Clairo unpicks each stringy vein of my heart from the inside out, worming her way out through my throat, collecting my words and nestling in my voice box until I know her lyrics as if they’re my own. I have no business writing about this album as if I know anything about music production, as if the reasons I love this album can be boiled down to a riff, or a chord progression. And yet, I know Rostam has left his fingerprints in neat drum patterns all over this album. He echoes over every melody, rounding them into full, weighty songs. I don’t know if its the words or the music or the production but something in Immunity feels like it was born from my body, my best friends body, my sister’s body. Everything is delicate and violent at the same time – regrets and twinges are as heavy as they will be in fifty years, heavier even. Everything is felt at double speed, in technicolour, in slow motion, in black and white. 

Softly is tingly, tender; nervous anxiety that sits in my sternum, bubbling and fizzing when eyes catch, hands touch. Joni Mitchell drifts through Bags; my heartbreak album and my one last time album talking, communicating, rubbing up against each other in my stomach and overlaying, sliding in and out of each other. Because Bags tells me that staying in discomfort, in uncertainty must be better than absence, than leaving altogether. Clairo gives us flushed cheeks and wine glasses and four minutes of opening a window to might-say and never-said and shouldn’t-say.

The pleasure’s all mine

This time last year I wrote about female songwriters as storytellers rather than confessional poets, even though their songs sound just like the thoughts in my head. Nearly a year later, Clairo arrives and hands my own diary back to me, rewritten and distorted but remarkable in its similarity, so much that I double-take, double-check, and those imitations I wrote about last time seem to fall short in this doppelganger’s shadow. 

Ice cold baby, I’m ice cold. Frank Ocean floats to the surface in Clairo’s lyrics, referenced from Pilot Jones on his first album. Flashbacks from years ago; a small girl’s voice jumps and squirms through the album, settling on the final track, I Wouldn’t Ask You, which stretches itself over seven minutes. Reminds me of Ocean’s Futura Free which lies at the end of Blonde, and revels in its open expansion, in its unmoored, roaming production free of beat and confinement. At the beginning of this year, I wrote in an essay about Blonde, about undoing hegemonic, fixed narratives through ‘queering’ traditional forms. Clairo sings about girls on Immunity, about the slippery unsure tender way that relationships between women can change and fracture and sit in a strange, magical in between. 

Finally, quickly – Sofia. A song that articulates loving, worshipping women older and more famous and more accomplished – directors and artists and singers and actresses and writers, so so many writers. Sofia feels like all the love I have for these women who will never know me, and all the love I have for my best friends. Clairo and Rostam, I think, have made an album of finely tuned love songs filled with whispered confessions. I’d like to think it was made just for me.

Father of the Bride

If you want to listen to this, instead of reading it, the audio version can be found here.

Before we start, here are some very real concerns I had before the album came out:

What if I don’t like it / What if it’s been too long / How can I be a true fan / I miss being 15, 16, 17, 18 / What if I cry in public / I really really miss being 16 / What if I don’t cry at the concert / What if I don’t understand it / What if no words come out / What if you write something I hate / What if it doesn’t mean anything anymore / What if I’m not who I was / What if I grew out of you / What if you moved on without me / What if I don’t like it

I don’t what this *identity* means anymore. It’s been 6 years, and I have cultivated myself around this band, around music, around music writing. I don’t how to write this. I’ve been planning this piece for six years and I don’t know how to write it. I’m worried about making all of this mean too much. I’m worried about making this mean too little, because I am not me anymore. I don’t know how to listen to this objectively. I don’t know how to listen to this at all. I don’t know how to react.

I think the only way I know how to do this is to write six letters. Six for the number of singles released before the album. Six for the number of years in the middle. Six for the number of months until I see the music live. Six for the number of times I will listen to this album before I really know it, really hear it.

We’re surviving, we’re still living, are we stronger?

Dear Vampire Weekend,

I’m writing this two weeks before I finish my degree. Of course you would release an album at the very end of my youth; at the moment I have to start living life for real. Impeccable timing, as always. Of course you would release your album the day after I realise that I’m okay with being by myself, I’m okay with being in love with music and me, and no-one else, not for now. Of course you would arrive in time to remind who I am.

Harmony Hall was the first song I listened to. It was the first release; a huge deep dive into an unknown ocean. Orchestral? You’re a bit orchestral now. Bigger, wider, and stretched out. I feel like the song has to be big, because it spans that whole mass of time. It runs from New York to LA, and across band members and non-members and producers and instruments and key changes. I was sat around a bunch of theatre friends when it came out – I was close to tears because I was so overwhelmed but also because I was about to finish my last big production (it’s so silly because these worlds are so separate – they don’t interact and yet?) I remember being too busy to listen to the tracks until four or five hours after their release. Everyone else heard them first. Starting to let that kind of thing go. And the familiarity of something like Harmony Hall sits comfortably in my chest. It still sounds like you. Your riffs are still complex and settle in the verses. Your bridge builds and builds to bring in the nostalgia of the hollow drums and plucking rhythms. Except now you use a big grand piano, not a keyboard. You’ve grown. Grown away from me, a bit. I don’t feel orchestral quite yet. I’m still unsteady.

