Sunday, 9 August 2015

My First Festival

In the middle of last week I received a message saying someone had dropped out and could I step in to perform at Kaya Music Festival on the weekend. Since it's been far too long since I last played live I jumped at the chance and after googling the festival and seeing how exciting it looked I realised just how great this opportunity was for me.

I absolutely loved performing at Kaya Festival and would do it again in a heartbeat. The people there were all fantastic, interesting and kind people and a few of them even came up to me after my set to tell me how much they enjoyed it which is honestly one of my favourite things in the world. My parents played paparazzi for the day and we got a few good photos out of it so I thought it might be nice to share them with you on here.

So here are the photos from the first music festival I played at, lets hope there are many more photos of me in a flower crown playing festivals in the future!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

All That I Needed

Two years ago I made a video to a song I'd written about leaving school with a collection of videos and photos from over my five years in that school. The two years since that video have quite honestly been the best two years of my life and I decided to do exactly the same to remember this time.

In two years I have met the most incredible people I could ever wish to meet and I now find it difficult to remember what it was like before I knew them. I have felt more at home with them than I ever thought possible and even the thought of having known them for as little as two years is crazy to me. I wrote a blog post recently about how I think my time in sixth form will quite possibly be 'the good old days' for me and what better way to remember the good old days than having a video like this to look back on. 

While I'm a massive fan of taking photos to capture moments, there's something special about videos.  They give a far better sense of what that moment was really like and I find when I watch videos that I'm in or I've taken I often feel a far greater sense of nostalgia than I get from photos. I also find that, as a songwriter, my songs are like little time capsules and often when I hear them I can remember the exact emotion I felt writing it. Because of this, a song written by me combined with photos and videos of the incredible people the song was written about is something I know I will look back on for years to come.

On close inspection you may notice that the song is slightly bittersweet. I mention in it that I think I'm only able to fully appreciate how things are for me now because of having experienced the opposite. The title of the song is a reference to this in a way, as the people I've met in the last 2 years were exactly what I needed to show me that feeling miserable within friendships is not normal and it's not something I, or anyone else, should feel like they have to put up with. They are everything I could have ever hoped to have in terms of friends plus so much more. I honestly don't quite know what I did right to be able to call such wonderful people my friends, but I couldn't be happier that I do.

So friends, thank you so very much for the last two years, and for being all that I needed.

Lucy x

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Why I Love Rusty Clanton's Music

A few years ago I stumbled across a video on YouTube by a guy called Rusty Clanton and thought 'wow, he's amazing and this song is beautiful' and didn't think much more of it. A few weeks later I found myself back on the same video and decided to subscribe. Today I listened to his new song 'Where Do I Belong' and realised just how much my appreciation for him has grown since then.

As a song writer, my ultimate aim is to be a musical story teller. I want my songs to share emotions and stories and I want to make people feel something through the words and melodies I write. Rusty Clanton does that so beautifully. One of the things I love the most about his songs is the way you can listen to it once and think how beautiful his voice is or how lovely the music itself is, and then the more you listen to it, and I mean really listen to the lyrics and try and think about what they mean, the more you pick up from it. Rusty tells stories in the most subtle, beautiful way and it's such a rare thing to find. 

There is something about his songs that feels so relatable. His songs, to borrow a metaphor from ThisBeDottie, are like blank screens to project your own situations on to. He draws the outline, you are the detail.

I know this post was a bit different, but I loved his new video more than a YouTube comment box could convey and needed to share why.

Rusty, if you're reading this, thank you. Thank you for being so talented, so committed to writing beautiful songs and for being such a good inspiration to fellow songwriters.

Lucy x

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Why Sometimes It's Better Not To Know

Living in the digital age, we're used to knowing pretty much everything we want to know. If we want to know something we didn't already, a few taps of a keyboard and the information is there in seconds. While it's important to educate yourself on things you're interested in, I find that when it comes to more personal situations it's sometimes better to not know.

I've always been a big believer in 'what you don't know can't hurt you'. I don't want to know what people say about me when I'm not there. I don't want to be told things that could upset me. While sometimes it is important to know, when there is nothing that can be done about it and the only possible outcome is upset, I'd rather be kept in the dark.

I'm aware that a lot of people have a problem with this, but my view is simple. If it's going to hurt me unnecessarily and there is nothing I, or anyone else can do about it, what will I gain from knowing it? If the answer is nothing other than becoming upset, I don't want to know. I know a lot of people would want to know if people were talking about them when they weren't there and I, like everyone else, obviously wonder what is said about me, but ultimately if it's negative I'd rather not know. While many people would argue that it's important to know, I'd really rather not.

The school I'm currently at is the complete opposite of me. There appears to be a culture of telling people every time their name is mentioned, despite what the outcome of this may be. If someone's talking about you while queuing up to buy lunch and someone hears, they'll tell you. If someone gets told something about you or someone you're close to, they'll tell you. Its not quite gossip because its contained, its controlled and it's all true, but I personally find it completely unnecessary. While I do believe you should be honest with your friends, I also think that's a very different thing to telling them things that will upset them.

