Forward, Onward, Inward

The last ten months have been an insane shitshow. Moving everything I own into my go-kart of a Chevy, now sold off the impound lot if you were wondering, and stumbling madly over my own feet into semblance of some small successes. I played the Folk Fest in my hometown, which was an honour and truly humbling. That festival has long been a goal of mine, but I never saw it coming so soon. 

Classic Mariel, looking unimpressed and confused

Classic Mariel, looking unimpressed and confused

I went off of my anti-depressants, both of them, cold turkey. This is dangerous for a variety of reasons: for one, doctors will tell anyone that it should always be a slow process and that the drugs should be slowly removed from your system. I felt completely fine until the six month mark, at which point, I headed for what I assumed was a certain breakdown. However, instead of careening over the edge into blackness I'd seen so many times, I slowy tiptoed the edge of the cavern and thought: "I know what is at the bottom. If I fall, I will remember what this edge looks like, and the vastness beyond".

I'll always be first to say that medicine is not for the weak, and it is absolutely a helpful and necessary tool for some to fight mental illness. It is not an easy way out, lazy western medicine hard at work, or any of the other foolish blabberings of the ignorant. Depression is not the same for any one person, and the more options we have to fight against it, the better.
I will say that the most important piece to my mental stability and coming off of medication was continuing to see my therapist, and remaining open with friends and family, as I still am today. 

I had a record year for shows, industry connections, and meeting new and amazing people. Edmonton has become like a second home to me. I love all of the people who have opened their hearts, ears and homes to me. 

I made the decision to record my second, full-length record with none other than Leeroy Stagger at his brand new studio in Lethbridge, Alberta. Leeroy and I became fast friends last year after his album release tour. I joined in for three dates and fell wildly in love with his sense of rebellion, restlessness, and inability to settle for second. I am very excited to begin our work together.

Leeroy has a serious ice-cream addiction: I've tried an intervention but it didn't take

Leeroy has a serious ice-cream addiction: I've tried an intervention but it didn't take

I participated in a number of amazing co-writes. One of those lead to something far more special than I ever could have anticipated. "Driving In The Dark" will be a single from my upcoming record, co-written with the exceedingly humble Grant Davidson of Winnipeg, Manitoba; and the songbird prairie Springsteen, Val Halla of Regina, Saskatchewan.

Recently, though, I've been focused on next steps. New press materials, applying for a certain radio contest that I know many have polarizing opinions about. Briefly: I could care less who thinks it's a sham and who doesn't - it's development money that I might have a shot at grabbing, absolutely I will go for it, and learn whatever possible in the process. I'm done condemning opportunities because I feel somehow above them, that attitude is pure poison and only produces cynical barstool prophets in greater numbers. 

The photo shoot for my "re-branding" as the industry will dub it was an absolute blast. The evening began with flank steak taco bowls, cooked of course by Ms. Marsh and myself. It might be our favourite activity to host, feed and socialize. 

The ranch we drove to was south of Okotoks by about seven miles. Mister O'Flannagan, as he prefers to be called due to his regal, rich and certainly not crude heritage, was our knight in shining armour who found the site, visited with the ranch owners, and pleaded our case. 

We drove onto the property about half an hour before sunset. There was one very pregnant horse and her stud who didn't seem particularly keen on our presence, but we maintained safe distance and respect. Horses, in my opinion, are the most intelligent and beautiful of all creatures, with wisdom pouring so honestly from their eyes that I sometimes cannot bare to look at them directly. 

I had the idea to bring some dogs along for the ride and see if we couldn't get a good shot with my favourite four legged companions. The album is to be titled "Stray Dogs", for context. Of course, the dogs had an alernate agenda than sitting still and staring at a camera. Wouldn't have changed it for the world, spirits were incredible that evening and a real comraderie was shared.

Left to right: Sean covered by Gus, Sarah, Jessica, Zoey's bum, Kayla, Tucker and Kaitlyn Photo credit: Sebastian Buzzalino of Unfolding Creative Photography

Left to right: Sean covered by Gus, Sarah, Jessica, Zoey's bum, Kayla, Tucker and Kaitlyn
Photo credit: Sebastian Buzzalino of Unfolding Creative Photography

Almost a year ago I fell madly in love and haven't been able to keep my mouth or instagram shut about it. For all of you who know me well, this suddenly very giddy romanticism must seem out of character. It isn't. It's being unabashedly unafraid to show my heart and who I carry in it. And I carry her wherever I go.

Photo credit: Unfolding Creative Photography

Photo credit: Unfolding Creative Photography

Which really has been the biggest turning point. I am just now becoming unafraid of the world around me, and the world inside of me. I love myself and am sharing what good I can with the people around me. 

No, this doesn't mean I don't still enjoy being a sarcastic fuckwit, and upsetting the upper crust with crude comments and a well-placed middle finger during a corporate luncheon.

I take such pride in the artistic community I am a part of, and all of the people working within it. Launching festivals, crafting beautiful brews, taking still photos of timeless moments, running bars and restaurants, creating, loving, and making something bigger than all of ourselves to share with the world. 

So whether your prejudice is contests, popular radio, misplaced bigotry on Facebook, or just plain old everything, remember this: the bleeding hearts of the poets and artists will pump life and energy to our most viable resources; each other.

Love yourselves and take care. 

Mariel Buckley

Calgary, AB, Canada