Farah Elle will be joining the panel discussion at SelfMade next week, she spoke to MNÁSOME ahead of the event all about self-care and creativtiy, perseverance and her experiences on the Irish DIY music scene…
As a working musician, can you give an example of what your day to day is
Well, anything that’s ever been said about self-care is true anyway; it is a daily task
and I believe it’s probably one of the most important habits to practice as a full-time
Depending on what work I’ve got to do, or if I’m gigging, I have to do my
stretches very regularly and especially in the morning. I also love dancing as a fix-up
for my energy and eating colourful food. This stuff might sound a bit silly, but it’s all in
an effort to prepare my body and mind for the day. I go for a walk in nature if I can.
Luckily, where I live makes that easy.
E-mails, phone calls, whatever – I try to get those bits done early. I have decided to put a cut-off point of 5/6pm for emails and phone calls. With the urgency they can bring, it can really take away from my creative time.
My weekly schedule is very unpredictable as you can imagine, so keeping a
diary is key for me.
I give creative sessions to help others express their feelings or
songwriting ideas, so I prepare my creative space for that too. The front room in my
house has a piano and small studio set up where I give these sessions as well as do
my own work.
I also do a lot of volunteer work in Mosney (a direct provision centre
near my gaff) so that keeps me very busy. Other than that, if I’m gigging, I try my
best to chill out an hour or two before. I’m based in Meath, so if I’m heading to Dublin
to play a show then I make an effort to arrange meetings for the same day to save a
bit of cash on travel expenses. With all of that stuff, comes keeping my life together
on a day to day basis. A.K.A Cleaning the house, learning how to drive, playing
piano, writing. Things that help me achieve and maintain my sense of purpose.
How did you make your creative work into your career?
Perseverance, word of mouth and playing a lot of shows and building my repertoire.
Once you gain loads of experience and keep a strong head over it all, then it
becomes more in your own hands than you think. I mean that from a self-managing
perspective because my goals are not to reach superstardom, so I would like to
comfortably manage my own career as most proficiently as I can in the meantime. I
want to be active as a musician who makes a positive difference to people’s lives. I
also have a monthly residency in the local pub which is really nice, as well as the
Dublin gigs and the creative sessions which keep me motivated and driven.
What’s involved in the creative sessions you run?
My creative sessions involve a few things. I usually begin with a bit of stretching and breathing exercises, in order to ground and relax the person(s) involved. Then, I let them lead the session with telling me whatever it is that they creatively want to explore/improve on – whether that’s with expressing their voice, with performance, writer’s block, structuring songs/poetry, or just getting a bit of their feelings out using music.
So, I simply play along on the piano if it’s with vocals and we just go wherever the music takes us. Or if it’s with performance, I’ll help them improve on whatever it is they want to improve on. Whether it’s about tackling issues with using the voice, or just for hitting the high notes more comfortably – it can even just be about things like diction or doing warm-ups. It’s different with everybody and can even get a bit emotional sometimes. It’s about being comfortable with all aspects of our creative brain.
I’m planning on doing a Masters in Art Psychotherapy later this year as I’d love to take this practice further and even do it as part of wellbeing in secondary schools, nursing homes, direct provision centres, rehabilitation facilities and pretty much everywhere I can really. Everybody needs a bit of creativity in their lives and I firmly believe that practising music, art and the general creative expression of feelings in even the smallest ways can really help people establish their most positive characteristics and gain a great sense of purpose from comfortably expressing themselves. Not to forget, how creativity unites people from all different backgrounds and can really bring out the beauty in life!
Can you tell us about your experience of being a DIY musician on the Irish
It’s really interesting. You’re definitely expected to do a lot of free shows and there’s nearly always a bit of negotiation. Once you’ve built a name for yourself though, it gets easier and you get a bit more mindful towards your own worth. I can now comfortably charge for my gigs because I’m beginning to understand my worth a bit more. I can’t afford to do free gigs, especially with my commute. As artists, self-doubt and selling ourselves short definitely happens. Most creative people have good hearts – which makes them willing to do a lot for free. That’s a thing which can be taken advantage of and is often expected from you too, which isn’t always right.
What has been a highlight in your career so far? What was involved in
reaching this point?
Playing at festivals with my band. So many exciting new experiences and learning
curves for my memory bank! A lot of love and perseverance was involved in the
gigging. Playing for free a lot at the beginning, meeting a lot of new people (I love
people though so that’s cool) but it’s hard work too if you’re tired or have stuff going
on in your own life. Overcoming personal obstacles and being able to play gigs is a
great achievement I think. You don’t really have a choice once you’ve been booked
and you still gotta try make the crowd feel good. I love chatting away to the crowd
though and I love that it’s unpredictable each time.
What women motivate and inspire you in your music career?
Chimamanda Adichie – a Nigerian writer whose TED Talks I recently watched. She
tackles really important topics to do with culture clash problems all over the world. It’s
inspiring how well she articulates herself and I find her captivating as a writer and a
word-magician! I love when anybody articulates and expresses themselves well but
she’s just a total rockstar.
What are your plans for 2018?
Get this album of mine out! And hopefully keep infecting the whole world with some
casual peace and love. It’s airborn yo – be careful coz you might catch that shit.
Photo Credit Olga Kuzmenko Photography.