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Connection in a time of isolation

What a strange time. How is everyone? I’ve had some time to think (haha), so I thought I’d write. I started writing this in an attempt to untangle my thoughts and then decided to share it, because why not. I hope this finds you healthy and safe at home with enough of the things that will keep your heart, mind and spirit afloat until things go back to ‘normal’. I have definitely been questioning what ‘normal’ is and whether normal has to be the way normal was: or rather, what do I want my ‘normal’ to be when I get it back? Assuming we do get it back. There are a few things I realise I’m not missing that much. For those of us lucky enough to have a safe place to stay home in, there are some large gifts scattered amongst the confusion of this enforced ‘stopping’.

When it first dawned on me that the ‘stopping’ could stretch on for some unknown number of months or even years my habitual self instantly got busy writing lists, seeking opportunity, thinking of ways to catch up and be maximally productive. It was even quite exciting at first. But then, I found myself sleeping in, moving slower than I thought I had the right to, pottering in the veggie patch, reading a book, slipping into the stillness …. My body is usually much smarter than my brain when it comes to knowing the right way to be in a situation. It has been a personal quest over recent years to learn how to truly allow myself the right to moments of simply be-ing. As a product of my society and era, I’m probably not alone in this. Right now, things have been taken out of our hands. We have no choice but to slow down. This is one of the gifts I’m accepting now. It no doubt won’t last, as our new normal kicks in.


COVID-19 will definitely leave a memorable dash in global historical timelines, even though previous pandemics, civil wars, world wars and other catastrophes have had greater impacts in terms of loss of life (than this virus will hopefully). It is incredible to think that people across the world where possible will be heading inside and staying there for an indeterminate amount of time, regardless of the economic impacts, in a joint attack against our deadly invisible foe. We may all be stuck at home, but we are more closely connected to or fellow humans through this than any other time I can think of since communication technology has allowed it. Though mostly I feel trapped in a communication age I’m not made for, I’m thankful for the technology that gives us the ability to connect, allow resources to be directed to those who need it, and share knowledge from those ahead in the virus timeline, to help lessen the impact by learning from the experiences of others.

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Such near-complete shut-down of social structure as we know it is a dis-orienting experience. Like any situation where control is taken from you realisations of what you actually value tend to stand out in the forefront, like catching your reflection in a window you were looking through. For me, these things include being connected to nature in everyday life, being close to family, friends and collaborators, my health, safety, and the freedom to invest in and create these things for myself. Some of this, I still have. I feel very lucky to be experiencing this pandemic in a country that is able to offer support. There will be some who will suffer large financial setbacks and lose loved ones too early, but it feels at this stage as though (if we all #staythefuckathome, and help the charities who support the vulnerable*) a great deal of people will come through this period and be able to kick their lives off again quite successfully, although probably not in the ‘normal’ way.

One thing I think a lot about, is what this means (if anything, but hopefully something) for our current economic model, that of continued growth. We have built (or ended up with) a system both highly complex and fragile, lacking robustness and resilience as proven by the attack from our invisible viral enemy. The health of which seems to rely on us buying increasing amounts of unnecessary shit. I realise this system has placed our government in a position to financially support us currently, as the wheels fall off the train. But how much will ‘consumption’ need to ramp up over the coming years to regain our footing in this system?

Most of us are still sitting in our houses (thankfully with a freeze on evictions and hopefully on mortgage repayments), we have enough to eat, and apart from not being able to go out to work or to catch up with our mates, things seem strangely OK* even though a vast majority of people are not spinning the hamster wheel of work and wages and debt repayments. The financial assistance packages we are offered from the government will cost many years to ‘recover’ from. But is it recovery we need – or redesign?

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I just can’t help but hope there is some catalyst for fundamental change hidden in this. I don’t know what it is, but perhaps this mass stepping off-of-the-hamster-wheel will reveal global economic systems and other seemingly imaginary structures we have sewn the fragile fabric of our day to day lives around, for the somewhat phantasmic masters they have become. Maybe we can sit and watch the dance play out, under the spotlight of the natural world taking a breath in, and then out, reclaiming some of her lost territories, and offering them back to us to protect and enjoy in a more sensible way for all.

