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I am the hands-down expert in getting lost. I get lost in London, and am often to be seen scrutinising a map like a bona fide tourist on Bond street. The fact that it's my home town is neither here nor there - I am spatially challenged. So here in NY, my lostness reached a critical high yesterday: a 15 minute Brooklyn stroll turned into an hour and a half long odyssey.

If my life (bear with me) were to intersect with a Harry Potter novel, I'd suspect my map of having been malignantly enchanted for roads seem to rearrange themselves when I look away and sometimes, I swear to God, I catch them tittering at me from the corner of my eye. When I tell people that I get infuriatingly lost the whole time in NY, their eyes widen and their foreheads crease...'But HOW Ana? New York is based on a grid system, it's REALLY logical'. Yes, yes. But my mind loves words above numbers. Numbers confuse me. I still count on my fingers. Decimal points and 24 hour clocks confound me. So I keep coming across the same street on my travels (oh! 5th Street! Cool...Carroll Street) thinking I am circling my target destination...any moment now...only to realise that I am no where near, it's just the streets are all very long on account of that pesky grid. And like an acid trip at a festival where you walk for miles only to stumble upon the same noodle vendor as you saw 2 hours before in a slightly different coloured hat, (not just me, surely?) every corner boasts an almost identical Deli.

And Manhattan subway stops that share the same name but one is on the east side of the park and one is on the west? And that there is a road and a subway stop called Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn, and barely minutes away across the river a road and a subway stop in Manhattan called Lafayette Street? Logical? LOGICAL? Don't even get me started...



“Autumn in New York The gleaming rooftops at sundown Oh, autumn in New York It lifts you up when you run down” (Ella Fitzgerald) The first lady of song is right, there is much that gleams here in late September. Light hums through the beech leaves in Brooklyn, breaks and shimmers on skyscrapers as you cross the Williamsburg bridge, leaves trickles of pearl in the darkening Manhattan sky. I grew up in London, but New York was always the mirror city, the place my mother promised me I'd love; where she'd drunk coffee with Ginsberg in the Lower East Side, appeared in a indie flick as 'Death' wearing an extravagant hairpiece and woollen suit and oh, briefly found romance; and where I first landed 2 years ago, with few preconceptions except that the cheese cake was going to be outstanding. As well as the music too, of course. So far, I can confirm both to be true.

My mother circa NYC era This time I've come to stay a while longer, 3 months to be exact. I arrived at JFK airport last week, had the customary conversation about the kind of music I make with the immigration official (they ask this every time without fail: I can't figure out whether it's sweet or sinister) and took a taxi straight to Park Slope, Brooklyn. Half an hour wrestling with the apartment door, but it was worth the wait – I have a snug nest in a roaring city.

Ana @ Lumina Studios, 29th Street, Manhattan Whilst it's not on a main road, the drivers passing by seem keen to outdo each other in the eardrum rupture stakes (now I understand the wishful but ineffective road signs: Don't Honk: $350 fine), but all in all it feels like a pleasant and thriving neighbourhood. I love it's strangely named churches: "Church of New Life', 'Baptist Church of the Silver Palm' and my personal favourite, the 'Ebenezer H Church of God Incorporated' - surely a user car salesman turned money-minded Reverend?; and how Dunkin' Donuts and late night Halal kebab joints rub shoulders with salsa saloons and Psychic parlours. My local costs a very game $2 a pop, and at such a price, I've figured I can get them to predict my 'Mega Millions' numbers and astrologically align my wardrobe on a daily basis, which takes some beating - take note, Ebenezer. As I go on my way here, I'll share thoughts with you about my time in Mirror City and how it differs from London town. Like a slightly lax doctor-approved (big) apple, you gets one thought every few days...so check back often.

Hello Kitty, Time Square

#postcardfromnewyork #newyork


1. There are people who live in studios. They are friendly and generally uncomplaining sorts, if a little pale. They can do magical things like play around with big pictures of waves, and change the way stuff sounds. Their name is "engineer". They are sometimes a bit strange and look like this:

2. There are also other smaller people who live in studios known as 'assistants'. These people fetch folks (namely hungry singers) cheese sandwiches, Korean takeaways, beer and Green and Black's chocolate on request at any time of the day, no matter how ungodly. I like them. They also smoke roll ups and will share if you ask nicely. 3. Just one solitary moment during recording or mixing of thinking "I ought to check this out because I am not sure it sounds right' means you should do this. Else, after a 12 hour day you will go home and listen to the tracks for a further 4 hours crying into a glass of wine and cursing your stupid damn self. And then you wake up and do it all over again.

4. Working with family can, in fact, be a pleasure as well as an experience of extreme musico-telepathy. It is also fun when you live with said member of family, because they are always there to talk to when you are crying into your wine. Here is said member:

5. Accordions are always cool. Recorders are surprisingly cool. French horns rock. String quartets rule. 6. Mixing will actually make you insane. How insane can be calculated like so:The square root of your mental stability in the first place + how closely related you are to Brian Wilson × the total units of wine consumed over the mixing period ÷ the number of friends willing to listen to you monologue for hours about compression and EQ levels. Mine's about a 14. I think I got off lightly. Me before recording happy and care-free/ Me post recording, just a touch of derangement.

7. Recording in two cities is an excellent idea. I'm not sure why. It just is. *

8. All studios, no matter which city, will have the following in their fridge:

An unfinished and flat bottle of cheap prosecco Left over chicken bhuna A unopened carton of Tropicana Some salad in a plastic bag that came with the bhuna. A jar of lime pickle that will still exist when cockroaches have taken over the planet.

9. Any session, no matter how badly wrong it is going, can be resolved with the following: i). Good coffee (or even better, excellent coffee, like this one from previously mentioned Climpsons) ii). Conversation with dear friend on 24 hour call, especially one who has access to a large supply of chocolate **

iii). If all else fails, run, like I did, for the hills until problem is resolved. Hills:

10. It will make you sadder than you ever thought, and happier than you ever thought. Maybe a bit like having kids.

*especially when the cities are London and New York and they are both full of amazing people/musicians. This statement might not apply if said cities were Slough and Saginaw. Not that I know anything about Saginaw, it just sounds a bit dodgy.

#musings #album #theaviary #recording