And the end – begin with the end – the end is the hardest part. I will never listen to this album for the first time ever again. If you wrote Jerusalem, New York, Berlin for Modern Vampires of the City maybe it would be different. It wouldn’t be quite so much like a Leonard Cohen song. It would be tight (not musically, emotionally) – it would be in a minor key and surrounded by echoing, deep synth (maybe more like Hudson?). When you sing this, I feel like you’re content. You weren’t content before. Before you squished everything into ten songs, and every lyric was pained with anxiety, with dread, with some kind of morbid fascination with your own existence. Now you’ve let yourself stretch out in the sun. The ticking clock has faded into the background, and now you’re figuring out to live the rest of your life, maybe even live the rest of your life with someone else.

I don’t wanna live like this, but I don’t wanna die.

Dear Ezra,

We’ve entered into this contract together, I think. That unspoken unconfirmed contract between artist and fan, artist and critic, musician and audience. It’s a little bit of a one-way exchange; one where I gain everything, and you just give. I hope I’ve shown you what it means, even though you will never read this, I hope you somehow know you made me happy. I so often forget that you write about characters – that you’re a storyteller. It makes me think I know you – but I don’t know you at all. And you make these characters so that we can sit inside of them, and bask in the wide open landscapes you draw for them.

This Life and Unbearably White were my favourite of the single releases. They made me so happy. This Life follows that protagonist from songs like Campus, M79, and White Sky. I see his trajectory across North America, weaving through New England, New York, and now California. And he thought that this is where his life would end up, and he thought it wouldn’t rain here, if he’s a new man. That refrain “You’ve been cheating on me, but I’ve been cheating through this life” from iLoveMakonnen really captures that witty, charismatic, makes-you-think-twice lyric that you are so good at writing. And maybe this is that boat shoe, tucked in shirt, curly haired college sophomore aesthetic resurfacing in the most self aware kind of way. “Am I good for nothing?” – always a little self deprecating, a little self obsessed, a little annoying – this song is a bit like the posh straight guy in your queer theory seminar. And yet, in the second half of the song, you change gear. The rug is pulled from under me again, and suddenly I think this song is about America, and being American, and finally pulling away from the country that holds you. Because yes this is a love story, but it’s also a story about landscapes, cities, and feeling unmoored.

Baby, I know hate is always waiting at the gate

I just thought we’d locked the gate when we left in the morning

I was told that war is how we landed on these shores

I just thought the drums of war beat louder warnings

I feel like those lyrics are about a fractious and torn relationship with a country that ceases to want your faith. Maybe not, but that’s what I see. Anyway, I love the final outro because it really feels like a return to some of the theatricality of MVOTC, even though this is such a departure.

And then Unbearably White, which is so provocative as a title, but I feel like you aren’t trying to be shady to any of your critics. You’re too interested in what people have to say for that. I’m writing this as if I know you and of course I don’t, of course I know your characters and some persona but maybe that’s what this whole thing is about. I’m not sure I know how to separate being your fan from being a critic of your work. Because I’m the definition of die-hard. But I haven’t fallen in love this time round. Not completely, not quickly, not fast, not dramatically, urgently in love.

Baby I love you but that’s not enough

Dear Eve,

I am writing to you five years on from where you are now. I do this a lot, probably because I miss you a lot, and I hope somehow you can hear me. And also because I’m reaching for my quickly disappearing youth.

I am writing to tell you that you are about to experience so much LIFE, and you will love this band for so long, and you will love art and you will feel a lot of things quite intensely.

I am writing to tell you that your favourite band aren’t a band anymore, and your favourite member has left, and their music doesn’t sound like the inside of your brain anymore.

You will associate Big Blue with someone you don’t even know yet. You will associate 2021 with a feeling you don’t understand yet.

And you would love Bambina if you heard it. That would be your favourite song. You’d listen to it so intently, and sing it under your breath in Maths, and doodle the lyrics in the margins of your history books. And you’d be so interested in that overt religious imagery with all its symbolism and weight, just like you were with MVOTC.  

I am writing to tell you that you are going to change a lot. You are going to realise that you like theatre more than music. You are going to realise that you should have a fringe and short hair. You are going to listen to way more female artists. You will be single for ages, and you will be very, very happy about it. Things won’t be how you thought they’d be. Keep going though, it’s worth it.

For now, ciao ciao Bambina

Dear Dad,

The biggest fight (debate??)  we ever had, or at least, the one that sticks in my mind is when I told you I thought certain albums weren’t for us. I don’t know if you still disagree with me, actually. You didn’t get how music wasn’t universal, wasn’t all-encompassing and wide reaching. That is actually a really hopeful idea, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily true. I think I’m starting to realise that this album is made for someone like you. It is full of references that you get and I don’t. I have to work a little bit harder to be let in.

I’m starting to realise that all the music I love so much is because of you and that’s amazing, but it also means that it’s quite a lot of men, especially the 2000s indie scene that we both unashamedly love so much. I grew up with my favourite musicians being men. And now you introduce me to amazing women like LP, Japanese House, Patti Smith, Let’s Eat Grandma, Ibibo Sound Machine, This is the Kit…Billie Eilish?! And yet. And yet, this album feels further away than before. It feels not at all like my life.

