliberately bullied me. What’s more, the housemate I mentioned before who said all that bollocks about domestic violence? She goaded him by bitching about me, which again reminds me how humans more often than not “bond” when they have a common enemy to bitch about. How many conversations have you had with friends that AREN’T bitching about someone you both know? That’s toxic right there and it’s serving no one.

I guess what with the murder of George Floyd – the murder of thousands of black people and my description of some of the events that transpired in my life (which are in no way as devastating or as awful as white police killing black people), they share a common goal: People’s ignorance, lack of action and a desire to remain complicit right in front of abuse.

I don’t know what it’ll take to make the world a healthier place but I’ve always felt it starts with what’s inside you. We’re so good at avoiding stuff. We put more energy into looking uninvolved when it’s actually more stressful than asking ourselves what’s really up.

What’s going on? Why do you want to hide? What are you afraid of? What do you think will happen if you do the right thing?

When it comes to calling out racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, we’re all in a position to do that. I may be white and female but it’s exactly that that gives me the privilege to say it out loud. The only people saying things like, “But it was FINE in my day” or, “This is a lot of fuss over nothing” are usually old white men (or as my phone autocorrects to – old shite men) or misogynistic women. I got it from a guy today (who I’ve banned – I don’t need scum in my life). I don’t know them but I DO know that they’re only on my page because they think I’m their personal cumdumpster so I’m not afraid of having a discussing about hard subjects and driving those people away. I used to be but once I started talking I started feeling better. I felt like I was accomplishing tiny things at a time. Plus, I get rid of a LOT of assholes that way.

Being able to hold a conversation and have knowledge, research, data and evidence to support what you’re saying is very powerful. I’d rather be powerful and do good than be in a position of power and cause harm and be…basically a totally shit person.

So ask yourself some questions this week. When you watch the news or hear someone say something shitty, ask yourself “Why are they telling me this?”, “Who is it serving?” and “Who’s missing from this story?”.

Have a look in the mirror and wonder what you’re looking at. No one should be killed by being kneeled on their neck and if anyone out there thinks that’s ok, you’ve got to have a word with yourself because you are completely wrong.

Let’s use this time to learn, to listen, to let go of our shit so we can take on things that are healthy for us and therefore, healthy for those around us. Hold space for those that are suffering and hold space for yourself as you learn because it’s hard, triggering and traumatising and it’s necessary to know that and feel that to make real change.

With that I say, stay safe, stay home and read some books.

 

Emily xxx

April 2020

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Don’t worry about a future that hasn’t happened yet

These are the wise words I received from a fan in Canada tonight. It’s the last day of April, I’ve written my last poem. I’m lying in my bed after trying to soak my back pain away (why? Why now?) and for once my hm is not blasting their speakers through my wall…

I understand we are all feeling pretty terrible. April has pretty much been one big joke and it’s been pretty devastating for us all. Let’s not pretend it hasn’t been.

I was discussing this pandemic with my therapist and they said something really interesting and some people reading this may understand this and some people may disagree but I’m going to go ahead:

A pandemic like this where our socialising is being limited and our jobs are being frozen (but our rent/bills are not) sends us all into threat mode. We feel overwhelmed with what’s happened to us. We don’t have a clue when it’s going to be over and everyone is in the same boat so it feels like you can’t turn to anyone else for comfort because everyone is just….there with you. This is hard shit going on.

It means we feel we have to accomplish things and do things that are meaningful. Something that tells us (and the world) that we haven’t just squandered our life whilst this pandemic blows over us. But shit, this is exactly WHY we need to take a step back and be slow!

Secondly, this moment in history is really showing us who we are. You find out people you know are some of the worst and best people you can meet. Threat mode heightens peoples’ worst qualities especially if that person isn’t in touch with their emotions. Yet it’s also showing us the people who are consistently at their kindest, and most resilient.

Those are the people who matter. Those are the people we should be backing and protecting.

Anyway, I could go into more detail into the amazing shitball this month has been but to be honest it feels weird to talk about it when everyone is going through similar shit. I don’t live with all kind people so it’s difficult. If I wasn’t living with them it would be an interesting experiment to comment on from the sidelines but I’m just living it and I’m trying to be as compassionate as possible but NOT being aggressive back and NOT sending shit things back via phone. I refuse to play into someone’s ego when they clearly get off on being a bully.

