Christine White

Album - when the things that heal us hurt us and the things that hurt us heal us

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Long title. Big album. 30 years in the making, you could say.

It began with the grandiose, evocative and purposeful melodies of the pentacostal Baptist movement and moved through the raw, smoke-filled, beer-smelling couches, gay/lesbian festivals and bars, hometown pubs and city cafes of 1990s New Zealand. The visceral power of melody combined with a strong back-beat and the evocative twang of the electric guitar.

I began a parallel career in music teaching and delved into writing musicals and music for children's theater (I've composed for Tim Bray Productions for 10 years now). I developed an appetite for non-traditional music-making listening to bands like STOMP .Through an album collaboration with Steve Garden I was introduced to contemporary New Zealand music. The works of David Downes and John Psathas exuded an exciting energy and melding of sound texture with intensity.

A degree in Sonic Arts Composition at Victoria University brought about a massive shift in my approach to sound as a compositional tool and allowed me to explore creative process more deeply. For a time it even led me to question the validity of songwriting. But life back out of the academic institution and a break-up put paid to that, and began a year of grief and emptying out on a number of levels.

This new album gathers not just my own personal heartbreaks but the various creative methodologies I've used and appreciated over time. Through images and symbols of conveyor belts, Russian dolls, turnstiles, and creatures of the deep, I've allowed myself to move through the world of metaphor. I stuck pictures up on my wall and I mined them. The pictures became collages, and the collages gave way to songs. The songs gave me the sense that the deepest parts of me had been heard.

I am very grateful to have received funding from Creative New Zealand for half of the project, and I am now asking for your help to complete the mastering and production of the album along with a simple video. If 234 people gave $30.00 I'd be all set. But of course, feel free to give less, or more, or just pass on this link. I'm grateful for any and all support.

A huge bouquet of gratitude to Tommy Morum-Kelly (tmorumkelly@gmail.com) for his stupendous work on the video. He has totally captured the essence of the song in conveying the heart of this project to you.

I want very much to share this collection of songs with others, especially those who have experienced loss. It's easily the most personally true, heartfelt, and complete body of work I have ever produced. This album is a reminder for me, and I hope, a gift to all who want to listen.

Thank you for your support.

UPDATES

  • 6 hours to go...my message to you all...

    3 MONTHS AGO

    Wow - in a way it seems like only yesterday that this campaign started - I was so nervous going into it - so much so that I stalled the start of it which made it all perilously close to CD release time.

    I won't even begin to talk about the whole process of 'asking for money' - I'm sure we have all navigated the waters of what money means to us and our relationship to it. I'm sure it has been an internal conversation on all of our radars though I have to say, given the demographic of my friends and peers, it has been a common theme through my life observing my arts friends find their way with balancing the need to make art and make money (or not lose it).

    So from the outset, I was aware of this possible conflict. This Boosted experience though, has been far from the dreaded one I thought. 

    One huge reason for this is that this process, along with everything else around the writing and recording of these songs has been about the songs and the process leading up to them. 

    More so than ever in my life my ego has really stepped aside. I don't mean ego necessarily in a derogatory way. Ego has it's place, but the whole process of the last year and a half has been about the long process of emptying out for me. All that I held dear, all that I thought I was (both the good and the not so) were just stripped down to an odd and often disconcerting place called emptiness.

    All understanding of who I was in the world, of what I thought my life meant kind of evaporated beginning with the process of grief which is an astounding character that sits on your shoulder stirring at the most inopportune times. it creates a very visceral discomfort that feels so at odds with the world around where everyone is going about their daily business.

    I could have tried to distract myself but for some reason this time I didn't. This type of loss and stalling of momentum in my life has happened too many times and I needed something else from it. 

    And so began my journaling, collaging, and visiting with Tracey my homeopath intensively. She eventually offered the suggestion that playing music for myself may help. I balked. 'What on earth are you talking about? I thought you were a good therapist! (this was by now 2 years into our relationship so I did know better).

    I played guitar when in difficulty and songs began to make their way. I played them to Tracey. She prescribed. I listened to the images and put pictures of significance on my wall. 

    I went to the nth degree to listen to every nuance of instinct, question mark or exclamation mark - taking notice of the things on my radar that spoke to me, that synched up with other images and happenings. I wrote more songs.

