The last year as a blur, it is time for a blog A Musicians Life – Segue. 2022 was rich post covid but extremely busy with work, uni and life. University has been intense but I have a folio of works for you to peruse below. Many intentions flew out the window as I went into catch up automaton mode, it was as if everything was on acceleration and time delay simultaneously. I will return to the Musicians Mental Health/ Well being blog focus in the future, other things are more critical at present. A snapshot of activities in teacher end of year concert mode, tracking mode and performance mode.
I found myself busy working first as a teaching artist mentor for The Songroom’s Duet program, mentoring 4 music teachers at primary school on curricula delivery, confidence building upskilling whatever they needed. The next contract was called Kaleidoscope- Songwriting for Social emotional Well being, post covid for primary school children. Last year I must have worked with close to 200 kids including my normal music students.
In parallel I moved, tripped right out due to change of sonics via studio physical dimensions and atmosphere. I have had no privacy or isolation, the world requiring more of me than ever. I am enrolled in a Bachelor of Audio Engineering and Sound Production, at JMC Academy, I will finish this year. What a wild ride. I just love production, audio arts and now have so many more opportunities to diversify and work on different sound projects, recording, production, composing, arranging, film, live work, acoustic sound specialist consults . I guess my focus has been on studio work more than anything, microphone use, mixing desk and analogue signal chains. So now its time to share some diverse work from my university folio, including rock demos, my own creative work, an ambisonics immersive audio book ‘The Days After Genesis’ and A Sound Design folio with 5 tracks. This work will be later published released. It is online for interested clients.
I hope you enjoy the following audio. My website and online presence will be completely overhauled this year as I work towards the Ep ‘All Souls Lament’, a 5 song release. There will be videos (yet to be made, however currently being conceptualized on the back burner). I will be launching live ,hopefully with a band. More on that as we get there. If you want to stay more in touch with my artistic day to day sharing please visit Instagram.
ROCK SO FAR
Original rock songs by Sean Geerling, featuring Julian Watson, Catherine Meeson, Mark Toppin (Symbols in Sounds). Meeson solo work.
The Headfirst Support Act / A.I.M conference was finally rescheduled after multiple setbacks and Covid cancellations. What was it? The first Music industry / Performing arts conference with the sole focus of mental health and well-being, held on May 25th 2022 in Sydney.
I penned the title ‘Headfirst Into The Shadows’ because the conference content explored some pretty dark territory, having surveyed over 1300 people, getting a collective snapshot of music industry health. Until now as with much else in our society, such issues have been relegated to the shadows, largely unspoken about but driving some very destructive and counterproductive behaviour, that has been, largely for the last 50 years culturally perpetuated, ‘the rebellious rockstar, high flyer, drugs alcohol sex and scandal etc.
In a post Covid climate we did receive a few blessings from the situation, one was increased focus on Mental health and well-being, the other was people having more time on their hands due to lock downs to reflect deeply on where life is at and how what really matters to them individually and collectively. The post covid landscape is one of collective trauma. It was a collective introspection to be sure.
Mental health issues have been like stigmata for a long time, this is changing slowly. It’s not so long ago that people didn’t talk openly about the issues, except behind closed doors to trusted love ones, or, if they could a therapist. The norms we inherited from the baby boomers were just grin and bear it, get on with it and suffer in silence, unless of course we were lucky enough to have progressive parents that were part of the counterculture creating change and bringing greater awareness and consciousness to matters post 1960’s. Vietnam is not long ago, black power, free love, sexual liberation, women’s rights, the end of racial segregation. All this is within our lifetimes, all of this involves trauma and traumatised people. Traumatised people traumatise people as behavioural drivers become largely unconscious, not from a place of awareness. It is nobody’s fault. But trauma is like a hydra with insidious heads that permeate all aspects of one’s life, I know it well, as it has been a lifelong companion I have had to work hard to reverse, to both stay alive and practice my art.
A society deals with its problems by the collective by the perpetuation of its norms. They used to be inherited from the church and religious authorities but now such influence has waned. Now it is largely the state and collective agreements by guiding organisations of a progressive nature. Faith has been superseded by science, but in the process soul has been relegated to the closet. Anyway, I digress. Norms are inherited patterns and beliefs, nothing more. But we will fight to the death for them, even when they go against our inner moral compass or common sense, violating our own boundaries, this has bearing on the ways we cope as a society, as the main patterning or programming people receive and inherit is from parents, schools and the state. All of these levels of systemic dynamics need to be addressed as mental health problems are seldom just the individual, (who is diagnosed or not). It is individuals whom manifest the symptoms and behaviours of systemic ignorance, prejudice and fear. Creatives are often the black sheep, the ones who get projected on, blamed all these sorts of things. Creatievs also are risk takers, enjoy experimentation, exploring the boundaries of their own consciosuness often through illicit substances, but also spiritual practices which can often be demonised.
Musicians and music industry are prone to many forms of personal and collective dysfunction, leading to a host of occupational health issues and coping mechanisms that are unhealthy. Society celebrates the odd balls, the cultural rebels who live outside the matrix and often have tragic lives that are often plagued by addictive personalities. These individuals often live out collective demons and process the global psyche. In this regard the role of musician is as social alchemist, transforming the stuff of life experience into artistic form that others cannot.
Support Act did an industry wide survey and presented the findings at the conference, you can find that here (insert link). This blog was initially written pre conference and has had to be adapted, life has been too busy and crazy to finish it. There were some pretty confronting questions, but we need these ‘real lived experience perspectives’ to form a more suitable pathway of culture change.
Some of the questions covered
Illicit drug use and pharmaceuticalsS
Sexual harassment and discrimination
Suicidal tendencies and self harm
Experience of Mental health ( depression anxiety states)
MUSIC INDUSTRY ISSUES AND OHS
Life in the music industry issues can include long hours /lack of sleep/ exploitation or little pay, underpay occupational strain, repetitive strain injury ,hearing loss, long periods travelling, culture that supports and elevates a narrow band of collective artistry whilst not supporting lesser-known artists, lack of resources tools and organisation to support people, a culture of excess, hedonism, rebellion and self-abuse, separation from family and loved ones, poor diet and relationship fallout, addiction.
