I’ve been debating what to write about here, but as it has been just under a month since I announced my upcoming debut album, ‘The Eternal Rocks Beneath’ and released the first single, ‘Indigo’, it seemed fitting to share some reflections on what the last few weeks have involved, as well as a little more about the song itself and the release process.
Indigo is actually one of my oldest songs – I can’t remember exactly when I wrote it, but I can’t have been more than 16 or 17. When I first went into the studio to try and record some of these tracks (something I’ll perhaps share more about at a later date), Indigo was one of the songs that I didn’t really have any great hope for. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I suppose it’s just easy to get bored of songs you sing a lot, and as I have been opening my sets with Indigo for the past few years, it had lost some of its spark for me. I think the lyrics betray how young I was when I wrote it too. It dwells quite heavily on natural and mystical imagery, which was something I had grown accustomed to when listening to old folk music as a child, but something I have moved away from a little more as I’ve grown older. However, one of the greatest things about going into the studio for the first time, and with very few expectations, is the chance to experiment with your sound, try different things, and breathe new life into old songs – and that’s exactly what happened with Indigo. It went from being the slightly quavery song I would use to open my set and settle my nerves to suddenly being reborn with a new delicate power that came as a complete surprise. The drums gave it a new drive and hypnotic rhythm, whilst the strings helped it swell and build to a new climax. My favourite part of recording is adding harmonies, and I had a really great time with this one; layering up the vocals little by little until the final, jubilant chorus. I suppose what I am trying to say, is that Indigo went from being a song that I really didn’t care much for and was quite ready to put on the if-I-have-time-to-fill-in-a-long-set pile, to one that has become a favourite.
Even the abstract, dreamy lyrics sit better with me now. I have remembered why I wrote them and what I was trying to portray. I sometimes wonder whether it’s better not to tell people what songs are about, as one of the things I like most about performing music is knowing that everyone listening will make their own interpretations and relate it to their own experiences and circumstances. I can’t help but feel that explaining songs is a little like a magician giving away his tricks. However, what I will say is that Indigo was loosely inspired by an old tree in the village I grew up in, Alvechurch. It had fallen a long time ago and lay sprawled out across the top of a hill – a big pile of glorious, sun-warmed limbs. Myself and my childhood friend would often go there to play on it, and later in my teens I would sometimes walk up and lurk in its shadows for a furtive smoke, but one day the council got rid of it altogether. No longer did its body drape itself across the field to act as a climbing frame for kids or a spot to stop and think. I always thought that was a great shame, so I suppose Indigo was one way of memorialising this old monument, as well as a reflection on the other transient elements of childhood…something I think the album as a whole touches on a lot. I suppose that makes sense, seeing as this album contains so many of the early songs I wrote during my teens. It’s almost a way of packaging up this chapter of my life and drawing a line beneath it. The eternal rocks beneath – the foundations of what has been and the bedrock for whatever follows next.
It’s been really wonderful to see the response this old song of mine has had. Putting new music out is always a scary process that leaves you feeling very exposed and vulnerable, but I’ve found announcing this album and releasing this first song particularly nerve-wracking. I suppose these songs have just been sitting there for so long that it felt quite difficult to let it go and take the plunge in confirming its release. Of course, having Navigator Records behind me has been very reassuring – it makes a big difference to have a team of people behind you who love the record and believe in what you’re doing. Anyway, seeing all the wonderful comments and messages has been wonderful and has assuaged most of my nerves. It was also wonderful to hear it being played on BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music and other national stations. Somehow it made it feel more real hearing it sandwiched in between songs I know and love, and I don’t think I’ll EVER get over the thrill of hearing people say my name on the radio. Perhaps the most surprising development was seeing Indigo be featured in a Youtube video by an ‘influencer’. I’ve never had a run in with an influencer before, but Isabel Paige got in touch and said she loved the song and wanted to use a clip in her next video that documents her life in an isolated tiny home she built in the mountains. Her videos are very peaceful and an interesting insight into her way of life, so I was happy to oblige, but I wasn’t really prepared for the response I would get. I immediately gained about 4000 views on my video and around 100 comments from lovely young bohemian types gushing with all sorts of spiritual, and very kind, feedback. It’s astonishing the sort of platform folks like Isabel Paige have, and the power they have in promoting others. I guess that’s why they call them influencers! But yes, it was very unexpected and very lovely. You can watch her video by clicking here.
Anyway, I realise I have rambled on for much longer than I intended and it is late and I am tired. But it has felt quite nice (and quite self-indulgent) to spill some thoughts about the song out into this little virtual vacuum. The second single, Eurydice, is due to be released on Friday and I am very excited – it’s definitely my favourite song on the album. So perhaps we’ll catch up sometime after that?