Written in January of 2015
When you’re a writer and have fallen into a massive slump of writer’s block, you experience a great number of thoughts and doubts that will give your confidence a beating. I know, because I have just come out of the other side of a dark, blank and inspiration-less tunnel of writer’s block that had lasted years. Years with an ‘s’. Multiple. If I had to put a number on it, that number would be four. Four years of opening up a new word document only to close it not long afterwards, tapping a pen on the blank page of a notebook, staring up at the ceiling thinking “Ideas, ideas, c’mon, ideas, anything, c’mon, get an idea…”. As someone who has always wanted a career that was involved some way with writing, whether it was to be a successful, published author (“The Dream”), a journalist of a trendy magazine or journal (“The Degree”) or even to be an English teacher, grading papers and attempting to spark a love of language and writing in the thralls of half-asleep youths that filed reluctantly into my classroom (“The Back-up Plan”), to have not written a single thought down in four years was a tad worrying to say the least.
When I decided to change my degree from teaching to journalism so I would have a degree more closely linked to my passion – it is still a passion even if you haven’t been able to think of anything to do in that area in a number of years, right? – I was terrified because of the lack of ideas and the lack of practice that I had been suffering from. But apparently, I needn’t worry, because they* say that inspiration will find you as soon as you stop looking for it, and that’s exactly what happened to me (and thank goodness it did!!!).
Around March in 2014 I was listening to the radio station Triple J and their segment “Like a Version”, and I heard a band covering Kanye West’s Love Lockdown. It connected with me on a level that no song had reached in a really long time. The soulful vocals on the track, the music, the vibe, the feel. The only way I can describe it was that the music was inside me. Corny, I know, but that is truly what it felt like. But as soon as it began, it was over. About two or three weeks later, I heard them on the radio again, this time, one of their own songs. It was exactly that moment I knew that this band from England, Glass Animals, was going to be my next big music obsession. I desperately needed more of it. I needed to listen to them all of the time. I started scouring the internet for concert dates, joining mailing lists so I would know when they would be touring Australia. I would put their album, “Zaba”, on repeat, for days, and I would never -and still am yet to- get sick of it. Their music style is just so weird, unique and unlike anything I have heard before, it has so many quirks and layers. Every time I listen to one of their songs, I discover new things and get a completely different experience from it and I think that is one of the things that makes this band so great.
If I have had a bad day, their music improves my mood, tenfold. If it was a particularly bad day, listening to their music lifts my mood until I’m swaying and grooving along to their hypnotic sound and I have forgotten about all of my troubles. Dave, the vocalist, well, his voice literally gives me goosebumps. I could ramble on about their music style for pages and pages, but it can really only be explained by listening to their music first hand (Do yourself a favour and go listen to some of their music right now!). I haven’t felt this passionate about a band in years, since I was 14 and was rocking out in my bedroom to My Chemical Romance, obsessing over band members, covering my walls in their posters and getting into deep discussions with my friends in which we felt like we really, truly, honest to goodness knew them on a personal level, because their music made us believe we did. That is what Glass Animals is to me.
On top of reviving the little fan-girl inside me and making me have feelings about music I hadn’t felt in years, once I started listening to Glass Animals on the regular, I noticed that I was starting to think of ideas. I’d be travelling on a train between Sydney and Newcastle (which, I will note, is one of the dullest train rides you will ever have the displeasure of travelling), headphones in, five tracks deep into “Zaba”, and I’d see a little blue painted house sitting on the very edge of a lake, a small, run-down jetty with planks missing jutting out in front of it, and all of a sudden, a story would start to write itself in my head. An old fisherman, a small tin dingy, the fish not biting like they used too. His grand kids coming to visit and exploring the bushland around his house, him showing them how to fish, the long trip down a small dirt road barely big enough for one car to get from the small waterfront house to the nearest town. Some may argue that it was the house that inspired me, but I had travelled this route a million times over and nothing had ever popped into my head as vividly as this. I hadn’t thought of anything like this on any of the four dozen return trips I had taken on this old train. It was Glass Animals. Their music connects with my soul in a way that had awakened my inspiration. I started writing in my journals, I started to play around with ideas for articles and blog posts. I seriously owe this band my new-found love for my lifelong passion. And that is an amazing thing. I can’t thank them enough for that.
I saw them twice in as many weeks. Once at a festival where they played around a half-hour set. It was mind blowing, but it wasn’t enough. So I bought tickets to their small, intimate show at The Hi-Fi in Sydney a week afterwards, and it was the best night I have had in a very long time. I had a smile that took up my entire face the entire gig. I sang along word for word, I stretched out desperately in an attempt to touch Dave when he came down into the crowd, I jumped, I danced (and I cannot dance, I have nearly no rhythm and no sense of style) and I screamed out in full fan-girl force. I left the concert, band shirt in tow, and just knew that I wanted to write my first article that would be published on the big wide world of web about them and the way that their music has inspired me to follow my dream of being a writer.
So to anyone out there who is in a bit of a slump, whether you are a musician, artist, writer or whatever, you will find something that will drag you out of it. And they* say a lot, but from first hand experience, this “inspiration will find YOU” thing that they* carry on about is not a cop out. It is one of the magical mysteries this hell of a life will throw at you. And even if it isn’t going to inspire you to paint a masterpiece or change your degree from something safe to something a little bit risky, throwing on some of your old favourite music, or going out and discovering something new, is never a bad idea.
* The all-knowing “they” of “Oh you know what they say, insert-cliche-blanket-statement-here” fame.