Jessica Danz

Performer | Composer | Artist

New Projects

I'm juggling several new creative projects at the moment, and I suspect they're all are going to challenge me in unexpected ways - mapping out structures and textures for a new work for violin and string quartet inspired by Muriel Spark's poetry; revising a solo piano score for a recording in July; and spending a week in August in the National Theatre of Scotland's Guest Room undertaking a creative development to begin writing a new interdisciplinary solo show. 

In my mind these projects are full of promise and exciting visions of new creations.  But to be honest I'm also pretty daunted by the reality of transitioning from an abstract idea to actually writing and creating a tangible series of works.  It's made me look again at my thought processes around creativity: particularly to examine certain negative mental habits that seem to trip me up on a regular basis.  Most often it's simply fear that holds me back from creating something; usually the fear of it not being 'good enough', whatever that means!  I also have a tendency to focus on the things that might go wrong (rather than imagining the things that might go right).  I believe it's essential to be able to critically assess my own work, but I know I can do this to excess.  

Sometimes I delay starting something because I'd almost rather avoid creating it at all than risk the possibility of it being mediocre!  But despite this hesitation there's an inner need to make things that eventually overcomes my reluctance.  The process of musical composition in particular can be quite exhausting, but there's also an enormous satisfaction and pleasure in being fully immersed in a process that employs so many different mental muscles.  I'm learning (slowly) to give new work and ideas space to breathe - to allow them to be imperfect, trusting that they will develop in their own time.  And I'm resolved to remember that all I need to do is simply begin:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance..."

W.H. Murray (Scottish mountaineer and writer)



An update about my forthcoming solo album!  Despite some delays I've been working intensively on finalising the tracks - it's just taken a little while to work it all out, as I have so much material I've now decided to release two albums. The plan is that the first one will be completed in July/August, and then I'll release the second towards the end of the year. I'm working with the fantastic Pete Fletcher at Black Bay Studio to get it all finished, and I look forward to sharing some new music with you very soon!



In October last year I completed a commission for An Lanntair's Faclan Festival to write and perform a live piano score for a 35 minute section of the early Icelandic documentary Ísland í Lifandi Myndum, an early Icelandic documentary from 1925 created by filmmaker Loftur Guðmundsson.  I'm very excited to announce that I've been invited to include the work as part of the exhibition SSA & VAS TOGETHER, showing at the Royal Scottish Academy!  The film and my recorded score will be installed in collaboration with An Lanntair and the National Film Archive of Iceland.  The exhibition runs from January 29th to March 8th.



Happy New Year everyone! After a busy few months I'm enjoying some quieter moments, and savouring the subtle beauties of the midwinter. It's a good time to reflect on the past year and begin to draw together the threads of this year's creative work. 2017 has been a very productive time - playing solo shows, recording a new album, writing and performing a new film score, and travelling to Australia for a residency and exhibition, among other things! I was also delighted to be mentioned by journalist Jan Patience as one of her 2017 Art Highlights, for my new score for the 1925 Icelandic silent film Ísland í Lifandi Myndum (performed at An Lanntair's Faclan Festival this year).
Thank you all very much for your support during 2017. I have some exciting new projects to announce soon, and look forward to sharing my new album with you in the Spring!



I'm delighted to be returning to Western Australia in November this year, where I'll be spending some time in the beautiful South-West region of the state.  I'll be Musician & Artist in Residence at the Vancouver Arts Centre in Albany for several weeks, developing and researching an ongoing project entitled The River.  I'll be exploring the Kalgan River and the Torndirrup National Park, collecting ideas for a series of new prints and works on paper, as well as developing composition ideas back in the studio.  During the residency there will be a solo performance and an exhibition of my visual artwork.



I've just started composing an original live score for the 1925 Icelandic silent film 'Ísland í Lifandi Myndum' (Iceland in Living Pictures). Filmmaker Loftur Guðmundsson was one of the pioneers in Icelandic film history, producing both documentaries and feature films. The film and live score will be presented at this year's Faclan Festival at An Lanntair, Isle of Lewis.



Listening to the first mixes of album tracks today... I've been working towards recording this album for a long time now, so it's slightly surreal and quite emotionalto be at this stage of the process at last, but also very exciting.



It's been a very busy summer so far, but this week I have a little time to get back to researching several new composition projects, including one that explores links between Australia and the Outer Hebrides. I spent a morning in the studio last month being interviewed and filmed about this project for an upcoming documentary.  More on this soon...



Yesterday was my last day of recording and editing... what a journey! After many months of preparation it's been an absolutely fantastic experience to work on this album with Pete Fletcher at Black Bay Studio.  We get started on the mixing in a few weeks time...




A short studio video from the last week - some last minute practice before recording the piano interlude from Last Waltz.  Today I've begun the daunting task of recording all the vocal tracks... definitely the most challenging part of the process so far!


The last few weeks have been super busy - travel, album preparation, being unexpectedly shortlisted and interviewed for a London residency, trying to find time to actually PRACTICE album tracks (rather than just obsessively fine tune all the arrangements)... And generally attempting to stay on top of juggling performance, composition, admin and life!

It's certainly never dull - and now that I've spent a week or so getting to know this lovely Bechstein (now safely installed in the beautiful new Black Bay Studio) I can't wait to start recording proper next week!



I recently performed at On the Level - A Curious Music Festival.  A fantastic array of music and sounds took place in spaces throughout An Lanntair. I performed a solo set in the Gallery, with a few sneak previews of some tracks that will be appearing on the new album...



It was a pleasure to perform a solo set on Friday night as part of the live local music showcase at the Taigh Chearsabhagh Arts Centre.  A lovely, intimate venue - and a great audience!



Here's a behind-the-scenes peek at my photo shoot in Edinburgh recently, working with the amazing Laurence Winram on some new promotional images.  I had a fantastic time - huge thanks to Laurence (Laurence Winram Photography) and Jak (Jak Morgan Makeup Artist)




A productive week so far on residency in beautiful County Kerry, Ireland. I'm currently working on the arrangements of tracks for the new album - excited to begin recording soon at Black Bay Studio in the Outer Hebrides.

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I'll be performing a live music score that I've written specially for Margaret Tait's silent film 'These Walls' as part of the Story Makars on the 9th of March at An Lanntair.  Writer and performer Gerda Stevenson will read from a new collection of poetry, alongside showings of three short films by Orkney-born filmmaker Margaret Tait.

Tait's haunting work 'These Walls', is an impression of the interior of her studio premises in Rose Street, Edinburgh. It has been suggested that the film was made as she was preparing to move out of the studio - it is a colour, silent film composed mainly of close-ups and panning shots of the walls, and gives a sense of time inexorably passing in the small, simply furnished space.



A new year, another country, and a different work space... I'm settling in to life in the Outer Hebrides, working in a new studio, and preparing to record my new album in May. I'm looking forward to a creatively busy year ahead, with several other exciting projects and collaborations beginning to emerge and evolve... more updates to follow!



I've set up a studio space now that I'm back in Western Australia, and I'm looking forward to spending this time composing, writing, and drawing.  I'm also preparing to record a new solo album in May 2017.

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© Jessica Danz