The Songs Found Their Lightship
I can’t sleep. I’m lying in bed digesting everything.
Last day in the studio today for a while. The album’s almost finished but not quite… not until the choir can legally sing.
It’s a pretty strong experience.
I think of those songs. They arrived 2, 3, 4 years ago, and they each have such a story. They each came before I knew anything about how to make an album, when I was this free channeling improviser and songs would come through.
Once I started recording improvisations, some of them started to push at me and want a cart to go to the world in. “Hey Briony will you make us a carriage so we can go to the world?”
I struggled for a while, not having the budget, not knowing musicians or how to use recording equipment. The songs kept pushing. I took my drum to an old grandmother Redwood tree and sung of my frustration and longing. In the silence at the end, a voice seemed to say, “You are about to turn 40. You can ask your community for money.” So I did, and they did, and now here we are 18 months later.
I’ve become an Executive Producer. I’ve crafted a sound as best I can from musicians and my voice.
I heard the most beautiful story today.
We’ve been working in the Lightship, a studio on a ship. Giles Barrett is the co-owner and sound engineer.
I’m moving to France on Saturday and I’m going to take the ferry from Dover. Giles said: “when you look back at Dover after a little while you can see the next town along, and that’s where I grew up.” He grew up as a boy being able to see the sea, and there were big mud flats so there was a lightship. You know we usually have a lighthouse, but because it was mudflats it needed to be a light ship that would go up and down with the tide and be out in the sea guarding against the mudflats.
So off Giles went, studied sound engineering at University and created a studio with some friends, it became a business. Then the building was up for redevelopment that they’d spent £40k building a studio in, so they’re like, o shit, and looked around for another studio. They saw an ad and went to view a new studio for rent.
It was on a lightship.
They were speaking to Ben, the ship owner, and Giles said, “where d’you get the ship from, Ben?” Ben had made a home and a music studio on the ship, then he’d become a sustainability consultant and was renting out the studio. “O I got it from the south coast, just the next town along from Dover.”
It’s the same ship.
Giles runs a tight ship. He’s a very amazing sound engineer and studio owner. I’ve been working with him for a year and a half now.
The album’s called Crossing The Ocean, and the music really has crossed the ocean with me. To stay with this music for years, is a very new experience for an improviser, who usually just stays with music for the moment that it appears and then moves on.
When we were done today, I just couldn’t stop photographing the ship, and the area around the ship which is full of sculptures. I like the sculptures, I like the textures, and I might make all the song photographs be photographs of the ship and the area.
The journey so far has led here; all these songs that came in a moment and then asked to be born properly, and given legs and winter coats and roller skates or something because they want to travel… I’m working for them, you know? I’m mothering them I suppose. I’ve got to keep on. They haven’t left home yet. Now they need music videos, and they need funding for music videos, they need release events and for me to tell people about them… They don’t give any money, they cost a lot of money, it’s very much like children!
So yeah, I’ve done it more or less, I’ve made an album. I think it’s extremely beautiful. Those moments that the songs came in… it’s such a heightened time when a whole song comes, particularly a very very beautiful and rich song. Being practiced and warmed up, being a good receiver for the song, being a good vessel, it takes a state of pretty optimal aliveness, or musical practiced-ness.
The songs found their lighthouse, you know? They found their lightship. They found their really good hands.
Here are some clips of the (almost) finished album…..