Welcome to our sixth Deep Cuts article, one whose contributions date back to the projects’ early days. Lee was the first writer to send in writing that wasn’t tailored to one of my initial starter themes, something he had written purely for the sake of self expression, that he thought might suit my nascent project. We decided that Blindsided would be a great title for the theme, along with the prompt question ‘When has music caught you off guard?’ (Last month’s theme was Fantasy Realm)
The personal nature of Deep Cuts writing, along with the fact that writers very purely do it for the love, means that it takes a long time to put articles together, you have to catch writers on the right day, in the right head space, when one of our themes provides a welcome source of expression. This theme got bumped up the schedule, however, by a surprising, enormous contribution from Nana. We usually limit contributions to 1 thousand words (1.5 if it’s a two-person conversation), but this incredible, auto-biographical 4 thousand word behemoth of a piece felt so essential, and so fantastically relevant to this quarantine situation of needing, that it felt right to include it in full (we’ve placed it at the end of the article).
As always, music from all of the article’s writers is combined in the mix below, (this time provided by the fantastic Lauryn Harper, whose writing opened our fourth article, Wordless Tone), all the music is gathered in this helpful Spotify playlist, and our illustration comes from Trav.
2018 was wonderful and weird. Lots of work made its way into definitive forward progress. Projects, birthed from random thoughts and ideas, came to fruition. And just some weird shit happened. Not superbad-weird but weird-weird. Ya know?
Earlier this year I was listening to music on the walk to the train and Song of Good Hope by Glen Hansard [at the start of this month’s mix] started playing. I’d heard it before, certainly. Yet this time I heard the opening lines and started crying. In that moment my hopelessness laid itself bare; the depth of my fears weighed upon me and I broke a little.
And I know where you’ve been
It’s really left you in doubt
Of ever finding a harbor
Of figuring this out
And take your time babe
It’s not as bad as it seems, you’ll be fine babe
It’s just some rivers and streams in between
You and where you wanna be
Maybe this song is trite and vague and unoriginal. In that moment and even now—as I listen to this song on repeat—I struggle to find hope. I fear that I won’t find the strength to make the changes I want to make. I cower at the years of shame that has kept me hidden and bow to its power. I admit defeat.
In the midst of that defeat, hearing this felt song felt like a hug reaching back through the ages to all of the parts of myself that ever felt sad or lonely or downtrodden. My tears were made of many years of pain finally recognized and seen.
You’ll be fine now
Just stay close to me and make good hope
Walk with you through everything
Even in the face of years of pain and sadness and shame, I can’t help but hug myself from the inside and say, “I know it’s been rough, but you’ve done well. Keep going. You’ll get there soon.”
Life is weird and wonderful. 2018 has certainly taught me that. So here’s to finding a harbor and figuring this (whatever “this” is for you) out.
Lee Rayment is a photographer & performer. His cabaret show is called “‘Stiff Drink!?’ With Dr. Eustice Sissy (Psy.D), Presents: ‘Songs from the Heart’” Midway through a discussion with Will Soer about Will’s own music, he smiled and said in a firm, parental tone; ‘stop putting barriers between yourself and the audience.’
Stay caught me completely off guard. I would have considered Post Malone trap/hip hop, I only knew the hits like Rockstar, which are a certain type of song, but what I loved about Stay [37:26] when I heard it, it reminded me of Oasis and that rock era in the 90’s, Jeff Buckley, Coldplay, and I didn’t think he had that type of style in him. It stands out completely for me off his last album and feels like a real classic. Anytime I play it for people who don’t know, they’re always so surprised it’s him. I feel like with his current releases he’s stepping more into this vein of music and I love that.
Ruthanne has written hit records for everyone under the sun; Niall Horan, Britney Spears, Tiesto, Professor Green, Jojo, you name it. She’s that friend who’s always keen to hear how you’re doing, to talk through your emotional issues, whilst in the studio she pushes vocalists to be emotional, to place theirself in the song’s situation.
Out Of Sorts
For me, more often than not, an affecting piece of music has a human being as the source of sadness. Minor keys and emotional lyrics are one thing, but a piece of music linked inexorably to another human being, or the memory of one, will always trump any emotion driven purely by the content within a song.
I first heard this as a pre-pubescent teenager. As I took it all in, captivated by the story laid out in front of me, I could see everything through my ears. All concrete and gristle, with the backdrop of questionable politics and human sacrifice. Horrifying.
It was Tranmere vs Yeovil pre-match at Prenton Park, the last time me and my dad went, as this song started playing. I remember thinking it could turn out to be a poignant moment. That I’d remember the moment once he passed, and look back on it fondly. That wasn’t necessarily the case, as I found myself listening to it, alone in my car, one Christmas Day.
A criminally overlooked britpop band, one that soundtracked pretty much every single family car trip as a child, whether to the Safeway, Matalan or a static caravan in Wales. The Weatherall treatment is appropriately raucous, acidic and meandering, but the Flood Mix is the one that can still hit me with all types of melancholy, and memories of holding down my lunch on the A44. [the original mix of the track appears at 26:04]
Is this the most popular funeral song? With the haunting sped up piano, infectious nostalgia, and the impression that the lyrics are from the point of view of someone looking back on life, I’d imagine so. I was as young as 12 when my dad used to say to me in the car, whenever this song was on, ‘I want this played at my funeral.’
