South Australian singer/songwriter
Jen Lush is a singer, songwriter and passionate performer from Adelaide, South Australia, A mum of 3, we chat about the shock of becoming a mother in a way she never expected, how her children inspire her and manifest in her art, and how guilt can serve a purpose.
**This episode contains discussions about birth trauma, infant illness, grief and postnatal depression**
Jen - website
When chatting to my guests I greatly appreciate their openness and honestly in sharing their stories. If at any stage their information is found to be incorrect, the podcast bears no responsibility for my guests' inaccuracies.
Podcast transcript at the bottom of the page
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Art of Being A Mum Podcast. I'm beyond honoured that you're here and would be grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave me a 5-star review in iTunes or wherever you are listening. It really helps! This way together we can inspire, connect and bring in to the light even more stories from creative mums. Want to connect? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram tagging me in with @art_of_being_a_mum_podcast
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Alison acknowledges this Land of the Berrin (Mount Gambier) Region as the Traditional Lands of the Bungandidj People and acknowledge these First Nations people as the custodians of the Region.
Welcome to the Art of Being a mum, the podcast where we hear from mothers who are artists and creators sharing their joys and issues around trying to be a mother and continue to make art. Regular topics include mum guilt, identity, the day to day juggle mental health, and how children manifest in their art. My name is Alison Newman. I'm a singer songwriter, and a mum of two boys from regional South Australia. I have a passion for mental wellness, and a background in early childhood education. You can find links to my guests, and topics they discuss in the show notes, along with music played a link to follow the podcast on Instagram, and how to get in touch. All music used on the podcast is done so with permission. The art of being a mom acknowledges the bone tech people as the traditional custodians of the land and water which this podcast is recorded on and pays respects to the relationship the traditional owners have with the land and water, as well as acknowledging past present and emerging elders. Today, my guest is Jen Lush. She's a singer, songwriter and passionate performer from Adelaide, South Australia.
Much later, it seemed
Welcome to the show. Jen, thank you so much for coming on today. It's
a pleasure to have you here.
Thank you so much for having me. It's really good to be on the couch having a Yak,
I'm obviously quite familiar with you and your work, would you give us a bit of a rundown on who you are, what you do, what you've done in the past, for those who might not be familiar with you and your work?
Okay, um, well, I've been practicing some form of art. I feel like probably for most of my life, but I started off in dance and theater. That was the degree that I did at university, and then kind of moved into music at random at the same time as I was at uni, was in my first band before that I'd been singing with my dad and his folk band, ended up touring with that and playing music all over the place for quite a few years. And sort of gradually phased out dance and theater and focus more on music and more in the more recent years. So I kind of do, I suppose, I went from doing electronic music to gradually drifting into more acoustic and folk related stuff that kind of changed sort of ties back into more of the music that I was probably raised listening to. And now I have a band that I'm about to release my second studio album with. But prior to that I've been in various other bands and Duo's and trios and various manifestations over the last 20 years or so.
Awesome. I would love to ask you more about your trip hop trio that you were in. Can you first of all save a name? And because I don't want to say it because you get it wrong.
And no. Well, it's called survival it was called survive home. A lot of people call it servo may or Salome and weren't really sure. So one of those reasons why you should never call a bear name is a word that actually doesn't exist in your life because people have no idea
it's like some travel. You're in Japan and London with you group.
Yeah, so we made two albums. We and a couple of singles and things outside of those albums. We we launched those albums in Adelaide, made them in Adelaide and launched them in Adelaide. And then we traveled to by way of Japan. I think we went to live in England at that time. And so we lived and played in England for a few years. And then yeah, and then we kind of gradually brought it to a halt but I think that must have gone on for about maybe 10 years. That was we were heavily inspired by listening a lot to say Portishead Massive Attack. Loads of electronica you know, lamb, you name it all those 90s selectronic Patriot pop stuff, and tricky. There were lots and and so that's kind of where that kind of sprung out of, I suppose. I really love the idea of having very minimal musical back grounds to like in terms of the like, it was often just a drum sample and like a little bass line really. And I love creating music just to those very simple elements. I feel like you know, just making up a song around those things that you're handed, it's pretty fun. Still do a little bit of that with some German dance music producers in Frankfurt, I think they are at the moment I did that when I was in England, and I'm still doing a little bit of it. Now, they still call me up and want me to want me to lay down some ideas. I don't actually perform the final cut of the vocals I get, you know, young, spunky, German people to do that. But I still like to change. So yeah, I like like crossing over with different genres, I think. I think it's kind of a cool thing to, you know, I don't really have a favorite genre, really. So whatever, whatever comes out at the time.
So you were in that band with typing lunch, when you guys were obviously married. So how did you guys meet? Was it through music that you met? Initially?
