Lighthouses

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If there’s one thing I’ve appreciated so much on my musical adventure so far, it’s the people who have shone a light for me, along the way. It’s not the easiest thing, navigating your way, as an independent artist. As with any life dream, there are light and dark moments, there are the people who cheer you on, and there are the naysayers. Demons, inside and out, that you have to face.

Which makes it even more heart warming when you meet people who generously help you find your way. I think of them as my Lighthouses. And that help; that light, also comes in many forms.

People like you, who cheer me on are my Lighthouses. An artist’s dream is made possible, not just by the creativity of the artist, but by the people who really see what it is you are doing, and get it. Believe me, remembering those people (you!) in moments of doubt, shines a massive light on the sometimes stormy seas of the realities of being an independent artist.

People who have expertise they’ve been happy to share with me are my Lighthouses. I’ve been taught how to really sing, how to mine my experiences for a song, how to do basic recording, how to build a website, how to design images, how to use a camera, and edit footage… the list goes on. Sometimes I have hired people to do these things for me, but due to the inevitable lack of budget, a lot of the time, it’s been down to the generosity of people who’ve shown me how. People who have seen me paddling away on my own, and have been generous enough to share their knowledge with me, sometimes for a nominal fee, sometimes in exchange for one of my skills, and sometimes out of pure generosity.

Iain Archer, who produced my album has been a major Lighthouse for me. I had respected his work for a long time, before getting an opportunity to work with him, and had much enjoyed the music of other artists he has worked with – Lisa Hannigan especially. (And Snow Patrol, for name dropping at parties reasons).

In many ways I felt like Iain showed me the way when it came to recording, but he also really helped me trust myself, which was an amazing gift. You so often hear of producers who seem intent on insensitively put their stamp on any song they are working on, but my experience of recording my album was the complete opposite. Iain often ran with weird little ideas that I had, that I wasn’t even sure about myself. This really put me at ease, and helped me open up creatively whilst recording. It also helped that, when I climbed up his spiral staircase into his little attic studio, to see all his slightly odd, slightly rustic instruments, I instantly felt at home. Old banjos, autoharps, harmoniums and other strange instruments he’d found on his travels. Not that I’m some crusty old folkie, but I suppose you could say I nod in a folk direction every now and then. I learned so much from Iain, and I also felt so lucky to be working with a musical kindred spirit.

In that time in the studio, we worked with many wonderful musicians who came in and added their flavours to the mix. One of these musicians was a fellow violinist named Jote Osahn. Like me, Jote has a classical background as a violinist, but (also like me) what she loves the most is putting all that training down, and writing from a very intuitive place- it was such a joy to work with her for the string parts on some of my songs. She mostly played this strange variation of a violin called an Octave violin, which looks like a violin, but plays one octave lower, whilst I played the normal violin. An interesting combination !

For some reason, we got chatting about her work with the band Elbow on their album Seldom Seen Kid, back in the day…  an album which I love so much. As we worked, I found myself recalling such vivid memories of seeing Elbow perform Seldom Seen Kid in Wembley arena way back in 2009, with those fantastically memorable string parts, just after they had won the Mercury Music Prize … I have always loved the story of Elbow as a band, who worked for 17 years to get to that point of their Mercury success. It can be tempting to fall for the idea of ‘overnight success’ stories of artists and bands, and it’s tempting to make musicians into these creatures that simply have this ‘x factor’ that catapults them into the limelight, or doesn’t. But that isn’t the experience of the vast majority of artists. The reality is usually far more soul-stretching, and gritty, and humbling.

But I digress. I suppose my point in sharing all this, is that whilst at times it’s tempting to tell myself (even complain to myself) that it’s just down to me, and my determination, making this dream of mine happen, the truth is, that no one person can ever achieve a dream alone. There are always the Lighthouses. People who believe in you, appreciate you, encourage you, and inspire you to see a bigger picture. People you think of in moments of doubt, when you need to remember why it is that you should maybe keep doing what you’re doing.

There have been many of them. And there will be more. And you are one of them.

Thank you so much for reading this, and for appreciating it all.

Since you’ve read this far, you can help yourself to another free song as a THANK YOU for your interest in all the goings on of an independent musician such as myself. Please see instructions below*

Or if you would consider buying my album, please know that your support means so much to me and, well… makes it all possible, truth be told. Click here to read about and buy Bitter Sweet.

Thank you.

Karen x

P.S. Please do share any of your own thoughts, life philosophies, or responses to my experience below. Perhaps you relate to what I’ve shared in some way? I’d love to hear from you. X

*Get your FREE song here (zipped file.)

Or, if your phone doesn’t like zipped files:

…stream the song here 

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