Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Palace: A Place for queens.

I remember it like it was yesterday, although it was more moons ago than I dare to count. I had my one good “going out” shirt and my hair was in the just-gone-out-of-fashion curtains. Remember those? No? Damn I am that old.

My first trip to a gay bar was as nerve wracking as you would have expected it to be. That night I kissed my first boy, cried for the first time publically and was comforted by what I can only describe was the most warm and understanding group I have ever found. They were there to watch me take all those awkward first steps from the almost obligatory bleaching of the hair, to the squawking limp wristed wails of the camp defence system right down to the inevitable second teenage-hood and eventually to the quiet and more centred adulthood.

THE PALACE gay bar and nightclub. Those privileged enough to remember it will always have that warm glint in the eye. I know I am in dangerous turf here of slipping into the whole, “it was all better back in the day!” rant and perhaps I am, but its my diary and I’ll write what I want to. So there. Some communities are born out of expression, a coming together with a need to let loose and some communities are born out of a necessity, strength in numbers. The palace seemed a perfect mix of the two. While the gay culture is right now in its “token” phase ( one in every sitcom/soap opera and movie for the sole purpose of being poshitically correct ) back then you would have to knock on the door to be let in. Vetted. Told it was a gay bar before you set foot in the door. And if you overlooked the occasional drugs raid, dirty floor, lesbian brawls and gay slap matches it was mostly fun. People seemed to look after each other more. People weren’t out of the closet as much then so keeping someone’s secret gave most people there a level of respect for each other. Even now if I see some of the old palace crowd the old rules still apply, getting each other a drink and making sure everyone gets home safe. It was my first ever experience of a community.

Sadly, a lot, if not all of this is missing from the gay community at present. We seem to be stuck in a place in between narcissism and forced acceptance. Caricature and indifference. Maybe in all the work finding our place in society we haven’t nurtured the idea of what we mean to ourselves? I’ve only been out for the last 15 years and things have changed so radically and there is no time to readjust, take stock of who and what we are. We have to keep moving forward toward equality but in doing so we can’t lose sight of what we are. A minority. A small section of society that is still fighting for equality, that still needs to look after it’s own. Whenever I am out in a gay bar or come across the occasional “wayward soul” I do my best to help because I remember. I remember the solitude, the overwhelming feeling of awkwardness in your own body and I also remember the relief when this small club, this small space took me under it’s wing and helped me to grow. Amidst the tears, tantrums and tiaras I became the man I am today.

I learned to respect myself, to love myself, and to honour myself and I owe a major part of that to the community I had. I sometimes pity the younger gay crowd these days. There may no longer be a need to protect each other as venomously as we used to but that shouldn’t mean we should stop caring and respecting each other like we used to. I’m not here to preach, or to wave a burning rainbow flag but I am here to gently remind myself of what I had. Of what WE had. And how we find a way of bringing that to the surface again.

In Loving memory of a dance floor drowned in the stench of CK1 and Joop,

In loving memory of a women’s toilet being the only safe place to take a leek,

In loving memory of that bit of curtain by the stage where you could go for a sneaky kiss,

In loving memory of the random arm chair,

In loving memory of that guy who would come out every week and dance like a lunatic,

In loving memory of all the wonderful souls I have met and loved in that one small house of queens,

I bid you love and farewell!

Ryan xxxx

Sunday, 27 November 2011

And Reeeeelax....

Ever felt like you’re trying to fit four lives into one? Me too. The level of self invented busyness has run rough shot over my life for far, far too long. I write list upon list and then eventually sit there with so much to do that nothing gets done! It’s absolutely hilarious what I do to myself, but in all fairness it’s come to a stop. I’ve long considered my life purpose to be one of complete surrender to the act of inspiration. Little did I know that inspiration contains one vital component that stops you from becoming overwhelmed. Impulse. I’m not talking about impulse as in doing something on a whim. I mean the beating heart, the pulse of inspiration. The rhythm of the energy the idea has.

My normal way of doing something is, run at it 100 miles an hour until either it or me is exhausted and it’s been fun for a while but I’m breaking up with that way of being. You have to pack your bags and leave I’m afraid. The need to accomplish, or to be more blunt, prove myself, has to go. I am already accomplished and there will always be more to do so running 100 miles an hour in circles is no longer for me. Some ideas need time to grow and accumulate before they are ready to be born, which for someone who is goal orientated has been a little challenging to incorporate but it’s just time to surrender to it ( again ).

Sheer brute force is no longer working for me. It does get things done but the cost to my time, energy and health are just not worth it any more. Allowing ideas, inspirations and energies to flow effortlessly into my life and allowing them to take shape in their own time and at their own pace lifts, enlightens and empowers. Yes, you need to act, and interact, but the second you need to push it’s time to stop. It’s all meant to be fun, so let the joy float through you and bring the true essence of its power as it arrives.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Seeing past red.

