It isn’t exactly a revelation to say that music can invoke strong emotions. It can lift your mood when you’re feeling down, or keep you down when you’re already there – self-indulgently wallowing in misery and heartache, Bridget Jones style.  And sometimes it can hit just the right note to bring you completely undone, even if just for the duration of a single song. Here are four that have done just that for me.

Me and a Gun – Tori Amos
I wasn’t a big fan of Tori Amos in the early 2000s, mostly because I’d only really heard Cornflake Girl and Professional Widow, and while I’ve since come around to Cornflake Girl, I didn’t like either back then. Then someone at work put on Tales of a Librarian and I was forced to rethink my I-don’t-like-Tori-Amos stance. I had her copy the CD for me and listened to it on my Discman at the gym. Distracting myself from the fact that my I-don’t-really-like-running stance had definitely not changed, I focused on the music and actually heard the lyrics to Me and a Gun for the first time. Based on Amos’ experience of being raped at knifepoint, the juxtaposition of random, innocuous thoughts and brutal description of physical reality is jarring, and the desperate optimism of the repeated line, “I haven’t seen Barbados, so I must get out of this…” is devastating. I found myself in tears on the treadmill, and the discomfort of running had nothing to with it.

Anniversary of an Uninteresting Event – Deftones
The self-titled fourth album from Deftones was always a bit middle-of-the-road for me. I like the songs, there is an overall cohesiveness to the album, but I just don’t love it. It doesn’t have the raw energy of Adrenaline or Around the Fur, and never quite hits the heights of the brilliant White Pony. This song, however, always stood out for me. The opening bars instantly evoke for me a last dance, a couple’s final few moments before they part forever; imagery so strong that, even having never experienced what I see in my mind’s eye, I still feel the emotion of it every single time. It makes me simultaneously yearn for a life never lived, and wish that I could create something that would affect someone as strongly as this song affects me.

Rearview Mirror – Pearl Jam
Vs. was the first Pearl Jam album I ever owned, and I listened to it on repeat, amazed by songs that spoke to my teen angst in a way that was completely new to me. I loved Rearview Mirror from the first listen, but it didn’t truly resonate with me until five years later. I was 19 and at a nightclub that I went to every Saturday night. It was a time when a lot of things had changed for me, mostly for the better. I had left behind people I had little in common with, who I didn’t like and who didn’t like me, and instead made real friends who had similar interests to mine. I had left high school for university and discovered a freedom to make my own choices. Suddenly the meaning of the lyrics hit me, and so did all the negative feelings that I had moved on from but never actually dealt with. “Saw things so much clearer/once you/were in my/rearview mirror”.

3 Libras – A Perfect Circle
I first heard this song when Mer de Noms was released in 2000, and it immediately became a favourite. “Difficult not to feel a little bit…disappointed…passed over” – that lyric really got me. How could it not? What 20 year old woman wouldn’t feel just a little bit of heartache at those words? But about five years ago, at home alone, three quarters of the way through a bottle of wine, it felt as though the song had actually been written for me. Working at a job I hated and being rejected for everything else I applied for, in love with yet another boy who didn’t feel the same, a song about being overlooked, a song that repeated over and over the words that were at the very heart of myself at that time – “You don’t see me” – was enough to completely break me. Fun fact: it is possible to sing this song while sobbing.

Featured Image by MJM Photographie used under a Creative Commons Licence

Music and politics have gone hand in hand since the birth of time. I grew up listening to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan – their passionate anti-war prose being my first political education. I remember being a small human, maybe around 10 or 12, and having a conversation with my mother about why people chose to go to war, and why some chose to go to jail rather than be conscripted. I had socialist and progressive values from a young age which fiercely continued into my adult years. Pussy Riot, Midnight Oil, The Beatles/John Lennon, Muse, Rage Against the Machine – all of these artists have been poster children for rebellion and resistance at some stage.

As a teen and adult my musical choices were fairly anti-establishment. I cheered when Pearl Jam took on Ticketmaster and then George Dubya. I fist pump when some of my favourite artists proclaim their disdain for American gun culture. I celebrate the fact that most of my musical choices seem to align with my leftie leanings, and I guess that’s part of  being a rebellious misfit  – it can be hard to find voices in mainstream media that so closely mirror your own thoughts.

And then sometimes I get completely jolted off-side when I hear the political leanings of bands and individuals whom I respect and admire.

During the shocking and horrific attacks on Paris in November 2015, and specifically on the Eagles of Death Metal gig at Le Bataclan, I watched in fervent horror as I saw people who could have been me or any of my friends running for their lives. Blood stained. Injured. Desperate. In the short time since, EODM have given a couple of official interviews. The first of which was recorded for VICE and was completely heart wrenching to watch. I had to watch it over several sittings. Their pain and suffering was absolutely palpable. And as I had met and chatted with both Jesse Hughes and Dave Catching during their last Australian tour, it felt personal. I wanted to reach through my screen and console them, with every inch of my beating heart.

And then the second interview. Given exclusively to French television station iTélé, Hughes passionately and tearfully called for greater access to guns and increased gun ownership, claiming that had everyone in that auditorium that night had a gun on them the death toll would have been far lower, and the siege ended far more quickly.

“Did your French gun control stop a single fucking person from dying at the Bataclan? And if anyone can answer yes, I’d like to hear it, because I don’t think so. I think the only thing that stopped it was some of the bravest men that I’ve ever seen in my life charging head-first into the face of death with their firearms.

“I know people will disagree with me, but it just seems like God made men and women, and that night guns made them equal,” he said. “And I hate it that it’s that way. I think the only way that my mind has been changed is that maybe that until nobody has guns everybody has to have them.