Social misunderstandings of artistic temperaments can create and worsen a whole host of mental health related issues. So, we’re now going into the shadows to bring light to these industry norms and hopefully discover a clearer picture based on both quantitative and qualitative research.We must shine a spotlight on where we can create cultural change. We simply must. Musicians and music industry are a core element of everyone’s lives, everyone consumes music, and for some their life depends on it, it’s their bread and butter. It is lifeline and therapy for its creators and listeners, it is cultural backdrop and fond memory, what underpins so much popular multimedia (café culture bars, pubs, stadiums, galleries, festivals, games, media, motion picture, apps, socials etc etc.
It is indeed the soundscape of our lives, the ears are the first sensory organ to come on line in the womb, and they never shut down till we die. We are always hearing; we can always listen deeper. Let’s learn to truly listen, to deeply listen to not only the melodies and rhythms of songs, but to the artists, their melodies and the rhythms of their hearts, souls and lives in the reflection of society that they are. We need our artists.
I went to the conference as research and will be launching services shortly that aim to be a bridge of sorts, at the grass roots to provide some of what is so sorely needed and lacking, a facilitated online Industry support circle to enhance community, comradery and self-care strategies. I will be launching a pilot via Zoom.
Problems arise for people due to the tension of inner and outer selves desires and conflicts, factors and influences that we are either equipped or unequipped to deal with. In the end, it comes back to ‘are we in touch with what matters or are we just applying Band-Aids and in denial?’. It can be scary to accept, to confront and dispel dark clouds of our own soul and the collective soul. We have a long way to go, and the music industry will indeed benefit from this increased mindfulness effort.
Support Act/ A.I.M are leading the way with initiatives and services such as Mental Health First Aid training and with this brilliant conference, let’s hope it’s the first of many such. Society listens to its artists, as creative bearers of our soul nature and all its facets. Let’s support the artists/ musicians, crew and allied industry who bring so much value to our lives, in all facets of the Industry. Time to come out of the shadows
Stay tuned for Part 2 a reflection of findings and a research-based presentation.
Join me in a Peer Support Space discussing all things artists life, vocation, production, creative process and visioning, O.H.S, well being, please register here for Zoom Pilot starting Friday 16th at 1.30pm A.E.S.T
Musicians matter mental health – the restorative power of music explores what music may mean to us on many a varied level. How much does one need to say about the title when everyone knows the truth of this statement? No doubt everyone will tell you a different, yet universal story about how some song, some artist, carried them through a troublesome time in their life. I guess we can talk about it from a few perspectives, that of the listener or fan and that of the artist who may write and bring through the work.
I would like to share your views; I invite you to join me in commentary. My blog is always open to the voice of other musicians’, creatives and those who support artists, who would like to share thoughts on theme. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to contribute. Link below.
Learning to open ones ears, the universe is sound- Nada Brahma
What is it that has this restorative function? Is it the musical elements such as the rhythm, melody, lyric, instrumentation, tempo or key or is it the magic production of the analog or digital aesthetic? Is it about the artists consciousness and what they stand for, or is it that they are producing a resonance within you? Think about the first time you heard that song or songs, was it purely only what you heard? Or was it part of an audio-visual (i.e. film clip) experience or a concert? Is it this more comprehensive story form that allows artists to communicate through combining sound with image with storytelling and physical presentation? All of the above in my opinion, yet primarily it is consciousness, that spark of the creator within form, the unique essence.
So, what is restorative in the broadest sense? That which brings balance, renewal, harmony and a sense of peace. If we think in terms of physical things we could talk about the restoration of a piece of antique furniture, or on a relational level, of a long-lost relationship with a loved one, that of two ships adrift on the seas destined to meet again.
In terms of music, I would say it’s all about heart and energy and feeling good. So, music that brings out these qualities on inner levels that makes us feel good, think positively and contribute a level of intention and higher intelligence and awareness to life, self and the lived experience.
For me personally when I want to use music for restoration, I will go to a wide variety of sources such as classical or movie soundtrack music to journal to or to calm my nerves sometimes. I use it to inspire me, get me pumped, like banging rock music. Electronic and orchestral music to lift my energy and send me on trips round the universe. Middle Eastern music to dance a sensuous feminine dance and shift gears to or to inspire new tonal or timbre/ choices to broaden my musical pallet and ear. I often go back to the music of my childhood for the familiar for the sense of emotional relating, in the reinforcing of memory.
Music is known to be key doorway into the soul for people with dementia, it aids people to learn gait regulation and walk again, for all life is governed by cycles. We know music to be one of the most effective agents in assisting persons to also regain speech capacity and physical capacity post stroke or serious brain injury. Music is restorative and therapeutic by nature, and serves both soul and soma. Music can be used as a resource on so many levels.
When it comes to writing music, there are many reasons we do it. For me it has always been my saving grace, my release, my sanctuary, by way of processing deep pain and trauma through poetic metaphor and musical mythology. I was blessed with a love of music and a seed of knowing in primary school life where my first school performances took place. Since a little child I always saw movies via sound, and sound as geometry unfolding like precious petals from the cosmos, life eternally born a new radiating in all spheres, powerful primordial, messenger supreme. Many years later that love still compels me and I invest in making and sharing the best work that I can and in sharing studies and perspectives on music. I share one souls journey over their life time with what sound and music has been for them, and for us all. You can refer to 7 years of blogging and documentation of artistic practice over multiple albums and releases right here and hopefully find some inspiration.
If you are a musician seeking mentoring on any level, please reach out and inquire how I can help you, or book in with me today. Availability, on the bookings page or click on this link below, various services to facilitate music in all its facets and creators in all their beauty.
If you’re interested in joining a Creative Cave for peer supported mentoring and join a coaching space for any level of the music creation or production process, with a special focus on artist well-being and mutual peer support and camaraderie, let me know I will add you to the mailing list. Lets raise the profile of the higher purpose of music and look after its creators.
Beat rhythm is the universal essence of life
If you are interested in being a contributing writer, please contact me by the contact form below. 2022 continues the theme of Musicians Matter Mental Health.
Expect other musical contributors, as well as events via zoom and in person and artist day retreats, all coming soon. Say attuned and resonant, always surf the sonic seas.
Musicians Matter – Mental Health D.I.Y Production Pathways
Musicians Matter – Mental Health DIY Production Pathways, vision and production will discuss the power of self belief, ones voice and vision, pathways to self production for D.I.Y artists from recording to post production, and making music videos.
