seasons and cycles
4 Seasons in a day, an hour, a thought. Is that what you feel like when setting yourself a challenge that really means something to you?
For me, the first moment of announcing said challenge is one that I find rather liberating. Suddenly it’s not something that is happening in my own head any more. I have accountability to myself and to the people around me who support what I do.
Almost directly after that self-doubt trickles in. Can I actually achieve the goal I have set out to achieve? Or in my case, for my Record Store Day song, will it be any good or even as good as its predecessors?
This year I made “Seasons”. Writing, arranging, recording and producing it in 24 hours all on my own. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this kind of song concept hadn’t already been bubbling up in other aspects of my life where my main focus for the past while has been on the healing of the divine feminine. Ever since I experienced my first period it had been both traumatising and painful. I grew tired of being poked, prodded and pilled by doctors in their attempt to “fix” it. There was no mainstream option that worked for me. I came to the conclusion that perhaps my body was trying to tell me something, perhaps tuning in to the pain, instead of medicating it was just what I needed for the healing to happen. I began to read books, attend women’s circles and honour my cycle and the seasons of my body. I learned that my body has its own beautiful rhythm, for example:
· Winter (menstruation) where I am at my most intuitive and should allow myself to rest, turn in
· Spring, when my energy is high and is a really good time for me to create
· Summer (ovulation) where I am at my most social and
· Autumn where I begin to slow down and focus on getting things done on my to-do list
The more I honoured my cycle, the less pain I was experiencing, the more connected I felt.
I wrote “Seasons” as a hymn to myself and to the beautiful women out there who may be experiencing similar struggles. “Seasons” encourages you to be gentle with yourself, honour the gifts in each season and celebrate the impermanence of it all. There is still so much shame around the cycle and I believe it comes from a very unhealthy patriarchal system that has been the cause of so much unhappiness and imbalances for all genders in our society. We ALL have seasons in our lives, be it monthly, daily, or yearly, and if we are more open with each other as to where we are in our season, we can honour each other with more love and empathy. When we eventually manage to do this I believe we will really evolve spiritually and find more contentment and stability in our society.
reclaiming my space as a woman in music
I normally co-write or co-produce my songs as I truly LOVE co-writing, but I felt resistant to share this year’s Record Store Day song challenge with anyone else. When I thought about why this could be I realised that it is because all the producers I work with are men. Don’t get me wrong, they are super talented and I love them all, but somehow my instincts were telling me to keep this beautiful celebration of the feminine going. Of course at the time I didn’t know I was going to write “Seasons” until I did it, but I trusted my instincts to hold that space. I also realised that I hadn’t really been putting any effort in to producing because this aspect of the music industry is so highly dominated by men, and in my previous attempts I had been made to feel lesser than, so I simply resigned to singing, writing, recording and co-producing. The truth is I want to grow more in this area, and my 24hour song challenge was the perfect opportunity to nudge me in to it. Since talking more openly with women in the beautiful sisterhood I was now connected with I realised I was hearing the same story over and over again… Women who wanted to try producing, recording, DJ’ing or whatever else it might be in the music industry and in their most vulnerable moments when they should be invited to explore, play and create, being completely belittled and shut down by men. As a coach I work to inspire people to achieve their true potential, so there was just no way I could continue to let myself be a part of this statistic. I was going to produce my Record Store Day track no matter how shit it might be. Either way I was going to learn from the process.
When I sat down to write I knew that I wanted the song to embody that celebration of what it means to be a woman, to bring in some of that beautiful feminine energy I had recently re-connected with. I wanted it to be soft and strong, like the me I had just uncovered. And so came “Seasons”.
Seasons follows an A A B A song structure. This means it has no chorus, but more of a refrain. In this case the melody of the refrain stays the same and the lyrics change each time referring to the turning of the seasons; “Winter will be over soon”, “Spring turns in to summer sun”, “Before you know it summer’s gone”, “Welcome in the autumn rain”. While I thoroughly enjoy writing in a more pop-style song structure I find I turn to A A B A when I am looking to go more inward and explore deeper topics. Rain and China Doll are other examples of songs I have released which use this type of song form. Both are some of my more highly emotive songs.