This writer wanted to stay anonymous.
When I moved to Bristol nine months ago, I only knew one person. It was very much a ‘plunge’ move – plunging into the unknown, the exciting, the deferred urgency of having to get one’s shit together. Needless to say this wonderful city welcomed me with open arms.
One night a few months down the line, I found myself nestled in a sea of beanbags belonging to an old friend I had recently reconnected with. It was 4am and we had spent the evening smoking cigarettes and queuing music among standard narcotic-fuelled fuckery. We took turns bearing our souls (via Spotify), from the tunes passed down from parents to recent finds we adored.
All of a sudden I was caught uncomfortably in between the opening three notes of BADBADNOTGOOD’s Time Moves Slow. [05:28] A pause. And like a wave, pulled in.
I cannot recall another time I have been at the complete mercy of a track. This was crazy. Every word uttered hit deeper. Even the pseudo-optimistic chorus was disarming. For the first time in a long long time I cried, feelings from months gone by overcame me and both painfully and pleasurably flowed through this song with me.
‘Running away is easy
It’s the leaving that’s hard’
Sometimes I play this song on repeat and still feel those pangs of emotion. Of course, I’m thinking of a person. I’m thinking of a place, a time. But the feeling is ineffable. In between dejection, longing, desire, regret. Playing this song has become a sort of act of recognition – recognising the parts of yourself that you don’t like to visit. The choices you’ve made with consequences you’ve ignored. Perhaps it’s even a way of processing.
With all of it though – both difficult and nurturing – it was the best gift a friend could have given me.
Eve Parsons is a hugger
Diary entry from me, written on 9:30am, 27/01/2014.
So my first 9am lecture of the year is a fucking Library Resources lecture. This guy thinks that none of us have the faintest idea how to search for information on the internet, and is giving us such wonderful insights such as the notion that broad search terms will cause you to have too many search results.
On Saturday I raced on the Thames with UBBC. It was probably the most exciting sporting experience of my life so far, didn’t even hurt that much due to the pure adrenaline; at one point we overtook the boat who started 20 seconds before us and it was just such an intense feeling of power seeing them disappear behind us. The exchange was about around 6 hours of travel, 3 hours of setting up/derigging/waiting and an hour or warming up/rowing back to the start for 13 minutes of racing, but it was worth it. We were in matched 8s so neither boat got an amazing result, but it was still an awesome experience.
After getting back we went out to Lizard Lounge; the grottiest, cheapest and thus most perfect nightclub in Bristol; I drank somewhere around 20-30 units of alcohol which resulted in me kissing a lot of my mates and taking a lot of blurred selfies…
I also had an awesome musical experience driving back: put iPod on shuffle and tried listening without looking at the artist name etc, came up with some really wierd songs I never knew I had but are awesome; most interesting one was Little Bit – Drake x Lykke Li: [23:00] since I was listening thinking ‘weird, they sound like Drake and Lykke Li but that would be such a weird collab, must be soundalikes or something’ but it turns out it’s off his first mixtape. Other revelations were John Gacy Jr by Sufjan Stevens, V V Brown’s avante garde extremes and a really odd Clams Casino instrumental.
I find it strange reading this diary entry, as looking back on this time of my life I tend to view it through the frame of what came next, events that lead to me feeling that I needed to stay away from lad culture as much as possible. I sound so happy! Even though I wasn’t going out to any musical events at all (Lizard Lounge played 5 Colours In Her Hair once, that’s pretty much all I can remember), the music that soundtracked long journeys and training could sometimes bring on intense euphoria. I remember finishing a six thousand metre rowing machine test (23-ish minutes of steadily growing pain) with Doves’ Jetstream – having previously made a playlist whose tracks’ bpm matched my stroke-rate, and were totally unhelpful – a track whose wonderfully dramatic, unexpectedly groovey breakdown carried me across the line, leaving me stammering and gurning harder than any loved up raver.
The other track that totally blindsided me that year was Mine by Beyoncé. [17:08] I remember downloading it because I was intrigued that she had done a track with Drake, leaving it on my iPod ready to come up on shuffle a week or so later, at which point I had to restart it after two minutes because I hadn’t been paying attention; wait whaaaaaat was that Sampha? It was at a different part of the year, when my long distance relationship felt less like a nice addition and more like a lifeline. It elevated and beautified that feeling of hope. Still one of my all time favourite songs, like top five.
See this is the thing about Drake, his stardom and the quality of his music comes from a sense of taste and timing, knowing when and how far to push Hip Hop’s notions of masculinity, knowing which nascent internet styles to cosign, knowing when to bring in a certain side of his vocal character, bringing out a track’s flavour like salt. In Nana’s contribution (later in the article), she talks about hating communal dancing ‘I mostly just want to close my eyes, to be left alone to do it and for everyone to be okay with it.’ This reminded me of one last Drake blindsided moment, on mushrooms, on a warm, muggy Berlin evening, in About Blank’s garden terrace dancefloor, at a queer femme event named Room 4 Resistance. My friend and I had been feeling a bit self conscious, but over two hours, the DJ (Deadlift, who contributed to our first Deep Cuts) gradually loosened us up, peaking with a blissful Drake remix by Pépe, one of my absolute favourite dancefloor weapons, light-footed but joyous.
Will Soer has a lot of feelings.