On one of my usual speed runs through the city centre on another never ending mission to get things off a never ending list I stopped, briefly, to buy a poppy. Although amidst this insane bustle there was something in the way these old men stood made me stop for a moment. Smartly dressed and upright, shaking a tin, largely ignored by the people walking passed and I thought to myself “I wonder what they think about us?”.

These men held something special, something that we don’t seem to understand. These men were willing to fight and die for a country that now largely, it seems, ignores them. Forced to raise money for an appeal that shouldn’t be a second thought. In my line of work I often get to hear a lot about war-time stories. The incredible strength that women of that time had in order to hold a family together not knowing if tonight their homes would be bombed, their kids would be harmed, their husbands would be killed. The bravery of the men, ill trained and sent to a ditch to fight line by line walking over the dead bodies of their friends and fellow officers. And here these men stood in front of me, hoping that someone would put some cash in a small box and have a poppy pinned to their jacket. I wouldn’t disgrace these men by feeling pity for them but I know that some of them feel pity for us. To have so little love for the country that holds you, to not know who your neighbours are, to ignore a stranger being beaten up or robbed.

But I don’t want this to be about how bad things are. Pick up a newspaper and there’s enough of it in there. I want this to be about what we can learn. I love my country, I love this soil, I love the sky above us and the sea that surrounds us. We have a beautiful idea. A place where people have access to free healthcare, a place where a legal system strives toward justice, a place where even if you’re out of work there are systems in place that help prevent you from going hungry. I’m not saying that these systems are perfect but the idea of them is what I want to promote and perpetuate. The idea of them is in some way ingrained in who we are, it wouldn’t hurt us so much when these systems go wrong if it wasn’t.

I stood and watched these men, their grace, their presence and their lesson to teach us. After everything they have faced, after each injustice from their government, community, press, legal system, being told their poppy is “offensive”, being made to feel obsolete. We built this country on their backs, on their sacrifice, on their sweat and tears and here they stand. Smiling, willing to teach us. It’s just our job to be willing to learn.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Fear is the act of doing something uncommon.

There’s always more to learn, more to transcend and more to let go of. You’re never totally finished and there’s no way you can ever get it done. Sometimes these lessons just turn up and hit you from the side view and teach you about who you are and who you have been. I have truly cringed at some of the things I used to think and some of the things I used to do; although some may call it a learning curve or “youth” for me it has become a collection of beliefs and ideas that for the most part I no longer need.

How do I know which part of me wants what? I have literally been tearing my head apart these last few days and ended up creating a three day migrane as a result. Which part of me feeds from drama, from victimhood, from approval? The things jumping through my head lately have been a giant blast from the past and it’s left me reeling from it. Amidst all this is also whether I ask for help. Is that refusal of ownership or a feat of martyrdom? I also know that the last time I did this to myself it was because I was avoiding looking at something. It’s the only real reason to create this blanket of self imposed chaos.

Everything I do I do out of one simple reason, I LOVE to do it. I love making music, being part of someone’s spiritual journey, painting a picture, writing a story, folding paper, making a piece of jewelry, the whole lot! But lately it’s all felt more stress than fun, heavier than happier and last night I burned incense and candles and figured out why.

If you’re used to a way of thinking, if an issue is unresolved it has a “knack” of working its way to the surface, especially if you’re stepping out of it. When you choose to move forward sometimes you need to shake the shit off your shoe first. Who I was, was riddled with fear, any form of it it could get it’s hands on and that part of me would hold on for grim life. So I’m not entirely shocked it surfaced right now. It appears at the moment that I can do no wrong, this “midas” touch I have seems to have spread itself all over my life. Writing ideas are flowing, album ideas are flowing, art exhibition ideas are flowing, clients are brimming through my books and even small things I want are just showing up effortlessly.

I’m all about the challenge, finding my limits and pushing them that step further. Forcing myself to expand and I do this all for one reason, JOY. For the last four years this joy, this inner peace has been unshakeable from my consciousness. When I am happy, sad, angry, hopeful, it is there underneath it all letting me know that nothing really matters as much as I think it does. That I am here for one reason only. That part of me gets the joke.

It’s long past time for me to say goodbye to this part of my internal saboteur. Fear is here to teach us our boundaries, to show us the limits we think we have. Fear is the act of doing something uncommon. So lets get ready for me to crap myself!!! Haha

RJ xx

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Never Forget

Now and again you need to remind yourself of who you are and what you’re made of. A good friend will remind you of that, a great friend will never let you forget it. This is where I am today. As if waking from a suffocating sleep that has laid over my life for the last few months. Writing and writing and writing can be an insanely insular process, especially when all that seems to be coming from your mind is GARBAGE! Creative blocks suck, they just do and I am now over mine THANK HADES!

Last night I sat under the moon and finally felt words flow from me again. Like the spark was lit. I have SO MUCH TO DO. SO much to catch up on. Most, if not all the lists I’ve been doing and preparing are starting to be checked off and this new river is starting to flow. I am beyond exited as to what is about to take place. There are new musicians coming into my life at the minute, new perspectives, new ways of creating and new projects I can’t wait to sink my teeth into. I can’t wait t share them with you either as soon as they come together.

