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Blog - Kay Channon

Kay Channon In Conversation with Miss Jacqui: Musician, Performance Poet and All-Round Freedom Fighter.

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The following interview was conducted on the 21st of March 2020, more or less at the start of the lockdown period caused by COVID-19. Due to several extreme medical vulnerabilities, I was not able to leave the house or have any contact with anyone. I am so glad that this interview happened. Miss Jacqui is one of my favourite Performance Poets and I’m just sad that external pressures, and unexpected complications, including my own ill-health, meant that the broadcast of this interview was delayed. Many apologies for the changes in audio quality. Technical issues were experienced. I did my best with the editing (plus this transcript for those that cannot access the SoundCloud link easily – I typed it up myself).

 I hope you enjoy. And of course, continue to stay safe as always…

 Kay: Umm…Could you explain a bit more to readers and listeners about Spinal Muscular Atrophy? And how it affects you personally and how you deal with its challenges?

Miss Jacqui: Cool. Yeah. So, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, is a motor neuron disorder. I always say…Spinal Muscular Atrophy is just a fancy way of saying…The way my brain and my muscles speak…They don’t really communicate well with each other. It’s a progressive condition, like you’re born with it, it’s not contagious, you don’t just catch it left, right, and centre. One in 10,000 people have it. There’s like different types, so different variants, how people are affected by it. Me… It’s…Very strange… I’ve had it my entire life… So I could walk a little bit when I was younger like in primary school and such and then secondary school I needed to use my power chair a little bit more and then after that….When I got to University…I got to a point where I’ve kind of been the same throughout, but as I’m getting older, I can clearly see the difference in…Like… My muscles getting weaker, not being able to grab things, or reach for things or pick up things, but yeah, I kind of just get on with it…

(Miss Jacqui laughs)

Kay: Great. Thanks. That gives me a real insight into how you manage and how you view it. And…I’ll just say… I have some parallels with you, in terms of I was born with my disability, which is Cerebral Palsy…Like you, I could walk a little bit during Primary School but then, I was completely confined to a wheelchair…We just have to be mindful that when we’re  talking about I think, our experience of disability we are not generalising that everybody with this condition should be X.Y.Z…

Miss Jacqui: Yep.

Kay: Because…We are all in some way, just trying to live out our hopes and dreams and pains…And…That’s something I really got from your EP actually, that was the vibe that I really digged, that really came through.

Miss Jacqui: Thank you. I appreciate it.

Kay: That’s okay….You were saying something, you were saying I wish you…Then I didn’t catch the last words…

Miss Jacqui: Oh… No…I really appreciate people… Especially people that have similar experiences to me, telling me that they understand parts of my EP and that means more to me than people will ever truly know.

Kay: Oh. Great thanks…. It means a great deal to me and it got me through…The last 12 months have been really hard for me…It got me through some really really difficult times. Umm… Just when I got home from the hospital and I was still having complications and I couldn’t move from my bed…Then your EP came out and it was just like a daily ritual in my mind, cos I could just lay in my bed and listen…

So, let’s move on…I’m going to be a bit more specific, because I’m a Poet myself and I’m really interested…Like you, been writing poetry since my teens but nobody really knows about me, but I’m sort of getting there…I’ve got a book out now, as you know…

Miss Jacqui: Which is phenomenal.

Kay: And…Umm…I was reading in your article for Gal-dem…

Miss Jacqui corrects me on the pronunciation of the magazine in question. Please click the link to her original article at the end of this transcript if you would like to read it.

Kay: …That you were saying…You had been on the poetry circuit for about 10 years and I was just wondering if you could give us like some of the highlights…Why they have kind of stayed with you? Why they were highlights? How they helped you move forward really?

Miss Jacqui: Yeah…Ah… I think for me, my highlights are people. Because industry is fickle. People are gonna go to the most popular thing and I think, for me, it was the people that I was surrounded by. So, I got into poetry because of a phenomenal woman Poet called Kat François…She’s like BBC Slam Champion.

Kay: Right. Brilliant.

