The Empress Diaries

‘Benzo Belle’ - Music & Mental Health - with special guests Melanie Davis & Faultress

June 22, 2020 Calista Kazuko Season 1 Episode 4
The Empress Diaries
‘Benzo Belle’ - Music & Mental Health - with special guests Melanie Davis & Faultress
Chapters
00:00:00
Calista and Gem introduce episode
00:15:11
Interview with Melanie Davis, REST Project (prescription drugs)
00:44:20
Interview with Rosi Croom AKA Faultress
The Empress Diaries
‘Benzo Belle’ - Music & Mental Health - with special guests Melanie Davis & Faultress
Jun 22, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Calista Kazuko

👑 Calista and Gem’s adventure through the wonderful world of modern womanhood continues with episode 4, ‘Benzo Belle’ - Music & Mental Health

Today’s episode is dedicated to the importance of looking after our mind, body and souls. We talk to Melanie Davis about issues surrounding prescription drugs and interview phenomenal singer/songwriter Faultress.

Love your mind, love yourself! 🖤   


PLEASE LEAVE US A PODCAST REVIEW! Let us know how you’re liking the show :)

Then shoot us an email with any topic for discussion and we will choose a couple to chew the cud over next episode! 

Please also send your ‘Ode to…’ dedications for upcoming episode (story, photo, song etc). Celebrate an inspirational woman in your life to feature on upcoming podcast episode and on the Empress Diaries Blog: www.theempressdiaries.com

Email: empress.diaries2020@gmail.com or message on instagram/twitter @CalistaKazuko @WhoopsUhOh

‘EMPRESS’ App: https://calistakazuko.fan.direct 


‘Benzo Belle’ film by Thomas Linton & Philip Reinking: https://youtu.be/c5pUEiC9dHY 

Voice of Aiko - ‘Prescription Dream’ film by Enya Belak Gupta: https://youtu.be/sTXBL499kGo


Melanie Davis, Senior Benzodiazepine Lead Change Grow Live, Manager of the REST Project - melanie.davis@cgl.org.uk

Benzo Website with Professor Heather Ashton Manual to look up prescription drugs: https://benzo.org.uk 

Integrated Camden Alcohol Service (ICAS): https://www.icascamden.org.uk

Change Grow Live: https://www.changegrowlive.org

REST (Recovery Experience Sleeping Pills and Tranquillisers): https://www.changegrowlive.org/recovery-experience-sleeping-pills-and-tranquillisers-rest

APRIL (Adverse Psychiatric Reactions Information Link) Charity: https://www.april.org.uk 

‘Medicating Normal’ film: https://medicatingnormal.com 


Punk 4 Mental Health: https://p4mh.com 

International Meaning Conference (Calista & Gem will perform on Saturday 25th July): https://meaning.org.uk 


Rosi Croom aka Faultress

Faultress website: https://www.faultress.com 

Faultress ‘Marilyn’: https://youtu.be/7j2Ubzd_jf8 

Faultress performs ‘Marilyn’ at Union Chapel with London Contemporary Voices: https://youtu.be/iy2n_bIXeyg 

Gem’s factcheck! ‘Choir singers 'synchronise their heartbeats': https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23230411

‘Inside Sessions’ on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thisisfaultress/ 

Support the show (https://calistakazuko.fan.direct)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

👑 Calista and Gem’s adventure through the wonderful world of modern womanhood continues with episode 4, ‘Benzo Belle’ - Music & Mental Health

Today’s episode is dedicated to the importance of looking after our mind, body and souls. We talk to Melanie Davis about issues surrounding prescription drugs and interview phenomenal singer/songwriter Faultress.

Love your mind, love yourself! 🖤   


PLEASE LEAVE US A PODCAST REVIEW! Let us know how you’re liking the show :)

Then shoot us an email with any topic for discussion and we will choose a couple to chew the cud over next episode! 

Please also send your ‘Ode to…’ dedications for upcoming episode (story, photo, song etc). Celebrate an inspirational woman in your life to feature on upcoming podcast episode and on the Empress Diaries Blog: www.theempressdiaries.com

Email: empress.diaries2020@gmail.com or message on instagram/twitter @CalistaKazuko @WhoopsUhOh

‘EMPRESS’ App: https://calistakazuko.fan.direct 


‘Benzo Belle’ film by Thomas Linton & Philip Reinking: https://youtu.be/c5pUEiC9dHY 

Voice of Aiko - ‘Prescription Dream’ film by Enya Belak Gupta: https://youtu.be/sTXBL499kGo


Melanie Davis, Senior Benzodiazepine Lead Change Grow Live, Manager of the REST Project - melanie.davis@cgl.org.uk

Benzo Website with Professor Heather Ashton Manual to look up prescription drugs: https://benzo.org.uk 

Integrated Camden Alcohol Service (ICAS): https://www.icascamden.org.uk

Change Grow Live: https://www.changegrowlive.org

REST (Recovery Experience Sleeping Pills and Tranquillisers): https://www.changegrowlive.org/recovery-experience-sleeping-pills-and-tranquillisers-rest

APRIL (Adverse Psychiatric Reactions Information Link) Charity: https://www.april.org.uk 

‘Medicating Normal’ film: https://medicatingnormal.com 


Punk 4 Mental Health: https://p4mh.com 

International Meaning Conference (Calista & Gem will perform on Saturday 25th July): https://meaning.org.uk 


Rosi Croom aka Faultress

Faultress website: https://www.faultress.com 

Faultress ‘Marilyn’: https://youtu.be/7j2Ubzd_jf8 

Faultress performs ‘Marilyn’ at Union Chapel with London Contemporary Voices: https://youtu.be/iy2n_bIXeyg 

Gem’s factcheck! ‘Choir singers 'synchronise their heartbeats': https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23230411

‘Inside Sessions’ on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thisisfaultress/ 

Support the show (https://calistakazuko.fan.direct)

(Music - The Empress will see you now...)


Calista 00:13

One two, one two.


Gem 00:16

One two, one two.


Calista 00:17

Hi. How are you?


Gem 00:20

Hi. How are you? How am I? I don't know. Fine considering


Calista 00:25

Fine considering. The world is falling to pieces, but we are here. I hope everyone listening is doing well. Thank you so much for tuning in. Sorry about the short hiatus, but we're all good and here we are, and it's lovely to talk to you, Gem.


Gem 00:41 

It's lovely to talk to you. I miss you.


Calista 00:43 

I know.


Gem 00:44

I haven't seen you in ages. I haven't seen you in so long.


Calista 00:48

I know, it's been far too long. It's been far too long. It's going to be so nice and we're going to have to do a kind of, maybe some lessons on kind of human contact. Okay, now hold hands.


Gem 00:59

Right. 


Calista 01:00 

Good. Good


Gem 01:01 

Honestly, I feel like... I had to have a conversation with someone the other day, I had to like talk to someone who I don't know that well, I was like, "Oh my God, I've lost the ability to communicate with other humans".