Here’s some advice: You don’t get a free pass to be an asshole. Ever.

Like, never.

These are hard times and we’re all feeling it at varying degrees and acting like an asshole to someone else instead of having an open, honest conversation is NOT that way to feel good or be productive. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tempting. If we relied on our primal brain we’d all fight it out and see which person bled the least. BUT I’m doing therapy and they teach us not to resort to that. I’m being taught to think compassionately and that means shutting this toxicity down by ignoring it and not attending every argument I’m invited to.

Like I said, people are operating on Threat right now and when threat takes over the brain it’s very very hard to log into the kind part of the brain.

No one knows what the future holds. It’s up in the air and I really don’t trust our government to get us through this. I know people may not agree but hey, it’s made up of humans and they’re inherently flawed because they’re human and let’s face it, humans are extraordinarily bad at admitting when they’ve made a mistake, so I don’t have the highest hopes.

What I do have hope for is that people don’t forget this. People don’t pretend it’s going to be ok after this. We’re clearly in a system that doesn’t serve us all. Only a few months ago this country was saying that post people, paramedics and carers weren’t essential workers and were unskilled, now they’re the reason we have a shred of an economy in this country right now.

So, I question everything.

I’m trying to be grateful for what I do have. I have all the fans and friends who bought packages for my exclusive merchandise and I’m enjoying finishing them up. I’m grateful that I have a bed and a winter duvet (I found it in this day centre! wtf). I’m grateful for notebooks so I can write. I’m grateful for the pads my friend Kaylee sent me because my endometriosis is so bad. I’m grateful for my friend sharing his weight rack (although I’ve destroyed my back by attempting yoga).

What I’m saying is…there is always something to feel grateful for. No matter how small. It’s by being grateful for small things that makes us handle the shit that gets flung onto our path. Yet we pull through. We always pull through.

Stay safe out there and take time for yourselves

Love Emily xxx

 

March 2020

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How the hell do I even start?

Today I walked into my job and got told I don’t have one anymore. It was half expected that the place would close but to find out as I’m walking in…? I’d not really been told anything for about a month so to be honest I feel like I’m disposable right now.

That’s the funny thing with self-employment. You’re constantly telling yourself daily that you’re worth something so that you can go out and get work and 99% of people are telling you in a less direct but all too shitty way that you’re not.

Regardless of anyone’s opinion about COVID-19 and who it actually affects, it’s shown us the worse and best of humanity.

The other night a male housemate got shitty with me because he wanted to fly his girlfriend over from Berlin so that they could spend lockdown together. His girlfriend tested positive for COVID-19 and has recovered but we as a house (we are almost 10 housemates – some are quarantined elsewhere) decided it wasn’t a good idea. Although it was a joint decision this housemate has decided to act like a spoilt brat around me and blank me and basically act like the crappy human he is, just because he didn’t get his own way.
Home is meant to be your safe place. The place you run to when the world is scary and intimidating and overwhelming and I can’t describe to you how depressing it is to come home to that next door to me. Especially now I’m stuck in my house till who knows when. Last year we had an argument about sexism and he took it upon himself to write a shitty letter about how right he was and leave it at my door and run off for the weekend. I felt we healed from that moment but clearly, this guy loves to hold a grudge and has always admitted that when people “wrong him”, they “must be punished”.

So yeah. I trust you are all in safe places with good people who aren’t complete shits. I’ve spoken to so many people on social media who have been through so much because of COVID_19. Some are sick, some of their friends and families have died. It’s awful that people are going through this.

It’s hard to write about anything else to be honest.

BUT. Hey. Fuck it. Life is going on right now so I decided to start writing a poem a day for April – National Poetry Month. I’ll post every day, even if they’re shit and the one that has the best interaction I’ll turn into a song and release to people on my mailing list. Check out the video here:

I’m obsessed with growing and developing and this is another project to grow from and connect with others.

People gave so generously with my package idea that’s on-going  and I wanted to give something back that others could get on board with.

