it will be as if you never existed…

I spent the afternoon rescuing these rare Formication Cd’s. Some of which is here on Spotify the red ‘Icons for a New Religion’ jewel case you can see isn’t on there so it was worth saving. Once these are gone it could all but disappear. Formication is the electronic industrial noise duo of my Alec Bowman and Kingsley Ravenscroft formed in 2003

I had to individually wipe the dust and mud!?! off between 50-100 copies. They had been shoved in an attic or garage, some dank corner somewhere. Hidden away like a guilty or inconvenient truth. Alec had let them be and he needs to change that.

If you love someone you should take care of the things they care about. Artistic endeavour is so often a difficult one for those that do not make things to appreciate and handle with care. But your dreams are your dreams and you’re entitled to them however unprofitable and time consuming they may be.

These creations are no less a documentation of your life and times than a collection of photographs would be.

You get what you’re willing to accept in life, some people always seem come out of things on top, none of their dreams ever end up in the garage, and that’s because they will not accept less than that. They’ve got an idea of what they’re worth. So if you allow your dreams to be consigned to the basement you carry some responsibility for whether or not they ever happen.

If you neglect things they will perish and may leave you forever.

Poem #7 Notes on the Indestructible

If I cry in public

Will you believe me then?

Is the onus on me to display my vulnerability ?

Must I wear it like a badge ?

If I make myself small and weak am I then deserving of care ?

Is it the rough skin on my palms?

Is it hard to believe that words of pain are truthful from a mouth that speaks them with such assurance ?

I practice them you know

I don’t sing songs I’ve just written for fear that my crying will crush them

and I’ll never get them out

You have to pull yourself together

Or you would fall apart in front of their eyes

It is learned poise, a pretend

Strength as an artifice I made

That now I cannot end

‘If I Didn’t Mind’ – The Reasons That I Do Mind And Why I Need To…

If you’re the kind of person that just likes to listen and decide for yourself what a song is about, or you don’t care about lyrics and you don’t care to know, then I suggest you don’t read on. This is for those of you who pour over lyric books and have questions about “why this line says this”.

My intention here is to provide a bit of wider context for this song but it’s not for the faint hearted…

 Lyrics:

You’ve got your problems
But I’m the one that needs to change
You’re so angry
But I’m the one that’s acting strangely
You don’t speak clearly
But I’m not hearing you right
And I’m the only person fighting in this fight

 
It would all be fine
If I didn’t mind
Everything would be alright
If I didn’t mind
If I just didn’t mind
 
You say you’ve got feelings
But you don’t want to talk
You’ll only concede
When you know I’m gonna walk
I’ve never known frustration like this in my life
Cos only you use silence like others use a knife
 
It would all be fine
If I didn’t mind
Everything would be alright
If I didn’t mind
If I just didn’t mind
 
You won’t give me words that I could use to feel ok
You’d rather swallow them all than give any away
I know you’re going to starve me until I waste away
You’ve always pushed me further to try to make me stay
 
It would all be fine
If I didn’t mind
Everything would be alright
If I didn’t mind
If I just didn’t mind

This song is about emotional and psychological abuse by gaslighting and passive aggression. It’s about the distortion of reality and how the blame is shifted on to the victim silently and seemingly imperceptibly. Realising this is key to escaping it and being able to articulate clearly what it is that’s happening goes some way to resolving it internally.

The nature of passive aggression is such that its difficulty to pinpoint gives it a deniability. Complaining about the virtually imperceptible micro-aggressions makes you look crazy, as each one taken on their own looks innocuous. And you cannot prove the absence of something, the absence of kindness, approval or encouragement.

It is a slow death by a thousand slights, a crushing, cloying, cold and suffocating strangling in silence.

You’re led to believe that your response to this behaviour is the issue, that your reaction comes from nowhere, an anger with no basis in the other persons action.

I thought for a good few years that I must be negative, paranoid, too highly strung and with an anger management problem. It turned out as soon as I ceased interacting with this person my anger and confusion receded and has all but disappeared now he isn’t in my life.

This song is my documentation of a toxic and dysfunctional dynamic. To redefine the hijacked narrative because its power is its silence.

