Exhale The Damage

a song; a work in progress…

i have learned it’s okay to be sorry
as i lay in the ground covered in soil
as the insects whisper sweet little nothings
as the monsters escape from the boil

i am now laying in total silence
and my body melts into the earth
i am none of the words that i said once
i am only the feelings they’re worth

one last breath
as i exhale the damage i’ve held to my chest
one last breath
as i exhale the damage i’ve held to my chest

tell my mother and father i love them
tell my brother that he’ll see the world
tell my lover i wish that he’d told me
what his eyes said, just only in words

and i know that i’ve held on too tightly
and i search for some colours unseen
but i never found love all that frightening
until i woke up from this dream

one last breath
as i exhale the damage i’ve held to my chest
one last breath
as i exhale the damage i’ve held to my chest7a2f911e61fc52013fbdf5b40fff03ac

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New York #3: A Day in NYC (aka I just got mauled by a dog on the corner of 80th and Broadway)

a short poem titled…

a day in nyc (aka i just got mauled by a dog on the corner of 80th and broadway)

after coffee with david
a young man named nathan gives me a hand massage at lush
i walk out with my forearms smelling of ‘karma’
yes, this is the name of a scent
karma
one minute later
a big black dog leaps on me from nowhere in a fierce attack
wrapping his or her sharp teeth around my forearm
it happened so suddenly and i am hurting
but i think to myself in that split second
oh no! my forearms have never smelled better
this littler fucker better not bite my arm off
dog releases grip after owner yanks on the leash
i am in shock
horror
rattled
could i sue? is this what happens in america?
tell me more
no one even stops or asks if i am ok
i continue to walk home
put up a facebook status so i feel less alone (weird, i know)
ten minutes later i turn down a street i never walk down
and yoko ono brushes shoulders with me
before this we lock eyes (at least i think we do, behind her big black glasses)
as i walk away my eyes fill with tears
karma. did i mention that? what the actual fuck?
being mauled by a dog is still better than being vomited on by a drunk man on the subway at 1am.

the end.

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New York #2: I just had the best date ever!

You know, it really is the simple things that electrify me, tune me in and make me feel alive.

Before I go on, I should confess that the title of this blog is misleading.

It wasn’t actually a date.

More of an accidental outing.

Or rather, a walk.

With my brother, Tony.

So, 60 minutes ago we’re on the C Train when my phone rings (which is strange because there usually ain’t no reception down in those Manhattan metro tunnels) and it’s Kate Lee saying “Emma, Emma the show is off!!”

We were scheduled to see an operatic, loop pedaling, original music performance at the famous Bleecker St venue, The Bitter End (yes that is Stephanie Germanotta before she became Lady Gaga) but at the very last moment it had been cancelled due to scheduling problems.

So Tony and I got off the subway and instead of getting on the opposite train, I accidentally walked us out of the station. We were on 72nd and our apartment was on 107th – that’s a pretty long walk in heels – but I decided to take this opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted to do, and instead of hopping back on the subway, I did THIS.

For those of you who can’t be arsed watched that scene from the movie Begin Again, basically I gave one of my earphones to Tony and we took turns at making a playlist which I so eloquently called “The Poo Face Playlist”. Artists included: Ingrid Michaelson, Cerys Matthews, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Boat People, Lady Gaga, Crowded House, Ke$ha, HAIM, INXS and then somewhere between Joy Division and Bon Jovi we both transformed into those people you see on the subway singing terribly, out loud to the music on their Ipod – those people I giggle about to myself, but secretly love and admire…so much.

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And then I suddenly remembered.

This transformation happened last time I lived in New York! I went from someone who cared very much about what people thought, to someone who realised that everyone in this city is too fucking busy to really give that much of a shit what you do as you strut along Central Park West. And there is something liberating and beautiful about that.

I guess when you live in a city of 8 million or so people it’s easy to feel like you’re not being heard, or not being seen…

So perhaps that’s when we just have to sing louder, dance harder and begin again.

