Exotic Monsters (22/1/21)

Exotic Monsters (22/1/21)

Creativity Homepage Feature Letterbox Music News Releases Singles

Release date: 22nd January 2021
Label: My Big Sister Recordings


GET THE SONG

+ Click to download pay what you want/can from Bandcamp.
+ Get “Exotic Monsters” plus all previous Penfriend singles when you join The Correspondent’s Club (free and paid tiers available).
+ Type “penfriend exotic monsters” into your digital music platform of choice.

ABOUT THE SONG

Penfriend, aka music producer, songwriter and multi-disciplinary artist Laura Kidd, presents “Exotic Monsters“.

Sparked by a throwaway phrase from Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Exotic Monsters” is a laundry list of asynchronous human needs and desires; a reflection of our increasingly confused, disconnected and polarised lives. A timely reminder of the practice of cultivating gratitude through meditation, the song is an attempt to examine our internalised inconsistencies; the “facts” we pile up on our own backs throughout lives bombarded by airbrushed images and ads for the unattainable baubles we’re informed are essential for true happiness.

Shackled to our phones by big tech companies monetising and eroding our attention spans, feeling increasingly as though we live on a different planet to those we disagree with, chasing likes on social media while forgetting to look after our brains and our hearts…where will this all end? Some days it’s hard to believe late MP Jo Cox’s poignant words, that “we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”.

Addressing this sense of disconnection and depersonalisation, “Exotic Monsters” evokes the menace of “Enjoy The Silence”-era Depeche Mode with a nod to the 80s- Madonna hero worship of Sky Ferreira’s “Everything Is Embarrassing” and the hypnotic synth pop of Sylvan Esso.

To quote Björk, “I’m no fucking Buddhist, but this is enlightenment”.

Fun fact: “Exotic Monsters” features several Creative Commons drum samples created by the European Space Agency, recorded at their European Space Research and Technology Centre in the Netherlands. Using sounds from space on a song about feeling disconnected from life on earth just felt wildly appropriate…

CREDITS

Written, produced, performed and recorded by Laura Kidd at The Launchpad, Bristol. Mixed by Dan Austin. Mastered by Katie Tavini. Artwork by Alex Tillbrook, concept by LK.

ESTEC drum samples pk3, pk4, pk6 and pk11 credit: Peter Kirn/CDM/ESA CC BY-SA. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

LYRICS 

I try sollipsistic recreation
I crave love without abbreviation
I need time to kiss this cup of coffee
I keep letters from the one who loved me
I will take all the dreams that Hollywood promised me
I want it now

We’re exotic monsters, dead from the waist down How can I be clear?
Gratitude’s the first sign of waking
I won’t go back

Keep a kiss for me
Cos we all fall down under an international sky
Fighting to believe it’ll be all right
I’m on an extrasolar high

I seek narcissistic decoration
I crave soil, warmth, ventilation
I’d like to focus on my silent fiction
I need to kick this dopamine addiction
I dream of being someone’s happy memory I want it all

We’re exotic monsters, dead from the waist down
How can I be clear?
Gratitude’s the first sign of waking
Please don’t keep me here

Keep a kiss for me
Cos we all fall down under an international sky
Fighting to believe it’ll be all right
I’m on an extrasolar high

Keep a kiss for me
Cos we all fall down under an international sky
Fighting to believe it’ll be all right
I’m on an extrasolar high

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New Penfriend TV live album – available for one week only!

New Penfriend TV live album – available for one week only!

Letterbox Music News

Surprise PWYW live album for youuuuuuuuuu! On Friday 31st July I played my third Correspondent’s Club livestream, including a brand new song called “Seventeen”, and I am making some live recordings available to ALL for one week only, just pay what you can*.


*If you’re a paying Correspondent, DO NOT FEEL ANY PRESSURE TO PAY! If money is tight, DO NOT FEEL ANY PRESSURE TO PAY! All contributions help get my new album made, so are much appreciated, but PWYW is my genuine gift to you 🙂 XOXO

Track listing:

1. Hello and welcome 
2. Everything Looks Normal In The Sunshine 
3. Witchy hair 
4. Dispensable Body 
5. On my own space station 
6. Long Shadows 
7. Attention Engineer and memories of Germany 
8. Seventeen 
9. Cancel Your Hopes 
10. Thank you and massive courgette 
11. The Only Way Out Is Through 

NOTE: this is a six song download + chat, most of the tracks are set as bonus tracks to maintain a fun air of secrecy, but they will appear as if by magic once you place your order.

THANK YOU for visiting my website!

+ Get FREE music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful weekly email every Thursday – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer”are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Surprise live album – available for one week only!

Surprise live album – available for one week only!