I’m not going to write much else, guys. I feel a bit overwhelmed from today and I always write my blog on the last day of the month so…it was just a bad day!
I hope you are all safe, ok, and taking care of yourselves.

We’ll go on. We prevail. “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated”.

Love Emily xxx

 

February 2020

February 2020 photo

What the actual fu*k…

It’s Sunday night on March 1st and I KNOW this was meant to come yesterday but I literally had no time to write and send it off. I went home for a family emergency. I found out about it last Sunday but I had to travel down for ONE day and was there until I had to run for my coach back to London in the evening. Very tiring as I’m sure you can imagine.

It’s strange because although I want to write down what happened, I must respect that other people involved aren’t ready to share the story. You have to own your story to tell your story and not many people know how to or are willing to tell it when they don’t understand what’s going on. Either way, I respect them too much to talk about a subject they’re only just come to terms with. I guess it feels strange because I’m so used to being open.

What I will say is that this month I learned a lot about listening, self-care and that meditation is changing my life. Literally. It’s helped me calm myself and see things way more clearly in every avenue of my life. I use an app called Calm. Most people I’ve spoken to don’t like it because it’s all voiced with American accents but actually, I find Headspace’s British accents really irritating. But whatever works, right?

And this works. I can’t say enough how meditation has helped. Just taking ten minutes of the day to breath and be still is amazing. Of course when I first started I was all, “I don’t have time!” and “I can’t relax” and the thing is, it is hard. Everything is hard at the beginning but like anything, you don’t get worse when you keep trying.

So let’s get into this month…

I went to see Angel Olsen at Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith earlier this month which is down the road from my house. I do feel lucky to live in London where I can see my favourite musicians play. She was sublime. I went with a friend from Wales and it was just brilliant. The sound, everything. She’s so funny on stage too. She’s got such sass and a quiet confidence about her. It’s so cool seeing singer/songwriters let themselves go and have a laugh with the audience and her music is brilliant. If you don’t know her I’d highly recommend. Her new album, “All Mirrors” is a massive step up from her last few records yet her previous material really shows what she’s grown from. It’s inspiring.

It makes me think of my old material and where I’ve gone to and where I want to go. One of the main reasons I like going to gigs is because for me it’s an experience and research in one go. You can learn so much by going to gigs like that, when artists take different angles with their songwriting and production and you see the fruition on stage.

Some good news, I managed to pay off some debt I had hanging over my head for ages.

It sounds small but it’s a massive step for me. It’s not all of it but it means I only have one thing I have to pay off and then I’m ready to save for recording. I was sick this month for two days and I lost a LOT of money so I’m now having to plan how I start paying back without going into the red too much. I find I’m able to live quite comfortably on very little (because I’m saving and work so much) but don’t get me wrong, I love a splurge. I tend to go to charity shops and buy five DVD’S at a price of £1.50 each and I consider that going overboard (I know!) yet it’s FOOD that costs so much.

I have a massively bad gluten intolerance and when you think of all the nice, cheap things that has gluten in them, bread, pasta, couscous, it suddenly becomes expensive to eat. So I eat tons of vegetables to help my immune system because it’s still recovering from the last year. It’s expensive.

I had a mole removed on my chest two weeks ago too. Actually I had the stitches out on Friday. No swimming for two weeks which is already driving me crazy because I haven’t been able to do anything physical for two weeks ALREADY. I need physical exercise or I go crazy. It really helps with my health, both physical and mental. The mole was removed for cancer reasons. It started to look a bit concerning so doctors decided to remove it. I get the results next month. In fact, next month I’m going to a genetic clinic to find out whether skin cancer runs in the family. Since I have no contact with my parents or grandparents I literally have no idea what ailments might run in the family. I know our hearts are weak. I had a mild stroke at twenty-five so I do my best to help my heart.

Ah! I have a demo of my song, “I Still Believe In Love (so fuck everyone)” available as a downloadable link for my mailing list this month if you’re part of it.

Sign up if you haven’t yet: www.emilyleemusic.co.uk/signup

Yes. I’m laughing during the recording. How could I not? It’s so fucking funny. It’s recorded on an iPad in my bathroom. Ha. The lyrics come with the mailing list.