So forgive me father, it has been a year since I last sang ‘Living On a Prayer’ at the top of my lungs on the streets of New York City and enjoyed every out of tune, scratchy, breathless moment of it.

Woah, we’re half way there
Woah, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear
Woah, livin’ on a prayer

I assure you, I won’t forget again.

X

PS: Come and see us play at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage One, 6pm on Sat 16 May!! For a full list of our other US shows please visit http://www.emmaandthehungrytruth.com

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New York #1: Going Inward = Going Outward?

I’m here in the Big Apple. The big, juicy, crunchy mother-fucker of an apple.

And do you know what I want to do most?

Meditate. Journal. Yoga. And map my desires.

Yep, you’ve got it. I’m in New York bloody City and I want to WHAT? Meditate? What is happening to me? Who even ammmmm I? What havvveee IIIII beecccoommmmmeeee? *echo echo*…

Ok. Let’s face it and cut the crap.

I am the first to admit there has been a huge shift in me this past month and a half and it’s taken a great deal of understanding and patience to allow myself this (rare) time to reflect even though that voice in my head is insistent, saying things like:

“Emma you’re in NYC! You should go to the top of the Empire State Building, visit MOMA again, meet the industry, drink a fucking cosmopolitan, network you crazy bitch – GO GO GO!!!”

Now, instead of listen to that voice telling me what I ‘should’ be doing, I’ve chosen to listen to the voice that tells me what I most desire. The voice that asks:

“Emma, what do you feel like doing?”

So today I meditated, journaled, practiced the 5 Tibetan Rites (minus the spinning) and mapped my desires.

I also bought some canvas shoes in Williamsburg and ate some lentils with a delicious tahini sauce at Bliss.

I’m in one of the most extroverted cities in the world during one of my most introverted moments.

But riddle me this…

The more I go inward, the more I feel I am in touch with things ‘out there’

*cue the creepy theremin music*

Let me explain.

I was walking along today on Bedford Avenue and suddenly the word ‘beacon’ popped into my head so strongly. I thought to myself ,“Beacon of what? Of light? Of…? Why is this word pounding in my head suddenly?” Then my amazing life/love/spiritual/relationships coach (I’m not really sure how to define her) popped into my head and I had this overwhelming feeling that the word ‘beacon’ would be used by her. How odd. What a random thought. I can’t remember her ever saying that word before, even though it seems like the sort of word a magical woman like her would say. Though, I shook the thought straight away because it made absolutely no sense.

Until later.

After I returned home, I checked my inbox and I had received an email from her. A delicious guided jade egg meditation. I was so excited that I immediately went upstairs to meditate. Right at the end of this scrumptious meditation, my coach said it. BEACON. There is was. BEACON. Not just in passing, but many times. The word beacon, was an important, significant and integral part of the conclusion to this guided track.

I nearly fell off my chair! (I was sitting on the ground, so this is not true at all)…

I was, however, completely rattled.

Tell me, dear blog friends. Has this sort of thing every happened to you? Is this common? And if so, how do we know when to trust this instinct? How do we know when the visions are real? Or just projections? Or even memories?

As an example, I had one of the strongest visions I’ve ever had about a man I was seeing. It actually didn’t make much sense at the time because things between us also didn’t feel entirely right. But this vision felt so right. It plagued me and plagues me still even though the relationship has ended.

When I was ten I used to be able to predict when beauty pageants were going to be on TV. It’s true. Ask my mum. I thought this meant I was destined to be a super model.

I WAS WRONG.

How do we know when we have things inside out and upside down?

If going inward makes you more sensitive to things on the outside or even the future, how do we know which feelings and instincts to hold on to and what we should let go of? How do we navigate this new/old/innate/squashed…sense?

And do we all have it?

Over and out.

Emma x

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Take My Love (a love experiment and a live recording)

I decided to conduct a love experiment so I invited three humans into a space to record a song I wrote about a recent, raw heartbreak…

The humans:

1. One of my dearest friends who has held my heart so gently and lovingly for many years
2. Someone who helped to heal many heartbreaks of all kinds from the other side of the world
3. An ex love who broke my heart who I hadn’t seen in a long time

Many friends wrote to me telling me they were a bit concerned and thought I might be crazy. Ha! Me? Crazy? Never. One friend even told me that she thought I’d put myself in a situation that she would have avoided at all costs!