No, we met we're not we're pretty young. I was still in school when I met Tobin down at Yankalilla. So his, my parents were I was living at the time was in Yankalilla, and grew up there and went to school there. His parents live out at wiping a beach or on a farm out there. And they're farmers. And he went to school at Victor and then herb ray in town. And we crossed paths at the local drop in center, which was run by the United church youth group. And they would have Friday night and Saturday night activities for wayward young people with nothing to do in a place like Yankalilla and Normanville, where the only thing to do is go and jump off a jetty or sit under the jetty or walk along the jetty or catch them Tommy's off the jetty. Now, there wasn't a lot to do in Yankalilla for young people at that time. And so the church were pretty proactive about getting some activities going. So we'd, you know, I'd meet down there with my friends. And, you know, in between games of table tennis and having a crack on the drum kit, you'd make pancakes or go on an excursion to a local bowling place or something like that. And it was at that place that I met Tobin, who was helping to run it with taking over from his brother at the time, who was getting some training interstate and Tobin took over one time, and he just wandered in. And it was the only person I'd seen in a long time that I didn't know because in small towns like Yankalilla, NAMA Ville, everybody knows everybody. And I decided quite some time before that, that I wasn't going to go out with anyone from my local town. Not just because I was an arrogant I don't know. Aspirational young lady, but also, that I think everyone knows everyone. And I pretty much decided that, that they probably wouldn't like me, and I certainly didn't think I had any kind of future with anybody at my school. And so yeah, he walked in, and I thought, holy crap, who's this? I don't know you. That's an unusual thing in itself. And also, he was incredibly dashing, and kind of dressed like a bit of a punk with these ripped up jeans with the Union Jack sign up behind and these, you know, really high, high laced up docks and messy hair and stuff. And he was working as a farmer on his parents farm for a bit while he was trying to work out what to do. And so we started hanging out. And I think the first thing he said to me was, you want to come and see my skateboard.
said, that's good. And I spent a lot of time sitting around in car parks watching him do skating while I sort of sat there with my book and had a read and hung out. Yeah. And then he was interested in arts things. And I've always always been interested in arts things. So we spend our weekends, taking photos of crazy stuff, setting up these weird scenarios and taking photos of him and stuff. He got into photography, and then filmmaking and finance so a lot of painting as well. Where I went down the performing arts road that I was already well and truly doing by that stage. Lots and lots of ballet and, and dance and theater and stuff. So I went down that road and he went down he is and we've we've pretty much got together when I was 17. So we've been together a long time.
So awesome. That is so great. So you've like you've you've these Two Worlds came together over the skateboard. And then you sort of blossomed with sharing all this art together. Overnight,
I thought I was going to be a farmer's wife, I really didn't expect that it was going to end up in this in this very much art driven world that we're both in. So it was lovely, a lovely thing in the end. So
when did you sort of start to think, well, we're going to start a family? And did you sort of think then what's going to happen to your music and your art? Like, was that sort of a conscious sort of thing to think, well, how's this gonna fit in?
See, yeah, um, we were in England at the time, and I got pregnant without actually realizing I was pregnant. So it wasn't really super planned it was, we had this long view plan that we'd be married for 10 years, and then get home and then start having babies. So it was around about bang on that when we when we did start having babies, but it wasn't because it was through any great planning. It was really just that I had, well, there's a long health kind of scenario. But I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries some time before this, so maybe six years or five years before I was pregnant. And so I was told that I probably wouldn't find it easy to be pregnant. So I wasn't on any kind of contraception anyway, hadn't been getting periods or anything like that. And then I decided to because I didn't really want to go down the road of fertility treatment eventually, or anything, I thought I'll do some research and through my own, you know, layman's, slightly ignorant researching tactics, I found it, you could buy going on a diabetic diet, a diet that specifically important for people with diabetes is a similar chemistry thing that's going on with insulin hormones and stuff. And so I went on this, I took I put myself on this very strict kind of low GI diet thing. And, and adhere to that for two years. And then my period started all by themselves, and everything seemed to be clockwork. And it was by the second period, I got pregnant. So all by myself. So it was nice to, to try and remedy some of those things going on in my body without real medical intervention, just by trying to change what my habits were around food and stuff. So that was good. So long story short, I was pregnant and not realizing it. My first I thought I was just sick. I just thought I was had the flu, and was constantly throwing up and I thought, I've just got some kind of food poisoning first. And then I thought I had the flu. And then my boobs were getting kind of bigger. And I was like, this is weird. And I took a pregnancy test and, and it came out positive and I was at least 10 weeks pregnant by them. So by the time I had my first scan, I was 15 weeks pregnant. I'd already passed in the first trimester without even realizing.
Okay, if you just breeze through it, no worries. Yeah.
And so And during that time, I was heavily involved in a theater working in theater and music. I was doing some music stuff as a acoustic duo in England with another guy and also some more electronic music stuff as well. I don't think we're doing survive anymore by that stage. And I was doing a lot of theater work with local theater people in involved in shows and things like that. And I thought that in my in my wisdom that nothing much would change once I'd had a baby I thought I'll just have the baby and then he or she will will be backstage with me while I do this show that I was committed to doing and I'll just feed in between scenes or interval or before and after the show. And then I jumped back on I had this I really did have this as as a as an idea. And no one seems to tell me any any otherwise because no one else I knew was had had babies really I wasn't around a lot of people that had children at that time. I even had agents who were gearing up for me to be cast in roles that needed a mother with a brand new newborn baby so scenes in TV and stuff like that, but I was doing little bits of so I was ready with agents, you know, at my beck and call ready for whenever I was ready to show up and do some baby and mummy kind of things on TV. So it was with a great big shock to me to my system when that went completely Yeah, yeah. And all of my expectations for for myself and my art and my work were utterly changed. The minute he was born. Yep.
