A thousand thank yous / a new beginning

Picture by Paul Kintzing (German Error Message)

As I write this and relive our time from start to end ~ as a music blog, tears moisten my eyes, the mud at the riverside left soft and sticky, the defences specked with salt but not overcome.  When I started this, I thought my motivation was simple – the hope that my love for new music, my unhealthy obsession with finding new bands, new acts, might throw aerosol on the fire for fellow obsessives and those who still wore the black on their thumb from a candle snuffed out too soon. Yet, now I realise it was much more than that, what I desired more than anything was to belong. You and this have given me that. Life has very few certainties – by god don’t we know that more than ever right now, but I know unquestionably that I will never receive a greater gift. 

Around a week ago, I watched a video anticipating to glean maybe a second of joy from it – hearing Andrew Lloyd Webber utter the words Porridge Radio. Yet I continued long beyond that unlikely shout-out, watching its entire ten minutes and five seconds, even returning for a second and third viewing. It dawned on me that I ache to see people cut loose, eyes wild as they speak breathlessly about the thing they hold most dear. You can hear the smile in their voice, you know? Before Balloon Machine I was gagged, the memory of being called pretentious in a grayscale cinema hall, silencing me whenever words about my first and most intense love threatened to slip through the bars. Never underestimate the power of your words. Yet the way in which you’ve received my passion and even thanked me for it, has given me and it a sense of acceptance, a sense of legitimacy. Now, I am Andrew Lloyd Webber and if you aren’t there yet, I desire nothing more than for you to feel the banks burst, for your ship to unmoor. 

The key to that was your reception, something that I felt would remain didactic and seen by very few, transforming into a two-way conversation. I will cherish those interactions more than anything – someone buying an album off the back of our review, the excitement in an artist’s voice reacting to their first ever review, the handwritten notes folded and hidden in the sleeves of records sent unexpectedly as a thank you (you’ll find these collated on our Instagram page). I’d never had pen pals and doubted that true friendships could be forged without skin touching skin, eyes meeting eyes, yet now I know that to be utter rubbish, so many of you have gone on to become friends, this shared passion making our skin nick less easily, our shared vulnerabilities firing soft clay into permanence. 

Remembering where I was then and where I am now, both mentally and professionally is overwhelming. We did that. Now my days are spent in the same room as those I admire most, musicians. Not idling awkwardly in the corner but stood proudly with something to offer, something that might help their art reach all the ears it rightfully deserves. Helping bring other’s art into the world has become a true passion, so much so that Balloon Machine will now become a record label. This, if anything, is due to this site increasing my passion for music rather than the reverse – nothing has been more instrumental to that than you. More on the label in the coming weeks. 

When we could still travel, I was lucky enough to see Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s most impressive waterfalls. The sound of the water hurtling itself over the cliff edge and thrashing against the pool below is deafening; it’s an ego check that leaves you truly aware of your inferiority. That is how I feel in the face of song, and the desire to share the feeling of giving myself up to that tide will never die. I and Balloon Machine’s so cherished contributors, I can truly never thank you enough, will still reach for the pen, now sharing our words over on Secret Meeting as we attempt to make a mega blog of sorts, a blog that endeavours to cover all it can within the alternative canon. I hope to see you there and I hope to see you here, eager to learn more about the next installation of Balloon Machine.

I thank you so much for reading, for caring, for being here, but most of all I thank you for your friendship.

Much love, 

Balloon Machine ~  the blog