I was lucky to spend the whole of last week in a spaceship! 

OK, it was a human made vessel: the marvellous silver space that is the Sage Gateshead. Having been selected to take part in their Artist Development programme, Summer Studios, to work on the sound design for the third series of Spiral Dial (check out the podcast here!), I made a rather strange request. That is, could I get a blackboard delivered? 

This was duly accommodated and the blackboard landed safely. We were both received with the warmest of welcomes by the amazing Matthew and Rianne, our hosts for the week. 

It was a dream to spend a week making music in such an inspiring space. Just walking down the stairs and taking in the view of the river in the morning and the reflections at night is like balm for the soul. It reminded me of music college, except we had a studio ten times the size complete with air conditioning and unlimited tea and snacks! (Which David and I took FULL advantage of….)

We were introduced to promoters, funders, agents and distributors. Not only that, we were treated to a complimentary video with the fantastic Rob Irish and photo shoot with Ben Hughes, whose creativity knew no bounds in accommodating my wish to fly above the building. (To be shared shortly!) We even had a wellness session delivered by the brilliant British Association of Performing Arts Medicine in which we were taught some very useful relaxation techniques. 

At the end of the week we came together for an informal sharing in a beautiful concert hall, complete with red velvet seats! Probably the most comfortable I have been during a show. I was privileged that CHAINES joined me on the blackboard in what was the first time we had ever played together! There’s nothing like free improvisation on stage- I felt we really connected in this performance. Check out the results, expertly filmed on my phone. 

CHAINES then shared some spine tingling sounds they had been experimenting with in their time with the GBSR duo, featuring gongs, keytar and more! Their creativity really does know no bounds. We also had a mutual geek out at each other’s setups in the studio on the final day! 

The charismatic Mathias Skye absolutely nailed their performance, getting everyone up on their feet dancing. It was hard to believe that this was their first week playing together as a band! Daisy Chute then performed a song of sisterhood which was moving, empowering and catchy all at the same time. Daisy is currently completing COVEN, the musical telling the story of witches in the North of England, which promises to be absolutely epic. 

Hannah Ashcroft for me captured the spirit of Nirvana together with a beautiful voice all her own. I am told she wrote her (fantastic!) song in the twenty minutes before the sharing- impressive! 

Harriet Bradshaw’s lyrics for Love is a Basket were both poetic and inspired, set to an intricate and ear catching melody and piano accompaniment. Joe Ramsey’s warm voice and personality shone as he performed a brand new catchy original song leaving us all glowing with contentment. Songwriter Sara Wolff shared a brilliant arrangement she had created on her 4 track tape recorder complete with catchy harpsichord riff. It really highlighted her unique voice. 

Finally, Sophie Fetokaki’s stunning vocals brought instant peace to the hall. We all sat enthralled as she sang a moving song inspired by the experience of grief. 

Hekate, a genre bending collective, were sadly unable to make the sharing but I am told that they were sounding incredible. 

To top it all off, I was delighted to get to meet a musician I have admired very much for a long time, Clarence Adoo. Having met on Zoom calls with Paraorchestra, but never before in person, I was not aware that Clarence is also a trustee at the Sage, and in fact helped design the building and ensure that it is fully accessible. It was a lovely surprise for both of us when we sighted each other! Clarence joined me in the studio for a roborecorder demonstration and afterwards was kind enough to take me on a guided tour of the local castles and beaches. 

Roborecorder party with Clarence, Daisy and Joe!

To be funded to spend time on this residency with such incredible artists who are now friends really is a dream come true. I’m so grateful to all at the Sage who made this possible, the kindness and support was out of this world. We hope to come back very soon! 

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