Listening to music – food for the ears.

The taste of life I can’t describe, It’s choking on my mind

Thank you, for all your kind words. It’s definitely helped a little, towards feeling somewhat less isolated. I’ve been quiet for a week, joined at the hip to the boy, ever since his last exam last Tuesday. We’ve done so much (and arguably very little…) this past week, I simply don’t know where the time has slipped away to. In this week we’ve watched a lot of films, a lot of Boston Legal, ate and drank too much; but I think the two most significant events were going to a cinema together for the first time, and SEEING PORTISHEAD.

I know, I’ve rattled on about my excitement for Portishead in virtually every blog post for the past couple of months. And it wasn’t unjustified. They completely blew my mind. Beth is so, so, so goddamn amazing. The main letdown for me was the crowd. I need to stop wasting my time getting angry and bitching about the crowd, but let me just say this – they were more disinterested than teenagers at a classical concert! The boy and I were pretty much the only people singing along and getting really into it – and we kept getting told off for enjoying ourselves! That pissed me off so much. I only have crappy photos (below) because I was too busy singing/dancing/crying/laughing/snogging and oh yeah – arguing with the arseholes in front of me – to be taking photos, but I do have several videos that have rather good sound quality that I’m really happy to have. I used up 4GB on my little Canon point-and-shoot, just mostly from taking videos. Even on the videos the sound quality is so good that it sounds like it could’ve come off their live album. As I said – Beth was fucking amazing. I still can’t get over that. Just her voice, her execution, her tone. Oh, I’m dying of admiration. And I’m not even a vocalist – but I love her voice and appreciate her singing abilities that much. The other thing about the videos is that you can hear the crowd around us fucking chatting. I mean – are you serious? 1/ YOU’RE AT PORTISHEAD. 2/ It cost a hundred bucks. 3/ IT’S FUCKING PORTISHEAD!!! People are crazy, stupid, retarded… and largely inconsiderate!

I think the main thing I have trouble dealing with, asides from the arseholes, is the fact that the concert felt so disconnected. Yes, it was amazing. Yes, it blew my mind. And I know concerts of your favourite bands always feel so much shorter and time flies – but their set was over an hour (I’ve made a playlist out of their setlist), and yet it was such a seamless blur. Not just to me, but to the boy also. Sure, we were quite under the influence of many rum & cokes, beer and the odd vodka concoction – but we weren’t thaaat intoxicated, we were fully onto it and aware of everything… and yet there is this huge disconnect. As in, I felt like I was watching a video, even though I was singing along and could feel the bass vibrate all around and everything was so real… but really, moreso surreal. It’s the craziest feeling. I’ve been blown away by many bands in my time, but nothing has ever felt close to this. The crazy thing is that, I would totally believe it if somebody told me that it didn’t really happen – that I WAS just watching a video. That’s how surreal it all feels to me. And surprisingly, to the boy also. Sorry for being repetitive. It’s just so fucking weird that I can’t stop saying that! But walking out of Portishead is probably the saddest thing that’s happened all week. That’s happened in a long time.

So, some photos. There aren’t any of the boy and I that are, ahem, PG… that’s why they’re not on here. Yerr. The photographer in me is just dying of embarrassment and “oh my god I neeed a media pass to get my cameraz in”-ness, but here is proof:


Euan, Gina and I (we had no idea where they went after a while, they were on the opposite side)

Oh Beth. How she spends the majority of songs standing like that, because of all the spaaaaarse space in the music. Even so. Amazing stage presence.

The second saddest thing that happened all week was saying goodbye to the boy this evening. He starts work at a prominent law firm as a summer clerk tomorrow (for obvious reasons I’m not naming anything here), which meant he had to go home and get his shit together. Aka – iron his shirt. Apparently French cuffs are hard to iron. As I’d said – he should’ve just taken me home with him, but y’know, can’t win them all.

A photo of us, each. I took this photo of him trimming our hedge for us, from my bedroom window. I like how voyeuristic it looks, ha.

He took this photo of me when I was waiting for my turn at pool. I seriously suck these days. This is my “pretend I am totally pulling my weight in this pool-playing partnership” face. We were at his friend’s 22nd birthday dinner, and her house is oh-so-very amazing. Indoor swimming pool? Yes please. Unfortunately we didn’t get to utilise that. But the lights in it were super romantic-looking at night.

And oh yeah, so apparently in addition to Taiwan and Hong Kong, I’m also now going to be spending a week out of my Taiwan-time in China instead. Going with my dad on his business trip. Now I have to re-shuffle all my plans… and work out how to access Gmail over there. I am a chronic email-checker. Gmail is ALWAYS open on the first tab of my Firefox, you see… crap. Lots of rolls of film to be taken of course!

Just set aside your fears of life, with the sole desire

I don’t know where my mind is. At all. In the past two weeks of freedom, I have started three draft blog posts (none of which saw the light of day), finished reading Atlas Shrugged, Less Than Zero and Snuff, and painted my new-2nd-hand dressing table which I bought off a friend last month. So here are the photos that have been requested both irl, via txt, email and twitter. It was a 2-day effort, especially since I only started painting it late in the afternoon of both days. And although it wasn’t what I had in mind to start with (I’d initially intended to do crackled gold over the top… but that didn’t work out at all), I think it looks pretty alright. I must say, the final product looks much better in person. Especially since I took those pictures at like 2am when I was finally, exhausted, but delighted to be done with painting textured gold:

Post-exam/assessments state = mess mess mess!

Green base

Using gold powder which is apparently older than I am, rather than the gold acrylics I had intended on using… because it turned out a shit shade (literally) when painted on. This caused a huge detour in repainting the top and a drawer, and general mayhem.

Flakeypie sleeping on my clothes as I paint.

Finished product. It looks funny with flash, but otherwise the gold doesn’t show up. It’s a lot softer looking in person. Eck, anyway. Not amazing, but better than boring cream.

I think I’ve just been really quiet on this blog ever since I’ve been on holiday because I’ve been having trouble with figuring out where I am. Existential problems of a twenty year old. If I don’t change my mind between now and clicking Publish, I will get up and rip a few things off my bedroom walls. November’s a new month. It’s not clogged by university stress or deadlines or pressure to catch a certain ferry in the morning… Summer’s a new season. I need to get onto this wave of “newness” and ride it out for as long as I can – as far as I can. Away from this current spot. This mindset.

I just feel like decisions are harder to make everyday, every year, because the older you get, but more important these decisions tend to be. Back at age 16, whether or not I wanted a summer job, or which jobs I might like to apply for only affected how many movies and concerts I could go to. This very day, a year ago, I had landed at LAX with a bag and plans full of a lot of nothing, and a mind full things I wanted to dump and acquire. Those twenty days changed me a lot. But having said that, I’m changing a lot, all the time. Although my whole life, I’ve always been the kind of person that “changes a lot” and constantly feel like I am, or must be, in a state of motion. A state of momentum, be it pulling me forwards or often times, even backwards… but I always had to be moving… changing. And so right now, when I find myself so idle – right at the end of a period of great motion and turmoil, and on the brink of another such period… what do I do? I want the next twenty days to count – as much as those same twenty days had counted for me, last year. As if not so much, at least, I want them to have meant something. I don’t the next three, four months of summer to turn into a dull, smooth blur, like what the sea appears to be, whilst a dangerously powerful rip lurks beneath the surface. Because that’s what I’m like.