When I first began consolidating my musical vision, using software, I didn’t know a lot of stuff about DAWs, workflow, mixing methods, the proper use of tools, audio basics and pathways out into the world. I found computers intimidating. I went to lots of workshops and industry conferences. There are lots of workshops for creatives that are held periodically in different municipalities exploring business skills, industry trends and so forth. I learnt some of what I needed as I went along, gradually getting clarity on my pathway because they didn’t teach me this stuff at Uni when I returned to study mature age, which at the time I felt essential to do due to loss of confidence and self belief. I have people look up to me now and enjoy my work.
The landscape has changed a lot since 2009 with DIY production pathways. Since then, I have released 4 albums and singles and my production values have steadily gotten better, both in audio and video as have my skills and know-how. I now have a pretty standard sequential process, releasing work and in 2020 enjoyed collaborations during lockdown with LEMOM and my band Symbols in Sounds. This process may help inspire you and assist you on your journey.
The way I see it it’s a multi-step process
work development, initial sketches, rehearsing, exploring
artistic vision and promotional ideas
execution which covers recording, post production, documenting and registering one’s release as well as distribution and promotion.
It’s a lot of work to do alone but it can be done, albeit a bit slower. If one has connections with other creative professionals, workflow can be sped up considerably, but one still needs to drive the ship and direct it to the desired destination gradually.
for DIY Production, Self-belief is essential, it is the un-shakeable belief in oneself and one’s sense of direction, based on inner knowing. It is common for many creatives to have to justify their passion in the eyes of the world and often we are met with great resistance. Famous artists are supported while community artists are unknown, who make work of equal or greater value as far as contribution to society. It doesn’t mean we have it all worked out, rather that we are okay with being engaged in a process, on the road, committed to our journey of Self as demonstrated in thought, word and deed.
One’s voice and vision.
One’s voice is cultivated over time, voice being more indicative of style and unique sonic identity, this is in part, (when it comes to the voice) aspects of our biology and character or for things like guitar, it might be a unique way of playing. It’s that distinction, the sonic footprint and artists develop their own over time. This comes from the inside, molded by one’s tools and technology and grounded through application. Often, we can hear infusions of our heroes, this is a largely unconscious integration.
One has to have a commitment to their voice, what they have to say; how, why, when and where. The nature of voice, especially lyrically has somewhat degraded over time, it concerns me that the youth are not being nourished by intelligent music, but rather formulaic music with lyrics that add no value to the lived experience, that is based in base level consciousness. A conversation for another day to be sure. This is not to say that I find all popular music like this, but a fair bit.
Vision is more global and holistic, it can be career based or specific work project based vision. It holds the aesthetic and ideas for ones work, it could be the studio recording, the sort of sounds one would like to explore, the mixing and production possibly (if we have that knowledge), the artwork, ideas for music videos and all other aspects that go along with releasing work, including promotion.
Vision is the long haul, the original inspiration, but to task. It is where many struggle prioritizing what to do and when, for many reasons. Get what help you can, but don’t be afraid to grow in the public eye. If one compares recordings of hits from the 60’s to now with our modern obsession of perfection and digital quanta over artistry, it can be very enlightening to listen back to production standards.
Pathways are the how of the invisible map, the changing morphing desert sands. Everyone’s path is unique, but the essence of what is involved in production is the same. I believe passionately in supporting other artists to fearlessly follow their passion. It doesn’t matter how long it takes when you realise it’s your life’s work. Pathways will be different based on skill level and what one can or can’t do by oneself. It depends on tools and resources both inner and outer aspects, technology and the necessary finance to bring the long haul vision to completion with our release.
Recording and Post-production
For Recording and Post- Production, if you have a smart phone, if you have an iPad, if you have a computer, you can make and record music! You can even make music on free online platforms such as Audacity. The important thing is to get your ideas down, once they’re externalised they become entities unto themselves enabling you to reflect on what they need, to reach completion, to allow them to be the best that you can possibly make them. So, whether you’re working at home by yourself or you’re paying an engineer or producer or working with a band, whatever the path, the recording process can be quite simple or it can be very complex. It is influenced by budget but also by expectations, but that does not mean that you can’t produce commercial quality work yourself with modest financial outlay. Tec has democratised music so much we are spoilt for choice. Youtube is such a brilliant educational tool, anything you want to learn you can find there.
Post-production is the putting the icing on the cake, the careful crafting of the mix ,adding all those subtleties that help to take it to dimensions beyond, your effects, your automation, your balances, it is panning, all that sort of stuff is done in mixing but is still post-production stuff. One thing I don’t do myself is mastering, I don’t believe I have sufficient skills yet, it is something that I need to practice more. Plus having independent ears is crucial and extremely valuable to help your growth.
In decades gone by, Music videos used to cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars they say. Now we have smart phones, Go Pros, iPads and computers. Everyone can capture vision and develop the art of the storyteller themselves. The best way to begin is to sketch out your ideas and just try film stuff, put things together, experiment with whatever software you can, there’s bound to be free and open source video editing software. I learnt to use DaVinci Resolve off YouTube. Before that I was working with Windows movie maker. My videos have gotten better over time. You can produce music videos yourself ,distribute them yourself as part of your release strategy and share your unique essence with the world.
So I invite you to connect on zoom for a free chat Sunday night to assist you in any stage of the creative production process, to see how I can help you with either.
Creative direction and production assistance
Musicians Matter Well-being services or Creativity Coaching (if it’s the inner stuff getting in the way of you completing your goals).
I offer one-on-one sessions or 4 session packages to companion you to complete your artistic vision, nothing gives me more pleasure than to see beauty born in the world and in the Covid climate we need all the uplifting art and music we can get.
If you had of told me ten years ago I would fall in love with audio engineering I would of said yeh right, even though I wanted to do it back then I didn’t believe I could. I have proven otherwise so if I can do it, you can too! Choose to ‘Matter’ for you are a unique spark of the creator in form, no one can do your work but you!
It is with pleasure that I bring a breath of fresh air amidst our current climate, Musicians matter- RUOKDAY. A story of how the arts are used for wellbeing and how even with minimum schools and community workshops, the artists team were able to harness some youthful creativity online and produce Dream Big Music Festival.
