Music & Life

The Story Behind ‘On And On’

On And On was one of the last stories I gathered and unlike Four Weeks (Hyperlink to last blog) this one definitely resisted being born. It tells the story of a young woman, single, director of her own company and homeowner, who once earned a living taking her clothes off for paying customers.

She told me stories of the corruption and what can only described as prostitution that went on in the stripping industry. Of girls agreeing to meet clients after work for more money. Of girls tricking guys into paying more with the promise of post work connections and then sneaking off home without fulfilling their part of the deal. Of girls allowing guys to break the ‘no touching’ rule in the hope that they would receive a big tip. Of girls paying off the bouncer with oral pleasure so that he didn’t mark down their private dances and thus they would avoid paying commission to the club. These were all risks and violations that she ‘hand upon her heart’ never did. When asked, what was the strangest thing you have ever done, she replied: “One guy, during a private dance, asked me to spit into his mouth. It was so strange but he agreed to pay another £100 if I did it, so I tried my best to muster up some spit… I had the driest mouth and I was struggling to get any saliva up.” It took her a while but she managed to complete his strange request after all and got her £100 as promised.

Aside from all these eye-opening stories that she told the thing that grabbed my attention the most was the battle of dominance that went on between her and the client. It struck me that in a world in which you would assume the male was the dominant by character, in fact the female actually held a significant level of control. The job is essentially women being ogled at by men and being paid to take their clothes of and dance around for men. You would be forgiven for thinking that females were the weaker species here. But in many cases, you would be wrong. When I talked with this young woman it became clear that the power actually jumped continuously between the two of them during the course of their interaction. I found this to be very true to every day life for most of us: The male/female divide; the constant comparison and competition between the sexes and the way in which we use our sexuality to manipulate each other. The stripping environment held a magnifying glass to the subject!

With the artwork for On And On we wanted to capture the sexual nature of the manipulation between them combined with the battle of wills. We opted for skeletons because they are of indeterminate sex. I found the subjects in this story to display androgynous characteristics. I always like to see barriers broken when it comes to gender stereotypes so I wanted to enhance this in all aspects of the song; from audio to video and to the artwork itself. We also wanted to portray the alternating dominance between the stripper and her client which was tricky with a static piece of work; To do this we positioned our models in a pose that could be concluded as both sexual or aggressive.

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Although the topic of stripping may seem somewhat derogatory to women I wanted to approached it with a sense of female empowerment and do justice to the strength and drive of this young women, who now, 5 years on from her stripping career is an accomplished business women with her own property and company all through her own hard work and self belief. Having said that I still wanted to capture the sordid and sexual nature of it. Which I believe is where the problem lay…

When I began putting this story into song I had the notion of ‘girl power’ in mind and it just became a bit of a cheesy pop song! This was not at all reflective of the subject matter, I wrote, and rewrote and rewrote again and eventually I was left with about 5 or 6 half finished attempts and the idea for a song that didn’t really know what it wanted to be. Needless to say we parted ways for a while.

It wasn’t until I got into the studio with Dan Goudie that I was really able to give it the life it has now. By this point, Dan and I had a few songs under our belt and we had carved out a solid, trusting working relationship, which enable us both to take more risks than maybe we would have on day one. I explained the situation with the song to Dan, I talked him through the story of the young woman and he set to work on a beat as I sat attempting to write and rewrite more lyrics. Struggling still I was getting frustrated with both myself and the song, had I read the book ‘Big Magic’ before then, I may have just taken a moment to have a strong talking to my ‘inspiration’ and tell it to ‘show up and do their part’ because I am here slogging away trying to make this work while it was seemingly nowhere to be found! Then Dan’s beat came together and it was like a light was switched on, like the song had been waiting there in the shadows the whole time and this beat was like a huge floodlight that exposed every inch of it. I wrote and wrote and ‘On And On’ was FINALLY born!

 

Watch On And On performed live for Band Vault TV.

