It’s fair to say that these two albums by GoGo Penguin are currently changing my life. When I don’t know how to feel, I listen to these (especially driving in the car!) and they just make sense to me. Their new album came out in February too and it’s just as amazing. I mean, who could not love a band where one of their songs is called ‘Garden Dog Barbecue’?
Whilst it is one of my favourite genres of music, I find jazz music quite difficult to listen to at times – especially avant garde jazz and the styles that tend to be more frenetic and less controlled. As a vocalist, I whole-heartedly LOVE to to improvise but sometimes when there isn’t much of a melody to hold on to, things can get tricky to listen to and I end up more stressed out than when I started listening to it.
Being introduced to the likes of Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and a range of other influential female vocalists of that era was like a flashing 60’s neon light going off in my head – STOP Leona! You need to pay attention to these girls. Whilst my own vocal style is not overly similar, they showed me how to respect music; not only just enjoy it or do it because I could and it was something I showed skill in.
When I stayed with Carolyn and Clive at Cowwaar Arts Space earlier this year as an artist in residence, we had a few really interesting conversations about the creative process and how projects come about. I will never forgot a passing comment (some passing wisdom?) in which Clive made as I was exploring their gallery exhibition at the time. I was struggling with my own writing and getting quite frustrated with myself and he said something along the lines of ‘the creative process isn’t a luxury’, in that in needs to be regarded as work. It was that moment that I knew I had been looking at my own creative process in the wrong perspective – as a luxury. I didn’t give it the respect it deserved, and I expected that I would just churn out a prodigal amount of music and writing and be this new-age creative.
Uh. No. Not the way it works.
So in a round-about way, GoGo Penguin help me to remember what I need to keep in mind; respect music = respect your own creative process. Perhaps that’s why it makes sense to me. I hope so because it’s working.