Miss Jacqui: She is amazing and phenomenal, and she really opened up what poetry could be for me… In terms of she’s a black lady…I never knew…The first interaction I had with poetry was in school and you’re studying war poems…And I thought poetry was like old white guys in turtlenecks clicking their fingers, and that was why I never saw that as an art form that I could be included in, but then I met Kat and she kinda made poetry really cool and she didn’t hold back, she didn’t baby me which is something I really appreciated. She was always pushing me, and always pushing the boundaries of what poetry could be, and I think through her doing that, I really started to take my craft seriously, and realise I could turn it into a career and how to do that. I’ve performed in loads of amazing places, but it all started with somebody who truly truly believed in the gifts and talents that I have and didn’t sugar coat it… Like I hate being babied, if something is garbage, tell me it’s garbage, like, let’s keep it moving.

Yeah, I think her, and a guy called Karlos Coleman, who was a Young People’s facilitator at Theatre Royal Stratford East. He really saw that I had a creative spirit. I was into Drama and that’s kinda what I did for most of my early teens and then he was just like…Oh I’m starting this poetry group. You should…You know…Join…

Kay: Yep.

Miss Jacqui: I was like…I’m not gonna do that. Poetry is not in my wheelhouse and that’s how I met Kat. So…I think, I’ve had a lot of people on my journey that have just made me think about pushing the boundaries and now that I’ve been doing it for so long, I just naturally push the boundaries myself… I’m like, ‘Oh Jacqui that’s great, however, what else could you do? Or what are you trying to say?’ And I think that just comes with time… Don’t get me wrong, everyone thinks my stuff is great now, but I’ve got some real crap poems in an old poetry book somewhere, and I think it’s about…

Kay: Oh yes! I’ve got plenty of those…

Miss Jacqui: Yeah!

Kay: When I was starting out and I did not know…And I would never show them to anybody…

Miss Jacqui: If anybody found those poems today, they’d be like, what were you talking about!

(Kay laughs)

Miss Jacqui: But I think it’s important to have crap poems and make mistakes and learn your own voice. Cos everyone that is successful, or trying to be successful… people always think they have it all together, and I’m like…No…They probably had to fail so many times to get the results they wanted. So, I think everything’s a lesson, good shows, bad shows, great poems, crappy poems, it’s all a learning curve and it will all add to your career and longevity. Cos, that’s another thing, if you’re looking for longevity, you have to put in the work. If you wanna be like…‘Pop up’ and be the best thing for a year and then disappear…Do you know what I mean? Then don’t put in the work, but…Yeah that is kind of my thing…I put in the work, I rehearse when I can…I write and rewrite…And I do this thing, where when I write a piece, if I can pay one pound for every single word in this piece, and I always give each piece a budget. So, I’ll be like you have 100 pounds, you only have 100 words, Are you going to use all of these…Are they necessary? Is my thing.

Kay: Yeah.

Miss Jacqui: You just learn as you go. There’s no real blueprint for Disabled Artist’s or Artist’s with Disabilities…

Kay: Not at all…

Miss Jacqui: So, we are all just kinda figuring it out but, I say, as long as you stay true to yourself, and your voice, then, that can’t lead you wrong.

Kay: Brilliant advice. And I’ll just say from my point of view, I went through years and years of even not sharing my poetry, being told it wasn’t worth anything, that it couldn’t give you a Career…Umm…Also, years and years of rejections from publishers saying, ‘we don’t want this’…And it wasn’t till about 2016/2017… Oh…I’m. so sorry…That was an alarm I pre-set on my phone for a separate reason…Umm…It wasn’t till I got to 2016/2017, after working on poetry pretty much solidly in the background in 2015 that stuff started to get accepted

Miss Jacqui: Yeah…

Kay: But I’m also a great believer in just because your poetry isn’t published, doesn’t mean that it isn’t of quality, because I think, sometimes publishers are very…The submission process can be quite picky and they want all these special formats, and it has to be a PDF with so many margins and it can’t be over so many lines, and it has to have this much space, and do you know what? That just bores me…It really really bores me…

(Miss Jacqui Laughs)

 

So much sometimes that I’m just like, if they are that picky, then I don’t really think they are worth my time, because they are not valuing the words, they are just trying to take down the work for themselves.