“Because I’ve never seen anyone that’s ever had one dead, and I want everyone to have access to them, and I saw people die that maybe could have lived, I don’t know.”

To say I was absolutely gobsmacked by the sheer hypocrisy and irony of his interview is a massive understatement.

I am not naïve enough to think every artist I am interested in musically holds the same core values as I do. I had seen photos of Hughes on his Instagram feed where he supported gun culture, and given that he lives in the desert I didn’t think it much of a stretch. I had read that he was a Trump supporter – I took that with a grain of salt because *surely* anyone with half a brain in their head doesn’t support that clown. And I’ve met Hughes. He has more than half a brain in his head. He is a deeply compassionate and considerate man. So knowing that about him, I was shocked to my core to hear him mimic the words of the NRA and the right-wing conservative movement. I thought a lot of the rhetoric was a joke that he was playing on us all. He calls himself The Devil, he loves and lives with a porn star (Tuesday Cross), he is a rock’n’roll badass. Was he taking the piss?

Turns out he wasn’t. Recently he has published more politically charged imagery and words on his Instagram feed. And now all I can do is shake my head and feel saddened that our values are so polar opposite. Being the politically motivated woman that I am, the temptation to sell my ticket to their upcoming Melbourne gig is sky high, and I’m finding that choosing between two passions is a tough line for me to draw in the sand.


words and photo: Mandy Campbell

 

Some time ago I was in a facebook group with other photographers of varying skill, where we attempted to take 52 self portraits – one a week for a year. I got about half way through. Which will surprise exactly no one. However, I completely loved the group of people and the challenge – I just had some personal set backs that made everything go on the backburner. I disappeared off facebook and pretty much stopped doing photography. In fact, the only time I really used my camera during that time was for self portraiture. I may not have been in the group anymore, but I still had some ideas churning and I tried to explore them. They were mostly pretty dark conceptually, but some of them are still some of my favourites.

So, to now… I realised that while I adore shooting live music, and is something I want to continue to do for a very long time, it doesn’t afford a great deal of creativity. I still feel a pull to creating self portraits as a form of therapy and ultimate expression. So I started a new group. It’s in it’s early stages – and I admit I’m not up to date. But I’ve started and I’ll take my time to get through it and do it justice.

Here is photo number one and the caption that went with it.
Theme: Face. (introduce yourself)

20150422-IMG_1033

 

Hi. You pretty much all know me. Most of you know that I wear my heart on my sleeve, and many of you will know by now that I use my photography (especially self portraiture) as a form of therapy.

So here’s a thing about me… I’m getting more vain the older I get. I feel sexier than I ever have before. I feel a confidence I’ve never known before. Society doesn’t really like women admitting that they’re vain, they just expect women to look after themselves and look good and be humble. And then try and tear them down if they happen to step outside the expected norms.

Selfies get a bad rap. But I’m a big fan, and not just because I use them as therapy. Who else is going to take my photo if I don’t? One day in the future I won’t be here anymore, but my photos will. I hope my kids enjoy looking through the boxes of printed photos, and the hard drives of non printed one, sifting through the crap, finding something that makes their heart sing. That they can say “OMG look at Mum when she was 37! SHE HAD PINK HAIR!”

This is me. I’ll keep shining in ways that suit me, and me only. As my sister said about me once … I love a selfie. 

More than ten years ago now, I decided I wanted to go to Iceland based on a poster I saw in a few places around London. Photographs are the basis for much of my travel, even though I don’t take many myself, and actually have a rather unlucky history with those I have taken – the disposable camera on which I took my photos in Turkey was lost somewhere on my last day there; I accidentally deleted all of my photos from South America on the last day of my tour (Every. Single. One.); and the photos from my trip to Italy and France were lost when my mobile phone decided it no longer wanted to turn on anymore, and wasn’t that keen on transferring anything to the computer either. Nevertheless, seeing photos of places makes me want to see them in person, to the point of still wanting to visit Iceland even though I hate the cold.

Since then, and since moving back to Australia (which is obviously quite a bit further away than London was!) I have added Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden to the list. All based on photos I have seen, and also all cold. Mostly I would very much like to see the Northern Lights, but I also want to see the glaciers, volcanoes, and waterfalls, and yes, even the frozen landscapes!

Below are some of the photos that inspire me to want to visit.

Iceland Photo courtesy of http://www.iceland24blog.com/2014/12/best-time-to-visit-iceland.html

Iceland
Photo courtesy of http://www.iceland24blog.com/2014/12/best-time-to-visit-iceland.html

Denmark Photo courtesy of http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53714acce4b0bb13e3c90e93/t/547dfa34e4b0e1f3b2412f0b/1417542200686/international-moving-to-denmark.jpg?format=1500w

Denmark
Photo courtesy of http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53714acce4b0bb13e3c90e93/t/547dfa34e4b0e1f3b2412f0b/1417542200686/international-moving-to-denmark.jpg?format=1500w

Norway Photo courtesy of http://onebigphoto.com/uploads/2011/11/highway-in-norway.jpg

Norway
Photo courtesy of http://onebigphoto.com/uploads/2011/11/highway-in-norway.jpg

Finland Photo courtesy of http://static3.visitfinland.com/wp-content/uploads/Kakslauttanen_igloos_3598.jpg

Finland
Photo courtesy of http://static3.visitfinland.com/wp-content/uploads/Kakslauttanen_igloos_3598.jpg

Sweden Photo courtesy of http://askarsgard.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/ajkleincover.jpg

Sweden
Photo courtesy of http://askarsgard.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/ajkleincover.jpg