Today is just complete relief. Time to organise the chaos I allowed to envelope me this last few months, time to kick square in the ding ding and channel the life force energy of the universe again. Today I am grateful to mother earth, grateful to the moon and to the stars, grateful to the love and creativity in my life. I feel BETTER!


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Birthday boy!

I’ve just finished rehearsing and have an hour to update my blogs and just chat with you about what’s been happening lately. Well as most of you will know it’s been my birthday which has been a moustastic event so far! I got all my buds down to my local and had some lovely food ( Bar Reef... my home away from home ) and we all wore some serious fake moustache’s for no reason at all. The night was a good gathering and a lot of fun complete with embarrassing sing song to Ryan ( oh I DO hate the attention! ) and some early pressies. On my actual birthday day though I got something I’ve wanted for ages, A CELLO!! Yup, I shall be once again on the string instruments and shall as soon as possible be sharing with you everything I’ve learned! It really has been an awesome time and if that wasn’t enough in trots my boyfriend after work with a cello shaped cake!! The day just couldn’t have gotten better.

The day before my birthday was the set up of my new exhibition, there are more details on my other blog ( WolfeCity ) about all that stuff, but it was just more icing on the cake to have my first ever exhibition this year too. It does feel a bit weird turning 31. Way more weird than 30. I have no idea why though, getting older doesn’t bother me, I guess it’s cause I’m getting happier the older I get?? Who knows!

The other changes that have been happening lately have all been spiritually focussed. Spending each day walking my beautiful new pooch has given me time to connect with the trees over and over again. I know some of you may find this weird but I believe whole heart and centre that nature speaks to us. The more time I spend in it the more connected I feel to everything and everyone. I have received some truly amazing sights on my morning walks. The day of my birthday I watched as the sun streamed in through the trees and shards of light hit the ground and everything around me became fuzzy and warm and full of potential. As if I could mould and shape anything, almost as if I could close my eyes and fly home! I’ve had time to re evaluate my spiritual work and I’ve come to understand the level to which I have limited my success out of FEAR. Well no more. Musically I am known for doing things at once and I feel more than capable of running more business than one at a time! It might be tiring, but I have a feeling it will be worth it!

Today was just a quick howdy so I’ll speak to you all again soon!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

New Puppy!

Well its week one of having a brand new pup and here’s the 10 things I’ve learned so far...

1. My pockets now rattle with loose dog treats, not loose change.
2. I know the names of all the dogs in the park but not the owners
3. In order to dodge a “little whoopsy” I have acquired the skills of a Ninja Warrior
4. I see it as a clean kitchen floor, the dog sees it as a blank canvas
5. Dog hair can defy the laws of physics and turn up in places its never been
6. Teething should be re-branded as an Olympic dog sport
7. Dogs do smirk at you when you pick up their poop.
8. You will buy them lots of toys, they will ignore them and play with an empty plastic bottle.
9. I call my flat a bombsite, the dog calls it art
10. I will probably love that fluffy thing for the rest of my life!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

London Is Burning....

All of us have seen the images, the violence, the rioting now happening in this country. What began under the GUISE OF RETRIBUTION for an alleged abuse of police authority has evolved into a hideous shameful display of actions.

I have seen kids smash cars, windows, burn buildings, businesses, I have friends and family who have witnessed the looting first hand. People aren’t stealing food and water, they aren’t stealing medicine or even going for hard cash. They’re stealing jewellery, clothes, tv’s, computers. This is not a protest. This is not standing up for any human or social rights. There is no ideal being fought for here, nothing for the betterment of mankind. This isn’t even anything as sophisticated as mindless violence.

There is a deep sense of entitlement today. An eagerness for an outstretched hand. Self pity has become an occupation for some and throughout it all there is an absence of hope. And where there is an absence of hope you will find GREED, RAGE, DRUGS and a whole array of emotions and situations that keep the mind confined. WE HAVE DONE THIS. Not someone else. Our willingness to give hand outs instead of hand up’s. Our determination to pity instead on empower. The poor me party has spilled onto the streets and has weakened us. If I want something I sit and figure out how I can EARN it, not how I can STEAL it. But to those with no regard for themselves morals are a memory.

But I am not one to dwell too long on the problem. Lets dwell on the solution. We need some SPINE in this country. We need to STAND TOGETHER for the things we STAND FOR. My grandparents generation fought and won a war for what we have today and what we have is amazing. It is worth protecting. So how to turn this around?
We have a job now, a job to INSPIRE a whole generation of kids into believing that they are worth more than what they have been taught. Into believing in their own evolution. Into believing that respect has no grounds in fear. That your conduct speaks for itself.

This is the hard work, this will take time. Since world war 2 we have built this countries buildings again, we have built it’s roads and its economy. Now we have to build a generation that will respect it.