The great thing about creating a track in 24 hours is that I do not have time to second guess myself. I have to run with the first good idea and build on it. The "perfectionist" in me has to take a back seat and I have to say, it's liberating! As a creative I feel like my best work will exist somewhere in the space between reckless abandonment and perfectionism and this annual commitment to "The 24 hour Record" is a good reminder of that.
What I learned:
1. Writing a song on the floor (I love sitting on the floor) of my studio and singing it properly for a recording are two different things. I can’t believe I made this rookie mistake! I recorded the song 2 or 3 semitones too low and struggled to sing it when I was recording vocals (although this could have also been due to the fact that I was feeling violently ill and ended up in A&E that night with food poisoning)! Yuck!
2. I really wanted to do backing vocals, but couldn’t because I had food poisoning and then a blocked nose. Strange timing!
3. I am really struggling to let go and to share it now. I feel so exposed!
4. It is a 24 hour song challenge and I can decide to share it for as long or short as I would like. The promise was the challenge, not that it was going to be perfect!
5. I would love to do more work in music with women.
What I loved:
1. I wrote, recorded, mixed and produced a track in 24 hours. It included a pitch-shifted and chopped sample from Fleetwood Mac (Lies), strings, synths, percussion, acoustic guitar and vocals. I did it. And I learnt a lot. And I enjoyed it.
2. I scheduled the writing to happen in my “Spring”. It felt really good to synchronise this process to my cycle.
3. I have learnt that I would love to invest more time and love in to producing. I cannot expect my producing skills to be at the level of other aspects of my musicianship where I have invested the time and practice.
4. I actually really love the song. Especially when played 2-3 semitones higher ;) It is an intimate hymn, if only for me to remind myself to honour my seasons.
5. I really enjoyed having the space to perform my own rituals which have now become a part of my music-making process. These include meditation, yoga, chakra toning and setting an intention for my project. You can see some of this process unfolding in the beautiful photographs captured by power woman Wamaitha N’ganga.
share your thoughts
Please let me know (in the most constructive way) what you like and what you think needs work on this track. I am hoping to improve it one day.
I would love to hear about some of my reader’s experiences. Have you wanted to try something, but have been held back, shamed or discriminated against? Has it stopped you from pursuing something you would love to try? Did you do it anyway? Do you feel you need some support from other power women to get you back on track?
I will be blogging more about the cycle in the future. It is such a beautiful, powerful gift we have as women and there are some amazing ways we can harness it to achieve our full potential in our work, relationships and creativity whilst maintaining a deeper connection to ourselves. It is also super important for the male readers out there to learn about it too, as it can offer more understanding on the topic and thus improve many relationships be it at work or with loved ones. Please do let me know your thoughts on your relationship with your cycle. Are you still experiencing pain? Have you discovered ways you can harness your cycle for a happy more fulfilling life? If you haven’t already read it, Wild Power https://redschool.net/wildpower/ is a beautiful book on honouring your cycle and harnessing it’s power. The app My Flo https://myflotracker.com/ has been life-changing for me and is amazing for tracking your cycle.
It was wonderful having Wamaitha N’ganga with me to photograph the process of my 24 hour song challenge. Wamaitha is a documentary photographer focusing on women and social issues, culture and identity. She is an inspiring woman, artist and I can now say a dear friend. Her warm nature and professionalism made it easy for a camera-shy Natali to focus on the challenge and forget about the camera. I felt really honoured to collaborate with her.
If you would like to be moved by more of her work visit:
I would also like to say a huge thank you to audiomaster.se for always doing such an amazing job at mastering my tracks.
only one week to download / stream / share !
Seasons will only be available for the week of Record Store Day to purchase from Bandcamp via the button below for as little as £1!
Or you can stream it on Soundcloud for the week of Record Store Day ONLY via the button below
Thank you for reading and for supporting women in the arts! Remember to tune in and honour your cycle.
Stay awesome, with love x