What a wonderful year it’s turning out to be so far!Already it’s brought me stunning new albums from some of my favourite artists Julian Gaskell, Myshkin and Truckstop Honeymoon… Having passed my driving test in December I have my first car & am about to drive five thousand miles around Europe in it with my friends Brigid Kaelin & Becca Williams. There are some exciting projects in the pipeline that for now I’m keeping schtum about… and my new Pledge Music campaign, launched this week, to fund the release of my sixth album CONTRABAND has raised almost 30% of the money i need in just three days!
This album is different to any other that I’ve ever made for a number of reasons, not least in that right from the start and throughout its production it’s been an album about community. Here’s how it's beginning to take shape…
Peer Production & The Listening Committee
In August 2011 I sent an email out to the group of friends and musicians I have begun to think of as my ‘listening committee’. In the email I invited people to download a whole bunch of demos – all the material I’d written last summer – to help me to choose the songs I’d take into the studio. I think of this process as ‘peer production’ and of the album as ‘solo-collaborative’. It is the first time I’ve ever made a record in this way.
In November I travelled to Leeds on a packed train and spent two days at Valley Wood Studio. Here, with the expert help of Barkley McKay who recorded No.5 and Wife, I laid down thirteen tracks in two days. My good friend Nick Blacka came and played double bass with me. We worked incredibly quickly, capturing live moments of genuine intensity and raw versions of the songs I’d crafted.
The rough mixes of the album are now in the hands of a whole bunch of my favourite musicians and songwriters around the world, many of whom have been kind enough to offer their services as ‘guests’ on particular tracks. (I can’t wait to hear what they come up with!)
New Pledge Music Site
This week I’m opening the album ‘community’ up wider, to include everyone who has ever listened to my songs or been to a gig. I’m doing this by setting up a Pledge Music Site and inviting people to help me to put the album out either by becoming a ‘patron’ in exchange for incentives, or by sharing links and spreading the word about the album. As part of the process I also made a video, featuring my photographs, on which you can hear an unmixed track from the album.
We’ve produced a limited edition postcard about the pledge campaign that i’ll be bringing out on tour with me in the uk this spring. If you can’t get to the gigs and / or you’d like me to send you a few to send on to your friends and family just let me know! If the campaign is successful, I’m hoping to raise money for the Royal Society of Musicians, a very special charity who helped me to get back on my feet again in 2011.
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There have been times this last year that music has been impossible for me. So painful that even the word itself was something I couldn’t bear. The only music I could listen to at times was birdsong. And then, only the scraping and chatter of sparrows under the eaves or the all-night ululations of the hoopoe.
2011 was not an easy year for me. I spent a month in Spain last June where I began, very slowly, to pick up the guitar again. For a while I couldn’t sing and so I picked out fragile patterns whilst the rain hammered down outside. Eventually these small patterns became songs which in turn have become CONTRABAND.
I learnt a lot of things whilst I was away. I learnt that pride sometimes needs to be swallowed and I swallowed a lot of it…and in the process I learnt how to ask for help, (as I am doing right now through Pledge). I learnt that the world can be very stark and also heart-breakingly beautiful. I swam wherever I could swim, in storms, lakes and shallows and among pink oleander blossoms. I picked ripe cherries, ran on dirt roads and walked on canal towpaths. I greatly enjoyed the company of women and learnt the value of true and generous friendship. I cried a lot, and, eventually, I learned how to laugh again.
This hasn’t been an easy album, but I hope that this will make it one that carries with it strength, wisdom, richness, grace and hope.
I’d like to share some of the comments that have been coming through with the pledges people have been sending, because they’ve really moved me. I’d also like to say a very sincere thank you to all of those incredibly kind people who’ve been involved in the project so far, in whatever way, shape or form. This continues to be an amazing and humbling process for me.
Hope to see you somewhere along the road,
‘I'm excited to be a part of a new project!’
‘A true pleasure to support you, Kirsty. Many thanks for the beautiful music’.
‘We need and love your music!’
‘One of the greatest, undiscovered, song writers I have the pleasure to listen to. Keep making that music which makes us feel so much!’
‘Delighted to know you are back on the music scene’.
‘Your music is magic. We love you’.
Ps. If you haven’t already signed up to the mailing list, you can get a free download of an album demo ‘dust rising’ by doing so at pledge here!