What do you think? Would you rather know and be hurt by something or be left in the dark and never know any different? 

Lucy x

Sunday, 18 January 2015

YouTube Changes

The more observant among you who also watch my YouTube videos may have noticed things have been a little bit different over there since the new year rolled in and I decided it's probably time I explained a few things.

You may have noticed that videos have been going up weekly at around 6pm on Monday nights. I've not made any kind of announcement that this is going to be a schedule because, to be perfectly honest, I'm not great at sticking to schedules. It is definitely not set in stone that I will be uploading every week or what I will be uploading but I do have a vague idea of what I would like to do to guide myself a little bit.

My plan so far, which will probably change very quickly, is to have an outline of what I will upload every month. My plan at the moment is that the first Monday of every month will see a new original song that I've written recently and I'm still deciding on the others, meaning they are the ones that are likely to change. I'm considering doing a mashup on the second Monday of every month, a song that I've been requested to cover on the third and then having the last Monday of every month (or last 2 when that happens) as a bit of a 'wild card' where I can upload whatever I feel like uploading. These could be just a song I'm really loving at the moment, a song I've always loved but never got around to recording and uploading or maybe even a vlog if I feel the need (although vlogging really is not my forte, I'm far more comfortable with a guitar/ukulele at hand).

As well as this, you may have noticed my thumbnails for my videos have suddenly become all fancy and wonderful. This is thanks to my lovely friend Ishani who, if you read my book blog you'll know, designs pretty much everything I need designed. 

The quality of my videos has also changed a little. I tried filming on both my normal video camera (a very old sony 'bloggie') and my phone, an iPhone 5C and noticed that the quality of the video from my phone was far better. It just looked brighter and more colourful so I've decided to film on that from now on. I know a few YouTubers who film on their phone and you can never tell as there really isn't any difference and I'd rather do that and have brighter videos than have to worry about how bad the artificial lighting looks!

Hopefully, this year my YouTube channel will start to be what I wanted it to be when I created it all those years ago: a place where I upload regularly, don't really worry too much about what it is I'm uploading as long as I like it, and somewhere where I can share the music I love and the music I'm creating to more and more people. 

Lucy x

Sunday, 11 January 2015

New Years Resolutions?

To start this blog post, I'd like to wish a very happy belated New Year to you all. I know I've been a little rubbish with posting on here recently but, as always, school and life and everything else has just got in the way a little. 

A new year always comes with thousands of blog posts and YouTube videos from people sharing their New Years Resolutions and since I've been struggling with ideas of what to write about recently (another contributing factor to my lack of blog posts), I thought it was a pretty good idea to steal. I've already written a similar post on my book blog about my reading resolutions which you can see here.

I've not set myself any specific resolutions this year, but I do have a couple of things that I'm going attempt to do in 2015. I know that if I call something a resolution and set it in stone I will probably never do it, so instead I've decided to have a few ideas that I'm going to try and pursue, without any pressure on myself to keep them going throughout the year. The reading resolutions in the other blog post are examples of this. I've decided to not put any emphasis on how much I read, but more putting emphasis on reading what I want to, not just things that I feel I should read.

I'm also going to try and worry less this year. This is an on-going aim of mine and anyone who knows me probably knows I can be quite an anxious person, although I am very slowly starting to manage the anxiety. Most days I find that I feel anxious or worried about something at some point and I'm going to try and find ways to prevent this throughout 2015. It may or may work, but it never hurts to try.

Another aim I have is something that may or may not stick, but I'm hoping it does. Inspired by Danny Gruff's #ontaw (one new tune a week) that he's doing this year, I'm going to attempt to write 50 songs in 2015. I wrote 46 songs last year so it's definitely an achievable goal but this year I'm going to attempt to share more of them on my YouTube channel. Normally I write a song and it stays in my little songwriting book and only gets heard by a few close friends but this year I want to share more. I love letting people hear my music and there isn't a reason I don't upload to YouTube more so I'm going to stop trying to make excuses and just do it. I've decided to aim for 50 songs in the year rather than one a week because I find I go through phases of writing something every day and then not writing for a while and that's absolutely okay. I don't want to force myself to write when it'd not the right time but I do want to encourage myself to finish things I start, which aiming for a certain number of songs in the year should do.

I've started off well with this one as I've written 2 songs in the first 9 days of 2015 and have uploaded one of the songs I wrote at the end of last year to YouTube and the feedback has been positive on it so far! You can watch it here if you think it might be your cup of tea or you're just interested.

Here's to a great 2015.

Lucy x

Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Big Music Project And Musical Confidence

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you may have seen that I got a very exciting email earlier this week informing me that I have been selected for the semi finals of The Big Music Project competition and I felt like I just needed to write about it. This may become a bit rambly so feel free to grab a cuppa and get comfy.

When I first got the email I was excited. My immediate thoughts were 'the judges actually like me, this is crazy'. It then developed into excitement to perform for the judges later this month. That evening I went to a party and told a few of my closest friends and everyone was all very excited for me and I was reminded of how I'm surrounded by the loveliest, most supportive people I could ever wish for these days.

