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Chapter One: Colours

It’s May 2019, and my debut EP – or as I have been calling it, my ‘pre-EP’ – has been out in the world for about six weeks. It’s strange how much that fact has changed the way I feel about myself and my music. It is a thing that I crafted, nurtured, and put out into the world all on my own, and no matter what happens next, no one can ever take that away from me.

I never really planned for Colours to turn into such a big project – I was just looking to put together some basic demo recordings, and I thought I could probably do an okay job of it with the gear I had at home. But once I got started I realised that I was doing fundamentally the same thing as anyone else with a home studio. And while I was definitely learning as I went, I was also prepared to put in the time and effort to get things right.

(That makes it sound so simple – there were a lot of mistakes, and do-overs, and whole days’ worth of material that I threw out because I am still a recovering perfectionist. But yes, let’s go with that!)

And the more I listened to the results the more I wondered whether what I was doing was really any less legitimate than going down a more established path to recording an EP (you can all judge that for yourselves now of course!)

The project also kept escalating because every time I learnt a new trick or had an idea I thought might make things sound better, I’d find a way to do it. And once the music itself was finished I just really carried on with the same approach – taking whatever seemed like the logical next step. After all, if you’re going to spend all this time on your recordings it makes sense to work out how distribution works so you can get them online. And then it makes sense to talk to some local radio people so that there’s some chance that people will actually get to hear your work. Oh, and it makes sense to have a launch, just something small as a way of celebrating the achievement (although actually if you are going to the effort of organising a launch maybe you should think about promoting it…)

I look back on the past few months and I still can’t quite believe everything that’s happened.

I left my safe and stable full-time job to try to make a go of the whole singer-songwriter thing in February 2018. It was a ridiculous decision, not least because I really actually wasn’t ready. I’d only just gotten all the bits of a PA together so that I could start doing covers gigs, and the first time someone offered me a 3-hour spot I had to run home and spend the next week learning songs because I had confidently told them that I could play for that long. I knew I had some good songs, but my writing was still a bit hit-and-miss and I had no clue how to actually progress as an original artist. But I was tired of feeling like I wasn’t able to focus on my music the way that I wanted. And I felt like I would never really even have time to get ‘ready’ unless I carved out a bit more space for it.

A bit over a year on, to be honest, I’m still not sure that I’m ready. But I know that I am improving all the time. And if you were to ask February 2018 Lisa what she thought of my progress in year one of #musiclyf, I think she’d be reasonably impressed.

In a way I think the most important thing for me, though, is that I have finally started to live my own authentic life. For a long time, Colours was definitely not my favourite of my songs. After all, it talks about carving out your own path and leaving behind the things that make you unhappy, and it wasn’t until around a year after I wrote it that I actually followed through on those things myself. But that’s what made it such an important song for me, and I’m so grateful that I’ve now been able to share it with so many people. I have an inkling that at different times some of you have probably ended up in a place you didn’t really want to be, because you also forgot to take your eyes off your feet to see where the path led. But you know what, I promise, it’s not too late to change things. Leave the path. Follow your dreams. And let your colours fly!

Lisa Maps xoxo

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