As I walked into the Mirth, Marvel and Maud cinema in Walthamstow for my final performance of Pastoral, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious. I asked a staff member if the place was haunted and they looked at me a little taken aback. It was only later that night as I chatted with my friend Alexander Tucker, also known as Microcorps, that it all clicked into place.
As we talked about ghost stories, it dawned on me that my next album would be something to do with the supernatural. After years of making and performing Pastoral, I had been struggling with postnatal depression from the birth of my first child in 2016. I had recurring dreams about a ghost that would possess me and levitate my body violently. It wasn’t until that gig in Walthamstow that everything started to come together for me.
I began researching the technology of ghost-hunting and discovered many connections between the development of audio technology and the spiritualist movement. From there, I found out about the genetic pathway of music going through people like Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram, and the Radiophonic Workshop – those sounds and machines that have a heritage in something supernatural. Even the women’s rights movement was influenced by early spiritualism because of the role women played in spiritualism. The movement gave women a platform and power that I could relate to – the power of transfiguration; the ability to freely go into another place, whether it was a spirit world or a recessive place in themselves where they could scream and be crazy. Where else could they have done that in that era?
What ended up coming out on Black Dog was an emotional response, an excavation of my own fears and lifelong psychological state. But to make the initial connection between technology, women’s rights, and ghosts? It blew my mind.