Calista 01:12 

To communicate, yeah, I know. I know. Well, today's episode, we are dedicating to the importance of our mental health. So I think now is the perfect time for it.


Gem 01:22 

Yes.


Calista 01:23 

Lock down and this whole situation, everything that's going on is incredibly difficult and people are feeling it in lots of different ways. So, today is a lovely episode, all about looking after our mind, body and souls. So Benzo Belle is my favourite song on the album. I'm going to throw it out there.


Gem 01:47

It's probably my favourite song on the album as well.


Calista 01:49 

Oh, thank you. It's just heartbreaking. I wrote it and I remember writing it at the house we were spending lockdown in and I remember writing it and then just crying, like weeping. It was just so heartbreaking and we talked the other day about songwriting and how you can write a song and not realise what's going on and then listen back to that song six months or a year later and be like, "okay, that's what was happening".


Gem 02:22

Yeah. In fact, this comes up a lot this episode. We have a conversation coming up with our friend Rosi who's an incredible artist who works under the name of Faultress and this comes up in that interview.


Calista 02:34

And songwriting and music in general, something that we talk about later on with our other fabulous guests is journaling. So just, you know, just writing. So in the same way that you write a song and then listen back and it's like, "Oh, wow, okay", that was me working through that issue. Just writing in any way, just writing, journaling. I'm a big fan of journaling, just writing down thoughts and just getting stuff out.


Gem 03:03

Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Calista 03:03

So this was an example of that, but actually not for me, but for a really good friend of mine who at the time that I wrote this song was in a relationship that was just horrible, just completely toxic.


Gem 03:23

Right.


Calista 03:24 

And she was trapped, bless her. I was actually quite worried about her at the time and I think the best way I can explain what she was going through was I knew when she was with her partner, because when I would call her, she would talk like this [in a quiet voice], she would lose her voice. She is now out of that relationship and thriving and incredibly happy. So it has a happy ending, but I wrote this song I realised now for her.


Gem 04:00

Right.


Calista 04:01

So Benzo Belle tells a story of this person who's trapped in this lifeless marriage, but worse than lifeless, like abusive and she's taking these benzos, these benzodiazepines to numb the pain and just kind of... So the chorus is 'robot lover, benzo belle, lacklustre lifeless vacuum shell.’


Gem 04:32

‘Oh well.’


Calista 04:34 

‘Oh well.’ Oh well! (laughs). So yeah that is the song.


Gem 04:39

I mean this is not a modern issue, right? I mean, housewives were being given Valium up to their eyeballs.


Calista 04:45

Valium, exactly. Like Valium was like huge in the, would it have been sixties or seventies, just like totally normalise and actually a lot of people are still taking Valium and sleeping pills and stuff.


Gem 05:04 

I know some people who've been prescribed lithium and stuff like that, like sort of really old school...


Calista 05:12 

Old school methods. So we're going to be talking about prescription drugs today. So maybe I could give you a little history on the title, Benzo Belle and why I wanted to talk about prescription drugs. So I started a collective in 2018 called Voice of Aiko and the first project we did was called Prescription Dream.


(Music [Prescription Dream] - Politicians on TV screens, screen, screen, screen, screen, screen but we're living in a dream…)


Calista 05:52

And we worked with Mind In Camden and The REST Project. We worked out with Mind at the time, basically talking about the potential side effects and dangers of prescription drugs, which I knew absolutely nothing about, but maybe if I can, I'll explain how that started.


Gem 06:13 

Sure.


Calista 06:13 

And maybe it will kind of explain a little bit. So I met this incredible woman called Millie who actually lived on the same road as me in London and Millie runs a charity called APRIL, which stands for Adverse Psychiatric Reactions Information Link. And I met Millie and we had this incredible conversation about the piano actually. Anyway, she was telling me about her charity and it was just like all this information and I was like, "wow, okay, I'm going to look all this up". But the last thing she said to me was, “Calista, whatever happens, if you're taking the pill Dianette, do not take it” and I was like, "Whoa, okay". Funnily enough, I'd been on this pill Dianette for eight years at that time.


Gem 07:02 

Wow. Wow.


Calista 07:05 

So I was like, okay, what's that all about? So I Googled it and that was it, that was the start of this like, what's the word cannonball, snowstorm.


Gem 07:15 

Wow.


Calista 07:16 

Of just like information.


Gem 07:17 

Snowballing. (laughs) 


Calista 07:18 

Snowball, that's the word. It was kind of a mix up.


Gem 07:19 

Cannon Storm.


Calista 07:20

Cannon Storm of information. So I'm looking up this pill, Dianette. So Dianette, I was prescribed as a teenager for acne and it's an acne medication and it says on the leaflet that you get with the drug not to be taken for longer than three months, I'd been on it for eight years. I knew other people that had been on this pill. I've heard such horror stories. I know a friend of a friend who got a brain problem from taking Dianette like it's known to cause severe problems. But it's biggest adverse side effect is it's known to cause depression and suicidal thoughts.


Gem 08:06 

Oh my god.


Calista 08:07 

So it's banned in a lot of countries, this pill. Anyways I'm like, "what on earth?" Why am I taking this pill? Why have I been allowed to take this pill? And that just kind of opened up this whole, you know. So then I went and had such incredible conversations with Millie about how this had happened basically. And that is a, you know, it's a, sometimes these things are just overlooked. You know, none of the GPS that prescribed this pill to me were bad GPS. They weren't wrong, but it just got overlooked. They didn't know the Dianette was... So I wanted to do this project with Millie called Prescription Dream and just kind of talk about these things. Maybe I could read you the kind of main points that we worked with on the project.


Gem 09:05 

Yeah go for it. 


Calista 09:08 

So the first one was a pill is not always the answer. Prescription drugs can be dangerous and cause dependency, there are other alternatives to explore. So that sounds like, well, yeah, of course, but...


Gem 09:21 

And what is this that you just read?


Calista 09:24 

These with the slides that we... It was kind of like the bullet point list that we worked with throughout the project. And we spent ages writing these because we were like, right, what do we need to say? It's such a vast subject. Like, what are the takeaway points that we just want to basically say.


Gem 09:43 

Yeah. How do you simplify that down? Right.


Calista 09:45 

Exactly. So we worked with Millie and we worked with Mel and REST, who is our fabulous guest, first guest who I'll introduce her properly. But we worked with the charities to put these points together right. To really just say like, right, what is like the crux of the issue? So the first one is, a pill is not always the answer, prescription drugs can be dangerous and cause dependency. I didn't even realise that, you know, I think the biggest misconception is okay, the doctor gave it to me, so it'll be fine.


Gem 10:16 

Sure.


Calista 10:17 

But a prescription drug like any drug can give you serious side effects and people aren't always necessarily aware of that. So that's just literally something as simple as before you take a drug given to you by the doctor, make sure you know what those side effects are, so that if you start experiencing them you know that that's what it could be from.


Gem 10:41 

Right, because I think a lot of people consider there to be sort of two big categories of like good drugs, bad drugs, and there's drugs to take....


