Locked Up At London Heathrow.
Having finally embarked on my solo career in 2009 (read more about that HERE), and a short stop in NYC for a couple of debut solo shows, I boarded an overnight flight bound for London.
I was heading there to finish an album that I'd previously begun when living in the U.K. a few years prior. My good friend and producer of the album, Chris, would be there to meet me.
On arrival at Heathrow, I approached the customs officer who would give me the usual line of questioning, but this time things didn't pan out in the "usual" way. You know that feeling you got as a child when your parents punished you for something your sibling did? You know you're innocent but it's your word against theirs?
Well this was starting to feel a bit like that as I noticed the officer quickly writing down my answers to his questions as to why I was visiting the U.K. again. Before long, I'm being escorted to a lock-up lounge area and politely told to wait there. Indefinitely. I was not allowed to use my phone so I couldn't contact Chris to let him know I'd been delayed.
After several hours of waiting, being questioned, asking for answers that were not given, drifting in and out of sleep face down on the bench seat, a female officer came to the door, opened it just enough that I could hear her, and said to the officers guarding the door, "can I do this out here, 'cos I can't be ass'd going in there".
I beg your pardon? She was talking about MY fate like I wasn't even there. Of course I knew she was going to let me go because this had all been a terrible mistake, but her level of disdain for me, a perfectly good human being whom she'd never met in her life, was astounding.
She signalled for me to come outside, and in the next 30 seconds my whole life did a 360 turnabout.
Here I was, I'd left a perfectly good job in Sydney, packed up the apartment I'd been renting, sold all my belongings to go conquer the world as a solo artist, and in one foul swoop, after 14 hours locked up at London Heathrow Airport, (not to mention the overnight flight from NYC) this "can't be ass'd" cranky female officer waved her magic bunch of keys hanging from her belt and changed the course of my life, AGAIN! I was in shock.
With no logical explanation, no apology for the inconvenience, no "gosh I hate to tell you this" no nothing, I was escorted through the airport like a criminal and shown to my seat on a Qantas plane bound for Australia, while our cranky friend handed my passport over to the Cabin Manager. Really? What, am I going to do? Try and make a run for it when we land in Singapore? Please!!!
I have to say, sitting on that plane with 22 hours to reflect on what just happened, I could only stand outside of myself and shake my head in awe. "Well isn't this interesting" I thought. What the hell is going on in my life? Remember, this was just 18 months after my life-changing relationship breakup (Not Waving, Drowning).
Landing back in Australia, dazed and a little confused to say the least, I realized the enormity of my situation. I knew there were forces at work in my life, and I could only wait and see what it was all about.
I moved in with my parents until I could find my bearings, and after a few skype sessions with Chris, I was on a plane over to France where he said he'd meet me with his portable studio to finish the album.
We spent 3 glorious weeks in the South Burgundy Region recording in a beautiful old building called Le Cafe Ancien. This of course, became the name of my album. What a wonderful gift and outcome considering the drama that had unfolded to make this happen.
I hope you've enjoyed my story this week and before you leave, I love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below.
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Until next time.
Some of you will know that I have an album called French Kiss which I named after the title track. Why did I write a song called French Kiss? Well thank you for asking.
It was not too long after the movie French Kiss came out with Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan in 1995. I was living in Sydney and looking for a guitarist to join my band. I received a phone call from a young Frenchman by the name of Jerome Allard, saying he was living in Australia and he'd like to audition. He turned up at my door and at first sight I was praying he could actually play guitar. He was petite, ruggedly handsome and just oozing rock star sex appeal.
He opened his guitar case, took out his guitar and Hallelujah, he could play AND he could sing! Let the rehearsals begin.
Ok so what does this all have to do with French Kiss? Well, as it turns out, Jerome was in Australia with his girlfriend Florence Soyez. Florence was modelling at the time for Jacqui E, and I kept seeing her face in magazines and on larger than life posters all round the city and in department stores. But more interestingly, she featured in the French Kiss movie as the stewardess who asks Kevin Kline to put out his cigarette early on in the film. She plays it down when Jerome talks about it and she poo poos the idea of being a model. "It pays the bills" she says in her to-die-for accent.
Jerome and Florence were so much fun. They smoked and drank as only the French can, and we hung out a lot over the next 12 months until sadly for me they had to return to Paris.
