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AofA People: Kath Best – Singer, Songwriter, Artist


12 Minute Read

Kath Best is the sort of jazz singer who sends quivers through your body. She’s also wildly eclectic. Here she answers our Q & A in the most fulsome manner so far…

WHAT IS YOUR NAME?

Kaski (Kath Best)

WHAT IS YOUR AGE?

55

WHAT DO YOU DO?

Actor. I try to do what needs doing. Writing songs. Designing trumpet parts. Putting costumes together and renovating flamenco dresses. Feeding back. I like to function in collaboration. It’s a tribal thing that is easily evaded by default but essential to healthy incentivised existence. In general, left to my own devices, I do what can’t be put off to another day which is why I thrive well when deadlines and travel force an element of drive.

WHERE YOU LIVE?

In the present. In space. In a cave. In the City. Under the stars in a field. Dwelling – on the past. On choices about the future. Off the state in order to be available for what’s important. Cooking with Children in Adventure Playgrounds and being there for loved ones. In rehearsal. Where ever I am in observation of myself and others. Viewing the parallel universe.

TELL US WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE YOUR AGE?

The seeds of experience begin to bloom and reflections bring a deeper self recognition. It’s a relief to arrive at any age. Change is inevitable and can’t always be accelerated to reflect youthful buoyancy. A slower pace has its merits. Frustration and expectation go hand in hand to create conflict at times but the necessity to create an illusion diminishes as this and other quirks of wisdom become nuggets of acceptance – enlightenment even. But I don’t think this comes only with age – I just have more time to notice as I am less compelled for the sake of being engaged.

As ‘bouncing back’ becomes less immediate and the need to create an identity is abandoned, I begin knowing who I am and find reassurance in that. Age is proof of life and like bread and remedies,can only be evidential in conjunction with time. One of my songs describes time as a “heavy thing – brought forward for so long…” It’s about understanding the idea that each of us ages through the process of something beyond our own life span.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T HAVE AT 25?

I have a Son. I have time. I have grief and joy. I have an eight-hob range and a washing machine. I have silver highlights and skin that goes brown in the sun instead of pink. I have perspective relative toage – though I don’t think either relies on the other altogether.

At 25 it is easy to be caught up in things about life that occupy a space to the exclusion, or even oppression, of wisdom and truth. Money is one preoccupation that I have sometimes given up on; nice but it doesn’t rule my world and I try not to allow the lack of it to diminish my chances of survival. I had more then than now and I  was also in better position to barter my life as a sexual being – not that I was aware of that then.

Now I’ve got “Ain’t Got No – I’ve Got Life” playing in my head – and memories of Nina Simone at Ronnie Scott’s on my 25 th – or was it my 24 th ? That’s another thing I have now – flexibility around detail. Then I had an inherent desire to conform but was always driven by expressing myself artistically. Having spent my youth creating in performance and expecting to be accepted with no training and little aptitude for business into an industry just for who I was. I guess that 25 was the point when I realised that training to reach ones potential was an essential part of development. Now I have that I do have a better understanding of how discipline allows this age thing to take me into the unknown with more confidence.

WHAT ABOUT SEX?

It can be compelling and taboo at the same time so it’s a bit of a tightrope journey. The adventure of sex as sexual maturity unfolds, reveals in equal measure the importance of shared experience andindependence. Sexual maturity is highly regarded and really amazing but like pregnancy it is rarely talked about. Like a flower!!! It’s blooming marvellous – if you can get it right. There is a seasonal rhythm to it and the underworld of attraction runs deep. Finding the right sexual partners is not always easy.

AND RELATIONSHIPS?

Humans seem to morph themselves to fit in with expectations that spill into our subconscious lives from the media and social political climbs, so I’ve had to dig deeper to get a meaningful understanding about what really counts and to bring that understanding in from  others. It’s always been a bit of a hit and miss affair for me. Now that we as a society, judge the practice and culture in relationship values across the globe, I can’t help feeling that ‘we’ are still finding a new balance. Having broadly questioned the values of monogamy and accepted that choice and freedom to change are fundamental human rights, we have to re-evaluate how far along the road of finding the perfect balance we can ever be.

Driven by forces beyond their own essential value, relationships struggle to survive. For my part relationships have been muddled by expectation and growing up during a sexual revolution. I find thatrelationships that go before are carried forward. I maintain a relationship with my son’s Father. It carries a cost and has it’s perks. But that relationship is not always viewed favourably by other men and, more importantly, not always been ideal for me as the visa versa kicks in. Yet, after a certain point, I’m not sure I consider this to have been a matter of choice – people bond and one becomes an article of possession on an ethereal note – for having shared experience and practical issues play their part in solidification. But the weighing up of pros and cons negates the fact of ‘what is’ being what is and ‘what’s not’, simply not existing.

Perhaps if our own feelings about relationships were separated from the relationships themselves then the latter could exist more freely for what they just are without the pressure of impending change, emotional highjack or pre-contextualised expectation. That’s my hope and the treasure of my experience. Love lost is never gone. It continues to reside as the invisible glue that holds all of life together.

I have to believe that as my legacy unfolds.

HOW FREE DO YOU FEEL?

Physical and financial limitations bind us and I’m sure my perception of how others feel or might feel as a result, inform the choices I make as much, or more, than my own feelings and desires. But money buys freedom – it’s hard to join in or take off without it. I have to keep life as simple as it can be in order to feel free. Total freedom is the benchmark.

