The final show of my tour for Pastoral was held at a cinema in Walthamstow called Mirth, Marvel and Maud. As soon as I walked into the building, I felt an overwhelming sense of pressure change. I instantly became anxious and strangely uneasy. A staff member was setting up, so I asked, “Is this place haunted?” They looked at me a bit taken aback.
This feeling was not unfamiliar to me. Throughout the years of making and performing Pastoral, I had been struggling with postnatal depression following the birth of my first child in 2016. I also had recurring dreams about a ghost that would possess me and levitate my body violently. After that gig in Walthamstow, I was chatting with a friend, Alexander Tucker, also known as Microcorps, who was telling me a random ghost story. It then dawned on me that all these culminating feelings and anxieties and thoughts were leading me towards creating an album about ghosts.
I began researching the technology of ghost-hunting and discovered many connections between the development of audio technology and the spiritualist movement. From there, there’s a whole genetic pathway of music going through people like Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram, and the Radiophonic Workshop – those kinds of 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 really relate to – the power of transfiguration; the ability to freely go into another place, whether it be a spirit world or a recessive place within 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