This is a combined schools/ regions effort for RUOKDAY to promote our childrens youth and wellbeing. Dream Big is the child of The Festival for Healthy Living led by Artistic director John Lane, one of the most amazingly beautiful human beings I have ever met. He has over the last twenty years helped seed many such projects. Sadly he is retiring but his legacy with Harry his boss speaks for itself, both gentlemen work for the Royal Children’s Hospital Mental Health unit.
I have been involved in this work as a local artists for the last 7 years facilitating workshops in schools and community, multi modally and bringing the combined children’s/ community voices into completed projects that are celebrated at an annual schools and community performance/ event. When FHL first came to Melton there was a problem with racism with migrant populations. Our approach helped to educate and inspire the kids and larger multi cultural community, getting everyone working together. It really is a dream job, so many different hats and duties. I facilitate, supervise, make music, visual art, drama, film, and do all sorts of other tasks, multimedia production, online facilitation, committee meetings. It has been an honour to do such beautiful work. We develop relationships, build community nurture expression and creativity and enhance resilience through the arts.
I helped a young student just about to finish school, present her beautiful song Empty, written at a schools workshop called Love Bites about Consent and relationships, I wrote the musical template and work-shopped lyric writing with the kids, they did great. We recorded Akira’s song which was performed live at Dream big festival in March 2021.
I said to John I would write a song about how to write a song, humerous, upbeat, a good challenge. A days work. And I came up with a short track called ‘Shine, Rise and Shine’ . I recorded and filmed bass, drums, guitar and vocals and made a video and presented a message of hope for RUOKDAY. This will not be released at this stage but features to promote Arts For Wellbeing and Mental Health in general which has become much more a social concern in a covid climate.
RUOKDAY was founded by the late Gavin Larkin who lost his father in 1995 to suicide. This deep pain inspired RUOKDAY a means by which’ a conversation can save a life’. The legacy of both father and son serve to promote connection, reaching out, and normalising mental health and the need to take it seriously. What an amazing human being to start this grand vision. Find out about his story and RUOKDAY here
So this is the value of artists. It goes to air on LiveFM out of Footscray and is being streamed as Dream Big 2021 Music Festival at 9am tomorrow. I will release this blog and my video and share it with you.
I want everyone to know the value of music and the arts on all levels and how the arts serve community. It’s not just about product its about process and what it gives and expresses of the deeper layers of soul. The arts are supreme agents of well being and very much needed in our current climate.
Post this event, Akira and I will be finishing the track and making a video to release her first work.
Check out the Dream Big webpage here and learn about our work.
Since announcing the years focus ‘Musicians Matter Mental Health Personal stories’, I have gone through major inner turmoil around the theme and what to share, how much to share. Thankfully, there is a collective focus on Musicians Matter Mental Health by Support Act and Makeshift offering online workshops will counselling, advocacy and educational opportunities to help creatives and a growing recognition of creative therapies. This blog will share my experience and focus on the needs of artists as a unique collective and services that can assist us.
Artists well being has become part of my niche, something I’m passionate about, as many artists and musicians suffer needlessly due to lack of tools, resources, and networks et cetera. To properly address them we need to look at the true nature of these struggles, so physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and critically socially.
Our global social sphere has become Chaos with Covid and has affected every soul on earth. The creative industries have been hit hard very hard some artists have thrived others like me have suffered immensely due to all our regular health support networks being inaccessible. Gyms pools physical therapies, counsellors and psychologists so busy one has to wait for a cancellation.
My experience during Covid has been tormenting like so many others, work has affected my income. The trickle down to very little work and not being able to access my training, (which helps me keep an even keel) has been a challenge and also a big lesson in surrender for the things we cannot change. I’ve had to wait weeks in some instances to get a session with my long time counsellor who is my rock. I took up old coping mechanisms I am still battling to get on top of it. My most recent episode of the black dog and our latest lockdown did birth a new composition! It is my way of transmuting the pain into promise for a new tomorrow. The alchemy of creativity that makes sense of, giving new meaning to life, transmuting it, it is what we do. My partner Sean says ‘turning his Demons into diamonds”. We are often told we are the problem being subject of much projection, but our social sphere, the nurture element of environment and societal structures are not to be underestimated, for they bare down on us like the executioners blade.
‘This brings me to just what to reveal? Due to many unfortunate life events, I have been a long-time sufferer of P.T.S.D, depression and anxiety. It can be so crippling, struggling to function with even simple things, as it affects the ability to work and have a normal life along with the effects of chronic pain/medical issues. This is as much as I am willing to reveal at this time. It has been my reality for most of my adult life.
A song from 1998 ‘All I ever wanted’ about life love loss, 2011 circa unreleased.
Post traumatic stress is quite insidious, it is residual and recurrent trauma where the integrity of body mind spirit is compromised and impaired. P.T.S.D can be experienced as a state of hyper vigilance or a state of hypo arousal (being under stimulated). Central nervous system tuning is what determines our homeostasis, our normal operating state. Triggers can be many and varied and when in the traumatic moment, whether there is a real threat or it is a past perception ie. memory, it is experienced again in the now on a very visceral level. This is because trauma gets locked into cellular memory; until that is released and the nervous system is re- programmed one is prone to loosing all clear thinking ability when trauma takes hold. It just has to be ridden out, like a wave in the sea of life that it is.
Creative brains are differently wired
Creative brains are wired differently, we access more right brain intuition and feel than left brain logic. Vreatives are known to dwell in the more relaxed alpha and theta states when engaged in creative work, we can also operate from unity states and complete brain synchronisation. There is not enough education of people that focuses on empowering them and understanding the science behind trauma and its neurological and biological effects, so they can put themselves back together again and thrive. It is certainly not all in the head. P.T.S.D, depression and anxiety change brain routing (if you like) and the subsequent stress response influences the brains’ ability to function properly and regulate various bodily functions. These patterns get reinforced and embedded and can be complicated further in the realm of addiction where various psychoactive agents affect one’s state of arousal or what is considered normal modus operandi. Being so up that you can’t come down or being so down you can’t come up. By their very nature certain substances will stimulate or sedate us. Where we get into conflict with society is because the every day waking state is a beta state of alertness and people do not know there are simple things they can do themselves to change state, they don’t necessarily have to result to medications and chemical means. We will explore this in day retreats.
What does it mean to be human?