You know, when I wrote and performed that song in 2017 it wasn’t received well at all. I mean, I was in East London and anyone who’s truly honest knows that in East London you aren’t yourself, you’re a version of what everyone expects you to be…so in fact no one knows who they are because no one’s honest about how they’re really feeling….brain freeze…

Anyway, I remember the two other performers not talking to me much (because hey, this is a singer/songwriter night. Why would they?) but I SO enjoyed seeing people’s mouths drop open at the lyrics. I felt like a natural disaster that they couldn’t stop looking at and I was proud. I was proud that I’d taken a song that just made me LAUGH and feel good about a very painful experience in my life and I put it out there. I love the harmonies and I know EXACTLY what I want to do with it. It’s so Country/Pop with Rock. I can’t wait.

Now it’s 2020 and when I shared it via my stories on Instagram a LOT of people messaged and asked when I’d be releasing it. So It feels great to give fans a free sample and a look into my life.

It just goes to show that going with your instinct isn’t bad. Ever. Your gut is right, kids.

So enjoy the demo if you’ve signed up. If you haven’t, what you waiting for?

FAQ’S

When are you releasing new music?

Mate, how long’s a piece of string? I always replied that question with, “As long as you want it to be”, when I was a kid and it’s pretty much the smart-ass response; I totally want to release new music and I want to put new material out there consistently because in all honesty, I have so many fucking songs that I’m proud of and can’t wait to record and set free but I want to release them when I’m ready for it. It takes money, planning, money, marketing, scheming and more money and because I’m independent and don’t have rigid gatekeepers tapping their watches, I can take as much time as I want. My brother once said to me, “The music isn’t going to disappear because the music is you”, and ever since them I just haven’t panicked about releasing music. I release it when it’s ready and of course as soon as I can do it.

Why don’t you record at home?

Sometimes I do but personally, I like working with people. Music is about connection, right? We are hardwired to connect as humans and music makes me feel like connecting with people so I don’t see how tucking myself away in my room, recording songs and calling in people to come play (if I can’t play it myself) is a wholesome experience. Sure, it means I get to have my time creating but the point is I can create better when I’m bouncing off ideas with someone else or a few people. Plus, going into a studio with someone and playing with lots of instruments that I could never afford as easily? I’d never turn that down!

Conclusion…

Before I say goodbye I wanted to write to the people who message me and share with me their journeys through therapy and have said it’s inspiring to see me share mine, thank you. It’s always nerve-wracking to talk about mental health, especially when we’re feeling down and yet it also feels so unfair that just because we’re not smiling or feeling happy, we should hide that. Why? I’ve noticed that there are musicians who have said on their pages, “I don’t like to share negativity” and whereas I can see why, I also don’t understand why you wouldn’t. Good things don’t happen without bad things. That’s how we can recognise the difference and learn how to harness our time so we’re not focused on the negative yet can receive it when it inevitably happens. Negative things will still happen yet sometimes the most powerful move we can make is recognising them, setting it out in front of us to examine and still seeing light at the end of the tunnel. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

Anyway, until next month, guys. If you have any questions feel free to comment below or reply to my email: emily@emilyleemusic.co.uk

Love Emily xxx

January 2020

 

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Photo by Rosie Reed Gold

 

 

 

Hello all,

I wanted to write a monthly blog because when I tried writing down what had happened all year in 2019, it was so damn long (and quite depressing) and I felt it would be easier and healthier to give soundbites of each month’s process on music and such.

First off, I’m finally in a more financial stable position. After being unfairly fired last summer and crawling around trying to find work for months, I’ve found jobs that I love and help finance my living accommodation and will enable me to save for recording! YES!! FINALLY!

Secondly, thank you to everyone who purchased something from my online shop during my birthday giveaway. All merchandise has been sent and the sale is now over! Thank you for supporting me and my work.

If you’d like to see what I’ve got click here: www.emilyleemusic.co.uk/merch

I’ve actually got NEW merchandise coming and I’m seriously excited about it!

