Up until about the age of 25, making art was my second love. My first was making music, to the point where I always considered myself (in my own head) to be a musician who could draw rather than the other way around. Much like my abilities in art, I was never technically proficient - I barely know the names of all the notes - but I knew where to put my fingers to make a guitar sound nice. And, as with everything, I got decent at making it sound nice because I practised incessantly. Practising was never a chore, it was something I had a constant urge to do, so I played everyday from the age of 14 and by the time I was in my early 20s I was decent enough.
I was not a great guy to play at parties or anything, because I never really got into playing covers (I can still only play 1 or 2). To me a fretboard was like a blank piece of paper - full of possibilities, something I loved because I could pick it up and let my imagination loose on it. So maybe at 4am when everyone at the party is a bit.. tired.. I was a good guy to play some trippy stuff. But certainly not the guy to get people stomping their feet and singing along…
Anyway, at some point in my early 20s I developed a complete lack of self-confidence with playing music. I’ve tried to narrow it down to one point - a disastrous gig in Australia where I got stage-fright, fecked the guitar down and walked off - but it’s too easy to blame it all on one incident. I think, being honest, it was just plain fear of looking silly. I have always been confident about sharing art, but maybe the music was much more soul-bearing, and so I had more to lose (I thought) if it was mocked. I just got more and more scared to share it, and the guitar started gathering dust in the corner and music fell by the wayside.
In the last couple of years I made an effort to pick it up again, just occasionally. It was frustrating to say the least - I had gone backwards in terms of skill and my fingers just weren’t able to do what they used to. But I kept at it, playing for my daughters in my bedroom and slowly getting a little better. One day last December my older girl, Holly, said something that was a jolt to the system:
‘I know why you don’t play in front of people Daddy - because you’re scared.’
She had just turned 6, and I had never mentioned my fear of playing in public to her. I have no idea how she was on to me, but I was sure I didn’t want my girl thinking it was ok to be afraid of anything, especially expressing herself through something she loved. I was setting a terrible example, so I decided I was going to write an album, put it out into the world and get over myself…
So in January/February of this year (2018) I started making a kind of concept album - sounds arsey, but I wanted it to have an element of story-telling to it. I used GarageBand on my iPad and recorded 7 demo songs for an album called ‘Domum Novum’ - a kind of love-letter to philosophical, Asimov/Lem/Herbert/2001 sci-fi about a man sent from a dying Earth to scout a new planet. I had been working with the amazing band Ships, being an old friend of one half - Simon Cullen - and I sent the songs to them to see what they thought. They were great at giving me feedback, and, for me, all-important encouragement. Basically, it wasn’t shit. But I still had the fear.
I stalled on putting anything out in to the public, using the excuse that they were just demos and I should wait until I recorded them properly. But finding the time and resources to do that was hard, and it would require being properly pro-active about it and, really, would commit me to showing them to the world and that scared the bejaysus out of me. So they remained as demos, on the computer, shared with only my folks, brothers and closest friends (ie people who, with the very best of intentions, are going to like it no matter what).
Then last Friday I had some wine. And, with my grape-infused, devil-may-care attitude decided to put out one of the tracks on my private Facebook group. I woke the next morning expecting to implode with cringes, delete the posts before too many people laughed and never drink again. But, people were kind. They were encouraging. And, they liked the music! Hooray.. So shared some more. And Our Wanderer was born..
I am still self-conscious about it (maybe why I’m using a moniker instead of my own name). But I am not going to let that stop me putting it out anymore. I’m going to make more too, and slowly get my musical mojo back. I have another outlet for my wandering mind (not just a weird moniker you see). It’s something I love doing even more than graphic art or writing, and I won’t let any kind of fear effect my pleasure in making it, even if some people do think it’s crap. And I’ll be able to show my daughters that you shouldn’t be self-conscious about anything - just do what you love, don’t worry about what anyone thinks and express yourself in whatever way you want.
Oh and don’t rely on booze (or anything else) for false confidence….