[Newsletter November 2020]
I just got back from a wonderful short hike up the shadow side of Lion's Head. Spent an hour just looking at the horizon, the trippy turquoise blue of the ocean and listening to sounds of nature: birds, insects, humans. And then I saw (with binoculars) a sardine run! In Camp's Bay! Ok, maybe it wasn't an actual sardine run, but I saw hundreds and hundreds of dolphins jumping through the air for about 30 minutes, accompanied by frenzied seagulls following them as they swam all the way from Beta Beach to Seapoint. There was one tiny canoe in the ocean, and whoever that was had the most epic Blue Panet experience, as the shoal/school of fish and dolphins passed straight under them.
The concept of finding silence is not new to me, but I recently watched a film that explained it from so many different angles, and is an absolute masterpiece of filmmaking and score composition. If you have not watched In Pursuit of Silence, it's a worthwhile investment of your time. (And costs about R150 to rent online). Make a screening of it. I settled down to watch it whilst eating my dinner, and I couldn't eat for about 15 minutes, it was so absorbing.
Dunno about you, but it feels like I have two feelings inside of me all the time. There's the hope for the future, the slow return of work and opportunity which makes me positive and I want to celebrate being alive. But then there's also a heaviness I can't seem to shake. I feel a bit hollow, and am constantly a little bit worried of what might happen to me, to humankind, to the world. I guess that's just uncertainty. Being on your guard, yet having to plow forwards to make things happen.
I found a song that I composed during lockdown which matched my mood quite accurately, and decided it needed some drone visuals.
I composed it on a Turkish violin called a "kemence", and it has such a mournful sound. It's called 4.5 Billion years. For some reason it makes me feel better.
Being back in the game means climbing back onto social media. I've resented this part of my work since...well, since I started composing, haha. But lockdown has shown us the power of being connected online, and the power of engaging with fans consistently, even if you cannot perform. So I decided to shift my preconceived ideas to the side for a while, and consult some of my friends in the industry. The search took me from the beaches of Simonstown, to the top of table mountain, and I realised that there was a clever way of doing this. Check out my blog post which features Gary Thomas, Gaelen Pinnock and Alanna Joy Wells: "Getting a foot in the door and keeping it open".
Live performers have taken quite a beating this year [understatement], but there have been so many small companies who have risen to the challenge and created opportunities for performance. It's great to see South Africans stick it out, make a plan, stay put, push through and stand together. Maybe it's the built-in Voortrekker mindset, maybe it's just this wonderful mix of tough, strong-willed humans down on the tip of Africa.
One such company is Biblioteek productions, and they started an online concert series called 20/20 Entertainment in Containment. It started in July, and for 20 weeks they screen a 20 minute performance (pre-recorded) which features a musician, composer, artist, dancer, animator, or a collaboration between them. It's not live, but it has been put together specially for this series, and it's a great way for the public to support creative freelancers, as 100% of the proceeds go to the artists. I'm also taking part, and my screening will take place this coming Friday 6 November at 20:00. It's called "Just for Today".
For my performance, I decided to do something super stripped down and sensitive. It's a live composition, in an open art studio, and only one take. So it's me, my violin, the microphone, a camera, and 20 minutes of whatever comes out in the moment. It's quite daunting, but also meditative. A lot of varying emotions and thoughts come to the surface, and putting them straight into music feels powerful. If you decide to support my performance (thank you!), I would suggest making it your own inner journey, perhaps closing your eyes or looking out the window - whatever feels right to you in the moment. Here's the direct link for tickets.
Here are some words I saw on instagram, and would love to end off with:
"When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees.
And some of them are bent,
and some of them are straight,
and some of them are evergreens,
and some of them are whatever.
And you look at the tree and you allow it.
You see why it is the way it is.
You sort of understand that it didn't get enough light,
and so it turned that way.
And you don't get all emotional about it.
You just allow it.
You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that.
And you are constantly saying 'You look this, or I'm too this.'
That judgemental mind comes in.
And so I practice turning people into trees.
Which means appreciating them just the way they are."
Till next time,
I want to thank you for allowing me to send you stuff, write down my thoughts, and share my creative adventures. This mailing list has been going for about 4 years, and it now has 150 subscribers, many of whom actually reply to my emails and appreciate the things I share! It's such a genuine way to connect, and I hope you know how much I appreciate the medium. If you know someone who might also like to receive these, send them over to this subscription link, and I'll add them to the family :)