Did you have him in your in the UK when he hadn't? Are you back in Australia?
Yeah, so I was in the UK and he was born at St. Mary's Hospital as Orlando, who's now 16. So 16 years ago, I went into labor, but much like all the women in my, my family, my sister and my mom, turns out that we're not able to deliver babies vaginally, it needs to be a cesarean or nothing. There is no option there need to be less than five pounds in size. But if we're if we're going to do that has something to do with our anatomy. We're all the same. But unfortunately, they like you to go through the process of labor first, just so you can be sure that that's the case. And Orlando was stuck. And I was in pretty dire situation where I nearly didn't make it and neither did he. And there was an emergency and it was it was a mess. It was a complete disaster. To the point where he was diagnosed at six months with cerebral palsy, right hemiplegic cerebral palsy and and was not in an excellent way for quite a while the first year of his life. He was very ill a lot of the time. And we came home. By the time he was three months old. Back to Australia. So we've been here since. So that was a really different different way into motherhood. That's probably what I was hoping. What I expected. And certainly those agents that were calling me soon after he'd been born were given short shrift. And there was no longer going to be any swanning into any kind of TV studios with my new one. Yeah,
we're gonna say, Yeah, you did. It wasn't just the change of life for you immediately in terms of your, your art and your work. But also the the challenges involved with Orlando with the, with the issues you were faced with him. So it was this double whammy that you got?
Yeah, it was it was terrifying. Never before have I ever since have I been through anything that traumatic. And certainly for him, going through it himself. He was a baby experiencing trauma as well, because that was a very traumatic way for him to start with seizures. And with a range of medical things going on when he was first born. I don't think he was breathing when he was born, either. So there were all kinds of weird things going on in that hospital that night. I remember John Howard just been reelected and watching that on the screen. And I was in this ward with all of these other women who had just had babies and everyone had their babies. And I didn't know he was in intensive care. And I didn't know at that stage what was wrong. I thought that we're going to bring him back down to me in the night because it was very early days. So I'm watching John Howard get reelected. And he wasn't my first choice for for reelection. So I was thinking that's a bit crap. And then about I don't know, two in the morning, maybe a nurse came down and said, I'm really sorry, but we're not going to be able to bring your baby down. He's had a seizure and and he won't be joining you right now. And it was brutal. It was actually brutal the way that I was told that and I couldn't move because I'd had a cesarean and I was unable to actually get out of bed. Oh is when you've had as Aryan that's an emergency. You might have been through this. But it's, it's no joke, is it and you can't move your body is bruised and battered. And it's takes quite some time to heal. So I couldn't Yeah, and that was before the time of me having mobile phone or anything like that. So I couldn't contact over and I couldn't you know, I was just stuck in this room in my babies like three floors above and I just thought this is the pets. So it took about our content minutes for me to maneuver myself gradually to get some help in the morning and get a message to Tobin so it was just a really weird start to motherhood actually.
Yeah, absolutely. So I can understand you came back to Australia, you would have had a lot more support here. Your family's here Yeah. Which obviously you needed around you at that time. Yeah.
So we did, we came back Tobin's work finished house that we were leasing was over the lease and Orlando was born and not well, so yeah, all the pointers, were saying, go home, go back to Adelaide. And we're all the family was. And and that was the best thing we ever did. It was a wonderful decision. But at the time, it felt really hard, because we invade our life for five years in London. And it was a really strange thing to do, to be unemployed and to be drifting and a bit anxious. But, but, of course, with all the support that we needed here, as new parents, so that was good. And Lando needed to have the services, and it has needed the services that Adelaide can offer. And he's, he's been very well looked after, by by Nobita Children's Services and a range of other therapies that the that are here, and that certainly wouldn't have been able to be accessed in London. So yeah, it was a decision. But it did change everything in terms of art. For me, I stopped everything I did actually try at one point, I vaguely remember contacting an agent here to try and maybe do some part time bits and pieces, which was a folly, it was a folly of an idea, there was no way that I was going to be able to rock up to a casting at six in the morning, or even a shoot at six in the morning, after dropping my child at childcare with people who wouldn't know what to do around his specific needs at that time. None of that was possible anymore. And in the end, I didn't want to anyway, I needed to be at home. And my my job became being a therapist for at least the next full time, or at least the next five years. You know, it was spent doing that.
Yeah. So throughout this time, did you find that you you got the support that you needed yourself? Like you talked about Orlando having the support with the different services? Did you? Did you find that you were supported? In all the ways that you needed to be?
