With January being a cold and bleak month I often find it’s perhaps harder to be inspired when you probably need it the most. I decided to review some of my favourite things from these past couple of months and compile it into a blog as a way of inspiration.
My current favourites, so let’s start with music first.
A band I have found myself often reaching out to over the past couple of months has been the return of Bon Iver. Justin Vernon, better known as Bon Iver released his new album in September 2016. It’s taken 5 years for Bon Iver to bring out new music under the title 22, A Million, which was eagerly anticipated – certainly by me at least. At first, I was a little confused with where the sound was going as it strays a fair way from his first album For Emma, Forever Ago, and even his second album Bon Iver, Bon Iver that had already progressed in the sense of instrumentation from the first album. But 22, A Million experiments in a whole new way, including the song titles which are stylized with symbols, so much so that I don’t know how to replicate it on my computer!
The first single from the new album to be released was 22 (OVER SOON). If I’m being honest, the first time I listened to this I was somewhat disappointed as I was expecting Vernon’s usual indie-folk style. But I wasn’t going to give up on it so easily, and when the second single 10 dEATh bREasT came out I was ready to embrace the new style and found myself getting lost in this track. What really sealed the deal was when I heard 33 GOD, it completely caught my attention and kept me hooked and I was excited by this new Bon Iver. Have a listen here.
Speaking of musicians, I felt it was only right to talk about unsigned and local artists too. There are a heck of a lot of amazing unsigned musicians out there, in every part of the country (in every part of the world!) that have not yet been recognised. But that’s ok, we can keep them to ourselves for a little longer before the rest of the world catches on and sees just how good they really are. The thing I love most about the music community is the support that comes with it. There’s always a musician who can recommend another and working together can bring everyone opportunities. It was actually quite hard to pick just one act because there are so many good ones, but I’m sure I’ll have other opportunities to mention them again in this blog or on my social media, so keep your eyes peeled.
A current artist who I really admire is Sobi. She is a songwriter from London, who studied in Manchester and now currently lives in Hanover, Germany. She’s acoustic folk orientated, where not only is her voice beautiful but also her words (I just can’t get enough of lyrics!). She also has the wonderful knack of writing really catchy melodies, not in a pop kind of way, but in a haunting manner that sticks in your head for days. I was fortunate enough to support her for a couple of dates on her UK Tour which I mentioned in my 2016 Highlights Blog. Here she had a band to back her delicate vocals and guitar playing adding something even greater to her sound. Sobi swaps between an acoustic and electric guitar (I personally love the electric tone against her vocals) whilst being supported by a bassist who occasionally exchanges for a guitar and a drummer and really, nothing else is needed. Her latest EP ‘Biting Back’ is available here, you should definitely give it a listen!
Someone that has inspired me greatly over the past few months is a young Swedish artist named Jonna Jinton. I have often shared her work through my social media because I find that I am continually inspired by not only her artwork but also her lifestyle. My attention was first caught by Jonna’s photography. She captures the most amazing scenic views of the landscape and mountains that surround her in a little town, Grundtjarn in Sweden, where she works and lives. Sometimes she includes herself in the photos surrounded by beautiful landscapes producing somewhat magical and otherworldly shots
I spent a lot of my childhood in the French mountains and I find it to be an incredible place of inspiration, which is why I think I relate so much to her photography, because I desperately want to be part of this world that she has created for herself. She often posts YouTube videos about her life, tucked away in the mountains in a little red house with a woodstove and her dog, and it appears to be a hard life living in extreme conditions in a very small village with very few people living there. This hardship, though, reaps endless rewards, and watching documentaries about her it seems that living this way makes her extremely happy and allows her to appreciate the smaller things, even if it’s just a fire in the fireplace after spending the day in the icy cold. She has explained that being closer to nature in this way is what makes her happy and she captures it perfectly in her art
She has a website with a portfolio of her work but also where she blogs about the beauty of her life in Grundtjarn, accompanied by the wonderful photos she takes. Even her style of writing (once translated into English) is beautiful as she conjures the most magical images to mind before you even scroll down to see the photos. She is an artist too, quite obviously taking inspirations from her surroundings (why wouldn’t you!?), taking into account a more abstract approach. I feel I could dedicate a whole blog post to this remarkable woman because she inspires me endlessly. I find myself enchanted by her writing and art and use it to the best of my advantage for helping my song writing.
‘A folk-tale, in its primitive plainness of word and entire absence of complexity in thought, is peculiarly sensitive and susceptible to the touch of strangers hands…They are the romances of childhood of Nations: they are the never-failing springs of sentiment, of sensation, of heroic example, from which primeval people drank their fill at will.’
I couldn’t write this post without mentioning something I received only the other day, but is already on my favourites list. I love anything to do with folktales and fairy tales, and anything that appears magical and enchanting. And I also love books. So when my dad presented me with East of the Sun, West of the Moon, I knew immediately I was going to be inspired. Not only does the book appear as if it’s vintage, but the stories are also accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Kay Nielsen, a popular Danish illustrator in the early 20th Century and who was part of the ‘golden age of illustration’. These illustrations actually date back as far as 1914, with the stories themselves deriving from Scandinavian fairy tales, which I assume have been passed down over generations. The book consists of 15 stories, all ‘Old Tales From The North’, and I know it is something I will keep for a very long time.
It’s no secret that words fascinate me. When I was a child I always said that I wanted to be a poet or an author, so I suppose song writing isn’t too far from that. And because of my love for words, I’ve decided I would like to dedicate some time this year to exploring more poetry and an array of poets and I think it could help my song writing along the way. My poetry collection at the moment is only very small, but I thought I would pick out a few poems that I love. For my 21st Birthday my dad bought me a poetry book (reoccurring theme here?!) by Vikram Seth that incorporates a collection of his poems. The book is rather a large one so I’m only about a third of the way through, but I thought I’d mention some of my favourites so far. I have no idea what it is that draws me to these particular poems other than they are melancholy and I like melancholy. If you know of any poetry you think I might like, send them my way as I’d like to discover something new.
A Winter Word
Cold cold friend, Frost-
Night comes, and I
Most cold, cold
Is this night;
And my youth old.
My spirit lost.
I cannot rest.
I walk alone.
Frost, burn upon
My every bone.
Awake for hours and staring at the ceiling
Through the unsettled stillness of the night
He grows possessed of the obsessive feeling
That dawn has come and gone and brought no light
Your eyes, my understanding, all will rot;
The trees we see, the books we read, will go;
The way that we use words; as like as not;
And we are fortunate that this is so.
All You Who Sleep Tonight
All you who sleep tonight
Far from the ones you love,
No hand to left or right
And emptiness above-
Know that you aren’t alone.
The whole world shares your tears,
Some for two nights or one
And some for all their years.
These are just a selection of things that I found have been inspiring me recently and I’m sure that they will continue to do so for a good while longer. But tell me, what’s currently inspiring you?