Lyrics and Artwork below:

 

ON AND ON

Watch them hover round for a fallen glass

Are you gonna make me dance

Tailored to a roll in this tender war

Let me leave you wanting more

 

We lost we made on and on and on

Power display on and on and on

Private vultures on and on and on

Dry mouth conscious on and on and on

 

You don’t want to play that game

Hand upon my heart I will make you pay

Dripping down into your mouth

You are gonna freak me out

 

Hands on straight laced on and on and on

I turn you may on and on and on

Two faced drink first on and on and on

Six hour secrets on and on and on

 

on and on and on

on and on and on

on and on and on

on and on and on

 

Witness every inch of me

Feed me with your fantasy

Now you are mine

Elevating masculinity

Covering your fallacy

Trolling your mind

 

We lost we made on and on and on

Power display on and on and on

Two faced drink first on and on and on

Six hour secrets on and on and on

 

Come up on distortion fall every night

Independent parasites

My nails down your back hold you to the vow

You’ll repay the debt somehow

You cannot tell the colour of my eyes

Intentions overcast your sight

Line up in daylight and I’ll pick you out

Forcing you to take a bow.

 

 

“What if they had the opportunity to tell their story…”

I am reading this book at the moment called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, in it she talks about ideas being a “disembodied, energetic life-form.” She goes on to say: “ideas spend eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing human partners.” I really love this analogy. I think any creative person who has ever created something will understand that mystical, magical feeling of not really knowing where it came from and certainly not feeling like it came from you; That feeling that it was indeed some sort of outer body experience that you had little control over. Elizabeth tells the story of an American Poet named Ruth Stone whom she met with when she was nearly 90 years old. Ruth recalled to Elizabeth how she would experience ideas: “she would sometimes hear a poem coming towards her- hear it rushing across the landscape at her, like a galloping horse. Whenever this happened, she knew exactly what she had to do next: She would “run like hell” toward the house, trying to stay ahead of the poem, hoping to get to a piece of paper and pencil fast enough to catch it. That way when the poem reached her and passed through her, she would be able to grab it and take dictation, letting the words pour forth onto the page.” Now, just as Elizabeth goes on to say, not every idea comes to you like this, sometimes it is a hard old slog and you have to sit there prising it out of yourself, exploring many different avenues before you get there. Both of those are true for my song ‘Four Weeks’.

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From the first day I began writing music I wanted to write a song about losing my Dad to cancer. I wanted to capture the joy I got from the 11 years I spent with my Father and also the pain I felt when he passed. I wanted to set my feelings free into the world for no other reason than I could; I am a songwriter this is my therapy and this is how I exist. I have several, very awful attempts and several very awful songs that I have banished to the land where no one hears. It wasn’t until I stopped trying to write this song that I had my ‘Ruth Stone moment’; Sat in Rhys’ (my co-writer) living room having a writing session for a whole other song; Rhys played a few chords on the piano and something just rushed through me, I could hear it coming and with an air of panic and excitement I just said to Rhys; “Keep Playing that” I moved closer to the piano and put pen to paper, writing the lyrics in pretty much the exact order and state in which they now reside. The melody too just flowed from us both! We couldn’t believe what was happening or how it was happening; the song I had been trying to write for years and years was finally being written, right in front of me, and I didn’t really know where it was coming from!

To this day, that song still has its very own life. I cannot take credit for it for I feel, just like Elizabeth does, that it came from some external forces outside of me. It speaks to people still, the way that it spoke to me that day and whilst it has a very real connection to me and it is without a doubt the most personal and emotionally exposing song I have ever written (Read my open letter to my deceased Dad), it still speak to others as if it were written for them, about them… and I believe it was! The reaction I get when people hear it forever cements this belief of mine.
People would always talk to me after gigs about the song and divulge their inner thoughts about their most personal experiences. I also began to receive messages from people who had heard it online:

“Four Weeks is the most beautiful song, I’m sorry you lost your dad, I have too and that song is a comfort somehow.“

“…I haven’t been allowed or had chance to grieve and I was the most surprised when tears started rolling down my cheeks and the memories I’d hidden away came flooding back. Seriously, even today I’m feeling a bit released from the pain I’d been hiding… Anyway I’ll try and put into words but didn’t think I’d be in a position to thank someone I hardly know for genuinely helping me sort of move on in so many ways… and if I never see you again, for what ever reason, I thank you…“

I feel a deep sense of joy when receiving these messages but not in an egotistical way. I feel in no way responsible for the comfort and release that these people and others have experienced from Four Weeks. I just feel joy that whatever external force it was that wrote this song, it came me that day and Rhys and I were able to give it life. Elizabeth says; “Ideas are driven by a single impulse; to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner.” I am not the only person to have lost their Dad to cancer, nor am I the only songwriter to go through that so I thank that idea for choosing me as its collaborator.

