Raze Sounds

Over the last couple of months we’ve been working on a project called Raze Sounds. The impetus of this was to experiment & develop with creative ways of telling important queer stories. 
 
Following a competitive selection process, we commissioned writer Sandra Brown-Springer to share her story; Bliss in Adverse Conditions Part 2. Working with Yasser Zadeh and sound designer Esme Lewis-Gartside, we worked with Sandra collaboratively to really find the sound of her story and capture its essence.
 
As part of this process we invited the incredible artist & performer Azara Meghie to have a conversation with Sandra about her work, her own personal journey and it’s influence of her writing. The full interview transcript is available below.
 
Listen to our pilot edition of Raze Sounds right here, we hope you enjoy it!
Bliss in Adverse Conditions, Part 2
Written & performed by Sandra Brown Springer

Episode produced by Raze Collective

Sound Design & Engineering by Esmé Lewis Gartside

Directorial Support by Yaz Zadeh

Host Interview by Azara Meghie
 

Artist Azara Meghie chats to writer Sandra Brown-Springer about love, writing & queerness.

Below 'AM' indicates interviewer Azara Meghie, 'S' indicates writer Sandra Brown-Springer. 

AM:
So without further ado I would like to introduce to you our writer Sandra-Brown Springer! Hey Sandra, how are you doing?
 
S:
Hey Azara, I’m okay, how are you?
 
AM:
I'm good, thank you. How are you feeling?

S:
I’m really excited actually, I'm feeling good, feeling happy, happy to be here!
 
AM:
I know right, it's been a bit of a process to get to this point but we’ve made it! It’s something to be able to share your work and from work I’ve heard and reading the story it’s just juicy! But before I get carried away, tell us about yourself and how you got into writing
 
S:
Well I am a 47 year old black, lesbian…
 
AM:
Yes, yes a couple clicks there!
 
S:
I live in Brixton south london, I have 3 children, I work as a library assistant and that is what I do to pay the rent but I’m really focusing on my writing now. I started writing by copying out of books at school and bringing this home to read as we had no books in my house apart from the Bible. I think I was 10 when I wrote a story that was entered into a competition called the Young Readers Awards and I cannot remember whether I won but I was listed somewhere because I got a prize and I remember going to the bookshop, Dillons on Tottenham Court Road..this was 37 years ago so I don't know whether..
 
AM: (laughing) Yeh it’s probably not there
 
S:
But I went and I got a prize of books and I was overjoyed. Then  in my early teens I remember coming 2nd or 3rd place, in something called Acers Young Black Writers Award. I remember distinctly, there was a beautiful plaque with a face on it, a black face with a pen across it, it was bloody amazing! Anyway I’ve been writing for a long time, through my personal journey I’ve been through a lot of stuff and as a form of self-sabotage I stopped writing, I made myself stop writing to punish myself and it’s only when I came out recently, that I really started to write again. Then I wrote a story, yeah, and that story really springboarded me into coming out because ity was all about a woman that was doing strange things, she was queer, she was doing disturbing things and through analysing my writing I was like, this is really strange but I worked it out in the end!
 
AM: 
The self-sabotaging of the writing, was it because the content you were writing initially was something you felt that you shouldn’t be expressing?
 
S:
You see, because I love writing and because writing for me is a way of understanding, it's the way I think, it's the way that I process things. If I have a problem I write my way through it. That’s how I..it’s the way I think, the way I process things so… and I love it, it’s something I love doing. So it was, a way of hurting myself yeah, because I had been trying not to be myself for a long time you know, I knew that I was a lesbian in my twenties, you get me, but because of various different things I didn't allow myself, that side of myself, to be seen.. to be! I was doing my best to kill that side of myself, yeah and you know I feel like that part of myself was retaliating or a part of myself, I don’t know if it was that part of myself but it makes sense to think it would be, but in retaliation yeah, part of myself was like okay well then you ain't gonna do this you know, if this is what you’re gonna do to yourself. It’s kind of self-hatred. So writing for me, as I say, is the way that I process but it's also so much fun for me, I get so much joy from it. If no one was ever going to read anything I wrote, if I never got paid a penny for anything I wrote, I would still write… because I love it so much, you understand what I'm saying?
 
AM:
Yeh it’s the creativity that is what fuels you rather than what you get from it. It’s more about the expression and the inspiration to be able to create, rather than the outcome.

