Masonic Boom

"Crazy" "Oversensitive" "Feminazi" "Bitch" bloggin' bout pop music, linguistics and mental health issues

Monday, September 18, 2006

Out Of The Office

A lot has happened over the past weekend. My brother got married. I've been betrayed on a very intimate level by someone I thought was a close friend. I joined a Hunt and went Sockshunting in Hyde Park. (Ban? what ban? We're hunting SOCKS, you fule!) I went shoegazing with my friends.

But in a couple of hours, I'm heading off for a lovely weekend of holiday on the Isle of Wight, where I plan to be totally without internet access the whole time.

So, in the mean time, I leave you with this utterly lovely specimen of manhood, snapped at the Connaught Square Sockshunt.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


So here's me, blogging on the interweb, about being on the telly, as part of a special about interwebbing.

Was woken by text from Emsk, saying that she had just seen a few seconds of it. Mutter mutter, I'm not going to get bothered about a few seconds... no, no, that was just a promo, the real thing is excellent, she messages back.

So I shower and dress and go next door and wake up C, my neighbour. (C and her husband J are also musicians, I have been producing a demo for them, so they can start gigging and get a MySpace set up themselves.) She makes tea and we sit on the couch and giggle. Ten minutes wait, and then, sooner than expected, there's AMPy walking down Brick Lane ON THE TELLY and we're on.

It's weird watching your own band on the telly. Because, obviously, when you're in a band, you never ever get to see what you actually *look* like when you're performing. Mostly, I skulk round the back, trying not to be seen and concentrating very hard on my guitar and pedals. But when the guitar solo starts, BLIMEY!!! there I am, with the camera in my area, looking like a total rock monster. With extra chins.

It seemed to go on forever, and then it was over. It seemed like a lot more than a minute and a half.

Being on the telly, does your life change? Well, not really. No one recognised me on the train. But everyone at work had seen it, and everyone on the interweb had seen it (especially as it was YouTubed in about two hours) and it really made me feel like somehow we'd accomplished something. Like I've been doing this little thing for 20 years, and now, just for a moment, the world took note. And crashed our MySpace account with their 5.1 million viewers or whatever.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Five Years

I didn't go to work yesterday. No, this is not "the terrorists winning" or whatever. It's personal.

I woke up, and I smelled smoke, and my first instinct was horrible, gut-wrenching fear. Blind panic.

And suddenly I realised I just couldn't face it. Not even so much that I couldn't face public transport and Central London - or even leaving the house, really. But more that I couldn't face newspapers, endless parades of disaster pr0n, one minute silences, two minute silences, the public displays, the contest to see whose sympathy can be the most shrill, whose commentary can be the most pithy and navel-gazing.

So I stayed in bed, pillows over my head, mostly sleeping. I left the house once, forcing myself to go to the park to prove that London wasn't on fire - in fact, the burning smell was a construction site down the road incinerating some rubbish. I wrote in my diary, dug out old diaries to see what I was feeling on other anniversaries. It's all mixed together for me, the horror of Being There (no, sorry, watching it on television was *not* the same as seeing it in the flesh, in the sheer "I was there. I saw this" disasters of war sense) and the personal holocaust that followed, only tangentially related.

My mum is on this new kick about "not rehearsing negative emotions, because it reinforces neural pathways" which just smells to me of that whole, blinkered, American wilfully mindless positivism, like you can hide all of life's negative aspects behind a neural net curtain.

But on this topic, it might just be something to turn away, close the door and just not dwell on it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Secret To Self Esteem

Is to be able to read posts like "i find theres more fun in taking the piss out of sanctimonious women who look like theyve been winning their local pie eating contest ten years in a row." and just laugh hysterically, and think "Yes, I'm fat, I'm middle aged, I'm a total bitch, and I have the audacity to be a woman, and yet I'm STILL on the radio, on the television, in the music press, in a band far more cool and successful than you will ever be, even in your wank fantasy dreams. And it just BURNS YOU UP, doesn't it? HA HA FUCKING HA!"