After many years of writing songs… I began to feel a little self involved in my music, always writing about my heartache, my own experience of the world and the journey I am on. These messages and conversations I had as a result of Four Weeks, gave me another idea (Maybe this was why Four Weeks was written): Music is an outlet for me, a therapy if you will, Four Weeks has given people that same outlet even though it was not directly written about their experience. That is the beauty of music, I know we all know that feeling, when you listen to a song and it’s as if it was written about you! But what if it was, what if they had the opportunity to tell their story through a song. Release their daemons into the world through music, delve deeply into their journey during the writing process and discover things about themselves that they never knew, let go of things they didn’t know they were still holding onto and share their pain with others who may, like Four Weeks, have experienced something similar…

So I set out in search of stories, in search of people, in search of songs…

Click here to see Four Weeks performed live in session with RoadTwo

 

The Story Behind my new single ‘Stare At Me’

At the age of 20 I was diagnosed with a Teratoma, it was sitting just behind my sternum undiagnosed since before the day I was born. Teratoma’s are congenital and are usually benign. I am happy to say that this was true for my Teratoma but none the less it was taking up a lot of room in my chest causing me a great deal of pain and problems with my breathing so it had to be removed. Though it took us around 2 years to discover it from the day that it began to cause me problems; once discovered I was referred straight to Addenbrookes Hospital for a biopsy and then subsequently onto Papworth Hospital for a Median Sternotomy. I was left with what is more affectionately called a ‘zipper’ scar: the full length of my sternum, along with a biopsy scar around 2 inches on my right breast and a few other little ones around my torso from various different drainage tubes and such like. At this time in my life I was attending a stage school in Cambridge called Bodywork. Whilst I have very fond memories of my time there, as you can imagine, this was a difficult place to be when coming to terms with the new additions to my body…

My Scar

I did a big charity shop run with every item of clothing that didn’t hide my scar and replaced them with a wardrobe of high-necked tops/dresses and leotards for dance. I had scarfs for all occasions and as I became more inventive with hiding my scar, my large costume jewellery collection also grew along with some very expensive camouflage make-up concealer! I recall one morning; I was in the shower, I had not long had my dressings removed; As I began to wash my chest I closed my eyes but I could feel the scar all bumpy and uneven. I opened my eyes and looked down at my once untarnished, smooth skin to see what, at the time I thought was the ugliest scar I had ever seen and I just sobbed. I started scrubbing as hard as I could, wishing that I could just wash it off and be ‘normal’ again…

I would like to tell that young girl what I know now; I am and always will be eternally grateful to my Teratoma, for it gave me the life I have now! I can put my hand on my scar-covered heart and honestly say that without that experience I would not live my life the way that I do now. It gave me an understanding of just how precious and fragile it really is and it taught me what really matters. This has only grown as I have and it continues to grow with every day and every new experience.

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I never wrote a song about my scar; maybe it was too difficult but more poignantly I think I just didn’t want people to pity me.

It was Christmas time and I was home with my family, a few years on from my operation and now with a little more confidence to occasionally lower the neckline of my clothing. Katie Piper– ‘My Beautiful Face’ was on the telly and I was glued. It was a documentary of a beautiful young girl who experience a horrific ‘revenge’ attack from an ex boyfriend. He hired someone to throw acid in her face and she was left with terrible burns that deformed her once ‘picture perfect’ face. After watching it I initially felt guilty for the shame and embarrassment I had felt over my measly scar that I could easily cover with various different ‘costumes’ I’d perfected. I wanted to stand up and shout about my scar and shamelessly present it to the world in honour of those people whose scars and disfigurements were not disguisable. I guess this song (Stare At Me) was my way of doing that. Katie Piper subsequently brought out a documentary called ‘My Beautiful Friends’ where she met many people with various different disfigurements. She showed perfectly their beauty within and opened our eyes to their world. It was as if our desires united with our scars. Although my scar pales in comparison, it was my journey and my experience of it; Of people pointing and staring, talking and looking at me with this face of disgust, confusion or pity; Of children brazenly and beautifully asking their parents what it was on my chest and their parents shushing them as if it was something so taboo that it could not be discussed.

Stare At Me was written from my experiences but was born from my desire to change people’s views of scars and disfigurements. I wanted to tell people that it’s ok to talk openly about it instead of averting your eyes in the hope that we won’t see you staring….

When I was writing the lyrics for this song I wanted to make my point without sounding argumentative, defensive or confrontational. Whilst the staring and pointing was a big part of my struggle to come to terms with my scar and have the confidence not to hide myself. I also understand that in many cases it comes from a place of compassion and a lack of understanding of the appropriate response. Even with my scar, I still don’t always ‘get it right’ but I just act from an honest place and hope that my heart is felt.

