A stylised black woman with purple hair, silver eyes and green lips surrounded by a twist of thorns with small dark figures impaled on them
Sleeping Beauty album cover

Yesterday I gave my 2014 release Sleeping Beauty a listen for the first time in a very long time.

It’s always hard to listen to your own music in the same way as music made by other people. This is especially hard if you didn’t just write it, arrange it, sing it and play several of the instruments, but were also responsible for mixing and producing the recording. But with sufficient time and distance, you can - sometimes - get beyond hyperfocussing on all the arguable production choices and minor fluffs in your own performance (never anyone else’s…), and hear the music itself, as if for the first time.

It’s… pretty damn good, given the limitations I was working with.

Sleeping Beauty was released ten years ago today, and most of the recording came from a single session that happened twelve years before that, in 2002.

It’s still not easy for me to write about.

I’ve tried to tell the story more than once, both over in the comic, where I had a stab at doing so in a complete change of visual style for nine pages before flaking out, starting here, and also on the notes to the Bandcamp page for the album.

In short, 2002 was the year I had my Major Mental Health Event, during which I went - very suddenly - from being a superficially normal functioning young adult lucky enough to have a good job, nice London bedsit and generally comfortable existence, to being an unemployed self-medicating bag of nerves incredibly fortunate not to be homeless due to the availability of a spare room at my parents’ house.

I still feel weirdly guilty about that period, because it all could have been so much worse. I survived entirely due to numerous immense privileges including having a supportive family. Many people going through the same kind of thing just… don’t.

What little money I had went on trying to record an album of eight songs in one day at the old Bonafide Studios in Old Street. I self-released four rough mixes from that session under the then-band name Fast Freddie Fourier and the Transforms. It was another twelve years before I was together enough to finish the whole thing and call it a Fit and the Conniptions release.

It’s much darker and gothier than I remember it being. There are no political songs on this one, just songs of love, loss, awe, pain and - hopefully - healing.

I’m on guitar, bass and vocals, and the other musicians - Kevin Davy (trumpet), Danny Keane (cello), Brian Hedemann (drums) and Alero Scott (vocals) are all superb.

Have a listen yourself: