A Little Help From My Friends ~ by Nina Clark 

Feb 1st 2019 


I’ve been putting off writing this blog for a couple of months. It is hard to admit vulnerability, after all.

Since I was fortunate enough to receive the backing of the Arts Council’s ‘Develop Your Creative Practice’ funding last summer, my creative life has been not just rejuvenated, but blossomed in new and extraordinary ways.

When last we spoke, I was about to enter Denmark Studios in Maidenhead for three days to record ALPHA album with Sam Dunn, Jules Jackson and Steve Hanley. It was Halloween…

The temporal skid from then til now feels vast. So before the vulnerability, and because I think I need to remind myself, let me tell you about that experience.


Oh, such joy. It’s actually quite hard to quantify, but the visceral juiciness of creating musical art with three tremendously talented fellows is heady, potent and more than a little bit life changing.

Three days is no time at all; we had 11 songs to lay down, and had never all played together! No full band rehearsal even. Just — BOOM. Get in, get grooving and get out. The recording of ALPHA were easily three of the best days of my life, and without question the most creatively satisfying exercise I’ve undertaken. These guys. Honestly. There is a delicious, silly, deep dynamic in the ALPHA band, and I dig it, hard.

I’ve known Sam since infant school, and he’s been part of every significant musical endeavour I’ve launched since my teens. We have a rapport old as the hills, front-loaded with daft-buggery. Sam is one of very few musical soul mates in my life, and I’m blessed he still puts up with my nonsense.

He brought Steve “Chief” Hanley into my life too, so he gets extra points. For a wee whippersnapper (he’s in his 20’s for Pete’s sake), the dude has a hearty groove I’m excited to dive into, as well as a symbol called Ol’ Trampy. Steve brings the sort of energy and enthusiasm that lights a fire under your ass. He’s a tonic, and we cherish him.

Jules I’ve known since my Uni days, when he and I used to play about with that there Jamie Cullum, but I’d not played with JJ since then (ie. like, an 18 year hiatus). So, where has this mofo been all my adult life?! I’ve a delicate history with bass players, with one in particular leaving a very large hole in my life.

I’ll admit, I had a little weep to myself when I realised Jules not only filled the hole that Rob Amster left in my music when he left us all, but Jules brings so much of his character, chops, can-do attitude and general bad-assery, that I feel very blessed to have him on board.

So, Jules was not just on bass duties, but also engineering us at Denmark Studios, and this was followed by overdubs and mixing at his home studio in Stroud over two whole days in November. To try to quantify what JJ brought to ALPHA is nearly impossible. Blood, sweat, snot (there were multiple colds), whippet hair, baby tears (his wee Sadie was just a couple of months old) doesn’t cover it. You’ll have to hear ALPHA to realise, but the thing would not exist without him.

Whether you’ll warrant the life-change of it all, I can guarantee it is gamechanging, and the results bear this out.

As if making ALPHA wasn’t fun enough, I now get to listen to the ruddy thing, and it brings me even more joy. I could not be prouder of what we collectively achieved and more excited to share it with the world.

So, re-reading my last blog, “It Begins…”, reminded me of the energy and excitement I had in October…

I say ‘had’ only because January 2019 was just a non-stop nose-dive into the adminhell of all my hopes and dreams! Here you must permit me a minor moan; since the halcyon days of all the creative stuff — recording, mixing, getting the stonking Paul Booth to lay a sax solo on the title cut, mastering (with the venerable Jon Astley, thank-you-very-much) and getting stuck into web/marketing duties with the excellent and patient Sam Carney at Orbit Folkestone — it’s been back to emails, emails, emails, emails, funding bids, emails.

All the play and fun and creativity has been interrupted (temporarily) by LAUNCHING MY CAREER! The levelling up I’ve committed to doing as an artist is still 100% down to me at the end of the day, regardless how many brilliant people I get on board to help. No one will do this for me. And that just gets a bit…lonely…sometimes.

And not a bit overwhelming/stressful/bewildering.

But then I’m reminded — that in two weeks I’m gathering some of my favourite people to me in Folkestone in order to make a music video for the first single, ‘Armour’. That’ll be a lark.

And that I get to play with the ALPHA band again when we launch the album at the end of March. UNLEASHING IT ON THE WORLD!

That I have the most loving and supportive family anyone could ask for, friends sent from the very gods, a lover ready to leap into the fire for me, and a network of people around me always willing to pitch in with advice or a hand.

And finally, I simply remind myself that when I need help…

I should ask for it.

Maybe you can help me? Who knows? Maybe we can help one another, and all will be copacetic…

Yours, in self-care and self-kindness, wishing you the same back