I tend to be a Look Forward kind of chap. But I’m not sure if we’ve reached the end of the world.
Well, you know. I’m a famously chipper young thing still, leaning always to the belief that if you consider your glass half empty, you’re more likely to chuck away the rest. Your spider plant might be grateful for this, but your metaphor will still be giving you a Paddington Bear stare with its arms folded. You cynical old grouch. Because no-one ever built a Saturn V rocket by saying it was a bloody silly idea and it’ll probably just fall over. Or by asking questions about Nazi technology.
The only things to be cynical about are predictions of the end times, I feel. People take great comfort in the fascination with signs of such total sulphurous oblivion and thus go looking for them at every opportunity. Not unlike Jersey Shore.
I, however, have found that launching myself at each day with the pressured energy of stubborn commitment to hoping it turns out to be a school summer holiday day, with all the subsequent excellent possibilities for fun, projectiles you to at least until lunchtime before disappointment pulls you over the parabola back to earth. There may be bruises, but it often accidentally gets some good fun done. At least in the mornings.
But now. Bah – sure, we’re enjoying one of the most exciting periods in science ever. And I have a phone app that will tell me exactly where the airliner far above my lazy afternoon siesta is going and give me links to all the passengers’ Twitter accounts. BUT, something about the combination of CG-like meteor showers in the news and Beyonce appearing to get crowned Supreme Sun Queen of All Humanity on the same Friday make me wonder. All the signs seem to be there.
Not least of which the evidently terrible state of my own soul. I doubt I would turn down an opportunity to pay homage to this mesmerising new Soul Woman Overlady – baroquely ennobled as she finally was today by an O2 promotion after a spiral-thighed mass hypnosis during some rounders game or other in America last weekend. Despite all the bloody hipsters attending her court. Plus, I’m not sure that dreaming of Easter weekend so you can swan-dive back OFF the wagon into an alcoholic blow-out after a poorly thought-through Lent abstinence is quite getting the point of it all.
Dear me, Peach.
Though I think the real reason I am having to redouble my efforts to ignore impending armageddon is simply the maths. I have suddenly noticed the time – specifically, how much of it has gone.
Amid the fun and creativity of 2012, a date slipped by completely unmarked. Ten years since I founded Momo. Didn’t pop a single party popper. Was up to the eyeballs in do-ishness and it somehow seemed like completely not quite the time to throw a party. I mean, you do that when you’ve arrived. Not when you’ve pulled over at a Little Chef on the A1(M), right? But it did seem a shame.
Then it struck me. About a day ago. I bought my first ever synthesiser 25 years ago to the same date.
..TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO.
More pertinently, perhaps, twenty-five years ago this year, I bought my first recording device – the Yamaha MT 44 four-track cassette recorder. Second hand from Steve. You know Steve. Tall fella. The pertinence being, that this summer will mark the recording of my first collection of tunes, and the beginning of my epic journey of daydreaming.
It prompted me to wonder: Some way into that epic journey now… what the jiggery have I done with a quarter of a century?
Other than daydream?
Then it prompted me to go look out some of those first tapes. Undoubtedly unwisely.
Now, you’re never going to hear them. I’ll tell you that now. The incomprehensible lack of recording technology I was working with for the first five years in my late teens was fairly staggering even by the standards of the day. Never seemed to get any money together. And the earnestness of my songwriting – attempts at which I felt obliged to, rather than drawn to as I did the keenly loved fantasy of making epic concept space music – are flatly NOT the work of a wünderkind. How the hell the intelligent woman I am still married to found that young boob an attractive mate option I’ll never really know.
But, lying in bed listening to one of those earliest of albums – for I did indeed finish every album project, complete with Letraset-and-acetate colour photocopied terrible examples of pre-any-design-skill-whatsoever covers – we did feel the whiff of nostalgia together. These finished little projects were moments in time. Stepping stones. (..No, you rough blighter, not “best stepped on”. Cheek.) Crude and naive, yep – wish it wasn’t so. But oddly confident and atmospheric at least.
So what HAVE I done with those years, as I look into 2013? Where has that quarter century of freedom to explore gotten me? ..And why on earth would you be interested?
After such a busy and creative year for Momo:tempo last year, January this year has been a bit of a hiatus. Not from work, but from music. I’ve actually been plunged into a big project for Momo:typo since Christmas – a brand engagement campaign for a client overseas. Good stuff – for the brain and the trumpets & congas budget. And also for the musical creativity – a break is no bad thing before a big push.
For, perhaps, that is what is about to happen. Between now and Easter, I am working on the long-awaited follow up to The Golden Age Of Exploration. I’d mapped this out a year ago, but been unable to fill in all the gaps beyond splendid tracks like Nudge and Undo, thanks to all the other projects Momo had me jumping into. But now… game on.
I’m also badgering places to let the Electro-Pops Orchestra put on some shows. Another tricky thing when you’re just one idiot in a shed attempting to extend his parabola alone every day. But, a few dates will be announced soon, I trust.
Of course, the artistic life for most artists is an ignoble and underfunded one. That I get anyone at all signing up to Momo’s Amigo mailing list, and can earn any tea money at all from anything creative marks me down as a lucky blighter. And maybe one doing a teensy bit more work than he usually lets on. But every one of us wishes he or she was worthy of the odd full concert hall audience.
After twenty five whole idiotic years of soldiering on without any glimmers of concert hall posters bearing my illustrious name and Liberace-style diamond grin, spangly piano promotional photos… should I still be daydreaming about “the next album”? They’re words I’ve spent my life saying with a far-off look in my eye.
All I know is… well, two things. Yep, if you’re any good, by my age you should have made a place for yourself somewhere on the spectrum of recognition. But also, I feel like I’ve never stopped learning.
Prompt me, and I will bang on about the importance of finishing things. Drawing a line under a project to be able to walk on from it. Mark the sand where you were. Put a thing on the shelf you can point to and pick up and wave around and say “Look what I did then”. Every album I finished on four-track or eight-track all those years before I walked out of a full time job was a qualification. A new lesson learned. A definite development stage. And I seem to have filled the time between Voyage and The Golden Age Of Exploration with ever more lessons learned and skills slightly developed. I don’t think I’ve stopped moving forward in all those years.
Interesting to see those two titles together, isn’t it? Separated by over two decades. What a dreamer.
But. Dreaming is the fuel of adventuring. And adventurers spend most of their time lost in jungles with little company and an evolving plan of sheer survival. It’s only afterwards in the pub it begins to sound like a great story. Whether tragedy or comedy might depend on who’s telling it.
I may, of course, never break through the undergrowth to finally discover an El Dorado or a Mayan temple with an apocalyptic date encrypted across it. Almost all daft adventurer types of yester-age emphatically did not. Especially because most of them were dandying fatheads. Which doesn’t bode well, obviously. But while some bored Victorian gent can choose to sod off to the Americas with a fragment of map or to stay well in London at the Reform Club, an artist can’t escape the adventure inside. Even a not very good artist.
I mean, it’s too much fun. If it feels more like a beginning than an end, it’s far too soon to give up, isn’t it?
End of the world or no, twenty five summers on, I plan to have the best musical year of my life.
Maths never was my strong point.