‘Still Life with Music’
The Brand New Album
The Brand New Album
25 September 2015
I’ve never worn so many hats in my life.
Even when I attended the ‘Hat Parties’ a few years ago in Shoreditch.
But I’ll get back to the hats later…
Thinking back on it now, when I first had our son, I was somehow very self-conscious. I put this down to the fact that it was not planned; we never sat down and decided we were ready. My boyfriend at the time (also my bass player and now my husband) had quite a shock when we found that we were going to have a baby but we embraced the situation and 9 months later we had a little boy (and since then we have had a little girl too). I was never alarmed at the prospect of becoming a mother as I love kids and have been around them a great deal…but a strange thing happened when suddenly I was a mother.
I described it like this to a friend: I think I put on a motherhood costume. I stepped into it and it felt strange. And when you don’t feel right in what you are wearing you think all eyes are on you, your movements feel alien. After a few months, I realised I could step out of that costume and just shed a few other layers and the mother would be revealed; she was, in fact, there all along.
Nevertheless, part of me kicked and screamed at how domestic my life became for those first few months. I am, after all, a social person, a musician and creator who desires to be in the thick of things, needs to meet with my fellow musicians/artists and express, write, laugh, discover. So the only way to make this work is to involve my kids in the whole affair. They are, after all, coming into my life, the lives of me and my bandmate and husband.
My shedding of my self-consciousness as a mother has done a huge amount for my ability as a performer.
When heads turn in the street because I have a screaming child in the midst of a temper tantrum, I no longer care because I know I am doing a great job. That’s just how kids respond if you, say, peel a banana for them when they want to do it themselves; or because you casually say that thing in the sky is just a plane but they are adamant that it is a rocket going to outer space and you have shattered their entire view of the world. And if people look and judge because I am not keeping my child in line they can just walk on, they don’t know the story.
Similarly, when I introduce the wrong song during a gig (as I very often do), or the gear is not working properly, or the guitarist has a temper tantrum (sorry, Donny!) I am much better at shrugging it off and just getting on with things. As a mother I have become extremely well versed in the art of this manoeuvre and it has done me a lot of favours as a performer. I am not one of those natural front-women. I played in a band for many years in which I shared that role with another and he was much better at it than I, so I took a back seat and let him do the talking. Now I can do the talking.
Now back to those hats. I’m not just a mother. On one hand I am an organiser of band members and rehearsals, a lyricist, a dreamer, a set list writer and an organiser of gigs. On the other hand I am an assistant to an artist and a musician as a bit of part-time work. On the mother hand (and this is the doozy) I am a cook, a feeder, a potty trainer, a teacher of reading, music, climbing, tidying up, manners and simply an explainer of how the world works and how to BE in it. I am a mother in the school playground who turns up to collect her son in sparkly clothes because I am taking him home pronto to the babysitter so I can leg it to a sound check. I am a mother who goes into school to sing with the class on occasion. And I am a mother who ropes in a lot of friends and favours to have a babysitter while my husband/bassist and I go to rehearse and write with the rest of the band. Shit is crazy. I will not lie. There is never ever a dull moment.
And that is the other thing. I am so great at multi-tasking that I go beyond that age-old supposition that women are pretty-good at this thing. I wear a hell of a lot of hats. I have a walk-in wardrobe full of them.
I made a New Year’s resolution once that I would wear more hats.
I’m wearing them.