    I have never written so fluidly in my life. Nore have I allowed similar themes to follow through songs. Nor have I experenced new freedoms in my guitar playing as I wrote.

    Nor have I ever applied for a Creative New Zealand grant. Not in 30 years of making music. I applied for a bank loan paying interest before I would put myself through the rigors of an application form (projecting budgets, asking people with busy lives for support letters, getting quotes from people, outlining the purpose of the project, the hows whens and whys). 

    Nor have I made an intensive recording and maintained connection to the people around me. This time I visited people, I went to a fabulous wedding, and 2 heartbreaking funerals.

    Nor have I asked people to donate to a project. 

    These songs gave my images and ponderings back to me in the form of understanding, and eventually integration. The part of me that is used to saying "here I am, musician, look at what I've done" was nowhere to be seen. The part of me that wanted to do something clever and creative that would make people sit up and that would validate me continuing on this path of 'the creative' was nowhere to be seen.

    This time it was just the songs and the story - and all these other steps along the way have been made with them in the front - not me.

    And to my surprise, without me even trying - even though the work has been consistent and unrelenting for at least the 6 months of recording - things have flowed and fallen into place.

    And so it was here. The ego unchecked can go to extremes and  say 'you are too good for this' or 'you are no good at all'.

    My ego, in this instance, had been replaced with - you are human and your wounds have now been recognised so now take your place alongside all of the other humans on the planet.

    I am no longer as attached to how I am perceived - I am a deep-feeling, deep thinker who is occasionally hilarious - and this collection is not a rock album that will blow your speakers...nor is it an avant garde experiment in pushing my own and your boundaries.

    It contains songs that brought me through a time and I hope now more than ever that it will accompany others.

    I am excited to launch the album on Saturday and that will mark a huge signpost in this whole process. But it really is just the beginning of finding a way to talk about a process, to maybe give others inklings of ways in which they can cultivate the listening in their own lives. We need our own language to speak back to us for the true integrations to take place. Tracey knew that and she learned my language. The pictures that ended up on my wall and the songs that came from my hands and my mouth knew that too.

    Thank you all so very much for your wonderful messages of belief and encouragement. You have no idea what it has felt like as an accompaniment to me in the last month. 

    I believe these songs will be a balm to others as they have been to me.

    There is something to be said for the flow that comes when one has stepped aside a little. I have had so many synchronicities on the journey of this album. My year 2017 began with a relationshp ending that I didn't chooset.

    Last week I sent the album artwork and album master off for duplication on the afternoon of the 5th of July. The Boosted campaign reached it's target on the evening of the 5th of July. That date would have been an anniversary date for the relationship.

    When I sent off the Master CD I was tracking it as I was eager for it to get to the duplication people on time. When I applied for tracking details I received one of those freaky type-the-characters-to-prove-you're-not-a-robot codes.

    Check out the last 2 letters in the picture below. 

    So now - I get ready for the concert - it is going to be a blast - I am so excited to be playing along all of the musicians and singers that I am. If you are in the area - get thee to it as it will be a gathering of fabulosity!! 

    Yahoooooooo!!!!

    Thank you to the Boosted team who worked tirelessly behind the scenes and who gave fantastic support through this process. How amazing to have a crowd-funding site that supports the arts.

    A big thank you to Tommy Morum-Kelly who made such a beautiful video to support the music and kaupapa of the album.

    Again thank you all so much - it is tempting to forget when you are on the interwebs that there are real people taking time from their lives to engage - and that is what you all did. I will bring my all to helping these songs find their way to you.

    Arohanui 

    Chris





    6 hours to go...my message to you all...
  • Everything Went Into This Work.

    3 MONTHS AGO

    A month or two ago I did an exercise with a student using a technique called Blackout Poetry. You take a magazine and blackout or highlight words to make a poem.

    My student is a funny guy. He made one that said 

    "Gobble down your vision of a leaner you
    Eat your brain"

    As I said - he is funny.

    Mine ended up as the picture below. Once again about the work. This work has taken a year and a half of my life and put the life back into my year.

    But it has not been without it's breathtaking gasps. Like today.

    I am moving rapidly towards deadlines. The album artwork. The music. The launch which we are announcing very soon. The Boosted campaign which you are all riding with me on.

    Just when I think something has been secured, the ground shifts.

