The Gloom EP

I don't think it's a secret I'd been battling with myself and my music for quite a while. After Christmas, I hit another big wall. Nothing was inspiring me anymore, and the pressure to create and keep my career going was starting to overwhelm me into a dark place. My mental health which has always been a considerable difficulty in my life was once again beginning to deteriorate. Depression and this heavy, sickening feeling of hopelessness began to paint my days into old familiar shades of grey, and the nights would find me pacing and shaking with anxiety. Still, the pressure to create would hang over me, and I'd force myself to sit at my piano and come up with something, anything.    

'Must keep making music....must not disappear.'    

Of course, I failed again and again and eventually I had to throw in the towel and give up. After a few days of sleep and some gentle hobbies like drawing and learning ukulele, I wondered if perhaps I was looking for inspiration in the wrong place. I had this eerie little poem I'd written off the cuff a few months back about a gloomy, lonely lost soul who lived trapped in a permanent shadow, envying the happy, sunny lives of others. It was a symbolic tale about my depression. I have often felt excluded from the world and its joys when I'm battling depression and anxiety. At times it has left me so lost and detached that I've wondered if I'm even really here?    

Am I just a blurry ghost of someone I used to be?   

Once I looked at the poem again, I realised I might have something to work with. More importantly, I had something I wanted to say. I wanted to say 'look at me, this is me, please tell me you see me.'    

Now I'm not the kind of writer who can write about depression in a straightforward and frank way. If I did that, it would just be too horrible, and I worry it would genuinely scare people. I decided early on to write about this as if it was a dark fairytale which is something I've always found to be stirring. I have a deep love for all things eerie and macabre, and I wanted to play with those tones in this work. I knew it was going to be minimal in instrumentation. Still, I knew it had to be powerful, which is why I decided almost immediately that I would hire Roxane Genot to play her sublime, supernatural cello in all the songs. She is a master of dancing between moods of dark and light, beauty and terror, and I knew she would be the jewel of this EP. I was adamant that these tracks had to sound sophisticated, mature and truthful with a raw, honest passion and Roxane brings all of that and more with everything she touches. She brought this work to life.    

The songs weren't always easy to write, but the process did feel quite cleansing at times. I realised I could be personal with the songs without feeling I was sharing too much about my private life. The dark fairytale angle was a nice buffer for that. Writing 'Disappear' for instance, was a very intimate experience as it's written about my relationship. We're going through a lot right now, and it's been hard. I could never write a straightforward song about our struggles because it's just not my style of songwriting and I don't think it's fair to my partner. It was nice to find a way to write about us without actually feeling like I'm putting it all out there. It's abstract and gentle, and yet it still feels like I'm sharing a genuine, very raw part of me and my life.    

The Dawn was a song that initially had a kind of happy-ish, hopeful conclusion in mind. In the end, though, it felt dishonest of me to write it like that. I had to ask myself, 'who is this happy ending for?' because it didn't feel like it was for me. I felt like I was buckling under a pressure to give people something comfortable to close with, as if I was doing my usual people pleaser shrug while saying 'don't worry about me, I'll be fine now'. I remember listening to it 5 or 6 times before I realised it was the lyrics that were unharmonious and not the music. 

In all honesty, I've had depression and anxiety since I was in my teens, and it's steadily got worse over the years into my 30's. My battle with my mental health isn't something that I've ever been able to conquer. 'The Dawn' couldn't be this lovely, happy ending of hope and fresh starts because that isn't my truth. Yes of course, somedays I do get to feel that sun on my face and I do sigh and feel that little moment of relief, but most of the time it's very short-lived before the clouds pass over again. I think it's essential to be real about this stuff because it's not just me. I'm not the only person fighting lifelong battles with mental illness. I have lovely fans who write to me and tell me of their fights with depression and anxiety and how torturing it is for them. I wanted to give them a voice, a real voice. It may not be coloured yellow with hope, it may be grey and black and gloomy, but it's a real, honest, authentic voice about what it is to live with a mental illness. Sometimes you just want to be seen.  

Some people will say that I've romanticised mental illness and that in itself is wrong. Of course, it's a valid opinion, but I feel for me this isn't about making mental illness a beautiful story, it's trying to find a way to bear it. I may be stuck with it for the rest of my life. I don't know. It's here, and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere and therefore I need to find ways to survive. The way I tend to find my way through hard things is to find that little bit of light and try to brighten it. Being able to find beauty in the darkness can be a really powerful tool to overcoming it. At the very least, it can help with feelings of fear and hopelessness, which plague me daily.    

I do hope you'll all enjoy this very personal EP and I hope it resonates with some of you.    

I want to extend my thanks to Roxane Genot for her beautiful cello and Slava Gerj for his compelling, stirring artwork. I couldn't have done it without you guys  

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, there are plenty of places you can go for help and advice. There is a wealth of information and help available online. You can also visit your GP, who will be able to recommend therapy or medication. I'm currently in therapy now to see if it might help me in the long run. I guess I'm a work in progress. 

Remember to check-in on your mates and your family. Don't be afraid to ask uncomfortable questions. And If you're suffering, please don't suffer alone. Always try and reach out. It's not easy but asking for help is honestly the best thing you can do. Just talking about it and feeling safe to say "I'm not ok' can sometimes lift a massive weight off your shoulders. I know from experience that trying to smile and wear a mask of normality can be the hardest part of all.  

And lastly, always be kind to people because you never know what they might be battling. 