Miss Jacqui: Yep.

Kay: To like, just make it a ‘thing’…I dunno…I’ve like published 20 to 30 Poets…So…Yeah, it’s…

Miss Jacqui: I think it’s…

Kay: So, it doesn’t necessarily mean…To anybody out there who is writing and hasn’t yet been published, like, I went through 4 or 5 years of that. And it doesn’t mean that it’s rubbish, because actually some of my poems from 4 or 5 years ago are in my first book. So…Sometimes it’s about finding the right person to push you forward.

Miss Jacqui: Yep.

Our Internet connection drops out.

Kay: Did you pick up the words ‘push you forward’ or did it cut off before then?

Miss Jacqui: I believe I got them…

Kay: I was just saying…Just because your poems don’t get published doesn’t mean they aren’t any good. Because my poems…Some of them from 4 or 5 years ago are actually in my first book, (see the relevant link below) and, sometimes, like you said, it’s just about finding the right person to push you forward. And, I think a big influence for me, was a woman who is unfortunately no longer with us, but I expect you’ve heard of her, Maya Angelou…

Miss Jacqui: Yeah.

Kay: Once I started to hear of Maya Angelou…And unfortunately she died shortly after I started to get into her work…I really began to realise the emotional nature of poetry, and that there were women out there that were marginalised and that were doing this wonderful poetry…She was a real fire to me, a real fire, to just keep going. Because in School we were just doing Philip Larkin, Wilfred Owen, I don’t really remember anybody else…Oh and something weird about a flea which may have been Robert Browning…I’m not entirely sure…Yeah, there’s still a long way to go for Women Poets I think…

Miss Jacqui: But, also…Because, I’d say… I’m not published in terms of having my own book… You are completely correct in the fact that, just because you’re not published doesn’t mean you’re not good. But, it’s also about…What kind of Poet are you? Because I think there are some people who are amazing writers and Poets like that…But, for me, I think, I’m a Performance Poet and that’s okay too. I think it’s understanding that you can try to be everything, but try and master what your thing is, and then go off and spread your wings and do 75 million things if you want to…But, I think it is about yeah, your work is amazing and trust that it is amazing. But, maybe there just needs to be a publisher that publishes fantastic Disabled Poets? Why not? That’s an idea for someone out there, whoever’s listening.

Kay: Shout out. Yeah. We are here. We just need to be heard…And this is why I think the EP is fantastic, because it can be accessed from anywhere…And we’ll just get on…Cos, I have a question about that further on…This is a bit more of a light-hearted question…When I learnt that you used to tape from the radio…Umm, I used to do that a lot. Because back then, there wasn’t such a thing as digital downloads and I wanted all these songs and I couldn’t afford all the CD’s, so I would try and tape them off the radio and try and stop the tape before the presenter started talking…

(Miss Jacqui laughs)

As a consequence my musical collection was edited quite badly and was on these…kind of 1990’s really dodgy cassette tapes, with like different fizzes and sounds in the background…So, for lots of people out there right now, the current situation we are all facing, without going into it too much cos I don’t want it to become about that. Because this is an interview about your art, and…It’s a conversation about poetry and disability, but, just out of curiosity, what is your favourite song, Artist, Album, that you’re kicking around right now in your space?

Miss Jacqui: There are so many…Because I like to listen to a wide range of people, because that’s how you get a reflection of the world. I listen to anything from hard-core hip-hop to some country music, to Gospel music…To Jazz, to Afro Beats…I listen to such a wide range, because it also helps me as an Artist understand sounds, and what kind of places people connect with…So one of my favourite songs and artists at the moment, is a guy called Tobe Nwigwe….He’s from America….And the song that I’m completely in love with is called Hella Black…Have you ever heard a song and you’re just like, I wish I wrote that?

Kay: Yeah…

Miss Jacqui: That song for me is that song. It’s so on brand for me. It’s about being unapologetically black. That is one of my favourites at the moment…My favourite Artists are Wretch 32…I recently came across this other Artist called Shocka, he’s amazing…An Artist called Amahla… She’s like doper then dope… An Artist called Delicia…Some of these people are actually my friends as well.