The periods where I am just “alright” are possibly a million times worse than those periods where I experience the whole range of emotional extremes. I’ve contemplated getting medicated as a trial, maybe for a couple of weeks, now that grades and creativity aren’t things I HAVE TO be stressed about… but at the same time I also think that that would be copping out. That it would ruin the past year and a half of resumed talk-therapy and trying really hard to set right the bad mold I’ve been pressed into. Most of all, I think the biggest thing I need to overcome is this need to apologise for everything – to apologise for the way I am, and the things I do, and how I do them. And having to feel like I have to earn things. That I have to earn people’s love, attention, and earn the feeling of deserving any good thing that ever happens to me. This is a messed up topic, most especially because I haven’t put any of this into context, I know, but that would require like an entire autobiography of the past fifteen years, and this blog might explode, ha. But hmm. I can’t believe I just typed all that and not deleted it all. Fuck it. I’m sick of having to censor out the bad things because I don’t want to get too personal, or because I still struggle with anonymity and privacy issues. I’ll share what I want to share.

Anyway, the point is – I’m going to – I’ve got to keep reading like I’ve been doing this week, keep attempting to write, keep clicking the shutter… and heal my hands so that I can play the bass. I had a bit of a dumb accident with my left thumb last night and I feel like I’ve either lightly sprained it, or at least really pissed off a ligament or something, because it hurts like a bitch, and I can feel pain even when I’m not moving it. And then when cutting my nails just before, my right index nail split from the flesh way too deeply and it stings stings stings! So there goes my pivoting finger (left thumb, on the double bass), and one of my playing fingers (right index). Great. So much for working on my chops.

In 14 hours the boy will be exiting his last exam of the year and I can’t wait. Following that we have dinner plans, and we are also going to the cinema together for the first time ever. This has been the source of much heated conversation though. I used to think it was awesome because we’re such an interesting couple that we don’t have to resort to cliche coupley activities. Eye roll. But other factors came in and I got angry and what do you know, I blew the lid off things, as usual. Nonetheless, it will be great and then three sleeps from now we will be seeing Portishead together and I shall cry in public out of sheer happiness and the plan of making these twenty days count will totally be working out. Yup, that’s the plan. Playlist to come! Happy posts to come!

In the meantime, here’s a recent live video of a beautiful, tear-drawing song by Portishead – one of my favourites – and I’m quite positive that it will be played on Thursday night because I’ve been stalking their tour set lists online, and it’s been a staple. Oh god. How will I remain upright when I experience them for myself…

Youth in a rude stance, Dancing on the edge of dawn

Little do I need to say more – the All Blacks have finally won the Rugby World Cup (after 24 years!). I think TV3 got it pretty spot on when they said something along the lines of, no, it won’t bring world peace or stop poverty and cure diseases, but for a moment in time it has brought great happiness to this rugby-mad nation… The media and definitely social media has already well-exploited the topics of how well the French played and how nail-bitingly-close the game was (8-7, with the French dominating possession for much of the second half, for those non-rugby-fans reading this), so I shan’t further ramble about it. But I will admit that I ducked under the blanket I was snuggling in on the couch, and said to the boy “nooo I can’t watch this!” when the French team were attempting their last (luckily missed) penalty kick in the game.

The other great thing about the world for me right now is that I’m virtually on summer holiday. I’ve got a piano test that has been re-postponed until tomorrow, but on top of that, all I have left to do is accompany my friend for his assessment tomorrow, and jazz school is officially over for the year. I have a LOT of practising to be doing though.

I’m not at home, so I can’t make a playlist, but I shall leave this post short and sweet with cute pictures:

Bella, one of the cats in the boy’s household. The one I favour (shh)… although she can be quite the snobby little bitch, I think she’s suuuper duper adorable and magnificent most of the time.

Bilbo, the boy’s beloved dog.

And the cutest of all cutes, Flakey! Here’s him on my lap supervising my composing all-nighter that I pulled last week to finish three compositions in one night.

He’s so so so cute.

When I finally convinced him to give my lap a rest and to sleep on my bed instead.

The next morning, still slaving away at my deadline.


And yusss, we just attained tickets for Dan Deacon’s show in February. I don’t understand – why do artists not come and tour here more during November/December, and instead wait for late Jan-Feb-March? Since it’s winter in the northern hemisphere anyway, it’s not like they’re particularly busy touring then? Of course, this is me being ridiculous and saying that musicians aren’t people and don’t need a holiday. Eye roll.

I am the heat in an empty room, the cold coming through the walls. Your sofas’ old, but I am new, and there is better on the brew


Now that my uncontainable excitement is out of the way, I am so dead this week. Two playing assessments and three compositions due… and I’m blogging. Because I don’t know what to compose and I’m sitting here listening to a range of both jazz and non-jazz music trying to be musically inspired. I can’t find the right chords… I just. Argh. I know I could be doing some playing practise, but I feel like I need to finish at least ONE song before mid-week.

On a completely different note, something’s always kind of bothered me – the whole “Asians with Western names” issue. What I mean is, since New Zealand has a lot of immigrants, a lot of people just assume that everyone has a “real” name from their home country, and that their English name is on many levels not their “real” name as such. I know that (and know of) a lot of people who moved over here got to pick out their English names before they moved out of Asia – and that’s fair enough. But I get kind of annoyed when people and systems such as the school-roll back at all my schools used to ass-ume that Amanda isn’t really my legal first name. I actually find that kind of disrespectful. Sure, it’s a very viable thing to assume, but assumptions suck (especially incorrect ones, which are often the case), and I just don’t like the undertones of “you don’t really belong in this country/you’re an immigrant“, etc. I know I’m probably just overreacting and a LOT of people don’t mean it that way, but a LOT also do. Just in the way they go dumbstruck with “oh, reaaally” when I clear up my names with them. Social reasons aside, it is soooo frustrating to have to constantly ask people to fiddle with documents for me, because whoever had entered the data to begin with had just assumed that my Chinese name goes in front of Amanda. It’s frustrating also, because I just feel simply undermined – because I know that I always fill out forms with my names the right way around, but people just think, “Oh, she’s Asian, I had better switch her names around so they’re correct”. NO. NO!

For the record, yes I was born in Taiwan, but I was born with both a Chinese and English name (for god sakes, my sister’s “English” name is actually Norwegian, so my parents are obviously well Westernised based on that fact alone), and I’ve lived in New Zealand since I was six, so that’s almost fourteen out of the twenty years of my life! Plus, my dad’s worked for American companies in Taiwan for over twenty years and my mum’s done stints overseas before we were born, so it’s really no surprise they gave both my sister and I names in both languages when we were born. We even went down to Internal Affairs all those years ago when we first moved here and paid some unearthly sum to get a legal document that binds my names in both languages so that I will never have one of those awful mishaps my mum has when she buys a plane ticket under the wrong name and has to produce multiple IDs, haha. Amanda is my legal first name and my Chinese name is my MIDDLE name, and then obviously my surname goes on the end. I think that a huge part of the problem also lies with the Asians who don’t have their names and documents all in line. So they’ll socially be called one name, but the name on all their documents and transcripts are completely different, and it just makes the lives of lecturers and so on, much harder. For example, not to pick on them, but all the other Asians in my year at jazz school are Korean boys. None of their names paper what we call them verbally. Not their fault, but does make life annoying for me when people go “no, but what’s your real name though?” – and might I just add, in the six years I had lived in Taiwan, most of the time I was called by my childhood nickname (that everyone I know in Taiwan still refer to me as these days), rather than my Chinese name anyway, so I honestly find it really hard to even vaguely connect with this “real name” assumption.

The most ironic thing is – Amanda is even on my Taiwanese passport, and people still meddle with my name, ha. Reminds me, I reaally need to renew it.

Here’s a photo I took on the drive down to Rotorua for our trip a while ago and it’s one of my absolute favourites. It looks even more mega authentic on film than it would have on digital because it gives it like a rustic touch. And gotta thank the really shitty film I had to buy when I was out of decent film for a while:

Driving to Rotorua – taken on some crappy nondescript colour film; Nikon F3.