Letterbox Music News

Surprise live album for youuuuuuuuuu! Get your hands on 8 songs (7 unreleased) plus some fun chat, available on a pay what you want basis* for one week only.


Thanks to everyone who joined me live last night, I really enjoyed it.

I’ve been playing online gigs since 2013 and they’re always a little nerve-racking, especially when playing new material – but when everything comes together like it did last night it’s too exciting not to share. I’m going to continue amping up my monthly Penfriend TV shows so I’m already looking forward to July’s and planning some new segments. Hope to see you there.

If you’re a paid Correspondent, DO NOT FEEL ANY PRESSURE TO PAY! If money is tight, DO NOT FEEL ANY PRESSURE TO PAY! All contributions help keep the project afloat, so are much appreciated, but PWYW is not a trick 🙂 XOXO

THANK YOU for visiting my website!

+ Get FREE music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful weekly email every Thursday – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer”are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Beware Of Darkness, online gig this Sat + why I’m launching a podcast

Beware Of Darkness, online gig this Sat + why I’m launching a podcast

Creativity Letterbox Mindfulness Music News Podcast Process

Art by @grandfunkrev

This morning I got up early to do yoga in the living room before walking the dogs round the block in the blazing sunshine. On returning home I was overcome with wistfulness and felt compelled to put on George Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness”. By the end of the first verse I had burst into hot tears.

I don’t know what exactly prompted me to find that particular song today; I knew I needed to listen to George, and I knew I needed to head to “All Things Must Pass”, then of course “Beware Of Darkness” was just perfect. There’s something about certain pieces of music that enable a sort of metaphysical circuit closing, they act as the missing connector between the things I need to feel and the means to feel them by unabashedly sobbing into my overnight oats.

Watch out now, take care 
Beware of falling swingers 
Dropping all around you 
The pain that often mingles 
In your fingertips 
Beware of darkness

Watch out now, take care 
Beware of the thoughts that linger 
Winding up inside your head 
The hopelessness around you 
In the dead of night

Beware of sadness 
It can hit you 
It can hurt you 
Make you sore and what is more 
That is not what you are here for

Watch out now, take care 
Beware of soft shoe shufflers 
Dancing down the sidewalks 
As each unconscious sufferer 
Wanders aimlessly 
Beware of Maya

Watch out now, take care 
Beware of greedy leaders 
They take you where you should not go 
While Weeping Atlas Cedars 
They just want to grow, grow and grow 
Beware of darkness

Reading the lyrics properly for the first time, I’m struck by how spookily appropriate they are today. Isn’t the brain an amazing thing? Thank you brain, and thank you George, for your beautiful songs.

Sitting at my desk now with the sun streaming through the attic window, birds chirping melodiously out the front of the house and perched above me on the roof, I feel lucky…but also a little lost. Life feels a lot more chaotic than it did a week ago, and I’m finding it hard not to let the UK news permeate my protective forcefield at the moment.

I’d love to hear what your go-to songs are for feeling your feelings, whether they’re happy or sad (my cheer up tune is “Sexx Laws” by Beck, btw). Let me know in the comments!

ONLINE GIG THIS SATURDAY 4pm (UK time)

The first Penfriend gig ever, hooray! This will be for members of my Correspondent’s Club (DigiPal members and upwards), streaming live from 4pm UK (GMT+1) this Saturday 30th May. If you’d like to attend, just pick your tier from the options on this page, and remember you can up- or downgrade your monthly membership at any time.

In May, eligible Correspondents received a bunch of member perks including analogue welcome packs in the post, two free studio recordings, one live recording and a members-only podcast episode plus access to our delightful forum, which has fast become my favourite place to hang out online. We already have our own weekly Spotify playlist, with members taking turns to introduce their favourite songs to the group, and I’m interested to see where this is going.

Please browse free and paid monthly/annual tiers if you’re interested, but know that it’s a privilege and a delight to send things out to you, paying guest or no. Thank you for making this connection with me.

ATTENTION ENGINEER PODCAST – SUBSCRIBE NOW

My weekly podcast series “Attention Engineer” launches next Wednesday 3rd June with a bumper crop of three episodes at once!

Visit this page to listen to the trailer and choose your preferred link to subscribe so the episodes pop up in your preferred podcast listening platform as soon as they’re published.

should be on all the major platforms by now, but please do let me know if I’ve missed one!

If you’re new to podcasts, the main place to go is Apple Podcasts, or you can listen on my blog every week if you prefer.

WHY A PODCAST?

I’ve been on quite a journey over the past couple of years, exploring my relationship with social media. The internet has undoubtedly helped me find my people, but I needed to step back from this hyperconnected, information-saturated world to protect my own happiness, check in with myself and see if I wanted to keep making music.

