I played my last gig of the year yesterday at The Finsbury – a fine establishment – just by Manor House tube in London.

My favourite music person I’ve met on my travels, Roger aka The Gig Slut curated the event of 4 female acousticals. It was my pleasure to be counted amongst his faves, and to be in such beautifully-voiced-and-faced company.

Mike Watts took some pictures of me gurning singing and very kindly said I could do what I liked with them, so here they are.

I can’t wait for January. I got so excited I put a countdown up —->

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People who release music and say they don’t care if no-one hears it, I’ll never understand.

Singing Oarsman with a room full of people, in the dark, will never, ever get old. EVER.

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Black Feather Wooden Chair – by Salwa Azar

RELEASE DATE: 15th JANUARY 2015

The album is finished.

It’s all out of my hands now and with the CD printers, Mobineko.

I hope the order of the tracks is right, and that it all sounds great when you press play. However, there’s always the digital release to fall back on if the physical CD aren’t right or here in time. Mainly, I am just completely excited to have finished this album finally to a standard that exceeds what I could have done on my own in my room.

Massive thanks to Matt Hill who patiently recorded me and helped be the sounding board for ideas to improve and build my songs. What a legend.

In nervous hope, and tired excitement – Sal x

Tiredly happy - Salwa Azar
Tiredly happy – Salwa Azar

I’m busy working away on getting the album artwork put into templates finally so it’s ready for printing. Very excited as a couple of great friends have stepped up to the plate to help me do the art as I am rubbish at graphics although playing with templates isn’t too hard and I found a nice typewriter font so thats a bonus!

So exciting seeing a real, actual, legit album forming.

Matt is doing the last of the mixing this week and Sunday will be a mastering session. Hopefully it will be done then and then it gets sent off to the printers. WOOHOO.

I want this album to do well but it’s more importantly a testament to my life so far. Small weird songs that sometimes people talk over live, have real presence and sway on this album. I’ve expanded my composing skills and with a few helpers, gotten to realise much of what I’d envisaged for these songs that as a solo artist, I never really get the chance to show. If I never do another one, I’m happy that I at least managed this small thing. Something I can hold in my hand and say, yes, I made this with all my heart and soul.

I’ve learnt so much doing this album- about commitment, focus, practise, preparedness and communication – #2 should be easier or at least quicker but I’m still terrible at singing or playing the same thing twice it’s the live performer in me going “what if we change it up” and the ageing girl in my going “I just can’t remember what I sang a minute ago”/

I keep seeing Best Albums of 2014 lists cropping up, and have immediate pangs of WHAT AM I DOING? RELEASE IT IN 2015, give it a chance?! but my life outside my music has to go on, and as an indie release it doesn’t really matter when you release your music, its not like its going to breach the billboard top 100. I don’t have any money left for pluggers or PR so am I suppose to sit on it indefinitely until I can save up? If I wait till end of Jan or Feb, im just waiting and I’m filled with such joy for this album that I don’t want to wait any more. It’s taken my WHOLE life to get this far and I want to move on already, plus I promised friends they’d have it to give as presents for Christmas..so it’ll miss a few lists, so what- I have to get on with my life and get a job and all that stuff (yes, during the last few months ,work ran out at my place so I’ve been borrowing the money to finish this as I use the time to make sure it’s done right). It needs to be finished now so I can focus on earning some money from somewhere – and that will make me able to pay for travel so I can book tours- the weekend tourer hehehe Portugal is my first confirmed stop for January which is always a wonderful experience. If by some stroke of luck I get more offers of paid gigs or even people wanting to tour with me to form a band of sorts, then it would have accomplished more than I hoped. If not, I will just go on with my life and smile knowing I did this cool thing once…until album #2 drops that is (Im already writing the bare bones of more songs and still have 12 songs that didnt make it on the album to sift through)

Hopefully the people who will love this little album will find it, and I hope that those that found it and loved it will spread the word as that’s really all that matters is that it gets to the ears that need it.

I wanted to write this post because I wanted to mark a moment that was beautiful.
I’ve played 2 churches before, one in Bristol and one in Hampstead and as a general non-believer, it always strikes me as funny that they’ve been rather lovely shows.

The gig supporting Lily Oakes (15th Sept 2014) was one of my favourite shows ever.

Not because there were close to 100 people watching, not because I sold merch after (i didnt) and not because it proves anything about my ability or skill in music.

The darkness, the faint smell of incense, the fact there was a “greenroom”, the acoustics…everyone amped, everyone excited and trying not to swear but always slipping an “oh fuck” or “this is fucking amazing”out.

Staring into the dark seeing sillhouettes, having to calm my nerves and just channel the notes…everyone so quiet, everyone expectant.
Utter communion.

It was indeed high magic.

Thats how all gigs should be, a prayer to the dark and the beating of soundwaves in your ears. Something womb like and reassuring, im not creating that for them right there, i am part of it, experiencing it with them/you.

It goes away as the lights blink on and the small fraggle with a nondescript uke case grabs her friends and trudges out shyly before anyone can say anything to make her English awkwardness worse.

But if I could unshy myself in the moment I would say:
Thank you, thank you for listening and sharing your contemplation with me in that 20 minutes. We are all in the dark.

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The world eats up kind, creative souls because it wants to be fed.
It cares not for the person feeding it, just the output it bred.
A million sadnesses, a thousand times struggle, what it takes to create is to drag yourself through rubble.
You cut yourself on glass from the shattered reflection
To run from yourself to an opposite direction
To escape persecution and genetic complaint
To dissolve in the ether
To put on war paint.
Boldly standing as the world tries to knock you down
Twisting it back to create something you own.

The world eats up kind, creative souls
Devouring it’s tail as genius falls.

RIP Robin Williams.
– by Salwa Azar 2014

Since album recording started.
I am 12 tracks in and close to finishing the first third of the process; recording, mixing, mastering.

The studio has to find new premises by October, so I’m also under the shadow of a ticking clock.

Also, my steady job has turned into freelance scrabbling, so whilst I have the time now, I barely have the money to strike those final takes.

It’s all happening.

Luckily I’m still able to gig regularly and have met some amazingly supportive people over the year as well as some incredibly talented musicians I’ve had the pleasure of dragging into recording sessions.

I very much hope I get to release this album, sooner than later. For better or worse.

This is my baby and I’ll labour as long as it takes until it’s born, just hope whomever my audience is, is still there when it’s ready.

Music recommendations:
SZA (dat VOICE!)

Gig venues:
The Lantern Society

People:
Anna Kendrick
Elon Musk

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So, probably the cheeriest song on the album- VodkA is a rip-roaring foot-stomping hot mess!
From initial “just me and my ukulele” I asked some willing hand-clappers along. This lead to a fortuitous Slide guitar addition, the wonderful Slim Estrada, and it mutated into more than I could expect.
The most recent and welcome addition to the song has been the brassy stylings of Angie Rance her Twitter
She popped into the studio at the weekend and did a corker of a cornet accompaniment!20140113-142459.jpg

I caught a snippet on video, so here is a sneak peek: