Sunday, 23 July 2017

FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES: GALLERY: 2000 TREES


This was the first time I've ever been able to enjoy a full Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes show and boy have I been missing out on a unique live music experience.  It's the only show I've seen where a singer has reunited a members of the crowd with a phone and a bumbag, that's for sure. I am so warmed to see someone of influence put their voice to such an important issues as Frank has for Safe Gigs for Women. Seeing him encourage females to crowd surf during his set, and seeing so many feeling comfortable (and deliriously happy) doing so, was an undoubtable highlight of my entire weekend. We still have a long way to go, not just in the concerts crowds but the industry as a whole, but we must take time to acknowledge these noteable steps too. 

As with all of the shots from 2000 Trees Festival, they were taken from within the crowd so the angles or distances away from the stage aren't always ideal or condusive to getting great shots, but I still wanted to give it a go without a photo pass.
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Friday, 21 July 2017

Grieving for Lost Idols.



Once again we do one of our mundane and all too frequent checks of our phones to be greeted with gut-wrenching news.

Yesterday I was waiting for my friends before heading into the BLINK 182 show at O2, scrolling so not to feel awkward that I was on my own in this vast space full of logo’d excitable music fans. Then I saw ‘it’ on my timeline, my heart started bursting out of my chest in the same when the home phone rings late at night and I know it can only be sounding to deliver bad and life changing news.

The same thoughts and hopes we all have when we see news that feels unbelievable, shocking or frankly unbearable, were ignited. It can’t be true. There must be a mistake. It’s a hoax or distasteful rumour.

Then you see a respected outlet or closely connected human confirm it to be true.

This one has hit me particularly hard. I had been really upset that I had not to been able to go to their recent shows in London, but had comforted myself in the thought that their would be another chance - which we sadly now know not to be the case.

Although I had a brief meeting with Chester a few years ago in London, and felt a knew a bit about who he was through friends of mine who knew him well, I always hoped I’d be able to talk with him further via an interview. I had always connected with his lyrics and the emotive quality of his melodies always tugged hard, so I think I’d made an assumption that with my inclination to struggle with life, that I would ‘get’ him and the way he thought…however naive or silly that may sound. 
As I listen intently to his songs today and force my parents to do the same by putting them on the TV in the lounge, the lyrics sting prophetically. Although I’d listened to some of these songs for 17 years I don’t think I’d really heard them till this chillingly melancholy day.

He has always told us how dark things get for him, but I guess like many I somehow believed with arenas full of adoring fans, a nice house in LA and an extensive and loving family would somehow mean he was fixed or had just enough to cope. I can’t believe I thought his life was safe from the deathly potential of mental health issues, when I know from my own life how factors external to your mind aren’t enough to always ensure your capable of sticking with life on earth. Why do we find it so hard to really grasp that Depression doesn’t discriminate, even when incidences like this keep on happening? Having things or being seen a certain way doesn’t gift immunity, in fact it can often compound the issue.

If you have success you fear losing it and the rewards it brings. You worry about letting people down. You have a pressure to better yourself with each thing you do or create. You feel anxious you might tarnish your existing legacy. You’re expected to be a good role model and be there for the people that adore you, even when you’re all too aware of your mistakes and less than favourable traits….It goes on. We don’t know what lead to this occasion's feeling of intense hopelessness, but we know it must have felt overwhelming and pulsed at a time he couldn’t muster sufficient reason or rational.

For me, again it’s not about mourning a perfect being, with a talent that elevated him above us normal folk. I’m devastated for the loss of this flawed being. I don’t mean that to diminish his worth or as any sort of criticism, I simply mean he was a human, muddling through life like all of us, sometimes making mistakes and simply trying to make sense of things.. and himself. I’m sad that things got too much and that he wasn’t able to beat the doubts and demons, and in that moment remember that everything could feel very different in a few days time. I’m heartbroken for his kid’s whose lives will be forever changed and for his wife who will undoubtedly have to try and explain the illogical logically as they continue to ask questions as to why. I’m sorry for his band mates who will have lost a career mate, collaborator, brother and no doubt cause of frequent frustration. But I feel added concern for them as they deal with the ongoing stress of deciphering the best course of action in terms of looking out for their beloved fans and Chester’s legacy.

I tweeted my heartbreak last night, although I’m never completely comfortable with my 140 characters when someone I admire passes. When someone who has a following dies I find myself conflicted, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. If they’re someone whose work I have enjoyed during my life whether it be their acting performances or their music I feel an intense sorrow, it’s not at all dissimilar to the grief I feel for a friend or relative when they pass. But with this passing I can’t help but feel I haven’t earned the tears, that I’m taking something away from those that did know them on a personal and intimate level. How dare I be utterly devastated? How dare I cry when I hear their song or see their face on a screen? How dare I share the volume of my sorrow with people who may have known him better?

But when you think about the trivial, everyday, routine things we choose to share on social media, it’s inevitable that in today’s world when anything significant happens we are likely to share our thoughts or feelings on it via Twitter, Instagram Facebook etc. It would almost seem odd to not comment on it, silence could be seen as dismissive or uncaring. For me I knew I had to say something, but when I did I had the fear that some people would judge my chosen words negatively. 

Some people on social feel they have the right to negate the feelings of people that feel compelled to tweet in light of this news. Many assume it’s people jumping on the grief bandwagon, wanting to make it about them, even outpouring emotions  in the pursuit of a retweet. Well there may be some of these we have to give people the benefit of the doubt because only they know the impact the event has had on them. We don’t know how much the song/songs were there at the right time for them, spoke to them when they really needed and made them feel less isolated and alone. We don’t know whether it soundtracked a particularly shaping time of their life, or whether it was an aspect more consistent in their life than family or love. This can’t be a time for assumptions or thinking the worst. If we are to bolster the point of view that it’s important to talk and share, we can’t give people further reason to hold back or edit.

