Mermaid Overseas: Santa Barbara to San Francisco

The soundtrack to a Mermaid making music across three continents.

Where: Santa Barbara to San Francisco

When: 20/03/2015 – 26/03/2015

Lesson: Vodka causes inhumanly deep sleep and severe memory loss (A lesson I learnt many years ago)

Achievement: Busking in Santa Barbara and Bazaar Cafe open mic

Lyric: Don’t restrict us for the breasts we’ve grown, don’t stop us because we are on our own

Quote: “Fackin Brits abroad”

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1. The Do – Dust It Off

“If you hold onto the past, don’t you lock yourself inside”

I spend quite some time (and money) in coffee shops gathering my thoughts, writing and when unplugged from my earphones listening to whatever music is playing. The original of this track was playing in Starbucks when I planted myself there after busking at the Farmer’s Market in Santa Barbara. These live session videos were shown to me by Harri, a great chum who I recorded my EP with, and these videos are what made me fall in love with The Do. They have been part of my soundtrack everyday since. Me and my main Mermaid Abs went to see them live in London and it was incredible. As flawless as her voice sounds on their albums, to hear it live it is almost somehow more perfect.

Despite only making a few dollars and a bag of almonds busking, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and also heard some other musicians playing such as these little chickens raising money to get to camp. I’m not sure if my beer fund is quite as worthy of donation.

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2. David Bowie – Let’s Dance

“If you say run, I’ll run with you”

After a manic departure from San Diego, life was swell once more when I arrived at my hostel in Santa Barbara. I don’t think you can really call The Wayfarer a hostel judging how dead fancy it is (it also costs double the price that I have ever paid for a bed). When I arrived there was no one in my room – kitted out with amenities, a TV and comfy beds so I immediately blasted out this track and went for an evening dip in the empty pool. Privacy is an expensive bonus and definitely worth it every now and then.

I made the other two girls in my room uncomfortable as they walked in to find me with my guitar writing and recording, so that came to a swift ending. One of the girls was Heather who was on a Tinder holiday which inspired me for extra activities for my three week stay in my next stop San Fran, where she also lives!

I’m not sure what is going on in California but I keep being given the most ridiculous compliments that I am growing concerned I may return to England as a massive twat. Two people stopped me on the street within one hour in Santa Barbara to tell me how amazing my vibe was and how much they loved me.

I waited for a 1am Greyhound bus in a bar where “Let’s Dance” came on as I wrote a hell of a lot of lyrics. The running theme through these tracks seems to be dancing so I think I should aim to write a song relating to boogie. The bar closed so I then waited on the street, looking pretty homeless until the sweaty and uncomfortable night journey began. I didn’t receive quite as many compliments when I fell off that bus in San Francisco.

3. Angel Olsen – Dance Slow Decades

“Thought I had an answer, it was just a sigh”

I’m still obsessed with this album and this track has been the favourite for striding up and down the sunny hills of fantastic San Francisco. I have walked all over the city to Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, Haight Ashbury, Castro district, Union Square, and more with my tunes blasting.

I find these lyrics relative to the big questions floating around my head on these walks and I’m so grateful to my brother for introducing me to her. Whilst sat in a coffee shop writing this I just watched unfucktheworld in Angel Olsen’s Tiny Desk Concert and tears are rolling down my cheeks.

I find the music that has been on my phone for the past few months feels foreign now as I walk around new places so I’m looking for a whole new library and I ask the hundreds of people I’m meeting to advise me on their soundtracks.

One of my favourite days has been sitting on Hippie Hill with my guitar writing songs and then walking down Haight choosing which tattoo artist to have do my Mermaid, soon to be on my forearm.

I met three English fellas from dan sath and an Aussie couple from Melbourne to party with on the first night in Amsterdam hostel. Bottles of three dollar voddy were sneaked into bars and in one we found these two guys playing piano and taking requests to do funny covers. Someone happened to request “Otherside” which was the cover I did in Paris with Joe which means my superpower to control my soundtrack still functions despite being blindly obliterated.

The Aussie couple, Jeremy and Greer, had been on an adventure and definitely loved to party which is the kind of relationship I will be in when I finally settle down with some dashing chap. This dashing chap could potentially be living in America and we could potentially carry on these Vodka dreams for eternity as one.

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4. The Eagles – Hotel California

“Some dance to remember, some dance to forget”

All Americans seem to be so proud of whichever town they are from and they have no shame in this song playing in the majority of bars I’ve been in throughout California. I did a glorious trip across Golden Gate Bridge to Sausilito in the blistering heat with Harry and Ryan (all proud to be English) where we were stranded for a couple of hours. So naturally, we British splashed out on some drinks with some incredible scenery. On the way back to our hostel a motorcycle dude drove past blasting out this track.

A memorable bartender served us overpriced beers and said “I used to date a musician, she was broken. Are you broken?” A rather bold question to ask but surely being fixed makes life much more boring?


Blinding vodka obliteration reoccurred the following night with the people I was sharing a dorm with. Unfortunately I passed out, as I am known to do, into an un-wakeable slumber and only the night after was I told of the awful experience the other girl in my room had suffered with two disgusting guys.  An eye-opener reminder to be careful. A couple of days later I discovered this in my lyric book, a small token of kindness and mystery to come out of a horrific night that I slept through.

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I performed at Bazaar Cafe which was a great opportunity to meet other musicians in the area. I met many including Maya and Joel whose music I thoroughly enjoy. The night was completely acoustic in a small space which was intimate and bohemian, reminding me of The Grove open mic in Leeds. Here’s some of the performances I heard.

5. St Germain – Rose Rouge

This cracking tune has returned to my ears after blasting in my ears a while ago when I was seeing a charming french man. From Heather’s inspiration I went on my first Tinder date and the chap  reminded of this charming frog as he looked a lot like him. The date was nothing to write home about but a bit of fun on a sunny afternoon.

The songs I’ve been writing tend to sway topically towards men I have met although none of them French which seems unusual. Here is a rough demo of a song i’m working on, recorded in Golden Gate Park in between hobos popping out of bushes to give me more compliments and just be their general loony selves.

Still in San Fran staying in the super (super is a word I hear every 5 minutes) cool Green Tortoise Hostel, building some musical ties and having a ruddy good time…



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