This album and this band will always be a little bit about you and me and music. I think your favourite songs on this album will be Sympathy, My Mistake, and How Long. The experimental, chaotic bravery of Sympathy is totally your thing. Your jam. It sticks out in the middle of the album – it’s just over halfway through and it’s maybe one of the best things Ezra has ever written. You’ll appreciate the sheer audacity of it, the rampant musicality, the strangeness of it. I think it kind of sounds like a Fleetwood Mac song? Or a kind of odd Beatles track maybe? You liked Sunflower because it felt like an experiment in songwriting. I wasn’t so sure. And then My Mistake sounds like it could be a Strokes B Side or a low key Tame Impala song? And also has those Bowie synths we like. These are definitely the songs on the album that took me longest to warm to – they’re sprawling and melancholic and kind of odd. The interlude of rippling water in My Mistake is the kind of acute attention to production that you’d notice. How Long could definitely fit easily into the other albums. It sounds like it’s been recorded underwater. It feels transitional – like it’s clinging a little bit to the existentialism of MVOTC and the naivety of Contra. But the melodies pull it back. The clicks and crunches pull it firmly into Father of the Bride.

I think I took myself too serious. It’s not that serious.   

Dear friends and fellow fans,

“To the fans:” That’s the beginning of the announcement. I’m sitting in the library and I’m deep in writing some essay and the album is announced. Just like that. And I reach across and I’m so excited and you look at me and smile.

Everyone messages me when it’s released. I am flooded with all of you ready to share it with me. You all have your favourites. I can see you all listening to it on my spotify. I get messages which all basically read: “I have LOTS of thoughts. I love it – do you?” I remember when Ezra teased Flower Moon back at the Ojai show last fall, and we all just went mad. And everyone is wearing their merch today. And everyone is always in the front row. And we are older and we are all saying how much has happened in six years, how much we’ve changed. “It’s gonna take a year. Let’s drink Coca Cola and red wine.” And this one too, feels familiar. It could’ve been on the last album, except that it works here because you’ve let your shoulders unclench, you’ve let the drums elongate, and imbued the riffs with lifeblood and joy, you’ve given some vocals to Steve Lacy. Tell me when you get to Stranger. This will turn out to be one of my favourites, I just know it. Again it’s a big country ballad, and they’ve got that brass section, and Danielle again. It all just screams golden fields, California sun, beer, and cowboy hats (??). And the little derivative in the outro is really nice actually. Rich Man is also a bit country. Lol. I really didn’t think we’d turn into country fans, but here we are. Let’s keep being fans. I will see you all at a concert in 10, 20, 30 years, I hope, sitting at the back drinking beer and wearing massive hats and with your families.

I remember life as a stranger, but things change. Things have never been stranger.

Dear Me,

Let’s talk about the love songs. Danielle Haim’s voice balances Ezra’s scratchy, wide vocals. Her voice is organically gorgeous – a tiny bit rough around the edges, but you can barely hear it. At each third, she intersects as his counterpart. The protagonist of these songs, of this album, keeps returning to her. He can’t hold her love in his hands, he can’t catch it all. It’s like sand rushing through his fingers. And it’s just all too good to be true.

You’ll play Hold You Now as you walk down the aisle, or for your first dance. It’s the song that plays over the montage. You’ll sing Married in a Gold Rush at a Karaoke bar. It’s the song that will remind you of 2019, 2020, 2021. You’ll laugh at We Belong Together with the only person it can be about. It will become about someone you haven’t even met yet. They will remind you of your youth, and all the ways that love will never be.

Hold You Now sits so strangely as an opener – it’s so choral? It sets itself up as a falling in love song, but it’s actually about falling out of love. And why would you open with that? It’s about an ending. So maybe, maybe we listen backwards. Start with We Belong Together. Rostam’s watermark stains each beat of this one. Particularly the piano in the background, and the strong strumming guitar chords. “There’s no point in being clever, it don’t mean we’ll stay together” And Married in a Gold Rush is openly romantic in a way they haven’t been before. Expanding their lexicon to country cringe in a way they would never have. “This is not some grand design” Is this what happens after the existentialism? Is marriage the solution to that ticking clock? Is that what you’re telling me? Really? But then, back to Hold You Now, and it’s ended. With each song, the voices and the characters they belong to fall out of love. Or realise that the love they have for each other just isn’t enough.

So when you remember the feeling these songs give you, remember summer and being 21 and falling in and out of love quickly and fiercely with everything and everyone. I thought you might learn the language. I thought you might learn to sing. I can’t decide if this is one massive end or a really new beginning. I think we’ll find out soon. I want to see what you’re like when the next album comes out. Will you stay up till midnight? Will you be in love? Where will you be living? Who do you know? Do you still use writing as a kind of ridiculous catharsis? What do these songs mean to you? Do you even still like music? I think you probably do.

I know I loved you then, I think I love you now.

I feel like those little spoken interruptions in between the tracks are like after thoughts, something said without really thinking. Process bleeding into practise bleeding into product. It’s a bit messy, it’s a bit different, it’s a bit more human.

Six years is a very respectable amount of waiting time for an album.

Here’s to the next decade.

We took a vow in summertime, now we find ourselves in late September.

Photo: Vampire Weekend – Father Of The Bride audio cover | Sony Music

The Cane

I really really loved this play. It does that awful thing of feeling quite simple but also being totally knotted. Awful for me, I mean. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we react to reactions against injustice. About how the tendency, I think, is to laugh. Or at least, to shy away from taking it seriously. When someone takes the injustice that has been so violently thrust upon them and reacts against it, it is very easy to dismiss them.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how audiences are powerful. I’d like to preface with what I am about to say with the promise that I don’t think there is any “correct” way to behave in a theatre. I think it is elitist to think there is. And yet. And yet, when I sit in the Royal Court, and I watch Anna (Nicola Walker) be called a cunt by her father (Alun Armstrong) and the man sitting next to me lets out a laugh, a guffaw, I grip the sides of my seat and I feel my heart catch in my throat. Anna is stony faced, up there, and I remain stony faced down here. Solidarity, I think. And when he shouts and shouts at his wife (Maggie Steed), bullying her and pushing her further and further into the corners of the stage, and a pointless quip releases people around me to giggle I just cannot stop thinking how, how can you laugh at a time like this. There is a very clear and tangible symbol of power on stage, and it is being discussed very frankly. There is no doubt that this is a play of pain and horror. This is a play about men, and the damage they inflict, because of the damage that is inflicted upon them.