I have some friends that are closed off emotionally, who refuse to open up for fear of burdening or judgement…I can only presume as they don’t tell me why. I still love them. Some of the musicians I’ve followed have shared more than those friends via interviews or their music, so although it’s been shared to the masses a closeness and intimacy has been cultivated. For many of the kids and adult crying today they’re mourning a significant part of their history and moments that made them who they are today (I know for many Linkin Park sparked a passion for music which lead to careers in the industry). Linkin Park probably gifted many with a loving group of friends, formed through a shared interest - the heart- rending release from the fan community backs up this theory.

It’s funny how people are more accepting of fellow musicians tweeting about their sorrow just because their position of fame somehow puts them on the same level as the person who has passed. We have to remember they are also fans, just like you and me - you don’t stop admiring people people just because you have a level of success that puts you on a pedestal in the eyes of others.

I sobbed for much of last night, and for a few moments felt shame about that. But before Hybrid Theory I had been into UK guitar based bands, Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics, Oasis and lots more that went under the indie bracket. At around the year 2000 things changed for me, thanks to Linkin Park and bands like Deftness, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit. I now had music that had melodies, but with grinds, breakdowns and turntable squeaks that would allow me to let off steam too, which felt necessary as adolescent with constant frustrations and hormonal angst. Linkin Park were/are part of a movement which shaped me and lead to me becoming the music obsessed person I am today, and were part of many a great houses party which featured daunting first snogs and acrid cheap bottled cider. As I lay awake making my face increasingly red and streaked with salt lines, I decided that it was inevitable and fair to be overcome in this way, and would allow myself to be upset.

Epidemic doesn’t feel like an ill fitting term for whats happening with suicide. We owe it to our lost souls to take action and make the changes it’s so clear need to happen.

Like my friend Jess Hope from Don't Fret Club quite rightly tweeted, it’s so important that bands have constant access to help. I don’t know what band that doesn’t have one if not all members in need of some sort of help, and I maintain that EVERYONE could benefit from therapy of some sort. Everyone has faced difficulties or battles or struggles with aspects of themselves. If not they will benefit  from learning coping mechanisms for when they do.
My therapist worked with a lot of musicians and would often tour the world with them, so he could be there should they need support whilst on tour and away from their nearest and dearest or simply the comfort and safety of home. Although he was of course discrete and never divulged any information, I got the impression it was a service needed often. A therapist should be considered as normal and integral as a manager or guitar tech. It shouldn’t be a secretive thing some artists do to survive. They shouldn’t feel they have to pretend that their therapists is there in a different role. Managers and band mates should ensure members go to therapy if it’s clear that someone isn’t coping and it shouldn’t be as awkward a conversation as it is for some people today. But ideally we’d get to a place where someone feels they can decide to do that for themselves, in the same way you’d go for dentist appointment or take your car in for an MOT, and when I say that I don’t mean putting it off for months on end.

When I think back to my art degree at uni, I struggle to think of someone that didn’t reveal some torment or struggle when we were forced to talk about the roots and meanings behind our work at the group critiques. During my time at uni I had to help friends and myself through all manner of emotionally scarring events, and our artwork or the fuel behind the pieces stemmed from these, and the way our minds reacted to them. I think people who naturally gravitate to creative endeavours are emotionally engaged. I don’t know whether we are innately a certain way and need to use activity and passion to create, for purpose of venting or catharsis, or whether as artists it’s integral to have easy and constant access to our emotions. Maybe it rests very heavily on the surface of our being, and perhaps sometimes that weight is just to much for our mentally frail-ed selves to take.

Although I say frail-ed, but I don’t want to connote weakness when I refer to people who struggle with darkness, in fact that opposite is true. Everyday that someone gets through when the harmful voices are at their loudest shows an incredible amount of strength. With the effort and toll this takes it’s no wonder our defences weaken at times and allow the voices to get heard. If you’re an honest lyricist and struggle with depression, it can’t be easy performing songs that document some of the hardest times of your life on those days where you don’t even want to open your curtains and let daylight in.





Grieving is a personal thing, we all have our own ways of doing it. Some will find social media, and communication in general, completely impossible and prefer to go over (and over) the realisation in silence or private. Others will feel soothed by sharing the grief with others. Others will take to their canvas or notebook and create words or art to capture the moment at it’s height. Today we may see many create meme’s incorporating some emotive and all to relevant lyrics.
Whatever your way, I think it’s important we are sensitive to each other’s unique responses and coping mechanisms. Don’t think harshly. Disregard scepticism or a point of view that has been jaded by modern times. Of course it’s of primary important that we be sensitive to the nearest and deareast, but we mustn’t cause damage by dismissing or doubting our or other’s involuntary reaction to the loss of a life. As long as we’’re respectful to those who will be at their most vulnerable, explaining that we loved someone or the work they created feels logical and correct in these times, even if the events that lead to us sharing those thoughts don’t.

Talk, cry, share. Whatever you do don’t keep it bottled inside.


'Waiting for the end to come
Wishing I had strenght to stand
This is not what I had planned
It’s out of my control'
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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

SLAVES PHOTO GALLERY: 2000 TREES


As with all of these 2000 Tree's sets they were taken from within the crowd as I didn't have a photo pass to allow me in the pit. This of course has had an effect on the outcome of the shots. They were taken further away so they're less crisp than I'd like and I definitely wasn't able to get the greatest compositions as I was unable to get myself central to the stage. They had some fantastic visuals including a lit up SLAVES sign which looked great behind the two band members in the shots I've seen from people in the pit, so it's a shame I couldn't capture that. Despite their mediocre nature I still wanted to post this just to prove that even if you don't get a pass you can still enjoy snapping some live music, don't let it stop you!

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INTERVIEW/PHOTO GALLERY: THE XCERTS 2000 TREES


The Xcerts of one of those bands that music industry people adore. Bands, journalists, PR's, and random people like me, believe they should be considered one of our most treasured rock bands. They get consistently gushy reviews for their records as well as their haeartfelt live performances, and now it finally feels like they are going to be appreciated by the masses. 
Their new single 'Feels like Falling in Love' has quite rightly caught the ears of those that have an inquestionable influence on musical releases in 2017, with Spotify featuring the track on numerous go-to playists.
I was so pleased to see that they've clearly been given a budget to deliver a  slick video to accompany and enhance the single, with wondreful palette of red and pink, freehand text and squiggles, and great new clothes and haircuts, this phase feels contempary and more importantly commercially viable.  
And thing with The Xcerts is that no-one would begrudge them success, or even consider the term sell-outs, because they've grafted, paid their dues, and quite frankly a greater success at this time of their career would simply be getting what they've always deserved.
I can't wait to see where this song helps to take them...

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My Blogging/Vlogging Mistakes


Today I thought I’d take a look back over some of my blogging/vlogging mistakes, which there are plenty of. Some are the really naive ones made when I first embarked on this journey of attempting to make blogging into some sort of career, and others are ones I still make to this day, and will probably continue to do so because I’m an idiot/stubborn.

Don’t believe everything: When a new industry appears to be booming and a good little money maker you’ll inevitably get people wanting to be a part of that, whether they know what they’re doing or whether they have good intentions or not. I’ve had numerous phone chats with Influencer Talent managers, YouTuber Agents etc over the last few years, and have been completely shocked at the sheer balls of these people masquerading as experts or people that can carefully guide and nurture your career. After a few questions regarding their experience and other clients it was clear they had no qualification, expertise, or contacts, to deliver what they were promising people via their websites or social media. So I’ve learned you really need to be careful when considering whether you seek outside help to boost your career, as teaming with the wrong people could harm your reputation and damage existing relationships with brands that you may have….that’s before you consider the 20% they will take whether they’ve earned it or not.

Worrying about cliques: I’m too old in the tooth to worry about being in the cool gang, I have enough amazing friends in my life that don’t care I’m the biggest geek going, but a while back it did hurt my feelings when people would have group blogging photos at events and I’d be left out because I wasn’t part of the same blogging aesthetic or have the same sort of reach. But there’s a lot of good eggs in the world that don’t come part of an intimidating team, and as a natural shy person I’ve always preferred one and one interactions anyway.

Quantity of Quality: When I first started blogging I had zero awareness it could be a career, I didn’t share the posts anywhere or even upload images to make the post aesthetically pleasing. It was quite literally an online diary, a place where I got thoughts out of my head and onto screen. By the time I was clued up and thought I’d take the blog in a career direction, I had so many bad habits deeply ingrained, ones that I have to tussle with till this day. I’d post willy nilly, whenever I felt I had something I wanted to put online, whether that be 4 blog posts in one day, or making one live at 2am. The posts were unstructured, without header images, some were barely there others were rambling. When I started to attempt to make YouTube a career having used to that simply as a place to store my video files for many years, I repeated my offences, posting at least 5 videos a week if not daily. This works for some people but it wasn’t right for me, my views are subs are in a far better way when I upload less and put more time into the videos.
It’s only in the last year I think I’ve started to work out how my content should be and how often I need to post (which is less often but better thought out) and my views on my blog have gone up by 20,000 a month, so it’s clearly working.

Not all Rules Apply: Every week a post goes up about how to succeed at blogging, how to make a career out of blogging/youtube etc. A lot of the information featured are great and effective rules of thumb, techniques that would be beneficial to most to consume. But you have to be careful, because with anything there are anomalies, people that buck trends, people who are forward thinking, or have the influence to drive things in a different direction. We also have to be extremely mindful to the fact that we are part of a new industry one that is unpredictable, relentless, continuously changing and evolving, so rules are likely to need constant amendments. For instance my network have often told me my videos should ideally be at 4-6 minutes, any longer is unhelpful to my growth. However my long chatty videos (near the 16 minute mark ) always seem to do the best and get the most engagement. With the rise of weekly blogs, the likes of Brogan Tate coming in at the half hour mark, it’s clearly longer content can reap rewards too, with many sitting down to catch up with their fave bloggers rather than watching a soap on TV. I’ve learned it’s important to know your audience, why they tune into you and what content they they appreciate the most.

Cheating: I don’t think I would have ever gone through with this, as I’m someone that prides oneself on honest content and doing things by the book (goody two shoes in other words), but I will admit to clicking on some of the links that came into my inbox regarding increasing followers. The trail of intrigue stopped when I realised they wouldn’t be genuine followers, but it still haunts me that I even bothered to check it out. I’m one of those people that believe you always get found out, so I could imagine I’d be living in fear that it would be uncovered and I’d be outed virally on twitter or something (although I’m probably not big enough to cause a social media storm). Also it’s such a great feeling to be proud of something you achieved, growing your channels in this fake manner  completely eradicates the potential for feeling genuine pride. If I do well I want to know it’s because of something I did well…and I don’t mean being good at getting away with things.

Photos: It’s crazy how much your tastes change and your skills progress in this industry. I can even look at photos I’ve put on my blog a couple months ago and dissect and rip them apart - whether it be the colour grading, the crop, the composition, the outfit choice, the hairstyle. I could get really cross with myself when I think of the photo elements of my blog just a year or two ago, as it was so evidently below par and undoubtedly preventing me from progressing, but weirdly I don’t remember acknowledging it as much as I do now. I know the sleek and professional nature of blogging aesthetic has risen by a huge extent in the last few years, so maybe it’s mainly down to that, but I just can’t believe I was ever happy to upload some of that unintentionally low fi dross, it’s simply embarrassing. I’m not just talking a few bad outfits and some cringe myspace poses…they were taken on an ancient phone, grainy, blurred with some awful filter that actually made them look even worse. What was I thinking? I genuinely would have got better result taking the picture with a potato. Realistically this area still needs improving though and I need a way to work with photographers (even without a budget to do so) as my self taken shots aren’t ever going to be up their with the best bloggers.