 1. Love Me – Rubber Kiss Goodbye
Just a really chilled out cute song with a really simple but effective bass line. Oh, and I love that chink-chink guitar tone, mmm. This song totally makes me think of being a teenager.

2. I’m Not the One – The Black Keys
I am so jealous that Felisa gets to see them in a few days’ time. Especially since they bloody cancelled out on coming to the Big Day Out this year – which was most annoying because they were the main selling point for me this year, grr! Waiting on their new album. I know bluesy rock gets repetitive and they aren’t known for being poets with their lyrics, but there’s something about their smooth sounding tracks and aptly-put lyrics that makes me such a fan.

3. Fine For Now – Grizzly Bear
I am becoming the Cat Lady and I am not fine. And this song is great, but if I listen to it any longer I may lose whatever illusion of “okay” I have. They’re definitely a band that took a lot to grow on me, but once I got hooked, I listened to them for hours on end. Plus, the guitar in this is amazing. Just go listen to it.

4. Wildfire – SBTRKT
To continue on from my last post, this is also another Laneway artist for next year.
The boy and I have been fairly hooked on the album over the past week and weekend. I was apprehensive at first, but heck. What is it with us and music? It’s like we do music like other couples do movies or whatever. I mean, we do movies too, but only at home. Can you believe that in the two years and three months we’ve known each other, or the almost-nine-months we’ve dated, that we’ve never stepped foot inside a cinema together?

5. Rescue Song (RAC Mix) – Mr. Little Jeans
There was a week or so several months ago when I was totally hooked on this song. I wanted to be rescued. Badly. Her real name’s Monica and her voice is looovely. And she’s cute too, so better not let the boy catch wind of that, cos she’s brunette. Oh wait, I think it’s safe. He doesn’t like her music. I am totally just being a twat, by the way.

6. I Can’t Wait – Twin Shadow
Yet another Twin Shadow song
, I just couldn’t help myself – he’s still on high rotation if not repeat. This song totally reminds me of A-Ha’s “Take On Me”, but I’m not 100% sure since they don’t sound that much alike. I could totally link a more comparable song, but this one was too good to pass up – dad used to make suuuch a big deal about how it was from back when music videos were new haha. Anyway, this song just reminds me of music from decades ago that my dad would listen to.

7. Twin of Myself – Black Moth Super Rainbow
Short (and arguably crappy) but very relatable lyrics. I’m sold.

8. Anywhere Anyone – Dntel
Because sedated sounding electronic songs are very soothing.

9. On the Verge – Terence Blanchard
I am so in love with this song. It was written by Aaron Parks and my god I wish I could write like him. Been listening to his album “Invisible Cinema” on repeat whilst in bed. Amazing brain food.

can’t help myself but count the flaws

It’s the middle of the night and I’m meant to wake up in less than 6 hours, so this is just typical of me, but I have an urge to share and so here goes.

ONE: I wrote this poem last week called “in place of a love letter”, so please go read it and let me know what you think.

TWO: I finally got two rolls of colour films developed yesterday (man that was expensive!) and I’ll start to slowly post them up, but here are two of my favourites:

Sunday Ritual #1 – taken on Kodak UltraMax 400 colour film; self-timer, Nikon F3.

Sunday Ritual #2 – taken on Kodak UltraMax 400 colour film; self-timer, Nikon F3.

THREE: PLAYLIST. The main thing about this playlist is that I will be seeing 7/9 artists below next January at Laneway Festival. So, hell yes, yes please! This is definitely one of my favourite playlists that I’ve made so far, even if I say so myself.

 1. Tyrant Destroyed – Twin Shadow
I love this guy’s music, and more importantly, his lyrics. I sound like such a bitch, but do you know how rare it is to find an artist to have decent music and lyrics? I guess that’s mostly what it takes for a band to be in my “top” list – amazing sound AND lyrics. I’ve been listening to his album on repeat and repeat and repeat. I seriously just can’t stop listening. This is an amazing album opener, so I thought it’d be a good place to start a playlist.

