Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Slowest Selling Album Of All Time

Nine years ago, I made my own record label in order to release a bunch of self-penned songs that I had recorded at Tom Greenwood's student flat, mostly in three-hour sessions in the mornings on my way to work. I was not even sure if they sounded like proper songs, and I enlisted ten friends to listen to the songs and pick the ones they liked the best.
I asked the chewing-gum painter Ben Wilson to paint a picture of a lawnmower for its cover, on a patch of gum in a street in High Barnet (it's still there, though almost worn away), and asked my friend Mike Slocombe to take a photograph for the back of it and his partner Em to design the graphics.
It cost almost the same to press up a thousand as it did to press up five hundred, and at that time I lived in a big house with plenty of space to store boxes of records.
This was the time of Myspace (remember that?) and the first few hundred flew off pretty quickly. I was enthusiastic and I suppose I 'marketed' them quite efficiently before running out of marketing energy and starting to write more songs.
Why write about this now? Well, I have just discovered that I've only got fifty left.
This CD meant so much to me because I hadn't written any songs or performed with my guitar for more than 25 years, and it began a whole new phase of life during which I found a lost self that had been wandering around in a suburban desert for a very long time.
I found other women who had done the same, and who had been much more famous than me back in the day- Gina Birch, Viv Albertine and Pauline Murray, for instance, all of whom are now out there playing new songs. I found a world of open mic nights at small venues where you could play the three songs that you knew best, with and to a bunch of people who appeared not to have any problems with gender or indeed, age.
The album has crawled out there at the pace of a snail, but it has carried on doing so consistently; I still play lots of the songs at the live gigs because I like singing them just as much as I did when I first wrote them.
Two boxes left... should I press up some more? Who knows.

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