Embarrassment: I know it’s pretty obvious that you need to share your posts/videos if you want people to see them, but this is still something I struggle with. I don’t quite know what the root of this issue is. I think it’s a combination of factors. Sometimes it’s because the posts is extremely personal and I only want people searching for that topics to read them (as I know it will come from a place of understanding) rather than every person who follows me. Sometimes it might because I’m not overly pleased with the quality of the video due to my equipment limitations. I think the main thing is probably because I don’t want to be annoying on social media, as I know a large amount of my followers aren’t followers or blogs/YouTube as they were pressed the follow button before it became my primary work focus. I know that I find the regularity and heft of some people’s self promotion a bit much on Twitter, and I guess I’d just hate to be that ‘too much’ person to someone else. I do need to get over this though, how on earth do you become an influencer if you’re not willing to offer anything that could have an influence.



Imitation: When you growth feels a bit slower than you’d like you start to question yourself - don’t I dress well? Am I even more uncooler than I thought? Am I making the wrong type of videos? You can’t help but look at the other bloggers/vloggers you follow that are bigger than you and start to think you should be doing what they are, as it’s clearly working for them. My problem is that I was following bloggers who were in very different stages of their lives, some over a decade younger than me and fresh out of uni (or even still in uni). Because I’ve slightly regressed due to my health/financial position and because the music industry turns us all into man/womenchilds I do or wear things probably a bit younger than a lot of other people in my age bracket would do. However  the reality is that the worries, thoughts, interests and opinions are more aligned to the older bloggers, and if anyone is going to help guide me it’s more likely to be them. I think my days of glitter tutorials and Primark Hauls may be over and a video about a new kitchen appliance may be more likely. Sad but true. Further than this though, I’ve learned how important it is to find your own voice, the subjects that make your words ring out with passion or truth. Working out whether you’re more about visuals or messages, or whether you’re a mixture of the both is very important. I’ve learned not everyone has to put out cinematic masterpieces for success, but similarly you also don’t have to bare your soul and put out ultra relatable content to achieve either. Simply, just do you. Authenticy is key.

Being Negative: The problem with making the decision to be a transparent and honest blogger who shares a large part of their personal life is that you don’t sugar-coat things so your stream of outpourings and uploads take a particular form. If you happen to be in a phase of your life which is depressing or tricky, your content will likely mirror that. This isn’t particularly business savvy though. Brands like honesty and a blogger who has an audience that trusts them, but they won’t necessarily want to work with someone that puts out largely negative or sad content. They’re looking for bubbly, enthusiastic, grateful and positive. I use twitter to vent, and because it’s been a tough few years realistically my feed is probably harming my ability to attract work. I’m currently trying to find a way to express how I’m genuinely feeling while not be an off-putting proposition. I think they key is improving my life away from social media, so that in turn my tweets/Instagrams content will be elevated mood wise.


Not sticking up for myself: Even at my relatively small size you get numerous offers a week for sponsored posts and other posts that are touted as sponsored posts that turn out to be people pushing for free advertising. I’m an innate people pleaser, it’s an Eggleton thing apparently, so I stupidly used to help brands out with free posts and shares, when I really shouldn’t have. While I still have a way to go, always finding negotiating money a very painful to and fro, I have learned the importance of valuing your work and the time you put into it. I realise that by offering my services free to people who knew they really should be paying, I was doing my fellow bloggers as well as my a disservice and my actions were very unhelpful in terms of the industry being respected and taken seriously. More importantly though I also make sure I don’t feel forced into creating content I’m not happy with and make sure I am transparent about the fact that the video/blog/Instagram has to fit seamlessly with my style and ethics.

Skinny Teas: I used to get a lot of sponsored request through from branded tea’s promising to help you shed weight. I started negotiating a fee with them because they seemed to have good science to back them up and even if weight loss wasn’t the reasoning for drinking them they seemed a healthy drink option. Then I felt uncomfortable about it. Considering the tone of my channel and the things I want to promote and draw attention to I wondered if it be right to promote this - to put a  product in front of potentially vulnerable and impressionable people who could abuse it’s function. I didn’t go ahead with it. A couple years later within the blogging community it is definitely a type of collaboration that gets judged by other bloggers, which confirms I made the right decision in this instance. I think your gut usually tells you which opportunities to grab hold of which to politely decline, so I’ve learned to listen to it. The problem usually lies when they arrive at the beginning when your a bit giddy about someone being willing to pay you. Excitement takes over, because this sort of transaction makes you feel official and legitimate, but trust me a more suitable opportunity will come along. You also tend to feel a bit weaker when you find yourself a bit financially stretched. But I’ve learned that the damage to your moral compass isn’t worth it and you’re better off holding out for something that fits you and your ethics a little better.

Not engaging: I didn’t realise how integral it is to engage, not just with your readers/viewers but with other bloggers/vloggers. I’m not too bad at this on Instagram these days because it’s a platform I genuinely enjoy looking through and do so regularly. But because I don't read blogs or watch videos I don't really comment on those, so therefore I'm not building relationships that way. Other bloggers are more likely to come and read your blog if they know you visit their's and make an effort to commment on their posts.It also means you are on more people's radars which also helps things move forward and grow.