    I want the cover to reflect the music, the songs, the process. What has this album been about? And so today I am Skyping with a graphic designer friend worried that I haven't captured it yet. And we realise the answers are right under my nose - right on my bedroom walls.

    It suddenly feels like it will come together. Maybe today will be a lighter one. I then pick up a CD to listen to the album in my car. It's not sounding as good as in my headphones. What have I missed? How can this be? I thought this part was over but here it is again.

    I call Mike - mastering genius guy and ask what do I need to consider. He is calm. He tells me the two things I need to think about and assures me that we can make another pass at it. 

    Once more I am unsettled. This won't be over until the finals are handed in and they need to be handed in soon. I have faced many decisions on the road to making this record. Who plays, what do they play? How to make this song come up to the same level as that song? One song is at risk of being dropped. A small 3 inch deviation made a way back becomes a gulf a few kilometers wide down the road. Our small decisions can have big ramifications.

    And so it is in relationship.

    We need to make our decisions carefully. We need to learn how to look at all of the angles, to look at as many possibilities as we can. 

    I have asked sound people for help. I have asked fellow musicians, marketing people, graphics people, friends...it is the network of connections that creates our Mind. Our mind is not our brain.

    According to Dan Siegal it is 3 parts - our brain, our body and our relationships.

    And now, I am trying to listen to all three as I make the final call on this collection of beautiful songs that brought me from there to here.

    I walk the dog trying to clear my head - wondering what to do next. 

    I go to a fish and chip shop and order hot chips because we all need carbohydrates at times like this.

    I crouch down at the corner of the dairy and the cafe I frequent to borrow some wi-fi and I receive three messages in quick succession.

    One is from Tracey regarding the final song that I managed to save and keep on the album at the last. "It sounds great!! So nice to have it reinstated"

    One is from a fellow musician Nigel Mitchell, a fantastic songwriter whose band Orangefarm is about to release an EP. "Absolutely love these tracks btw. Beautiful". I discuss my latest dilemma with him and he gives good calming feedback.

    I break open my chip bag and start reaching in for chips - because we are adults now and we get to open our chips before we get them home.

    I am about to go to the car when I check my email and see that a student family of mine have given a sizeable donation to the project with the following message:

    "Extremely happy and excited for your new album Chris! What an absolutely fantastic and courageous adventure you have been on. Proud of you! All our best ❤ Laurel, Jason and Brandon

    At that, I just crumpled right there on the street corner and sobbed - I'm an emotional person and nothing like resetting the body with a good cry.

    So I am back to where I was - trying to do my very utmost best by these songs in the time I have to do so - extremely grateful for the people who appear at just the right time to lend their encouragement and support.

    We are at once alone and so not alone. 

    The general message one gets when doing the fundraiser thing is to make it fun. But I have preferred to say it how it is. It is me and when you get broken open, you learn that being you is all you have - when you accept that, the world accepts that.

    In the end, through all of these challenges, this has been the joy of it all.


    Everything Went Into This Work.
  • The Halfway Point....

    3 MONTHS AGO

    So I'm halfway through this ride called The Boosted Fundraiser Campaign.

    The 'campaign' has become a bit of a marker for the passing of time and things that can happen in people's lives.

    Last year was my year of grief and of emptying out. Honestly - that's what it was. I managed to work - but aside from that I felt cut off from the world - nothing made sense - not the News, not Facebook not anything.

    There was nothing I could hang my hat on - I felt aloof from the rest of the world. I was disconnected from myself.

    I have often felt like a person operating in isolation from the world somehow. I value my own company but also maybe used that as a way to protect from the world. Community is a nice idea but it can be dangerous. It can hurt you. And the hurts of others can be too hard to bear.

    Last year I felt alone. Alone from others. Alone from myself. Somehow I allowed the hurt to really take me down. I had enough support and I grabbed the light when I could.

    Through all of that I started to make a collage on my bedroom wall.

    Grief turned into utter meaningless and emptiness. The collage turned into songs.

    Since that time I have slowly become a part of the world - not pushing it away - but inviting in the hurts of others because I met my own and I gave it the space it needed.

    So days when one is trying to finish an album are sometimes ordinary, sometimes ordinary with subtle difference, and sometimes blaring like a fog horn.

    My dog loves to roll in horse shit. I hate this. The dung of horses should be buried in the snad. Those horse owners should get down off their high horses with a spade and dig a hole and bury that dung before my dog gets to it.