I’ve been thinking a lot about guilt. About whether guilt is a useful feeling. Whether it is a feeling that is worth anything at all. I don’t mean small bouts of guilt. I mean that massive systemic guilt. Guilt that presses down upon your back like the ceiling of a house. Did you take any of your guilt with you into the night? I think about the huge window in front of us – a stage disguised as a window disguised as a mirror. I think a lot about how laughter is political. It seems to speak for everyone when it occurs because it is so vocal. Did you mean for that laughter to happen? Does it matter? But but all I can think as I walk out of the theatre is that I did not find that play funny. I did not laugh once.

Oh here I was thinking I was a person, but I was an institution this whole time

That’s not quite the line. The line is slightly different but that is the intent, and yet there is a murmur of knowing laughter. I didn’t see The Writer but I am not sure I could have coped. I heard and read from Ava that it was so incredibly wrong for it to be in The Almeida but also incredibly important for it to be there. I feel the same way about this. I’m not sure I can shrug it off.

And that last monologue. That last moment of the ceiling falling and falling and nearly not quite crushing while there is a release? A testimony. A plea for … for forgiveness? Acceptance? Kindness? When does forgiveness become history and history stop accusing and start understanding. Does it?  I don’t even know if it should. Just because you committed an act of atrocity as a result of an institution does not mean that you did not commit the atrocity.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of forgiveness, of kindness. Who is afforded it, and who is given the final word. There’s a tendency to let him redeem himself but but but what if I can’t   I can’t And if this play is about anything it is about how we react. How we react to abuses of power and how those with the power react to us. Sitting in those seats, those expensive seats, I wasn’t sure which side I was on.


Photo credit: Johan Persson

Lands; some voice notes

(for the first half of the post, and some context go to ava’s blog here)

*** the next day ***

Eve  0:58

I think with the metaphor, with what you were saying about Palmyra and stuff, I think that’s very true. Umm yeah I think that both Eurohouse and Lands did that very well, but I think I do get on with that kind of stuff because if it’s done badly it’s just



But if it’s done well it’s some of the most powerful stuff you can do because it’s so subtle and I’m really interested in the idea that you can talk about something and you can really make a statement without talking directly about it. I think it’s a really really interesting way of being like artistically political in a very kind of obscure and also enjoyable way, but also quite painful.

Eve  0:59

I mean obviously I was actually sick but I also wasn’t bc it was just paranoia! and I was fully just being a hypochondriac. I was thinking when you said that, I think maybe it was partly the show in kind of a good way like it really made me feel quite kind of physically like i wanted to


In a very visceral way. And I think maybe I was so kind of clenched the whole way through and just

Because you sort of know. You know how it’s gonna end like you know the direction it’s going in. As soon as she says that first line of like ‘I can’t get off’ I thought I know exactly what this is and I can see this and I can see where this is going and I don’t like it but I know I’m going to have to sit through it and I think that’s sort of the point.

Ava  0:54

Yeah like (what was I gonna say ummm yeah) the way that they both reduce down um politics or just sort of feelings, the way emotion is reduced to like an action and aCH I don’t know it’s really hard to explain? You’d think it wouldn’t be but it is.

I don’t really know what kind of theatre that is.

And I feel like there should be more of it but as you say it’s really difficult to do. Um yeah I mean maybe we’re both quite simplistic people but I get a lot out of that kind of thing and I think that’s why FellSwoop are so popular (well popular in this really tiny group) because it’s such an accessible way of doing it

Ava  0:52

Yeah I feel like I didn’t really know that it was about that, not that it was all about it but that like so much of it was going to be about getting Sophie off of the trampoline and I think to do that over what like an hour and 20 minutes is like the most difficult thing to do – like to just draw out that conceit and to not make it feel like it’s just a rehearsal technique, because it kind of feels like bits of that show feel like they could be things that people use in rehearsal – like let’s try and get this person out of the room or get this person off this thing like how many different ways can you do it. But the skill in Lands is that it’s never made to feel extraneous – it’s always very rooted in like those characters

Eve  0:52

I think also – sorry I haven’t listened to the voice note you just sent – but yeah I think something that definitely interests, certainly interests us, but also generally “”young”” people, is this idea of casualised violence and the idea that we see these little snippets of brutal and sort of hyperbolic like violence, destruction, catastrophe and it’s all like contained in a tiny little, like a bomb (??) I don’t know how to describe it but I think that’s sort of how the show felt. It’s something that Eurohouse/Palmyra did which is have this very contained, small but extremely explosive violence.

Eve  0:57

Yeah I agree. I think I’ve sort of said everything I think about it but I know what you mean about the rehearsal thing – I think that’s very true and I think it’s so hard to tread the line between ‘I’ve seen this before I know this I know the intent and I know the direction’ and then to also make it surprising and interesting and kind of playful and feel quite spontaneously playful because I think some of the worst things (okay not the worst things that’s not true) but something that I find frustrating sometimes is a fake liveness or pointing to a liveness that isn’t actually there. I think I find that frustrating but I think maybe Lands did that sometimes but I think other times it did feel quite true. So I thought they trod(??) treaded??? They tread that line very well.