And I don’t blame her.

After all, I was singing a duet with someone who broke my heart about someone else who broke my heart. That’s a little bit weird…

But instead of the cracks getting bigger, I felt my heart slowly getting stuck back together with magical, musical love-putty.

The call was so strong. So I followed it.

And I’m so pleased I did.

The results came in:

– time heals
– love is a (fucking brave) choice, not a lightening bolt
– ^so is happiness
– it IS possible to be friends with an ex
– music can bring people together (again)
– singing is soul food
– there is a place and time for forgiveness

To download the track for free click on this link! 

Thank you so much to Hayden Robins for the incredible work you put into this track and for being my weirdo genius friend. Thank you to Laura Driver for your sublime musicality, sisterhood and general hotness. Thank you to Dane Pollock for your friendship, extra harmonies and videoing.

Thank you to all three of you crazy humans for being open to this project. I love you.

Lyrics:

i am a river
and upon me
i can feel you sail away
but i just get deeper
i get deeper
and you’re paddling the wrong way
oh the mouth
where the rip can pull you
down underneath
down underneath

take my love
take my love
i will not let you drown
take my love
just take my love
i’ve got enough for the two of us
i would rather see you swim to shore
and never sail here anymore
take my love
just take my love
it’s safer on the ground

i am a sailor
i’m a sailor
always moving with the flow
i am a painter
alligator
and you won’t even know
that one minute i’ll be floating
and the next i’ll be down below
down below

take my love
take my love
i will not let you drown
take my love
just take my love
i’ve got enough for the two of us
i would rather see you swim to shore
and never sail here anymore
take my love
just take my love
it’s safer on the ground

but do you remember?

take my love
take my love
i will not let you drown
take my love
just take my love
i’ve got enough for the two of us
i would rather see you swim to shore
and never sail here anymore
take my love
just take my love
it’s safer on the ground
take my love
just take my love
it’s safer on the ground
take my love
just take my love
and do not turn around

Music and Lyrics by Emma Dean
Sung by Emma Dean and Hayden Robins
Cello by Laura Driver
Additional harmonies by Dane Pollock
Videoed by Dane Pollock and Hayden Robins
Mixed and Recorded by Hayden Robins
Video edited by Hayden Robins (technical and creative brain) and Emma Dean (creative brain only)

THE END. x

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Cleaning My House.

Half an hour ago, I was sitting cross-legged by myself on the floor of my old bedroom in the apartment I recently shared with my brother on Nathan Ave in Abhaya Hrdaya (fearless heart mudra) chanting to myself I love you, I am sorry and I forgive myself over and over again as tears of pain and joy streamed down my face.

Ok. Maybe I was getting high off the fumes from the cleaning products? Or maybe, just maybe, as I cleaned my house, I was simultaneously cleaning MY house.

And by that, I mean…me

For a creative and sensitive person I have never been much of a crier – certainly not compared to my other female friends, especially – but in the last month I have found myself crying openly (howling even):

– in front of a choir of 40 people as my assistant Corinne dabbed my eyes with a tissue because I was playing the piano with both hands;

– in a crowded cafe in the Brisbane CBD as I drank green tea with my friend;

– on the treadmill during my personal training session;

– in front of my singing students (whoops);

– on a jog;

– in the shower;

– in my dreams;

– on my mama’s shoulder, on my dadda’s shoulder, on my brother’s shoulder;

– during my morning meditation;

– while my friend told me about a boisterous Russian woman she met at a gig who was full of life!

What the!?

You name it. I’ve cried it. 

These tears just keep flowing, and for the first time in my life, I am allowing it. Instead of being concerned about what other people think or thinking to myself “oh god, there must be something wrong with me” I actually feel, finally…

There is something right with me. 

