Mid-May messaging

Pigs have flown! I’m actually posting a mid-month update. Well let’s be honest, it’s not mid-month. It’s literally the beginning of the final quarter of month but I’m always late so based on a calculation of my average late timing this would likely be on-time in the Aleah-timing world. Could this be the start of something new ? … I very much doubt it knowing the scattiness of my life. Plus I’ll be exploring various countries over the next few months so it’s highly unlikely because I’ll want to be looking at the world around me, not the world of the screen. 

The purpose of this mid-month update is to talk about my album launch so I must ensure I don’t digress. To be honest, I was wondering whether I should post about it. I don’t want to indirectly influence peoples listening experience. But then I decided that some people are interested in the concept of albums so if anything, giving a bit of information on that may be appreciated by some. It’s adhering to the lengthy information answer I spoke about in my previous blog post opposed to the yes/ no response. 

So for those who like to understand the concept of albums they listen to, read on. For those who just like to appreciate the music I bid you a happy rest of the month!

‘Evolving Reflections’ … that’s the title. In short, the album describes personal exploration. The pieces explore one idea evolving into a new idea which then evolves further. A person does not always have to go back to what they have become accustomed to. They can move forward. Reflect on what life has to offer, good and bad, then evolve; Evolving Reflections. Music can trigger an emotional journey, it can tell a tale, or simply be heard. We cannot and do not wish to dictate the experience of a listener but we can create music which has a relatable narrative. 

A little over a year ago I started composing a collection of piano pieces. Just for fun really and a break from the directed briefs that were pouring in. After composing two pieces I decided I’d like to compose a narrative piano album and there it started. Since then it’s been a journey of music, photography, art and narration. Inspired by a collection of my friends photographs, the recording engineer’s enthusiasm and my reflective outlook, the pieces evolved into stories each representing a mini biography of a few of my life reflections. 

I’ve always had a passion for traditional instruments fused with electronics so this was another intrinsic part. Then came the classical / modern approach. I wanted to record the piano in a classical manner then juxtapose it with an electronic layer. I could have chosen to not record in a classical environment but I wanted the album to reflect my classical roots as well as my electronic interests. 

So there it is, a brief interlude of how the album came about restricted by my an attempt to prevent another long blogpost from existing. The album’s release date is the 8th July 2016 (pre-release will be 10th June 2016). It will be available for digital download and in a CD format. The launch event will also be on the 8th July 2016 at The Rag Factory, London where there will be a live performance, the animation premiere for ‘Drown or Swim?’, 3 listening booths which encourage the listener to hear music the way I do. The narratives will also feature alongside the photographs that inspired these. For more information and clips of the tracks go to: http://www.aleahmorrison.com/evolvingreflections

‘Dedicated to Gemma and Lee for teaching me that life is too short to spend it fearing the failure of your dreams.’

Mission May

Massive May

Month 5 2016 - woop! I say this every year and probably say it every month but when did it get to May?! This is why the release of my piano album has been a long time coming. The days and weeks and months whizz by without me even noticing and more importantly without me being as productive as I should be. It’s partly due to procrastination fueled by lack of self-confidence….an artists prerogative right? … or an artists curse? I believe the answer lies in reflection and acceptance of self-deprecation. I’m digressing - havn’t done that for a while. Or maybe I just havn’t been acknowledging it much in the hope that those who have read past blog posts are used to it now. Although I fear my blog posts are probably too long and therefore not attractive reading material in a world where a simple yes or no answer is more desirable than an lengthy informative reply. I occasionally have to stop myself being a yes or no person, or one of those annoying people who doesn’t allow the speaker to finish their story because they’ve already guessed what will be said Does anyone else do that? It stems from years of a psychic interactions with my sister. We literally don’t need to finish sentences because we know what the other is going to say. This was most apparent to my Uncle during a game of Articulate a few years ago. He found great amusement in how we would say words to each other which seemingly had no relation to the answer given. We just knew exactly what the other one was thinking. Life is a lot richer when you don’t predict what another person is going to say and embrace the lengthy informative answer.