    The other day I managed to find the big pile of dung first. I covered it with sand and put a stick in it as a marker so I could beat him to it on the way back.

    That day, instead, he rolled in a half decayed stingray and a dead puffer fish.

    I spoke to a woman in a primary school playground whose job for the day was to follow a young boy around because he is diabetic and his levels can drop very quickly. He wears a helmet so she can identify him and seems to feel like royalty.

    Loved ones of loved ones are being diagnosed with illnesses. Another loved one has gone to suicide.

    My 1% friend from the start of the campagin was given a free ticket "to the fricking ROLLING STONES!" 

    I went to a cafe the other day and two women had t-shirts on that said 'Believe'.

    Life is strange, vibrant, grotesque, comedic. And in the middle of it all, I found myself through these songs.

    This collage won't mean anything to you, but for me each part had a story. You all have your stories that come to you in odd little coincidences. Notice them and they will give you your own type of song.


    The Halfway Point....
  • A Day in the Life....

    4 MONTHS AGO

    So it's rather an odd thing. I have launched this 'campaign' and the result of it is I feel like I'm sitting in a time bubble. Everything is accentuated for 30 days.

    This is Day 4 and a Thursday - my busiest of teaching days, and yet, always in the back of my mind is the thought - I have this 'thing' I'm doing. I have 26 days to do this thing. I really need to be doing something.

    So I send out messages and I will blog, and I set up radio interviews, but even despite all that, the world goes on without me. I find an email to say another person has given a koha. Someone has, through the marvels of modern technology, caught my video through the ether and watched it. The song and the images have travelled down the neuropathways of their brain into some place of resonance and they have clicked some buttons to show their love. An old friend, a relative, a young boy's pocketmoney, a family I teach. It's incredible really - this all happens while I navigate the recesses of my own brain.

    My awareness about how I spend my time is heightened as well as the noticing and collating of interesting aspects of my day.

    Today, for example, I took my dog for a break walk between students and spotted a Little Pony sitting on the front edge of the school. You know A LITTLE PONY. One of THE Little Ponies! And it was the colour that has been grabbing my attention for some time now.

    The school had an emergency lockdown drill. Weird times we live in - practicing crawling behind desks. But schools need to do these things. And they do to make life as safe as possible for all who go.

    I also had a student tell me that my album title was waaaaaaay long. His suggestion for an alternative is way cool and, if the content of the album wasn't so damn serious I might consider it. The new working title:

    When things that hurt heal....Bam. Done.

    I'm also entering a time where the practicalities of life start to elude me a little. There are a few more dishes than usual. My office in a car is looking like one. I now have to wear the really good shoes I bought for a wedding out because my usual skater shoes have holes and I'm starting to tire of having wet socks.

    But this is all because I'm still trying to decide which drum sound to have in bar 54 of that song. And I'm doing this thing.

    And - unlike any other time I have 'made my art' I'm trying to stay connected to people. Because having seen myself for who I am - the loneliness, the meaningless, the grief of 2017, I know for real how important people are to have and to hold.

    Thank you to the people who have held me thus far. I hope that I and these songs hold you.

    A Day in the Life....
  • Day 1

    4 MONTHS AGO

    Well - I'm 24 hours in on this crazy adventure called Boosted.

    Life lesson #1 - people are generous, people are kind, people LOVE seeing you do things!

    I launched the page Monday evening and awoke to find I already had ONE Donor - all the way from Berlin, Germany - my beloved family/friend Hinemoana Baker had tipped me onto 1% of my target and now all I can think is "Hinemoana, this may be the only time you can lay claim to being the 1%"

    Life lesson #2 - life continues to happen - all around us. While I am burying myself in decisions over song mixes, cover art and deadlines - people are taking people to hospitals for check ups, people are losing loved ones and grieving. All of these things and more are happening all of the time.

    The songs on this album came from a year where I went through intense feelings of loss and emptiness. People everywhere are trying to make sense of loss. Yet even as I write this post another donation arrives and I am moved again with gratitude and wonder. People get up again and reach out in spite of whatever is going on in their lives.

    Today I saw the most amazing rainbow - I rushed to photograph it but it remained. I went into my house for an hour - came out and it was still there.

    Thank you all - you beautiful human beings.

    Day 1