I used to make a point of writing a Year In Review around this time for both the band and the label, cherry picking all the interesting/exciting stuff and conveniently forgetting about all the failures and filler. I stopped writing them in the latter years of both, not because we were doing fewer things, just that we were doing fewer new things. We’d got better at being what we’d set out to be and our activities had become habits. Success (or at least progress) often just means repeating and improving, but that doesn’t always make for interesting reading, or indeed interesting writing. So I stopped doing the retrospectives without even noticing that I had.
I feel compelled to post one now though, simply because my life is so different. But the danger of framing it within this website and sharing through my usual social media channels is that it’s arguably pretty irrelevant. I moved to the Isle Of Skye with my partner, got a dog and joined the fire brigade. I released no new albums and played no live shows. The things I did do are exciting to me because it’s all so new, but the things I didn’t do are what this website is supposed to be all about.
I won’t go on about my lovely Kazakhstani rescue dog Lorna (a mixture, we think, of German Shepherd, Siberian Husky and Whippet with possibly a hint of wolf). If you follow me on Instagram you’ll no doubt feel like you know her already. I won’t go on about my fire fighter tests that involved hanging by my legs three stories up and crawling through tiny pitch black tunnels with an oxygen tank on my back, amongst other things. I just want to tell you that I’d like you to stick around just a little bit longer, even though this new life of mine isn’t what you signed up for originally. I want you to stick around because something is coming that I think you’ll enjoy.
I’ve been commissioned to contribute to a project that is such an impossibly perfect fit for me that it all seems too good to be true. Usually I’d be blogging and tweeting every single step of it, but I can’t announce what it is, not until it’s further along in the developmental process; it’s not up to me and I don’t want to jinx the whole thing.
Here’s what I will tell you:
- It’s a stage musical and I am writing the songs
- It’s adapted from a much-loved novel by a very famous contemporary author
- The script is by an awarding winning playwright (who is also a really nice person)
- The director has been described as a “theatre sensation” (and is also a really nice person)
- The theatre is one of the most respected in the UK
- The play will be staged in early 2021
I am utterly thrilled to be a part of this show and so grateful the production team are happy for me to work from my Hebridean hillside whilst juggling duties with Dunvegan fire station. I meet up with the creative team every few months for steering meetings and workshops. I have a stack of song briefs for about twenty potential numbers to be written in time for our next workshop in March. It’s all tremendously exciting, so wonderful to be in the creative thick of it without sacrificing my new remote lifestyle.
Over the years I’ve identified all manner of flaws in my creative work ethic: being too precious about what I write, not wanting people to see/hear works in progress, not collaborating enough. This play is challenging all those things. The first workshop I was involved in was such a breath of fresh air, writing songs in my hotel room in the evenings for the actors to try the next morning, then rewriting throughout the day, teaching the material to children to see how it would work with their voices/range, unsentimentally chucking out all sorts of things I really liked that just didn’t fit with the direction. I wrote more songs in one day than I did in the whole of last year. And it’s only just the beginning.
I wish I could tell you more. I will when I can. But for now all I can say is… Happy New Year!