It feels a bit like we are all naughty kids who have been grounded.  Sent to our rooms for not listening to our mother (to our heart of hearts), for recklessly flaunting the rules (the rules of natural balance and cycles). Feels like even though we knew in some subterranean corner of ourselves our system of continued ‘growth’ (by which we really mean consumption at an increasing rate) couldn’t really stand up in any sustainable way, we’d try our luck anyway – see how much we could get away with before Mum found out. Like a teenager who tests the boundaries of the rules in spite of knowing the consequences – ‘yeah, but it won’t happen to me’ … we all remember feeling somewhat immortal in the spring of our life? But then we grow out of it. It seems the ruling-powers of our current civilised world are still like that hormone-drunk teenager, and we are caught up in the mesh. It feels like we have been pushing the boundaries too long, taking more than we need; catching planes like they are buses, taking foods from the convenience of our supermarkets flown in from every corner of the globe (disconnected from the origins of the food that sustains us), minds increasingly scattered by incessant requests and seductions from social media, seeking increased ‘productivity’, addicted to a sensation of busy-ness (busy with what exactly?)…

We have been willingly seduced by the fantasy of continued growth. But I don’t think we ever really believed we could overcome the natural way of things. We know at a cellular level that attrition follows growth. The logic is very clear, it is animal instinct. Nature cycles: it ebbs and flows, encroaches and retreats, pushes and yields (yin/yang), – smaller cycles within greater cycles, an ever-changing symphony of transition from apex to nadir. That is the only way this indescribably complex system we depend on for our survival manifests some beautiful, plentiful, dynamic, stability. There are already so many signs of the attrition that is edging out from the sidelines for us.

I am not an anarchist. I believe collectively we have the intelligence and capacity to create a sustainable future. Perhaps this ‘stopping’ can allow us to see the reflection in the window; that slowing down isn’t bad, and maybe even correct. Perhaps a system that incorporates smaller, more natural cycles of growth and attrition wouldn’t suffer the devastating low we seem to be about to descend to?

We’ll wait and see I guess. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and your isolation-buddies, stay in touch and stay at home.

Love, J.x.

* There are many vulnerable who need our help. Here are a couple of links if you are in a position to help out:


Domestic violence

Support Act


New Album News! Pozible campaign

There’s a new album in the works. It’s very exciting. The band and I are back to NZ for a tour in January and then we’re hoping to record. If you are even a little bit as excited as we are about the potentiality of these new songs – perhaps you’d like to check out the Pozible (crowd-funding) campaign where you can pre-purchase the album to help us fund the making of it. It would be so great and mean so much and be such a positive thing if you did. Thank you in advance and look forward to seeing you on the journey.x.

Check out the campaign HERE!

STORY THIEVES – Film Clip Premiere

Years in the making, a storm-soaked mission into the Tasmanian wilderness and multiple bottles of fine Japanese whiskey later, the creative tour de force: ‘The Samaya Wives’ in collaboration with Jane McArthur, are so very proud to present the premiere screening of ‘Story Thieves’. Join the adventure, backwards and downwards, in search of something never lost, but oh so well obscured. Because all that’s left of you and me, in the end, is a story….

If you happen to be in Melbourne on the 12th May, please follow the link to the event page to purchase a ticket (only 57 seats in the Thornbury Picture House, so get in quick!)
Tickets: here 🙂

12 Months 12 Songs

WhatI’ve started a musical adventure and we’re quickly sloping into uncharted territory….Each month this year I’m recording and releasing a previously unrecorded song of mine, available on my website. At the end of the project, the compilation will be released on vinyl (pending demand).


I’m working with various musicians and producers to bring each song from the curly depths of the imaginatorium into the bright and unforgiving light of the real world for your aural ingestion and inevitable judgement. Various lovely and talented people are involved – check out the song credits each month to see who’s been part of it, and keep posted for what’s coming up next!


The way ‘we’ listen to music has changed, so ‘they’ tell us (you tell me!). The song is King, again. I wanted the freedom to explore each song, without musical decisions being affected by the pressure to mould all the songs into a specific genre category or definition. The 12 Months 12 Songs project means recording each song with only the song in mind. Each song it’s own little musical sculpture and a hell of a lot of fun in the process.

Sign up to the mailing list to hear the latest songs, and check out the latest tunes:










All That’s Left of You and Me ….

…in the end, is a story.

Hello! Welcome to my webpage. I’ve been meaning to publish this for years, literally. But I think too much you see – that can get you stuck. When someone asks me ‘So, what do you do?’ (that lazy, barrier-building, box-ticking, question we are all guilty of asking at one point or another) I falter like a fool; with ‘but what is the most relevant bit of me to tell you about?! Which part (summated in a couple of sentences over this stupidly loud music) best communicates the essence of my me-ness? …‘


We are the stories we tell. We are complex, walking, transient, ever-changing stories … in our own eyes and in the eyes of others (good for you if you’re an adept and succinct story teller!).