That's a good question, Allison, I I have to admit that. Probably not. So fortunately, you know, I'd had 10 years of relationship with Tobin that was solid. And if that hadn't been the case, I think we would have been in a bit of trouble, I recommend that part of it saved me. And the family around us was also vitally important at that time. I've got sister and brother and Tobin's got a brother here too. So it was very much a family. thing, but there was a lot of grief going on at the time. And I think that psychologically, I probably could have done with some outside help. Now, if that had happened, I think I'd be calling up the closest counselor and getting because I've since had counseling and found it to be incredibly useful for other things, you know, at that time, for some reason, it just wasn't. So something that came up. I remember having a massage though, back in England, before we even made it back here I had a massage with a friend who's a therapist, and she said, I think you're I think you need to have a massage and I'm going to I'm going to get stuck in. So lie down on the bed and get going. And so she started and and this is probably one of the single most revealing things to me about where I was at at the time, and probably where I was still at for quite a while. And she started to massage me and there's something about trauma being sort of locked in the body. It's a visceral, physical thing. It's not just the heart thing or head thing or whatever. And this became really clear to me she started messaging me and I started to feel nauseous. I thought I was going to vomit through the hole that my face was in. I thought oh, I'm in danger of being sick, I'm going to be sick and I started to sort of shake and I thought no, I can't be here anymore. I can't be here and I started to have a bit of a panic because I think she was starting to kind of get into some spaces and unlocked some things and and I said I've got to go I've got to go and I could feel my it'll kind of building up behind my eyes and my head this force that I didn't know what was going to happen. And she said okay, and I just ran off and I ran into the bathroom and I fell on the floor and I'm not one for sitting on floors of bathrooms even the cleanest and it was a clean bathroom. But it's not really my my game But I remember falling on the ground. And I remember, the noise that came out to me was like an animal. And it was kind of like a, like a scream, roar. thing. And I wanted to be quiet because I didn't want to hurt it, you know, here in the household to be disturbed where I was, but um, yeah, out it came this great, great big noise. Yeah. And so I think, you know, there's a lot of grief. You know, I've, I've since read lots of things about this. And I remember one at the time reading, when I learned it was about one. And I'm reading this thing about the analogy of somebody going on a plane to go on a holiday in your pack, and you're preparing, you get organized. And you know, where you're going, and you're excited, you look forward to the food that you're going to try. And you think about the weather that you're going to get there. And you maybe you've booked a beautiful place to stay, and there might be a pool, and you know, and you're planning all of these lovely experiences. And then halfway through the trip, the pilot says I'm sorry, but we're actually going to be landing in somewhere else, maybe, you know, as Becca Stan, or something like this, where you've never been in certainly wasn't what you were planning on. And you land and everyone's in shock. And they're saying, When are we going to leave? When are we going to leave? You know, we should be able to make an X flight out of here, you know, but then they say, No, I'm afraid this is this is actually where you are. And you need to look around and find somewhere to eat and find some accommodation and get sorted. And, you know, the analogy is clear, you know, you you end up in another country. That's what it was like. And you think this is not what I it's not what I planned, and it's not what I wanted, and it's it's scary. And it's strange, and I don't I don't know the language. And I was out I was without all the resources. I haven't had anything to do with disability before this happened. And I was terrified of it.
What it did do, you know, inevitably, is that once you look around the country, and you actually start meeting some amazing people, and you think, Gosh, these people are incredible. And this has been here all along. And you know, why didn't I think of coming here before and the food's not so bad. And you know, and that's exactly what happened to the community of people in the disability sector are incredible. And I met many other children who are going through far more than Orlando who's actually got quite a mild disability with his CP. And I have enormous respect and compassion and joy when I'm around those people. And I didn't believe that I would ever experience such an incredible level of, of admiration and love for this world that I'm in now, and we have been for a long time. And yeah, I wouldn't actually want it to be any different. I would like it to be different for him, because he experiences hardship. But I, I, for myself, I'm a very different person. And the person that I was where I was up to my eyeballs in my own performing, singing, dancing world of, of what can be a very consuming and very narcissistic environment, sometimes in the performing arts changed everything. It changed everything. Yeah, you can't be the same person.
Yeah, absolutely. That's so profound. So honest, and sharing that so so eloquently Janet's incredible period of your life, as the years sort of went on. Did you find yourself then perhaps thinking about maybe returning to performing or did you even start writing or journaling or anything? To even to help cope with things? I don't know? Did you return to art new music?
Yeah, yeah, I did. And the only thing that kind of was able to be like that held on I suppose throughout all of that stuff was music. Because I was able to write words. In the evening or at night, I was able to, by the time Orlando was about one and a half I was probably meeting up with a friend who had recorded some of the earliest survive stuff as a as an engineer. I knew he played guitar and I had really lost a lot of contacts in this town, as far as music goes. And so I just called him up and said, Do you want to jam on some of the stuff I'm writing? I've been I've been writing. So I did so probably once a week or once a fortnight I'd I'd do just go around to his house and we'd muck around on some songs. It eventually became the band, cat dog bird, which I was doing for 10 years. really, from beginning to end, it was about 10 years where we were pretty regularly rehearsing and performing various venues and festivals around South Australia. And that was the thread. That was the thing that kind of got me back in. And it was it was a bit of a turnaround for writing, as well, because I hadn't really been writing my lyrics at the time. When we were in survival. It was it was Tobin writing the words, I didn't do any of the writing, even though Creative Writing was always my favorite thing. At school, and whatever it wasn't, I didn't have the confidence or something. And I didn't feel I had anything much to say maybe as well. But certainly, and I know, one of your questions probably pertains to one of your questions anyway. But I think I think I suddenly had a lot to say about a lot of things actually not just about mothering or the issues of the heart. But just about the environment I was in and as soon as you bring somebody into the world, you're very, very aware of the world that they're going into, in its really acutely different way, I think.