Friday, 29 July 2011

A good thing!

There’s no real way around it. Admitting the truth is tough. No matter how many comforts your old life, your old self gave you, when you’ve outgrown them it’s time to move on. I understand why some people argue, because hate is an easy emotion to manage. It offers momentum and sometimes a welcome distraction from the sadness of saying goodbye. But root and truth is that you simply cant fit into a place you’ve outgrown.

I remember what seems like an old life of mine. A life of half truths and self invented – hopefully comforting tales and I also remember the day I could no longer lie to myself. The day I finally let my heart and soul smile. That joy began in the pit of my stomach and since that time the only real problem in my life is not being able to find enough ways to express it. I also remember how hard it was to let that joy in. My life right now seems to be cultivating a consistent feeling of surrender. Of giving up parts of who I am and who I was. As a result of that the people in my life are changing. Some are waking up, some are saying goodbye, some are beginning to find that joy within themselves and some aren’t. I’m not here to judge anyone although I won’t bother lying to you, I have done. Holding people to old bonds, refusing to acknowledge other peoples paths and using the external chaos to distract myself from my own peace. But that time has passed. People are where they are. I am where I am. Everything has changed and I can’t live amongst walking memories.

This is actually quite scary. I wonder what bright souls will begin to filter into my life now. I wonder what experiences there are to learn. I’ve definitely been learning to let people be. To be a peaceful observer of others growth. I watch carefully the situations and people I lose energy to and am tying up loose ends. I can honestly say I am where I am and that statement holds no undercurrent anymore. There are already some wonderful lights in my life and I hope to continue experiencing them, I’ll never dare to hold them again but as it turns out; that’s a good thing!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

A lazy sunday....

It's been a few weeks since I've had the time to chill out and catch up with all of you but thankfully on this lazy, rediculously sunny Sunday afternoon I've put some crap on the telly and here I am with some new photos and new updates.

Let's start with some music! I finally got to play in a venue I'd heard lot's about, Mr Wolfs! The journey there was ok although I did encounter a MASS of stairs ( my new frenemy ) and no clear signs to the elevator but with major thanks to a feisty random welsh lady ( wherever you are in the world I LOVE YOU ) I got my kit up the stairs and met with with very kind Howard Sin(ful)clair who managed to show me some of the cooler places in Bristol and a very fine and dandy cider garden too. The venue was cool, small and quirky and had an awesome but not too daunting stage, they do seem to have a slight noodle fetish there but seeing as the noodles are actually bloody nice nobody seems to mind. The gig itself went really well and I got to share the stage with the awesome "Bowen and the Tide" which are an acoustic duo I loved!

I have a gig this sunday in Ten Feet Tall in Cardiff, I've not played that venue before so I'm looking forward to it and they've also already booked me in for October so they must have really liked the demo!

Also the new album is sooooo nearly written, there is literally one song to go and then I'm back in the studio to record! There's also another little side project I'm writing for which I hope will be done in time and will can be released the same time as the New album. I'ts just very much a writing time at the moment to get everthing done and I can't wait for it to be all flowing and recording. I love that point between conception and realisation with music, to see if you can get the sound you have in your head onto the CD.

River of Bones is still doing well PLUS in the not too distant future the BRAND NEW VIDEO for the song "River of Bones" should be done too! I've also asked a friend of mine to take a look at the song and do an Industrial Type remix of it . He's giving it a go as we speak so if that all comes together nicely there should be some more newness there too (cant wait to hear it though)!

Which leaves me with my newest news, the BBC have contacted me about being on a new show they're doing and they were looking for people with unusual talents ( finally my strangeness pays off ) so discussions for all the should undergo next week, what they have said so far sounds hilarious so I can't wait to give that a go... I'll keep you posted on that one.

The art exhibition is nearly underway, just have to sort out a few prints for that, cards and the other paraphinalia PLUS... the first draft of my book is written! Now begins the painful editing process and making my creative scribbles sound like actualy sentences! As soon as that's done I shall be sorting out a publisher asap!

Right, if I don't go right now these maltesers certainly aren't going to eat themselves!

Big Love to you all

RJ x

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Ready to tear my own face off!

Here I am again, head full of thoughts, gut full of knots and it’s not even 12 in the afternoon yet...

I believe we create our own reality, that everything we see around us is in some way a reflection of what we believe, think, accept and feel. Like the universe you experience is a giant mirror showing you parts of yourself that you sometimes love and sometimes are blatantly not ready to see. I have had such a reflection recently. Actually I think I’ve had several, my other diaries are filling up with headwork and my lyric book is looking weighty but thankfully amidst the mental chaos I have found a bit of clarity. The root and feeling place of where I am. The word FRUSTRATION is the closest I can get to it. So... lets dissect....

The root of frustration is focussing on a place you don’t want to be. It’s when you’re consciousness is so enamoured with your current perceived faults with your reality that you become overwhelmed by them. My relationship with frustration has probably run in the back of my mind for years, probably started with being in the closet in the most toothless part of Swansea. That’s where I think the pattern began. The undercurrent of “I’m not where I want to be...” and sadly in retrospect, that thought has been very close to the surface since that time in my life. It’s only now, that so much of my life is exactly how I want it to be that that particular thought no longer has a place in my consciousness. So, that’s probably why I’m getting it all sorted now. I guess it all makes sense. Constantly giving myself too much to do, constantly creating situations that make me feel like utter crap. The whole “frustrated artist” archetype is soooo teen angst I could vomit. But here I am in the fucking middle of it. Ah well...

I guess it’s time again for healing. I took a walk yesterday and had a little chat with the trees (not really speaking loudly, although, if ever you see me in the park talking to myself that’s probably what’s happening.... probably, I make no promises). Their stillness is amazing, just sitting by them and listening to the chatter of the leaves always puts me in a meditative space, similar to sitting on the beach actually listening to the rhythm of the waves. All nature has a rhythm and frustration is not a part of it. All nature has a pace and as you/I/we are a part of natures great plan then I guess that pace is a part of us. BREATHE AND LET GO. I sing it enough, time to put it into practice.

So, what now? How to free myself of the pattern? Recognising it is always a first good step and we’re in the waning moon now so that should help. Burn it out through ritual/affirmation/chanting?

I’ll find a space and let nature take it’s course through me.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

My headspace today....

Gather. Collect. Surrender to art.
Become more than I was.
Open what is there.
Too old for all this? Quiet life? Fuck.
Live by faith or use words to bind my tongue.
I have to or I’m not who I think I am.
Fear. Shame. Humiliation. Redemption. Absolution.
Cant wait to meet a weaver.
Succumb to what I feel.
Bless what is ordinary.
Completely uncertain.
Needing peace. Guidance. Information.
No more fucking lists please.
Learn to nurture yourself.
Learn not to think so much.
Give in. Fuck the lot of it.
Dont take yourself too seriously, but don’t sell yourself short.

I was born to create worlds, ( so why doesn't this one look right? )

create another one FOOL.

This is all too familiar.

Ready soon for something new.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A Rude Awakening....

Its time to write again. I feel like there’s so much to get off my chest and this quiet little space of the internet is the perfect place to do it.

I’m reorganising, re identifying, prioritising, pulling myself apart and putting pieces back together again and to be honest THANK HADES. I can’t believe how I much I disconnected, how much I betrayed my kind. My path with music has been going a long time and the second I start to feel like I’m finally living the life I want I SELL OUT. I abandon art, expression, invention, creativity and give it all up to the “show man”. The gigs weren’t itching that scratch. But how fucking could they, you get what you give and I was NOT giving myself, my soul, my heart, my heat. I was playing a part and getting nothing in return. This is beyond griping at low audience levels, lack of inspiration or shitty venues. This year so far I have gigged HARD and learned alot, and more importantly learned alot about myself.

I’m not going to pretend any more. What’s the point in saying how much of a great time you had at a gig when in my heart I felt HEAVY, LOST, ANGRY, CONFUSED. What point am I trying to make? Who’s approval am I seeking? I’ve bought into “it”. Let’s all build ourselves an image that doesn’t exist so we can comfort ourselves in the night. So we can wrap ourselves up tight in our own pretence, EGO and dishonesty. FUCK IT! That was never the path I wanted to walk, that was NEVER the artist I wanted to be. I have had some amazing teachers in art and expression and I’ve finally begun to tread in the water of who they are and who I’m becoming. It’s all a journey and I’m GRATEFUL that I’m back on mine.

Last week I had the misfortune of playing the PENDINE music festival. Ugh, I cannot describe how utterly shit the whole thing was. Even more weird though was my reaction. I’ve learned to expect a certain level of disorganisation when it comes to these events. And I guess the sign at the gate “WARNING, EXPLOSIONS” should have given me some sort of message. It was quiet, not the 1000 people I had been told about, I played to about 30 people, 15 of which were ten year olds. But then something happened I was not expecting. After being rushed onto the stage the band that had shown up ( someone who was once founding member of hawkwind/please take some time to get over yourself ) and was meant to go on after me starting tuning up DURING MY SET. Now, I’m an acoustic act, so when someone is testing out a DRUM KIT and a SAXAPHONE behind you mid set you can hear them. There are all the SHOULDS, when something like this happens. Things you SHOULD have said or SHOULD have done. I was then asked to cut my set short to accommodate these walking EGO’s. I looked around the room and let go. It’s not as if I was fighting for a good crowd or more than three appreciative listeners. I got off the stage and left. In all fairness, the promoters and event organisers apologised to me profusely, but my heart wasn’t heavy. I was relieved to be off that stage and on my way home. On the way home though we did stop at a cool venue and I booked myself a nice gig there for this weekend so the day wasn’t a total bust. It was just another lesson.

