This is a story that I've probably told you if I know you or even if we met briefly over the past two and a half years. It's the story about how the music came and what led me to the Disco Tree. If somebody had told me 10 years ago or even 5 or 3 years ago that I would one day release an album at 35 years old and an album I am SINGING on at that, I would have laughed. It is the last thing I would have ever imagined. I didn't sing... I couldn't read or write music... And I wouldn't know WHERE to start in a production studio with all those scary switches and buttons... Music production just wasn't part of my repertoire. Having trained as a fashion designer, I spent my 20s and early 30s run off my feet working on various fashion businesses and projects. I always felt out of breath and guilty if I wasn't doing something to do with one of my too many businesses. Even if watching TV, I would have to be making something, designing something or working on a website. And if I wasn't working, I was out partying or socialising but there was no in-between. No down time. No time to look in. It was too uncomfortable to sit still. I always felt I had to be helping someone or going somewhere, reaching for something... To be the person I thought I should be and achieve the things I thought I should achieve... And if I wasn't out of breath while doing so or under a huge pressure, I thought I wasn't pushing myself hard enough.
Things changed shortly after my 33rd birthday however and I owe this to one of my best friends. When I was 11 years old, my family moved from Dublin to Limerick, a smaller city in the south west of Ireland. It was a tough move. As the Canadian kid who had finally settled into life in Dublin and had made a wonderful group of friends there, I was now the Dublin kid in Limerick, with a doubly alien accent and had to fight all sorts of prejudices about issues that I had not ever previously been aware of. The first day of school at a new school is a stomach-churning experience and even though you pretend if you must, you never get used to it. It did not make a difference that I had already been the new girl at least 5 times before during my primary school years and it certainly did not help that my teacher singled me out through a list of differences by way of definition and introduction to the class.
I was a curiosity, a foreigner and was bombarded with all sorts of questions and affirmations of my difference at the break times. However, after school, I fell into step with a girl called Yolanda. She seemed seemed very cool and I was flattered that she asked where I lived and offered to walk home with me. Unlike what I received from some of the others in the class, there was no inquisition from her. Only an openness, kindness and complete acceptance. For two kids who had never met before, we certainly had a lot to talk about and the discovery of our mutual love for Michael Jackson sealed the deal for me. I knew we would be good friends and I knew that because of this, things would be okay in this new school, this new town... Of course, I didn't know the extent of our friendship at the time but 24 years later, I am lucky to count her as one of my best friends. Although we went to different schools after that one year and our lives do not intertwine that much on a surface level, we have always kept in touch and there has always been a spiritual parallel between our journeys.
While I have always had a connection with "the other side" and had an interest in the spiritual realm, moving from fairly devout Irish Catholicism to learning about Wicca, The Tarot, Astrology and Dream Analysis in my teens, moving to crystals, energy fields and The Kabbalah as an adult (and I apply and dip in and out of it all), I would say that Yolanda has taken a more dedicated approach to different schools of spiritual practices and wisdom. She is a qualified yoga teacher and Reiki healer and while our lessons and challenges in this life are similar, she always seems to be a little further ahead on the path and always turns back to share her insights and offer me guidance whenever she learns something new. Sometimes these nuggets of wisdom are things I am not ready for or interested in so when she sent me a YouTube link to a guided meditation on self-love in the spring of 2015, it took weeks of her reminding me to try it before I actually did.
Apart from the odd guided meditation in a yoga class or religion class back in school, meditation was not something I did or understood the point of and as I mentioned, I rarely took time out to sit still. However, that year, I had decided to take a quiet Easter weekend in London instead of joining my family and 100+ cousins for our annual Easter holiday in Ireland. I was craving time out although it wasn't going to be a complete hermit weekend as Sofia, another dear friend, had invited me to a John Talabot all-nighter down in Brixton on the Holy Thursday night. On the evening of Ash Wednesday, however, I thought of the meditation that Yolanda had sent me and knowing I would be seeing her the following evening at John Talabot and as I didn't want to tell her again that I hadn't listened to it yet, I opened up the link and pressed play as I fell asleep. I wouldn't even say I listened to the meditation properly - I was sleepy and Sarah Hall's voice is hypnotic but the next day, I experienced a major shift. Work went smoothly. One of my bosses who had been giving me a hard time in the office was back to his kindest self but an even more remarkable thing was that I heard from 6 people all around the world that I wasn't regularly in touch with out of the blue. Two of them were love interests from the past quite randomly suddenly reaching out to say hello, two of them were a married couple living in Spain who spontaneously wrote to me about how highly they valued our friendship and asked me to be a godmother to their 3rd child and two of them were close friends living across the world in Vietnam and Hong Kong who had coincidentally also chosen that day to write. While it is not that unusual to hear from someone out of the blue, to have 6 reach out with thoughts and love in the one day was quite something!