Yeah, absolutely. You safely say things in in different ways. You never realized things with whether you were looking at something but you never saw it in that way. Then all of a sudden, you put on a different pair of sunglasses, and you know, everything looks different and feels different. And yeah, absolutely. When you when you got back into doing the work with cat dog good, how old was all end up at that stage?
I think I think it was about one and a half when I started venturing out into that.
Yeah, I guess. Obviously Tobin would have been, would have taken the lead with caring for Orlando when you were doing this, and that must work
always. Always in the night. So I was he was asleep. I'd go off and I'll come back, you know, after a couple of hours. And and that carried on for for many, for years, really? And yeah, if there was any performances and things and yes, Tobin was always the person that would hold the fort for everybody, particularly as more children came along, that became obviously more of a thing.
Yeah. So tell me about your, the rest of your family.
So I've got a rider who's now 14. And he. He's a very dedicated artist himself. They all are actually all three of them. They're very much into their own things, mainly writing and drawing. And making, but also some music as well. And I've got IV as well, who was born in 2009. So she's 12. And she's, yeah, she's great. She's right into piano, playing really, and a lot of crafty Makey things. She's She's into that and creative writing as well. So, yeah, they're all busy little boards. Now. They're all busy doing their own lovely making, and brings me a lot of joy to and actually inspires me a lot. They're very disciplined. Yeah. And you're not I wouldn't have been at their age No way. Better now, but not not. Let's go so
may have mentioned or your children, I want to bring in the question that I always like to ask my interviewees about, do you feel that it's important for you, for your children to say what you're doing yourself away from being the mum, but also being Jen, the performer, the singer? Is that important for you for your kids to recognize that and to, I guess, value that and see the importance of what you're doing?
Yeah, I think so. I think I think it's good if as a as a parent, that you can reveal something about your world that that makes you passionate. You know, I think it's important that children can see their parents in, in many colors as many colors as possible. Because you're the real people, you know, and I think children are necessarily self involved, they have to be that's exactly what they need to be and they are until they're 20, I guess around that round about that 20 age, you know, where we're actually be a bit younger than that, but around 20 is when they, their brains are really finished knitting together and and then looking out wood and separately, you know, forging their identities very much separately to the family. But certainly up until about be and I think it's important if they if they know that there are other things going on, not just what we are doing as parents to support them in their work. holds in making sure they're comfortable and safe and loved. But if they can see that there's other things that they need to be mindful of, and I think it's in everybody's best interest, I think there would possibly have been plenty of occasions where I may have really struggled, I think, to parent the way I want to parent to be the person I want to be for them, if I didn't have other things going on. And I think it is a benefit to them to know that those things are there. They can be mindful of them, they can try and understand them. It's not something to talk about. It's something that's that it's that connects to their world, and is intrinsic to their development, too. But I also think it's part of modeling, modeling behaviors around the things that you're passionate about, I think it's good if they can see that those things are priorities in our lives, that don't take away from their experiences. But in addition to that, it shows them how to care for that part of their life, the artists that they are, because I do believe everyone has an artist within them. Somewhere, you know, someone who wants to express themselves in some way or another creatively, because I believe we're all creative. Everyone is what people think they're not. But I think that's just because they haven't understood how they connect to that part of themselves. And it doesn't need to be something that I do for work, but but just the way that they live, the choices that they make and the way that they execute their ordinary day. So yeah, I think it's important that the kids see that and see how that can happen. So my husband, who still paints, still makes films and still is involved in art in many, in many ways, musically, as well, still, that I think they have from an early age our kids anyway have have cottoned on to the idea that it's not only such an option, it's, you know, it's not just a boredom, filler, it's, it could be something that keeps you steady for the whole of your life. It's a mental health issue, actually.
Yeah, that's so true. And I think when you talk about the options, like I think the kids are so drilled into them, they've got to you've got to go get a job you got to do you need got to do this and that and by showing them that you can actually your passion can actually be the thing that you do every day of your life is funny, that's an awesome thing to show them. And your children are quite involved in your art you've had I think it was in a film clip, was she sure. What's the word mind? You're sort of one of your songs? Yes, she
she was given at the time.
Yeah, and you've also had your latest track it's just come out you've got I think it'd be for all the children in the music video will just run
just for one year his his friends, The Seagull and the seagull
which is a beautiful beautiful track I'm gonna put a link to that if you don't mind in the stunning it is just beautiful. And the film the music video is just a beautiful sensation.
So much you know, we worked we worked hard on many of those elements but some of those things we weren't really sure how they were going to marry together until until you actually start to build it so there's a number of chance elements that kind of come into making something like that but I feel like the video does a lot of justice to the to the music in this case. So that was Ryder involved in that but Orlando's now set to somehow appear in one of the future videos he's got ideas about what that should look like. Where we're negotiating at the moment
busy drawing a lot of he's doing a lot of illustrations for merch that will be coming out soon so he's he's right drawing is one of his his favorite skills and so he's he's busy working on some merch for us which will be fun. Oh, that's awesome, man. It's so lovely to get the stone on today
this concept that the media and social media throws around of the Mum guilt? I'll put it in inverted commas. What's your take on that? How do you feel about that whole concept?
It's an interesting one. And isn't it? I think I think that perhaps the minute you have a newborn baby in your arms, I think there's a certain instinctive kind of guilt that weaves itself to you. At the same time, I feel like along with responsibility and needing to give yourself fully to another being in a way that you've never had to before. I think that is one of the flip sides of that. I don't know that it's easy to escape that feeling of whatever you like, I feel like, you know, it's so easy for me to tap into, it's one of those scarily close things that keeps company with me, the idea that I could let someone down so easily, that my choices might impact on somebody so easily and so deeply. Without me even trying, it's because we're human, where we're built to not, not win all the time, we're often going to fail, we're going to make the wrong decisions, we're going to hurt people, I think its inherent in the human condition, we're imperfect. And so depending on what level of expectation you put on upon yourself, would sort of correspond to the amount of guilt you feel around, around around those things. And a lot of that's perceived stuff, some of it's not even true or real, what we think we might be doing to damage our children, you know, possibly isn't even isn't even there in the first place, we have massive capacity as humans to invent, you know, scenarios that we can feel guilty about, I think the Catholic Church did a really good job of harvesting the, the natural tendencies that humans have, and providing them with a place that they can discuss this alleviate their this guilt that they have. And as a mother, I think, you know, it's in tenfold, because I think you're constantly faced with choices and decisions to make that are going to, either positively or negatively impact the balance of the family of one child and or another or, you know, and I feel like you're constantly weighing those things up. And for me, guilt is a very present thing, I, I struggle with that a bit. So now than I did, when I was first a parent, I feel like I don't feel like guilty is a very useful space to be in, I feel like it. It informs things and I think it serves a purpose, often to make you consider and weigh up what's going on, perhaps if you didn't have that you just go full throttle into whatever it was that hedonistic desires,
it's sort of it holds you up for a moment just to check yourself, I suppose just give you that little in the ear, like, you know.
Yeah, absolutely. And perhaps the the point of that is then to listen to what that is saying and decide whether that is real, a real concern or whether it is coming from somewhere else. And when I say coming from somewhere else, I mean, the voices in your ears that to other people, or other sort of societal things, saying, oh, you know, women have got many of them, many more than men, I would say about why we should be doing this or that or the other. We have, you know, other generations of women who, you know, well, meaning as they might be, might say things like, oh, but you know, wouldn't, wouldn't it be better if it was the mum, you know, staying with them? Or Wouldn't it be better if, you know, it's, you know, really your job to do that not the babysitter or not the husband or, or there might be other well meaning voices that you know, say are but you can go back to work, but really, it's, you know, it's better to be at home or, you know, you've only got a few years and, you know, so you've got a lot of those voices, I think and depending on what your own mother did, well, your own grandmother's did around mothering there's there's no shortage of voices that might speak into what you feel you'd like to do. And so I've had plenty of guilt laid on me externally, for choosing to go and perform or staying up late at night doing a show and coming back, possibly tired the next day or things like that. Or even just pursuing, you know, something that you're passionate about. So pursuing doggedly, this vision to communicate through music, you know, what a thing. You know, there's such a lot of beauty around that, but, but strangely, it can be twisted to make it seem like the most selfish pursuits. You know, what are you doing that for? What's the point in that? And I do have a few voices that come to me from that direction as well. And over the years have have made me you know, pull up short, hang on what it what is that about? What does that mean? Is it something to listen to? Or is it just that person's own experience of life and, you know, being imposed upon me, my own mum has never made me feel anything other than supported for making art. She's been incredible in that way. And I think if that hadn't been the case, I might have drowned in I might have, like, a lot of women of my age, who suddenly dropped off the face of the earth as far as music and making and other art forms can go, if I didn't have such a supportive mum, who has never, to my memory made me feel at all, like I should be doing something else, even making money or something like that. She's never made me feel less for choosing those things. And she's just been happy to jump in and babysit or offer, you know, she's even offered to support me financially, you know, at different times when, when there's just no money coming in. Not that I've taken her up on those things, I think we've always sort of managed somehow. But I think that I think that was a really important part of it.
Absolutely, because you could, you could see how differently it could have been, if we didn't have that spot in there, like you said, you know, just yet, Jen lash would have wandered off into the nevernever. And, yeah, that's so important. I want to bring in now, this this amazing book that you recommended to me, by North col Rachel power, and it's called the divided heart, art and motherhood. And it's like someone has FM's everything that you've ever thought in your whole life about creating and being a mother. It's like, the feelings and the emotions associated. But no one really talks about it, no one makes you feel okay about feeling the way that you do. And there's a quote that I just want to read from her that really stuck with me. It's, it's she's written that writing became his single act of independence. And when I read that, I just went, Oh, you're not kidding. Like, it's like, your whole life and your whole world exists for this one being. And yeah, you grapple with the things that you still had left from your previous life, it seemed
perfectly to you for what you're interested in pursuing and talking about with people, it seemed like a perfect document.
Absolutely insane. And I'll put a link to that book in the description, too. For anyone else who's interested.