Calista 10:47 

Yeah exactly. And Mel talks about legal drugs and illegal drugs.


Gem 10:51 

Yeah. And it's a sliding scale. They all exist on the same spectrum.


Calista 10:57 

Exactly. Exactly. But also, you know, if you are considering whether to take something like an antidepressant, just to really consider if there are other things, that have you tried alternative therapies, you know, just basically to explore other options. And the side effects one is huge. Like something that we found quite a lot of is people taking a prescription drug and then actually being given a different drug to counteract the side effects of that.


Gem 11:33 

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah and then it just becomes a cycle.


Calista 11:35 

Exactly. Exactly.


Gem 11:36

And you end just taking more and more drugs to try and kind of battle this stuff.


Calista 11:39 

Exactly.


Gem 11:40

Which again, it's not like people are pushing this on you. It's just a symptom of the way that the pharmaceutical industry functions.


Calista 11:47

Exactly. It's a lack of thinking.


Gem 11:48 

It's just like, well, why would you question the received wisdom that drugs are meant to... Well you solve it by yeah taking something else, yeah.


Calista 11:57 

Exactly and, you know, GPs are incredibly busy. The NHS is absolutely amazing, but we all know it's you know overstretched. So it's not always you know, it's up to us as patients to do what we can to inform and educate ourselves on the drugs that we're taking as well.


Gem 12:15

And in general more holistic appreciation for how we interact with drugs, chemicals, things that, you know, coffee is a drug goddamn.


Calista 12:23 

Yes. Exactly, smoking, alcohol, it's all, you know, legal stuff.


Gem 12:27 

Diet Coke, you know. Once it got chemicals in like it all does stuff to your body somehow, it all affects your neurotransmitters. (laughs)


Calista 12:39 

(laughs). So lovely Enya who made this gorgeous video for the Voice of Aiko project, we talked a lot about food as well. It's the same thing, the food that we're putting into our bodies. Yeah, so let's just say, as an example, when I was taking Dianette, let's say I had become depressed as a side effect and I'd gone to the doctor. What might have happened is I might have been prescribed an antidepressant when actually, you know, the first thing that should be done is okay, well, hold on a second, you're looking at what medication you're already taking. It could be the Dianette, so maybe let's try a different pill. So it's just thinking about it like that, that kind of approach. The second point, Oh, I think we've already covered this just because the doctor gave it to you does not mean it is safe. Prescription drugs can have serious side effects. If you are experiencing physical or mental changes, it could be a medication you are taking. So we've talked about that. So basically, yeah, the prescription drugs can give side effects. Oh, and going back to the first point, and they can cause dependency which is something that... So if you're taking a drug for, I think even just a few months with antidepressants, that if you suddenly stop taking them, it's very dangerous because your body has actually already become dependent on these drugs without you realising.


Gem 14:01 

Right, right, right.


Calista 14:02

So Mel talks about that as well. So it's really important. Yeah, exactly and then you might experience withdrawal symptoms. So you think, oh oh, I need to take the drugs because those withdrawals can actually be quite serious.


Gem 14:19 

Oh, hugely. Yeah. Yeah. Totally. I mean, this is the problem with people trying to come off of like Codine and stuff in America and you know, the huge problem that they have with prescription drugs is the withdrawals that you get when you try and come off it. It's like a physical response to it. It's not as simple as just yeah.


Calista 14:38 

And that brings us to our last point. So no cold turkey, do not suddenly stop taking your medication. This can be extremely dangerous, even fatal, please seek advice before stopping.


Gem 14:48 

Mhmmm. Mhmm. 


Calista 14:49 

So those were all three points.


Gem 14:51 

Yeah.


Calista 14:52

Yeah so that's the history of the song.


Gem 14:53

Nice, nice, nice.


Calista 14:54 

So I'm super excited to introduce our first lovely guest for this episode. We've already spoken about her, but the lovely Melanie Davis from The REST Project who we worked with on the Prescription Dream and Benzo Belle projects. So we're going to talk to Mel about all the things we were just talking about and she's fab.


(Music [Benzo Belle] - Oooh, nice day...I can be anything for you baby...)


Melanie 15:35 

Hi, Calista.


Calista 15:36 

Hi. How are you doing?


Melanie 15:39 

Very well. How are you?


Calista 15:41

I'm really well, thank you. Thank you so much for talking to us today. So Mel, could you tell us a little bit about The REST service and what does REST stand for first of all?


Melanie 15:51 

Okay. So REST stands for Recovery, Experience, Sleeping Tablets and Tranquilisers. So that means it's for anybody who has any difficulty with benzodiazepines. So that would be drugs like Valium, sleeping pills also, so drugs that are prescribed for anxiety and insomnia predominantly, and we've been operating since 1988. And as you quite rightly said, we provided at Mind In Camden. I've been working in this field of social care for 27 years and then last year we transferred to Change, Grow, Live, which is now where we're based, but with a very similar remit. So we're definitely here to serve anybody who has any issues with difficulties with benzodiazepines, which as you know are prescribed medications.


Calista 16:43

So if people are having problems with benzodiazepines, what kind of services does REST offer?


Melanie 16:49

Right. Well, it's very much tailored to the individual really and it goes into every aspect that somebody might need. So there is predominantly an advocacy side of it because some people may need a prescription or they may be being tapered rather too rapidly or come off suddenly. So we would be involved with their medical professionals, to arrange that side of things for them, beyond that there's a whole psychosocial element. So that would include a weekly support group which is very very popular, counselling, formalised counselling and advice and information sessions from myself, usually around how to do a successful taper. So what the pathway might look like for somebody is we might have somebody who's a young, taking the drugs illicitly, they try and stop, they find that very difficult to do and that's the point they'd contact us. We would get involved in the support. Or it could be somebody who's gone to the GP, was prescribed them in good faith because they thought they needed them and then found that they had terrible side effects, terrible withdrawals when they tried to come off. So it could be anything, it can happen to anyone. It could be a whole range of situations that we would get involved with.


Calista 18:13

This is a really, really good point and it's something that I hadn't really thought about I guess before we did the project together. I think I was always kind of just under the impression, well if the doctor gave me this medication, then it will surely be completely safe and fine. And I hadn't really thought about, you know, the side effects that maybe we might not realise are being caused by prescription drugs and also the importance of stopping, taking them. And as you said, tapering off, which can sometimes be missed and people can suffer withdrawals when they stopped taking prescription medications and might not even realise that's what's happening.


Melanie 19:02

Well, that's exactly right Calista and obviously there's a lot of misinformation around and this could be from someone who hasn't taken the medication, someone who has, even the medical professional themselves because, in a lot of people's minds, there's only difficulty with a drug when it's an illicit substance.


Calista 19:24 

That's it, when it's illegal.