January is such a weird month. It seems to last forever. I spent the first two weeks of it doing my taxes which was the most stressful thing ever. I’m not the only self-employed person living in my house and none of them could understand why I was being so meticulous with my receipts (I make a file with all my bank statements, invoices, music purchases etc in date order) but I’m also wary of getting things wrong as I’m terrible at Maths. Maths and putting on accents. Ask me to do either of those things and I start to break into a sweat.

Anyway it’s done and I have the most amazing accountant so I’m thankful.

Last year I was approached by a producer to record with them hopefully this year and I’m truly excited. What made it more special was they’d heard about my experiences in music with the harassment and assault and they reached out to me. I actually really love their work and even if things don’t happen between us it’s great to know that being vocal about my experiences actually helps me find like-minded people. People who are also sick of this treatment and are working to improve their environment by banding together with others.

I also had my birthday! I’m so relieved to have celebrated it. It seems to be this thing in Western culture where we dread getting older but I relish it. I honestly never thought I’d get to this age. After having such a terrible start to life and not having the best physical or mental health, especially for the last three years, it feels brilliant to get to a point where I can manage my issues far more healthily than I ever have. Practising gratitude for what you do have is an invaluable skill. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fucking hard sometimes and takes an obscene amount of discipline. I just want to live my life to it’s fullest and most daring.

Speaking of discipline, I signed up to do this RiffADay for She Shreds Magazine and although it seemed like a good idea at the time but I didn’t realise that being on social media every day is basically the worst but only because these videos are SO scary. Seriously, I don’t know how anyone has done it. I use social media for music and I do love learning about the world through it (bad and good) but bloody hell, every day is too much. Writing a song a day last year was fine, but I didn’t always share what I wrote and it felt good because the only pressure I had was writing the song each day alone. If I’d had to post them every day, I would’ve hated it.

I fucking love my new guitar. I’m still amazed that it sits here in my room beside me as I type. I’ve always been around people who could just buy a guitar in a snap and knowing I got to buy an electric of my own is THE best. I wasn’t looking to buy a Jazzmaster but I just loved those humbucker pickups. I lovethe shape and it’s sound. I’m glad I got to use it for the She Shreds challenge because it’s definitely made me more confident on it. My amp is APPALLING but I hope to buy a new one this year!

During this online challenge I’ve loved the interaction I’ve had with people, whether it’s new fans, current fans and other musicians. It’s been really amazing to have contact with other women especially.

I’m not continuing into February with this challenge publicly but I am going to write music every day. It’s my new challenge: Write at least eight bars of music every day. I love how my songwriting has grown so much that I now want to improve my composing skills. I’ve met so many musicians who went to music school and learned the basics and even having a few tips on guitar has made me so excited. There is SO MUCH to play with!

Now for the questions people asked me this month!

FAQ’S

Do you still busk?

Absolutely not. A million times no. Don’t get me wrong, it stopped me from starving when I was earning £210 per week from a theatre job, but not anymore.
Busking is a really really physically and mentally hard job. It’s also an incredibly toxic environment. When I was being followed home, stalked, harassed etc literally not one busker or authoritative figure wanted to step forward and help. In fact, the women who busked laughed about it afterwards (when I quit) and treated it like a joke. There’s nothing worse than meeting musicians who care more about the shrapnel in their guitar case than someone else suffering at the hands of their “fans” and it hurts a lot more when women do it. I don’t wish to be associated with those people or that scene ever again. There are many other reasons but deciding to stop busking was the best decision I’ve ever made in my music journey. It may be the right choice for a lot of people but it just isn’t the right path for me anymore.

When are you doing a gig?

