Miranda Arieh: Music Saves Lives

Leeds-based singer songwriter Miranda Arieh has only six days left on her Kickstarter. As of writing she’s around £1000 short. Check it out here – http://kck.st/2CyK69V – and read on below to find out why this project is so worth supporting.

Why did you decide to do a Kickstarter?

I was so, so scared about doing the Kickstarter. I applied for around 20 different forms of funding over the past year to be able to launch this album and didn’t manage to secure any so it was a ‘needs must’ situation. In this day and age in the ‘new music industry’ as they like to call it, people are tending to stream records rather than buying them but I really wanted to create a full body of art, with a lyric book, a gold packaging, gold vinyl and CD etc and make it really a special physical copy to hold. To create pieces like that in bulk is just so expensive that it’s vital to get the pre-orders in first. I have self-funded everything up to this point and got into so so so much debt at this stage that I really need to ask for help to keep releasing and keep momentum up. Releasing music and videos is expensive! It can be really scary to ask for help but I’ve really pushed myself out of my comfort zone and been brave so I am glad for that even though it has been really stressful and frightening!

What can you tell us about your upcoming album, Ferine? What are your intentions for it and what sort of things can we expect?

Ferine is a celebration of wild creativity, experimentation and emotion. It’s a collection of some of my favourite tracks I’ve written over the last few years and I cannot wait to share it with the world! I really would love to tour it and I am currently getting my band together – we are launching the album in Leeds on July 19. Expect one more wild video to be released from the album. Ferine as a word means ‘untamed, feral and wild’. It is raw lyrically and emotionally but very powerfully produced by Mercury Music Prize Award nominee Choque Hosein, who was an honour to work with.

You’ve talk about how you first picked up a guitar as a teenager in a psychiatric ward. How did music help your recovery? And how did the nurses and other patients react to you and the guitar?

Music helped my recovery ten fold. It was really healing for me to finally be able to find a way to express myself and communicate what was going on for me at that time as a really troubled teen… Not just communicate to other people but to myself, to be able to figure out what was going on for me to help with the feelings of confusion. It was like understanding flowed when I was writing. I still often songwrite in that way now. Sometimes I write a song and it is not about anything in particular at the time but then I sing it back a few months later and I’m like “aaaah THAT is what was going on for me at the time” and I better understand myself and have greater clarity over my feelings. The nurses and other patients didn’t really seem to notice me. I was always listening to music. For instance, I had the album Bossanova by the Pixies on repeat. Once I had it on in our communal room and the other patients kicked off because they said my music was ‘weird’. I remember taking that really personally at the time and going to my bed and crying but I can look back and laugh!

Do you still struggle with mental health issues, and how do you cope now? Does music play a role in your day to day mental healthcare?

Yep I still struggle with anxiety in some form every day if I am honest. I am still in therapy (psychodynamic psychotherapy this time around!). I sometimes go into crisis and I suffer with PTSD so I get occasional flare ups sometimes that knock me out for a few days to a week at a time. These are getting rarer the more work I do on myself but I have learnt to let go of putting pressure on myself to ‘be better’ because what does that mean? Part of the process is self-identifying what recovery means to you. It’s not a label a doctor or CPN or therapist can give you. Recovery is self defined. I am in recovery. I am healing every day. So I never want to say ‘I am poorly’, instead when I feel ill I say ‘I am healing’. Y’know part of the problem with the over arching mental health services are that they are based on digging up old trauma and identifying ourselves as a story from our past. Talking it all through. Now, yes on one level this is very useful – to identify and acknowledge that what we have been through creates a certain condition that may be causing us suffering in the present. And part of that is understanding WHY we may react a certain way (or ‘be triggered’) HOWEVER… it is really vitally important to be able to work on shedding our skin and letting go of the ‘story’ of identifying with our places of pain and telling ourselves that is WHO we are. Yes we can honour these places of pain, which can be beautiful and we can hold compassion for our younger self etc, but we must try to work on dis-identifying with a past self. Especially when it comes to overcoming trauma. I need to remind myself on a daily basis that I am an adult now, so that I can keep recognising that I am no longer the traumatised little girl I was. Learning more about self-compassion has played a huge role for me in doing so. Learning to speak to myself as if I was speaking to a friend who I care about and love. Training myself to even hug myself when I’m suffering and tell myself ‘it’s ok you’re going to be ok, you’re doing the best you can’ has been transformative although I felt like a right twat the first few times I did it! The majority of us walk around committing self-abuse on a daily basis by the way we speak to ourselves in our heads. To recognise and change this can be a massively crucial piece to solving the puzzle. We are often carrying around someone else’s voice, someone who might not have our best interest at heart!