I agree that it's an extremely affirming thing to read it as a person who's doing I think it's important to note that making a choice to be an artist, anyway, is a really difficult decision to make in a way, but it's one that doesn't feel like a choice as well, like I don't actually feel compelled to do many other things I've always been compelled to do to make and I will, I will continue to do that. Even when, you know, I'm not putting anything out publicly, if ever, you know, it comes up, I'll still be compelled to make I'm sure of it. There's just totally there has always been there. And so it's that to make a choice to to be an artist. Whatever gender you identify as, I think it's a difficult decision. It's a road that is not well traveled, it's often fraught with issues don't really get a lot of financial reward necessarily for it. So you sometimes have to balance other work and other things with it trying to make it work. As a woman, I think it's it's another whole layer of of complexity. And I love that these women who are speaking in this book, are acknowledging that difficulty, you know, the fact that they are compelled to do this, this is the vocation they've chosen this is that this is what they're doing, whether they're making money from it or not. but also trying to do all the other things that they're trying to do as well, which don't necessarily enter into the complexity around being a male artist is a really interesting thing to read about. And as a woman who's also going through similar things, I found it an incredibly affirming document. And, like you said, spoke to things that might be considered negative emotions or whatever, as well as positive things in a way that was so real, and you can just identify with it. There's a wonderful poem by Kate Kennedy. And she, she's in the book as well. She's one of my favorite writers. And she, she wrote a poem, which I now can't think of the name of right now. I'll have a little Google and I'll let you know in a minute. It's in her book, the taste of river water. And she writes, a lot of that poetry collection is around motherhood, and being a writer. And I, oh, no, it's called it's called the Zen master have to suddenly remembered and I read that poem, that she thing and also her writing about what it is to try and write while you've got a toddler underneath trying to drag you to come outside and play and do these things. You're like, No, I just need to finish this. I've got to get this finish. And I just, yeah, it just had a real emotional impact upon me reading that.
So Jen, do you find that your children pop up in your work at current work, or you're really influenced by them at the moment
that the kids
your kids actually end up featuring in quite a lot of the songs? And on this new album? I reckon they're probably in two or three of the songs, actually. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Because that's a big part of, of my life, and they are a massive part of it. And you know, not necessarily talking directly about them, but about, you know, the impact that they have on, on me or on a situation or seen there's one about glass where, you know, I feel like I want to, it's called Glass and I feel like I often look at them at every stage that they've been at, and want to kind of shrink wrap them as they are, they're hilarious, or that little jumper that you never, ever want them to grow out, or, you know, all the funny things they say, or the little list they speak with, or, you know, just the interactions that they have, or that kind of thing, but each stage is is unique and special and funny and beautiful in its own regard. And also hard and challenging, too. But, um, you know, and so, this song is about impermanence. It's about that shifting, that constant shifting, that I noticed daily as a mother, and there's nothing more evident than the shifting of time is when you're looking at your children, because they're the ones that are constantly changing. You know, I think I've got lots of friends who don't have children. And I think for me, they almost remain ageless. Because I don't notice time passing when I'm with them. But when I'm around, like, my friends with children, we're like, holy crap, look at these kids. They used to be this small and now they try it, you know, and it's, it's a it's a real thing, you know, and I and I do, I do love the different stages, but I do I'm a very aware of the impermanence of this, of that shift of things that are that are not going to remain. So yeah, there's, there's a, there's a bunch of references in his new work that come come from them and actually directly so I did want to say that because when we talk about the impact of motherhood on art, probably what I wasn't expecting was was how much of an inspiration or you know, around content, the things that I feel like I want to write about, is quite frequently inspired by by them too, so far from being a pull on, on my creative processes there actually end up being integral to it in many ways. Hi,
remember when you came down and you played at the watershed in Glencoe a couple of years ago? Yeah. And you played a song called Wolf? Yeah. And that song has, it's like it's set off this little. It planted a seed in my mind. The song it's about postnatal depression, and added a seed in my mind, which has now turned into I'm making an album. Um, I'm halfway, probably halfway through it. Yeah. And it's cold war. And it's about my post now depression, say, oh my never told you that.
Oh, that's, that's really incredible and very moving to here and a very exciting to hear as well,
I'd been wanting to write about it for so long, but I didn't quite know how it would sound. And then when I heard that song, and I thought I can I can share these songs in a way that our listeners will I suppose
it's my pleasure, that's what, that's what the power of of sharing your work is about? I think you know, because quite often you could I could happily sit in my bedroom and just write and write and write and make and make and make and there's a part of me that doesn't feel necessarily compelled to share, share it, because I'm already doing the thing that I'm happy with. But there is there is a part of me that that says, Well, you know, this is this is also for sharing this is also for communicating with others something there's a desire within within us all, I think is to be understood and to communicate and is a brilliant conduit for communication. And even I studied dance and theater and I carried on doing that for quite a long time, I found that music was the most direct form of communication that I ended up wanting to settle into, even though it wasn't really my training area at all. And I think with with making songs like Wolf, there is a desire to capture something about the real stories, the real stories that are happening, you know, in motherhood, and it's not always, not always the Easy, easy ones to ride. I remember thinking that that one, I wanted to try and understand it for, you know, somebody close to me who was going through that, and, and trying to find ways of doing it. And then I remember thinking that a lighter musical treatment, over quite heavy words, was probably going to be the best conduit for this particular song. And I've actually use that a lot in my music, this idea of a lighter musical treatment, something that doesn't necessarily mirror the seriousness of the of the lyric can sometimes be that juxtaposition that's needed other times No, but certainly with some songs, I think that's, that can be a nice trick to get people to, to not be too bogged down in and yet still hear, you know, because you want to be heard. That's the thing that's most important, I think.