So, going back…

This humble little apartment on Nathan Ave was where I lived with the man who I had a 7 year relationship with. The longest and most integral relationship of my life. And the room I was sitting cross-legged in was the room we used to share before our separation. A room I rarely even stepped into after that time, even though it was filled with a new energy, my brother’s drum kit, his clothes and bed.

It was still too painful and confusing for me.

As I scrubbed the floor for the last time, I felt a lump form in my throat. This lump I realised I had swallowed for almost a year. Through one of the busiest professional periods of my life including an EP recording, release and numerous tours and gigs. Through two more relationships and two more painful breakups. Through weird health issues.

I swallowed this lump so I could survive. But I was doing just that…surviving.

And I wanted to thrive. 

People around me (and I suspect especially those I was romantically involved with) knew something was not quite right – that I was not all there. And I fucking wasn’t. I had lost touch with myself. With my feminine power. With my sexuality. With the things that made me me.

I didn’t know how the hell to relax. I didn’t know what I wanted. I carried so much shame and anger towards myself. I felt so much guilt. I had a short attention span. I drank too much. I felt insecure. I longed to be loved but I didn’t know how to love the very person I was spending the most time with…myself.

(BTW this all reminds me of a Fiona Apple song, which is not really surprising. My whole fucking life has been a Fiona Apple song.)

So…there I was…chanting out loud I love you, I am sorry and I forgive myself as Jonsi sang THIS in the background. And I softened. And I cried. And I howled. And I laughed. And I smiled. And I allowed my heart to open. And I felt all the pain I had packed away in the boxes of my house. And I felt so much love. And I remembered. And I felt gratitude to all the amazing (and not so amazing) people who have entered and exited my life and who I have learnt from in some way. And I wished them all well on their own journey, as they move on, as they grow.

Thank you thank you thank you.

As I pulled my hands closer and closer to my heart, I took a moment to pause and let go on an exhalation filled with the tears and the breath I had held on to for so long. I said goodbye to the ghosts out loud.

And then I switched off the light.

I share these stories with you, not because they are any more special or unique than anyone else’s stories, but because I have so many women (men too, but especially women) around me who share their stories with me. The tales I read and hear from these brave women have brought me a great deal of solace and I believe that through shared experiences we can learn so much. We can begin to heal. We can find a place for forgiveness of ourselves and of each other. We can talk about the importance of radical self-love. We can help others. And we can remind each other, very simply, that…

You are not alone. Or at least, we are alone together

So then what?

Well…I picked up my succulents and my tomato plant, and I closed the door on that chapter, making room for whatever is to come.

Love. Love. Love.

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Linda Castle and the power of standing up tall!

Scene: Post gig, drinking wine in Emily’s candlelit backyard-fairy-garden with my dear old friend Nick and my brother, Tony. Adelaide. 9pm.  

“When I was in primary school”, Nick enthusiastically begins, “I had a fan-girl crush on a girl in my grade – Linda Castle. She was one of the first strong, talented females in my life. I just thought she was soooo amazing. But I remember at school camp she was having this shocking moment of insecurity about what she was wearing and asked if anyone could lend her a long sleeved shirt. I offered her my shirt which had a musical triplet design on the front, expecting her to say no. As she took it from me, I said – Oh my god! You’re going to wear MY shirt!? She looked at me incredulously, slightly puzzled and said – you WANT me to wear your shirt? She was shocked that I was so excited. All this time I thought she was the most amazing thing but she just had no idea of her own strength.

Emma. YOU are a Linda Castle.”

I burst into hysterical laughter, but Nick repeated the sentiment again, this time in a more whispered, earnest tone.

“Emma. YOU are a Linda Castle.”

As I sat in the moonlight, looking at the sincerity in Nick’s eyes, I took a deep breath in and my eyes welled up. My heart had just been broken, very suddenly, the day before the Adelaide leg of our tour.

Side note: Something that non-performers might not think about is that getting on stage in front of a room full of people and singing songs about your ex-lover, or love in general, directly after you’ve been broken up with can be one of the most challenging, cruel, totally fucked, draining, surreal and powerful experiences EVER!

