As I entered the Mirth, Marvel and Maud cinema in Walthamstow for my final performance of Pastoral, I couldn’t shake off an overwhelming sense of unease. It was a feeling that had become all too familiar to me over the years, ever since the birth of my first child in 2016. Struggling with postnatal depression and plagued by recurring dreams of a vengeful ghost possessing me and levitating my body violently, I knew that this gig would be different.
It was during a chance encounter with a friend, Alexander Tucker, better known as Microcorps, that I stumbled upon the connection between audio technology and spiritualism. Our conversation led me to discover the fascinating genetic pathway of music that links pioneers like Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram and the Radiophonic Workshop to something supernatural. The realization that these musical innovations were intertwined with spiritualist movements blew my mind.
The women’s rights movement was also heavily influenced by early spiritualism due to the role women played in spiritualist circles. This movement gave women a platform and power they could not have found elsewhere at that time – the ability to freely access another realm, whether it be a spirit world or a hidden corner within themselves where they could scream and express their emotions without fear of judgment or repression. It was this idea of transfiguration that resonated deeply with me as someone who had struggled with mental health issues for many years.
My album Black Dog was born out of this emotional response – an excavation of my own fears and psychological state. But making the initial connection between technology, women’s rights and ghosts? That was pure magic.