“Jump on In, Ah ripple and stream, Just to taste! Was this place, we were living in a dream, Or just a phase? Pluck Pluck Pluck it up, Be ‘eard in a wide sense, by those inner ears for a, A spell to, Break out in – BREAK OUT”. (Missing Words 2005)

I never feel completely free from my experienced self. Teetering on the precipice of engagement for fear of entrapment only to realise that I am already ensnared so doing. But the freedom creativity in art affords, seems almost infinite at times and safer – for those around me too – although the edges get blurred by the process as it merges with a less conscious and sometimes foreboding spillage of ‘ideas’.

Then integrity and choices come to challenge the real spirit of Art as it gets caught up in the confines of fashion and sex appeal and I am compelled to engineer and design a perspective for how it might be received; making it accessible or hiding it between layers of alternative interpretation. It seems that ideas are free and I capture them and cook them into something palatable. I have avoided many trappings but not all and so exposing this dichotomy seems good way to keep it transparent. I am free to do this – in art but not in relationships or other walks. In art one can be playful without risking offence.

WHAT ARE YOU PROUD OF?

I am proud of knowing anything that cannot be put into words. I am proud of not being proud. I am proud of being. I am proud of work that has stood the test of time and of the patience I have in not needing to understand my own work immediately or to create anything so deliberately that it stops being what it would want to be.

I am proud of hiding beneath the weight of despair and being quiet until the rise and fall of life fill the space around me from within. I am proud of baring my soul against the wind and letting go oF invention.

WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED?

Nature. Doing what is required. Being a spring. Giving in to insightful ideas. Eating fresh seasonal produce that hasn’t been de-energised by the trauma of production. Circles of light. Sleep. Yoga. Boredom. The mission of collaborative creativity. The slightest thing. The enormity of space. The power of sound. The vibrancy of all things.

WHEN ARE YOU HAPPIEST?

In transit. In the village. At the heart of a journey. Unveiling a song. Arranging parts. With my Son at home. Cooking. Passing the time endlessly with a friend. Bathing in shallow waters under the sun. Going somewhere new. Embracing change.

AND WHERE DOES YOUR CREATIVITY GO?

My creativity goes with me wherever I am but it goes beyond that too. I think it belongs everywhere. I am not always in touch. Being in action has creative potential. My song “Effect on Everyone” seems to be about destruction – it is about the creation of negativity. Where as another song “Driving”, had it’s first audience as a couple of bible bashers came through the gate just as it was finished one early morning after. The last line of the song “Praying’s just another way of saying…. Visualisation!” was the only part that visibly resonated with them and because of that the whole vibe of the song was transformed. Controversy immediately contextualised as it resonated to highlight something about their creativity – of doom.

I then realised that it had the potential for blasting through my own negativity as well. So it became a feel good rock and roll number instead of a third rate musical representation of a movie playing in my head with a hangover – not because I changed it in any way – it just gained a dynamic through its own essential communication.

Where does it go now? Do I need to know? It could be a movie or a painting or series of photographs. I guess it’s like the wind. Once it’s passed through us it’s out there and exposure can make or break it. But it can’t help reflecting in some way at some point. Not always yet.

The moment of release can be chosen or left to chance. Once exposed it is transformed as it travels on and who knows where it goes after that.

WHAT’S YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF LIVING?

If you think of something, it is the right time to act on it. Waiting twenty minutes will separate good ideas from compulsion. If you wouldn’t eat it don’t put it on your skin and visa versa. Any boringtask should take no more than 15 minutes – if it’s still boring after that it isn’t worth it. Rhythm is the route to a free mind. Money is a means to an end. If it feels right then it is – Just get on with it. Sleep is good for you.

AND DYING?

Dying seems natural and, as long as it is, I think it’s fine. It’s hard to accept responsibility for it. There’s no escaping it but it often feels tragic. I try to age gracefully and understand the process of death as a gradual letting go. The more you give the more transparent you become and perhaps that allows a greater connection to begin. “Ids” is a song about war and the layers of sediment left in its wake.

ARE YOU STILL DREAMING?

The art of Dreaming is one I haven’t mastered – at least I guess that can’t be true. But it’s only in the last five years I even began to dream consciously – deliberately – we are talking about waking dreams, right? But yeah! Not so much – I’m still recovering from recently shattered dreams. They seemed to affect everything. The connectivity in dreams is almost more powerful than action. Art is a great dream catcher for me as, when dreams aspire to make reality and collaborative means feel precarious, hope flounders in the dream space. “You can say I’m dreaming! Well, what is life, Without a dream? Don’t ask me how I’m feeling, Or I might lie, For now, it seems, That all my dreams, Rode in so fast. And the rose I held for you, Has come off.” Chorus from Iceberg In Bloom, 2014.

WHAT WAS A RECENT OUTRAGEOUS ACTION OF YOURS?

Inventing Magnesium Socks. Winning three consecutive rounds of Twizzle at Chalford Mens Night and whipping one of them several times in the lap department with a wet tea towel after a speedy mop up of the hot drink he’d spilled. Buying traffic light green mohair yarn and knitting fishnet stockings with it. Doing yoga at the Life Centre in a halter neck dress. Accepting an invitation into the fishmongers’ back room for a smoked salmon roll. That’s a few contenders – outrageous is a judgement so it might be none of these.

You decide.

Surprise Me

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