When I told Yolanda that evening in the bar we all went to before John Talabot that I finally listened to the meditation the night before, she asked me had I noticed anything different today and when I told her about all the people reaching out, she laughed said, "Oh yes, that happens!" Apparently I had unblocked something and she warned me that interesting things would continue to happen. But nothing could have prepared me for what happened the next day. After returning home from John Talabot at breakfast time the next morning, I woke up at around 3 o'clock that afternoon and there was music in my head but it was not music from the night before or music I had ever heard. This was new music. I could hear a beat and a melody and a voice... I am not sure if it is right to say the music was in my head... It sounded more like it was in the air but not coming from a sound system on earth... It was coming from a place between here and the other side and I wanted to catch it before it passed. I remembered seeing a keyboard on the Apple iPad TV adverts and I thought if I could find it, maybe I would be able to play out the melody and record it. I rummaged around for the iPad mini that my brothers and sisters had kindly given me for my birthday the month before and opened up Garage Band. I found the keyboards and tried all the different synths until I came to the one that sounded like the one was hearing and played out the melody and recorded it. Then I went into the drum-kits and created a beat. It was all so intuitive and within 20 minutes, I had created the beginnings of "My Love", my first ever composition and the first track of the album. And then more sounds came through and I started more projects. That afternoon, exhausted, slightly hungover and left to my own devices in the silence of a deserted London on Good Friday, I laid the foundations for not just "My Love" but also what became "Hear The Call", "To The Sun" and "Disco Tree".
I continued to meditate and the music continued to come through so fast - it is definitely the quickest, most intuitive creative process I have ever experienced. My iPad mini soon became my most treasured possession. It was my sound sketchbook that I carried almost everywhere in case I ever "heard" a melody or a beat I needed to catch. And I also listened back relentlessly to everything I recorded so I could mould and fine-tune as I went along. While I was working full-time at the time, once I came home, I closed the door on the world and entered this new world of music where I didn't need much sleep and I didn't need much food. It was a new energy that carried me forward and seemed to help everything else in my life flow. I felt more at peace. There was no need to constantly feel out of breath anymore and yet I got things done. By the end of that summer, I had about 20 unfinished tracks and 4 which I considered finished enough to release on an EP, Sun + Moon on the Autumn equinox that September. Of course, anyone who's ever created anything knows that beginning something is a much faster process than finishing it. For over a year, I felt and told people that my first album was 90% finished but that's another story.
As already explained in the About page, the passion and ear for music was already there but it took the meditation to unlock it and melt the blocks inside that were stopping me from delving within. Saying that, I wouldn't say I found the music within - only the receptors to inspiration and the willingness, openness and energy to create. Everything about the music has been based on guidance from above, from the sounds to the lyrics to the names for the songs and the logo and name for Channel 11 itself. And all that is also another story. Today I just wanted to share the very beginnings of the musical process itself and thank those who made it happen - Yolanda, my soul sister for passing me the meditation keys (and for singing on "Rise"), my beautiful friend Sofia for luring me out to a techno all-nighter (I am sure John Talabot's set had something to do with reigniting my love for electronic music so I am grateful to him too!) and my wonderful brothers and sisters, James, Catherine, Christine and Ciaran for providing me with the "instruments" to channel the inspiration when it first struck.
There are dozens of others I also have to thank and will do in due course as I write more about the stories behind this incredible and unexpected journey. I am so overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement that I am finally at the stage of sending "Disco Tree" out into the world.