“There have always been gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer musicians making important work. And as social attitudes shift, it…
As part of her guest editorship, Rochelle Blair takes us through her project, When Lost on Jupiter.
The main reason I composed WLOJ was that I was taking a therapeutic journey to find myself. The title is an elaborated way of saying ‘Im having an existential crisis and don’t really know who tf I am’. Jupiter is the planet that governs my star sign, Sagittarius. It is also the planet associated with our solar plexus chakra which governs our personality, self-esteem and how we put ourselves out in the world.
Have a read through this blog post to understand a bit more about how I used music to therapeutically find myself.
WLOJ is a very personal project that I wrote and compiled over the space of a year. It was my form of therapy. I was going through a whole lot including anxiety, really bad depression from university struggles, existential crisis, chronic insomnia and just to top it off a low key personality crisis. Each of the songs written on the project illustrate a different aspect of my thoughts which in turn, helped me combat each issue head on.
I sampled some snippets from an Erykah Badu interview in Hamburg 2002 where she so superbly and eloquently explains the need to reign free as an artist, to not be tied into a box or category. I arranged them into two interludes. ERYKAHS DISCLAIMER is the first track on the EP. It sets the scene for the project to take stage. Our soul mother perfectly explains how music is therapy and how one should never expect anything from an artist as she puts out what she goes through. That is literally what I felt like needed to be put across as my sound and lyrics are ever changing.
The second interlude, ERYKAHS DISCLAIMER PT.2 is arranged onto an up tempo, but chill house beat I composed where she talks about not being able to describe her sound. I have expressed this many times as I feel like I don’t fit in a genre. Instead, I’d like to think my sound belongs with a feeling, an experience. They all have a natural groove to them but no one piece will sound like the other.
The first song “MUD” lets you know from the jump that this is gonna be a heavy project aha. Its a very Earl Sweatshirt-Esque piece with melancholy, thick, pessimistic but realistic lyrics and a solemn, repetitive beat. I wrote this song in bed one night. Most of the songs were written in this way; word vomit that just emptied out the contents of my mind onto a note pad. MUD has two parts: the first part explores feeling restless and needing to do and be so much more but feeling restricted and constrained by the current situation which was being in uni and being broke. The second part however gets dark real quick as I explore the topic of not wanting to actually commit suicide but kinda wanting it all to end (I’ve always said I’m only still here because of the love for my mum and sister) and trying desperately to regain natural happiness and peace of mind, all accompanied by a stripped back, simple beat. Because of its “all laid bare” approach and style it’s probably my favourite piece on WLOJ.
The next song SICK OF TALKIN was written after just clocked into my 8.5 hour shift at work. I learnt, after talking with a colleague, that not everybody needs to hear your dreams and aspirations as many peoples minds are too small to even try to comprehend them. And what do you do when something cant fit? You try to dissect it and break it down so that it will. “Being a producers really hard you know, you should’ve at least got your degree, I don’t know many people that make it in music you gotta be lucky”. Eurgh. Such small-minded, self sabotaging, negative thoughts to be carrying around and spreading onto others. So I just figured from that day on, only the real ones will know of the seeds I sew and every one else can marvel as they watch the garden grow.
CONVOS IN THE MIRROR was another piece written at work but this time the piece derived from a conversation I had with a customer. Working in a phone shop is one of them jobs where you could be with one customer for upwards of an hour because you’re waiting for photos to transfer over or the credit checks taking a while etc. In that time I’d find myself having real conversations with people who would tell me everything from a woman stabbing (yes, stabbing) her husband [in self defence] to decisions on whether to sell the house or give it to the kids. In one of my varied conversations I had, I spoke with a 37 year old woman who was on her way to a bakery class. She was a beautiful soul who praised and encouraged my decision to stop doing what I don’t want to do (studying psychology) in favour for doing what I do especially as I’m still young. She told me about how she had always wanted to be a baker and loved making pastries however there was no way her parents (mostly her father) would even consider that as a career choice. So instead, she got her degree and became a broker, to her parents satisfaction but realised she was deeply dissatisfied when even the money couldn’t bring her happiness. She eventually decided to quit and started practicing what she loved, which started the writings of CITM.
The premise of CITM is a therapy situation in which the protagonist is the therapist and the patient. You could say I’m the protagonist as I wrote the song but I feel that many people could relate to the lyrics such as:
“are you living the life that you were meant to pursue,
You got dreams,
Do you question your destination cause your stuck in contemplation
Have you tried before you ever gave up?”
