My third album is FIVE YEARS OLD this Thursday, so I'm celebrating with a listening party on this thread at 8pm GMT. All welcome!

Here's a link to listen to "Direction Of Travel": shemakeswar.bandcamp.com/album/directio…

Ask questions or share memories on this thread beforehand or during. Yay! Image
More info on this record can be found here along with links to behind the scenes blog posts about 9 of the 12 tracks (I clearly forgot to do the last few - ha!) shemakeswar.com/direction-of-t…
OH and genuinely there are only 15 copies of this record left on vinyl ever in the world so if you'd like one, now's a great time: shemakeswar.bandcamp.com/album/directio…
Shoutouts to @TanyaDonelly and @levellermark for guesting on this album, with beautiful contributions also from @thejchakravorty @nicolesrobson Simon Goff, The McCarricks, @andrew_skeet @mishkinbird @GazBrookfield @thedelianmode @clivedeamer @andysutordrums
Very good question just in: which version of this album will we be listening to tomorrow night? The original Pledge release had 11 tracks in a different order, but we'll go for the 2016 12 track version which you can find here: shemakeswar.com/direction-of-t…
All right peeps, I'm gathering a bunch of photos and memories to share with you from 8ish. Get comfy!
Welcome to my fifth anniversary listening party for my third album "Direction Of Travel"!

You're welcome to listen to it on any format you own (if you own it), BUT we're listening to the 2016 version, which has 12 tracks and starts with "Drown Me Out".

shemakeswar.bandcamp.com/album/directio…
Don't press play til I say "go"!