Flying Solo: I don’t socialise with other bloggers nearly enough. I’ve always been lucky enough to have lots of great and dear friends in my life but because of the amount of time work eats in to my life and the amount of events I have to go to do with blogging/youtube, I already feel like I’m being a terrible friend to those. I live with constant guilt from being so absent from Whatsapp groups and for missing so many birthdays etc, so I’m almost at a point where I actively try not to connect with more people. I know it sounds silly, but I kinda don’t want to have more people that I know I’m going to have to let down on regular occasions. Of course there’s also a lot of bloggers that just aren’t my sort of people too, as would be the case in any industry you work in. However we are constantly told that collabs are the best way to grow your channels/blog. Not only does it mean you get showcased to someone elses audience, you build a relationship which will mean they will be more likely to retweet your posts, engage with your Instagram and so on. Of course it’s lovely to go to blogging events and see lots of friendly faces you can hang with too.


This is merely scratching the surface, my career is a comedy of errors so if you’d like a part 2 of my blogging mistakes I have some other howlers ready and waiting to be shared. If you’re a blogger and related to any of my mistakes, let me know in the comments below!
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Monday, 17 July 2017

DECADE:2000 TREES:GALLERY


This was the first time I've actually managed to catch a live Decade performance, even though we're often at the same events. Annoyingly I've always been caught up doing an interview in a press tent, so I was chuffed to finally hear their tracks live. If you've not heard them before I thoroughly reccommend you listen to their album Pleasantries, it will sound particularly strong over the next few months. I find it gives me the same summer vibes as a classic Weezer record. 
Also while we're talking all things Decade, you should also check out the artistic endeavours of their talented vocalist Alex Sears. Head to instagram and search DeathandMilk_ to find his evocative illustrations. 
Here's some of the shots from their show on the main stage - not edited how I'd like because Lightroom has gone doolally and decided not to work on my computer, so I've had to do a quick job on my phone instead. Ideally I'd reduce the orange tones in the skin and increase some of the shadow in some of them, but you get the idea. 
All taken on my little LUMIX GM1.

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Sunday, 16 July 2017

M.E and Festivals...Making it work


Yesterday I posted a video about my weekend at 2000 Trees. A few hours later when I was reading through the comments and found one from a fellow spoonie  (Hi Melanie) asking how on earth I manage to go to festivals with M.E. I tried to answer as succinctly as possible in the comments, but I thought the subject deserved a blog post, one that I hope will be useful for those suffering with an illness but who are yearning to experience the joy of live music over the summer months.

Here are my thoughts, tips and experiences.

1.Acknowledge what phase of your illness you’re in. Most people will have bad patches and slightly better patches with chronic illnesses. There are some periods where attending a festival is pretty much impossible or even potentially dangerous to attempt. This summer, despite making lots of work plans, I had to abort attending Download due to a Kidney Infection I’d left a bit too long and it has developed into something more serious. I’m luckily in a helpful position where I can attend festivals fairly last minute by using my contacts to get press passes, but for those purchasing tickets well in advance this isn’t is simple, so you may want to have in mind that if you’re gonna hope for the best and buy a ticket, you may end up having to sell it if the festivals dates end up falling on a bad phase.

2. Do your research. Speak to people with similar illnesses who have attended the events to find out the strengths and weaknesses of each festivals in an attempt to seek out their suitability to your particular difficulties. Most festival websites will have some info regarding disability access, but don’t be afraid to ask more questions and get in touch with them. Being anxious won’t help your enjoyment of the weekend, so having any questions answered will hopefully reduce the potential for this. While in contact with the festival explain your particular needs and requirements to see how well they are able to accommodate you. Don’t buy a ticket unless you are satisfied with the answers you get and feel the event is one you can be safe and comfortable at. 

3. I know for many it’s a huge part of festival-ing, but for many of us camping is just not practical or sensible. If I have to camp I will make the decision to no longer attend the festival, it’s as simple as that. I know that camping will leave me feeling horribly unwell. If I do the standard form of camping it’s the hard floor that will leave me with an extremely painful back, neck and limbs. But even if I do glamping I’ll be in a bad way as it’s so important that I try and get quality sleep, and there’s still disturbances even within a luxury camping environment. The main thing for me is the toilet situation. with kidney issues and IBS I need easy/regular access to the loo is essential and this is fairly unlikely in a camping scenario.

Booking hotels is fine if you’re rolling in cash, but if like me you don’t have it going spare you’ll need to save or find a way to get some money from somewhere (I worked on a star while at 2000 Trees to cover my expenses). You also have to consider that being in a hotel/b&b will also mean taxi’s to and from the site each day, so you’ll ether want to make sure you’re in a popular hotel where lots of other festival goers are so that you can share costs with them .


4. Painkillers. On the whole I try, where possible, not to rely on medicine that mask how I’m feeling. Not because I want to feel pain, or think that it’s weak to seek remedy and peace through medicine, but with some aspects of my illness I worry I’ll do myself more damage by not feeling when I’m pushing myself too hard. From trial and error I’ve learned that to get through a weekend at a festival I do need a regular supply of strong painkillers. Due to my work and the severity of M.E other people perceive me to have, I have spent many hours on my feet during my days at festivals, and at many times been in excruciating pain. This pain didn’t subside when I got back to my hotel rooms either, before deciding to numb with strong painkillers I’d have uncomfortable nights with buzzing legs and feet, a blinding headache, and terrible lower back pain, as well as shoulder pain where I’d spent the day carrying tripods, cameras etc.

5. Clear your diary. I know it’s hard for people with careers and other responsibilities to do this, but if you’re putting your body through 1-5 days of being outside, consuming loud noises, regular social interactions, bad food and lots of standing, you need to expect the days that follow are going to be pretty tough. You really have to weigh up whether the repercussions of attending the festival are worth dealing with for the happiness and joy you’ll get from experiencing the festival. I’m at the point now where I feel I’ve had some beautiful moments at festivals, but it’s not longer the right thing to do which is why I have kinda have decided this may well be my last season doing festivals, at least in the way I have been doing them for the last ten years or so.