It explores many of the questions one would ask if they were experiencing an existential crisis.
My most experimental track of the WLOJ project is E.M.D.E.E. This songs lyrics don’t have anything to do with anything to be quite honest lol instead, the production of the beat is where the real story lies. When I first got my Maschine MK2 (groovepad) I made a mantra that nothing I make needs to be compared for my sound is my sound. Whenever I would be feeling down or uncertain about my new found path, I would turn the lights low, open up a new project, find a drum kit with a kick and snare that catches my ear and just create! E.M.D.E.E was conceived from one of them moments. After it was finished I listened to it over and over like “wow Roche, this is really what you’re meant to do!” I was so gassed by this electro groove I’d created from a mind of confusion. I just let go of everything else and got lost in the music making process. It’s such a beautiful thing.
I found a lot of love for myself that I’d legit never had before through instances like this. I was watching myself grow and observing the natural talent I never thought I had. This was another crucial part of the therapy of music – in fact, art that I didn’t even know existed until I became an artist!
CLUSTER C & HOUSE OF U go deeply into the umbrella issue that had been plaguing my mind for a few years but ultimately came to a head in 2016 – personality crisis. I feel like most of my life I’ve kind of suffered from this; not really knowing who I am, what I really liked, were these my opinions or the opinions of others I have somehow manifested into my own etc. CLUSTER C (which is also the name of a personality disorder categorisation) is almost a ballad type song which opens up with the lines:
“Lost on myself I don’t know where she is,
Dipped in and out of appearances
It’s been a hot minute since I see her since
The crowd of sheep being my secondary school lol. This song is another raw, “laid bare” track like MUD. It evaluates my feelings of self hate and inadequacy towards myself as a result from not really giving myself the chance to know myself. Almost like I was running away from my true self and had ran so far I didn’t even know what she looked like anymore or who she even was.
The chorus pretty much sums up all of this with:
“Cos It’s hard to see me from the outside in
And it’s hard to find me if all I do is hide
Is it hard to love me from the outside in
when I don’t how”
As an adolescent, I was weak-minded. I always wanted people to like me and I hated feeling like I didn’t fit in. I feel like I had subconsciously morphed over the years into someone I just wasn’t and that began to become so apparent to me in university. I was away from everything in a totally new environment with new people and that left me questioning a lot of things about myself. I was starting to listen to different types of music, like different styles of clothes, open up my mind a bit more to new ways of thinking, less close-minded ways very rapidly. There would be so many instances of conflict in my head asking “do you really think this or has she influenced your thought because you never used to think this. But then, did you even used to think that!? Were the old thoughts influenced as well?”
“Overthinking thoughts that didn’t need thinking. Showed myself that theres more love in the now.”
It took me some time and of course, the creation of WLOJ but I do finally feel that I have found myself. Of course it’s an ongoing process, but I am more certain in my thoughts, my core values, making decisions etc. I’ve grown so much by moving myself into uncomfortable situations such as dropping out of uni and quitting a full time job. Through these discomforting changes, I had to make decisions and movements that were best for me and the only way to do whats best for yourself is to know yourself!!
I have missed out a few songs on this post but if you’ve made it this far down this long ass post, then you know the ideas, inspirations and intellect behind the ones I hold closest to my heart. WLOJ came out in April 2018 and my biggest regret is that I rushed the release and didn’t take the mixing and mastering as serious as I should’ve. But I’m not a person who can live with regrets so instead I flip em into positive learning curves and now I know what not to do next time :).
However, through crafting this EP – from the beats, to the lyrics and the artwork, I have learnt so much about and found so much love for myself. I would urge anyone and everyone to find something they love and practice it. I tell people to think of what they loved doing as a child or always wanted to do before society told us to “grow up and get a real job”. Whatever creative paths held your heart as a youth is most likely what still holds it today. There is no better way to find love, confidence and self-efficacy in yourself then through your God-given talents! A year ago I genuinely thought I was talentless and that definitely had a major impact on my self love, but through creating WLOJ, I’ve learnt I had so many talents such as beat making and arrangement, graphic design, song writing etc. They just needed an opportunity to be discovered and grow and where do we find growth? In the realm of discomfort!
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you found some inspiration from this post. You can listen to all these songs on my Soundcloud (add link). If you’d like to reach out for anything at all, hit me up at @rochfrommars on all socials. I’d love to hear you!!