9 comments

  • Jim Martin
    Jim Martin Dumfries, Scotland
    I’ve been listened to Dark Ones and The Gloom on repeat for a couple of days now. And reading this. I can see why I connect to them so well. Mental health is something all of us at some point face, but some of us - like yourself - deal with it for a long time and it’s a constant. Yes, there’s times where it’s not as prevalent or dragging. But it’s always there. Your music - these two I’ve listened to at least so far - definitely captivates the struggle of living with it. The battling, the uncertainty. The dark days. I can’t wait to hear the rest. This post alone has resonated deeply with me, particularly the need to create but finding yourself unable to connect. The darkness creating a wall around it. I’ve followed you for a few years now and every piece of yours has given me something. Either to think about, self-reflection or simply music to enjoy. And I already feel like this EP will do more. Thank you for sharing your music. And thank you for being so frank about your own situation in life and dealing with mental health. I wish you the absolute best and hope the therapy helps. All the best.

    I’ve been listened to Dark Ones and The Gloom on repeat for a couple of days now. And reading this. I can see why I connect to them so well.
    Mental health is something all of us at some point face, but some of us - like yourself - deal with it for a long time and it’s a constant. Yes, there’s times where it’s not as prevalent or dragging. But it’s always there. Your music - these two I’ve listened to at least so far - definitely captivates the struggle of living with it. The battling, the uncertainty. The dark days. I can’t wait to hear the rest. This post alone has resonated deeply with me, particularly the need to create but finding yourself unable to connect. The darkness creating a wall around it.

    I’ve followed you for a few years now and every piece of yours has given me something. Either to think about, self-reflection or simply music to enjoy. And I already feel like this EP will do more.

    Thank you for sharing your music. And thank you for being so frank about your own situation in life and dealing with mental health. I wish you the absolute best and hope the therapy helps.

    All the best.

  • Richard Morton
    Richard Morton Moana South Australia
    Hi Karliene, Very powerful music coming from your heart. You sing beautifully and bare your sole which gives your fans great happiness and joy. As like you I fight the dark depths of depression all the time and for quite a few years along with a brain injury does not help matters. But to hear your music and see you sing brings a light to look forward to. As you make music I take photos by the thousand mainly Cycling and the beach. Living next to the beach is one of the best places in the world. All the best Richard Morton

    Hi Karliene, Very powerful music coming from your heart. You sing beautifully and bare your sole which gives your fans great happiness and joy. As like you I fight the dark depths of depression all the time and for quite a few years along with a brain injury does not help matters. But to hear your music and see you sing brings a light to look forward to. As you make music I take photos by the thousand mainly Cycling and the beach. Living next to the beach is one of the best places in the world.

    All the best

    Richard Morton

  • Laura
    Laura Northern Ireland
    I love your music. I've got depression, ocd and anxiety. Your music helps me to cope and it's always a pleasure to listen to your beautiful songs.

    I love your music. I've got depression, ocd and anxiety. Your music helps me to cope and it's always a pleasure to listen to your beautiful songs.

  • Philip
    Philip Germany
    Hi Karliene, it is sad to hear you are still stuggeling, but really great to see you take power from it and maybe it will help others through similar times.

    Hi Karliene, it is sad to hear you are still stuggeling, but really great to see you take power from it and maybe it will help others through similar times.

  • Bunny
    Bunny Macleod
    And yet everyday, you continue to amaze me with your creativity, passion, and drive to go on. Well done. You achieve more than you know, and are far more than you believe. X

    And yet everyday, you continue to amaze me with your creativity, passion, and drive to go on.

    Well done. You achieve more than you know, and are far more than you believe. X

  • Michael Campbell
    Michael Campbell
    To me you are known as Special K and that will never change. While everyone is talking about COVID19 and a lot of us globally are suffering from it. It’s always reassuring to listen to your songs, poems. You have always put you heart and soul into your music, for as long as I have known you, fortunately many like me, believe in you. Always keep being you and you’ll always pull through, purely because it’s you Special K. MC xx

    To me you are known as Special K and that will never change. While everyone is talking about COVID19 and a lot of us globally are suffering from it. It’s always reassuring to listen to your songs, poems. You have always put you heart and soul into your music, for as long as I have known you, fortunately many like me, believe in you. Always keep being you and you’ll always pull through, purely because it’s you Special K. MC xx

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Germany
    I just wanted to let you know how much your music, especially this EP, means to me. It's reassuring me in a sense that I now know what I've been told all along: that I'm not alone with those struggles and feelings. Sometimes, it's incredibly easy to feel like an alien in a world where everyone presents themselves as happy and content, where everyone seems to be able to do so much more. I spend days unable to leave my bed and days but you helped me understand that there's no shame in that. I will keep fighting and I hope you will too. Thank you so much.

    I just wanted to let you know how much your music, especially this EP, means to me. It's reassuring me in a sense that I now know what I've been told all along: that I'm not alone with those struggles and feelings. Sometimes, it's incredibly easy to feel like an alien in a world where everyone presents themselves as happy and content, where everyone seems to be able to do so much more. I spend days unable to leave my bed and days but you helped me understand that there's no shame in that. I will keep fighting and I hope you will too. Thank you so much.

  • Plamen. H
    Plamen. H Bulgaria
    What an amazing art you are doing. Found of your music year ago and ever since you are in my favorite Playlist. Such calming voice and kind appearance. Love your music and love your art. Best wishes.

    What an amazing art you are doing. Found of your music year ago and ever since you are in my favorite Playlist. Such calming voice and kind appearance. Love your music and love your art. Best wishes.

  • Aspen Shelton
    Aspen Shelton
    An upcoming project and idea is laced for the individuals. All the realms of the project and rush my essay reviews are ensured for the approval of the random use of the offers. The tip is done for the nomination for the turns for all oils for the fieldwork.

    An upcoming project and idea is laced for the individuals. All the realms of the project and rush my essay reviews are ensured for the approval of the random use of the offers. The tip is done for the nomination for the turns for all oils for the fieldwork.

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