Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Time to Slow Down: Post residency with Kathy Leisen

Detroit native Kathy Leisen, and her cat Gerome, received their first northern lower Michigan welcome at ISLAND's Hill House residency. Leisen spent the month of November at the residency, embracing the solitude and slower pace of life. Following are her thoughts of reflection.

"My first impressions of the Hill House were of thrill and amazement. I felt so lucky. The house and the surrounding area exceeded my expectations in terms of size, beauty, comfort, and overall creative atmosphere. There was a bottle of wine there for me with a note and chocolate chip cookies. There were several guitars and other pieces of equipment, good books on the shelf, and of course the beautiful-sounding piano. I list these things to describe my happiness.

Then I immediately dug into my work. My background is in visual arts, but in the last couple years my music pursuits have taken the lead in terms of opportunities and successes. So although I am a songwriter, I don't have formal training in music. I wanted this opportunity at the Hill House Residency to dig deeper into my processes and to reexamine my approach to melody and lyrics. Oh did I! I took advantage of the many miles of trails behind the house in the state forest. I walked and looked, and listened. This residency is unique because you are in isolation. I discovered that my eyes started to open a little wider, allowing me to notice more than I had. I slowed down. I paid attention.

All of this affected my work. I struggled with changes and rewrites. I walked away and came back, and went through so many emotions that my music draws from. I honestly think I am a better writer through this experience. I wrote one of my favorite songs the night before I left. Now that I am back in my regular life, I try and hold on to those moments."

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