Ainslie Wills, Angie McMahon, Gretta Ray (Emma Louise Cover)
11 March 2019
ACMI, Melbourne Music Week
Wish You Well (Emma Louise Cover)
There are breakaway moments on tour that are rarely spoken about. They are the moments where you regain your identity and reconnect with yourself. You soak up solitude. We usually only talk about the loud and crowded moments. The quiet ones are underrated and are deserving of more credit. I had one recently in Glasgow where I found myself alone, while the summer posed as winter, wandering the streets. The Glasgow School of Art had just been devastated by a fire and I was grappling with a sense of grief for a building I had never properly known.
There was a collective sadness for the loss of the building and the symbolism behind it. Glasgow is a deeply poetic and artistic city as it stands, it already carries a sense of darkness in greys and wit. The loss of the heartbeat of an institution which nurtures art was kind of unfathomable. I had been in Glasgow for three days and the fire was still burning, the nearby roads were closed but you could see the fire hoses spraying through the summer rain. It was all a little bit much, trying to understand what might have been lost within the building, and then learning this was the second time in four years.
As I strolled, I put my headphones on and listened to Emma Louise’s new release “Wish You Well.” It’s an observant, visual and mournful piano ballad. It suited the mood of this breakaway Glasgow Moment. Emma experiments with her vocals; slowing them down, leaving her voice sounding rather deep and slow. It is a song that simultaneously takes you into someone else’s story, but also welcomes you with open arms as though it’s your own. It is both introspective and selfless. There is something inherently sad about this song. In the words of Nick Cave, “What a great song makes us feel is a sense of awe” and Glasgow Moment was one of those feelings.
I listened to it four times in a row while I walked around the city streets. I subconsciously created my own visuals to the storylines and characters in the song; the perfectly framed woman, the singing man. Perhaps selfishly, I connected the chorus to my own storyline. I pondered the tightrope we walk when touring; new beginnings and imminent goodbyes. I know it is not my story, but there is something special when we experience a brief moment of relatability when a song convinces the listener that it is was designed purely for them. It is the peacefulness, familiarity and solidarity that music is capable of providing to listeners.
Amongst the wonderful moments, touring is coupled with a sense of distance; distance from those you love at home, distance from yourself, sometimes distance from the people you haven’t even met yet, knowing you’re probably about to leave them. Sometimes we make space for new people on the road and try to fully engage in moments with them. Other times we protect ourselves by being aware we must preserve our energy for things other than difficult goodbyes. And then sometimes the imminent goodbyes sneak their way in, even when you try to push them away. The song carries a sense of admission, tones of confession, hopelessness, that sums up this exact feeling for me. A feeling I found difficult to access and process on this tour.
“Lie to me. Say that there’s some place we can meet. But if not, I wish you well.”
There’s a push-pull of wanting something to be real, whilst also accepting it’s not. There’s something to be said for throwing everything into a window of time because you know it’s soon to be over. And although those verses are so clearly someone else’s, in that moment in dreary Glasgow, I let myself believe that the chorus was mine. A helpless acceptance that felt real to me at the time.
“I wish you well, even though my heart is breaking.”
These sometimes rare moments of connectedness often remind me of my original desire to film and record bands in raw settings. Eliza Hull, Jono Steer and myself set out with a desire to capture songs that clearly pinpoint your emotion and can soundtrack a period of time for you. It has always been about the moments that prompt you to think things you’ve never thought before – just when you thought you’d thought it all. It’s about the moments that raise the hairs on your neck, the moments that point at your stomach so you look down and then slap you underneath the chin. These are moments of truth and meaning that I so often find myself searching for.
With a combined joy of discovering new music and talent and a desire to create a warm and cosy home for raw moments, we started this website with a hope to share the truths we experience through music. This here website shaped all of us and played a big part in who we are today; the friendships we’ve made, the paths we’ve crossed, the skills we developed and the connections that continue. I think we all craved a sense of truth and making these videos helped carve out our paths.
Eliza has recently released a new EP called ‘How We Disappeared’, has a four year old little girl (Isobel) and loves her hometown of Castlemaine. More recently Eliza made an audio series for the ABC about parenting with a disability which she is now turning into a book. Jono is touring the world as a live sound engineer with several of the acts we filmed on Large Noises, while he builds his dream studio in Castlemaine. I became a music manager, guiding the careers of the three musicians you see in this video; Ainslie Wills, Angie McMahon and Gretta Ray.
Ainslie, Angie and Gretta didn’t know about the Glasgow Moment the day they decided to perform this song to a silent audience (including myself) in London. They just went ahead and made us a London Moment. They didn’t know this song soundtracked my faux summer. They learned this song for the first time in soundcheck that day. They performed it again in Melbourne and this time Ty Ridgeway and Mike Ridley from Shoelace Creative were there to film it.
So this one is a tip of the hat to the website that lead us down a creative and musical path. It is a nod to the bands and many people who help us create it. An acknowledgement and praise to the little website I made when I was answering the occasional phone call at a part-time reception job and researching “How to make a website.” It’s a reminder to those who are finding it difficult to open doors into your passion, you can make your own doors and open them.
We’re standing here directing the internet traffic (that’s you) over to our website that we forgot to nurture the past couple of years because we all got too busy. We’re lighting a little fire in the lounge room and saying come in and take a look around! We’ll make you a cup of tea. We’re giving Large Noises a brief awakening with this stunning cover of “Wish You Well” by Emma Louise, performed by Ainslie Wills, Angie McMahon and Gretta Ray as part of Melbourne Music Week. This is a public acknowledgement and thank you to three musicians who inspire me every day. We’ll let the video speak for itself.
We hope this video can soundtrack someone’s something-or-other.
Words by Charlotte Abroms.
Still images by Michelle Grace Hunder.