6. If its the first time you’re attempting a festival, don’t be over-ambitious, perhaps just dip your toes into the experience with a day ticket to a local event. It has always felt far less daunting for me to attend Surrey festivals like Guildfest and Redfest because I know if I was to feel too unwell to carry on I could get myself home fairly easy, and I would only lose the cost of a day ticket which is usually fairly affordable. London has a vast amount of day festivals appealing to all manner of musical persuasions, so why not get a cheap hotel (or a nice one if you can afford) and go to one of those to see how you get on. Hampton Court Music Festival is a very civilised affair, and you can sit down while enjoying the musical delights in the historical setting, and there are many others with seated options.

7. Think carefully about who you go with. Try and make sure you have someone with you who will be happy to queue up and get you food and drink while you sit down. You also don’t want someone with you who will make you feel guilty if you feel unable to rush to one of the tents to see their fave band, or who will get frustrated if you’re being slow or even find yourself not able to leave the hotel for one or more of the days. I think for your own peace of mind in honour of fairness it’s important that you make the person you are going with completely aware of what could happen and what sort of help you’ll need, just so they’re mentally prepared and definitely up for the task. Make sure they’re clued up on your medicines too and that you always have clear meeting points/rules of action should you get separated. At the start of the festival you should both locate the tents you may need (First Aid tent, the stall that sells imodiums etc).


8. At Reading and Download in particular, I notice that many people set up with their group of friends somewhere in front of the Main Stage and just stay there all day. They’ll have chairs, maybe an umbrella, snacks and refreshments, and make it their makeshift temporary home in the field. Yes you may miss some of the gems performing on others stages, but it does mean far less exertion and you’ll end the day in far less pain.

9. This leads nicely onto my next point. Be frugal about the amount of bands you’re going to see. If you don’t want to stay in one spot, and want to enjoy all the different stages the festival has to offer, try and work out what bands you really want/need to see, and don’t push beyond that. Keep the list as small as you can so you can enjoy those bands feeling as well as energised as possible. Don’t feel like you need to get deep into the crowd either. Many of the smaller tents have areas outside where you can sit and still see the stage and hear the music just fine. Many even have screens on the backend of the tent (the NME RADIO 1 Tent at Reading usually does) so you have a great view of what’s going on a few metres away without the discomfort or sweat.

10. This one is surprisingly troublesome as a blogger who’s meant to showcase new outfits and promote a stylish aesthetic with their festival outfits, but I HAVE to think about comfort and practicality when it comes to what I wear to festival. I don’t need any other factors contributing to discomfort or pain. I make sure I wear the most comfortable shoes I own (ones that will protect me in all foreseeable weather conditions). I make sure I have a layer that will keep me warm when it gets chillier, as I tend to feel the cold a lot. I have sunglasses for if my eyes are feeling particularly sensitive to light….you get the idea.

11.Festivals like Download give people the opportunity to pay a bit extra for tickets that give them the privelages VIP’s and Guests get (RIP). I would thoroughly recommend this for people who would benefit greatly from shorter toilet and bar queues, and a place away from the intensity of the main arena to sit and catch your breath.

12. Have information on your person that outlines the specifics of your conditions, the medicine/dosage your on, and where you’re keeping your medicine while you’re at the festival. It would be helpful to have any phone numbers of relatives/partners and the person your at the festival with on you too, should you fall into difficulty if separated from them.

13. I’ve always found travelling to a festival one of the most exhausting aspects, How inconvenient to be so drained of energy before the fun of the festival even kicks off. If you can get a lift, this will be the kindest on your body and preserve the most energy. Lugging your heavy bags on trains and trekking to site will take it’s toll, particularly because a start of a festival usually involves some queuing and some lenthy/tricky terrain. Thick mud is the worst, after all some of us find even and solid ground taxing, imagine having to use your pathetic muscles to pull yourself out of the sludge with each step you take. I was lucky enough to get a lift to 2000 Trees last weekend but unfortunately it turned out they were going to go straight to the site. I needed to get to my hotel to check in first and drop off my bags. So this meant lugging all my weekends stuff (I packed quite a lot as I thought I had lifts both ways and wouldn’t have to carry it more than a couple metres) from the car park to where you pick up the passes and then up to the entrance of the site to get a taxi. This was largely uphill and in 30 degree heat. I ended up in panting with exhaustion and in tears because of the pain - feeling completely ruined and defeated before I’d even seen my first band. This is my fault though, I didn’t speak up when they said they were going straight to site. I should have had the guts to ask whether they could drop me at my hotel on route. That’s the thing with invisible illnesses, it’s not so easy for others to know what’s needed or how damaging those small decisions can be to your well- being. Sadly it’s up to us to constantly explain, however tiresome that can be.

14. Many people with CFS struggle with stomach issues and allergies. A lot of us are on carefully tailored diets, which can be hard to manage at festivals. They food options have improved greatly over the last few years though,  but some festivals are considerably better than others. If you’re unsure equip yourself with some slow energy releasing food you can snack on throughout the day, and stay hydrated. I don’t drink, and I think staying off alcohol has made things a lot easier for me at festivals. Adding a hangover and even more trips to the loo isn’t going to help! 2000 Trees had some great food options, with plenty of veggie and vegan options and food that didn’t feel doused in grease and msg. 



15. Lastly, listen to your body. I know you’ll go with a level of determination and the fangirl/boy in you will want to ensure you’re there for when your fave bands storm the stage, but you don’t want to push yourself to such an extent on day 1 that you’ll ruin the chances of your enjoying or even being able to attend day 2/3. Think of it like getting sunburnt on the first day of holiday and then having to sit inside while everyone’s by the pool. Let the people you’re with know what you’re struggling with so they can help (if they can) and don’t be afraid to utilise festivals angels, the stewards, the first aid tents and so on who are there to help should you need it.