Fly DJ Playing My Song, Why Don't You Take Me Head On

So we're going to be on the telly next Wednesday. BBC 1 Breakfast Show - proper, big-time, all my relations will see it TELLY. I am almost insanely excited about this.

But it's nice to feel excited about the band again. Went out for dinner with AMPy last night, to this amazing little restaurant in Clerkenwell. Angels and GIANT GOLD HEADS on the walls and velvet ceilings and baroque fiddly bits of jewels hanging down like my dream house, oh yes, and nice food, too.

And we had one of those long and complex and emotional talks where you just strip everything back and put everything on the table and really sort stuff out, and then suddenly you realise that although you've been speaking completely different languages, you're saying the same things once you manage to translate it, and you look across the table and everything makes sense again and think "YES! This is why I'm friends with this person in the first place!" And months of badness is sloughed off like dead skin and the friendship is new and fresh and soft like a baby's arse.

Because at the end of the day, the funny thing about bands (funny little plans, that never work out right...) is that although it's supposed to be about the communication between artist and audience, what actually makes it *fun* and ultimately good on a day to day basis is actually about the communication and dynamics between the *musicians*. And I feel like we've got that back, now. So now we can resume our plans to take over the world...

Then off to Poptimism for a dance. We were drunked and we felt like dancing, the DJs were in fine form (we heard a rumour they played Noyfriend earlier but we missed it) but the whole thing was rather spoiled for me by the unwelcome sight of my ex-boyfriend (a boy who broke my heart destroyed what little was left of my pride at a particularly rough time in my life, and consequently one who got several Shimuras songs written about him) making a display of himself on the dancefloor with his new girlfriend.

Ouch. Ouchy ouchy ouch ouch. Compounded by The Meddler (with his uncanny knack for saying exactly the *wrong* thing at the wrong time) announcing "not his girlfriend - his fiancee"*. And suddenly, it all felt meaningless. Everything I've accomplished, all the great things my band has done - we're on the radio, we're on the telly, single in the shops, fly DJ playing our song - but at the end of the day, I'm alone, again, endless always, immer weider, while any boy, no matter how rubbish, can *always* find another girl to put up with him.

Yet another blow to my ego to see that she looks just like every other girl he's dated - including, for a time, me. That it wasn't actually me, myself(selves) that he was attracted to, but just that I happened to physically resemble some idea of what his generic girlfriend should look like. Demolish me again, why don't you? Oh well, there's another song in there somewhere, I suppose.

*This was later revealed to be a misunderstanding, but by then the damage had been done.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Particle or Wave?

I'm trying not to get lost in the emo. Thinking about something completely different. Been thinking about the fabled lack of agreement between the systems described by Classical (or, more accurately Einsteinian) Physics and Quantum Physics. In most ordinary situations, they agree perfectly, but at the very basic fundamental level - when things get very SMALL, or very OLD - they just don't agree at all. (This is a vast simplification because I'm not a physicist.)

Now I've been having a rather silly flirty argument about whether these descriptions actually comprise seperate *realities* or whether they're just clumbsy mathematical descriptions/approximations of some ultimate (Platonic?) Reality.

I rather like the idea that things become unfathomably *different* depending on how you look at them or approach them. That there is no actual single Reality, and the harder you poke it to investigate it, the weirder it becomes, the more complex, until it only makes sense in superstring branes of ten dimensions (which most minds cannot grasp conceptually) or with probability curves involving imaginary numbers. It's absurd enough to please me, this "ha ha!" of Quantum Physics that defies common sense. I like it on a philsophical level, the Answer is that there is No Answer.

I've been trying to explain it metaphorically. Thinking about The Self, or rather myself, as metaphor for the elusive particle/wave of Fundamental Reality. One of my greatest problems is that I exist in so many completely different environments that I have to be a completely different person in each. I'm one person when I'm at work, the super-analytical, highly logical maths machine. I'm a different person when I'm with my band, the creative, absent-minded musical genius. I'm another person on the interweb, another person in relationships, another person when I'm dealing with my family. Each environment brings out an (often completely) different aspect to me.

I can recall sitting down and doing accounts for my ex-boyfriend. This was my partner, the person I lived with for over a year, who thought he knew me - moody, dark, creative - and he said he was surprised at how I utterly changed when I did maths, that I snapped into being this super-organised, super-efficient being he said he barely recognised.