This connects us to deeper conceptions of what it means to be a human being. From a top down view, we are incarnate souls having a spiritual experience in a temple of flesh. The free flow state is a relaxed state, if we are depressed we are physically under aroused, energy moves slowly, we are lethargic, forgetful and just struggle with simple things. If we are anxious our adrenal glands are in overdrive as we experience ongoing stimulation, including from the realm of the ghosts, (our inner thoughts and internalisations), these affect our feelings and the cycle gets reinforced the more we experience it, becoming dysfunctional. So the key is to change ones state and take control. Using ones higher wisdom to guide when stuck in the mud. By understanding both the physiological and the psychological realms accessing whatever supports we can.
The arts for wellbeing
Music and the arts and physical therapies have always been my go-to coping mechanisms, I would not be alive if I didn’t write songs, poetry, paint, sculpt, assemble, write and so on. There is a growing awareness even within the mental health field of the benefits of creative and body based therapies, largely in part due to ongoing research and advocacy by leaders in the field. I’m lucky I have the tools I do, many don’t. I don’t do medication or D.S.M (diagnostic and statistical manual) I prefer to regard human struggles as a soul affliction, soul distress. Mental illness is a loaded gun, it condemns, wounds, by it’s collective definition and inception. So with this blog I hope to share a little about my story and what I have done to make it through the valleys. A lot of my more complex and raw songs are yet to meet the public eye, but they will, some were meant for a band not a solo artist, they detail my life experience and alchemical practice with lyrics and music. Here lyrics from the song ‘Suffering” CM2008 such as
‘Haunted by, the memories of the past
Lingering on, its echoes ever will last
Time ticks on, faithful servant cruel master
Pain takes hold and age cripples with its laughter’.
Taking the guitar to the park for much needed sanity
People are complex, life is complex, we are multidimensional whole beings. To break us into physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, disease barers is a product of the Darwinian age. With our knowledge, medicine systems, understanding and science of the 21st-century, we are way beyond all that and yet our social arena is not, our education, our training, our creation of programs and paradigms to address our collective social deficiencies is sorely lacking. Everything is held up by the needs of evidence-based research and red tape preventing progress (whilst also slowly educating and setting industry standards( peak bodies)). They say it takes fifteen years for the latest research to become more common knowledge.
A holistic worldview is essential
A holistic worldview is essential, a worldview, that looks at the flaws in our social structures that perpetuate suffering and promote the silence of vulnerable souls, that paralyze people because they don’t qualify, don’t live in the right region, don’t have the money et cetera et cetera. So, they don’t get help and the cycle continues. Imagine funding structures and facilities that assist everyone, regardless of social standing, because that is the right thing to do. Healing centres fully equipped for the creative arts for well-being, that cater to our needs on the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social levels; a foundation for creativity the arts and healing.
We are relational beings we do not exist in isolation we are all co-dependents in a complex web of interrelated factors. At this time, I do not want to go into the nature of my trauma, just that it’s many different instances have been significant and still affect me, but I personally do the best I can with what I’ve got and I seek to assist and empower others to do the same, from an ethical inclusive heart centred space. We all deserve dignity; the system will strip you of that. We all deserve privacy and confidentiality; the system does not respect that. Collectives with hierarchies deny the needs of individuals of a lesser rank.
Message for my peers
I want my peers to know that whatever it is that’s going on in your life, there is a way through it for you, you just have to find what works for you.
For some it is medication and psychotherapy, for others dynamic physical exercise like dance and martial arts, for others it is nature time. The rest of this blog series will focus on sharing possibilities and therapies that can help, things to do at home and where we can go get help or develop your inner resources, because ‘musicians matter’.Peer personal stories will also feature.
Let’s not have more brilliant souls join the 29 club or commit suicide. As artists our sensitivities are enhanced, it is part and parcel of our core identity, but we do not need to suffer needlessly or for any length of time in life, or for our art and legacy.
Join me in conversation with services offered to develop your inner resources.
Take a snapshot of where you are, where you want to be and what is getting in the way.
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The world desperately needs its artists, creatives and cultural curators, musicians and allied industry workers are always at the forefront of social change making, music the arts and healing are the conscience of society,
love in action and empathy Catherine
Join me in creativity coaching, project mentoring, production assistance or any other service. Check out my service descriptions and hourly rates here https://www.catherinemeeson.com/shop/
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This year I will cover a broad spectrum of musicians mental health and well-being related topics, thoughts and services because ‘musicians matter’.
I will also offer my services, some self-development workshops or day retreats to focus on musicians, their craft and our place in the world. That said, Musicians Matter – Mental Health coincides with a greater focus by Makeshift and Support Act (The Heart and Hand of Australian music), supported by funding from the Australian government. They have upped the anti with education campaigns and training for Mental Health First Aid, which I just completed in a well-structured short course that can be done online. I have qualifications as a counsellor/ creative arts therapist and have also studied Creativity Coaching with Eric Maisel. These areas combined are a field of service I intend to specialise in, musicians matter support services, music lessons, musician mentor-ship (craft, production, release) and creativity coaching and mental health support and advocacy.
I’d like to start this year’s focus, by asking you to reflect on how important music has been in your life and to also reflect on how important it has been and still is, cross culturally all over the world?. Every culture has a musical history and legacy. Our known preoccupation with music-making goes back at least 40,000 years, as attested by primitive animal bone flutes relics.
Our ancestors erected marvels of architecture even in the megalithic age to amplify and focus the acoustic properties of site for ritual, ceremony and state change. Among the classical sciences of ancient Greece (source of modern musical modes) were geometry, number, music and cosmology. These ancient sciences and understandings, are not unique to one culture; the understanding of symmetry, vibration, balance, harmony and form permeate architecture. As a natural result enabling creation of acoustically resonant spaces for human beings to engage in sonically, producing amazing results of space and ambiance. Music is a prime expression of the harmony of all things, it embodies universal principles.
2021 is still somewhat an unknown equation, in a post-Covid environment. 2020 was devastating for music and many other industries. Whilst I had penned my initial thoughts for this series the previous year, 2020 was on Self-production and Women in music.
In order for our favourite artist to produce the works we all love, there is a multi-phase process: creation, production and release. Each phase of music production has its inherent issues and challenges. Add to that the everyday lived experience in all of its complexity, that all human beings have to cope with existentially, and you get a very complex picture of the many variable contributing factors for soul distress or mental health matters.