 

The most important thing is not to fear someone who looks different.

 

As this song grew into its own and I performed it more and more I began to realise, this is not just a song for people with scars and disfigurements but for everyone who has ever felt judged or discriminated for their physical appearance. Which, lets face it, is pretty much all of us right? We are, at times such a superficial society and we place importance on appearance in such a way that prohibits us from truly loving and accepting our bodies and ourselves. Stare At Me is written with hope that it will help even one person love themselves and all their imperfections unconditionally, for they are what make us unique and beautiful.

Stare At Me is out today (18/11/16) to coincide with #AntiBullyingWeek. 50% of all the money made will go to The Katie Piper Foundation. ‘Helping to create a world where scars do not limit a person’s function, social inclusion or sense of well being.’

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Click bellow to listen to Stare At Me:

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Dear Dad….

Dear Dad

I know I normally talk to you in my thoughts but today I felt like writing you a letter. I hope it still makes its way to you;

I was sat in Kate’s conservatory the other day and we were brainstorming ideas for a joint art project we are doing to accompany my album. To help us with our creation we were listening to my half finished, almost ready, pretty much there, I just need to let go and stop picking at it, album and my song ‘Four Weeks’ came on. This is a song I wrote with Rhys about 7 or 8 years ago. It’s about the moment that Mum sat Gemma and I down to tell us that we were going to have to say goodbye to you. That the man who had loved us unconditionally, with his whole heart and always made us smile was going to be taken away very shortly. You were laying down in the bedroom and we ran in and gave you the biggest hug in the world.
Now, at 31 years of age I understand the true gravity of the task that mum had to undertake. I cannot imagine how she must have felt having to say those words to her two daughters. To this day I am so proud of her for being so strong and being able to put her fears and sadness to one side and support Gemma and I in what felt like the end of our world… Let me tell you she devoted her life to doing just that, always putting our happiness before her own, words do not do it justice; she is an amazing mum and a wonderful friend and everyday I feel lucky to have her.

So, as I was telling you; we we’re in Kate’s conservatory being all creative and it was scorching hot! I think judging by the weather now, it was actually our last day of summer. Had we known that we might’ve got our bikini’s on and sat in the garden, instead we were doing our best not to be uber British and complain about the heat so we simply sat and suffered, inappropriately dressed, drinking copious amounts of tea, chasing the shaded area around the room as the sun moved across the sky (I guess that’s still pretty British!). As ‘Four Weeks’ played, Kate turned to me and said; “This song gets me every time, I don’t know how you do it.” And as she spoke her eyes filled with tears. “Now I am a mother I just cannot imagine how…” She didn’t finish her sentence but I knew what she meant. I wandered over to her and hugged her tightly. “This is silly” she said “I can’t believe you are comforting me about this song”.

But that’s just it Dad, that moment right there is why I do it.

Music has such an indescribable power that we all know and understand no matter where we are from. I have had so many powerful responses to this song and still it amazes me. It has taken on a life of its own and has a power beyond anything both Rhys and I had ever hoped for. It became the inspiration for me to write my album the way I have.
I decided to redo the vocal for Four Weeks and put it on the album. It has never really been given the light it deserves and it just felt right to give it the opportunity to be heard especially as without it I would not be making this album this way. I like to think that in someway it’s you, still in my heart and mind, guiding me as I grow. Should the album be a complete flop with no radio play or record sales/downloads at all (after I have cried my own body weight in tears) I will look back at this moment and remember that that really isn’t what it’s all about.