It's been noted, that I don't really want people from work coming to see my band. They think it's because I'm kind of ashamed or embarrassed of my music. Or maybe of them! (Can you imagine a load of bankers and accountants at an indie gig?) Who knows. When really, it's because I don't want those two worlds intersecting, because I am such a different person in each of them.

So this is me. I don't have a Self. I don't even know that there *is* a core me. I mean, yes, I'm a different person again when I'm alone, by myself, locked in my flat with no one watching. But that's not the "Real" me, either, it's just another of the multitude of selves that exist in different environments. There is no Platonic Kate, there is only the collection of sets of behaviours and reactions that comprise Kate in her various settings.

So tell me, then. Which is the real Reality? This changeable, unknowable vortex of Kates through which situations pass? (How the hell are you going to measure or even observe that? What unit of measurement would you ever use? Pop songs written? Millions of data records analysed? Shoes worn?) Or the various settings, the Environments in which these Kates exist?

So now let's backtrack to Our Friend, The Atom. (Remember him? The particle/wave we were worrying about the Quantum vs. Classical/Einsteinian Nature of?) Does he have an actual Platonic essence? Or is he a vortex, a collection of possible realities he could be involved with, like The Kate? Are Quantum Physics and Classical Physics just two ways of looking at the same thing? Or are they two, separate realities themselves, rather than descriptions?

I don't know. Proper Scientists will probably be annoyed by this cod-philosophical abuse of their beautiful concepts. Just a bit of fun, be cool.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Cry Me A River

I guess sometimes when you really feel terrible, you just need to cry it out. I hate crying, I hate the way it makes my nose run and my eyes go red and I totally lose control.

I ran away to the loo and did a massive cry, the silent, running, can't keep the water in your eyes, head against the porcelin and wishing you could smash your brains in kind of cry.

And just let whatever neurotransmitter or toxin or whatever it is that's built up do its job and wash out of you. It wouldn't happen if you didn't need it to.

And now I'm back at my desk, waiting to run the downloads, and a random MySpace survey made me smile with its mad questions about which musician you wanted to marry, so I said I would marry Benjamin, but purely because I was using him to get to his pedals. So I'd marry him, and run off with his pedals, leaving him all alone, sad and lonely, with no choice but to write another heartbreaking work of staggering genius like their last album. And then we're all happy. In our unhappiness.

Right, do you think those buggers are off the system yet?

Feels Like I'm Disappearing, Getting Smaller Every Day

Rubbish weekend. I mean, it was there. I didn't do a thing. It was a struggle to even get the shopping done, get the laundry washed and then crawl back into bed and just lie there, eyes closed, not sleeping, just curled up in a ball.

Days off are so rare that I feel pressured to DO SOMETHING with them. I should be writing, should be making music, drawing, something. But the urge isn't there, the Muse is alseep. I feel lazy and bad just resting. Is it resting? I'm exhausted all the time. It's not natural to sleep for ten hours and then take a nap. Am I sick? Is it anaemia? Or is it the cold, grey fog of depression just coming down like a wet blanket over everything.

No one rings, except my mother. (And even she brings ambivalent news. My brother and his partner are moving to California so she can have a baby. And then on top of this, the slap of "when are you going to start dating again? I hear you can meet people on the interweb.") Yes, sorry, just one more thing I've failed at, that my brother has succeeded at. How can I be happy for his successes when I'm always being compared to him as a failure?

I try to reach out when I feel like this, but everyone's busy with their own lives. Why would anyone want to be around a constant lump of depression and bad temper like me, anyway? It's a self feeding cycle, you feel isolated and alone, but lack the ability to reach out and say "hello?" One thing that came out in the Big Talk last week is that my bandmates are afraid of me. No wonder no one ever wants to be around me. I try to say "Look! I feel totally taken for granted. Could I possibly get some appreciation and maybe some understanding?" and the end result is that I get marginalised even more. If they can play gigs without me, what the fuck do they need me for? Being pushed further and further out of the frame. Even my so-called friends don't talk to me lately except to tell me off. So I remove myself, rather than face the ignomy of being pushed away. It's better to cut someone else out than be abandonned Ever. Again.