I need to have a big swig of my wine first :)
HAHAHA my internet was being a dick. OK, ready? Press play! Let's do this!
SO, "Drown Me Out" was one of the first songs I wrote for this album, the other one was "The Best". I was living with a truly terrible, terrible man but it wasn't until my subconscious started speaking through the new songs that I realised, um, something had to change.
He hated the songs, predictably - and fair enough, though previously he'd actually said to my face "I don't like it when people look at you on stage", so our days were numbered tbh.
I mean, when you're living with someone and writing lyrics like "darkness take me soon, water suck me under", there's a problem. We eventually broke up after a disastrous meetup in Innsbruck at the end of my tour. "I'm not sorry" indeed.
I had that excruciating thing where I couldn't move out for like three months or something, so we were stuck in a house together. Good for the music, I suppose! It was a big relief to move me and my wonderful pooch up the hill to Knowle West. Bristolians know where that is.
We're having internet issues so we've only just finished Drown Me Out. Let's regroup and start Cold Shoulder together in a sec. Another little glug of wine for me!
This is the first room I wrote DOT songs in (this is while moving in, it was usually tidier!!). Image
OK, ready to press play on track 2? Let's do it! 5.4.3...
Cold Shoulder was written in about an hour in the living room of my next house, about 9 months later. I was waiting for the man I was dating to let me know a time I could go and meet him for him to break up with me. I'd just been listening to "Elastica" by Elastica!
As I've grown older and had various relationships and learned my heart won't actually break, it's become easier to ready myself for the blow (and to see it coming). I removed the cheese he'd left in the fridge and took his umbrella into town to return to him. Haha.
Oh is this supposed to be about the actual music?
OK, "In Cold Blood" is so named because I love the Truman Capote book and film (though the story is obviously harrowing) and I wanted to reference it. I wanted to make something really sinister and gothy, and I was fucking angry because after dumping the awful boyfriend I came
across some truly despicable human beings who put me in situations I would never have agreed to "in cold blood".
I hate liars, I really do. I've always been an honest person and I always will be. So, the song. The awesome screechy strings were played by Nicole Robson and Simon Goff, and recorded at Metway Studios in Brighton in a glorious jampacked day of guests. At the end I'll share
a link to a video I made of that day, which I only just realised wasn't online!!! It is now :)
I think this is the first song I put goth music box sounds on, which have become a theme ever since. I just love them, and I love the outro with all the plinky plonky goodness.
"Alone"! Another cheery one. I wrote this in my head on Bristol Parkway station, waiting for the train home to that awful man I mentioned, from a really boring but well paid job I was doing three days a week for a while. The first and last corporate type thing I've done.
It was fine, I was happy to get the work, but I was musing these thoughts about being born alone and dying alone a lot, hence the lyrics, so that's not the sign of a totally cheery individual who's delighted with their work and home life.
"My delicate suffering's mine to keep" is a bit OTT, it was just a social media job for a car recovery service. Fun fact: while doing that job I got to chat on Twitter to @jetfury ! Incognito, of course. He was nice.
The Portishead connections abound on this album, as it was recorded at J&J Studios owned by the brilliant Jim Barr. TJ Allen engineered it, and has a room in the studio where Jim would come to take breaks from his sessions and have a chat. I was v. tongue tied to start with!
@clivedeamer of Portishead / Radiohead / Get The Blessing plays drums on this one, too! Brilliant man.
OH and those drums with Clive were recorded at Adrian Utley's studio in South Bristol, which was v. exciting because I got to drink out of this mug. Image
Wow, I haven't had to type this fast since I was doing that corporate job! More wine, please.
"Please Don't" is a song about my Dad. He had a few medical scares during this time, and the first thing I thought when I heard he was in hospital was that he wasn't allowed to go yet, because I hadn't handed him a baby to hold.
Now, at this time, previous to this time, and in all the time since that time I have had NO DESIRE or wish to have a baby, but that's honestly the first thought I had. Very strange! No babies here, thanks!
When I played this song to my parents, in person (I'm not a monster), my Mum immediately got it and started crying. Score, right?! My Dad furrowed his brow and once the song was finished, asked me "leave what?"
I think Mum explained it to him later on. Anyway, I feel very lucky my Dad recovered very well and didn't mind me japing around about this song on hundreds of stages in the years since I wrote this song. Thanks, Dad.
Simon Goff ex- of @hopeandsocial is playing violin on this, very beautifully indeed. I was delighted this weird riff I'd written AGES before finally had a home.
Oo yay, "Paper Thin"! Look at this prizewinner's face when she first got to meet her hero Ms @TanyaDonelly ! I managed to sneak on stage with her to do a couple of backing vocals when she played in Bristol in 2015. I practised for FOUR DAYS so I wouldn't fuck it up. Image
This was the last song I wrote for the album, in early 2015, all in love and stuff, and it was a lovely way to draw a line under a horrible year. Not only had I had two breakups, I'd gone through two bereavements, gone on tour for six weeks solid and someone tried to burgle my
new house while I was away. So, writing this song helped me sort of make sense of a whole jumble of stuff and move forward into a happier future. The line "let's do amazing things with good hearts" is for my now-husband, Tim. He's the absolute best.
Not only is he just the best human I've ever met, but he encouraged me to ask @austinmusic79 to mix this album (we'd met briefly but I was nervous because I assume everyone will think my music is shit) *and* encouraged me to ask @TanyaDonelly to sing on this song. Superstar.
Fun fact: whenever I sang this song with Tim in the room, I would be all womantic and try to direct that lovely line right at him, only my eyesight is not the best and I may well have gooned at someone else by accident. Sorry, stranger.
Here's me and T having a nice time when we made the Paper Thin video in Boston. In the days when we could just decide to fly to America to make a video mostly on a phone! The eagle-eyed amongst you might notice that pic of me was adapted for my podcast art! Cheeky. Image
And of course, Tanya was the first guest on my podcast because of course! penfriend.rocks/tanya