Melanie 19:28

You know, if you had sort of rats in a lab and you gave them the substance, they don't know whether it's illicit or not, the effects would be the same. Obviously, if the stuff is taken as prescribed you'd hope it would be in a safer context. Obviously it would be more ideally monitored, but however, it still can have a negative effect and this is what is hard for people to understand. To come off benzodiazepines suddenly you can have a seizure and die. So some people will, you know, try and support a loved one will recommend someone just suddenly stop taking the drug or a counsellor will say, "well you don't need them", but obviously that can be quite medically inadvisable and dangerous. So, yeah, it's a complicated situation too at first once it's occurred.


Calista 20:14 

So it's really just about raising awareness and talking about these things. So maybe someone could look up the potential side effects. It sounds so simple, but I probably wouldn't have done that before if I was given something by the doctor, I probably wouldn't have looked up the drug and, you know, seen what the potential side effects, I would have just taken it without thinking about it. So just kind of normalising the idea of research and thinking about what we're taking.


Melanie 20:46

Exactly it's so important, isn't it and I think, you know, to inform yourself and read the information that is available it's all to your benefit. But as you say that some people don't see that purpose, they think because it is prescribed by medical professionals then it is, you know, not going to have any adverse effect, but that's not necessarily the case. So obviously at REST we do explore other avenues that people can look at for their wellbeing, that's not just a pharmaceutical solution.


Calista 21:19 

That's brilliant. Could you tell us a little bit about other things you offer?


Melanie 21:23 

Right. Well, certainly at CGL, there's art therapy, there's dance therapy, there’s a lot of artistic things people can get involved in. As you know, I'm very interested in that you know, I think that that is very empowering. Obviously once somebody is off a medication, there has to be some thriving life on the end of it. I mean, obviously that would be success in and of itself, but you obviously want something to fill what that process was doing for you, that relationship you were having with that drug, with that substance. You now need to go into what we say like full recovery, really to have a fuller life. So that's what we have, we're very aspirational for clients. We like to find out what it is they're interested in. I mean, it may be, I've got a client at the moment that loves running and she's going out for 50 miles a day running. So, you know, some people maybe have agoraphobia and they don't want to go out. This is something we pick up on. So you're interested in running and then we think of a way to make that achievable. So this is why I say it's very tailored to the individual. It's not a one size fits all sort of treatment program, obviously there's protocols. And, you know, there's things that we can recommend for people that other people have found useful, but it's very much about the individual's own healing and kind of trusting your own judgment and getting in touch with your own intuition and this is where the kind of creative aspect comes into it.


Calista 23:00

It's just brilliant and music is medicine. Creativity is key. One of the things that I love most about you is your absolute passion and love for music. So Mel and I have become very good friends and honestly, I don't know anyone that has such a busy schedule for like, I mean, obviously pre lock down every night was, "Oh, I'm going to go check out this band at the jazz cafe tonight". Do you think that music is... I mean it's obviously very important to you and we did some incredible workshops with REST, some drumming workshops with lovely Fred with the service users at REST and that was so brilliant and we did some songwriting as well.


Melanie 23:53 

Yeah, I do. I think it is doctor medicine most definitely. Just the way that music can express a mood, how you're feeling, lift you up, give you hope and hope is so important with the journey of tapering from a medication because a lot of people say to me, am I going mad? Or am I dying? This is a common, I hear the most. They think it's about....


Calista 24:16

So that's how they feel, how they feel coming off the drug?


Melanie 24:20

Yes.


Calista 24:21 

Wow.


Melanie 24:22 

Yeah. So the fact that, you know, over the years, I must work with at least 3000 people who are withdrawing from this medication I can validate that experience. Obviously people need to check if there's any other medical issues going on with them of course, but quite often it is as a result of the drug. So it helps people to hear that from me, but also to come to the support group and see other people there with very, very similar problems, even though, you know, we have a diverse group of people, ages, ethnicity, but you know, there is this point of identification of what the drug has done to them, so yeah.


Calista 25:03 

Wow. Brilliant. Fantastic. And with the drumming, it was so lovely. It really felt like we were all just one. Do you remember that last time?


Melanie 25:16 

Oh I do, yeah. I do yeah.


Calista 25:17 

What a gorgeous shared experience.


Melanie 25:18 

You know there were a lot of other mental health issues because it was at the Phoenix center at Mind in Camden, we're involved in that as well. There were a few REST members, but it was kind of wider to that mental health charity. But yeah, it was fantastic and I liked the songwriting element where people could come up with lyrics and it just kind of occurred that not everybody's got access to these kind of opportunities or even think in their own minds that this is something they could be involved in, but I think we all have a creative element. I mean, maybe not like you, (laughs) you're absolutely amazing, but yeah, I think we all do have something, whether it's writing or drawing. I mean, we had a client that had an absolutely horrendous childhood sadly. One of the pathways we can refer people to is a specific kind of trauma-focused therapy, which is what he needed, a stress center that deals with post-traumatic stress disorder, which he had. And part of that therapy was to write down, you know, the traumatic experience, but he just was not very comfortable with the written word. So he started drawing and he's now producing the most fantastic artwork, but he's not somebody, you know, that ever went to art school or was encouraged at school or anything like that. It was just totally off his own bat and so that's very much that, you know, actually he's not, you know, totally off the benzodiazepines, he's taking them as prescribed. But to me that is a success, that that now is such a big part of his life. So it's not all done on, you know, this amount of weeks has somebody come off the pills? It's more about the quality of life, the relational aspects with other people in the group, with you know, wider society, their friends and family. So yeah, we're looking at all those aspects, not just the pills per se. It starts with pills and then it becomes something a lot more deeper.


Calista 27:25 

So obviously the issue surrounding prescription drugs it's a vast topic and it's very complex and it's different from case to case, of course. And we've touched on a couple of things, but if they were just maybe two or three key points that you would want the listeners to maybe consider about our relationship with prescription drugs, if you could share any.


Melanie 27:50 

Definitely number one, do not come off suddenly you could have a seizure and die. I don't want to frighten anyone, but that is just not the way to go. If you've been taking benzodiazepines for more than a few weeks, you do need to take it gradually. Second, the withdrawal effects can go on for some time, just that people might not be aware. Maybe family members around the person maybe say, "Oh, well you were off those ages ago, should be fine". It can take maybe not days, weeks, but more like months. In some cases, it's taken people years until they've felt well. And the third thing is just to validate your experience and not other people's. These are powerful drugs just because they are prescribed by a doctor doesn't mean to say that you won't get well, it's a longer withdrawal and a more profound withdrawal than say from heroin. So I'm not saying it's as dangerous as heroin in some ways, but it is the worst of the withdrawals. So that may be put into perspective for people.


Calista 28:56

Even if you haven't been taking a benzodiazepine for a prolonged period of time, you can experience these withdrawals.