The apparent need for a music website led me to discover my capacity for procrastination, the extent of which I hadn’t previously explored fully. It’s been an adventure spanning many years down an obscured path tempting me onwards to the real possibility of becoming quite properly lost. It just seems like such a big ask, and a strange task: to summarise who I am and present it in a concise and entertaining package (to the entire interwebs none the less!) in order to sell my music. I’d rather do it face to face over a glass of wine to be honest. So who am I and what is my story? Or, at least, which parts of it should I tell you?

I find it fascinating to ponder the implications of the stories we tell; the stories that we build about ourselves and tell each other, the fragments of our story we choose to tell a stranger when we  first meet, the stories that people believe about us and then tell back to us in various ways reinforcing the weight of the story. We are walking story-books, continually written with every moment, by various authors. And we are stories that can never be read in entirety by any other single human being. There’s just far too much text, and the timescales don’t match up anyway … All we can ever get from the people we meet and love, is snippets.



All That’s Left of You and Me, Is a Story Told By Story Thieves

I began to wonder how much of our self-narrative can be constructed and how much of it represents the bare and raw truth of who we really are? How causal is the repetition of self-narrative in the formation of aspects of our personality we consider unchangeable? Can self-delusion become reality? (if I and those around me consistently tell me I am a superstar, do I eventually become the superstar?).  Is our reality constructed entirely of things made up – authored? Or is there some essential and immutable ‘me-ness’, my sub-conscious plot-writer, that is impervious to the insistent dialogue of my conscious mind? If you are convinced of Sam Harris’ argument that free will is an illusion’ and that ‘we are no more responsible for the micro-structure of our brains, than we are for our height’ – then we are definitely not authors; we are no more than a sum of our biology, our histories and habits. He argues that thoughts arise in our minds from the obscured depths of our sub-conscious mental machinery, un-written by us, and completely out of our control.

Regardless of ‘who’ holds the pen, these internal and external narratives have a powerful influence on the unfolding events of our lives. Our thoughts, actions and experiences create our story, our character history, and hence the choices we make. Those persistent narrators in our head and from the outside world affirm our belief in our strengths, vulnerabilities and Achilles heels.

We write ourselves deeper and more solidly into our own character every day. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are distilled and then told to the world (through conversations and websites), which are further amplified by the people around us and sent straight back like a mirror; a positive feedback cycle. So be sure to tell yourself a great tale (I remind myself). At least aim for one you might not mind spending a couple of weeks reading in the winter of your life.

Since you’ve landed on this page and persevered to read this far, I should return to the point – an introduction; I was telling you my story. I have the opportunity to tell you the story I want you to hear. If I were business-minded I would try my hand at a little hero-making, it’s almost expected these days. But ultimately it’s just not part of the story I tell myself about myself. I can only tell you the story that I believe. And the only thing I believe to be important lately is honesty. Curiosity. Open-mindedness. Integrity. That’s what I’ve decided to strive for, in my own small way.

The world doesn’t need another false idol. Throughout the mind-boggling majority of human history, music and dance have been as integral to being human, as have been walking and talking. It is only a very recent development for our musical experience to be segregated into two categories – ‘those that perform it and sell it’ and ‘those that watch it being performed and buy it (or steal it)’. We have the recent rise of the religion of consumerism and marketing to thank for that.

We are human. If you talk, you can sing. If you walk, you can dance. It’s an evolutionary gift.

So that’s my introduction I guess. It’s not neat, and it’s still being written. In the end, all this is simply one more exquisite, messy, confounding, almost-already-over life story. So, even though you may have missed the beginning, welcome along. I’ll try my best to make it as non-fiction as possible.

You are sitting

…in the airport lounge in Melbourne, caressing a cup of coffee. It’s 6 am on Friday and you’re on the way to Hobart to play a couple of gigs with your band Let The Cat Out. You feel a little like a victorious thief about to jump in the getaway car – having escaped the office and the world of urban water politics, climate predictions and catchment models a day early. A thief, and a fraud – the beating heart and restless pen of a song-writer hiding amidst the anonymity of office hustle – you wonder how long it will be before someone calls you out. With 3 albums recorded and a fourth on the way, you are beginning to think this song-writing caper isn’t something you are going to grow out of – quite hopefully the opposite. Perhaps there is some validity in telling people your name, getting this website together….

You are roused by the buzz of possible futures… like a circuit that’s not fully connected. You look forward to playing with your old band. It feels like coming home; to the the musicians who helped you cut some of your musical teeth, and home to the roots, blues, funk and soul. But your mind is full and busy in the background with thoughts of the next album: the possible sonic-scape, who to work with…. The unfinished chorus of your latest song is on constant rotation on the record-player of your subconscious; a lump of clay, showing hints of a shape, spinning on the wheel waiting for hands to create form and sense from the raw material.

You are tired, but happy. It’s going to be another long day…