Gosh this has been a long time coming. It's been a couple of months since this video's release and throughout that time I have had the worst writers block. I think these women are amazing and I wanted to reflect to the best of my ability why I chose them to represent the message behind 'I'm Not This Layer of Skin.' So better late than never!
If there was ever a group of people, or a day to completely debunk any negative hypothesis of women, then I was lucky enough to experience it in West London on 23rd March, when we filmed the video for my second release. If you didn't read my previous blog, or keep up with the crowdfunder that explained the background to the project, the message behind I’m not this Layer of Skin was to emphasise how much more there is to women aside from their appearance. I personally think sexualised and shallow images of women are a dangerous/damaging predominate focus in current mainstream media. Yes we may want to look our best, and looks are important in many ways (for me, mainly for identity and expression) but it shouldn't be the sole focus of our gender's portrayal. Neither should it make us feel ashamed, inadequate, depressed etc.
ANYWAY, on a more positive note, being surrounded by such an amazing bunch of women highlighted how ridiculous the lack of emphasis on our substance is. I feel so lucky to have experienced such creativity, talent and personalities, and privileged to celebrate them with you all together in one room. You made this project the most meaningful endeavour of my life, and so much fun!! So my thanks goes out to you all, not just for making the outcome of this project way better than I ever imagined it would be, but for generally making a mockery of our many current 'predispositions.'
And also, thanks MUST go to Davide Marchesi and Lorenzo Guerrieri. Having worked with Davide before I Knew to expect a high level of quality and professionalism, but he enthusiastically took the project under his wing right from the start, and was extremely supportive of the message throughout. It's been so nice to further bond with him and meet Lorenzo. Their work has been an invaluable contribution.
In no particular order, here is a run-down of the talent:
I have enjoyed over a year having the classically trained violinist, Maria Kroon, playing alongside me at my live shows, plus featuring on every track of my EP, Not Her Own. She studied at Conservatorio di Verona and Malmo Musikhogskola, and the vast knowledge she has gained of her trade over the years continues to beautifully shape her natural virtuoso in stunning proportion. Her improvisation, passionate / creative attitude and genuine personality have made this project a huge pleasure and I couldn’t ask for a better partner in crime! She also plays electric violin in an Irish inspired rock band and has toured the west of Ireland in The Pogues tour van. Legend.
Chere is another friend of about 20 years. We started out in primary school, which she left after 2 years, then met again in secondary school, which she left after two years, and, just as I was beginning to see a pattern, we met at a gig when we were 22, realised we led extremely similar, musical lives and have remained good friends ever since. Chere is a singer songwriter inspired by the likes of Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Nile Rogers and Tracey Chapman. The soulful grip on her music definitely fit this profile and her rich lyrics combined with the deep twang of her roots means you should probably give her music a listen. I'd recommend her upcoming, currently unnamed, ep, due to be released in 2017.
I have had the privileged of seeing Charlotte Algar perform live many times. Her music is inspired by poets such as Chekov, giving it a classic timelessness. Combined with a voice to rival all the greats and her classical guitar training, she has managed to stun and silence every room I have seen her play to. Charlotte recently featured on the BBC’s Shakespeare Live playing the Lute, and is currently one of the only female Lutenists in London! I look forward to the release of her upcoming EP, something everyone should definitely check out!
Mickey is a writer whose work has often bought me near to tears (through poignancy and hilarity) she is currently working as a journalist for the economist and writes her own blogs about life, politics, feminism etc. I owe much credit to her for the ‘I’m Not This Layer of Skin’ project - always willing to read over my work before I share it with the world, she eased many of my doubts. Without this support, I'm not sure I would have had the confidence to pursue this project so openly. She recently founded a new feminist podcast, Catcalled, with two other amazing ladies Andy Gorman and Lucy Palmer Cook. I was lucky enough to guest feature on the first show and can’t wait to see where it heads.