The answer was YES, and that checking in process led to the idea for the Penfriend project and The Correspondent’s Club. So, how does “Attention Engineer” fit in?

My podcast is an attempt to slow down, go deeper and focus on the things that are most important to me in a thoughtful and mindful way. I’ve met so many interesting people over my music making years, and opportunities for a proper conversation are very rare, so I wanted to create this space to us all to stop for a while and reflect on why we do what we do, and what it’s all for.

My only criterion for asking someone to be a guest is a deep respect and enthusiasm for their work. I’m fascinated by the magic of the creative process, and always intrigued as to how other artists balance things like touring and home life, creative introspection and happiness.

I have the Plato quote “A life which is not examined is not worth living” scribbled on a Post-it note on my wall. As someone who embraces the positive changes that regular quiet reflection has brought to my life in the past two years, this is my contribution towards thoughtfully examining the whys and wherefores of this strange and wonderful thing that connects us all on such a deep emotional level.

BE ON THE PODCAST!

Alongside the artist to artist interviews, I’ll be shining a light on YOU – the audience. Without you we would be nothing, truly, so I’m looking for volunteers to answer questions about your musical passions. This will be in recorded audio format (not video), for inclusion in future episodes.

Please email me if you’re interested in having your voice included.

BIG LOVE, have a great week. 
Laura xxxx

THANK YOU for visiting my website!

+ Get FREE music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful weekly email every Thursday – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer”are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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My lockdown anthem of hope is out today

My lockdown anthem of hope is out today

Letterbox Music News

GET THE SONG

+ Get “Everything Looks Normal In The Sunshine” plus unreleased track “The Only Way Out Is Through” FREE when you join The Correspondent’s Club.
+ Download PWYW from Bandcamp.
+ Search for “Penfriend” on your music platform of choice.

Thanks for listening! Now, read on to find out how the song came about…

The jarring image of the best looking ice cream in the world and the face mask preventing me from enjoying it is a symbol intended to reflect the bizarre times we all find ourselves in…

I looked up from my notebook impatiently, tutted, sighed and stood up, striding the two paces from my desk to the studio door to slam it shut. This wasn’t working out too well.

My jokes about noise-cancelling headphones (a luxury beyond my means) were becoming less jovial. Between the concentration-stealing mood swings of the neighbourhood toddlers and the long, loud video meetings my husband had started attending from his home office next door, I was feeling trapped…and guilty – for feeling trapped when I was in a better position than many (a house with space for two plus a small garden, a happy relationship, my health).

In the week before the UK lockdown was announced, Tim and I had already decided to stay inside and were adjusting to being around each other all day. I limped through the last few lines of my Morning Pages and picked up my guitar. I felt frustrated and a little bit sulky foot-stampy childish – why did I have to be quiet, anyway? I’m a musician FFS!

I had already picked out a sentence from my morning’s writing and scrawled it across my whiteboard in blood red pen. “Everything looks normal in the sunshine” felt like the germ of something important, and was indeed the portal to a song that assembled itself in a swift and orderly fashion on bashed acoustic guitar with time to spare for me to overhear yet more meeting afterwards. YAY.

I demoed the song the following Monday and performed it live in front of Robin Ince, Josie Long and Jo Brand two days later. I’ve been working with brilliant remote drummer Max Saidi since we were introduced by a friend last spring, so once he sent over his parts I recorded the bass, guitars, synths and vocals here in The Launchpad and sent everything off to Dan Austin to be mixed.

I decided to make the most of my ability to do whatever the fuck I like as an independent artist and change my launch plans to make room for a different debut single, and so here we are.

A song like this needs some killer artwork, and I’m so pleased to have collaborated with one of my favourite Insta artists @genskiart on this.

The jarring image of the best looking ice cream in the world and the face mask preventing me from enjoying it is a symbol intended to reflect the bizarre times we all find ourselves in – everything looks normal in the sunshine, but in our myriad ways we’re navigating a terrifying situation that throws the normal, everyday idea of a simple ice cream on a sunny day into question.

When I wrote this song, UK supermarket shelves were being emptied by panic buyers, while other people seemed very slow to take the threat seriously. When I was working on the lyrics I pondered our disconnected lifestyles, picturing a scenario where someone who hadn’t previously bothered to greet their neighbours suddenly found themselves isolated, hoping their relative privilege would protect them – “your money won’t help you now”.

The artwork poses the questions I’ve been asking myself as I navigate this strange and unsettling time – with this global pandemic as a backdrop to all of our lives, what is important? What and who do we really miss? How should / could we be spending our time, now and in the future? What do we regret? What would we change if things could go back to “normal”, and if we’re still waiting, why are we waiting to make those changes?

