“My life involves endless hours of repetitive and frustrating practising, lonely hotel rooms, dodgy pianos, aggressively bitchy reviews, isolation, confusing airline reward programmes, physiotherapy, stretches of nervous boredom (counting ceiling tiles backstage as the house slowly fills up) punctuated by short moments of extreme pressure (playing 120,000 notes from memory in the right order with the right fingers, the right sound, the right pedalling while chatting about the composers and pieces and knowing there are critics, recording devices, my mum, the ghosts of the past, all there watching), and perhaps most crushingly, the realisation that I will never, ever give the perfect recital. It can only ever, with luck, hard work and a hefty dose of self-forgiveness, be “good enough”.
And yet. The indescribable reward of taking a bunch of ink on paper from the shelf at Chappell of Bond Street. Tubing it home, setting the score, pencil, coffee and ashtray on the piano and emerging a few days, weeks or months later able to perform something that some mad, genius, lunatic of a composer 300 years ago heard in his head while out of his mind with grief or love or syphilis. A piece of music that will always baffle the greatest minds in the world, that simply cannot be made sense of, that is still living and floating in the ether and will do so for yet more centuries to come. That is extraordinary. And I did that. I do it, to my continual astonishment, all the time.”
∞ A compilation of insightful conversations with music industry folk on living your ambitions without creating carnage of your life: “The Music Industry Doesn’t Have To Kill You”.
“I am fortunate to have spent my entire professional adult life working in the music industry – actually getting paid to work around the very thing I love so deeply.
During that time, I have had the privilege and opportunity to meet remarkable people, witness unforgettable performances, work as part of great albums, escort many great artists on the red carpet and, generally, see the behind-the-scenes of the music industry.
I have also encountered thieves and liars. I have seen sad and shady dealings. I have been disrespected, as I have disrespected. I have been lied to, as I have lied. I have been made to feel very unimportant, and I am certain I have made others feel as such. I have seen lives and families broken apart, and I have felt just enough of the latter to know without question that my dream is never worth more than those I love. And that is what this book is about.
The music industry does not have to kill you. Nor does it have to make you generally miserable.
This is not a self-help book. Nor is it a how-to guide. It is my first step in spending the rest of my life encouraging people in the music industry to think differently.”
∞ I’ve been immersing myself in theatre culture to unravel the bias I’ve discovered; exposure therapy for reverse-snobbery. This documentary following the production of “American Idiot” (as musical) is so great. I love the set design by Christine Jones and video projections by Darrel Maloney, especially on top of the energy of improv + collaboration. That’s been the biggest shock for me as I’m used to retreating for first drafts (and second, then maybe third…) but in many situations you only gain if you #showyourwork + play well with others from the start. Documentaries are my favourite anyway.