And I look in Country Life and for sale is an island off Cornwall, accessible only by a perilous looking suspension bridge over a terrifying cliff, a gate and a wall and you could lock yourself away for ever, and no one could ever get in. (Except how the heck would you get your furniture out there, but that's beside the point.) Perfect.

Even my Muse isn't speaking to me at the moment. I don't believe in "writer's block" but my head is so full of rubbish and self loathing that I can't tune into my universal radio and get a song out of it. I've been up for four hours and I just want to go back to bed. But I've got month end to run and I'll be here until midnight.

I Wanna Be On The BBC

So here we are, being filmed by the BBC.

Quite typically, even though there were a million photos taken, and a dozen photos flickred, there's only one where you can actually see me.

Cheers, guys. Make me feel even more invisible, why don't you?

Friday, September 01, 2006

I'm In Your Area

I'm exhausted, and all the coffee and carrot cake in the world can't bring me back to life, but I'm still running on adrenaline from last night. Just. Waiting for AMP to flickr her photos but until then...

Filming is weird. It's just odd and ever so slightly unnatural. But our crack team from the BBC, Jon and Simon, did their best to be patient with us. I was quite relived that techie Simon is also a musician as a hobbie, so we chatted a lot beforehand about pedals and programming software - and he did sound and worked the board so everything sounded good and I could just concentrate on playing.

First thing you notice is the HEAT. It is SOOOO hot. The bloody lights... it's even hotter than being on stage, which is warm enough. Everything just melts. I didn't bring makeup, and ended up a sweaty mess even as we were still soundchecking, so I had to borrow Anna's weird jaundice-inducing powder for gingers just to avoid looking like a cross between the dying Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Arc and sweating bloke out of Broadcast News. Ugh.

And it's hard. It's much harder than either playing a gig or recording. Because when you're recording, you're concentrating on being perfect, on getting the notes just right. But when you're playing live, you're far more interested in the performance - in emoting and yes, looking cool (or at least, looking like you mean it.) So I kinda hid in the back the first couple of takes, and made sure that the Audiomaster (I still don't get the difference between audiomaster and audioslave) was perfect. Then for the other takes, I could jump about like a neejot and make guitar faces.

And my god, how many takes you have to do. It's not quite marks and "hit that spot" but we did about eight different takes of the song, with the camera in different places. Poor Anna and Marianna got close-ups with the camera right up their noses. Me? I got the camera in my sodding CROTCH. When they Access All Areas, they get it right in your Area.

I have always wondered why, when they go for close-ups on guitarist, they never show the fretting hand fingerwork (which is actually the interesting bit) - they only ever show the picking hand (which is, frankly, dull). So I asked Simon, and he said it was because shooting *up* the fretboard gives a more visually interesting visual with more action. So we filmed the whole song with the camera closer to me than a man's been in years, with only my Jazzmaster to protect my beerbelly (oh god, stand up straight, suck yer belly in, wait, no, hit the solo like Pete Townsend, oh god, so much to remember... ARGH! what key's it in?) I guess if every guitarist from Jimi Hendrix to Benjamin Curtis has had to go through this, I can survive the indignity, too.

The last take was just us mucking about, random stuff, handheld camera stuff, shots of the laptop - and I insisted we get shots of the pedals (playing wah which has no place on this song whatsoever! hah!)! I even attacked AMPy with the guitar at the very end. That's one for Up The Arse Corner.

And that's that. Three hours work for a minute and a half segment. It'll be on BBC Breakfast TV some time during the week starting 11/09/2006. Apparently. I still can't quite get my head around it. My entire life, I wanted to be on TOTP. This reaches an audience about 10 times that of TOTP.

Then the four of us went out for drinks afterwards, and just talked. Mainly to wind down from the adrenaline high, and also to talk about what's been up recently. I can't remember the last time the four of us just got together to talk about stuff. It felt good, really good. And I think we've worked out our issues... or at least, are on the path to working them out. Things are gonna change. I hope for the better.