Absolutely. I love how you articulate that. I guess I can ask you Is there anything else that you'd like to share around this topic that you feel like we might not have covered that's important to you,
I think this is a really important subject, it doesn't ever become less important because we need to be talking about how it is to be women in art, and the layer extra layer of mothering in art, and making time carving out space for that very, very special and important part of your life, as an artist, as a woman is, is vital. And my when I'm thinking of a tune, and I'm working on a piece of song, and I use that voice memo in my iPhone, it is probably 60% of it. Now back when I was smaller, it would have been 99% of it is full of them bursting into the space with a question or something that was needed the wear of the washing machine in the background. And I'd be sending bits of samples of songs that I was writing to the rest of the band and I've been, you know, littered with interruptions and, and funny little squeaking voices coming out. I can remember wanting to spend maybe 20 minutes and I got very good at being efficient with my time. That's one thing I will say is that as a mother, I think you know, this idea that you need to be inspired and wait for the muse to come and sit on your shoulder or you need to sit in some beautiful, picturesque, you know, space in the studio in the middle of a field until you know, and that's the conditions that you can write under. No, no. I think I would never have made a single thing you know. So I'm excited much because I can just totally relate to what you saved in. I would say I'm going just for 20 minutes into my room. I had a sliding door so it wasn't even a door I could shoot a lot. It was a sliding door. And I said I'm just gonna go in this was when I made the night's insomnia. I said I'm just going to go in there I need to work on something 20 minutes I've got something in my head I need to resolve and I just need to record it and then I'll be able to remember it and then I'll be able to get back to whatever it was I was doing with you. So I'm just gonna go for 20 minutes And I know
just the timing is perfect, seriously? Yeah.
The little dot, the hands I've worked out could slide that door open, and then in a trot, and I'd be in the middle of recording and you know, I'm just wondering, I'm just wondering, and why they'd go and it would be short. And I'd be answering questions while still singing. It was just, it was remarkable. I still have some of those on my phone. And another thing that happened was when I was recording the cat dog bird album back in 2000. Well, forever, really, but it was released around 2014. And 15. IV was a baby, when we were recording some of the tracks. I remember her being six months old and sitting in a bouncer thing. And I was in the studio recording. And I remember her crying, and then I needed to breastfeed, and you know, and it was. And I remember, most of the men in that room that were there, you know, working on the recording with me, was slightly peeved. I think at the time, the noise, the disruption, the needing to stop and start. And it was only some years later when one of those men that I was working with had his own children. And he came back to me and he said, I keep thinking about when you had baby IV in the studio, and you were trying to record and no one was really all that patient with you. And that would have been a really hard thing to do. And now I've got my own girls, I kind of think that was a pretty extraordinary thing that you were carving out that time for that to happen. And that album wouldn't have been able to happen if I hadn't said no, this is a priority. I know that this is not ideal for her, she'd probably rather be at home. And it's probably not ideal for me, I'd probably rather not be needing to breastfeed or, you know, console her or, you know, get her to sleep while I do the next take or whatever. But we must make. Yep, we must. We must keep going. You know. And I think I hope that I hope that the kids as they get older, understand that making time for that to happen. Whether it be the boys seeing that that's a woman making time for that to happen, whether it's five in understanding that she must make time for that to happen in whatever way. But that's hopefully one of the gifts that that we as mothers can actually give our kids. Now when I'm recording their tiptoe around, they'll say Are you recording as they're coming up the stairs? And okay, yes. They're really quiet. And they've worked it out now. And they're incredibly generous with that. Yeah,
that's beautiful. Before I let you go, can you tell us what you've got coming up.
So coming up, I've got a new album coming out. It's due out on August the 20th. We're going to be performing at the Goodwood Institute, which is in Goodwood on Goodwood road 7pm. And the tickets you can get on, try booking. And just before that on the 24th of July, we have a collaboration kind of session, the meal was part of the umbrella music festival. And it's going to be a three way conversation, really where I'm going to try and tie together all the different collaborations I do, whether it be the songwriting or do with children, at kindergarten, I'm going to share some of those and then have a bit of a co write with the people in the room. I'm going to talk about the collaboration I do with poets do a lot of work with poets around Australia. And so I'm going to talk a little bit about that process. And then finally, we'll be sharing some of the songs that we'll be featuring on this new album. So that's tickets through Eventbrite for that one, and that's at the meal on the 24th of July. So there's a couple of shows coming and of course there's new singles coming out in the lead up to all of this that's kind of on YouTube or Spotify or all of the platforms really
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Thank you for being on the show today. It's
been an absolute pleasure and an honor to talk to you. Thank you.
It's just been so lovely to chat. I feel like times just disappeared and it's been really lovely to be. Yeah, reflecting on some of these things.
If you or someone you know, would like to be a guest on the podcast, please get in touch with us via the link in the show notes. Thanks for tuning in. I'll catch you again next week for another chat with the Nazi stickman. Can you