A Year In The Life of A Musician

2020 started in usual style with Glasgow’s Celtic Connections, and January 3rd saw the start of my first ever solo album. As musicians, the festive season is one of our busiest times of the year for work, so we really get to blow off some steam in January. I personally spend the majority of Celtic Connections extremely wine mom drunk. I never really have many decent in-focus pictures to reminisce on, and the wine drunkenness usually means I don’t remember a huge amount-but that’s how you know it was a heck of a good time, right?!

February, I was a few weeks into a new teaching job that I totally loved. It’s self-employed which meant when it came to heading off on tour to the USA with my band Heron Valley, I had the freedom to take the time off. It was a dream and things were finally looking good.

I had spent the previous year, from my graduation in July all the way through Christmas, getting asked the classic ‘what exactly are you doing with your life now you’ve graduated’ question from various random individuals. My whole family has supported my musical career my entire life. They put me through music classes and were delighted to see me eventually attend The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. So, they were pretty down with the whole ‘I’m going to play music for a living’ thing. But most people go by ‘what’s your real job though’, so I guess it was good to have teaching as an answer to avoid explaining my life choices to strangers.

Queue the pandemic. I lasted pretty well the first couple months, to say the least. Although I had just split up with my boyfriend (which itself was quite obviously super shitty), it meant I had a whole load of sad country breakup songs to write for the album, and that kept me busy at least.

Moral was high on the online music making front, and I finally had an excuse to learn how to use recording technology for the making of my solo album on Wee Studio Records (although there were occasions where I really felt the need to throw all of the tech into the Maryhill canal). I also had plenty of wine mom nights by myself in Glasgow (my flatmates had moved in with their SO’s), and besides making an album, one of my biggest achievements was my ‘Chill Wine Vibes’ playlist on Spotify.

But as we slowly realised the virus wasn’t going away, things took a bit of a turn. Online music making for free could only be sustained for so long, and we realised that musicians would be some of the last people to go back to actual work.

I moved out of my Glasgow flat and moved into a caravan in my parents driveway. Finally, I could live up to all the stereotypes of being a musician: broke, living in a ‘vana’ and trying to get people on the internet to listen to my music. Granted, I was only in the caravan because my old room was, at the time, a storage unit until we cleared it out.

Luckily, the winter brought Heron Valley’s completion of our third record. It was a much-needed escape from reality for a week at Wee Studio on the Isle of Lewis- making music with actual humans, eating pizza and going on plenty of coffee runs. I kind of forgot for a while that my career, outside recording, was buggered. Oh, and that I was going to have to ‘retrain’ at some point (the Tories suck).


So here we are in 2021. So far I’ve done all the lockdown 1.0 activities in lockdown 2.0 – baked banana bread, hill walked, yoga, Netflix binged. The only thing I haven’t done is write a single song. What am I supposed to write about when literally 0 has happened for months on end?! I’m open to suggestions in the comments folks. Seriously. I’m close to writing about the walls inside my house at this point.

Anyway. Thanks for joining me on the wild ride that is my pandemic life, and make sure to check out Heron Valley, Wee Studio and myself on our socials!

@heronvalleyband
@weestudio
@abigail_jamie

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