Jerome and I co-wrote a couple of songs on my French Kiss album, (Insane and My Eyes Are Dry), but after he left Australia I wrote a song about he and Florence which of course became the title track. I'm sure the lyrics have made no sense to anyone who has heard the song over the years, which is why I really wanted to tell this story. Lines like "French Kiss, Miss Jacqui E, picture perfect poise" and "Florence on the wall, large as life I can touch you" will now be like "oh yeah that's because she was plastered all over the city on enormous Jacqui E posters and also played the stewardess in the movie French Kiss".
I have no idea what my French friends are up to these days, but when I think about that year we spent together, it's as vivid as yesterday and always brings a smile to my face.
I hope you've enjoyed this week's story and as always, please leave a comment below as I love to hear your thoughts.
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Until next time. Thank you for joining me.
From left: Michael Malouf, Me, Jerome Allard and my Reggiedog front and centre.
It's been a wildly exciting and emotionally challenging journey getting to where I am now as an independent artist.
I feel extremely lucky to be able to do what I love but I'm learning as I go, that what we start out thinking we're trying to achieve in our lives, can be far different to the outcome. When I set out on my journey to share my music with the world, I was really just bumbling around learning how to become a better musician and performer.
The biggest surprise and most welcome reward came for me when people began to tell me how my music touched their lives. Whaaaaaat? Music touches my life for sure, but I didn't expect that MY music would do this for others.
I had no idea the power of my gift and for a long time I felt like I was on this journey all by myself (except when I was touring with Fiona Joy........ and Yoda on her GPS telling us to go right, but not to the dark side). :)
It might surprise some of you to learn that last year when I returned home to Australia after finishing and releasing my Feel So Pretty album in the States, I was completely directionless and out of ideas as to how to keep going with my music career.
I knew I MUST keep going because evidently I was "touching lives" and to be honest, there is nothing else in this world that I want to do more than keep making music and sharing it with you.
So, I literally surrendered my life to the powers that be and gave myself an emotional break to await some new inspiration. I walked, read inspirational books, slept, did yoga and spent time with family and friends just enjoying rather than worrying about what next.
Before long, a trickle of new ideas and opportunities came into my life and I jumped on the things that felt good and right. I gained a few important mentors and by default (I thought I was getting some lessons on how to improve my social media skills) I gained a life coach by the name of Anthony John Amyx
Here I was thinking I had it all figured out. I had five albums under my belt, I'd been touring in the States and having fun beyond my wildest dreams. So why did I feel like I'd slammed head on into a brick wall?
Turns out we hold OURSELVES back from achieving our dreams in life. Why the hell would we do that to ourselves? It all comes back to fear. I had fears buried deep in my brain and Anthony just gets in there and pulls them out. It's painful, it's terrifying and it's soooooooooooo liberating when you finally let them go.
So I'm ready to rock 'n roll into 2016 and now I totally get it! We're all on this journey together and how comforting that is to understand. I'm no longer just trying to be a better musician. I'm touching lives and it feels so good!
I hope you've enjoyed my story this week and please leave a comment as I love to hear your thoughts.
You can also join my mailing list by entering your details in the download box on this page and receive a copy of my Chasing Cars cover.
Until next time.
Not Waving, Drowning!
This is a very personal story but so intense and fascinating for me that I wanted to share it with you. Sometimes when emotionally traumatic things happen in my life, I seem to be able to step outside of myself and just watch things unfold. Usually I can say to myself “well isn’t this interesting, I wonder where this is going”.
This time however, I felt the force of the whole world caving in on me and it didn’t let up for a very long time.
Of course I’m talking about a significant and long-term relationship break up. It had been, in my eyes, a very successful relationship which might sound odd given that it ended. While it lasted though, for the most part, it was very loving and sweet and easy and respectful.
So I’ll cut to the chase, and get right to the part where it all went belly-up. We’d been living in the U.K. for a couple of years when my partner scored a gig (he was a bass player) in a gorgeous Ski Resort in Northern Italy (a 3 month residency). This was very exciting for both of us and I thought I’d easily get work as well. I was wrong. I was too late. I should have gone over a couple of weeks earlier to secure something.