Ava  0:40

Yeah no I totally agree about the violence thing. Yeah completely – the way it’s sort of like hyper-intensive and very small and sort of – I don’t know maybe that’s almost a response to the way that a younger generation are perceived as overly sensitive and stuff, but these kind of companies I feel like they really pinpoint why certain things are so horrific and they really sort of isolate them and put them in a sort of under a microscope and they’re just kinda like look this is really really horrifically painful

Ava  0:53

Yeah I think I’m pretty much done too but yeah the sort of fake liveness thing – I’m kind of getting increasingly annoyed now. I feel like that whole trend of like “oh, the performance is falling apart!” it’s kind of annoying me now. I feel like so many people have done it and it’s kind of like – I feel like an interesting way for it to progress (like for that idea to progress) is for that “thing” like that supposed breakdown of the performance to be recognised in itself as being artificial, as being part of the stagecraft

But then maybe that’s moving into like

Really really super super


Which i don’t really like

Lands felt very true, and not cynical, really.


a year of Half-Light

I was dead and born again / And soon it will feel all so long ago

Standing outside the venue I order an uber. Next to me, three women giggle about a setlist and whisper to each other. I look around, hopefully. I see Rostam exit the stage door but my uber’s just arrived and it’s central London. I get in. The driver asks me how my night was. We have a quick conversation and then I stare out of the window. I cry and cry and cry. The violins echo through my restless sleep that night. I dream of being front row again, knowing all the words but being a bit too scared to shout them – this night feels too special, too close. Bike Dream plays and I dance and dance and dance.

It has been a year since Half-Light was released. Feels far too long. How have we fit so much life, so much time in between? The album feels imbued with nostalgia – always associated somewhere in the back of my mind with a burgeoning love for music, new discovery via a band with New England in their song titles. Alongside me, the music has matured, the love has grown and expanded and stretched – grown taut. Something about the drum beats feels the same. Something about the play, the experimenting, the intelligence. That is not why I love this album, it’s only the beginning.

Every one of us has felt our heart beat pound / Every one of us has felt it on our own

In my room, second year of university, it’s the middle of winter. This bed, this space, feels temporary. My friend George comes round just to listen to music and talk. Just that. A special, close space. I have just received my Half-Light vinyl in the post. We listen to the whole thing start to finish. I tell him to listen out for Hold You, I think it will be his favourite. He waves goodbye to me from the street and I play the record all the way through once more.

String sections flit in and out of focus, rising and falling with my heart. The drums keep in constant time with my steps. The vocals coast around me and wrap me tight. They feel unavoidably familiar. It is selfish to assume that these words are holding fast to my bedside alone. They keep company to more than me, of course. But for now, they are all mine. The words, when they come into focus, repeat this image of looking at yourself, feeling outside yourself. There’s a distance between ideas and reality; an idea of what love could, should, might have been, but then waking up and seeing it for what it really is. Dreams and naps and sleep also feels really important, both in the lyrics and in the melodies. When sunlight peaks through the curtains and you are half awake, but slowly, slowly, you drift back into a half-sleep. I’m not sure if it is the ethereal strings, or the heavy, heady bass and drum kicks but I really feel like this is what those dreams sound like.

All of these dreams keep comin back to me / Slowly slowly

The rising chords are carving out a space in my chest. Some of the sounds remind me of my childhood spent in a country I was not born in. Lyrics become poems become repetition become mantra become second nature. I send the Gwan music video to a friend; listen to this isn’t it amazing I am seeing him live and can’t wait! im going on my own bc i want to do smthg that’s just for me… She says; yes I’ve heard it! you played it in a rehearsal.

I find it sprinkled, like sawdust, across so many parts of my life. See the songs crop up on my friend’s playlists, they recognise the name, the sounds. I find it reminds me of a thousand memories at once. All strong and tugging at me, from the year past. It does not feel like a year. It does not feel like it has been a year since I sat up late in my room waiting for the release and trying and trying to write about it but not having the words. Not having the knowledge to analyse but wanting so badly to express the inexpressible. My dad still talks about the albums that stayed with him from when he was my age. That indelible impression on your heart that sticks like a third-degree burn. If Half-Light reminds me of anything it reminds me of my love for rooted and nurtured friendships and simultaneously my love for solitude, for sitting up and writing late at night like I’m doing now.

I just keep holdin on / To what I’ve got till it’s gone

Music, like food, plays a central role in my home. So when Safura cooks for me and I show her Rostam’s album and she asks me to play Wood again, it feels special, close. I record the whole song for her in London. Every time I listen to it, I’m reminded of how sharing is really the root of our friendship, a constant interchange. Or maybe we just both really like good food and good music and laughter. Saf lives in Malaysia now and I won’t see her for a year. Wood sounds different. Happy/sad.

Half-Light has bridged that gap between an album I have shared and shared and shared, but also an album that feels so tightly sewn to my chest that I can’t possibly let anyone else near it. Does that make sense? Can two things be true at the same time? In a River was just released. It is different, because I have not lived with it for a year. I love it, of course. It feels fresh, different to everything else that I listen to right now. It is as if Half-Light encompasses a lot of who I am now. Because of Rostam, I fell in love with Wet’s new album, with Cosha, with Maggie Rogers, with Santigold, Charli XCX, Carly Rae Jepson. A wealth of influential women with kick-ass songs. Because he composed music for This Is Our Youth, I go and see the first piece of theatre that really sparks something inside me. I go home and I write the first page of my first play.