Lyrically it started life as a poem I began to write as an attempt to explain what was happening to me, the first line I had for this song came from this section of the poem

I have tried to leave this house 
So many times
I have nudged every window 
Climbed down the drainpipe 
Only to find you in the garden brandishing a silent knife 
Ready to twist my words to mince
 

The image of the ‘silent knife’ became – ‘Only you use silence like others use a knife’ . The rest grew out from there. The title/chorus ‘If I Didn’t Mind’ hinges on the idea that it is my reaction being characterised as the only problem. My attempt to refute muttered slights, or confront disparaging subtext was seen as confrontational, combative trouble making. Many times being accused of making something out of nothing but it didn’t feel like nothing to me, it wasn’t nothing to me, it wasn’t meant to be nothing to me, it was specifically intended to hurt me. To wound me and erode my confidence so I wouldn’t be strong enough to leave. The verse is made up of pairs of conflicting statements which encapsulates the psychological technique of gaslighting, where the antagonist projects their bad behaviour, anger and deception onto the protagonist invisibly.

You don’t speak clearly but I’m not hearing you right…’

My hope in writing this song was that I could define what was happening to me. I could give a concrete reality to myself amidst all the mythology I was being made complicit in. To take a mirror to my gaslighter and say “this is what you’re doing to me, it’s real, I can see it, I can explain it, so now it exists and you cannot convince me that it doesn’t anymore, fuck you, goodbye.”

So I did warn you! Thanks for making it this far, sorry it’s been a bit heavy but you know, it was. Don’t worry about me though I’m ok now, I lived to tell the tale and that’s what I’m doing.

If you’ve enjoyed this wider context I’ll be releasing a lyric book with extra info for each song (not all as dark as this one) with the ‘In All Weather’ album. It will be available to preorder on Bandcamp soon. Preorder the album here

Poem #6

Held like an unexploded bomb

At full arms stretch

a threat that must be neutralised

Restrained, Contained

A wild cat in need of neutering

A small unknowable thing

At both the centre and the edge of it all

The burning episcentre and a bit part player in the story of your own life

Unsure if you’re the factory floor

Or the silent partner haunting the halls at the top of the tower

Like a bad tempered Repunzal

After countless calls to let down her hair

she cuts it all off

Content to cocoon in her seclusion

This is a coffin or a chrysalis

For eithers sake

a prison break of sorts

The Once In A Lifetime Offer: A Treatise On The Industry Myth

As an artist you HAVE to believe that your body of work has an Intrinsic value in the face of figures and paperwork to the contrary. It is so hard to approach meetings, offers and negotiations knowing that nothing on paper apparently supports this notion.

It’s a struggle and I struggle with it but if you yourself can’t retain the notion that your entire life’s work has a value and potential to grow beyond its humble position it will simply be impossible to convince a prospective investor that it does.

Remember that YOU have been investing in it for years and at the point you wish to decline an offer in the hope of better you will almost certainly be told by someone that this is risky. It is risky but so is ploughing every ounce of your time, energy and available funds into it. You’ve already done that bit, the hard bit, this is simply holding your nerve.

Half the industry runs on that fear, that this is the best you can expect out of it, so stick, don’t twist and don’t shout. Not everyone is trying to drive down price in concern of nothing but the bottom line. But EVERYONE will tell you they are in it for the music, this will only be true in certain cases and you have to get good at spotting bullshit when you see it.

I’ve never believed in the elusive and intangible “x-factor” nor do I believe that you get your “one moment”. This is the weaponisation of fear, if you’re talented and worked hard enough to earn an opportunity the chances are that isn’t the only opportunity you’ll ever be offered, it doesn’t work like that. If you haven’t had any yet well then there are likely to be a few around the corner or down the line or along the road or whatever your favourite analogy is. 

People in this industry predominantly back a winning horse, most wait for it to be within a hair’s breadth of the finish line before lending their support to it. This is the most infuriating bind of the whole thing in my opinion. That the universal perception of your imminent winning then makes it all the more inevitable and conversely the widespread perception that you are still many yards from the line makes it all the more so.

You kind of need that one influential person to inadvertently misread the figures and correctly or incorrectly (not a distinction worth making) identify you as this year’s grand national favourite to win and thus it may well be so.

The only winning tactics are perseverance and self belief as I can see it. The rest is time and luck, neither of which can be controlled or circumvented. So you can go to a million masterclasses on social media strategy and all the workshops on co-writing, collaboration and creative collectives but it’s a waiting game. Like most things in life what you really need is confidence, hope and patience.

So it’s a thanks but no thanks this time from me, I’m waiting for a better offer than that…

Jx  

#4 Final Words

Let this be the final time you steal the very words from my mouth

For now you must make your own sound in the dark

And the hallowed other ground be yours alone

To make of what you will

And still remain the memory

Of all you used to take from me

# 3

I try to remember clearly

That when all my walls were falling apart

We went to fly a kite

The winds were gusty that day but you kept it off the ground

Untangled and afloat

You were no master but with diligence,

a certain flair

A careful sequence of minute corrections learning as you went

How to manage thin air