I get asked this a lot and I understand the frustration. I love playing to people and I like meeting new people – of course. To be honest, most gigs I’m offered are unpaid and I’m unable to work for free all the time. This suits a lot of people down to the ground but it’s just a choice I want to stick to. In the first few years of doing music, taking every free gig meant I became a “free” musician and it was very hard to be taken seriously and be paid later on so now I really stick to my guns on it.
I also only like to do gigs where I feel safe and I feel I’ll be taken care of. Meaning, there will be a booker who will actually ban a stalker from the gig and not worry about losing a body in the room, (yes, in the past bookers have ignored me when I’ve asked them to ban a stalker from a gig I was doing). Things like that are important to me because of the anxiety I feel from past experiences. I genuinely can’t sing well if I don’t feel safe in places. My throat clams up and I lose notes from sheer fear. When you’re not being supported well or looked after in an unfamiliar environment it has a detrimental effect on your body, therefore your voice suffers. I’ll gig when it’s right for me.
Thirdly, I just don’t always feel good about meeting musicians. I’m lucky to have met some real talents out there in the London wilderness and even luckier to be friends with a few but the majority can be very clique-like and have the most atrocious attitudes. For me, music isn’t competition. It just isn’t. No one can do what I do and I can’t do what anyone else does. I really enjoy what I make and I don’t actively seek another musician’s approval for it because I find that unnecessary when it comes to my own art. With that said I guess we all value the opinions of our peers to some degree.
Regardless, meeting SO MANY musicians with big egos really puts me off from doing a lot of gigs. I believe music is something to celebrate with people, not use as a weapon against each other. I’ve always left gigs with a bad taste in my mouth when it happens. It affects me because it hurts so much to go to gigs, to play and be vulnerable on stage in front of mostly strangers and be greeted with condescension, be brushed off, or patronised by musicians and bookers alike. It doesn’t feel like constructive criticism. It feels personal because it’s usually about my appearance, my rapport with the audience or the subjects of the songs I write about, all of which I’m happy with. It’s heart breaking and I don’t understand why this has been a large part of my experience in music.

Who would win a fight between you, Bruce Lee and Stewart Lee?

Whether it’s a battle of words or fists, Bruce wins every time.

Feel free to ask questions for next month!

Next month I’ll be writing another insert about February – hopefully more debt free!

I’m aware that this is our last day in the EU and quite frankly I was really depressed when I saw all the news coverage. I mean, I fell out with family over Christmas because of all the xenophobic stuff they started sprouting so I don’t know what the future will hold but what I do know is that as long as there are corrupt people trying to push us back, there are more courageous and progressive people trying to move us forward with compassion and fearlessness. That’s the future I’m aiming to got onboard with.

Thank you to every single one of you that supports, buys, shares and subscribes to my work. I am always reminding myself every day how lucky I am to have fans like you.

Be open, be kind,

Love Emily xxx

 

 

The sun was shining…

…and I woke up this morning, late-ish (around 9:30am) with no hangover.

The reason why that’s a miracle is because I spent the night before drinking with my housemates, one housing manager and a potential new housemate before finally passing out at midnight (I know, what a rebel).

I went into the kitchen and put the kettle on. This seems normal but I know that throughout the day I will put the kettle on roughly 10 times in an effort to remind my body that it still needs to function and do things. Of course, I never do make myself a cup of coffee.

I am very depressed at the moment, you see.

My friend crashed in the spare room and he arrives back from the gym as I’m getting dressed. I then proceed to clean the kitchen. As I clean I’m reminded of “Invisible Women” where data tells us that women do 75% of unpaid work, being that looking after children, caregiving and cleaning. It does not improve my mood as I scrub the sides down and load the dishwasher. I live with six men (save for one woman that I never see and certainly never cleans) so it feels a bit like everything’s against me the minute I step outside my room.

My friend hears my woes about my current situation and helps clean the kitchen before he leaves. I am unemployed and I describe to him that trying to find another job is like wading through a swamp. I feel like slimey creatures are clutching at my ankles and weighing me down and my chest is full of sand. He completely understands and yet of course, doesn’t want to fall down in that pit with me so he changes the subject. This is the norm for most people. I am predominantly surrounded by males in my living life so I’m accustomed to their inability to sit with pain that they can’t fix straight away.

He leaves and I start to cry on our sofa in the hall. No noise. Just silent tears. I am staring at two dirty glasses on the table and I’m sad I missed them when I cleaned the kitchen and I want to get up and put them in the dishwasher but I can’t move.

My body doesn’t want to move. I’m aware I need to send my CV to people who can help me grab a job until I find something more stable. I’m aware that many people have offered suggestions and help for my situation. I’m aware there are options. I’m aware that I’m aware of how I’m feeling and that it is a phase. I’m aware of my awareness and still I am aware that I’m seriously pissed off that I’m in IT anyway and because of that, my body does not want to move off the sofa and do things.