Melanie 29:06 

You can, unfortunately. I mean, obviously, if it's a longer time and you're on higher amounts and maybe you were older, you know, there's lots of factors that could go into it, but yeah I've had even had people that it's a few months, they're younger, you know, they still get quite profound withdrawal reaction, which is why I would say, you know, use these tablets very judiciously if you're not already dependent because it can be a very long, difficult, complicated process to reverse. But on the optimistic side, I'd also like to say that I haven't personally met anyone who hasn't improved eventually once they're off, because I think the anxious mind can say to you sometimes, "Oh, I'm going to be that one person that doesn't recover, I won't get better", but that's not the case. You just need to keep going in the right direction. You will get there and try and get those supports around you. I mean, if you are in Camden or Islington,we'd love to hear from you. You just need to contact, it would be ICAS in Camden, Integrated Camden Alcohol Service and you know, ask for the benzodiazepine specialist, which is me and they'll put you through and I'll access you for service.


Calista 30:20 

Oh, that's just so brilliant. So I will share ways to get in contact and is there anywhere else online that you could recommend for people to... maybe even support groups or just nice communities that people can check out.


Melanie 30:36 

I mean obviously, there are a lot of, you know, for general mental health, not really that I'm aware of for the benzodiazepines. There is benzo.org, there's a project in Bristol where they do phone conversation, but in terms of the lockdown, I'm still working. We are still operating. We're actually having our support group on zoom on a Thursday night.


Gem 30:55 

Brilliant.


Melanie 30:56 

So we are still here for you. You're not on your own and if anyone phones me, if they could tell me the areas they're in the borough,I could give more tailored suggestions.


Calista 31:07 

Oh, that's just so amazing. Thank you so much, Mel.


Melanie 31:10 

Thank you for your wonderful single, Benzo Belle. 


Calista 31:14 

Oh yay!


Melanie 31:15 

I think the Happy Mondays did have a Diazepine Party, and there was obviously Mother's Little Helper, but it's not usual there'd be a song about benzodiazepines. So you've done that and your Prescription Dream, the quality of your music videos. Just an absolute star.


Calista 31:31

Thank you so much, Mel.


Melanie 31:33 

Okay. Thank you.


Calista 31:34 

Thank you, bye.


(Music [Benzo Belle] - If I felt anything I'm sure that I’d hate you.....)


Calista 31:55 

Wow. What a lovely interview.


Gem 31:57 

Lovely, lovely. What a great person.


Calista 31:59 

Yes, absolutely. And it's so nice of Mel to offer her personal help like that. What an amazing woman.


Gem 32:08

Incredible, just a very, very giving soul.


Calista 32:10

And I also wanted to mention a couple of things that we didn't get round to in the interview because we just had so much to talk about. The first is an amazing organization called Punk 4 Mental Health, which is this awesome group of musicians and artists run by Dr. Joel Voss who's a scientific G and we are actually doing a very special performance from lockdown for Punk 4 Mental Health.


Gem 32:39

Yes.


Calista 32:40 

Who work with Mel on the 25th of July at the International Meaning Conference.


Gem 32:49 

Yeah. So this is going to be an online conference and there are tickets still available.


Calista 32:53

Yeah, absolutely.


Gem 32:54

And we’ll do a performance towards the end of the day where we are going to be sharing in front of a panel.


Calista 32:58

Yes, so please come in. You can find out at meaning.org.uk, that's the URL.  

 

Gem 33:06 

Great URL, great URL. I mean, it's no, it's no big hair, big shoes, small hair, small shoes. 

 

Calista 33:12 

(laughs) And the other thing was a documentary called Medicalising Normal, which is coming out later in the year, which I will share a link to in the show notes below.  Whenever I say that I have like, I do this with my fingers, but I realised no one can see me so fine. I'm pointing down.


Gem 33:30 

I can't even see you.  


Calista 33:31 

You cannot even see me fine. I am pointing down. And the other thing I am pointing down at which I would love to share;  

 

Gem 33:39 

Is your Vagina. 

 

Calista 33:40 

No, that was last week's episode, Gem.  

 

Gem 33:43 

I am sorry.  

 

Calista 

(Laughs)  


Gem 33:46 

I'm sorry. I’m editing these out of order. I do not know where I am anymore. 

 

Calista 33:48 

(laughs) I do not know where I am anymore. No I am pointing down to, there should be a button. However you are listening there should be a button called either Website or Support The Show, which will link you to the official Empress App. We have an App Gem. 

 

Gem 34:07 

We have an App.


Calista 34:08 

We have an App and on the App we do loads of awesome things, including you can watch on the App interviews, videos of our interviews from this Podcast. 


Gem 34:21 

Yeah. So we are filming all of the interviews over Zoom that we do, and putting those up. 


Calista 34:26 

Yes. So that is always really fun. And we also go live on there and talk about fun things. And I put up special versions of the songs that I am singing from my living room. So there is loads of really cool stuff on there. So definitely check that out. And actually we have a couple of other things, which we would love to share with you, beautiful listeners of how we would love you to get involved with our wee little podcast. 


Gem 34:56 

Hmmm. Yeah.  


Calista 34:57 

(laughs) So we are now on Episode four, we are coming up to halfway through and we would love for you to get involved. So the first way is "a dan ta da da", we would love for you to let us know what you think of our Podcast. 


Gem 35:16 

Let us know how we are doing, let us know, leave us a review. 


Calista 35:20 

Leave us a review!! Leave us a five star review. So Gem, how can people do this review leaving? 


Gem 35:29 

It's real easy. I think if you are on Apple Podcasts, you can just go, you literally just click through to the page for the Podcast and there is a big button that says leave a review. 


Calista 35:37 

Okay, awesome. So we are asking you, please to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, if you would be so kind or however you are listening.


Gem 35:46 

Sure.


Calista 35:46 

And when you have done that come onto the App slash find us on Social Media, Twitter, Instagram, I am at Calista Kazuko, all our links are on the show notes for the Podcast and send us a message and say, I have left you a five star review and I would now like you to talk about and then say absolutely anything in the world. And we will talk about it in the next episode. So we will be choosing...    


Gem 36:17 

Tell us what you want to hear us discuss.  

 

Calista 36:18 

Yes, what do you want to hear us talk about, as long as it's not like truly gross, nothing gory? I hate anything..... 


Gem 36:25 

If it's truly gross, we will block you. 


Calista 36:28 

(laughs) We will judge and block you. 


Gem 36:30 

And we will delete your review.

 

Calista 36:32 

No, we wouldn't if it's a good review we need all the reviews we've got. But yeah let us know and we will talk about anything. So we are going to choose a couple of things and we are going to talk about it. So that is the first way to get involved. And the second is, so our next episode, well our next episode is actually going to be a special episode with the amazing Bumi Thomas and it's kind of leaving the Empress album for one week.


Gem 37:04 

I am so excited.

 

Calista 37:05 

It is going to be absolutely amazing. And then we are going to come back for the episode called Ode to Genevieve. And we would love for you to give us your dedication. Maybe I need to explain that a little bit more. We have a Blog on the Website, which you can visit at theempressdiaries.com. Yeah. Sorry. I was just checking that.  So www.theempressdiaries.com. There is a Blog on there where we celebrate Inspirational Beautiful Women and you can write in a story. It could be a photo. It could be a song, we've have had quite a few people submitting songs that they have actually written for their mom...  