Yesterday when Mum came over for lunch she dropped off an old cd wallet she had found. It was full of my old cd collection. I had a long drive today so I decided to spend the time listening to them all and I can tell you I have been on a journey; from old boyfriends (some you would’ve approved of and some you wouldn’t) to old friends, from college years to uni, from nights out to nights in, from old best friends to… Well I still have the same best friends! It’s funny how a song can take you right back to a moment; you can experience every detail of that past moment captured right there in the song: the sounds, smells, people, thoughts and feelings. I don’t know how it does it but it does. I know it’s something we all experience for both happy memories and sad and it’s one of the many things I love about music!
After my cd marathon I was feeling pretty nostalgic so on the train home I had the urge to listen to Four Weeks. Sometimes without my control you come into my head and I have to listen to a song and remember a moment just to be close to you again. Often when I listen to Four Weeks and especially when I sing it, I have found a way to disconnect a little, almost like I am watching the story unfold rather than being a part of it, I think I do it without realising just to get through the song… But sat on the train with no distractions I closed my eyes and just allowed myself to really listen to my words; There I was… right there… 11years old, sat down next to mum with Gem sat the other side of her, about to hear the words we knew were coming but we hoped with all our hearts would never come true… Maybe a public train was not the best place for this but nonetheless I just had to write you a letter. I miss you Dad. I want you to hear me sing, I want to sit down next to you and play you my album and see the pride in your eyes. I want to tell you how amazing mum has been and how proud you should be of her. I want you to see how close and inseparable me and Gem are and how much support and love all three of us have for our little family. I want to introduce you to my nephew, your wonderful grandson and have you play silly jokes on him like you did with us. I want you to wake me up each morning singing at the top of your voice as you pull the covers off me and drag me out of bed to get up and make the most of my day; “oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way…”! But most of all I just want you to sweep mum up in your arms and tell her she’s doing great!

It never gets easier to miss you but I promise with all my heart each morning I will throw my bed covers off, drag myself out of bed and make the most of my day!

Lots of love and hugs,
Your daughter,
Sian x

P.S. I got so engrossed in writing this letter to you that I missed my connection back to Bristol! But you know what, it doesn’t matter because an hour alone with you was worth it.

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CHOICES

These last few weeks I have been faced with a lot of big decisions that have had to be made very fast! In this situation you have to rely on your gut.

Unfortunately though, when there is so much riding on it you begin doubt that feeling inside, that unexplainable sensation that tells us whether something is right or wrong, good or bad, beneficial or detrimental.

I think ultimately our lives are made up of a whole bunch of choices, from the friends we make to the friends we keep, from the places we visit to the places we stay, from the partner we leave to the one we commit to, its all a choice and we are the ones that have the final say. So why do we find ourselves being influenced so heavily by the opinion of others? Why do we do what we think others want us to do or behave in a way that we think others will perceive as morally correct? I am sure we are all guilty of it on some level. We are the ones that have to live with our choices so we should be the ones that are driving them.

I am a 31-year-old childless, unmarried singer. Now what does society say about that? What would society have me believe? ‘Your body-clock is ticking and you should definitely start having children now’. ‘You’ve been with your boyfriend 6 years… When are you getting married?’. ‘You are 31 you are basically too old to be a singer now, you are passed it and no one will want to buy your music if you don’t have a toned stomach and the face of a 16-year-old. You should get a ‘real job”. It is hard when we are faced with all these opinions and ideals to focus our minds on our own morals and beliefs and see clearly what it is that we want! I think ultimately when making a decision you are taking a risk. You are saying, here world, this is what I want, this is what I believe in and if it all falls down around me then I will still feel happy and proud of myself for trying.

I am not in any way saying that we should lay out our values, morals and believes and live by them for the rest of our lives, never being influenced by the world around us or the people in it. Far from it; learn from others, listen to others, hear their thoughts and then decide what is right for you. We don’t stop learning just because leave school. Every day is a lesson in something. Just because we are not sat behind a white board with our class mates pretending to listen to the teacher while scribbling ‘I heart Dan Hindmarsh I.D.S.T.'(that’s If Destroyed Still True incase you didn’t know.) on our pencil-case, it’s still a lesson… We just get to choose the curriculum. Another choice!

My best friend wrote her first blog the other day and it came at the time that I was having to make all these big decisions that I talked about earlier. It inspired me completely to take the risk and know that it really isn’t a life or death situation. It is just part of the journey and an experience that will in whatever way teach me something new. Here is a little exert from her blog that I like in which she talks about ‘Creative Risk’: “Taking a risk is scary. Risk is putting yourself, your ideas, your business out there. The danger is fear of the world rejecting or criticising you, or it all going wrong. But what if we viewed risk creativity and realised that staying the same could actually be more dangerous to us either personally or to our businesses. What if we take away the concept of fear (the danger) and see risk as a creative action to invite new experiences and opportunities into our lives and trust that it will lead us to places we simply can’t imagine.”

I stand by my choices and the reasons for making them and the ones that didn’t work out the way I hoped still taught me some valuable lessons that will shape my next choice and so on.

“How you feel in any given moment is more important than anything else, because how you feel right now is creating your life.” Rhonda Byrne

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love, love, love

Sian x

THANK YOU GLASTONBURY

I have tried to write this several times and each time the words I write don’t express the feelings I have for this place.