In this case – powerful! BOOM. Friday night’s gig. Something shifted. Some deeeeep shit was churrrrnnnneeedddd.

Suddenly (like, really really suddenly) a magnifying glass was held up to some pretty significant issues in my life which I had not yet addressed and which were ultimately getting in the way of some potentially really beautiful relationships.

Most importantly, the relationship I have with myself.

Side Note: I am in no way saying that I have been at the root of all my relationship problems (no way!). I am simply reflecting on my behavior, so I can try to be the very best version of myself moving forward. 

Off stage, I often feel like a trampled flower; weak and unsure of who I am and what I have to offer the world, a lover or sometimes even a fucking conversation.

On stage, I mostly feel authentic, free, powerful, sexy and basically like Xena Warrior Princess. There is this indescribable flow which I give myself permission to feel. I feel the same when I am leading my choirs.

So how is it that I feel more like ME when I’m performing than I do when I’m not? How is it that my ‘real life’ feels more like a performance than my stage life?

This has been a recurring theme: Two contrasting personalities which I have defined for myself and fed foolishly, never quite allowing myself to own the divine feminine power, strength and fiery light that I feel on stage. I used to have people tell me constantly, “You’re so different off stage”… “Wow, you’re like this powerhouse when you perform but you seem really shy in real life!”

Like Linda Castle, I keep asking myself : Why would anyone want me to wear their fucking shirt?  

The real question is: Why wouldn’t they? I smell great. 

I’ve told myself time and time again that this is just how I am. I’ve convinced myself and the people around me that I’m insecure and timid, that my on-stage persona is just one facet of the complex prism that is me. To an extent, this is sometimes accurate, but what I discovered in Emily’s backyard during my conversation with Nick and Tony is that the actual truth of the matter is: I’m scared shitless of my own power.

Like Linda Castle, for whatever reason, it shocks me when my light is acknowledged. I reject it because I’ve been led to believe that it is not ‘real’. I sabotage it, despite wanting someone to see it so badly. It’s a lose lose situation.

I know so many other amazing women, in particular, who do the same thing. Why?

I’ve trained myself to talk myself down, infected by the insidious cultural disease that is ‘tall poppy syndrome’. I’ve created an unhealthy and irrational idea that equates self-confidence with being unkind, ungrateful and a diva (music industry hangover). Cognitively I know that this is complete and utter bollocks, but the people-pleaser-addiction always wins out in the end. And I inevitably fucking lose.

This makes no fucking sense.

It is also highly unattractive.

The really unfortunate part of this is that the men who are actually drawn to my light, I have at times inadvertently tried to push away. I have taught myself, through many past relationship experiences, that I can be loved when I’m down, but when I’m strong and/or happy, it’s too confronting. I don’t yet know how to stand in my light, in my power, and just shine, and be still, and trust, and be…patient.

So as time goes by, and particularly as my heart chooses to open itself up and develop the feelings that I call ‘love’…I lose myself. I lose my divine power.

And this, my friends, is the beginning of the end.

So this morning I conducted a very scientific experiment. I walked through the airport with the same posture, poise and grace that I would use when I am on stage. I stood tall. I felt the sway of my hips as they moved from side to side. I embraced every curve. The channel was open. I held eye contact with strangers. I smiled. What I found was that not only my energy shifted and lifted, but I felt the people shift around me. It felt like I had a crown of light surrounding me. I also felt my incredibly restless mind begin to quiet and as it did, I began to say to myself…”I love you”…

I forgot that in order to love someone with your whole heart, you really must love yourself first.

In Linda Castle’s case, Nick’s shirt luckily fit.

It really really blows when it doesn’t.

Though, it’s important to acknowledge that people are shape shifters – we grow, we shrink.

And this weekend I’ve grown an inch.

This is the start of an important journey. I knew something big was going to happen to me this year.

To all the Linda Castles out there…come and stand tall with me. I dare you.

TBC…

PS: Listen to this! It’s important.  

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