When you tie and knot your connections to pieces of music, it is easy to forget that they are not just yours. That these lyrics are memorised by thousands of others as well. That these string sections accompany walks home. That the album cover stares down from bedroom walls just like yours. It is that thing of music being so utterly personal and so completely communal at the same time. This is not a review, it is not a diary entry; it is a bit of both. I like to think that at some level, every time we write and think about art we are giving up a little piece of ourselves. It feels only fair, since those people you are writing about have given you so much.

It’s still all up to you


image is a still from Bike Dream music video by Rostam


confessional poets

I started trying to write a review of the new Wet album, but all the things I was writing about made me think about the sad girl songs that have followed me for the last two years; Mitski, Lorde, Karen O, even Lana Del Rey. I thought about something I saw, or something someone said (I think maybe Mitski said it in an interview) – about the idea that female songwriters are seen to be sharing a diary entry everytime they write a personal song, or even an emotional song. How that idea is so gendered. They’re never telling a story, or narrating – they are always at the centre.


But what if these songs sound exactly like my diary entries?

Kelly Zutrau (Wet) starts her album with the line “I wanna go where the sun is shining and no one knows my name”. Still Run is probably the most romantic, most confessional, most revealing that Wet have been? It’s a really naked album. I think all of Mitski’s songs are naked and vulnerable. Ok even the album cover looks like she’s just stepped out of shower; like a Jenny Saville painting. Zutrau took control of the songwriting on this album (you can kind of tell – it’s great). I think ‘Lately’ is actually about songwriting and about writing and writing and writing and not feeling appreciated, or not feeling like your emotional turmoil is being reciprocated – “you never like how my songs sound but you give nothing of yourself”. She keeps opening herself back up to them, to us in ‘Softens’. The melodies and the lyrics feel like she’s pulling herself backwards and forwards, someone gently tugging on her shoulder, being methodically moved by waves in the ocean, by fights and hugs in a relationship, by tears and sighs.


They are my confessional poets.

They are rearranging my vital organs into three minute songs.

Wet’s new album, like Melodrama (Lorde’s second album), you can dance to it but you might be crying at the same time, and you might not even know why. Songs like ‘Sober’ and ‘Writer in the Dark’ feel a bit like she’s lurching into the chords (especially the synth underneath Sober). It’s a bit about heartbreak and a bit about returning to yourself. It’s like sad disco. Then there’s Liability and Hard Feelings/Loveless – songs that my friends texted to me saying ‘this is ME, how does she know’. Feeling like you’re too much for everyone. The album now feels so familiar that it’s like seeing an old friend. I’ve listened to it in the shower countless times. (why does it sound best in the shower??)


Wild women don’t get the blues but I find that

Lately I’ve been crying like a tall child

At the end of ‘Drunk Walk Home’ Mitski just screams into the microphone. At the end of ‘My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars’, she screams ‘Go on, kill me’ into her guitar. It’s kind of weird if it comes on shuffle but if you have the build up of the whole album it is So necessary. The chord progression in ‘First Love/Late Spring’ feels like it actually shakes with power. As part of a live art performance as part of an instillation as part of a show I screamed and danced to this song with two of my favourite women ever – we were protesting the way women artists do everything first, and then all the credit goes to the men. Sorry, Dad, but the Smiths do nothing for me – they don’t even come close to Karen O singing ‘Love is soft, Love’s a fucking bitch’, and then screaming endlessly into the microphone in ‘Body’. Her album ‘Crush Songs’, was recorded when she was 27, and is super scratchy and lo-fi. It sounds like she’s singing from inside a cavernous heart. I think she was my first foray into music that was written for women and by women. They are me. 

Mitski’s coming out with new music, too. I feel like her sound is ageing with me. ‘Nobody’, is her new pop tune. It’s still super sad and intensely emotional. The difference is you can dance to it. Then there’s ‘Geyser’ – a song (probably) about Mitski’s relationship with music, with writing, and with art. It’s jagged, jarring, and almost choral in it’s scale. It’s a statuesque song. I wasn’t sure I liked it at first. ‘Feel it bubbling from below, here it call to me constantly’ – it’s a bit romanticised but yeah, that’s it. That’s the guttural thing that makes you write down your worst fears and share them with, like, everyone. My best friend said she couldn’t be a writer because it wasn’t her first love.

I think it might be mine

Wet’s album brought all of this into focus. This endless love between young women and their guitars and their headphones and, yeah, their diaries; their words.



Julie // (oh, baby)

JULIE    (oh, baby)

National Theatre

dir. Carrie Cracknell, adp. Polly Stenham

This is a love story.


I hate Strindberg’s Miss Julie. I just can’t shake the feeling that he was sort of a misogynistic piece of crap, and so was his play. He tried so hard to write a naturalistic play. He even proclaimed that Miss Julie was the first true naturalistic drama. But his play seems to be so far away from Naturalism as any play could be in the 19th century. It takes place on Midsummer’s Eve, when impulses are released and in the dead of night things are pushed to their carnivalistic extreme. The concept of Strindberg’s drama is that two people, (a high class woman and her father’s valet), are drawn together in a battle of psychology and sexuality.

