The final night of my tour for Pastoral culminated in a performance at a cinema in Walthamstow called Mirth, Marvel and Maud. As soon as I walked into the building, I was hit with an overwhelming sense of pressure change. I felt anxious and strange, and it wasn’t long before someone asked me if the place was haunted.
I had been struggling with postnatal depression from the birth of my first child in 2016, and had recurring dreams about a ghost that would possess me and levitate my body violently. After that gig in Walthamstow, I chatted with a friend, Alexander Tucker (aka Microcorps), who was telling me a ghost story completely randomly. It was then that I realized that all these feelings and anxieties were leading up to something bigger – my next album would be about ghosts.
I began researching the technology of ghost-hunting and discovered many connections between the development of audio technology and the spiritualist movement. From there, I delved into the genetic pathway of music going through people like Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram, and the Radiophonic Workshop – those sounds and machines that have a heritage in something supernatural. Even women’s rights were influenced by early spiritualism because it gave women a platform and power that I related to deeply – the power of transfiguration; the ability to freely go into another place, whether that was a spirit world or a recessive place within themselves where they could scream and be crazy. Where else could they have done that in that era?
What ended up coming out on Black Dog was an emotional response – an excavation of my own fears and lifelong psychological state. But making the initial connection between technology, women’s rights, and ghosts blew my mind – it felt like everything fell into place perfectly.