I believe that the world we encounter is often a reflection of who we are, of who we are becoming, or of who we are in danger of becoming. That gig, those musicians, were a wake up call. I’ve pretty much sat at the piano for the last three or four weeks every day seeking REDEMPTION, ABSOLUTION, REINTEGRATION. I feel alot more clear these last few days, alot more heat in my belly. The passion and inspiration is coming back. Persona. Ego. Self. When you’re scared to take a step into yourself it’s pretty much a sure sign it’s the right one to take and I have been PETRIFIED. I can’t ever again become so wrapped up in pleasing myself, in stroking my own ego to lose sight of my art.

Something has shifted and Im grateful for it. I will make a promise here and now to always be HONEST with you and more importantly HONEST with my self. Expect more, I now do.

So much love,
Ryan x

Monday, 16 May 2011

Let there be LIGHT!

I’ve had some time to chill out and FINALLY this morning I have some time to myself just to sit down and have a good natter with you all! There’s so much gossip to catch up on, so much news to mull through so this is probably going to be another stupidly long post. I’ll give you all the dirt on the gigs first though....

LONDON ( The Griffin – Let them Eat cake ) :-
Actually quite excited about this gig because it was the first time ever I had managed to pack my kit into three bags! Stu’s mum is ridiculously talented on the old sewing machine and made me a bag that would fit my kick drum in on my back and it wears like a ruck sack, it’s comfy and makes it able for me to get back and forth easily, well, as easy as it can be to carry a keyboard and five drums. The gig itself was alright, a giant board fell directly onto my kit, thankfully not killing anything, and after a usual fight with the PA things went off ok. The manager was about to cancel the gig about five minutes before I went on so I went on early, there was no way I was travelling all the way to London and not playing. Those kinds of venues are right for me, small intimate, where people listen. Plus there was some good cake!

SWANSEA ( mumbles mile festival ) :-
Absolute frikkin NIGHTMARE! In terms of playing ( my friends excluded ) I have never played to such a disinterested crowd in my life. One or two people turned their heads but it was just completely the wrong venue for what I do ( a glorified working mans pub ). The manager seemed to enjoy though which was one thing to be positive about I suppose. The people that did speak to me were alright but it was just not flowing at all. I have NEVER played a gig and watched the clock before and when I got home I promised myself I would never do it again either. That gig gave me a lot of food for thought and definitely gave me a lesson I needed.

CARDIFF ( No Sweat – Acoustic Night ) :-
Lovely time, lovely night, lovely people. A small-ish venue but a good appreciative crowd. It was a sort of open mic deal but they have a regular headliner which they slotted me in for last minute. Im putting that venue on my books because I would like to play there again.

BRISTOL ( Hear No Evil – End of Tour ) :-
I have had such a good time with the Hear No Evil crew, I’ve learned ridiculous amounts and laughed just as hard and that night was no different. Thekla is a lovely venue and we rocked that boat as hard as we could. Maria looked beautiful as ever and Scott sang dead on! I thoroughly enjoyed playing and connected to new people, I love those moments when you look at someone while you’re playing and you’re just in that space with them. Music, vibration, energy. All in one place at one time.
SWANSEA ( Acoustic Junkkies ) :-
I do like playing in the Uplands and acoustic junkies is awesome. I got to witness the musical immensity of Galanastra but couldn’t stick around to hear their full set. I will DEFINATELY be catchin up with them again soon though. Again I was back in that space of just connecting with people. Sometimes you make them laugh ( normally with a ridiculous cover ) and sometimes you open up a part of yourself you never intended to. If anything this night gave me a light bulb moment, helping me to reconnect with the artistry of music. Helping me to understand that it was time once again to let out some new things. Time to write.

SHEFFIELD ( A Taste of EDEN festival ):-
Looked awesome! In an abandoned warehouse with more tie dye than should be allowed, giant mushrooms and ladybirds and flowers I took to the stage amongst belly dancers, burlesque acts and a reggae band. Not entirely sure it was my crowd but people were dancing along to me. It’s always more daunting playing to a large venue, especially when you’re a small acoustic act, but thankfully I survived thanks to the immense PA prowess of Marcus ( Goblin King ).

And on the seventh day I rested. Yes I did all of that in a week. Absolutely shattered I have come home and taken a day or two just to allow everything I’ve learned to sink in. What I love about music in general is the amount of experiences you need to process FAST. It’s been time again for me to write new things, speak a little deeper and allow out experiences that have been weighing on my chest. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I have a lot of new material, a few more songs to complete and I’m ready again to record more. I know this album hasn’t been out a year yet but I like to be a step ahead!
On the subject of the RIVER OF BONES album I have received in the mail something too delicious for words, the OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO FOR SERENADE! In an abandoned art gallery Mistress ALLY SCARFF took me with a bunch of irish fellows and threw glitter and powder paint at me for a day. It was alot more fun than it sounded and poor poor James Devlin who developed an OCD whilst trying to get the powder paint OFF MY DRUMS! Lol. I’ts up on my website but I’ll leave it here too for you lot.
I’m trying to keep a limit on how long this gets so I’ll leave you here for now and chat to you all again soon. If you can push or promote my video in any way it would be much appreciated!