Polly Stenham and Carrie Cracknell just sort of fuck it all up from there.

This rewrite/adaptation/overturning was so sexy. Strindberg’s version doesn’t let itself be too sexy. It’s so ***subtextual*** and ***subconscious*** that desire starts being mistaken for love. What Stenham and Cracknell’s production does so well is that it teases us with the idea that maybe these two people are actually really truly in love with each other. That the mind games are just the way they show their love. The (social and interpersonal) toxicity reveals itself in the blending of birds and the sniffing of cocaine.

The idea of carnival is extended into a rave – what happens when the night feels longer than the day? When the people who stay longest aren’t really your friends at all, and climb into your kitchen cupboards. I sometimes feel like Cracknell’s movement direction lies disjointed against her modern, clean productions. It really worked in Julie. As another Julie appears onstage in the furor of the dancing ket-heads, we realise that something has come undone in the fabric of what is meant to be. It lets the unsettling and discordant elements of the script bleed through.

Vanessa Kirby is sort of made to play this role. It’s like if Princess Margaret enjoyed EDM and MDMA. She slips and slides across the stage. Her clothing drapes and falls around her, cascading onto the floor and around her head. She is really sexy. Her voice is raspy and her hair untidy. She never lets her performance verge into the uncontrollable. She is always, we like to think, totally and utterly aware of what she is doing to Eric Kofi Abrefa’s Jean and to us. His performance glows and tilts. We are never quite sure what he is thinking, whether he loves or pities or despises or desires her – and that’s probably exactly what he wants. Then Thalissa Teixeira’s Kristina is so much more interesting, layered, and empathetic than in Strindberg’s original. Cracknell places at the forefront of scenes – silent but present. Her performance sheds a whole new light, a whole undiscovered light, onto this supposed two-hander. I care what happens to her, and what she feels.

Julie actually kills herself in this one. It’s totally unambiguous. And at first I hated that. But then I sort of think maybe it’s defiant. It is brutal. It is exactly how this very dark, very toxic, very unsettling play should end.


Head Above Water

We went to the seaside today just because it was nice and sunny and we wanted to.

I feel a bit stuck. Like my feet are sort of wedged in the sand and it’s gone between my toes and I’m wiping and cleaning and washing and the sand isn’t moving. I haven’t blogged much this year, if at all. One small messy review of Girls and Boys. I have also written one review for Noises Off. I’m about to do a press night review for Exeunt. Have written a couple of things for zines. Trying to stretch some muscles. My head is buried in an essay right now, an essay of mostly overblown metaphors and kind of ridiculous thoughts. 

I realised that I love things quite deeply and it is only when I love something that I write. I kind of think of everything I write as a little segment of my soul that’s carved out and placed on a dinner table for people to spit back out if they don’t like it. If they don’t understand it. If it’s actually just a bit undercooked.

Confidence knocked a little bit lately but also gained as well. Showing writing, hiding writing, sharing writing. Letting myself wear those tight trousers that hug my waist. Should probably be writing more – taking every opportunity to tell people exactly what I think because they should care exactly what I thought and it matters it matters it matters. So often coming out of shows ready to write reviews, but the words don’t get written. Sitting down to write starts to feel like the tide going out – all the words are being sucked away and I can’t catch them fast enough. I have really tried to not let rejection get to me, in all the ways it shows its ugly head, but yet it still seemingly sleeps under my bed at night, ready to wake me in the morning to remind me it exists. Stuck, stuck, stuck.

A friend’s lyrics sort of play back in my head, ‘She played a song at the foot of my bed / I don’t know where it came from / But it touched the base of the huge mountain she’s trying to scale’. Her lyrics are much better than that, but I don’t have the memory to conjure them. Dad says I analyse things when I feel them, like really feel them. Which is true. I’ve stopped caring so much about mark schemes and more about how I can find room to lodge another writer inside my heart. Reading endless essays about writing and crafting and learning and it’s helping piece by piece but I’m finding it hard to make a whole. Not sure what shape it takes yet. Not sure if my body my soul fits into that shape yet.

(I’m being quite purposefully poetic. It makes it easier to impress people.)

Still sort of stretching my muscles. Moving my toes around in the wet sand. I’m waiting for the tide to come back in. It has to, because the moon pulls it back.  Whatever I show you is not perfect, and it is not professional. But it is me, trying. I have to let it go a little bit too. Not everything is world shattering, life altering, career ending, race finishing, prize giving, apocalypse causing. 

We went to the seaside today just because we wanted to and I think I should probably just write because I want to and because it’s nice and sunny and I enjoy it a lot, even when it is hard.


a negation of happiness (Girls and Boys review)

Girls and Boys

by Dennis Kelly

What happens to me, to us (maybe, maybe not you, but me, definitely me) inside that room is absolute and complete destruction. We are, she is, I am torn up from the inside out, or perhaps from the outside in. 90 minutes in and she has excavated her annihilation, and she emotionally annihilates us in the process.

Carey Mulligan holds us tight to her chest in Girls and Boys. The words hit us like darts, each sharp and knowing in its entirety. Every ounce of stage time is savored. She darts around us, scoping us out. Testing the water. Dipping her toe in. By the end, she’s pushed us all the way in and I’m not sure if my vision is obscured because of the water in my eyes or because the lights have been making me stare in the same place for too long. Lyndsey Turner directs a production that simmers. It’s a pot that takes 90 minutes to boil. All this violence sizzles at the corners of the stage, the bright strip lights illuminating and containing it in each break. It is held far away from us at first. The violence hides behind the sofa and takes its sweet time, waiting to bite down on the edges of our hearts. We know it’s coming. Kelly is nothing if not predictable. His love of humanity’s ability for ultimate, catastrophic love and atrocity sits neatly in the parameters of this script.