Kay: That’s amazing that…

Miss Jacqui: There are so many people out there…I’m trying to think…If I could have my favourite Artists in a room and we could work on an album…It would be… Janelle Monáe… India.arie…Wretch 32…Umm…Oh my god…Those were the first ones that came to me…Yeah. If I could lock them all in a room and get some work done, I could die happy after that. That’s fine.

(Miss Jacqui Laughs)

Kay: Wow…I’m so gonna check some of those out, cos that sounds so rich…For me, right now…I’m not usually into a great deal of Rap as a general rule or like hip-hop, but I go through these phases where I gravitate towards particular figures and I can’t  quite figure out why…I really like Stormzy’s new album, Heavy is the Head. Whenever I’m struggling to get up in the morning, which is most days at the moment, I usually put the album on first to help me get up. Cos, I think, he stands up for a lot of things that are really important to us at the moment…For Black culture, for mental health, for not abusing your position as a celebrity… And it’s his lyrics that really speak to me. I think, he doesn’t label himself as a Poet, but at the moment, he is a Poet (as well as yourself that is really speaking to my heart…Like really really…Making me feel I can get through this time, because, he talks a lot about… He’s not gonna give up his religion just because now he is a famous Rapper, he’s not a ‘poster boy’ for mental health, but it’s really important…Y’know all his structure to me…It just sounds like poetry, even though I know it’s not marketed that way, but it really really talks to me right now…

Miss Jacqui: But I think all the Artist’s that I’ve named, the reason that I gravitate towards them is because…They take their lyrics somewhere else. Like, I’m not putting down any other form of new school music…I feel a responsibility to say something, whenever I write, whenever I perform, whenever I do anything with my art, to say something important. And I think that is why I gravitate towards the Artists that I mentioned, because they all, lyrically, are…Amazing, they think outside the box…Even though they use music as well, if you stripped away the music and just heard what they had to say…That is why I am drawn to certain Artists and certain art forms.

People are surprised that I like Country music but Country music is really close to Gospel music and they all come from a place that is saying something, and that’s really important to me, and I think that’s why I’m so lyrically focused when it comes to my work…

Kay: Wow…Thank you so much for that. So, this might be a bit more of a difficult question…And it’s fine, we can park it if we need to…It’s just curiosity…So one of the things that you’re very clear about, cos I’ve been doing some reading up on the things that you write, please try and write more by the way…

(Miss Jacqui Laughs)

What I mean by that is…Please write another article like the Gal-dem one that we first mentioned, because they are so valuable. It doesn’t have to be long…It really highlighted a huge gap in the music industry to me that I’d been thinking about for a while actually…Because I used to sing a lot when my lungs were better and my Mum used to tell me…I mean, she supported my singing as a hobby and everything, but she used to tell me, everybody wants to be a Singer, so you need a backup Career, y’know…

 Miss Jacqui: Yeah.

Kay: And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I’m not dissing my Mum…

Miss Jacqui: Kay’s Mum’s great! She’s phenomenal!

Kay: And I know what she was saying…I was of school age and y’know…But what really struck me in that article was not only the gap in the music industry that you were saying about, that there aren’t many ‘Disabled famous’ Artists…People go read that… Music Producers go read that and sort that out…Don’t shut Jacqui out of a Studio cos the lift keeps breaking down…But the other thing that really struck me was, you said that you were really fascinated…And I’m guessing still are, from what we have already spoken about, about individual stories and yet what I was kind of vibing from your EP, was that you seem to be sending this very humanitarian, almost universal message of pain and hope.

What do you think enables you to strike that balance in your work? So, basically, what I’m saying is…It’s very much you and your voice and it’s very distinctive, and there’s kind of a narrative to it, and it follows just naturally…But it has such a universal message that anybody can grab positivity from, and that’s so hard to do. Because so many things can become…Like…Inwardly…As you say, “As soon as we are placed in a box, we want to break out”…But your album is not really placed in a box. It’s placed in a box of you, but it speaks to the entire world about really really important things. Umm… Is there anything that you really think enables you to balance those two things out?

