Perhaps it’s the inspiration of working with Brenda on our CD together; perhaps it is the relief of getting my thesis finally completed; but it feels like time to start on a new thing, and the most obvious audio project for me involves growing this blog into a regular audio production, and hopefully – in time – a regular radio feature on Radio Reverb, ResonanceFM, or Soundart Radio. Over the years the feedback I have had is that it is both good and bad to jumble art, everyday life, knitting, sounds, etc. all together as I do here, but my preference is for these things to remain in a tangle, and I’m happy – maybe even determined – to keep pushing for that confusion; that mixing up of art and life.
Through the process of writing my thesis amendments, (which are mercifully at last completed) I clarified for myself that I will always be somewhere at the edges of the world of concerts and gigs, plying such events with questions about where the art and the real world collide; bringing my knitting with me to experimental concerts, and turning my kitchen into a world of sonic experimentation. I also started to wonder, as I wrote, why it has been that in previous radio productions, I have put on a kind of “proper” BBC voice, rather than believing in my natural accent which belies my Croydon roots, my time in Ireland, and my middle-class parentage. It’s impossible to study sounds for many years and the veracity of different sound recordings without developing questions around the use of your own voice. My own voice annoys me and I cringe when I hear myself banging on, asking stupid questions, going off on a rant – or, worst of all, interrupting someone in the middle of what they are saying. But on the other hand, those are the sounds of the Felix being in the world and they are just as much a part of the soundscape as the seagulls or the wind or the traffic or the check-out or whatever else it is that I am recording. And I wouldn’t ask a seagull to “say it properly” if I was trying to record its calls, so why do I change my own voice into something supposedly more “proper” when I come to record the words for a radio show?
So I am experimenting with using my own voice a little bit more, and also with mixing up art and reality a bit. And the result is The Felicity Ford Radio Show. The only reason it is called The Felicity Ford Radio Show, is that the only thing all my disparate interests have in common, is that they get mixed up inside of my head, and because I want the license to talk about whatever I’m interested in, and for the whole project to not be subjugated to some kind of over-arching theme. I also want to put more of myself into this radio project; to use my own voice and to work on my own style of presenting which is not the BBC style.
This first episode is here, and it contains some silly jingles… some accordion music… and many interviews and guests:
Arty Street Party, organised by Suzanne Stallard. The Arty Street Party was on in Reading last week, and was basically a small group of creatives taking over the main street in Reading in order to tell the public about our work and to bring colour and play into the town centre…
There are also recordings throughout this section of Broad Street in Reading, which is where the street party was; paella sizzling; me plying the public with sonic cupcakes; and Salvo Toscano’s old film camera shutter snapping, as he documented and photographed the whole event.
You can also hear a little music from Steve Morano; and the sound of the rain as it descended on us at around 3pm and washed out the Arty Street Party! In this section, I also talk about a soundmap of Reading project which I have begun work on, inspired by the time I spent in Tallinn playing with the Tuned City Soundmap. At the Arty Street Party, I simply bought a map of Reading, a stash of pins, some pens and some tags and asked people to tell me what sounds mattered to them…
…which leads nicely on to the next section of the Felicity Ford Radio Show, which is all about the Tuned City Soundmap in Tallinn. I really wanted to show the sounds of Reading right next to the sounds of Tallinn, because this demonstrates perfectly how sound works to make places feel either exotic or familiar. I also wanted to follow up a little bit on the work that John Grzinich, Patrick McGinley and Carlo Cubero, et al did with Anthropology students in Tallinn, and to compile a small bit of radio in which all our Soundmap experiments are shown together, in case it is useful for them to hear how we worked with their Soundmap (apologies for the poor quality of the photo.)
So in this section you hear John Grzinich speaking at Kultuurikatel about the process of developing the Tuned City Soundmap. You can also hear street sounds from Tallinn which I recorded while I was there; then you hear many recordings created during the Framework Tuned City workshop, where we were trying to document in sound the experience of exploring Tallinn using our Soundmap. You hear myself and Lewis exploring the town centre on a busy market day… you hear us inside a stone passageway that is part of the old town’s medieval wall… you hear us on the trolley bus, using the Komposter (which is an endangered sound in Tallinn, because soon this kind of ticket-puncher will be removed entirely from the buses). Kaisa explains the Komposter to me, and I geek out on the rarity of the sound.
Then I talk a bit about how I am feeling lonely in Reading. It’s not really that I don’t have friends here who I love, it’s just that I am missing some feral elements in my life, and especially some really badass partner-in-crime girlfriends. I rediscovered a wildness in myself while I was travelling in Tallinn, and realised that more mischief is needed in my life. I intend to remedy this by forming an all-female klezmer band – (Gumtree ad here) as everyone who has ever been a badass compadre in my life has been some form of klezmer enthusiast. There is a very bad rendition of half of Hava Nagila in this section of the podcast, for which I apologise. I clearly need to watch this and practice.
Moving on from this self-indulgence, the Felicity Ford Radio Show then moves on the joys of the toolbelt that Brenda gave me last time I saw her. The Toolbelt is a thing of joy. Look how happy I am in this photograph – taken by the magnificent Valeria Merlini in Tallinn – recording the sounds of the railings on the Linahall building, with somewhere for all my pens, batteries, usb sticks etc. to be stored about my person:
GET YOUR OWN HERE! Another surprisingly useful article of clothing which I am building into my Women’s Land Army/Utility Sound Artist costume, is the turban I knitted a few months back using the Year of the Goat’s Turbanite pattern. My new favourite thing is wearing this turban with microphones pinned inside it. I discuss my appalling approach to reading knitting patterns and then go on to share some of the recordings I have collected by hiding microphones inside my turban…
…this outlandish garb leads onto how I earned the label of “The Eccentric Englishwoman” while I was in Tallinn, and how I wonder if any of you would identify with that particular label? I am a massive fan of being an eccentric and I wonder here if I should design a special custom-made button badge for anyone who identifies with the label “The Eccentric Englishwoman.” If you A. identify with the label and B. want a badge, leave a comment. If I get 10 comments, I will design The Eccentric Englishwomen Badges, and we can hold an AGM.
The show finally closes (sorry folks, I got carried away and it’s an hour long…) with a recipe for Sonic Cupcakes which I will share here, because audio formats are not very useful in the kitchen.
Ingredients (makes 36):
1 1/4 cups Sugar
1 1/2 cups of margarine or butter
1 tsp Strawberry essence
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
Juice + zest of a lemon
2 1/2 cups Plain flour
3 sachets Exploding mouth candy
Cream sugar and fat together until nice and fluffy, then thoroughly stir in baking powder, salt, and strawberry essence. Add the lemon zest and juice and stir in well. Now add eggs one at a time, putting flour into the mix in between times until it is all mixed in… finally, toss your exploding mouth candy into the mix, and spoon the mix into cupcake cases in a muffin tin. Bake for 20 mins at Gas Mark 4.
Cool on a wire rack, then once they are cool, cover them in squirty cream and top with exploding mouth candy. As you serve them, enjoy the quality sounds of fizzing, popping, exploding, and of course the unrivalled whooshing of the squirty cream as it flies out of the nozzle of the aerosol.
So that is the first episode of The Felicity Ford Radio Show. I will see how downloads go and read any comments with a huge sense of gratitude and also a listening ear… and I hope that you like it, and… if you know any Klezmer Music Enthusiast Ladies in Berkshire, please give them my URL.