The first single off her forthcoming LP addresses conflict and change
On her upcoming LP Conversations with My Other Voice, singer-songwriter Buick Audra channels an inner dialogue between her past and her present.
It’s a collection of songs that brings together five compositions she had written in the past and never recorded, along with five songs she wrote in response to that early material.
And one of those original tunes, entitled “Afraid of Flying” serves as the central nervous system of the project, as it directly addresses the elephant in the room regarding a tumultuous working relationship she experienced with British R&B artist Joss Stone.
In addition to letting Rock & Roll Globe have the distinct honor of premiering the video for “Flying”– which was filmed by her bandmate Jerry Roe–but also opening up to us about the story behind the song in this exclusive interview.
Buick has written a collection of memoir-style essays that correspond with the album, which will be made available with the release.
Conversations with My Other Voice releases on September 23rd.
What is the story behind “Afraid of Flying”?
It was written right at the tail end of a years-long collaboration with an English artist named Joss Stone. We’d created all this stuff together, which included an album, a record deal, and a clothing line, but the writing was on the wall: it wasn’t going to work out. At the time, there was a great deal of geographical distance between us. I was in Nashville, and she was over in England, so communication toward the end had become about emails with lawyers copied on them, etc. Whatever friendliness we’d shared in the earlier chapters of the story was gone and it had devolved into navigating legal parameters and trying to untangle ourselves. It was a sad time, but also a time of plain old acceptance for me. I was ready for it to be over. And I was ready to look at how I’d expected too much of this situation for no good reason. The flags had long been up, and I’d ignored them all.
Coincidentally, later the same day that I wrote “Afraid of Flying,” a compilation album that Joss and I had contributed a song to, won a Grammy. It was a memorable day.
How does the song correlate with the overall theme of the upcoming album?
I think about this album as a memoir-in-songs because it was inspired by five songs I wrote in a different life chapter when I held different beliefs about myself and the world. I’ve always wanted to record them, but the songs don’t perfectly represent who I am today. So, I wrote five songs in response to them, to update the stories and the sentiments. The theme of the record is being able to look back and forgive myself for making so many decisions that didn’t serve me well—and in a way, standing up for myself with the new songs. It’s a real back-and-forth between the perspectives.
“Afraid of Flying” was one of the original five, and it’s the one I relate to the most today, of that batch. Quite a bit of my life still involves feeling the fear and doing it anyway, so I’ve always wanted to put this song into the world, where I own that.
You have gone public about who this song is referencing. Have you received any feedback from the other party?
No, I don’t think I’ll ever hear from her again. And to be honest, I went a long time without ever admitting that this whole thing even happened in my life. There are surely people who know me reasonably well who will read this interview and hear the song and be surprised by the entire story. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that it went down the way it did, that I just packed it up in a proverbial box and put it away. I had started to have panic attacks when I was working with her, so I tried to put as much distance between myself and that story as I could back then.
When I decided to do this record and honor these songs from that chapter of my life, I chose to be transparent about it. After all, the story belongs to me, too. And the shame is useless. This happened. I’m not going to pretend it didn’t anymore.
What was the biggest takeaway from this experience?
Even when it was falling apart, and everything was overwhelming and disappointing, I remember being like, “Well, I learned that I could write 14 songs for an album in all kinds of settings and circumstances, and on very little sleep.” I’d never had any reason to know that about myself before making that album with her. I was flying back and forth from Nashville to England, doing everything on her terms, and it was hard on me. But I still wrote a record in the middle of it all. And something about knowing I could do that was fortifying. I was able to be proud of myself for that part, even while the rest was devastating and confusing.
The biggest takeaway was that I stayed too long. I had put so much into it that I was still trying to find ways to make it work, even after it had gotten pretty bad. I know better now, but it took some heartache to get there.
What is the best advice you can offer someone who might currently be in the situation you are addressing on “Afraid of Flying”?
Before you get into a major collaborative situation: have conversations with the other party about how conflicts might potentially be resolved. Because conflict is a real, natural part of life. But if you can’t have healthy, respectful conflict, there’s trouble ahead.
If you’re in a collaboration with strange footing: get out before it gets that bad. You’re enough on your own—believe that. Opportunities are only worthy opportunities if they don’t harm you. There are other ways to figure out that you can write a 14-song record while sleeping on couches in another country—trust me.
And last, if you’re already in a weird situation where you don’t have all your resources: forgive yourself. The shame is heavier than whatever we may leave behind. You’re enough, and you can come sit by me.
If anyone is interested in more in-depth stories about the songs from this album, I’m releasing a book of essays with it! They will ship on the album release day, September 23rd!
VIDEO: Buick Audra “Afraid of Flying”