Life's a treasure, it really is. This year has been packed full of emotion and experience. I have devoted a lot of my time and energy into myself to try and re-connect with my true-self. In February, I wrote a song called "Stings and Kisses". This raw expression of heart-ache, love and hope is in some ways the antidote to my life this year — pain and confusion being channelled into growth.
My "Golden Nugget" this year, as my father would coin it, is learning and truely understanding that what is most important in my life is not my art or career, but my connection and experiences with people and nature, especially with those who I love.
One of the best things I have done for myself this year is to incorporate and stick to a morning routine. It's incredible; to begin every day with peace, nature, difficulty and gratitude. What inspired me to do this was moving into a tranquil little cottage in Māpua with my cousin, or really, my brother. Even though I'm only renting, it feels like my own home with its gorgeous garden, array of fruit and citrus trees, clay and turqouise exterior, colourful African embellished interior, natural sunlight, and a deck which looks out towards an estuary and the expansive Richmond Ranges. This place has become the template for the environment and home I want to live and create in.
This is how my morning routine goes:
Get out of bed, pull the curtains, open the window and breathe in the fresh air and lavender
Make my bed
Jump into the cold shower for 3 minutes
Tidy the house
Do yoga and body-weight exercises on the deck for 15 minutes overlooking the mountains
Step onto the grass in the garden with bare-feet and move my body like that of Butoh or Tai Chi
Meditate standing up in front of the pear tree with gratitude and prayer for the new day
Take my vitamins
Eat breakfast — fresh fruit, yoghurt, nuts and seeds
Start work in my studio, focusing first on what's at the pinnacle of the pyramid
In March and April, I went on tour with my band, Genre Fluid. We released our debut album 'The Groova Meista' and swarmed the South Island with a stream of rock 'n roll shows witnessed by a very diverse range of audiences, from young children, to fanatical fans, to old rockers. It was a month of letting my hair down, soaking up the landscapes of the south, and performing from the soul with a fellow wanderer. As the shows went on our improvisation became a thing of total flow. It started to not only sound good, but it all made sense, the poetry, the sonics, the combination of the two; it was a thing of beauty. We sold out many venues and connected with so many spirited people, and if I'm being honest, if it wasn't for those meaningful connections in-between it all, I really don't know how I would be able to cope with touring. It's a roller-coaster, but one I'm happy we went on this year!
In May, I shaved my head to start fresh and recorded my next studio album with a beautiful collective of musicians. We set up the studio at my parents house in Richmond and turned the dining room into a wholesome space of creativity and expression — our musical playground. What came out of these two week-long sessions was extraordinary. We created digital sonic landscapes, experimented with West African instruments and made-up songs on the spot. We played like kids and I felt alive, expressive, engaged and bonded with the artistic process and with the people I was doing it with.
On the final weekend of November, myself and my hard-working crew of collaborators packed our filming equipment, props and costumes and headed to the Nelson Lakes National Park to shoot the first video of seven for the short film of Antique Angel — my upcoming multimedia project. This video is about birth and the relationship with 'The Mother' — the symbol of life and water. I chose to film at Lake Rotoiti as it has become a sacred place in my life following a spiritual awakening that I experienced there in 2021.
The amount of time, effort and love everyone has put into the making of the Antique Angel album and film so far has been nothing short of incredible. I am so grateful to be able to work with such humble, kind, talented and professional people. Their belief in this project matches my own and because of this we have been gifted with some truely awe inspiring moments of synchronicity and symbolism. One example is during the filming of the final shot of 'Cocoon', during a full moon sunset, we spotted two black swans linking up with each other in the cross-over section of the two mountains. Not only was this a beautiful sight to see, it was a physical manifestation of a motif that is planned to be used in my short film. The black swan represents 'The Lover' and her gifting nature of spiritual transformation. We were able to capture this rare moment on camera and hopefully it will be cut into the film. In January next year, we will launch our Boosted crowd-funding campaign to the raise the funds necessary to produce the Antique Angel short film. This campaign will be released with a flurry of behind-the-scenes content, so stay tuned!
During my short career in the arts, I have performed my own acoustic sets, performance art shows and hundreds of gigs as a duo, but never with the force of a full band. This year, I was fortunate enough to do it twice with a newly formed group, Fitter Happier. We perform an experience of Radiohead's ground-breaking album 'OK Computer' from start to finish with all its paranoia and subtly. Learning these songs really exposed the brilliance of them and it was an absolute pleasure to perform them with such an amazing group of guys. The physical feeling you get on stage from the sound of a full band is exhilarating; the bass, the drums, the guitars, the keys, and my voice with a cathedral-like reverb, wow. It felt alive and moving. Our first show was at our home-base, Room Twenty5. It couldn't have gone any better. We brought those people in chairs to tears. Tears of joy and sorrow. Real emotion being expressed with vigour. That is the kind of reaction I strive for when creating music and art. And we did it all again at the infamous, Mussel Inn. Memories for life.
I have chosen, for reasons of privacy, to not use the names and details of people in my personal life in this diary, but there are many people that have deeply influenced my life this year for whom I am engrossed with gratitude. As mentioned before, it is the people we love in our lives and the experiences we share with them that stand before anything else. The two things I love to share most are art and adventure. I've spoken a lot about my artistic endeavours this year, but not so much about my adventures, and I have had many. From summiting Ben Nevis solo, to running the Abel Tasman Coastal Classic Race and placing 12th, to taking ice baths in Lake Rotoiti. Life gives me meaning in times of struggle, perseverance and accomplishment. And when all that is experienced amongst the great grandeur of our forests in Aotearoa, it becomes something so uplifting that it is almost magical. Mother Nature is our template, our guide, our source. If we follow her flow, our own will be replenished with love.
At times this year I have become overwhelmed by the duality of life; the depths of the darkness and the total purity of the light. But the more I gracefully let go of things the more truth and understanding comes to me. There are always two sides to the coin. I have learnt through the wisdom of spiritual teachers and my own personal experience of hardship and bliss that through navigating life with a balance of discipline and surrender one finds a graceful flow, an ease of motion, bringing forth a gratitude for all things and the agency to act with intention and integrity.
I have made The Silk Diary as a means to connect with my small community of followers without the distraction of social media and to create an authentic platform for me to share my art life with you and consistently write from the heart. I know that for me it feels much better this way, even though I have just started, but I hope that those of you who are reading this will subscribe and find some vested interest in my weeks of creative play and exploration. I will always be open to your feedback. If there seems to be a better way to do things or more interesting topics to write about, please let me know. Your attention and support is much appreciated and I am so grateful that you are on this journey with me.
Here's to spiralling upward!