We’re two months into a race with no clear end in sight, and it’s hard to pace ourselves. Surviving is more important than thriving at the moment, and I am in awe of our NHS workers, keyworkers of all kinds, parents home-schooling their kids while trying to work from home and you, too. I see you. This is tough.

I’m not alone in spending some of my lockdown feeling guilty that others are out there working, putting themselves at risk. But, as a wise osteopath once said to me, “Just because some people have lost their legs doesn’t mean your broken foot doesn’t hurt, Laura”. Acknowledging that there will always be something happening that is bigger and more important than a musician releasing a song, I wanted to share this track with you now because it is my interpretation of a very particular situation, a global moment in time that I hope against hope will be something we can move beyond.

It’s not fair that workers are being pressured into returning to jobs when there’s no vaccine yet. The current message from the Government is a shambles. It’s brutally unfair that BAME people are more at risk of getting the virus, and it breaks my heart that while NHS workers die for their efforts to save us, people throw street parties and form conga lines.

It’s time for us to acknowledge our various privileges and look out for each other like never before, but it’s also perfectly acceptable to feel sad about missing the people and things we care about. We can only look forward, now, and try to hope, but it’s ok to want an ice cream on a sunny day.

Thank you for listening to my new song.
Love, Laura xxxx

THANK YOU for visiting my website!

+ Get FREE music immediately by joining The Correspondent’s Club (free and paid tiers available).

+ I send a thoughtful weekly email every Thursday – choose the Freewheeler tier or upwards to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer”are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Four Penfriend songs live on the internet – watch again links

Four Penfriend songs live on the internet – watch again links

Letterbox Music News

25/3/20 – Stay At Home Fest with Robin Ince, Josie Long, Jo Brand and Luke Wright
Starts 44:39 – I played “Out Of The Blue” + “Everything Looks Normal In The Sunshine”


4/5/20 – Stay At Home Fest with Robin Ince, Josie Long and Bruce Hood
Starts 26:57 – I played “The Only Way Out Is Through” and talked about The Correspondent’s Club.


5/5/20 – Vitriola Music with Robin Ince, Michael Legge, Robyn Hitchcock and Owen Parker
Starts 37:15 – I played “Seashaken” and talked about community and music making in a global pandemic.

Thanks so much to Robin for inviting me on all these great shows! There’s really nothing like playing a two day old song live on the internet while watching Jo Brand nodding her head along out of the corner of your eye. Phew!

Thanks to Keven Law for the photo.

THANK YOU for visiting my website!

+ Get FREE music immediately by joining The Correspondent’s Club (free and paid tiers available).

+ I send a thoughtful weekly email every Thursday – choose the Freewheeler tier or upwards to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer”are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Let me tell you a story…

Let me tell you a story…

Creativity Homepage Feature Letterbox Music News Process

When I was a little girl, one of my favourite possessions was a shoebox that I filled up with bits of paper, envelopes and leaflets gathered from wherever I could find them. I called it my Post Office, and every now and then I’d take the box from under the bed and pour my treasure out on the floor. I’m hazy on the details, but I remember loving to “play Post Office”, which I imagine meant sorting the assorted paper into different piles and then putting them back in the box.

Later, somehow, I ended up writing letters to children I’d never met, who lived far away – Svetlana in Belarus and Alastair in Derbyshire. It was utterly magical to send my closely written pages to people I would never talk to in person, carefully copying the unfamiliar Russian words onto Svet’s envelopes well enough for her to receive my missives.

It was to Alastair I first proudly declared my aim to be a songwriter when I grew up, having never written a single song, and knowing nothing whatsoever about how to do so. Letter writing predated those heady days when I started to discover my favourite bands by some years, but both activities were a youthful statement of independent thought at an age where actions were dictated by adults.

As I grew older I gathered more people to write to. My family moved every three years, so there were always friends left behind, and in my early teens I wrote to kids I met on school trips, boys at other schools, even friends at the same school as me. We challenged each other to fill up more and more pages and somehow still had enough left to say to talk on the phone for hours in the evening. The freedom I found to express myself in letters is one of my fondest memories of childhood.

On my journey into adulthood, switching to email and blogging and Twitter felt intuitive, but my love for words written by hand on paper never left me. As I released music over the years, getting to “play Post Office” more and more regularly, my role as the maker and sender of things became clear. Writing songs and dispatching them into the world, in whatever format, is a natural progression from the innate desire I had to connect with others from a young age.

I’m delighted to invite you to watch this short video. See you on the other side x

Photo by Carol Jeng.

THANK YOU for visiting my website!

+ Get FREE music immediately by joining The Correspondent’s Club (free and paid tiers available).

+ I send a thoughtful weekly email every Thursday – choose the Freewheeler tier or upwards to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer”are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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