Laura is another musician I have known for a couple of years now. The yoga she is seen doing in the video fantastically represents her personality and music. She has one of the freest spirits I have come across, an attribute that shines through in her live performances. The abundance of grace and genuity she possesses makes her art extremely moving. Her work includes her latest release, ‘Find the Way;’ a stunningly soulful collection of tracks, and she recently worked on an EP, with rapper Chui Dat, called ‘Piece of Mind.’ Both are also very much worth listening to.
I met Ruth in the summer after she asked me to play at the night she hosts 'Girls Night Out,' at the Lucky Pig in Fitzrovia. It was one of the best nights I have played in London and so nice to play alongside such a bunch of talented women. Ruth ended the night with a set herself and heard her music for the first time. A beautiful voice, great lyrics - it was faultless AND I look forward to seeing her again. She's now started a new project called 'HUMAN,' and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak before they officially launched themselves! Check her (and her great nights) out :)
I went to school with Carly Williams and have memories of us playing netball together in the playground. At 5'10 ft a piece since yr seven we were a perfect practise match - me as shooter and a her keeper. Our passions have somehow remained aligned and now are both pursuing our first love - music. Carly has always been a huge metal head and I'm so glad to see this hasn’t faded over the years. Keep rockin' that luminous pink hair! Aside from working for a band management company and being a part time model , she now designs her own accessories. Busy woman!
Dear Pariah is a London based singer songwriter who I met when I was on the same bill as her at The Old Queens head, it was also the first time I had heard her play. I was awe struck, to say the least, by the unique talent that came from this captivating artist. I wasn't surprised to later learn she has won a number of awards, including an Emerging Excellence award from help musicians UK (which helped fund her 2016 album) , the Emerging Musicians Competition on Amazing Radio and has received praise from Simon Raymonde (Bella Union) and Ruth Barnes (Amazing Radio) Well deserved. Her voice is like magic and her lyrics will make you cry. Give her a listen.
Kenesha is a soul, pop singer songwriter who I met when she supported me at my Endless Soul EP launch, back in October 2014. Kenesha’s involvement in this video was important to me, having been part of such a memorable night of my music life. She made the event so extra special with her talent, passion and beautiful performance. Her music has been likened to Tracy Chapman, Joan Armatrading and her debut EP ‘Eyes Wide Open,’ released in 2014, has been well received internationally. I look forward to see what the future holds for her!
Courtney is a creative who dabbles in singing and playing the guitar when she is not teaching French to primary school children. Another long time friend, animal lover, country bumpkin at heart. She has contributed pricelessly behind the scenes for his project, a reflection of or friendship as her support of my music has been continuous and consistent since I started this weird and wonderful journey three years ago.
Kristine has been in the fashion industry for over 11 years. After working in many design offices, she has decided to venture out on her own to start a personal styling business in order to pursue her creative side and stay true to her real passion. She told me ‘I want people to find confidence in themselves through style. I know that the way a person feels about themselves is the key driver to what motivates individuals to believe and live life how they truly want.’ The project is very inspiring and a true example of hard, risky entrepreneurship. I wish it the best for the future and anyone can get in touch through the below link.
Yolanda is someone I had never met prior to the making of the video, however she was a long-time friend of Chere’s and stood in, quite last minute, and made time to be part of the video. She turned out to be an extremely inspiring women and dabbles in a number of different areas. She is a youth support worker and believes in helping disadvantaged young people facng difficulties to reach their potential and to aspire to live a more fulfilled life. Yolanda is also exteemely creative and casually blogs about fashion and lifestyle. She is working towards running her own fashion business in the future and running organizations for young people.
Niamh is the youngest of the group and is the one who can be seen smiling adorably near the end, laughing at her cousin (Courtney, above) acting like an idiot behind the camera trying to get a genuine laugh out of her (In front of a room full of strangers (I have good friends)). Despite her young age (16!) she is already becoming involved in project like this one, to create a profile for her future. She is studying media and wants to continue to work in creative surroundings. I think her contribution gave the project the edge of poignancy that made it so beautiful.
Ultimately all people above made it what it was. Not really many words left apart from thank you.
And keep going.
You're all great.