Generations Fellowship
Joey Leigh Wagtail by Elize Strydom
Joey Leigh Wagtail by Elize Strydom

Fellow: Joseph Douglas

Fellowship Term: November 2022 – April 2023

On Beginning the Fellowship

November

My first month at the Powerhouse was a false start. After I moved my family and all our worldly possessions down here to the big smoke for my original start date earlier in the year, I shared the space with my other Generations fellow, Indira, before ultimately having to head home prematurely due to an unforeseen family emergency. I will be eternally grateful for the support and understanding I received from the Powerhouse team (especially Hannah and Dyan) during what became a very uncertain time for me and my family.

But it’s okay in the end and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

And so, after a long 6 months, I continue with my Generations Fellowship. This time around, I have come back to Sydney all alone and on one leg. Initially, I was feeling a bit little in this big brick bunker, underneath the grandiose Powerhouse building. But after lugging and plugging everything in and tuning up, I began working hard, recording and writing and repeating.

Being from a small town, I am relishing the anonymity of being just another face in the crowd, especially the train rides to and from the museum. Everyday I see so many random acts of kindness, long hugs of reunited loved ones, young couples holding hands, an elderly lady even offered me her seat and tears started welling up, she was so beautiful. These are the kind of moments that I hope to imbue into my art and something to look forward too when I go to sleep. Having a safe space to come and create is a reoccurring dream that I have been dedicated to making reality for a long time. Though I am deeply missing my family and they miss me, it only strengthens my resolve to go on with greater determination and discipline. It has been hard for everyone and I don’t take this opportunity lightly but somehow this place makes me feel light as a feather, perhaps it is the metric tonnes of brick and mortar surrounding me, or the gargantuan engine of the soviet rocket ship inside the museum.

Learning the history of the place, particularly how it was built and by whom, gives me a daily reminder that I walk on the shoulders of giants. My ancestors, they were the first to master aerodynamics with the invention of the boomerang and seeing how far human ingenuity has come since then, baffles me but also inspires, that I too have a part to play in this divine creative process. This gives me a great optimism for future generations. I feel blessed to be here, born to be here and as the full blood moon marked my arrival, I feel that I am truly here for a reason, or was it merely cosmic coincidence? Who knows? Surely the team at Astral People.

Meeting with Tom and Vic (Astral People’s Directors) makes me feel like it’s okay to be a dreamer but dream big and let it permeate into your very essence, believe it, trust it, let the universe handle the rest. I don’t know it all, so it’s nice to know some people, who know some people, who know it all. It’s nice to bounce ideas off something other than a brick wall, to check in and be accountable with industry professionals is invaluable and I deeply appreciate their thoughts and time.

Anyway, I am finding this whole diary entry thing a little too healthy and enjoyable. I could go on forever philosophising but to cut a long story short, I started to worry that this opportunity was going to pass me by and in the context of what my family was going through and the helplessness combined with a fear of missing out was an emotional rollercoaster with back to back loop-deloops. So after a month that has felt like a year, following the two years that felt like ten, I’m heading home to be with my family. To unwind and and process and recharge. I grateful and graciously welcome whatever it is on the horizon.

 

December

When I reflect on the last month, it’s been a blur (as per usual for the late December early January period). I spent most of time with my family and travelled around blending in with tourists quite well. I came into the Powerhouse studio a few times for upkeep and sporadic jam sessions.

After years in the process, I have now got a copy of the final masters of my debut album in my hands! Hearing it for the first time a weight lifted, a fog cleared; I just felt content and peaceful but also really aware the whole time. I’m very excited to get it out into the world and hear others reactions to it.

A selfie taken by Joseph Douglas green headphones

We had a think tank with Astral People on a release strategy and started preparations for a tour off the back of it. Getting a band together. We also discussed social media, which I tend to neglect entirely, mainly for mental health reasons but often at the detriment of my career exposure. I hope to develop a healthier relationship with social media over the next few months here because I do appreciate its’ value in spite of the challenges.

I focused a lot of energy on developing my knowledge of the business, ultimately coming to the conclusion that it is far more constructive to work with professionals in their respective fields instead of spending so much time playing music and having fun. So I looked into distribution companies, PR companies, booking agents, managers, and other creatives like photographers and videographers to potentially work with. I found some good options through the Create NSW website. It has a lot of useful information available, as well as people like a Regional Music Officer to talk to that know their stuff. The new regional touring network they have created is a game changer in my opinion.

tools: wire cutters, philips head screwdriver, 2 hex keys internally facing brick wall

I’ve been writing songs as a morning routine, pretty much as soon as I wake up. It’s a bit cliché, but dreams really are a great source material for songwriting. Also, I figure the fairy godmother of inspiration and benevolent truth will appear more often when she knows your time schedule. I have no judgement or expectations for the songs, nor do I mind what they are about. For me it is just playing with words and chords and seeing what happens. When I hear a cool phrase with an interesting phonetic, I take a mental note for tomorrow morning. Also, the circle of fifths is a great tool for this, it’s essentially a cheat sheet to get you started.

red carpet carpet

This month I’m looking forward to going to visit the Powerhouse collection at Castle Hill and trying out some of the toys that are available, as well as some of the events happening here. Anyway, its been a lot of fun and I feel really good about what I’ve achieved so far.