Miss Jacqui: I think…For me, it’s an honesty. When I was creatin’ the EP there was just so much happening…in the world…In terms of how I felt in the world…In terms of how people told me they felt in the world. And I think my thing with creating work in general is to be as honest as possible and vulnerable. Like, I get uncomfortable being emotionally vulnerable. However, I understand how important it is, because it allows people to not feel alone. And people go through all kinds of things all the time…And it’s a case of just…I don’t…That’s a really hard question…I’m not sure…

Kay: I think honesty is a great answer. I don’t really think you need to feel like you need to express anymore…Cos, y’know…I get that.

Miss Jacqui: Yeah. I think that is what it is…Just being honest… Some of the tracks on the EP…People think is directly my story and it isn’t, it’s me witnessing something happen and me being able to articulate that story, cos there’s so many stories in the world that we may never hear because nobody is talking about it, or is putting that person’s story forward, and I’m really grateful for the experiences I had whilst I was creating the EP. Because it really helped me narrow down what songs I wanted to put on the EP and what I didn’t…And what I wanted to say, and I just hope, that in 10 years time, whoever listens to it, they can still connect to it.

Kay: Yeah so do I. So…We’ve kind of already covered one of the questions I was gonna ask you next just naturally, so I’m gonna go to the next one, which is…Through your song Broken, I’m beginning to understand it as a concept to be explored rather than exploited. This track is particularly relevant I think to the current situation we’re all now facing…I just wondered if you could tell people a bit more about how that particular track evolved for you, it’s fine if we’ve already covered it.

Miss Jacqui: Particularly…Ah…Broken…Was…So, okay, I’m gonna explain how I got to the track Broken. So when I create music and poetry I always, especially if I know I’m gonna create a piece that is gonna have music under it, I always come up with a melody…And it can come to me randomly, I could be showering, in the grocery store, having a conversation with someone and it’ll come to me. And I was in my car and it was after a really long day, extremely long, like, I was up at 5:30am and I was driving back home and it was about 7 o’clock in the evening…So I had been up and out of my house for hours, and I remember just sitting in my car, in traffic, and just going, I feel broken right now…Then I started to have this weird conversation with myself about what does it mean to be broken? And why are we told that being broken is a bad thing? And all of these questions started to come to me…Then I forgot about it and left it, and was like, Jacqui, you’re just having a hard day…

And then when I got into the Studio this was actually one of the first tracks that I recorded and put together, and I was like…I refuse for it to be on the EP. Absolutely refuse…Because it was the most vulnerable vocally, it was the most vulnerable emotionally, and every time I edited, or was writing it, I just felt like I kept going to this really vulnerable place…And I had to get to a point of why do I keep stopping myself from doing that? And I think, when I realised that, all of these emotions and feelings and thoughts, just came flooding back… of people telling me that I can’t do stuff or that I’ll never do stuff, or I will never be able to do something…And that took me back to being younger, and think, if every single person I interacted with told me I could do anything I put my mind to, would I be in a different place in my life than I am right now? Especially…

Kay: Yeah. I’m really…Carry on sorry…

Miss Jacqui: No. It’s fine. And I think…Cos, I am Christian. I go to church and all of that… I believe that…Sometimes I get judged because I am a Christian, and I’m like, no, I understand that being human is okay…And literally heard some church Organs whilst I was creatin’ the EP and figuring out my sounds, and I was like…Yeah, that’s it. Because when I feel my most broken, I go speak to God, I go to church, because that’s where I feel I’m gonna be replenished… Emotionally…And that’s how Broken started…And talking to other people and how they felt broken…And, I was like, actually…We are all a bunch of broken humans trying to pretend that we’re not broken…Which is…Really sad…

Kay: Yeah. Thank you so much for all of that. I’ll just say, I’m really disappointed because I missed the beginning of that…Cos you’re sound cut out, but I’m hoping that you picked it up on your end cos you’re also recording, so I am not gonna make you repeat that because I realise… It is the most vulnerable for you…And maybe that’s why I lent towards it so much when I was so ill…Because I kept being told by Doctors, there’s no cure for this, there’s no cure for that, you’re probably never going to go back to Uni, you’re probably never going to do this…You know, it’s basically been like that since my birth, because I was born with…Basically a damaged brain, y’know already. So, they were saying, to my Mum, because your daughter was born at so and so time…Basically really early…She may never walk, talk, blah blah blah…It was always about what I can do, sorry, about what I couldn’t do… Rather than about what I can. So, yeah…Thank you so much for that.

