Here’s a new music video! I’ll explain the whys and hows in another post, but for now, here it is.
I don’t go in for the whole thing that the music from your teens is never bettered, but there is something really magical about albums that come out and connect with you during those years. These are my favourite albums that came out during my teenage years; each one eagerly anticipated, with no way of hearing it until you went out and bought it. What are your favourite albums to drop during your teens?
In no particular order:
Tori Amos – From The Choirgirl Hotel
Smashing Pumpkins – Adore
REM – New Adventures In Hi-Fi
Ben Folds Five – Whatever And Ever Amen
Placebo – Without You I’m Nothing
Jurassic 5 – self titled
Metallica – Load
Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory
Massive Attack – Mezzanine
Unbelievable Truth – Almost Here
Frou Frou – Details*
Bjork – Homogenic
Radiohead – OK Computer
Deftones – White Pony
Roni Size + Reprazent – In The Mode
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Boatman’s Call
*strictly speaking not a teen record as I’d not long turned 20, but this was so a part of that era. There’s a funny irony to that nowadays of course…
One of the biggest highlights of 2019 was of course my trip to Japan with Drake Music. And on that trip, one of the most important personal adventures was visiting the famous Kawasaki Daishi, a buddhist temple, some 20 miles south of Tokyo. Buddhism is a big part of my life, and so it felt like a really important use off my day off, to visit a Buddhist temple in a Buddhist country. Being a Buddhist isn’t something I make a lot of noise about; it’s kind of a private thing. Secular mindfulness is hugely popular in the West, but I’ve long had an interest to go deeper into Buddhist tradition; influenced by secular Western Buddhists like Stephen Batchelor, Robert Wright & Sharon Salzberg, I’ve attempted to study the history of buddhism beyond the Headspace craze. Visiting a temple was an amazing opportunity to go deeper.
I had an afternoon free, with a glove performance in the evening at Kawasaki Symphony Hall, so I made the trek via taxi from central Kawasaki to the Daishi. Getting a cab in Japan was an experience in itself. I spend enough time in black cabs in the UK. A Japanese taxi is usual a sedan type car, with white blankets covering the seats. They’re impossibly clean; I was scared to touch anything. The drivers wear a suit with spotless white gloves, and it all feels very polite and efficient, like a lot of things in Japan.
I got to Kawasaki Daishi via a market which you can see in the opening shot of my video. It was raining pretty heavily when I arrived, but it wasn’t unpleasant. The market was very neat, very organised, and clearly we were a bit of a novelty; people seemed intrigued to see westerners in this part of the city, and people waved at me like I was a minor celebrity. People are so nice.
I’m not sure the vlog really captures how I felt that day, but it gives you a chance to see for yourself what it was like. I didn’t film the ceremony itself, but it was truly extraordinary. Monks chanting and playing Taiko drums, burning incense; there was a real scale to it. After various readings (in Japanese of course) meditators walked around the hall, led by monks burning incense. I wondered through the temple among the gongs, drums and ancient artefacts; the whole thing utterly surreal and incredibly moving. They do this several times a day, and yet it felt like a huge, once in a lifetime event. In the best possible way, I’ve never felt further from home. I was so aware of how Western I was, but also how much I love Japan and Japanese culture.
I love the futurism of Tokyo and Kawasaki, but I like to think I’m more than a tourist getting their Blade Runner nostalgia fix, and I’m glad I saw some real history in Japan.
There’s something sad about NYE. Life seems incredibly small, incredibly futile, at 00:01 on the 1st of January. The big dreams seem suddenly tiny. Like it’s all for nothing. No amount of fireworks can make it seem meaningful. I’m sure it’s just me playing to type.
But maybe not so much this time. I’m nihilistic to the core, I see nothing but absurd coincidence in our existence. We’re stuck on a rock that’s hurtling through space. There’s no big answer. It just… is.
But my attempts to grasp existentialism feel like a way out. I’m reading, I’m learning. Philosophy is my new obsession. Life seems meaningless, yes. But that’s not the end. No, it has no inherent meaning that I can see, and that used to scare me almost literally to death.
But that lack of meaning leaves a wide open space. To invent meaning. It’s a game. Be whatever you want. You have no purpose. In the nicest possible way, your life doesn’t matter. Choose your own adventure. Play the best version of yourself.
I always used to be sad at New Year. Making myself promises I know I can’t keep. But again, not so much this time. This time, I feel a shade of realistic optimism. Life IS good. I’m not about to make it good. I don’t need a New Year New Me. Nothing so vain, so desperate. I just wanna keep doing Me. I’m doing okay.
