In the nineties I was in a band which got signed to Sony after playing just ten gigs. At that point I'd never flown in a plane or gone much further than the concrete confines of East Kilbride where I was born & raised. Next thing I knew I was getting flown out to New Orleans to cut a record; doing photo-shoots with Rankin & having meetings with twenty stylists about what type of trainers the band wore. We felt like we'd won the lottery! We were dropped after a year for not having a top ten hit. As was highlighted in the film Dig! with The Brian Jonestown Massacre & The Dandy Warhols; the music industry is the only one with a 98% fail rate.
After the band was dropped I felt very raw; bereft of my dream I suppose. I was asked by various youth music groups & lecturers to talk to aspiring musicians, bands & songwriters about my experience of being signed to a major label but was far too messed up to do so. The process of being built up & demolished had really impacted on my self-confidence & in retrospect I think I was really depressed. But somewhere during that period I picked up the guitar again & started playing & writing songs. I started to realise that I didn't need a million dollar contract or anyone's permission to do what came naturally.
When I met Producer & Director Pippa Bailey I instantly recognised that she'd had a similar experience to mine but in the world of acting. Pippa's experiences prompted her to write a play called Biding Time & twenty five years later she felt the issues were still relevant & issued a call to arms to artists from all over the world to take the piece and find new & creative ways to perform it.
Pippa had heard about our appearance in Vanishing Point Theatre Company's production of The Beggar's Opera which took the form of gig meets play. Director Ben Harrison (Grid Iron) had been talking to Pippa about Biding Time for a while & with the support of Creative Scotland we started devising an interpretation of the show using the overarching themes & story arch of the original to tease out some of our own experiences.
The characters in our remix of the show are composites of people we met when we got signed. Some of these people are so far removed from reality & the situation you find yourself in is so surreal that the show has evolved into a dream like landscape inhabited by grotesque gate-keepers, whilst you feel so alienated from the real people in your life that they too can become grotesques.
The band imploded before we were dropped. Some of this was partly due to the amount of attention focused on myself as a female front woman. We went from band camaraderie to feeling like everyone on the stage hated me as I stood in front of a crowd of four thousand supporting James at The Manchester Apollo in an M&S nightie & a drunken challenge of 'I bet you can't play that guitar' coming from some bloke in the audience. It didn't feel like I was living the dream at all.
It wasn't all bad; we had some amazing experiences that we would never have had otherwise & a glimpse into a world which a lot of people aspire to inhabit. And it makes a good story.