So that’s just a few things that come to mind. I really hope this post helps at least one person see that there’s a way they can make a festival work for them and their unique situation. It may involve more research, thorough planning, and even a large wad of cash on top of the usual festival ticket, but I’d love everyone who wants to experience a summer festival to be able to try it at least once.

Do let me know if this has helped or if you’re planning on going to one soon…
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Monday, 3 July 2017

Can you ever really escape?




We often talk about escapism, how necessary it is to our a ability to cope in modern times, and how we must try out best to allocate some of our day in the pursuit of it. The word is defined by seeking distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy. This is one of YouTube’s greatest attributes and something it delivers in a word more substantial than abundance. We have an unrelenting stream of videos giving us just that , whether it's  via a beauty tutorial, a haul, a prank, or a fairly pointless but nonetheless entertaining Tag video. But this opportunity of joyful avoidance and distraction is temporary, unless we glue ourselves to the blue light of our screen all day, but even then thoughts relating to real life would undoubtedly creep in.

Everything’s relative of course, but if you knew the ins and out of my year I think many of you could summarise that it’s been another relatively shitty year so far. I think what’s made this one particularly hard is that I’ve not been able to escape from it and run away to a more carefree environment for a week or two. My finances are such that a holiday has been taken off the agenda, and even little trips in the UK have not materialised. Si and I did have a weekend trip to Liverpool scheduled earlier in the year but it turned out that we’d been conned and lost the money and the weekend escape we had planned. I’m very lucky to have travelled as much as I have in my life, I promise I don’t take that for granted, I’ve been spoiled really. But off course my industry doesn’t help those feeling. When your feed is full of being jet-setting and holidaying, and you can’t even manage to get yourself to Liverpool, you not only have that ache of wanderlust but a dollop of failure and inferiority on top of that.

It’s not something my boyfriend can completely relate to either. He’s had a few weeks away from home this year through his work in the band, and although I doubt escapism is the right term for touring and living with fellow sweaty boys in the confines of a bus, it’s still a change of scene and time away from our fairly stressful living situation. Then he got surprised with a trip to LA for his birthday by his generous pal Ben. I was so pleased he had a fabulous time but of course it stung, because it fell at a time I found myself unexpectedly living alone in a strange house while dealing with a Kidney Infection. I usually revel in alone time  housesitting for people gives me. It's such a treat when you're someone who lives with their parents at my age and in turn lack privacy and independance. But in that moment the things I needed desperately to escape from weren't things that changing location would deliver. The dark thoughts in my head, and my troublesome kidneys were part of me, and there was no escaping that.


Let's fast forward to last Friday. I had been offered a luxury trip abroad as part of a press trip that was due to comme on Saturday. I had turned it down as this weekend was meant to be full with some other work events which were probably better suited to the content, and the wheels were already in motion with the PR so I didn’t want to confuse thing or sever ties. Sods law the weekend’s events didn’t come into fruition and I was facing the depressing truth that I could been sunning myself in a bucket list location, but instead I had a weekend on my ownwith no plans.

Unacceptable, I thought. I’m not going to let other people's actions steal aweekend’s potential for relaxation or happiness. Si was due to be driving his mum to Devon to visit relatives in Devon, so I very quickly packed a rucksack and decided to jump in the car and join then. With more than a slight dash of ‘f*** you’ attitude I decided this would be a no-work weekend. I wouldn’t be vlogging or communicating with people about work and I would attempt this ‘escapism’ malarky.The fact that I had used 80% of my phone’s data by watching Naked Attraction on 4 OD when I mistakingly thought I was connected to wifi, certainly helped in my abandonment of communication.

As I gazed out of the window of the car on what would end up being a 7 hour long journey, I pondered a few things. Should I dare to ask to stop for a wee AGAIN? Was it time for that pub lunch ye? But more relevantly I wondered whether I could truly escape this weekend. Would my stress, worries and frustrations follow me to the tropics of Devon? Would there be new/different anxieties and difficulties? Would I end up worrying about the emails piling up and the fact that I wouldn’t be using these days to reduce my work to-do list?


After a long drive and devouring a yummy meal Si’s sister had cooked in perfect time for our arrival, we went to bed shattered and looking forward to a night in their bed, which is so soft it genuinely felt like that cliche of sleeping on a cloud. But within 5 minutes it was clear at least one of our issues from home would continue on this supposed ‘escape’. Si tends to thrash in bed, it’s as if he’s trying to get away from the grasps of Jaws. This is bad for my sleep pattern at the best of times, but his tendency to frequently and swift change position in bed of this smooshy nature meant it would be near enough in possible to achieve any shut eye. He graciously offered to sleep in the lounge, thus delivering the same less than ideal situation we have at home, sleeping apart.

Then I started to get the urgency to wee again. The same feeling I’d had two weeks prior when I came down with a Kidney Infection. Then soon after that the fairly terrifying heart palpitations began again. Twenty pees later and no sleep later Si came into the bedroom at 8am to find me in a fairly worried state with news that would potentially screw up the whole weekends’ plans. I wont’ bore you with the details, but after phoning 111 and then receiving a call from a charming local Doctor I had the medication I needed that would allow me to attempt to keep up with originals plans, even if bed would have probably been more sensible. This was a pesky reminder that you can’t escape your health issues. Some environments will be better suited to your conditions, or put you in a frame of mind where you find it easier to cope with them, but generally they’ll still rear their ghastly heads.