A few days after getting the email I decided to check the line up for the Cardiff semi final, the one I will be attending, and this was probably a bad idea. After watching a minute or so of all the other competitors I immediately felt intimidated. After seeing how incredible all the other people who I will be performing alongside are I couldn't help but feel inadequate. It is going to be little old me performing alongside people with much better voices and much more experience. Their melodies are more catchy and their lyrics are more coherent. I know that I should be thinking 'if the others are all incredible and you are put in the same category as them, that is a good thing' but I just can't make myself think like that for some reason. Immediately after watching the other videos I thought that there must've been a mistake. The email I got was probably intended for someone else. Then I reminded myself that I was listed and linked to on the line up too so it's unlikely that it's a mistake.

For as long as I've been writing songs I've been very aware of the fact I am not and will never be the best songwriter in the world, although I am still more confident with my songwriting than I am with my singing. Growing up, I was never a particularly good singer and, believe it or not, dance was more my thing. I was surrounded by some incredibly pessimistic people for a long time and if I ever decided to sing for a performance or later when I started uploading YouTube videos, they were never far away, ready to remind me of how incredibly average (or below average) my voice is. It's taken far more people encouraging me than ever told me I couldn't sing to make myself believe that actually this is maybe something I can do and I am okay at. I will never be Beyonce and I will never have a voice that is anything like hers, but I do have a voice like Lucy and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The problem is, no matter how many people compliment you, you're always going to remember the insults more. It's the insults that stick in your mind and rear their ugly heads when you find yourself searching for a source of confidence. I still have very vivid memories of people insulting me about music about 7 years ago and I can't remember a single compliment from that time. I'm aware that there probably were some, they just don't stay in my mind.

As I've mentioned before on this blog, last year I moved schools and was the new girl for the first time in my life. When I met new people, I didn't mention my music or YouTube channel as I had no idea how people would react but it didn't take long for my new friends to find it as I have it linked up to all of my social media sites. I was expecting a reaction like I had experienced in my old school, of 'why would you bother, nothing will ever come from it, you will never be famous' (they completely missed the point, clearly) but instead I was met with 'oh my goodness I had no idea you're a singer songwriter, you're amazing!'. Even teachers found out due to people talking to me about it during lessons and by the time we were a few months in it was not unusual for my Business Studies teacher and I to be sat around playing ukulele duets during lunchtimes. Even now, people are still excited by it and I have a friend who knows all the words to all the songs I have put on my YouTube channel and constantly asks me to upload more. I have another who helps me with any graphic design type things (you can thank her for the banner at the top of this blog!) and has offered to help me film some videos/take photos for anything I may need photos for. 

In addition to that, the last year for me has seen me attending a songwriting bootcamp run by the wonderful Amy Wadge (her brain combined with Ed Sheeran's produced the beautiful Thinking Out Loud). I worked with lots of other local musicians who were all incredibly talented and although I had so much fun and would go back in an instant, I felt intimidated by how good they all were on more than one occasion. One particular afternoon I was feeling incredibly intimidated and confided in the incredible musician I was working with when he asked why I sang quietly that I had been told so often that I can't sing that I often find it hard to sing loudly when other people are around. His wonderful words of encouragement (he is honestly one of the kindest people I have met in a very long time) definitely helped a little, as did the same from Amy Wadge, but those other voices remained in my head. Even support from other musicians I admire online (looking at you Dave Giles) hasn't silenced those voices, although they have certainly contributed to turning the volume down.

My point is, even though I'm surrounded by incredible people who are as supportive as is possible to be, those voices from my past are still in the back of my mind reminding me of how average I am. I'm not sure that they will ever go away. Slowly they are becoming quieter, but they are still there and they still make an appearance when I have a big event or am uploading a new YouTube video. Although I know it is probably a good thing to have faced criticism before I even really properly got into this whole music thing, it's still difficult and if I wasn't so stubborn and determined to prove them wrong, it would've been very easy for me to stop because of what they'd said. I considered giving up on YouTube a lot before last year. Although I now very rarely consider giving up, because the only opinions I hear are positive ones with the occasional piece of constructive feedback I can't help but wonder what the pessimists are thinking.

This slightly went off topic as late night blog posts often do but the point is still there. You could have hundreds of people complimenting you and all it takes is one insult to knock your confidence to the ground. I know now that the times I was told straight up that I can't sing were nothing more than them being mean because they could be, but that doesn't make them easy to forget.

Always make sure to be careful what you say to people. You never know what it is they will remember for years and once it has been said, it can't be unsaid.

Despite feeling intimidated and slightly inadequate, I am massively excited to be performing at the regional semi final of The Big Music Project. Even being able to say I am a semi finalist and one of 14 people they want to see there sort of blows my mind. 

If you are one of the people who has been supportive of me, there are no words to describe how grateful I am. Something as simple as saying 'I loved your latest YouTube video' may seem stupid and insignificant to you, but those comments whether online or in person absolutely make my day and it makes me more happy than I can say that I have been lucky enough to have encountered such lovely people.

Thank you so very much,
Lucy x