Emily is taking a break from touring and is busy recording her sixth album with her producer and partner Christian Dunham in Australia. If you want to know when the new album is out and she is touring again, please join her mailing list.
It’s the end of autumn here in the Obi Obi valley – the nights are drawing in and I’ve started wearing a hat and jumper. We’ve just discovered we have a rather large snake living in our ceiling, but hopefully it should be going to sleep soon for winter. I’m a bit worried it might be female and we’ll have lots of baby pythons slithering around the shack come the spring.
The seedlings in our huge veggie garden are starting to appear. We’ve only planted 3 beds for now but there are 21 other beds that need weeding and manuring with all the wonderful goat poo from the paddock. The veggie garden is about 8 times the size of our flat in Bath. The citrus orchard is full of ripe oranges, grapefruit, mandarins, kumquats, and limes. The macadamia nut trees that line the driveway have also produced a bumper harvest so we now have a large flock of very noisy white cockatoos munching away.
We’ve been working on the songs for my next album. I’ve been in my element writing string arrangements – one of my favourite things – and recording backing vocals, most of which feature a squawk from a passing white cockatoo. I have my studio in the back room where I do my meditation practice and where I can see the forest through one window and the verandah view across the valley from the other.
This weekend we are doing our first Australian gig, opening for Irish singer-songwriter Enda Kenny. The gig will be the first outing for Christian’s beautiful old double bass which we picked up in Sydney (a 14 hour drive each way).
I can’t wait for you to hear all these new songs, half of which I’ve written since we arrived here. I’ll keep you posted on the album’s progress…
I hope all’s well in your world.
At first we thought we were lucky – beautiful white cockatoos flying overhead and settling in the trees that surround our goat farm. But then they discovered our macadamia trees and the thousands of nuts on the ground. Word got round and soon we were counting fifty white cockatoos happily munching away on our driveway. The screeching and squawking starts at 5.30 in the morning and carries on until sundown. We are trying to be Buddhist about it of course but without much success. I guess patience you can only learn the hard way! They will move on eventually…
On the positive side, our shipment finally arrived having been thoroughly quarantined by Australian Customs. Having only had my acoustic guitar with me for the past 3 months, I was so delighted to have my keyboard back I immediately wrote a new song. I’m really happy with it. The trouble is my song list for my next album is getting longer and longer by the day and I don’t want to let go of any of them. Another Buddhist practice then!
Christian has now set up his studio and so once we can record something without deafening backing vocals from white cockatoos we will get to work on my new album. New songs have been pouring out of my head since we arrived in Australia and six of them will be on it. I can’t wait for you to hear them.
I hope all’s well in your world.
To celebrate World Bipolar Day, I’ve been sharing the video for ‘Over The Waterfall‘, my song about being bipolar, which I performed in Sydney last week at the awards ceremony of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders.
I wrote this song after being referred to mental health services during a severe depressive episode in 2012. When I first heard this version of the song, created by producer Nigel Butler for my album ‘Bird Inside A Cage‘, it was a turning point and I began to recover. The album was released in 2013. The video for ‘Over The Waterfall’ was made by my partner and bass player Christian Dunham. It has been shared across the world.
Just back from Sydney where I received an award for public service and advocacy from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) and performed at their awards dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour. Thank goodness for sea-sickness pills (I am Piscean but hopeless on boats!). It was wonderful meeting so many people who work in psychiatry all around the world to help people who are bipolar like me. Thanks to Marylou Selo for the photo of me performing on the boat with my partner Christian Dunham. My award is a massive block of glass with a chunk of lithium suspended in it which thankfully I managed to get past Virgin Australia’s hand-baggage weight check.
Now after the hustle and bustle of Sydney we’re back in our ‘real world’ of trees, cattle, horses, wallabies and bellbirds up in the hills behind the Sunshine Coast. Amazing how quickly you lose your immunity to the city. It was fun but I’m so glad to be home…
Emily travelled to Sydney, Australia to attend the annual conference of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) and receive the 2019 Mogens Schou Award for Public Service and Advocacy in recognition of her work promoting music for mental health. The awards ceremony took place during a dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour where Emily and her partner Christian Dunham performed for the 180 guests attending. The audience was made up of leading healthcare professionals in the field of psychiatry from around the world. The photo is of Emily with renowned American psychiatrist Robert Post and mental health advocate Marylou Selo.
Emily was chosen by renowned Swiss photographer Matthieu Zellweger to feature as part of his photography project capturing the highs and lows of bipolar disorder. He came to the UK to photograph her and included her in his new book ‘ Worlds Beyond’. This work is featured on the first page of Lens Blog, the highly-regarded photojournalism blog of The New York Times.
Our goats are in disgrace. They may look cute but they are in fact extremely cunning. My mother-in-law left the gate open by mistake the other day and they saw their chance… not to escape but to tip over a barrel of grain and roll it until the top came off (I kid you not). They then proceeded to gorge themselves on a hundred dollars’ worth of top-quality feed. This of course led to terrible indigestion and diarrhoea on an epic scale. They haven’t been out in the paddock since and are lounging around the dairy looking very sorry for themselves.
It’s quite hard being a Buddhist in the Australian bush. The flies are out in force because of the rain and they love dive-bombing my face. The more you swot them away the more they come after you. I’m learning it’s best to leave them be unless they are in your eyes or mouth. I am just a bit paranoid about them laying eggs in my hair (what’s left of it).
We’ve cleared out the yurt. Christian built it for my birthday back in 2004 and it used to be my meditation and songwriting space. I can’t believe the wood and tin is still standing after all the tropical storms of the past 10 years but it’s pretty sheltered by two huge lychee trees. Inside we found the debris of a decade of rubbish – old building materials and stuff piled high in boxes full of rats nests. We wore boots and gloves and thankfully no snakes were in there, only two enormous spiders that gave us both a fright. The yurt is too far gone to start using it again so the plan is now to rebuild it.
What was really lovely was finding a load of old photos from when we lived here before – all the gigs we did here when I was just starting out as a singer-songwriter. I hope we’ll be playing again in Australia before too long. If any of you have any suggestions for small venues or house concerts here please contact us.
Yesterday we went to Brisbane to buy a double-bass for Christian but came back with a gorgeous cello for me. I felt like a kid at Christmas when I woke up this morning! You can see me playing it on my Instagram feed.
I hope all’s well in your world.
After a busy 2018 on the road, Emily is taking some time out from touring as she has just relocated with her husband Christian to Australia. They will be doing gigs in Australia later this year and touring the UK again in 2020. If you want to know when and where you can see Emily play, please join her email list.