2. Still Life – The Horrors
I’ve already seen The Horrors before, last year, but I know that next year will be better. Last time, I was stuck in the photo pit (chasing these photos, by the way) and so I just didn’t really get the chance to soak them in completely, since I was rushing around the Big Day Out like a madwoman on a tight schedule. Plus, with a new album under their belt this year, I’m curious to see what the mix of their set will be – how much older stuff they’ll play, and if so, which songs. For some reason, this song reminds me of The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony. It’s a key thing, probably.

3. Asterisk – M83
Was saying to the boy the other day about how I can’t believe I ever fell out with M83. I guess it was during a time of my life where I needed something livelier – less shoegaze, post-rock sounding, I suppose. But obviously I’ve fallen back in love with them, and this will always be one of the top songs for me – it’s such an in-your-face contrast to the rest of this album, I love it. Might want to turn your speakers down if you don’t want a fright though.

4. All Alone – Toro Y Moi
Another song off Toro Y Moi’s latest EP was featured on my last playlist a while back, but I just love this EP too much. I seriously hope that he plays this EP in its entirety when I see him. It’s the perfect getting-tipsy-off-beer-and-dancing song for a summer music festival. Seriously, seriously digging this shit. If anyone comes up to Auckland for it and sees some girl in blue Docs jivin’ to him, that’ll be me.

5. Go Outside – Cults
This link goes to the MTV-made video, so the grand intro isn’t actually part of this song, but the video is just too cute, so watch it! It features Dave Franco (brother of possibly if not my only celebrity/actor-crush-figure, James Franco) and Emma Roberts (an actress in her own right, I suppose – ahem – aka Julia Roberts’ niece). She’s three months older than me, but I swear, she looks so young! Or maybe I just look old. Crap. Anyway, it’s an adorable song as well, and I can’t wait to see Cults either.

6. Broken – Disco Inferno
Definitely not seeing Disco Inferno next year (in case you didn’t know, their first album was released the year I was born), but it’s a nice song nonetheless. And very “Amanda-ish”, as the boy would say.

7. Funeral Day – The Mint Chicks
Sadly The Mint Chicks aren’t about to play together again any time soon (as far as I’m aware), but Kody and Michael have teamed up with Bic Runga to form Opossom who are playing at Laneway, so that shall be an eye-opener, as usual. I got nostalgic whilst driving home with the boy from uni today and put on the Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! album and instantly felt like I was 16 again. All those nights spent quoting the Mint Chicks in txt messages, the high school years of unrequited love, teenage angst, and going along to their shows just to thrash about, and hope like hell that Kody doesn’t fall of the latest stack of PAs or railings that he’s decided to climb. Ahh… good times. By the way, even though it’s 5 years old, I still love this album to death, so if anyone wants to listen to it, the whole thing can be streamed from here.

8. Within and Without – Washed Out
I wonder what on earth Ernest Greene will play at Laneway. I don’t care. He’ll be in the afternoon rather than night – most likely – and hopefully I will be experiencing a nice relaxed buzz with my favourite hand holder tightly holding onto me. I find Washed Out’s real name funny – Ernest Greene just sounds like… such a great blank and neutral sounding pseudonym to publish a book under, if you know what I mean? It’s even more amusing to me because my English students are revising The Importance of Being Ernest for their external Cambridge exams at the moment.

9. Crystalline – Bjork
The drum(machine) breakdown at the end is like an ear orgasm. No, multiple. I just wished that it was drawn out longer, but I guess this way it’s not over done. Ahhhh, why couldn’t I have seen Bjork now rather than all those years ago when she was just a visual and sonic spectacular, rather than something I actively listened to and vaguely understood? Wasted youth, I say. I’d say the same about seeing Sonic Youth as well, if I had just seen them even 6 months later, the experience would be completely different. It’s funny how these things work.

I think that with the best bands and artists, seeing them live always makes me fall in love with the more. Even if I already adore their music already. Now how to become one of them?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 12