And it’s a small thing, but I’m sober. First NYE of adulthood where I’ve not tried to get even tipsy. That feels better than I could have imagined. Alcohol has not been good to me. I was scared to let it go, but I’m glad I have.
Tomorrow will be a fresher start than ever. Happy 2020. We live in the future.
Websites have become old hat. Unless you’re a dedicated writer first and foremost, you’ve probably abandoned your dot com. Most musical artists I know rely solely on social media. There is no central presence. Their biggest and best ideas are on Facebook. Musicians often have plenty to say. Seems fair; that’s where the audience is. Is that enough of a reason?
Social media poses a problem for publishers. I suppose it poses many. It’s noisy. It’s not archived. It’s ugly. But the big problem with the big F (and most other services) is ownership. Everything you put on Facebook belongs to the service. I want to own my own bit of the internet. So this is a self hosted WordPress blog, with the modest amount of extra faff that comes with that.
Having said that, this isn’t really my website. It’s not the shop front. It’s a blog, in a traditional sense. It’s only for writing, whatever and wherever my thoughts take me. I just want to have a bit of clear space to say whatever. I have my music website of course, where I do blog, but the music, the gloves, they all take such a centre stage that it doesn’t feel like a blog. I just want to write in an uncluttered way, and let dyskinetic.net be the shop front.
It’s 10 years since I started blogging. I started my first proper blog on March 1, 2010. I don’t have much to show for it sadly; a major hack attempt coupled with my non-tech-savvyness meant that my blog legacy is long gone. In a sense I am relieved. No doubt there was some cringy nonsense in there. But of course, it’s a loss to the story. I’ll enjoy some creative license and attempt to retell some of those tales about how I got here.
It feels very significant to start blogging again now, 10 years on from my first attempts. I was trying to make an album on my own in 2010. It never surfaced. I was completely lost in my attempts to define my identity. Life was very different, and I was, I now know, deeply lost and unhappy. But I was trying to put something out into the world to make sense of those feelings, and it helped. 10 years later I realise I’m not necessarily not still lost and unhappy, but it feels very different. I have a lot to be thankful for. A lot to be afraid of too. This future is a strange and scary place. Being a Disabled person in post-Brexit Tory Britain feels like a Children Of Men dystopia. 2010 was the beginning of that end, but at the turn of the decade, today’s political horrors would seem like grotesque caricature. I have so much now that I couldn’t have imagined in 2010. Nicci and I lived with her mum, I was signed off work, too fragile and in pain to hold down a job. In 2020, we own a house. We have three kids. My music puts the food on the table. I’d barely seen outside my own postcode. In the last few years, those futuristic gloves have taken me all over the world. If there’s one thing 2020-Me knows well, it’s gratitude.
There’s much to say, and much to learn. Here begins my little corner of the www to think out loud.
And of course, Happy New Year. Happy New Decade. Theses are strange times. The raging Twenties are upon us.
2019. You’ve been pretty incredible. Musically, the best year yet. A huge part of 2019 was of course the fact that my music took me on a lifelong dream to Japan. I’m a better version of myself for having been there, and I’ll never forget what I learned about myself and the world while I was there. At the start of the decade I couldn’t imagine playing music outside of B77. Kawasaki Symphony Hall is a long way from Tamworth Castle Grounds…
It was also a year of amazing collaborations. Ayaka Takai, Josefa Torres and Adam “Nolly” Getgood – all artists I’ve wanted to work with for a long time. Tick, tick, tick. I’ve spent time with some of my biggest influences; having a chance to chat about the music/family balance with Justin Furstenfeld was an important moment. I’ve got to hang a little with my biggest influence as a producer, the legendary Guy Sigsworth. My long time sensei Imogen Heap has done her most ambitious performances to date this year, and I’ve been so grateful to be invited to ride along with that journey through the year.
Arts Council England afforded me the opportunity to work on my music harder than ever, with two(!) significant Lottery funded grants this year. I’ve had the most artistically focused year of my life, taking time to refine my craft, knowing that we’d be financially secure as a family while I mostly ignored everything that wasn’t *exactly* what I wanted to do as an artist. Lucky isn’t a big enough word.
Family life has been more complicated, as family life is. We’ve had amazing adventures, and we’re closer than ever, but it’s been tough. We went through one of the hardest things we’ve ever been through towards the end of the year, which we’re still trying to come to terms with. Some of you know: I’m not ready to be anything other than vague about it online yet. A story for another time.
And of course, my health continues it’s slow decline, so there’s no way of knowing how long it will be before these adventures come to an end. But I’m very lucky; more and more of that bucket list gets ticked off.
If there’s one word I have for 2019, it’s gratitude. For Nicci, the kids, music, and making Pinch Me career moments the new normal. Happy New Year!