Gem 37:49 

This has been going on for, since the record came out, this isn't just for the podcast. There is loads of stuff already up. It is an amazing... go check it out, go have a look at it.   


Calista 37:55  

Go check it out, yeah. You can gain, find us on Social Media the best way is on the App for any communications otherwise, you can just take a look at the App.


Gem 38:04 

Take a look at the App, take a look at the App. I know when people say, take a look at an App it's like "ahhhh, I don't know". 

 

Calista 38:09 

There is so much going on there. 


Gem 38:11 

Do it. Take a look at the App. Have a look around.


Calista 38:12 

Just do it, just do it, (laughs) have a look around or we have an email which is empress.diaries2020@gmail.com. So you can also send stuff there and we are basically asking for your dedication, your ode to’s.  So ode to insert name here and we will be choosing a few of these lovely odes to’s and we will be reading them and sharing them on that episode. So please, if you would like to celebrate, it could be your mom, it could be, hell it could be, I don't know your teacher. We have had some great teacher submissions actually. So anyone that's inspired you and you would like to dedicate a story or a song to them, send it to us. We would love to share it.  


Gem 39:02 

Yeah, give us your odes. Give us your odes.


Calista 39:03 

(laughs) And that's it.


Gem 39:07 

God, you got through that really well. I'm going to say, I want to publicly say Calista did the housekeeping very efficiently and effectively. 


Calista 39:16 

God, housekeeping is like a thing. I like housekeeping. Like I actually have a note section on my Mac and it says housekeeping and it is like things to do just to like housekeep life. It is like, so thank you. 


Gem 39:32 

Yeah, your body is a house. You got to keep it. It's the only one you got. 


Calista 39:37 

(laughs) Oh oh oh, there is one more thing.  


Gem 39:39 

Oh yeah.  


Calista 39:40 

We also have a playlist. 

 

Gem 39:41 

Oh yeah.  


Calista 39:43 

Celebrating all, well it's songs to make us feel like a Queen in lockdown. That's the kind of official...  So it's basically fabulous Queens and Queen and we are just like collecting songs, (laughs) songs that make us feel like a Queen and it is called playlist of an Empress, on Spotify. 


Gem 40:05 

Do you want to put in Queens of the Stone age on there as well? 


Calista 40:08 

Oh, I am writing that down right now.


Gem 40:10 

(laughs) I don't know how appropriate they are.  

 

Calista 40:14 

Got it. 


Gem 40:14 

I don't know if they are in the right tone. 


Calista 40:17 

(laughs) So what else have we got coming up?  


Gem 40:21 

Well.


Calista 40:22 

Well, well.


Gem 40:24 

Coming up later on in the show, we've got an interview with Faultress, Rosi Croom who is a musician, singer, songwriter, producer and very insightful, thoughtful, lovely person who I always enjoy talking to. 

 

Calista 40:40 

I have to say every conversation... like the first conversation we had, we just pissed ourselves in hysterics. We were just in total hysterics about nothing and every single conversation I have had with her since has been the same. 


Gem 40:56 

I find myself opening up in her presence and I find myself unable to have any conversation that does not end up kind of becoming like deeply resonant in some way. 


Calista 41:06 

I called her... I needed someone to talk to the other day and I texted Rosi Croom and said I need to talk to someone, come talk to me, but we still end up in hysterics. 


Gem 41:14 

What a good human to have around. 


Calista 41:15 

Just all in all a good human. So I kind of feel like we cover so much in this lovely chat. 


Gem 41:22 

This is such a wide-ranging conversation that we have here. It starts off talking about prescription drugs, obviously cause that's what the subject of the episode is, but it just becomes a much broader discussion about being an artist, engaging with your own work and yeah sort of how to survive and thrive as an artist in these times, in this environment.

 

Calista 41:43 

I think we don't really need to say much else except love yourself, look after your mental health. That is my takeaway.

 

Gem 41:51 

If we need to have a moral in this, which I'm not entirely we do, but if we do need to have one it should be...   


Calista 41:59 

Look after your mental health. 


Gem 41:59 

Be critical...


Calista 42:02 

Love yourself

 

Gem 42:02 

Here is another thing that comes up by the way in the interview. We get quite close in this interview with Rosi at points to saying something along the lines of ahh!! Prescription drugs, man, they mess you up, antidepressants who needs them and you hear me try to walk it back a little bit and talk about how actually antidepressants are quite useful for a lot of people.  


Calista 42:28 

Yes, this is exactly and this is...


Gem 42:30 

It's not like universally bad. 


Calista 42:33 

No, and this is something really important that we have always maintained throughout all the projects we have done is that drugs do save lives. We are not saying stop taking medications, like medications save lives. No one is saying so, so yeah obviously and that's what like we said with Mel it's a very complex issue and every individual's case is personal and different so... 


Gem 43:00 

But it's keeping an eye on yourself right, and looking at keeping an eye on your relationships because I think the dynamic between a patient and a doctor is often very trusting. And if someone is giving you something who you are, you know they have a responsibility of care towards you and so you take it and you think okay, this has got to be the right thing. But it's surprising how quickly you can overlook your own understanding of your body in favour of what someone else is telling you, just because you trust them and you put them in a position of care over you. It's remarkable how quickly we ignore our own responses and our own bodies. 


Calista 43:37 

Exactly, so listen,  I'm always saying this, listen to your body. I said that to you earlier today right when we first started chatting.


Gem 43:44 

You did.


Calista 43:45 

Because you said you were tired and I said, you got to listen to your body. 


Gem 43:49 

But then you made me record a Podcast with you anyway so... 


Calista 43:51 

I did. Sorry that you are tired. You have got to listen to your body so we have got an hour are we going to record or what? 


(laughs)

 

Calista 44:02 

Okay great so... 


Gem 44:04 

Here is this interview with Rosi. 


(Music [Marilyn] -  Do you love it when my hips sway, do you love it when I let you in, do you love it when my lips say that they want you and invite you in, I can be your number today....)


Gem 44:21 

Welcome to this interview with Rosi Croom a.k.a Faultress. Hi. 


Faultress 44:27 

Hello.  


Gem 44:28 

How are you?  


Faultress 44:29 

I am hot and I am restless. 


Gem 44:33 

Restless. What are you doing with yourself these days? 


Faultress 44:37 

That's a really good question. I am going to, should I just go with like complete utter honesty? I have been learning a few computer games. 


Gem 44:47 

Which one?  


Faultress 44:48 

Like Civilization, which is like..... 


Calista 44:50 

Honor plays that.


Faultress 44:51 

I am obsessed with it. I am having dreams about it. 


Calista 44:55 

Do you want to like talk to him about it? 


Faultress 44:57 

Yeah I do, yeah I really do.  


Calista 44:59 

Because I have recently got Animal Crossing.  


Faultress 45:02 

Oh my God, it's like crack apparently. 


Calista 45:06 

It is and I have been speaking to Honor quite a lot, Gem's partner.  