The unbelievable enlightenment it gives to me year upon year.

Unless you have been there it is hard to explain… you can’t quantify what it is about Glastonbury that is so spiritually enlightening.

There is just something there that makes you go…”Oh I get it now…This is what life is all about.”

Whether you are laying in a field somewhere for an afternoon nap.

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Singing your heart out at the pyramid stage.

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Dancing the night away with all your friends.

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Sat around a technicolored campfire at the stone circle.

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or stopping dead in your tracks to catch an amazing sunset.

 

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You just feel ………………………………………………………………………………….

(there are no words for that feeling)

 

So Thank You Glastonbury, every year you remind me exactly why I am doing this!

I love you! x

 

Festival Season So Far

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the festival season is in full swing!

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We started the year with Cosmic Puffin Fest, a cute little festival on Mersea Island… Having finished the album the night before I was a little worse for wear to say the least! I am really not cut out for the rock and roll lifestyle, early night and a cup of tea is what i need before a gig. But needless to say I powered through. The stage can be a very sobering place! The audience grew throughout our set, piling in and filling up our cute little tent till it was busting at the seams… We even got invited back next year! Maybe a heavy night and 2 hours sleep really is the way forward (I’m not convinced)!

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Then onto Colour Fest a non-alcoholic yoga festival (Just what the doctor ordered)! And what a wonderful festival it was; the sun was beating down so hard by the end of the day my freckles had multiplied! We had 2 slots at this festival one at 4:30pm and another at 10pm (The penultimate act on the acoustic Stage). So in between sets we indulged in 4 solid hours of laying in the middle of a field listening to live music and doing absolutely nothing! We did take a short break for some super delicious vegan food from No Bones Jones, all we were missing was a daisy chain head band, some hemp clothing and flowers painted on our faces! But seriously, I can’t recommend this festival enough. If you are a city hippy like me then this is your chance to get back to your roots and ‘explore the depths of life’. In the picturesque grounds of Lord Shaftesbury’s estate you can get involved in music, yoga, movement, massage and more… or alternatively you can remain horizontal and do virtually nothing but soak in the overwhelmingly peaceful, calming atmosphere!

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And finally; on Monday night we performed back on my home turf; Bristol. Big Green Week have set up a solar powered stage at the top of the Cascade Steps. At the mercy of the sun (which thankfully was out in all it’s glory) we were the earliest headline act in history; finishing at 7:30 just to ensure we didn’t lose power. This was quite the experience, the audience was ever changing as people passed and stopped; sat down for a song or two before carrying on with their day, passed and stopped; staying for the entire set because life’s too short to be rushing everywhere, passed and stopped; taking a quick picture or video on their smart phone (I always wonder where they end up). Beginning our performance to an audience of my mum, boyfriend, his 2 friends, my sister and nephew… At one point I would say we had around 50 people stood listening which was such a lovely feeling; knowing that they had been distracted from whatever they were doing and made the choice to stand and listen to my songs. Whether it be for one song or the whole set it was an amazing feeling and I am grateful to all of you who did that! Big shout out to Chris- the crazy Welshman who was so drunk he had fallen asleep on his train home ending up in Bristol and stumbling upon my set. I think you are the biggest fan I have, sorry we didn’t play ‘House of The Rising Sun’ for you but thanks for the dancing and I hope you made it home safe!

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Now you know whats coming next….. GLASTONBURY!!!! I will be performing backing vocals for the lovely Ruth Royall on the Sunday at 12:45 at The Pussy Parlour… and the rest of the week I will be mostly wearing wellies and listening to music in a field somewhere on Worthy Farm with my friends!

Maybe see you there. xxx

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My First Art Project

I have always loved art. I love to draw/sketch I was never so good at the painting but drawing, whether it’s with pencil, charcoal, pastels or even pen I just love it! At the beginning of last year I brought a sketch pad and decided I was going to get back into it… needles to say over a year down the line there are only 4 sketches in there. In July last year I attended a life drawing class for the first time since my school years! The class was in London(back when I was still a London local). I went with my sister who is a fantastic artist, we had such a great time it was challenging and interesting. Dan pushed us to draw different ways, using different medium and trying different techniques and there was a twist at the end. Our model was also a dancer and in the last 10 minutes he performed a contemporary dance piece butt naked as we all tried to capture his movement on paper. I really loved it and I would recommend it to anyone! Here is my favourite drawing of mine from the class. Remember it had been nearly 15 years since I last drew anything so don’t get all art critic on me:

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If you are London bound and fancy it CLICK HERE for more details. Sadly I left London in August and have not yet found an art class to attend in the West Country so that was my art days on hold for a while…

…But where there is a will there is a way…

The last time I did and art project was back in 2000 when I was taking my GCSE’s (man I feel old). But while making my album I have of course been considering how I will market it; Getting ideas for videos, performances, single releases and of course, artwork! The album itself has been such a journey I wanted the artwork to reflect that. As most of you know my album is inspired solely by the true stories of others. Each and every person as real and honest as the next. Each and every story as harrowing and triumphant as the next and each and every person a true inspiration to all of us! So I wanted the artwork to be about that. Yes, I could go and put my glad-rags on, stand in front of a camera man with someone fanning me to create the illusion of my hair blowing in the wind, then photoshop the hell out of them and call that my album cover( don’t get me wrong I bloody love a good photoshoot!)… but it doesn’t feel right for this. The album is not about me, it’s about you.

Cut a long story short I have team up with World Champion Freestyle Body Painter, my good friend Spinks. What Spinks does is transforms the human body into beautiful pictures using just her paintbrush. She is incredibly skilled at what she does and her work reflects that. My personal favourite is the Peacock, made up of 7 pairs of legs and one arm.

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Spinks and I got chatting about my album art work… I’ve been wanting to do a project with her for so so long and this seemed like the perfect opportunity! Her work is exactly in line with my album concept; Every song is created from real people and their stories and Spinks uses real people as her canvas! So it seems totally fitting… To have the artwork made up of real people too would be just totally harmonious, and you all know just how much I love harmonies!!! We will be doing a picture for each song. Every picture will reflect the meaning and lesson within the song. Where possible I am using the subject of the song as the model for the art piece to go with their song. So it truly is all intertwined in a beautifully real and creative manner. I am so so excited! Spinks and I brainstormed each song, trying to figure out exactly how we could convey the message. What imagery would create the right feel and mood for each track and how we would go about organising all the people, lights, photo’s, schedules, back drops and everything else. We have done 2 shoots so far: The 1st for my song ‘Break the Chain‘ Photographed by the amazing Compo modelled by Veronica Vrettos, Helen May and myself and 2nd just yesterday for my song ‘What Do You Learn’ modelled by Richard Brown and photographed by Spinks herself. I am already so so pleased with how it is all working out. Spinks and I are having a great time and we can’t wait to show you all. We don’t want to spoil the illusions so you will have to wait for any sneak peaks but please just trust me when I say, it’s gonna be epic! You only have to look as Spinks’ previous work and you will be as excited as I am! If you are blown away by the peacock then head over to Spinks FACEBOOK PAGE and hit ‘like’. She is awesome not only in talent but in person too!

Also you can have a little look at how she does it, just CLICK HERE to watch a time-lapse of her in action!

Lots of love and hugs,

’til next time!

Sian x

A little update

Hi all,

It’s been a busy few weeks… Since moving back to the West Country myself and the M4 have done some serious bonding! We were already good mates but now we are pretty much inseparable! I’ve been doing a lot of backing vocal work for the lovely Ruth Royall lately. We have done some amazing gigs in London and Bristol and if you haven’t come along to a gig yet your should definitely check her out. Her music is awesome and she just so happens to be a pretty nice chick too. We have been having lots of fun singing our little hearts out. Myself, Ruth and the lovely Davina Vincent recently joined a choir called London’s United Voices you can follow us on twitter @Londonsuv. We performed our first ever gig last week at spectacular Shoreditch House. It was amazing! We sang songs such at ‘Let Me Be Your Fantasy’, ‘Diamonds’, ‘Get lucky’, ‘Just Hold on’… and much more. We had loads of fun and for a harmony obsessed singer like me, it is amazing to be back in a choir again. I will let you know when we are performing any public gigs so that you can come and check us out.

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I have also been working hard on your pledges. Everyone received their Thank-You Cards last week. Thanks for all your lovely pictures. This week I have sent out the Lyric Sheets. I am already getting many wonderful messages of thanks from you all. I am so glad you are enjoying your goodies. Keep the messages and pics coming. Next week will be the Signed E.P.’s going out so if you have pledged for one of those keep your eyes on your letter box. If you haven’t brought any goodies and like the sound of something, you can still Pledge at www.pledgemusic.com/siancross

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The most exiting thing in these last few weeks by far though has been getting in the studio with some super talented musicians and working on the album. I have some really cool new toys, a Voice Live and a super-duper new microphone which I can’t wait for you all to hear at the next gig. I will be putting out some studio sneak peaks very soon.

