Hello friends. Happy Sunday. Living From Home will be out in the world this evening. So many of you reading this email have bought tickets and I’m excited to sit in the chat with you tonight and watch what we made. Thank you.
I don’t know when I’ll next get the opportunity to do this, so today I want to tell you about little jack films. More specifically, I want to tell you about the man behind the camera. Or as I call him: my friend Landon.
Right now I imagine that my husband is reading this and saying, “MEL. YOU CAN’T CALL HIM LANDON.”
Like fun I can’t! You call me Mel on stage, Blake. So much for the mystique of being the ageless, ethereal Belle Plaine.
Also, I cleared it with him.
I can’t remember when I first met Landon. I could figure it out, but it doesn’t matter. Blake started working with him first. Together they made all the videos for Realms that currently exist. I was in a couple of those shoots. I’m uncomfortable in front of the camera. I’m getting better, but I mostly just wish for it to be over as soon as possible, while hoping it turns out better than I expect.
I believe this accounts for the distinct absence of joy in my expression captured during Blake’s shoots.
I worked with Landon on the first video for Malice, Mercy, Grief + Wrath. We conceived, filmed, edited and released the video for “Golden Ring” in eight days. We shot “Squared Up” that following summer. I liked the work we made together. It got to be a regular thing. Need photos? Call Landon. Live performance video? Landon. A photographer for the gigs in Tennessee and Kentucky? I hope Landon has a valid passport.
It’s my experience that when artists work together it’s an immersive relationship. My brief foray in theatre taught me this, as did all my touring, recording and album design projects. Collaborators have visions and limitations. Compromises have to be made. It’s an intersection of art and commerce and friendship. The final product is honed through the clumsy medium of language. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you hoped and you have to find a way to communicate that.
The art world is lousy with break-ups. It can make you wary of being vulnerable. I’ve become accustomed to discomfort being part of the process.
And for a long time I felt awkward around Landon. He’s a quiet guy. I’m generally an anxious person. Plus, Blake and Landon had an ease that I didn’t understand. That I couldn’t achieve. Blake has more confidence to carry a conversation… he’s a talker in a way that I’m not. Maybe that was what I lacked? I dunno.
But in the fall of 2021 I was low. Postpartum depression was hitting me hard. I wasn’t writing or singing. The confusion about how to work safely with crowds was (and is still) very real. I wasn’t sleeping much either.
I started texting Landon about it. We’d previously shared light stories of our boxing matches with depression. It felt safe to tell him that things were bad. Eventually I asked him if he’d come down to Regina and make something with me. I didn’t need to make a video to promote a tour or a record. I didn’t need photos for a press release or posters. I didn’t have anything coming up. I just wanted to create something. No strategy. No pressure.
Between him and a writing group Megan Nash introduced me to and working with a counselor (who I mentioned in my first Weather Report), I clawed my way out of some of the darkest days I’ve ever had. The writing group got my pen moving again, even if only once a week. I told my therapist all of my ugly thoughts. Things got better. Landon was as vital to that process as anyone. I could see myself in the world again. Literally. His photos of me, of my family… they were proof that I was here and my boy was healthy. That my marriage was intact, although it was privately bearing undue hardship.
Depression is no joke. Postpartum is real.
And when so many were working from home, Blake and I were experiencing what living from home was like. We were supposed to be living on the road! In the van. Bouncing from city to city, venue to venue, hang to hang. How are you supposed to do that in a global pandemic?
We made Living From Home with all this in mind. Blake keeps saying that it was my vision, but the truth is that I couldn’t see much at all. I needed to be seen.
In the very beginning I had to trust that the person who would see me would be ok with my insecurities being on display. And Landon was. Through creating with him I saw myself with more clarity — albeit an edited version that smiled and laughed often. But that edited version reminded me that I’m fun to be around. I’m a good listener. I’m a respectful collaborator.
Living From Home is a representation of getting my feet back on the ground and my head back in the clouds. Where they belong.
Thank you for supporting it. Thanks for supporting all the work we do. I feel it. I am so lucky. I am so grateful.