|Posted on 17 April, 2019 at 4:15|
The SINGLE best thing about what I do is the variety. As a self-employed person I find all sorts of opportunities come my way. Playing the oboe has opened up the world for me in a way that I didn’t forsee. I’d never have considered going to Hong Kong, let alone the possibility of living there for 3 years which I did in my 20s. I’ve done tours to China, Japan, Qatar, even Siberia, AND I’ve been part of a production of the Tempest at the St Magnus Festival in Orkney, wearing full costume and body make up. I love the fact that I’m able to make a living in such an unusual way, particularly unusual in that instance!
Do you have a creative hero/ heroine, and if so, why?
Yes. Kate Bush. She’s a one off. She has her own style and her voice is extraordinary. She has artistic integrity, she uses literature as inspiration, always putting herself in other people’s shoes because “other people are more interesting than me” (her words). She experiments with sound, collaborating amongst others with a Bulgarian singing trio, Nigel Kennedy and a viol consort: nothing is off limits to her. I saw her in concert a few years ago. She imitated bird song live on stage. Convincingly. There aren’t many artists who could carry that off. The only thing that bothers me is that it’s so difficult to sing along with her because her voice is so extraordinary and mine isn’t.
What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?
I suppose what might have been (and still would be) useful is Rule no 3) of the rules for life from “Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination” by Helen Fielding - “no-one is thinking about you, they’re thinking about themselves, just like you”. That would have been useful to have heard. I’m not sure though, that that really counts as advice, as I think advice is someone telling you to do something. And I’m not sure I’d have taken any advice! Someone said to me just as I was leaving music college and starting to establish myself in the music profession to work out how much money I need to survive and only take on enough work to cover my bills, so that I still have time to practise. I’ve really stuck to that. All the stuff I’ve learnt as a musician, all the resilience to keep going in spite of inevitable rejections, how to be employable, how to find work etc, I’ve learnt as I’ve gone along. I’ve always been someone who learns by doing: I typically do very little research and discover by feeling my way. But that bit of advice has stood me in good stead. It’s kept me prioritising my playing.
If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?
Keep going. If it feels pointless, do the smallest amount that you need to do, a “snapshot” amount of work. Then you’re maintaining the discipline of creativity, and the spark will re-emerge when it’s ready. Also, take time off! I find if I have time off and am at home with time to potter about doing everyday stuff I start having more and more ideas, and if I’m busy working my brain is too cluttered with logistics so there’s no room for anything else.
If you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?
I actually think I own the shoe that is me - or very similar anyway... Suede. Almost a court shoe, but softer and a wedge. Comfortable, but not too comfortable. Elegant, yet casual. And blue-grey or blue-green. A colour you might not think twice about, but when you look again you’re drawn in by it. Why? Understated. You might miss me unless you’re looking for me, you might pass me by. But there’s substance and style there. And an ease about me, but balanced by a certain amount of questioning.
Categories: Take Five