LOVE HER
OK, Stargazing is to me the second saddest song on the album, the partner piece to Cold Shoulder in theme and relating to the same person, but much more about the seemingly neverending series of shit things that kept happening - breakups, deaths, attempted burglaries etc.
This is the song @robinince found on YouTube and tweeted about. I responded, starstruck, and sent him the album, and he invited me to play on big stages like Royal Albert Hall and Hammersmith Apollo. He's one of the best people, so very encouraging and supporting of artists.
At various times over the years I've wanted to send a heartfelt and genuinely non-sarcastic thanks to the person this is about, because of the doors this song has opened up. But it would never come across well, I do realise that!
Slow Down Sunshine is one of my most favourite songs I've made. I was delighted to get "ventricles" into a song without it sounding clumsy, and I found layering up all these cheeky, spiky guitar lines just such a fun time. Writing and recording music isn't often a party situation
BUT I had a laugh doing this one. Here's a pic of the room I wrote and recorded this in: Image
Jim Barr lent me a well fancy microphone (pictured), because he's very kind, but I got stage fright a bit and kept putting off the singing (I recorded all the vocals at home) and returned the posh mic and did it all on my trusty SM7B instead. Image
Oh yeah, this is the first of my albums where I recorded vocals at home, and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I now record everything at home (and I love that too), but this was the first step to becoming empowered enough to just get on with it all myself. I was always producing my music but
felt / was made to feel / allowed myself to feel like actually engineering stuff was way beyond my capabilities. It's all part of the journey. I love this end to the song. Cheeky guitar lines!
Look! @neilhimself was kind enough to help spread the word! I'll always remember tipping over the 100% mark in early January 2015 and my new boyfriend Tim calling me up all excited to congratulate me. Yay! Thank you so much to all the Pledgers. Image
Right, back to the song. I love this synth-only section in the middle. I'm a massive Radiohead fan and also a massive Thom Yorke "The Eraser" fan so I like to think that's my little nod to that. And the strings!
I wangled a way to meet the wonderful @kristinhersh in 2006 or so, interviewing her for The Londonist website, and I met Martin and Kimberlee McCarrick that day because they were playing for her. We stayed in touch and I asked them to work on this song and "Paper Thin". Gorgeous!
How are you doing out there? I haven't had a sec to look for questions but I will!
I wrote the ukulele parts for "Time To Be Unkind" sitting in a hotel in Sheffield. I was playing bass for @JanetJealousy for a week of rehearsals and a couple of gigs, and had a lovely time, but nothing to do in the evenings. I got very into pushups, and wrote this song!
I was fortunate to be invited to tour with heroes @the_levellers in 2014, supporting them all around Europe and joining a bill with @TheSelecter in the UK. Dreams can come true! Many fun nights were had and I was delighted when Mark said yes to guesting on this. Image
We recorded at @the_levellers studio in Brighton, and it was awesome. ImageImage
Massive shoutout to @thejchakravorty who played all the gorgeous piano on this record. His new album is out soon so follow him, why don't you?
Another creepy one!! This song came about from finding that spooky sound on my Juni Gi keyboard and layering up from there. At that time I would lug a marching drum, guitar, megaphone, ukulele, electric guitar and amp in big rolling bags on public transport to play gigs. You can
hear the marching drum on this, and the megaphone as well. Pretty sure I recorded all the instruments for this one, and then Dan did his stellar mix magic.
I'm SO LUCKY to have got to work with @austinmusic79 for the past 6 years, he's so wonderfully encouraging and enthusiastic and talented. He works so hard, with absolute megastars, and has had two number 1 records in the last little while. Thank you, Dan xxxxx
Awhhhhhh, now this is a nice way to end the album. "The Best" was written about the aforementioned dreadful ex, in a bid to be a generous-spirited person even though he legitimately tried to set the house on fire with me in it then skipped off to the park. Yep.
Writing songs has always been my way of processing what's happening to me, turning ugliness into beauty, and this is a prime example of that. I've never felt like I belong anywhere, having moved house so much as a kid and never having long friendships. Music is my home.
I'm getting really emotional now - it's just so hard to adequately express how much making and sharing my songs over the past decade has changed my life for the better. All the little connections with such generous people - you. It's magical.
Whatever it is you see in me and my music, I'm just so glad we get the opportunity to connect in whatever ways we do. Thank you so much. It's a very lonely sort of life, doing this with no industry support bla bla bla, but the relationship we have built is a testament to
creativity, grit and determination (on both sides), which is WHY last year I started my podcast, which I know many of you have also supported so kindly.