Creativity and music-making is primarily driven by an inner impulse.
Of course, at a professional level it can become more about tailoring our work to a market, but I want to draw attention away from the product and process and back to the human being. In order for a hit to occur, in order for a record to be released, or a tour to take place or a sync license placement, you have to have a person or persons who are the source of the music. All else around us are supports. The creative process can be as simple as a momentary flow (song can be out in its totality and structure in 30 minutes). Or it can be to a brief, involve arrangement and orchestration and a slower construction in a DAW or in Sibelius. It depends on the genre and style of the musician and the initial sketch, improvisation or crafting of what needs to be done, to bring the work to completion. Musicians Matter as they are the voice of the people, covering the full gamut of lived experience.
‘Mentally Healthy 2018 – A Study into The Creative Media and Marketing Industry’, revealed that those in the creative industries are 20% more likely to show symptoms of depression and 29% more likely to have symptoms of anxiety. 1 in 5 show symptoms of severe depression compared to the 12% national average. The study showed 61% of the creative industries show symptoms of depression. Stressors are known to be intense within the creative industries and include things like “personal expectations, pressure from others, multiple responsibilities, working when sick, employee responsibility, long hours, impact on family and friends, financial stress and isolation” (Never Not Creative Unlimited and Makeshift, 2018). The study also looked at attitudes towards mental health and showed the creative industries are supportive of people with mental health issues.
Mental health conditions include anxiety, depression, PTSD, grief and loss, drug and alcohol issues, schizophrenia, psychosis and more. According to Beyond Blue statistics:
1 in 7 people experience depression
1 in 4 experience anxiety
1 in 16 currently are experiencing depression
1 in 7 are currently experiencing anxiety
1 in 6 are experiencing depression and anxiety
Females are more likely to experience depression/ anxiety with 1 in 5 and men with 1 in 6
1 in 8 currently experience very high levels of psychological distress.
According to Entertainment assist, the following statistics apply
25% of performing artists, and most roadies have attempted or considered suicide, but none of the roadies surveyed had sought help
over a third of performing artists, 25% of industry support workers and most roadies and crew reported mental health problems
extensive mental health issues across the broad spectrum of the industry often as a result of bullying, sexual abuse, long and unrewarding working hours and a lack of appreciation for years of commitment
Entertainment industry workers do not know how to seek support, nor do they know how to talk about mental health with colleagues/peers they may be concerned about performing artists live much shorter lives, on average, than the rest of working community
Suicide attempts for Australian Entertainment Industry workers are more than double that of the general population.
The levels of moderate to severe anxiety symptoms are 10 times higher than in the general population.
The levels of depression symptoms are five times higher than in the general population.
I’d like to point out at this time that our current definitions of mental health or mental illness exclude spiritual dimensions of life somewhat, being primarily CBT-based psychological methods and therapies with D.S.M diagnosis, born out of the psychiatric model which focuses primarily on medicating. Different conceptualisations and approaches are necessary for different people. The Transpersonal, Shamanic and Creative therapies paradigms are very helpful for creatives. To me, rather than using the terms ‘mental illness’ I prefer to regard it as ‘soul distress’. The soul is the one that is incarnate, the soul is the one that is experiencing, the soul is the one who thinks and feels and is the living breathing being. We are in need of a redefinition of what it means to be a human being, within a broader cross-cultural cosmology and paradigm.
By nature, we are sensitives, driven by how we make sense of the world on inner levels. With sound, we give form to an aesthetic product of our experience, in the moment. We spend countless hours refining, recording and doing whatever we need to do in order to produce and share our work (largely unpaid, because we have to, it’s what makes us tick, from the heart. I have mentored amazing songwriter’s who have not released their work due to lack of know-how and negative industry experiences. Not all songwriters are known, not all share their work. I view the role of a songwriter and artist as a critical role of social critique and alchemy. We make sense of, we deal with lofty thoughts, complex emotions and our work has energy and intent behind it that moves people (part focus of my honours thesis) and is able to transform the lived experience, transmuting pain into powerful works of purpose and beauty.
In order to fulfill our role, we need support, social acceptance and standards that look after our well-being holistically. There is no base wage for a musician unless they are a music teacher or a session player. Income depends on either teaching, recording and release of work, or on working as a producer or engineer, or synchronization licensing and playing live. There is a huge disparity on income levels. There are door deals, bar takings and agreed rates. All is open to negotiation and a given venues way of working. With live music there are others to pay, like engineers. For production there are others to pay, studios, producers, engineers, distributors et cetera unless one is set up to take care of the lot by themselves and that is what is expected of the modern musician. To be a one-stop shop or a one-person production company.
This financial reality is further complicated by notions of success, both internal and external, and by people’s ability to set their own rates in alignment with perceived worth. It can take years and hundreds of hours of work to release music to a completed professional standard. It is very difficult to generate income off music without being an all-rounder. Streaming has reduced income and sales making a career in music much more challenging, but at the same time there are innovators who do well in the digital domain setting up amazing platforms for musicians to share music live. These facts affect a musician’s self-esteem and can affect our work capacity. We are often accused of being oversensitive or being in Ego, but neither are true, it is who we are, we care about what we do.
With all the work to do, we often do not have all the skills, this can cause immense distress, derail us and our intentions for our work. Most do it ‘for the love of’, with desires to succeed, but that success is defined by society in economic terms only, not by contribution to society, or the inherent worth of ourselves and work with its ability to touch people and enrich the human experience. Perceived worth and success are notions I will go over in another blog in this series, at this moment I just wanted to introduce the focus for the year and mention other focus areas, for Musicians Matter Mental Health.
Musicians and supporting industries are prone to increased mental health issues. For many this is an absolute reality, therefore this blog aims to:
a) share my personal experience and those who are musicians in my network
b) offer information knowledge and services to assist musicians
c) to expand the conception and understanding of creatives, breaking down prejudices and stereotypes and changing paradigms of understanding
d) to advocate for our worth, rights and needs in the current social environment, that has a long way to go in perceiving our worth and re-numerating accordingly.