Big Love
RJ xx

Saturday, 23 April 2011

A morning to surrender.

Healing takes place constantly, and I guess now that Mercury Retrograde is finally at it’s end I can review all the issues it’s brought to the surface. The astrologers say that you feel Mercury’s pull strongest at the beginning and at the end of it’s backward cycle so I guess that’s why I’m feeling a little disjointed this morning. I feel everything this morning. Beauty, peace, awkwardness, uncomfortable, upset, happy, all of it, absolutely all of it. I guess today though I want to address parts of me that need offloading. This is after all my online diary, I don’t know why I feel the need to share some things in this way but I do. My paper diaries, art journals, songs, paintings, all of it seems to be about working through stuff so why should this diary be any different.

I guess what it’s brought to the surface is the feeling of always catching up. Always being one step behind everyone else. It’s probably the reason I never stop working. It’s probably the reason I give myself too much to do. With a list of albums to complete, books to write, paintings to draw, worlds to create the moments of peace are becoming tainted, and I don’t want that any more. But I can’t continue in this loop of, hissy fitting every few months because I burn myself out- deciding that experience is more important than work – having time to smell the flowers for a week or two and then slowly but surely the work creeps in and in and in and before I know it Im back where I started. I don’t want that any more. I want to bury this insecurity. This feeling that being incomplete is something negative. If someone else were to present me with this problem I’d ask them who were they trying to please? People don’t work that hard unless they’re seeking approval. So who’s am I after? Myself? Parents? You?

I’ve got a fair bit to figure out I guess in the next few days. All healing begins with forgiveness so I should ask myself really, who I need to forgive? It always starts with self, I know that much but then what? Where did I learn in my existence that who I am/what I do/what I give isn’t good enough? Because it’s definitely that feeling.

On this quiet beautiful morning, with my beloved fast asleep in the room next to me I want to let go of this negativity. I remember not feeling good enough right throughout my school days, I remember not feeling good enough when I accepted that I was gay, I remember blaming myself for my parents break up, old failed relationships, old failed friendships even and I remember not feeling good enough for a looooong time. Of course other people have expectations of you, that goes without saying, but it was me that took them onboard and tried to live up to them and I need to forgive myself for that. This isn’t about trying to find someone to blame. I need to let go of not feeling good enough.

I love a good ritual, it awakens the pagan in me. Something symbolic that states my completeness within my incompleteness. That I am more than good enough in my current state. That helps me to forgive and let go and heal. The reflections that have been surrounding me lately are all starting to make sense, so I know I’m on the right track. This isn’t something that belongs to who I am now. It belongs to who I was. An old self that needs releasing. An old lesson that needs healing at a deeper level. I will spend some time today gathering herbs, talking with the trees and allowing the grace of nature to work in me and through me. Surrender is a beautiful thing and today I give myself to it, again.

Thank you for being part of this journey with me. I’ll write again soon.


Saturday, 26 March 2011

One Two Three

Its a beautiful Saturday morning and Im again in that place where theres so much to do and so much to be getting on with I am, of course, sat with a cup of tea gawking at My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. Productive I know. But I am totally planning a Plan. Yes, a plan. A Battle Plan. For the gazillion projects I want to get involved in and create through I need to sit my bum down with bunches of lists, some new stationary and of course lots and lots of paper!

I’m goal orientated, which is weird for an artist. We’re meant to be more involved in the process of everything but I’ve yet to meet an artist that totally enjoys the painting/writing/creative process. It’s always something that you’re fighting with, a colour wont go on right, the song doesn’t sound right, the chapter wont frikkin conclude itself. This all lends itself to the utter relief an artist feels when something finishes. When it’s done. That blissful “thank Frikk for that!”.... and then it starts all over again.

But with an exhibition to paint for, a new album to rehearse for, two musical side projects to invest in, a book to complete plus finding time for a social life and of course my day job, I think I need to take some extra care when planning what needs to be done. I like structure and goals and plans and charts. And I especially love the “you’ve done well so buy yourself something nice” time too. It’s all going to be fun.

I still haven’t lost my focus though. This tour lit a fire in my belly that has made me hungry for more! I’ve managed to get a bag made which should be done in the next few weeks so I can finally get my bum on a train and be portable for gigs, which I am booking! Keep your eyes peeled on my website for more on that ( once I’ve redesigned it! ) *sigh*.

Deep breaths.... one, two, three....

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Hear No Evil Tour!

It has been a ridiculously long time since I wrote in my blog so there is a stupid amount of gossip to catch up on. Before I start you should probably go get yourself a cuppa...

There... ok.

Right, lets begin. The TOUR! Officially the HEAR NO EVIL tour is done and dusted, we drove over 1000 miles up and down the UK but we are all safely back in the land of song spending insane amounts of time downloading footage and photos. Some of it though does manage to capture the amount of fun we had. There’s also a documentary being compiled with all the behind the scenes stuff (i.e. tea drinking and sleeping... im just too rock n roll).

