Coming up with a title for an EP is always difficult. How do you come up with something that encapsulates the essence and meaning of all the songs combined in just one word or phrase? But when you get it, it feels so good! As soon as I said it out loud, I knew it was right. “Instinct”.
Every song on this EP is about instinct in some way or another. “Falls The Heart” is about following my sexual instincts, trusting in my identity as a gay woman and realising how damaging it is to hide or suppress this just to please others.
“The Thing” is about searching for instincts in a noisy, fast paced society where they feel lost or dampened. “Open Up” is about trusting your instincts and letting yourself be emotional without judgement and “Strange” is about having a lack of instinct, specifically maternal, as a woman who has just entered into her 30’s and how this makes you feel.
So… it’s all very personal! But once the words are out there, they are no longer mine, they belong to the listener and I hope people can interpret them in their own way too.
“Falls The Heart”
As a gay/queer woman, I have spent many years in relationships with “straight women” where I was hidden. Hidden from their family, their friends and work colleagues. In private I was their lover and in public I was their “best friend”. Holding hands under tables. Kissing in toilets. It’s fun for a few months and then when months grow into years it just feels really really s**t.
This, as I recently heard in Mae Martin’s new show Fell Good can do “bad things to your posture”. It did. It did bad things to my self esteem and deepened my own homophobia toward myself.
I started to feel I was being hidden because something about me was wrong and the world shouldn’t see me. I was internalising that for years and this song is a realisation of how damaging that can be.
It’s written in the “angry phase” after a break up, which can be both a dark and empowering place to be. It’s like an awakening. A rebirth. An emerging from a bad place to a better place but this time crystallised, harder and brighter than before.
I’m saying “I know you tried to hide me, push me down, keep me quiet, close me off from your world but now I’m on the other side and I can see everything for what it truly was”.
I say I was her “training wheels” because I felt like a gay experiment and once she learned how to ride the bike (so to speak), she moved on and discarded me. This in turn created feelings of extreme bitterness and so even when moving forward onto new and healthier relationships, it grew a monster in me.
Someone who “feeds off another”, rather than loves whole heartedly without fear. Someone who is afraid to be vulnerable. For a while I looked at love in this cynical way, I had to in order to protect myself.
So in the chorus love is depicted as selfish, merely as a means to drain the resources of someone else. To take something in order to gain something. We take their light to get us out of the dark and “the more we take the deeper falls the heart”.
I wanted to make something a little darker and a little harder than some of my previous material but still keep it pop and James Yuill did exactly that on the production. I had just finished reading Yuval Harrari’s Sapiens so I was probably feeling a bit inspired by my own nihilism…
“The Thing” is about feeling discontent with the monotony of life, of small talk at parties; it’s that feeling you get that you can’t quite put your finger on, when you think “there must be more to life than this?” It’s questioning how to find deep meaning and purpose in this life when you have no religion.
When you feel like you’re always searching for something more and can’t quite feel satisfied with what you have, like you’re not quite as alive as you know you could be. It’s more like optimistic nihilism because although I’m saying “everything feels pointless”, I also know there is more to life and I’m excited to find it.
I know that if I keep on trying, I’ll find the thing that I’m missing and maybe I’ll be alright. In all likelihood, it’s probably once we stop searching that we find it but humans are naturally curios and always hungry for more…
“Open Up” is a song I wrote for my Mum. She’s notoriously robust and likes to think of herself as unemotional but I know she’s a big old softy deep down and has an incredible amount of love to give. She’s extremely giving and sociable and funny and caring but when it comes to showing her vulnerability… well… it’s just not British darling!
I am the only one in my family who has gone into the creative arts and so I have had no choice but to open up and learn that there is strength in vulnerability (although I do still struggle) but for most of family – crying and talking about your emotions is not the done thing. So I wrote this song for her and for anyone that needs to hear it, to say that it’s okay to cry!
“Strange” is about lacking, searching for and questioning maternal instinct. It’s about how people view you as “strange” if you reach a certain age as a woman and don’t have an obvious want for children. Feeling like people are watching you for signs of broodiness, and how trying to live up to the expectation of others can be exhausting.
As a gay woman, I haven’t felt this pressure from others; people assume I can’t/don’t want kids (which is a whole other song!), but that’ not true. The song is more about the pressure I put on myself to make a decision.
The truth is I don’t know HOW I feel and the song is like a running internal monologue trying to figure out what it is I’m supposed to feel, how I find that feeling or if I even need to find that feeling.
Listen to the Instinct EP below