Miss Jacqui: That’s the thing…Nobody can tell anybody else that they’re broken. Nobody has that right, to tell anybody that they’re broken. Because, if you look deep inside and look at yourself, or you’re able-bodied and you think you have it all together, I guarantee you there is something, in your life or in your person, that might be considered broken to somebody else. So, nobody has that right to tell anybody, and I think that’s why the chorus was so important to me because its… ”You can’t fix what’s not broken, you can’t tell me that I’m broken, I’m not broken.” It is as simple as that…It is what it is.

(Miss Jacqui Laughs)

Kay: Yeah…I mean…It’s so hard because my favourites change depending on my mood, but at the moment, it is one of my favourites. And I’m gonna try and link the performance that you did in the church of Broken…The ‘Live From’…

Miss Jacqui: Oh yeah.

Kay: Because…It was…Do you know what…It was shot so well and I actually had tears in my eyes when you were performing it, because I knew it was coming from your heart. I knew…Before I even read the description, that on that day you were broken, or that you were feeling a brokenness.

Miss Jacqui: That day was a rough day. It was cold. I was literally suffering with exhaustion, and even the videographer… He was just like, you know, Jacqui, we can do it another day, and I was just like… I feel the worst I’ve felt in months…And outside of everyone else, like, I’m grateful that people watch it and listen to my music, but in that moment I had to perform it for myself. That was it. And even vocally, it’s probably one of the worst that I’ve done, that song…Especially for that video, but I have this thing with being authentic and being honest,…And people see me and are always like…Yeah Jacqui’s like super-bubbly and she’s like funny…and she’s loud…And yeah, I am all of those things, but I have days where I’m an honest human…Like, I feel crap today and that is what it is. So…Yeah, that was a hard day, but I’m glad we got what we needed to get.

Kay: It definitely did…The next question is going to seem a bit boring, but it might interest the more technical…As we’ve discovered through this process… Jacqui and I are not very good at remote tech…

(We both laugh)

Kay: So…Is there anything that you normally use…So minus the difficulties of getting into the studio which you already talk about in your article…Is there anything you use at home, when you’re sort of building your work? Like a software? Or certain materials? To do your rehearsal… Just in case anybody is out there thinking, like…Umm…Maybe they have listened to this interview and hopefully they’ve downloaded the EP. Go download it people! Download it! And think I’m disabled and obviously I’m not going out right now, but I wanna start experimentation and I wanna start it from my home. What are the things that you found really help you to make that happen?

Miss Jacqui: For me, at home, I have a really limited equipment supply, and that’s just because I don’t have the space. Especially like with my equipment and stuff, I don’t have the space to have a home studio. So…things that really help me are…one, my phone, like voice notes, and Voice Memos are like your best friend. Your absolute best friend. If you have an idea, just record it really quickly, even if it’s…Y’know a bit shoddy…If I ever lose my phone and someone listens to my Voice Memos, they’ll be like…Wow…This girl…She’s umm…Different…

(Kay Laughs)

So… Your phone…Your Voice Memos…Are gonna be your best friend, especially with ideas and things like that. I have a laptop and I have Logic…Which is music software, and that is literally what I put Voice Memos in and then play around with what I wanna do and stretching sound and things like that…I do have a microphone, but that’s not necessary. I always say your best thing, especially being at home, is your phone…A lot of people have smart phones now, they are like mini computers…You can get loads of apps and it’s just recording and experimenting and finding out what works for you…Cos something that might work for someone, might not work for someone else. But, the reason I use Logic on my laptop is because, it’s software I’ve been using for years, and I literally learnt it because I wanted to be a Mix Engineer when I was younger, so I learnt all the ‘tech’ things…But, it’s really simple to use, even if you just wanna record, find some instruments, play some things in…