Whenever I am feeling shaken, down, depressed or upset I always repeat one of my favourite quotes, “Action is the antidote to despair” – Joan Baez. I repeat this as I put a load of washing on. Actually it finished hours ago and I’ve yet to hang it up. I repeat it as I hoover my room. I repeat it as I make breakfast and eat food I don’t want to eat because eating food reminds me that having no money coming in makes eating harder to do.

I am in THAT PHASE that not many people know they’re in when they’re in it but feel fucking terrible and can’t explain why. I have temporarily lost my will to function doing things I liked to do. I haven’t picked up my guitar in two weeks. I am literally having to drag songs out from under my belly to still write a song-a-day. I don’t even sing around the house. I am a mute bird. You know what they say, “If the bird ain’t happy, the bird don’t sing” – Billie Holliday.

I’ll be honest, doing the job I did for a year was not easy. My employer was cruel, calculating and an outright, capitalist misogynist. I literally stuck at it because working for a private club run by internalised misogynistic women felt worse when in reality, both sucked immensely. There’s nothing worse than entering a workplace where you know your rights and your worth and everyone around is stripping that from you because they basically hate themselves.

I only do one job at the moment and it’s sweeping an alleyway in Putney once a week.

I pick up trash and brush cigarette butts to the end of the alleyway. Then I slosh the edges of the alleyway in super strong bleach and sweep up human shit and urine (there are five homeless people sleeping in the alleyway when I’m not cleaning it). I don’t have to clean up the space that they use as a toilet and I was advised to leave their spot for them to clean but I looked at the spot where the guys had defecated and I thought of my mother. Over a year ago she messaged me saying she was sleeping in a park with her dog. I stood in the alleyway looking at this mess thinking of her and where she went to the toilet and I said to my boss (who knows about my home life) ” I really hope my mother isn’t doing this”.

Anyway, that job got me thinking about past jobs and past experiences.

When you’re hired to clean an alleyway, that’s exactly what you do. You go there, put on a mask, sweep and you’re done. There’s no back clapping (having to kiss someone’s ass). No hidden agenda. You’re just there to do a job. I also do other handy-person type jobs which I love. I fix washing machines. I help install fire alarms. I paint huge studios. I was saying to my friend this morning, “No wonder men do all these physical jobs. You never have to think about your feelings when you’re doing them”. He added that not only that but after a day of it you can look at your work and feel a real sense of achievement because you can see the results of your physical labour. It’s quite intoxicating.

When I think about music it feels like an endless emotional fuck pie of, “What if?”. That’s why I learned to love recording in studios. I would shut myself off with the producer and make magic. The shit part is when you finish and suddenly you feel you’ve got to make everyone like it for it to be a wonderful piece of art. I don’t even gig enough to push my record out and it’s because I just don’t like gigging in London that much. Underpaid, badly marketed,  too much work and not a lot of outcome. Then you’re chastised for not doing it for the love of music.

Oh, I love what I do, I just know my worth too and my worth isn’t cheap. I’m not clamouring onto a conveyer belt with the rest of the wannabes in this city so I can get 30 minutes on stage and a free beer. I do music when I want to do it. Not when it’s expected. It’s also become apparent that the UK audience especially just…don’t like vocal women. In fact, I’d go as far as to say; The UK doesn’t like women.

We’re not alone though. Clearly the USA don’t like women either and ironically both countries have an extremely strange obsession with celebrities, the elitist lifestyle and narcissistic tendencies when operating social media whilst also teaching women that they don’t have the same rights as men. We’re taught daily to measure ourselves up to what feels like the impossible and it’s impossible because it actually isn’t real. Then we’re taught that like the Emperor’s New Clothes it is merely a veil to throw up so we don’t pursue things that actually matter yet we buy into it anyway because everyone else is and to be different means to isolate yourself. Knowing how much you’re worth to yourself throws a spanner in the works of the systemic construct in society that tells you that you need others to validate you. To consider your worth first is the ink mark on the table cloth that everyone works hard to ignore.