The Milkwood Jam gig was incredible. Everyone who said they were going to turn up did and we just had stupid amounts of fun. I decided for the tour to be completely self indulgent and played all the songs I enjoy doing and some songs that needed a good airing. It felt like a giant exhale after a long feeling of “tid-bits” musically. 2 songs here and there, or a slot here and there. It was nice to have a good chunk of time to just completely blow out the musical cobwebs. And I feel relieved and ready for more.

Sheffield was an awesome small venue which was just enough for the three of us, Solihull was definitely one of those “cutting your teeth” gigs with a fun audience, Cardiff had awesome sound and considering the venue didn’t put tickets up for sale till 3 DAYS BEFORE we still held our own there. The biggest surprise though was London. I swear when I first went into the venue music room I was in some sort of scene from SAW and was about to be abducted by a mad man with frontal lobe damage. But with lighting and a cool soundie it turned out to be my fav gig from the tour! We played to a packed room who were just up and ready for the fun of the evening. Scott and Maria played flawlessly (as usual ) and I gave it a bit welly!

And then disaster struck. The car balls’d up so we had to cancel Manchester. Don’t fret though, we are coming back in a month or so, plus tagging a few more dates on the Hear No Evil Bandwagon as and when we can. We even have a few festival feelers out there, so I’ll let you know as soon as that all works out. All in all the tour was exactly what I wanted it to be and exactly what I needed. We’re already planning another one for later in the year, aiming for November.

Now, more news! In the middle of all this a few friends and I decided to book an art exhibition! In august this year for the first time ever, I shall be exhibiting my work in the Oriel Bach gallery in the Mumbles. I’m not sure what work to put up yet so Im pretty much going to be painting my bum off between now and then and just see what my favourite work is. And that does also give me some time to build up a website and other bits and pieces so I can “package” my art in a way that is accessible.

And if that wasn’t enough, it looks like I’m leaving Swansea!!!! It’s very early days yet but me and the Mr are looking at Bristol, Manchester or London. Bristol is looking more likely though and Ive been told it has a good music and art scene! So, yes, Ive been busy! And yes, there is more to come!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

On being obese and dealing with phallic mic stands...

By Leezann Davies

Christmas and New Years was nothing short of fantastic. I saw my family ( but not too much ), I saw my friends ( as much as I could ) and I saw a tin of quality street ( way too often ). And how my life has changed in such a short space of time. It’s just as if things are falling into places where spaces have already been made. My path feels exiting and set out. My routine has changed. My days are full and productive.

My first gig of the year was part of the Cheeky Monkey Mondays cabaret, and although its a very short set I am getting to play to people who wouldn’t normally get to hear my music which is nice. Plus they are always generous with their response! I actually like gigging in the Monkey Bar. It’s one of the few nice places left to gig, the sound in this one was one of the best ever and I could have played alot longer. The shortness of the set does limit what I can do I guess, I’m still looking forward to a long 45 minutes and then some set but that isn’t far off, not far off at all!

My last gig was in the Promised Land in Cardiff and that went..... ok. I’m not entirely sure whether it was my crowd that night, but a few friends from that neck of the woods got to see me play and that was the main thing. Although there was only one mic and the mic stand didn’t bend so ( in what I might add as an amazing feat of ingenuity ) I had to wedge the bloody thing in between my legs, the Cajon and the Keyboard. It was too phallic for words. I also had a good chat with the manager and it looks like a whole gig is on the cards up there too. Miss Jemma Krysa ( an act well worth researching ) drove me there and back and took me for a midnight McDonalds which was inhaled rather than chewed and I was so tired I didn’t care about the calories or eating cows eyelids.

Speaking of Calories, who else has had the misfortune of being stood on a Wii Fit recently? That white bitchy slab has been telling me for the last week or two that I am infact OBESE and must be shunned on sight ( ok I added the shunned part but the way it induces bodily shame should be considered a form of torture and used in interrogation of extremists, Bomb us will you? Well how about looking at THIS BMI?? We’d have weapons of mass destruction in minutes ). It did tell me to lose three stone though. I told it to fuckoff. I’ll focus on one stone, possibly. If I lost any more than that I’d be nothing more than a well groomed beard and a famished look and lets face it, my years of being pale and interesting are long done.

The only other bit of exiting news I have is that THE TOUR IS COMING ALONG SWIMMINGLY! On Feb 24th the Launch Night in Milkwood Jam begins and from there we are going all over the UK!! I can’t believe it is so close! You all have to come along and have a good old sing song with us. There are still dates to be confirmed and as soon as its all up I shall let you all know! I can’t speak too much on it just yet, cause there’s bits to still sort out and I’m going to save all that for another blog!

Anyhoo! Thanks for tuning in again!

Much Love

Ryan xxx