Music plays a huge role in me keeping well. If I am not creating I am not shifting the expression of energy that needs to be shifted. I personally need to use music as part of my process of letting go and working through things that are on my mind. It can be the most wonderful release and relief for me to create a new song. True joy through songwriting and singing and performing, joy which is rivalled by little else for me to be honest.

What can you tell us about #musicsaveslives?

Music Saves Lives is a new campaign project I am hoping to roll out towards the end of this year. I want to roll out music making sessions in mental health units across Leeds (and hopefully further afield eventually). Self-expression is VITAL in mental health recovery. So many people keep things locked up inside and it’s literally killing people. Suicide is the highest cause of death in the UK for people under the age of 38. To be able to encourage others to be vulnerable and speak their truths is so important in mental health care. And when it is done through an art form such as music it can help people feel braver to speak it. We can use the lyrics to hide behind, or the beat of a drum to work through some emotion or a riff that we can get lost in. Creating music in a group can be a very powerful way of encouraging people to be vulnerable and express not only how they are feeling, but the true magic happens when they start to listen too. To listen to the fact that they are NOT alone… I worked in peer support development services for Mind Mental Health Charity a few years ago and I saw the incredible power of peer support in action. SO empowering. I would like to facilitate these groups in the peer support format. Watch this space for further news!

How has motherhood affected your career? Do you feel there’s enough support for those with families in the music industry, what changes could help?

It’s been a real challenge if I am honest. My daughter is 12-years-old now so gaining a lot more independence but I put things on hold for many, many years after I had her as I wasn’t able to go out gigging much or on tour etc. I had her when I was so young and I didn’t really know many other people with kids, which felt isolating at times. Also I was aware of a keen judgement when I would disclose that I had a child – people would look at me differently on the music scene. I would love to see more support for mothers in music. There is a wonderful PR company who are Yorkshire-based called HER PR and they have just started their mothers in music campaign. The first one I’ve ever seen to be honest! They ran a competition for a free PR campaign and Sisterhood Music Collective (which I am co-founder and 1/4 of) were awarded the campaign as half of us are mothers. We are so excited about it and working with them going forward.

What can you tell us about the ‘Hold On’ music video? And how important are music videos to you?

So ‘Hold On’ is the music video that I am trying to raise funds for through my Kickstarter. I have such an amazing Idea for the concept of this one I am so so so so excited about it coming to fruition all being well! I don’t want to go into too much detail but fair to say it’s going to be my most story-based concept and character yet and also my wildest one yet. I am aiming to do the video premiere at my album launch in July (providing I reach my Kcikstarter Target!).

Music videos are so important to me as an artform. I adore every process of releasing a song, the writing of the song, recording it, performing it, but then the video feels like the real icing on the cake to pull everything together, y’know? To be able to express my song in a visual format feels amazing to me. Making music videos is pretty much my favourite thing in the world and I am truly in my element when creating them. I love to express a new character within each one and reinvent myself every time (which you’ll gather if you’ve seen any of my music videos before!) so much fun. I really hope to create the ‘Hold On’ piece that I have in mind!

If you don’t each your goal on Kickstarter what’s your back up plan?

At this stage, because I am so in debt with recording the album and self-funding my past four single and video releases I wouldn’t be able to fund bringing out a cd or vinyl or t shirts or any of it unfortunately and I would have to just put my album on Spotify to be streamed instead. Which would be so sad and really not possible to make sustainable. But I am keeping the faith at this point and hoping to reach my target as it would really help me launch this album properly with PR and merch and a music video!!! I feel deeply touched by all the love and support that has been shown so far and I am so so grateful to everyone who has backed me and supported and pre ordered so far. Including you Ana, so thank you! ❤

Again, check out Miranda’s Kickstarter campaign here – http://kck.st/2CyK69V There’s loads of great perks available. 

Words: Ana Hine

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You can support our independent feminist arts journalism for as little as $1 per month on Patreon: www.patreon.com/artificialwomb


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