 
S:
If I don’t do it, I feel like I am suffocating myself. I feel like… I literally feel backed up with words. It doesn’t feel like words, what does it feel like? I don’t know if i could put it into words ironically [laughter]! It doesn’t feel good when I don't write, and because I knew that, I stopped myself from doing it, and I would ..you know, you’ve seen things like..to consciously make it make sense because I'm in denial right, so consciously I’m not a lesbian, subconciously I am but conciously im not a lesbian so I can’t say to myself  ‘Because you’re not coming out and following your desires, you’re not gunna write’ no, what  I said to myself was well… you’re still smoking and so until you stop smoking not gunna write. Do you get me, do you understand what I’m saying? Different things like that, that's how I would consciously rationalise it. What was underneath that, was really punishing myself because I was not being myself, a kind of self hatred and self disgust.  It's really complicated actually because…it’s just really interesting, I’ll probably put it in a story somewhere but that’s basically the bones of it.
 
AM:
It’s so advanced in itself, you say to unpick, but I feel in a way you already understand what that was for you? Because to be able to articulate that it was a way of self-sabotaging because of the denial of the truth, that you knew because writing was your love and your passion….To do something that made you feel in a way, like you were paying for the “bad things” essentially or what your not supposed to be thinking, what you’re not supposed to have, to punish yourself for that. I’m gonna take away one thing that truly helps you decipher your mind and to decipher what you’re feeling and then to articulate it and process…I’m going to take that away which is your writing. You know to be able to articulate that and know that was a period of time where i self sabotaged, and then to know as soon as you came out that that it came back so freely. I think that is such a beautiful journey to have, and awareness as well of being able to look back and you can go ‘ok so that’s what I did to myself’, you know…I can't wait for that book. 
 
Joint laughter
 
That is a deep book, love it.
 
S:
It was not nice. Once I started to be myself, to stop repressing who I am it was literally like floodgates opening, so much stuff. I’ve written so many stories in such a short space of time and you know before I wasn’t writing stories, I was writing a little, just so I could function, I journaled and in the journal there's going to be poetry…You know but I would not allow myself to write the stories that I wanted to write.
 
AM:
And I just wanted to say i know I said like you know that i love it and like i'm excited for it, what i wanted to make sure what was understood was that I’m excited that your journey and understanding of you know being able to find that place and understanding and peace with yourself to be true to yourself you know. That's what I think is exciting and beautiful because some people don’t get to that place, do you know what I mean? You're 47 now 
 
S:
Wooo
 
AM:
and some people will go their entire life and never find that journey, they will still be in that place where they’re self sabotaging d’you know what I mean? So to be able to have you even share is just like wow, it's just like exciting because that means that someone else might hear that and just get the little pep that they need you know, it’s just beautiful and i feel like, like i said that’s why I’m excited for that book because it's inspiring, for me and for many other people i'm sure, but even if it's that one person.
One person just needs to look at a few words and be like that's me, I feel seen, I feel heard, so yeah I think it's amazing so thank you for sharing that. Coz that's something that's really deep and true to you so I really appreciate you bringing that into this space and being so vulnerable to do that coz its not easy you know. Our journeys and life, especially our queer journeys and life are very difficult to decipher and articulatute. So you know, I think it’s coz you’re an amazing writer so the words do come well but again thank you so much.
 
So, we’re just gonna get a little bit of background to the story that we’re gonna hear. Is there any..what can you tell me where the inspiration came from or where you know what led you to where we are now with the story that we’re gonna hear?
 
S:
Oh, okay…well the story that I will be reading an extract of is part of a much larger story.. But the story is…the inspiration for the story is based on my personal experience. Just before I decided that I wasn't going to write, I had a lover. 

A:ok ok 
 
S:
n my early 30s, I did actually have a lover,  I like to call her my first real lover. It was a situation where I had this really intense love affair with this woman and I'm on the verge of coming out. Well, I did come out to some family members and I allowed their homophobia and negativity to actually shut me down. So i've got my foot out of the closet *joint laughter*
 
A:
and they pushed it back in?
 
S:
I did it.  I didn't have to listen to them but I was scared, and I had a little conversation with  my sister about religion and that played a big part in the reason behind me not being able to follow through with that relationship. Basically, I ended it, I ended things with that woman which was hard to do, you know, because of the way that we felt and it was so hard to do but I did it. And when I, five years ago, came out and. . . it’s crazy the way the mind works. In order for me to go back to pretending to be straight, I had to forget about her, you understand what I'm saying. And that's what I made myself do. So when I came out, five years ago, almost immediately this memory came back of her and us and everything and I was like oh my god. This story started as almost as an apology to her, and it is not what happened between us, it is not what happened between us - I have ripped things up and turned things around and you know 
 
A:
-embellished?
 
*joint laughter*
 
S:
- embellished, taken things out it is a story, not memoir, but it is based on my life experience.

A:
Amazing. Ok so I mean you’ve shared a lot already and that gives us a good starting point to go off from. To get us into this story, anything else is gonna be spoilers and I don't want that. Listen and enjoy!