How we listen

February has been amazing, difficult, cold, inspiring, tiring.

I’ve learnt a huge amount this month in how we listen to each other, each other needs, and still try and communicate our own in the mix and stay strong to the needs of your process in a collaborative environment.

Week 1 and 2:

I started the month with working in Edinburgh on project ‘BlueBlock’ studio, where we are trying to figure out how to continue to collaborate and have consistency in sharing ideas, work around the project, communicate these deadlines, processes, time needed when we meet every month for a few days then we are away from each other, building an environment that can only come together finally 3 weeks before it opens as we are building the walls and everything about the space in how it will exist for babies and parents to experience.


In creating the work for Rip It Up, we worked really hard between an often very cold southside studio space and my living room to rehearse and play music together around a few central ideas, and create a series of pieces that had a loose form that could be pulled apart, shifted and broken as needed when we all came together in the space in Tramway with the rest of Team Effort.

Chicken and Egg….

There was the chicken and egg scenario again which I’ve felt in working on Blueblock and here on Rip it Up, a desire from people to want the music first to give a sense of environment, space, perhaps a structure and narrative to the work, but on my side a need for more information, inspiration, content to work from to feed into what that sound should and can be, emotionally, texturally, space wise, energy wise…it’s always a tricky one, how much of the same information do we all need to ensure we can all then take this away into our process and create something that will work together in the room, when our practices aren’t allowing, or don’t work in a way that we develop the work simultaneously alongside each other in the same space and time.

In the end we pulled it together in a weird and wonderful collage of pictures, characters, times, places and I was really happy with the sound and where we managed to get to with it.

It was also really exciting to work with a different sound set up and a large space with the musicians central with speakers towards and around the audience to help give a more immersive and physical experience of the sound and space.


From this week John, Gareth and I had really developed our playing and dynamic together as a 3 piece and it’s continuing into other projects and performances down the road.

Week 3

After Rip It Up, I had 2 Wolf gigs booked in for the start of March, so Gaz, John and I went straight into rehearsals for that as I wanted to see how they could add something to the live performance of Wolf and help flesh out the ideas I’ve had for Wolf, this was amazing, but a really intense few days as we’d just spent the best part of 2 weeks playing nearly every day together, and then had to switch brains to a new music project with little space in between, we were all quite tired so the days were productive but tested our sense of perspective and dynamic between us alot.


I also recorded a 20 piece all female choir called the Madrigirls for an audio walk piece I’ve been developing for Glasgow International and Glasgow Women’s library, this was an amazing experience of how to lead ideas confidently and communicate them with a larger group of musicians, it was an experiment in recording for myself and John too who was helping out with the set up. Previously I’d recorded several Team Effort folk and others running and walking around Glasgow Green for the same project, again a big experiment in recording and how to communicate ideas to a group of folk outside your brain.

Week 4

I went to London to see Jon Hopkins and Luke Abbott play at the Forum in London, 2 artists who I’ve been in love with for the past while, Jon’s production, his approach to sound I find really inspiring and it was great to see how he does this live with a new beautiful AV show.

I stayed in London this week working on a new score for a project with Bristol Reggae Orchestra, and had a great meeting and advice session with my mentor on the project a the Barbican which I’d never been too, there was a brilliant sound installation on in the curve which I spent along time in, exploring, walking, moving, listening, an amazing example of how the space of a building and sound and your experience of that and your environment alone and in the company of others can be exaggerated and your perception heightened, I left with my ears and eyes and sense of the outline of my body sharpened to the environment around me. It was also a bit scifi, which was playful and beautiful.


The time with Team Effort in London was really inspiring, we saw some brilliant and varied work, from Fuerza Bruta to The Mistress Contract at The Royal Court, visual art exhibitions and conversations between us and with new supportive and open folk at The National Theatre Studio, The Royal Court and I met with the wonderful Gareth Fry, sound designer and chairman of the Association of Sound Designers, we chatted sound design/composer roles in theatre, the issues in clarity that arise, the support there, the importance of clarity over process and needs early on in a collaboration, community within the sound designer/composer world, politics of unions/associations, the need for a sense of belonging, a need for dialogue about fair and supported practice. All in all very inspiring and I got a sneak peak at the set for the latest Katie Mitchell piece he is designing, it was a scale of production I’ve never experienced, at the amazing Three Mills Studios.

All in all February was full…very full…of alot of new experiences and collaborations, inspiring conversations and experiences, a reminder about the importance of really listening and not being afraid of voicing the needs of the way you work as an artist in a collaborative process, and learning from this if possible how to be better at working in this way, more open, more organised, more confident.

Thanks Team Effort!




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