Gem 45:11 

Because Honor is on it, Honor's got a Five Star Island, the whole, they have got all the... they've filled the museum.

 

Faultress 45:20 

Wow!  

 

Calista 45:21 

That is amazing so gorgeous Rosi, will you tell us Faultress, who is she? What does she stand for? 


Faultress 45:31 

Oh Faultress is an extinct word for a female criminal and I thought I made the word up and then I looked it up and I didn't, and it meant exactly what I thought it meant. So that is interesting.


Gem 45:46 

Amazing. 


Faultress 45:47 

Which is nice.   

 

Calista 45:48 

So it is an extinct word.  

 

Faultress 45:50 

Yeah.  For a female criminal.


Calista 45:51 

For a female criminal.  

 

Faultress 45:53 

So there was a Faulter, someone who did something wrong and a Faultress who did something wrong. So you arrested a Faultress but obviously a Faulttress was a lot worse because a woman committing a crime was like a double crime. 


Gem  46:08 

Sure because you're already committing the crime of being a woman.  


Faultress 46:12 

Yes exactly (laughs) exactly. So Faultress, I came up with that because I feel like my ethos is about wearing you, like vulnerability on your sleeve and not being afraid of being imperfect. And it comes from a very like female standpoint as well, I mean if there is any such thing. Writing always comes from a point of, like how does being a woman affect me by how others treat me? And how does that affect things like my idea of sexuality, my idea of mental health,  like my role in politics, like intimacy yeah and even like love? Like rather than I don't really ever write love songs. I have got one that will be on my album for once. But then more like how is that? How is that love playing out as a woman and how could it be better really? I don't aim to be at the center of any politics, I just add my voice, one of many voices into a bigger picture. 


Calista 47:33 

Talking about many voices, you are in an amazing choir. 


Gem 47:35 

Good segway.


Faultress 47:36 

Oh, London Contemporary Voices.  


Calista 47:38 

Yeah. 

 

Faultress 47:39 

Yeah. I have been with them for a few years and they are just a really inspirational bunch of people. I am really missing them actually because it is like a giant loving, everyone is so nice to each other and I also think it was really helpful being around that because they are all really phenomenal musicians, like every single one and I didn't really have a community before I joined them in London. So I quite often felt like I could just lift myself right out and it would not make any difference. It felt like London's a lot more my home since I found a lot of those people. So I mean, things change and like we are in lockdown and stuff and like a lot of that circumstance, but it is just really nice, like being around people who their aim is to be positive and celebratory and like leave like competition and negativity really at the door, which is just for roughly like 150 people.  


Calista 48:32 

Gorgeous. There is nothing like singing in a choir. Did you know that when people sing in a choir, their hearts beat in sync?  


Gem 48:41 

No way! 


Faultress 48:42 

I did not know that. 


Gem 48:43 

Is that true? Is that true? I will get a little fact checking on that, that's lovely.


(laughs) 


Gem 48:52 

This is your scheduled fact check, yeah it's true. There you go, back to the show. 


Calista 48:58 

And I am going to share this sensational video of Rosi singing with the choir, her song Marilyn which was on Rosi's EP "Five Myths" that came out last year. And I'd love to talk to you about Marilyn and the video. So I love that you... okay so the video, it's basically like mega hair waxing.  


Faultress 49:21 

Yeah well, my hair, my legs, and my ass cheeks are out. It's quite fun. I really enjoyed it, we actually waxed my legs, like in slow motion so you can see. Like we tried to get really like the hair and the skin like pulling. 

 

Gem 49:36 

Well to me it really captures the inherent subtext of violence that comes along with the beauty standards that women are held to, right?


Faultress 49:44 

Yeah. Well, that was sort of the point. It's like what if we did not do all of this bull shit? Like every day even though I know rationally, it is wrong, I think about like how my weight makes me less valuable as a person, because I am not like stick thin and that is something that I have to deal with every single day. You know if you lose weight, does that make you more valuable? That is like if you put more makeup on, does that make you more valuable? If you are hairless from the neck down, does that make you premium? 


Calista 50:17 

Premium. (laughs)


Gem: 50:18 

Premium.


Faultress 50:18 

But like it's so weird that like the internalised misogyny of like hair waxing and things like that, because I like feel myself a lot less if I have got hairy legs or like I have not done my bikini, I feel less sexy and I feel less like confident and that is so weird. 


Gem 50:38 

But I do not know, I wonder if it is because I think paying attention to your body and making conscious decisions about the way that your body is and act is a very human thing. I think separate from all the obviously problematic aspects of how you are not only encouraged but sort of required to do it. I think that is the problem. But I think inherently, I can kind of understand the phenomenology of taking a conscious decision to make yourself look a certain way and finding the pride in that. Because you know I also do things to my body that a lot of straight men would not do or would think would be, you know a traditionally feminine thing but it makes me feel really good about myself as well. I think that is okay. 


Faultress 51:23 

Yeah for sure. I think that's what you were saying Gem, is that you making those adaptations and forging your identity and your own sense of self through those adaptations did heighten your feeling of esteem, but the base level if you did nothing, should not make you feel worse.  


Gem 51:43 

Yes. Well absolutely yes. 


Faultress 51:45 

So like just having hairy legs should not make me feel bad, it should be nothing at all. 


Gem 51:51 

It should make you feel completely neutral.  


Faultress 51:53 

Yeah completely neutral. And really that should be really why you do anything to your own body. Not because you feel like there is a norm that you should be meeting. 


Gem 52:04 

Calista and I were talking earlier about how our society at the moment is obsessed with diagnosing and prescribing things for situations where people are often just, it seems alienated by society to the point where they are distressed and upset and a far better solution to that oftentimes would be just if they had someone to listen to them or someone who they could talk to like therapy, I think is hugely undervalued in the society. And people are constantly being medicated for anxiety and stress and all these things, which are actually perfectly understandable and sensible reactions to the world that we live in. 


Faultress  52:50 

Yeah for sure. I have been told by a Psychiatrist, I am quite open to talk about this while we are on the subject, that I should take a cocktail of like different mental health fixing or dampening drugs. And I refuse to take them really because I think that those... however bad things get, you're in touch with like the feeling that you're feeling and I think that I am able to make better decisions about my wellbeing, knowing what the honest cycle hormonal or whatever cycle that is, how it is actually functioning rather than like how a drug is communicating my feelings. 


Gem 53:41 

Having said that, I spent a year and a half of my life on Citalopram which is an antidepressant and I was in a very bad way and I think in combination with that I was able to pull myself up out of it. So it was an assist that I had, for a short period of time, was very beneficial. I think they definitely have their place but it is this sort of constant reliance and this idea of getting into a cycle of perpetual use where I think...


Faultress 54:17 

Did you find it difficult to then stop taking them? 


Gem 54:20 

I did not because I was quite lucky I got to a place with it after a year and a half four where I got to gradually wean myself off then and eventually go back down to not taking them at all. But I was stuck in a relationship with somebody who was coming off them and had a really bad like borderline psychotic time coming off of them. 