If you haven't listened yet, check out Tanya's episode here: penfriend.rocks/tanya

And Mark's here: penfriend.rocks/mark
That 10 minute video about recording guests at Metway feat @the_levellers @levellermark @mishkinbird @thejchakravorty @nicolesrobson Simon Goff @andrew_skeet (who arranged the strings on Stargazing) is here:
The demos and rarities of DOT are free / pay what you want/can here: shemakeswar.bandcamp.com/album/directio…

And the full album is here: shemakeswar.bandcamp.com/album/directio…
If you enjoyed witnessing me type faster than the speed of light and would like to do a listening party for my other albums, let me know!

My new one, "Exotic Monsters", is out on 21st May and you can get your copy now from penfriend.rocks/newalbum xo
Last few pics! ImageImageImageImage
OK, I'll see if you had any questions!
Only 7 vinyl copies of "Direction Of Travel" are left! Hurry if you want limited edition transparent aquamarine loveliness sent from my home to yours in a timely fashion: shemakeswar.bandcamp.com/album/directio…

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More from @penfriendrocks

8 Apr
Scanning pages from my recording notebook today for the "Exotic Monsters" lyric books.

"Friday 5/7/20 - I feel I suck at everything I do and I'm worried about money. The internet is a fucking sickness."

That was the day I wrote this song! penfriend.rocks/cyh
I highly recommend keeping a log of the hours you put into any creative project - I like seeing how long things took and how I did them (cos I always forget and think I'll never be able to write a song again!) plus it's fun to snort with laughter at my past dramatic self.
(I don't really think the internet is "a fucking sickness")
Read 6 tweets
7 Apr
Will anything bad happen if I eat another Creme Egg even though I just ate one two minutes ago? Asking for a friend.
It's funny how I used to have snotty ideas about how whoever I went out with should *love* Marmite, Creme Eggs etc. when actually, being married to someone who hates both is a dream because I GET TO EAT THEM ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
I will draw the line at three Creme Eggs in five minutes though. Two was lush, don't wanna ruin it.
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7 Apr
Do you like it when I share funny/aggravating FB comments here? They amuse me so.

Best so far today: "not bad, sounds a bit like Madonna". Way to wrap a huge compliment up as a damp squib!! This was the song in question: penfriend.rocks/blackcar Image
My fave comment yesterday read, simply, "bye" 😂😂😂
"Not bad", meh, shrug, sounds a bit like someone who sold a bajillion records and changed the shape of popular culture. Ah, words.
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11 Mar
Pre-Covid and pre-Brexit, I used to dart around Germany playing solo shows. People regularly found it so strange that I wasn't up for getting wasted every night in "rock n roll fashion" but I've always had to be hyper aware of my safety as a woman travelling alone.
In Europe, even at an indie level, accommodation is usually provided in some form, often a private hostel room or spare room of the promoter or someone's mate.
Over the years I've learned to 1) always have my wits about me (so one beer max) and 2) make sure there's never any reason for someone to think they could make a move (e.g. don't be too friendly or tactile). These are just standard things women have to consider. It's exhausting.
Read 10 tweets
12 Nov 20
It feels like a decent time to listen to Pearl Jam's "Ten" for the first time ever. Could I BE more late to the party?
Before you all explode in surprise - early on I decided EV's voice just wasn't to my taste, so focused my energies on Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hole, Smashing Pumpkins etc and the other day I thought, maybe I'll give that band another try with my more sophisticated ears and here I am
I always thought "Evenflow" and "Alive" were great tunes but, again, just wasn't into the general vibe very much. Interested to see what these aged ears say to me after this little listening sesh.
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27 Jun 19
Dear friends, do I have a thread and a half for you. Something happened yesterday that I need to share with you. Get yourself a cuppa, pull up a chair.
I was having a really nice day. I’d been listening to the first mix of the first song from the new album I’ve been working on all year (it sounds MASSIVE), the sun was out - sort of - and one of my strawberry plants was finally bearing fruit. Gardening success! I was enjoying a
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