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Graeme Foy the Multi-tasking-Man

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Kate Spinklesparks Dean padding things out with some chords.

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Miguel Andrews smashing the drums!

Bill Banwell slapping the bass

Bill Banwell slapping the bass

 

I hope you are all doing well in life and enjoying each day.

let me know what you have been up to .. come and say hi on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

Love, love, love Sian x

Leap Year- A little piece of history.

Delving under my bed I fetch out an old cardboard box. As I take it downstairs I start to reminisce over the hours, days, weeks, months even years spent making the contents of this box. All that hard work, heart ache, joy, frustration, amazement, collaboration, pride and love all encapsulated in this box… Even less than that, in one tiny round disc within the box.

What an amazing adventure it was. We started out writing songs in my bedroom just me and one other and then ended up recording with a full band in none other than Abbey Road Studios!
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My debut EP ‘Leap Year’ was released just over 2+1/2 years ago. The title was chosen for many reasons; firstly that I am born on a leap year. Secondly, I had been writing the songs for the EP for such a long time, working on them with a band and with my co writer Rhys Williams. We had recorded some of the tracks already but were not content. It had been over a year from when I had started and I found it apt that the year we were finally due to complete it was in fact a Leap Year. Thirdly, I decided to release the EP on the 29th of February (my birthday) as what better present to myself. The fourth and final reason is of course that I had hoped this would be the year that my music career took a mighty LEAP into success…

“You can fail at what you don’t want so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love” – Jim Carey

There are many reasons that this was not the case and I think the main one was direction. As a singer/songwriter you write music you love and whether you love it for the lyrics, the melody, the beat the bass line or whatever, you write it because it is part of you and part of your journey. Well these 6 songs (and many others) were written over 4 years of my life. And as I grew and evolved so did my songs. From Motown/Soul to Acoustic to Pop to Rock I was into it all and I had no idea which of those genres was truly me. I loved them all, why could I not just sing/write them all? Unfortunately this is a business and I am selling a product, once you have gone through the organic part where you create and feel your way through then you are left with a product that you must sell. Every product has a market and each market has its place; You wouldn’t see Dolly Parton supporting Metalica now would you? (well unless you are at Glastonbury of course!). So I was learning and growing, and as much as I wanted to be ready to be an ‘artist’ to make my music and perform it to millions, I was not ready. I had no idea who I, ‘Sian Cross’ was in terms of music. I had trained in musical theatre for many years and during my training I loved taking on the characters and really getting into a role as I would get to sob, laugh even dance my way through a song. And while this training has really helped me to understand what it is to perform and is undoubtedly the reason why I love the tell a story through my music, having spent so much of my youth pretending to be someone else when I sing I had never really figured out what sort of singer I was. So I decided to spend the year focusing on that instead of going out into the world with no clue what I wanted. Because, what if somebody challenged me? I wouldn’t even know what I stood for.

It’s hard to wait around for something you know might never happen; but its harder to give up when you know its everything you want.”

Having said all that, who am I to say that it was not a success? How do we really define our success? I wrote and recorded a 6 track EP at Abbey Road Studios with some amazing musicians and friends, we had an brilliant time and I learnt a lot… All self funded as I juggled 3-4 day jobs just to afford it. I have a copy of it in my hand now. It is mine. I made it. And while there are so many things I would change with hindsight, it is all part of the journey of my music and it represents a moment in my wonderful life.

“Open the door in your head and when the door opens in real life, just walk through it”- Jim Carey

So here I am now 2 years on about to record my debut album. Signing my EP’s and sending them out to all the wonderful people who pledged for them in a bid to help me fund my dream. I have worked on my voice, work on my sound and I know exactly what I want to create. I just hope you love it! But for now, here is a piece of my history. It is who I once was, it is many of my life experiences put into song and it is of course in part the inspiration for who I am now and the album I that you have so kindly and faithfully pre-ordered. Your faith and support in my music is what keeps me going. So I have and will continue to succeed in life!

“Let the universe know what you want and continue to work for it while letting go of how it comes to pass” – Jim Carey

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BBC Introducing with Tom Robinson on 6 music
 
 
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