…..Now I really have digressed. Where was I? Oh yeah, time whizzing by eliciting a feeling of not being productive. That and just simply, I’m so busy outside of work that unless I get everything done during work time it’s quite frankly never going to happen. My business partner seemed genuinely surprised when I deplored I had too many things to do. Deplored is too inaccurate a word. I don’t condemn the things I have to do … announced. He insinuated I just sit there staring into space most days so what can I possibly be busy with. Obviously that insinuation is likely not accurate and in fact is more a representation of the pressures I put on myself for not being productive enough. However, there does appear to be a lack of comprehension on how life outside of work can be busy. Friends and family speak of their packed out weekends so evidently I’m not alone in this. But maybe I should try and book in ‘doing-nothing’ time opposed to booking in ‘I’ve got a spare morning, who can I see within this hour’.  I’m always being told to take time out by family, friends and even doctors but I can’t imagine a life of not seeing friends and family. However, the next weekend I have free is in August and even then the other two weekends in August are already booked. Is that so ridiculous? I just see opportunities of the gift of time. Right now I’m typing this whilst on a flight to my friends hen party. I’ve already done an hour and a half’s work this morning before leaving for the airport at 9:30. Could have had a lie-in I suppose but I needed to finish off some work. I can sleep when I’m dead.

It’s been a crazy busy week which is why this post is late - is that a plausible excuse this time? From researching appropriate mastering studios, CD pressing companies, artist profile pictures, CD artwork artists and venue scouting to a photo shoot, mixing session, mastering session, artwork being created, CD pressing company on standby all within the space of 3 days, I think it’s fair to say I’ve made up for the months of procrastination. I’ve probably mentioned the concept for the album has evolved over time hence being called ‘Evolving Reflections’. It’s quite a daunting affair releasing an album that is practically a biography describing some of your personal experiences. Writing the text for the CD artwork the other day I realised the concept may not be appreciated by everyone and yet it is such an integral part for me. But this is part of sharing your art. You don’t dictate how someone listens to it. Art is to be experienced not solely heard or looked at. It’s to be felt. It should encourage an exploration of the self. I wanted to blog a bit more about the album but I’m now entering the second A4 page which I think makes this blog unacceptable in blog literature rules. So I’m going to sign off for now. I may do a mid-month update this month. But then again pigs may fly.

‘The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt’ - Sylvia Plath

‘Everything you’ve ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone’ - Robert Allen

‘It’s not who you are that holds you back; it’s who you think you are not.’ - Denis Waitley

Alluring, active April

Another month passes, another blog post. Month 4 now, a little late posting but … it’s still posted. This years New Years resolution may actually stick.

Well it’s time to get my ass in gear and get fit (no pun intended). That’s the first thing on my non-music related agenda for April. I have a month until a friends hen party abroad so it’s time to lose this winter warmer and get some Gillian Michaels action. Anyone tried Gillian Michaels 30-day shred? I have…..when I say tried, I mean I’ve started it, pranced about in my living room for 5 consecutive days, then developed a frustrated reaction at not seeing one bit of difference in body shape, followed by a thought that it must be because my body’s bored of level 1 and I need to move on to level 2. Level 2 commences for 2 consecutive days then quite frankly it stops there. I’ve dipped my toe into the pool of level three (with the same misguided logic that my body hasn’t changed shape, it must be because it’s bored of level 2). This rare occasion happened once, typically a few days before my wedding. Since then, I havn’t managed to get past level one. So here I am again, telling myself I’m going to do the 30 day shred and I’m going to be so happy when I’ve done it and can see the new slimmer, fitter me! … What I don’t understand is how three years ago, when I was single, I was running. I mean running? Who DOES that! I’ve never been a sporty person nevermind a runner. I grew up going to dance classes and swimming — that was the maximum sporting endurance I’d entertain. Dancing because moving to music is a refreshing break from composing or playing it. Swimming because I enter an imaginary world inspired by the 1978 film ‘The Waterbabies’ and the 1984 film ‘Splash’ where I escape all the problems of the outside world and dive into the deep blue ocean to swim like a mermaid amongst the fishies without a care in the world … (new age hippy alert). That’s the level of my sporting activity, so running regularly at the age of 30 something was not normal. Another phase? I like to think it wasn’t but currently there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. Maybe I should start running again now? Or maybe not I say to myself as I look out at the Surrey downs which would form the terrain for such shenanigans. So it’s back to GM in my living room I guess. Watch this space…