So, in terms of technology I’m really minimalist. And what I spend my time doing is getting all my ideas together, and what I wanna do and sounds and stuff like that… And I’ll put it all in a folder, and then, if I meet a Producer that I like, and we are in a studio, I’m like, great… I’ve got this folder, and it has all the ideas…In one place. Especially like going into the studio…but if I’m paying for it, I can’t always be like… Let’s just vibe and see what happens…Oh no, we’ve got two hours, we have to at least knock out a skeleton song…

Kay: Yeah, totally…That’s really great, cos not only has that answered two questions in one, but that’s given me a real insight into the fact that…I’ve never been in a recording studio myself, and even when I use to sing, I didn’t have an external microphone or any of those things, I just had blank tapes and really weird stuff…And like you say, with all the equipment that we need, and when I say equipment, I’m not talking about musical equipment but, I’m basically confined to this room, and it takes up a lot of space…

Miss Jacqui: Yeah. The bed, the hoist, the wheelchair…It’s a lot…It’s a lot of equipment. So, when people are like just build your own home studio, I’m like, okay, that’s great…One, are you gonna pay for it?

Kay: Yeah, please pay for it…

Miss Jacqui: And two…What space am I going to build it in?

Kay: Again, I didn’t catch the beginning of what you said but I’m hoping you did?

Miss Jacqui: Yeah. I’m still recording, so it’s great.

Kay: I’m gonna move to…I’ve got two questions left…Is it alright to just go through them and…

Miss Jacqui: Yeah, yeah. You have me as along as you need Kay.

Kay: Oh brilliant. Great. This is making my day right now. So, how long did the EP take to make and get on itunes? Boring, but…

Miss Jacqui: No. That’s a really, really, good question. And I’ll tell you why. I had none of these answers when I started creatin’ this EP…Umm…So it took me about…I wanna say…Including cancelled sessions….Including sessions that I couldn’t go to…Or whatever the case may be…Let’s just round it up to 6 months to get everything done. That includes tracks I recorded that I was like… No… This isn’t right for this EP. So, yeah, about 6 months to do all of that. Then it took about 3 months to get everything together…I mean like the mixed and mastered version of each track, and, the artwork and when I wanna release it…

Umm… I went through a digital distributor…And there’s loads…There’s Ditto, Awal…There’s CD Baby…There are literally loads out there. Different distributors give you like a deadline, so if you want your project out on say the 15thof whatever month, some will say okay you have to upload it two weeks before… Some will say 10 days, some will say a week, it just depends on the distributor….And then once it’s up and you’re happy with it and you’ve got your artwork, then you kind of do your promotion of the project coming out…So, I would say in total from start to finish…For Perception, my EP, (see the link below to download)…I wanna say a year, because I changed the day I wanted to release it…So…Yeah…about a year, but if you had your nose set to the grindstone, you could probably get it done, in like 6 months…

It just depends what you’re doing and what you wanna do, and how quick you wanna do it…But I say take your time, never rush anything. Trust your gut. If you think something is not right, then, don’t put it out, because once it’s out there, it’s out there in the world…

Kay: Great. Thank you that gives me a bit of an insight. That was a lot quicker than, I thought you were going to say like 2 years…Because my first book took about 4 years, like genuinely… I mean, I didn’t realise it was going to be a book, but I’m just talking about the whole…Kind of deciding what poems I wanted and then finding a Publisher was just a whole other thing…So…6 months to a year?

Miss Jacqui: Yeah. But, I think it’s different with music, because you have like Producers involved…If you have a team, then you have your team involved, and then it’s… Making group decisions…When you’re writing, it’s such a personal experience, in terms of choosing what you’re narrative is, and, what you wanna put out…So, 4 years doesn’t surprise me. I know people that have written books and it took them 10 years to write. I wouldn’t say there is actually a limit. As long as you’re comfortable with your end result then…Be free.