Faultress 54:41 

The song that I feel like connects with Benzo Belle more really is Marilyn again and I guess like at some point I want to stop talking about Marilyn because I do have loads of other songs but that is the one that's like, I love Benzo Belle, that is my favourite one on that album cause it is just like the constant tranquilisation of like the real self at the hands of the male gaze really. And the constant dampening of that, that I feel resonates most with that song as well and not being your true self, like if in order to fit in properly with this toxic heteronormative relationship, there is a part of you that is being denied and not being seen. But I think, you know in Benzo Belle, that's physically someone taking pills to dampen themselves and to act out a life of perfection and sort of those wifey type things. But really, you know you do not have to take a pill to feel that. 


Gem 55:59 

Sure or to subsume a part of yourself in order to fit more into the hole that has been made for you. 


Faultress 56:04 

Exactly.  


Calista 56:05  

Oh, I would love to talk to Rosi about this project you're doing. You have dedicated your Instagram to inside sessions.  


Faultress 56:15 

Which both of you have participated in, so thank you very, very much.  


Gem 56:19 

You are so welcome. 


Faultress 56:20 

Yeah. Well, I have not been feeling creative whilst we have been in lockdown at all. I have tried to write a song, did not work. I get inspiration from like small encounters with people, face to face contact, seeing something I would not have normally seen on the street. Those are the things that get my creativity going. So there is just none of that so I have instead looked to 50 other artists to all share their approach to songwriting and to share a song because I have been learning loads from everyone and really enjoying how amazing, like all of these people are. There has not been a single rotten apple, like they're all...  


Calista 57:07 

It is just amazing. So how often do you upload people's videos? 


Faultress 57:10 

Every day, every day.  

 

Calista 57:12 

Every day, oh wow! So how can people find you on Instagram?  


Faultress 57:16 

I am on thisisfaultress as in like a fault line FAU L T R E S S thisisfaultress on Instagram and on my website faultress.com, they will have all the videos on there. And yeah everyone's got... like there are a lot of similarities. There are similarities in approach like starting with a riff and then building from there, for example, is a very common one people say. The result of each of those things is so different. So each person's style is just so different which is so nice. 


Calista 57:51 

This is what I love about songwriting and making music right cause you... okay let's say you have even written the song, but then when you come to producing it, I always think how wild, that depending on the day, the time, your mood, it could end up like... 


Gem 58:05 

It is crazy to look back on a track that has become so important to you or a track that has become like a foundational part of your artistry. That has become a, you know, your most popular song or whatever, and look back at the recording of it and think, God if I hadn't done that, or if I hadn't made that snap decision at that one moment, everything could be completely different. 


Faultress 58:28 

Well I listen back to tracks and they sort of helped me understand myself a bit. 


Gem 58:34 

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. 


Calista 58:35 

It is therapy, you do not even realise that you're going through something and then you listen back six months, a year later and you're like, that is what I was going through and that song was my therapy. 


Faultress 58:47 

Also it is like the whole lockdown thing is like, now that I have realised that I am not being creative, I am trying to at least take small steps every day to like work towards my album because like the album is already written and I just have to practice on the piano. Like I am practicing grade five piano pieces as well to get back into the zone of playing properly and that is something I can do and I can sit and do all of my scales.  

  

Calista 59:19 

I've been playing the piano in lockdown, something that I never would have had time or really had the urge to do, but I've been sitting and I've been learning all the pieces and it's so good. It's just like an hour of like, this is what I needed to do and then you have the result at the end. Have you got any other tips to share for people in lockdown on ways to use creativity or just escape, and feel good? 


Faultress 59:46 

Apart from going to listen to the inside sessions, I do not think I am the right person to give that advice. I think maybe like the one good thing would be for... yeah if you are tired then maybe that has been building up from running around like an absolute headless chicken for like, maybe not headless chicken, like an excitable chicken cause it seems like you have got a plan so you are not headless but just sort of being busy all the time. (laughs).


Calista 1:00:16 

Cause Faultress was born relatively recently.  


Faultress 1:00:19 

Yes. Last year.  


Calista 1:00:21 

Oh, only last year, okay great. So if you were to tell the Faultress of last year, one piece of advice or one thing that you have learned along the way, what would you tell her? 


Faultress 1:00:32 

Probably something along the lines of like keep committing to what I am doing. So like do not be afraid of the long game and keep being true to your like ethos really. I am not saying that me being me is any better than anyone else being anyone else, but you, I think owe it to yourself and everyone to be the most authentic version of yourself because I think it is empowering and to other people to do the same thing and to live their truth. And I think that you can be closer to people, you can be closer to yourself, you can be more in touch with your ambitions and drives and spirit if you are just completely yourself all the time.  

 

Calista 1:01:16 

So lovely thank you so much for doing this.  

 

Faultress 1:01:18 

That is okay. 

 

Calista 1:01:19 

Everybody listens to Rosi's music. It is life changing,  I am a super fan. I am such a super fan.  

 

Faultress 1:01:25 

Yay!!! Good. Go get some people to listen to it (laughs). 


(Music [Marilyn] - This isn’t me, this has to be, I am in love if you really want to see, if you need me in your own way, and all you can see is incomplete pain, Oh, oh, oh....)


Gem 1:01:47 

So there you go, there is our interview with Faultress.


Calista 1:01:49 

Oh, Faultress such a dream.  Amazing thank you so much for listening. Thank you so much for tuning in for another episode of the Empress Diaries. Join us next time for a very special episode where we are going to be going veering off from the Empress Album to dedicate a special podcast to our dear friend, the incredible artiste, Bumi Thomas, and her new EP "Broken Silence". It is going to be huge. 


Gem 1:02:17 

It's going to be amazing.  


Calista 1:02:17 

Join us for that.  


Gem 1:02:18 

Thank you so much for listening. This one was kind of a workout. I mean there is a lot of big information in this one.  


Calista 1:02:24 

Yeah, there is a lot going on, yeah it has been a lot. So last week on the...   


Gem 1:02:27 

A bit light on the happy clappy, although it has been, I don't know it has been a difficult time so we reflect our circumstances.


Calista 1:02:32 

Yes, you know exactly. We are going through crazy times right now, but just to lift the mood last week we finished with egg, egg, egg. I do not know maybe mental health, mental health, mental health (laughs).

 

Gem 1:02:43 

Mental health, mental health, mental health.  


Calista 1:02:46 

Womb-a, womb-a, womb-a (laughs).  


Gem 1:02:48 

Thanks for listening guys, see you next week. 


Calista 1:02:50 

Bye.

Gem 1:02:51 

Bye.


(Music [The Empress] - the Empress will see you now...).


Gem 1:03:01 

The Empress Diaries is written and recorded by Calista Kazuko and Gem Milsom. The Empress Diaries Podcast is gratefully supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. 


(Music [The Empress] - You best dress to impress the empress, the empress, the empress, the empress...)