arms around a vision

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Dublin/Howth: early September; taken on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 B/W film with a Nikon F3.

More photos can be found at

It was like Christmas had come early when I finally got just under twenty rolls of films developed and scanned last weekend (yes, I still love canned baked beans for dinner).

These photos show the beginning of some really important friendships, and a day spent compromising. I’m terrible in groups. I hate slow-walking and indecisive democracies where everyone is too polite to say and do what they really want. It was early September.

Fast forward a month to Saturday 3rd October.

Around this time I was thrashing Girls Names, Cheatahs, Grooms and Protomartyr’s new album.

I’d dragged some friends with me to Whelans for the Girls Names’ album release gig. It was a pleasant surprise that I’d found a Swedish, French and Austrian girl who all digged the band (and generally “shit Amanda listens to”) enough to fork out for the price of tickets and the copious pints of beer we plied ourselves with. Then I made myself more convivial.

The gig was great, obviously. That’s such a pointless, throwaway statement that seems important to make, yet in saying so, really undermines the point it’s making.

The thrill and buzz of it ended as quickly and concurrently as the short-lived fling I had.

In a press release for their Arms Around a Vision album, Girls Names’ frontman Cathal Cully wrote, “I’m not starving or anything, but I’ve practically been living hand to mouth since I was 22. Most guitar music now is just a playground for the rich middle classes, and it’s really boring and elitist. We’re elitist in our own way, in that we’re on our own and you can’t fuck with us when we’ve nothing to lose.”

That last bit really stuck with me. I’d read that before coming across this interview in which he elaborated on his thoughts and notions around being a “hunger artist”. Sometimes I think I belong in the clump of boring, elitist middle class that he spoke of. And then I think it’s all relative.

I wonder if it comes down to having something to lose, and what that something is. What I have to lose is very different from the next person’s. What I have to lose is… I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

For one, the privacy of no one else quite knowing, and me not enumerating to myself the things I have to lose. But I think I am slowly chipping away at it. Hopefully I’ll reach a point where I can say, what do I have to lose?! with the same badassness and je ne sais quoi that matches my habit of wearing triple leather this European winter.

I have too many ideas that converge and diverge floating around my head right now. I really need to find a vision to wholly throw my arms around. I can’t be the only one.

I can see it from here the end is coming and all the wait, it was for nothing

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I was about to type, “I just got home from”— when I realised that I’ve actually been home for over two hours.

Nonetheless, I “just” got home from the Chelsea Wolfe concert at the Button Factory. It was the first concert ticket that I’d bought shortly after moving into my apartment on campus. I remember, so distinctly, sitting at my desk thinking, oh but it’s so far away, what if I end up making other, better plans that night? but bought it anyway. I knew really wanted to see Chelsea Wolfe, but I didn’t know what life on exchange was about to be like. It was early September, then. Now it’s the last week of November.

I’m nowhere near ready to leave Dublin and go home. But I think, for once, I may be ready to finally pick up my instruments again and actually do something with them. By the time I get to Auckland, it will have been just over five months since I made any sort of musical sound. I’m dying — to lie, starfished, on the floor and feel the vibrations of my bass delay and loop and swirl around my bedroom. Delay, and loop and swirl around. Delay, delaying, fuzzing, looping, swirl-swirling around.

Every time I attend a great show, I feel as if I forget a little piece of what it was like to exist before the experience. I feel fed, full, brimming with excitement with a sense of having been heavily educated in something. Sometimes I can put my finger on it; often I can’t. Chelsea Wolfe’s voice took me by surprise. I’ve always adored her voice, but I didn’t quite expect it to be… as big and beautiful, yet vulnerable-sounding, with such little effort. It didn’t look like she was trying at all. Then I spent much of the gig wondering what effects the band were using. How the layers were built. What tricks of the trade I could pick up.

I often wished that I could listen to music without the encumbrance of being a musician. Likewise, I wish I didn’t read so much into the politics of power struggles and societal norms in simple, daily exchanges. Give me a layman’s day, please. And so, part-way through stomping down some laid-back triplets in time with the drums, I glanced around the audience. When else does a room full of people pay, queue (or queue then pay then queue again!), stand around waiting, then sway or bop or nod along, transfixed with every sense perked, focused on the same thing at the front of the room? For once, there were only one or two phones waved above heads, taking photos and videos. It was such a nice change from what’s become the norm now, that I almost wanted to take a photo of the lack of photos being taken. I wish this was the default.