So after a few fun weeks of staying up late, listening to the band and enjoying the majesty of this beautiful place, I became restless and a little bored not having a job to keep me busy. Also, there’d been an incident which frightened me a little and left me feeling uneasy, so I decided I’d go and visit my sister in Uganda as she had created a very successful Guesthouse in Jinja on Lake Victoria (head of the Nile). I’d wanted to go for so long and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.
As I left, I saw a light go out in my partner’s eyes. He wasn’t happy about me going without him, but my efforts to get him to go to Uganda with me over the past couple of years had failed. It takes years for a relationship to fall apart and I have to admit that I’d felt that I was losing my grip on this one for some time now. It had always been so good and so easy, we’d never had to work at it, and I think when the boat started to rock, I/we didn’t have the skills or the understanding of how to put it right again.
While I was in Uganda, I went on a white water rafting trip and while I chose to go on the “mild” raft as opposed to the “wild” one, the river conditions had changed and there was one rapid that the guide told us was now unpredictable. “Hands up if you’d like to go on the safety boat for this one. Oh, but we can’t guarantee the safety boat won’t tip on this rapid either……so……….…” Holy Hell! I hadn’t planned on getting wet lol!
Long story short, after a brief from the guide informing us that if we could hold our breath for 10 counts we’d be ok. Shit! Wait! I’d been coughing for 6 weeks with a cold and my lungs weren’t quite so strong. My sister had actually asked me before I went “do you think you should go since you’ve not been well”? I would have pulled out but one of her friends was going and I didn’t want to let him down.
Ok, so I could count to ten, but was I counting too quickly? Oh never mind, the boat wouldn’t tip. We’ll be fine. And down the rapid we went, and over went the boat. I’m at the back of the boat by the way, back left corner which was pushed down into the pounding water as the rest of the boat flipped over me.
No problem, count to ten, don’t put your feet down or try to stand up, if you come up under the boat there’ll be an air pocket. I’ve got this! So I’m counting, and I’m counting and I’m counting and.......... oh……...... I’m not coming up. When can I expect to come up? 8…. 9… 10….. and then I said goodbye to my partner, and I said………I’m sorry. (phew, this is difficult to write).
As I reached for my last breath, my lungs took in a truck load of water and my life jacket propelled me to the surface, coughing and spluttering and in shock and panicked. I was so ashamed to be panicked because I could swim well. This had nothing to do with being able to swim though. I was waving and screaming to the safety guides in their kayaks, because I still thought I was going to drown. I couldn’t breath and the waves from the rapids were washing over my head. I guess they figured that I wasn’t face down, so there was no need to come to me. They were looking for upside down bodies.
My sister’s friend, washed past me, and when he saw my panicked state, he grabbed me, spun me round, held me really tight and told me I was going to be alright. He was amazing. Everyone from our boat had clearly had a time of it as they all looked stunned when they climbed back in the boat, even the guide. We still had 7 rapids to go.
The significance of this experience was not lost on me, as it made me re-evaluate my life. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. Not the stuff that we tend to spend our time and energy worrying about anyway.
When I arrived back in Northern Italy, my partner was involved in a terrifying car accident. Everyone in the car survived, but only because it rolled over towards the inside of the icy, snowy, mountain road, rather than the edge.
I thought to myself, what the hell is going on here. Something big is happening in our lives. We’ve both come close to dying in the last few weeks and you know that death can also mean a new beginning.
How right I was. It was the end of our relationship and though he instigated it, they say that when a relationship ends, both people want it and both have made it happen. I wouldn’t have said that at the time, but in hindsight, I’m sure that’s right. I wasn’t following my passion in life. Not really. I was content and probably complacent.
The last 7 or 8 years since we split, have been the most creatively fulfilling years of my life (See my Love Affair With NYC post). It’s almost like he was setting me free to force my hand. I didn’t fight it either. I think that I set him free too to have the life that he is now having. I would never have chosen to leave that relationship but am I grateful that it ended? Definitely, but not because I didn't love him. In fact, we're still good friends and he will always have a special place in my heart.
I hope you've enjoyed my story this week and thank you for taking the time to read it.
Below is a live video of my song 'Like Water'. This song came from the depths of my emotion after our break up.
Please leave a comment below as I love to hear your thoughts, and if you'd like to receive news and tour updates in the future, enter your details in the download box and receive a copy of my Chasing Cars cover.
Until next time.