(Miss Jacqui laughs) 

Kay: Great. Thanks…One final question…So when I first really started to get into you…Wasn’t actually when the EP was released, it was when I heard Freedom, which was actually released as a single before the other tracks came out…And, I think, personally, it was a fantastic choice to release it as a debut single and then for the others to follow on, because it is the first track on the EP…Umm… And I’m just wondering…Whether there was any particular event, or group of events, which sparked this lightbulb in your head, which said…Yes… The debut single will be Freedom and it will be this or was it an independent decision?

Miss Jacqui: It was an independent decision. And the reason was…Before I wrote and created Freedom, my EP was done. It was done…I was ready…I was like okay, great…Fantastic. And then I was in the studio, and I was like, no…Something doesn’t feel right. And the that time, there were so many things happening politically…Men making decisions about women’s bodies, a lot of police brutality… I just felt overwhelmed by what was happening…Umm…Then I was reminded of like the suffragettes, and Martin Luther King…And all of these people that fought for freedom, and I realised that yeah, they had to rebel to get their freedom…It literally was not gonna go on the EP, I swapped out a different track…

Kay: Seriously! Because…Wow…

Miss Jacqui: Because Freedom spoke to me in such a way…And musically, it’s not structured like a song, it’s structured like a poem. And then, it’s got musical accompaniment…And I was like, this is going to be my debut, this is what I want to say. And….Yeah, I put it out, and people tried to persuade me to put out other tracks on my EP first…And I have such a vision for my life, and my Career and my path, and my purpose in life, that I was like…I hear what you’re saying, this would get me loads of radio play, and this would get me loads of this…But Freedom has to be the one, if that’s how I’m stepping into the industry…I need to put my stamp on it, and Freedom was it. And, I was just like, well, it’s out now so…What are we doing with this?

Kay: I’m so glad…So glad, it was the first one out, because, it grabbed me immediately and I loved it.

Miss Jacqui: But…It’s something everyone can gravitate to. Because everyone understands that feeling of being oppressed…or, somebody stopping you doing something that makes you truly happy…Everybody can relate to that, especially at the time when it was released people gravitated towards it because they were like…Oh my God…She’s saying what I was thinking, or, what I was feeling…And I was like, yeah, it’s true, okay…That’s what we’re gonna do, so I’m glad…

(Miss Jacqui Laughs)

Kay: Well…I think it comes back to the honesty thing, doesn’t it…That you were talking about, really strongly in that song…Anyway, I just feel…It has such a universal honesty…I’m so glad that it came out first.

Miss Jacqui: Yeah…I think that’s the thing.

Kay: I’m just gonna say…You should be proud of your work and what you are standing up for… For me personally, I listen to your EP about twice a week. This will probably increase now I’m in self-isolation. Thank you so much for your time Miss Jacqui, and for giving Disability Arts Online, readers and listeners an insight into your wonderful, thought-provoking work. I will add all the relevant links to the blog…Which will hopefully also be on my Soundcloud when I figure that out…

(Kay Laughs)

Which will probably be a whole other process…

Miss Jacqui: I will link it all to my social media as well…So, Yeah.

(Miss Jacqui laughs)

Kay: So, this is officially the end of the interview with Miss Jacqui, Spoken Word Poet, Musician, and all-round freedom fighter. Thank you so much for your time.

Miss Jacqui: Thank you so much for having me.

Download Miss Jacqui’s amazing EP here: https://linktr.ee/iammissjacqui?fbclid=IwAR06Q8t79z_Ll47riORz2NsUYlTcv_LXGLdJFiSrkbI0aXjsy5QtbjvD13g – This works on many different platforms and also connects you to her social media.

Read Miss Jacqui’s article in Gel-dem Magazine here: https://gal-dem.com/music-industry-artist-disability/

Watch her perform Broken ‘Live From’ a church here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEkGCNIhayY

And Finally, have a sneaky look at my debut Poetry book The Dark Side of Light here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Side-Light-Kay-Channon/dp/0993069517/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Kay+Channon&qid=1597694202&sr=8-1

If you are working within the arts and identify as having/living with a disability and wish to have a conversation about your work for Disability Arts Online. Feel free to contact me using the following address: Kaychannon@gmail.com – Thank you!

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