If other industries were governed in the same manner as the creative industries, unions may very well be in uproar from protests on the streets. I recently saw one such protest in the U.S against SPOTIFY demanding better rates of royalty payments for musicians works and phonographic copyrights. Knowing this, I say ‘musicians’ matter’ and we need industry wide social change to support our valuable cultural creators. We all consume music; it is high time we value it and its creators accordingly.
Music is about way more than entertainment; it is a core expression of human being and the lived experience, just like all art forms. The stereotype of the rich rock star is far from the reality of most musicians, with the economic projections that go along with it. Should our regard for someones work and worth depend on financial or marketing acumen? If we can achieve a greater understanding of musicians, of their mental health issues, then all of society will benefit through the works we produce whether recorded or live performance.
If you are in need of any of the following services, please contact me as I set up shop options for my services
Charting your path for a specific project
I would also urge you to consider doing Mental Health First Aid Training and being a support person and a change maker, you might just save a life. Mental Health First Aid is run by Makeshift.
Next blog focus ‘Musicians Matter- Personal Stories’
Hello dear friends out their in the big wide world. I end 2020 with a gift and a new release.
Boat on a river is an ode to the masters of music of previous decades, an ambient electro rock song and music video that invites the listener viewer to chill out, meander, travel the worlds rivers and go with the flow of life.
After a very difficult year for our global community Catherine Meeson’s new release is a gift to all to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of life.
“Life is but a stream
A waking dream’
YOUTUBE MUSIC VIDEO –
Released to coincide with the great Jupiter Saturn alignment of the southern summer solstice 2020.
Catherine Meeson is a singer songwriter, composer, producer, creative director from Melbourne who blends electro, rock, synth and atmospheric cinematic tendencies together into powerfully emotive and highly visual music that will take you places. She has released 4 solo albums, Revolution Complete, Atmospherica, Contemplating Buddha and the electro orchestral concept album The Call of Oma, an ep length therapeutic soundscape Oriental Temple Gardens Complex, singles and features on a few compilation albums, and has received airplay in Australia and overseas. She has also created a few plays, movies such as Beggar Woman Walks by the Waters and By The Mandate of Heaven and engages in archetypal performance art celebrating the various faces of divine feminine wisdom.
Simon Quinn of The Safety Word a Melbourne based dream pop, chill down tempo act says “As Melbourne was in the middle of lock down we thought it would be good to create an album that truly connected our members, in order to do this we put a call out to see who was interested in either covering or remixing each other”
Gavin Dwyer debuted the whole double album on Soundcloud on his show Outrageous, We are all super grateful for the support. See the link below, which features introductions from the artists on their tracks and the songs they contributed. It was debuted on Saturday October 31st.
It is a double album that is very broad in scope as to what is termed electronic. The LEMOM collective has over 1.8K of members. It is a private group on Facebook, made up of Melbourne artists and artists from far afield.
“Born out of a need for like minded musicians looking to score a gig, L.E.M.O.M is a community focused group for all things live electro. What is live electronic music? In the year 2020 that can range from a Modular kit that would make NASA jealous, to a drum machine app on your mobile phone. We are here for anyone at any skill level and pride ourselves on our helpful community and engaged artists.
Our aim is to play a role in strengthening emerging electronic music communities, by promoting local artists helping them find like minded people to play shows with”.
The collective known as L.E.M.O.M (Live Electronic Musicians of Melbourne) are releasing their 2nd double compilation for the year. This time the organisers of the group decided to mix things up a bit. They thought that seeing as Melbourne was in the middle of a pretty intense lockdown it would be a nice idea to create a compilation that involved an element of connection. Each of the seventeen artists featured on this compilation has been paired up with another L.E.M.O.M member. The directive was to either remix or produce a cover of each other’s work. The artists where given complete creative freedom to deconstruct each other’s songs and recreate them as new works of art in their chosen style.
The compilation is split across two albums with the first being mostly instrumental or with minimal vocals, think cluby electronica spanning genres such as tech house, acid techno and breaks titled RED. The second album features the songs that have more of a band feel, spanning genres such as synth pop, indie dance and bedroom electronic titled BLUE.
The money raised from the sale of these albums will be donated to the Nillumbik Youth Theater who are a non-for-profit incorporation operated by youth to provide accessible and inclusive opportunities for people to create and perform theater and other art forms.
Red album features
Another Whiskey – Increment (Gary Franks Remix)
Dream Retriever – The Headmaster (Robodop Snei Remix)
No Time To Say Goodbye – Gary Franks (Increment Remix)
Fall In Love – Purple Zain (James Peden Remix)
Shuffle Up – Robodop Snei (The Headmaster Remix)
Atmospherica – Catherine Meeson (The Safety Word Remix)
Touch – Peter Nigido (Arcane Trickster Remix)
Project Sign – Arcane Trickster (Peter Nigido Remix)
Blue Album features
Emotion Overdrive – Ricky Summers (Leipzig Lab Cover)
Illuminated – I Hate Max (Robots In Love Cover)
Neuroplastic – Pixy Styx (I Hate Max Cover)
London – Robots in Love (Ricky Summers Cover)
Paradigms – The Safety Word (Catherine Meeson Remix)
Lullaby – Me In A Dream (Sleeplab Cover)
Neon Nights – James Peden (Purple Zain Remix)
Self Destruct – Leipzig Lab (Pixy Styx Cover)
New Years Day – Sleeplab (Me In A Dream Cover)
James Peden Music has been promoting the community and artists from further a field with his new Australian Electronic Music Video show on Youtube. There have been 3 so far, featuring various LEMOM members, you’re in for a treat, be sure to check them out, in chronological order. James is open to submissions from artists. The quality of independent work is just stunning. We have a very vibrant community of talented musicians.
Be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for more work from all artists involved and support them on bandcamp, socials and youtube.
You can find all the artists involved below, check them out now and support the independent music community.
Welcome February 6th 2020. The Call of Oma launch was a success it is receiving airplay around Australia and there will be more interviews coming. So far we have had feature interviews on 97.9fm and Radio Adelaide’s Out of This World. More news on that into the future. You can purchase the album The Call of Oma at all digital outlets or go here https://catherinemeeson.bandcamp.com/album/the-call-of-oma . Today we begin a new journey.
The video below details the spontaneous song writing process as a whole, in video document format from the beginning to end, (less than thirty minutes). Features the song ‘Stardust’ a song exploring the feeling and vulnerability of new love and the fragility of the heart. It will be released as a single in 2020.
‘Catching Stardust’ is the first in a series of Blogs and Vlogs on ‘Women Who Rock’ in music (title inspired by Marilyn of the Red Church) for 2020, which will explore women in music and issues of craft as well as issues affecting well-being and sense of self from a women’s perspective. They may contain surveys and interviews with others and will also be a shout-out to influential and powerful women of music through recorded her-story. Sure, to be provocative and forthright.
‘Catching Stardust’ honours the song writing process of not knowing and going with the flow of ones muse. Stardust was the second tune I wrote by the embers of an open fire, camping out in Lerdederg state park, whilst my boyfriend slept. It was 11th March 2019.
As a form of documentation, I literally set up the phone and recorded the whole process by firelight. It is in D# alternative tuning, (something my boyfriend has introduced to me). Before this I wrote a very long riff based instrumental piece called Resurrection Codes which was also captured. Video documenting allows one to see exactly what one was doing in the moment. Once upon a time I captured my songs on tape recorder and still have a box of tapes. Years later it became phone voice recording, now occasionally I do it on video. I always drew my chord charts and progressions down.
Stardust captured the feeling of new love, vulnerability and the fragility of the heart. As with most improvisation-based tunes, I noodle till I find something that resonates with how I am feeling in the moment, then I’m off on The Windcatcher (my magical mythical musical ship), we set sail and traverse the fields of time and space through sound. I voyage through feeling, melody, harmony, rhythm and form as the song is crafted/ birthed through me. Lyrically it presents as essentially a folky tune (psychedelic folk ambience) that has been developed as a demo and was submitted to the APRA professional development competition last year.
Many people have an opinion about how to write a song and what it has to be. A formula for the genre, a set structure, the rules of harmony and form. All those things are nice but they create limits if one is rigid about it. We all know the essence of popular music form through listening to it all our lives. There is no right or wrong way. Someone will always want to change what you did or how you did it, or they will change where it wants to or could go. But you know what? It’s your song, your way, your muse and voice. There is only ‘what is’ in the moment of creation. Finding ones own voice and style is essential in a world of wannabes. All one can ever truly be is oneself. Therefore, cultivate uniqueness, that is following the dao of your own unique unfolding on the river of life.
Sure you can refine songs later, re arrange them , adapt them etc, but in my experience ( I can say this because I have been writing songs now for 33 years), they come out mostly complete entities; a chord progression and a vocal lyrical melody that stands by it’s own integrity. One does not need to agonise over it or get all intellectual about it. It’s a different process to writing to a brief or modern electronic based song writing, this is the old school way of instrument and words. It’s organic, with the flavours and tools of local space time, i.e. the feel and the instruments/ resources at hand.
You don’t go to school to learn how to write songs, you just write them. You go to school to learn composition, but degrees for song writing, that will get you a bunch of rules to break and a bunch of formulas and other peoples processes. Then you still have to do your own thing. So play, experiment, make mistakes, follow your ears, follow your feelings as they express.
This video is very raw and very real, it features me being eaten alive by mosquitos, tripping out on the sounds of the night and being in awe of the stars. It features mistakes, bum notes and the real process I go through to find /develop and create a song. I feel I don’t create it, I just follow it as it emerges, I am just the person it comes through. Like the universe wishing to express itself. I follow the feeling, rhythm, the flow, the melody. The lyrics come as to be expected. My hope is that this video demystifies and normalises the song writing process. This took less than thirty minutes to write.
As far as what is it – to fix it in a genre, I guess I would call it folky, psychedelic folk, as it has been developed and uses fx pedals. The structure is pretty standard. Intro, verse, bridge, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus, outro. The instrumentation so far is simple, acoustic guitar with fx, bass, guitar riffs on the ricky, programmed beats and vocals, main and back up. It was a time-based completion for APRA ‘s professional development award program, (which obviously I was unsuccessful at). I also entered Resurrection and Standing there two more singles I hope to get out this year. I will develop Stardust further and refine the parts for the single release, it needs tightening up, the vocal placement and vowels need to be bang on. It is very characteristically ambient, spacious and relaxing. It is a beautiful song that I am happy to say Marty Wilson Piper liked 😊 in a recent mentoring session. Marty formally of Australian rock band The Church is my favourite guitarist alongside Pink floyd’s David Gilmour.
The purpose of this recording now is me reviewing my 60+ gig of video recordings from my phone, clearing my archives and storage and seeing what is worth developing and producing to completion. Not everything gets developed. The archives feature song ideas, improvisations on guitar, voice, bass, and piano, captured out there in the world, at work, or where ever I was at the moment. I am assessing my focus for the year and where my energies will go and what is realistic. I will aim for 3-4 singles, with a possible 3- 4 month turn around for each, that should be doable, but depends on work, funds and life.
As mentioned at the start of the blog I have a new series I will write about this year, aiming for one a month called Women Who Rock’ series. Look out for those as we journey along, and look out for my invitations to questions of relevance on Survey Monkey.
In ‘Catching Stardust’, I am inviting people into my process, I have always been pretty open about it blogging my albums creation and development of all my work.
I am promoting my services as a Creativity Coach (arts based coaching). If you are interested in Creativity Coaching and want to know more, click on the link below to my page about Creativity Coaching. The basic premise is that artists and creatives have unique sets of problems that need to be tackled and we may need the services of a whole bunch of allied health persons and professional arts industry allies, a Creativity coach can help you figure out what you need to be the best you, you can be as you bring your work into the world.
Creativity Coaching is offered via skype, phone, email or in person. There are one of rate deals of $60 an hour (skype, and follow up email). And a 4 session package deal $220 (4 skype sessions, follow up email, 2 15 minute phone check ins). In person sessions will incur additional travel costs. Payment method is via the Paypal button on the weblink (secure).
Creative process is something I am an expert at and could be invaluable in assisting you to be all you can be. Make it happen in 2020. No matter the issues affecting your creative work, or sense of self in the world a creativity coach could be exactly what you need.
To this end my qualifications are Adv Dip Music, B.A.I (Hons- music composition), Adv Dip Transpersonal Counselling & Art Therapy, Creativity coaching training with Eric Maisel, spiritual healing modalities. Professional development at Film Summer School (Melb Uni) and currently enrolled in part time Audio Engineering studies.