In a job, any job, you’re having to compromise every day. “Well, you’ve got to compromise to get what you want”. If you’re a creative reading this I KNOW you’ve had that line said to you a number of times which we all know means, “You have to put up with bullying, abuse, shit pay and all sorts of unexpected pain to get what you want”.

Is it really worth it?

I recorded both my records by working odd jobs and busking. I pushed my face into the ground to get the money. What I’ve learned is that I suffered greatly in the long term by doing it this way. The busking community is neither compassionate or productive. It is dog-eat-dog no matter how many exchanges the buskers may have on social media about each others boundless talent. Everyone is out there to mark their territory and take gold each day (literally). No time is made to make real connections or real friendships when you’re treated as competition. As a side note, I have to say that music isn’t competition for me. No one can do what I do and I can’t do what others do, thus making competition futile. If it’s competition to you, go and do a real contest. X Factor still exists for such people. I compromised and dealt with stalkers, buskers not talking to me and people assaulting me for the records and rent and it bit back at me hard. Am I grateful for the experience? Fuck yeah, I am. I’ve come out wiser, stronger and smarter.

Compromise is a term that’s been popularised for people who actually don’t have to compromise a damn thing. If you’re getting what you want and neglecting others, you’re doing it out of Threat. You are doing it to bring those around you to their knees because to you, the view looks better from up there and no one can over throw you. That’s your fear driving that. If you’re compromising and receiving nothing soothing or kind, you are killing yourself unnecessarily.

Compromise is actually an action born out of compassionate thought.

The ability to see situations from both parties and initiate a dialogue that allows the freedom and safe space needed to reach an actual compromise.

I know what some people will say, “Well, sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do in order to get what you want”. True, there is that.  That’s when compromise is an action out of self-preservation. We take the job with the abusive boss because we need rent money, because we’ve having a baby, because your parent is sick and you need the extra cash. However, that “compromise” negates to look after one’s self thus taking away your drive and personal identity and forcing them to change in a way that isn’t always healthy and in other times, downright destructive. Suddenly it’s not self-preservation, it becomes a Threat in disguise.

Here’s the honest truth. Most people we meet do not have their shit sorted out. They have issues (we all do). We’re all shattered pieces frantically trying to keep up with what society tells us to do and because we don’t sort it out by a certain timeline (by some mystical fucking overlord who no ones sees but everyone seems to obey), we sort our shit out on other people. When we neglect our needs we neglect the very fabric that holds us together to perform the tasks we actually enjoy – like making a bloody cup of coffee.

We sink.

Do I feel like a failure because I haven’t done my Songs For June for my mailing list? That I can’t afford the guitar I’ve been trying to buy since January? That I have no savings? That I can’t afford to record new songs? Absolutely. Of course I do. Yet a big part of me knows my body and mind will only serve me and the people around me fully when I’m feeling wholesome which I currently don’t feel. How do I compromise? Well, I write a blog and tell you the truth on how I’m feeling. On how a LOT of us feel every day and the best part about sharing this is that I’m not unique. This is not a lone thought. It becomes everybody else’s. It becomes alchemy.

I think for too long we’ve taken the word “compromise” and made it into a weapon used against the weakest (those with less money, power and status) so that the few who are rich, connected and selfish, stay benefitted. They will never share by the way. Aligning yourself with such people. Back-clapping. Kissing arse. It won’t get you anywhere near their pedestal because people like that don’t get there by sharing. Their system works on Threat. There’s no room for anyone else because to them, they are it.

Knowing your worth is the key to smashing those systemic systems that drive our ability to work smarter into the ground. By working smarter, I mean we work towards a system that benefits all and not the few and that begins with ourselves.

You and I are not responsible for the people out there working their shit out on us but we are wholly responsible for us being able to see through it and avoid those toxic episodes that only serve to weaken us and strengthen them.

So, tomorrow. I go and sweep the alley way. The weather is hot so I’m certain it will stink and I’m prepared. My compromise is out of compassion. For myself and those clients sleeping rough. I’ll find a job to tide me over until I find my feet yet I know I’ll tread carefully and I’ll ask myself who it’s benefitting the most if such an opportunity arises.

It it only benefits one person, I’m out.

 

Emily Lee