FEATURE: Helen McCookerybook – My Inspiration | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Helen McCookerybook opens up about her inspiration ahead of bringing her heartfelt acoustic music to Cluny 2 on Friday 13th April with The Monochrome Set and The Big Pink Yacht. Over you you Helen…

Inspiration is a complicated thing; part of it is having ideas, and the other part is being motivated enough to put them into action, and that is the difficult bit.

I went to art college and I was never the type to think about making money first and thinking of ideas after that to get the income rolling in.

I used to look at the world and think ‘Why hasn’t anyone done….?’ and then have to create the thing myself to fill the hole I could see.

So musically, it those weird people who make music that sounds as though they materialised on to earth straight from another planet, and that fits into a gap that nobody thought was there- people like Curved Air, The Maddox Brothers and Rose, early Bob Marley and the Wailers, Young Marble Giants, and a lot of Northern Soul, which is absolutely bonkers. What these artists all have in common is that they seem to have been given a machine and an instruction manual but they have completely misunderstood the instructions and put the machine together backwards- it still works, but just in a completely different way to that envisaged by its inventor. In each case, when I first heard the music, it was completely astonishing: what made you think of this? Sometimes it was an accident, but that’s even better still. Music is so mysterious, the way it arrives on your radar without you asking it to. The rawest and most unprocessed version of things often the best- the first ramshackle gig, the first album; those things are definitely inspirational.

Ideas-wise: well, Grayson Perry never stops having ideas. He has clearly originated from a completely different planet than anyone else. His relentless manufacture of surreal motorbikes, maps, pottery and anything else you can imagine busts a hole through ordinariness and lets you peep into a world where nothing is under the control of grey people in greyland. Ha ha!

Making music is also an unfulfilled dream for my Dad’s Mum, who was a talented pianist but being from a Scottish Presbyterian family and being the eldest of a large number of children, it was her job to help out with her siblings; then she went blind when she was relatively young. She never got to go to music-college, and she never got to play concerts. She had the lightest touch on the piano, like butterflies touching the keys. I am so aware of having chances that she and other women of her generation never had. I am not a good player like her, but I am having the adventures in music that she didn’t have. So she is a massive inspiration, like my other granny who had a child-like excitement about people and life even when she got really old. It can be tough in the world of music so those two grannies are my spiritual support when the going gets tough.

The most best inspiration though, is holding a well-loved guitar in my hands. The guitar feels like a friend and in that one bit of wood’n’wire is a lifetime of music, songs and adventures.

Helen McCookerybook plays Cluny 2 on Friday 13th April.

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