Where's The Art?
I love this question. It is one I ask myself a lot. As someone who writes and performs music and whose music is mostly stories, it feels particularly significant. Where do music and stories live?
You see, there is a kind and crazy clockwork powered grandma who is spinning around my imagination. She comes from a recently completed song. It goes like this...'Crazy Carlita has steel wool hair. She owns an antique shop and a motorised chair'. So anyone about to tell me that she isn't real, she's just made up... I beg to differ. To me, she's very real. Small secret, she talks to me, gives me opinion about things I'm up to. Mostly she says, "Why so serious? Let's go, let's go and case the joint". Let me rewind a little.
My paternal grandmother owned a bicycle shop in Johannesburg (when my father was young.) She looked very serious but was rather magical and science fictionish to me, because she had a pacemaker. From what I remember, the batteries had to be changed every few years. Bionic woman.
We went to South Africa a couple of years ago. On a trip to the mountains, we were taken, by a local guide, to see some rock art. As we sat next to the rock, he told us about his blind grandmother, who always knew if he was telling her the truth. She would hold him by the wrist and he said he could never fool her.
So, I could say to you that this was the inspiration for my song. My goodness, this was a tricky one (but then they always are). One of the odd things about art, is that once it is complete, finished, stopped, it feels as if it has always been there. The complete impossibility of the whole thing (that's how it seems at the start) disappears, poof!
I started by wanting to write a story song about a bionic grandma and grandson. In a dream I heard the line, "Saved by clocks". Immediately I thought this would be a great way to imply that she is robotic. (How to express ideas in story songs is a huge challenge, there is so little space and it must rhyme... ) Just how robotic, I leave up to the listener. I see her as starting off as a normal grandma and over time, she becomes more and more clock powered.
Clockwork Grandma chimes in here and reminds me that she has always been around, it just took me a while to be able to see her clearly. This idea is not new (songs, stories, characters have a life of their own, they just wait for someone to pick up a pen). It is a curious thing to experience this oneself and to find oneself questioning... Where is the art?
Here is another question. What happens when you take an amazing space/building (OVADA) and you take a master of making fabulous art things happen (Aya Roxy Kasai /Contemporary Arts Research Unit CARU ) and you put them together for an evening with some extraordinary artists. I can't wait until Saturday evening to find out. It's going to be a blast! If you want to find out about Carlita's dubious friends (Jake and the giant squid tattoo) and their secret warehouse... I'll be singing some Songs Theatrickal with a Suitcase Orchestra. See you at OVADA!