The beginning of April saw a weekend break to Norway. Bergen to be more precise. I’ve always had an interest in going to Norway. It stemmed from a penpal friendship I developed with an elderly couple one year whilst on our annual family holiday to Agia Napa. An important thing to note at this point is that this was before Agia Napa became Agia Napa. My parents are not the type to take their children abroad to raving party locations and my new befriended elderly couple were not ‘living it large’ in the nightclubs. Agia Napa used to be a peaceful beautiful part of Cyprus with white sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise sea. I’m not quite sure how to describe it now but natural scenic beauty would not be an adjective I’d associate with it. (I digress … first time for digression in this post. I must be improving). As I was saying … I don’t know what my 12-year old mind spoke to them about. I can imagine it was something rather mundane to an elder generation but they were kind enough to entertain it. They became my pen pals and I’m told I wrote to them for quite a few years. This was back in the days when the internet didn’t exist. People still used a pen and paper and postage stamps. They would send me pictures of their house in Norway. Printed pictures that is, from an analogue camera…you know the type, where the roll of film came in a plastic tube and you had to take it out carefully trying to avoid getting finger prints on the film and insert it into the camera pulling it across and making sure it catches at the other side so it can wind itself around the rod. Shutting the back door of the camera and winding it forward until it clicks to get rid of the bad film at the beginning of the roll. ….. that type of camera. Their analogue photos instigated a desire to visit Norway one day. I should probably point out I had to ask my Mum to recall such memories for me. My memory is frustratingly diabolical so I rely on family and friends to remind me of my childhood life. On numerous occasions in various social environments a common question has been asked; ‘what’s your earliest memory’. This leaves me with two possible answers … either I make up some sort of story from my childhood which will likely reveal itself as a lie which is as see-through as a newly cleaned window because my inability to lie is chronic. Or … I openly admit to the fact that I struggle to remember what I did last week nevermind when I was a child. Either way it’s a failure in a social context.

Inability to remember things makes learning music a little difficult. It would likely be presumed that I should be an auditory learner because I’ve been surrounded by music all my life. However, a test revealed that I’m quite the opposite, I’m a visual learner. Likely because if I write something down I can’t forget it because ultimately I’ll find what I wrote and be reminded of it. The term ‘in one ear and out the other’ really is quite apt when discussing my auditory learning. I wonder if it’s partly due to being deaf in one ear…..maybe I couldn’t always hear things properly so I evolved into a visual learner. Mmmmmmm

So Norway, what a beautiful place. It really is as I expected it. Steep mountainous landscape set against the turquoise blue lakes and sea, colourful wooden houses, genuine friendly locals. That, I wasn’t expecting. Living in and traveling around Europe, being exposed to areas where the economy thrives off tourism and little else, I have become cynical about the locals opinion of tourists. My immediate reaction to any suggestions of a tour or any offering of advice or just simply to take a group photo is how are they conning us, what will they expect for their advice. I feel awful to admit such cynical thoughts because I approach the rest of my life with such positivity. But Norway … Well that is completely different. They are such friendly people with no expectations of what you should give them for their hospitality. They don’t see you as a money bag. They see you as a tourist who is interested to learn about country. They see you as a person. They are so helpful and genuine….that’s the word…genuine. It was refreshing and we also learnt more about the culture because we were able to engage with the locals. Norway is expensive, I mean, really expensive, apparently Oslo is the one of the two most expensive cities in the world….however, I would recommend that people should visit once if only for a weekend. To see the natural beautify of the fjords and also the natural beauty of the Norwegian people’s spirit. Maybe I’ve been unfair in my cynicisms. I do feel ashamed of the UK when I see tourists in London having to pay to use the public toilets at Victoria station, or when they see all the miserable people on the tube, very few people look up to smile, gently nudging people out of the way when they’re walking too slow, not having time to stop and help a lost tourist find their way on a map. I say all this but again it’s the cynicism and far too generalist. I have seen some friendly Londoners help tourists on their adventures I suppose.

So April, I’m looking forward to seeing what the next two weeks bring. I feel like I need to write a mid-month blogpost as well because this one is now too long but I have so much more to say. A mid-month blogpost — now that would be an achievement.

Quotes for the month

‘Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality’ Nikos Kazantzakis. 

‘Change is the law of life. Those who look only to the past or present miss the future’ John E. Kennedy.

‘Very often a change of self is needed more than of a change of scene’ A. C. Benson

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