So we know that this violence, this unexplained violence, is coming. But for now, it’s a love story. It’s sweet and funny. Really funny. It speeds along. We’re interrupted by Carey in the living room with her kids. The set shifts. It’s almost too real to be realistic at this point, and the direct address monologues feel much more genuine than the high ceilinged apartment.

I think a lot about violence

She says it and our tone shifts. Kelly’s script is one long experiment. Make them laugh and laugh and turn to each other in their seats and smile at the familiarities of her, her life, her love, her children. Violence isn’t allowed in. It’s only on the television, or in the newspaper, on our phones, in our books, on our stages. It’s not for us though. We don’t. We don’t. Experience it. We don’t ever, really Know It.

Until we do. It’s not about gender except that it is, so much, so crucially, so deeply about gender and really about men. About the fear, the paralysing fear that I cannot ever truly know you. When I stand opposite you, my husband, the one I have said I will live with, love with, care for, comfort, forever, I don’t really know you at all. You aren’t allowed to be desensitised, not this time. This fiction has made me angry. Like fuming, cheeks hot, breathlessly angry. How the fuck have we let this happen. How the fuck can you stand there and tell me that I am not allowed to believe her. It’s not even a question for me. Of course I believe her. I believe her because I know how terrifyingly easy it is for this to be me. To be who I am, who I become. I don’t know if I would be able to hold onto love, to compassion, in the same way she does.


I’m a student so my life functions in three month intervals with some space in between. This one has had a couple of Weird clouds hanging over it. This is a bit about thinking back and also about looking forward – so basically exactly what New Years is (duh eve)

Just as I was coming back to university all the Harvey Weinstein stuff started coming out. I haven’t spoken very publicly about any of this, even to my very small following, because it all feels a bit much.

still too wary to talk, still wanting to support, still feeling vulnerable, still needing some kind of reassurance, still feeling rage, still feeling inevitability, still detaching, still cutting myself off from it

I spoke to my mum about it a bit. I have had a few tentative online chats about it. Don’t want to get stuff wrong, but still it feels like the cloud has gotten heavier. That sounds…really bad. What I think I mean is, it’s always been in my thoughts. It’s always been in lots of people’s thoughts because it’s everyday and everywhere. Now it’s in Guardian articles and hashtags. Not a bad thing. Just a heavier, denser cloud.

The rain is coming

So I’ve really felt that cloud this term. It’s on my phone every single day. When I lost my phone for a while, it didn’t leave, but I did stop seeing it. And even though my mental health hit rock bottom, at least for a moment the tweeting and the articles and the debates and the misogyny was hidden. When I came back to it, I felt more angry, and more capable.

I feel, a little bit, powerful. I feel, a lot, empowered. I feel, most of all, supported.

I filter my feed so that there’s no cis men.
It’s the rest of us.
And we all love each other so much.

I see folk who I look up to, and have done for this whole year

Maddy, Meg, Lyn, Vicky, Ava, Emily, Alice, Anna, Clara, Helen, Joesph, Evie, Ella, Mitski, Anya, Alice, Kate, Safura, Kia Yee, Anna, Lilith, Florence, Esme, Steffi, Ellice, Hebe, Bryony, Emma, Cara, Helen, Hetty, Arifa, Gabbi, Kath, Charlotte, Hannah, Amy, Stella, Olivia, Selina, Zarina, Gabrielle, Leanne, Meg, Ciara, Annie, Izzy

We are a collective forcefield. Lots of those names don’t know who I am – that’s okay. It’s about visibility. I think.

This is messy. I hope I don’t make anyone angry – this is one of those posts that feels fragile. Feels tired. Sorry if it’s not quite right.

But then there’s also like another, brighter cloud which tails off of the heavy one. I think because of the people who have come forward about being assaulted and harassed, I have learned to look at the women and non binary people in my life and love them a whole lot more, and learn from them, and admire them, and be there for them, and open myself up to them a bit more

I am constantly filled with pride when I look at all of them. Even if they are far more successful than me, and run theatres and magazines and write plays. I’m proud of myself too. I published at least one blog post every month this year. I’ve never done that before!

I’ve also gone through some real shit since September. I dipped super low, and then I came back out of it. I’ve hurt people but I have also been hurt. What goes around comes around. I let myself be vulnerable in ways I haven’t let myself be before – I’m still learning when that’s useful and when it’s damaging. It’s a slow process. It’s a growing cloud.

I am also very lucky. I know that. Will never not know that. I hope next year I can give and help and promote better.

Allow communication. Cut out negative people. Allow forgiveness. Take no shit. Value yourself. Raise each other up. Give back. Take time. Be generous. Share carefully.

This isn’t meant to be life-affirming.


Stop apologising.

Right. Yes.

Good and Bad eh. Have done and written some of my best stuff this year – theatrical and not theatrical. In 2018 I will improve and grow along with everyone beside me. I absolutely hate New Years, but this felt needed. It’ll probably be mostly the same next year. I’m excited to see new shows and listen to new music (Vampire Weekend LP4 LETS GO) and write new plays and blog posts

Okay cool, this is cheesy and shit now but !! Cathartic.

See ya in 2018