Undefeated I said we should still do the coastal walk we had planned, reassuring myself that if things took a turn for the worse Si would look after me, hang at the back with the straggler or take me home if it came to that. The first view we were greeted with upon parking up made it all worthwhile, and any pain or fatigue I was feeling a lot less easier to bear. Then we mooched on down to a pub with the most incredible views. I perched on the wall gaze at all the boats outlined agains the lush green backdrop and gliding across the aqua waters. If it wasn’t for the aroma Devonshire cuisine entering my nasal cavity, the Cider glasses and local accents chatting on a nearby bench it would have been Greece. A few moments in this location I genuinely felt relaxed and dare I say…happy. I don’t think any negative thoughts bullied their way as I raised my forehead towards to suns glare and breathed in the sea air. However the realities of my everyday life did surface as I soaked in my surroundings. I found myself asking questions. Could I be happy living somewhere like this, away from the city and the life I’ve made for the last ten years?
Could I be content with a simpler and more laid back lifestyle? Would I miss the bright lights of the city and the buzz it delivers? These queries deserve a blog post all of it’s own….


We continued on from the pub, stopping for ice cream on the way, letting Henry the dog off his lead to have a swim in the sea once we reached one of the picturesque bays. Although in company at all times, there were some solitary moments when there were breaks in conversing and I could appreciate the stunning vista again in silence. Once again I felt completely detached from person who resides stressed and sad in Surrey. When we did converse while walking it was largely about the present, the scenes in front of us, the cute things Henry the Spaniel was doing, or laughing at one of us tripping up on the rocky terrain. It’s only when we sat down for meals or a rest that conversation would lead to the normal topics. How’s work? For instance.

Of course being forced to think about work immediately lowers my mood and causes me to reflect on an area of my life I am hugely dissatisfied with. I try to keep it light and optimising in tone, but that of course drains energy as it’s not the natural or genuine feeling and requires some acting.

A huge chunk of my friends have made away to new parts of the country or completely different countries incredibly far from the place they’ve always called home. They weren’t just looking for temporary escapism or rest bite, they were looking for a fresh start. They were looking to say goodbye to aspects of their life they felt were hindering their ability to be happy or bringing undue stress. Did they get the new life they were hoping for? Did they leave the notable negatives behind them?

One friend who worked in the music industry and did similar work to me fled a new country to continue to the same work but a very different lifestyle and quality of life thanks to it’s location. The incestuous London music scene, and the frustrating way it functions, had been wreaking havoc with her confidence and anxiety. While anxiety hasn’t disappeared, fear of the new contributing to its appearances in her new home, she finds her ability cope and recover is much more efficient, and in general her mood, self worth and happiness has been elevated. Of course new issues will arise with any drastic move. Missing important family moments, both celebratory or heartbreaking. You’ll feel forgotten by friends you thought were forever cemented on your lifeline. You’ll get pangs of fomo when you see your old friends partying at one of your old haunts. But do they outweigh the positives?

Another friend escaped their tired, draining and financially unrewarding career, moved abroad and now has a fiance, a house and from the outside…pretty much everything you could ever want. They’re pretty much blissfully happy but of course they miss their friends, the longstanding ones they became an adult alongside . You can make lots of great new friends but those friends that have seen you in those tricky years of growth are irreplaceable. 


So what have I learned about escapism from my weekend away and from friends experiences?

Holidays and short trips away are good for the soul, no doubt. The have a way of reminding you about the positives of the world we live in, the beauty of nature, the value or enjoying the moment and spending quality time with either the environment or the person you’re with. The effects are all too fleeting though. They’re like a pause on reality. They don’t tend to make significant enough changes, which is why we feel we need to do them regularly to maintain happiness. It’s as though their effects run out, then it’s time for the next one again. Then there’s the issue of that feeling of delaying the inevitable. It’s hard to shake the awareness of knowing everything at home will be the same when you return and potentially worse because you’ve neglected certain things while you’ve been away.

YouTube videos and similar methods offer much needed distraction of course. But could we find a way to do achieve distraction in a more beneficial way. If you’re adamant on sticking to YouTube for your escape you could hunt out videos that teach you a new skill or enlighten you about something that could enrich your life. But perhaps instead of staring at a screen to forget your life, you could enrol in a course, take up a hobby, do something for someone else that will put the focus on someone else rather than you for an hour.

I think it’s important we access whether we should be finding escapism from certain things. There are things that happen in our lives that deserve attention and should be dealt with rather than being  put to one side or running away from.

I can’t help but conclude that we need to do what we can to make our lives one that we don’t feel requires escaping from, to such a degree at least. There will always be things that cause tention, stress, tiredness and heartache, that’s life, and of course it’s helpful to give ourselves times of where we can seek peace or pleasure. But we need to look at our lives in their entirety and work out what contributes to our lows, battles and difficulties. Are they things we can change? I suggest in many cases the answer is yes.

In some cases moving away to a different location may solve some of the most prominent difficulties - perhaps a location with a lower cost of living may reduce money related stress for instance. Some health issues (like CFS) will be improved in sunny locations.

I suggest you do what I have done. Look at what you are wanting time out from when in pursuit of escapism. In my case it’s my living arrangements and work stress. Yes I’m slightly limited in terms of options when it comes to work due to my health issues, but is there something else I could do? Yes there is. What aspects of work stress makes me want to run away? Well that’s unreliable people and the pressures of social media/numbers. So could working for myself in an industry that isn’t about followers, subscribers and cool points make me want to stay where I am a bit more? Yes, I believe so.

So that’s how I’ve ended up where I am now. Something which this weekend away delivered in a moment of clarity when basking in the seaside sun. I’ll share my new career epiphany with you soon. In the meantime please ponder your own need for escapism, find the root of that need and compulsion. Are you seeking out the right remedys? Is there actually a solution to eradicate that particular need for escape? I wish you luck. Wouldn’t it be nice not to want to flee your situation?
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