I’m so excited to have launched my first ever crowd funding campaign – #HelpBringEmpressToLife

It all started before Christmas when I finally got the guts to do my website (DIY as I had no funds for a full build) into my idea of Cheung Island, where I live as Empress, and it’s the hidden land where the Far East meets the West -just like my Mini Moon Festival album launch 2015 (so not just about me, but other related stuff). So now it’s a whole online fantasy world, another way for me to help celebrate and share Chinese and East Asian Culture. (I’m so proud and into my heritage, and I love finding out about new things and sharing it.)

Fast forward a few months and I’d got to the point where I’d recorded, produced and collaborated, got mixed and mastered (pro finish on the sound) a load of songs for my 2017 album, which based on the new website concept I’d decided to call Empress. But I’d ran out of personal funds to get the CDs done. I also know some people do not use CDs but like a physical thing still, so I also worked with KWMC The Factory to design some laser cut digital download keyrings, but again the upfront cost added to what I needed to move forward.

I’d been feeling very excited by this evolving story though, it’s been growing with my music, songs, videos and website. It kind of is a metaphor for my life (can you guess what the metaphor is?) – I’m the Empress who rules Cheung Island, who turns into a manga style super hero at night spreading joy with my love stick…

Sound weird? –  check out my FIRE video and maybe this will help you see what I saw when I wrote the song Fire

It’s all about following my dreams and the burning feeling I had to pursue with my whole heart, no matter how hard it feels sometimes, when I nearly give up but I pick myself back up and keep going, keeping making music, keep putting myself out there.

So, after about a few months of looking into crowdfunding sites on and off, and generally procrastinating, feeling really unsure about this new platform and process that I knew nothing about, I got to the point where if I didn’t literally do it immediately I wouldn’t get my album in time for my launch date to coincide with Chinese Mid-Autumn festival.

So, in a matter of days, with a few last-minute pics from Marcus Way (who makes many of my videos) and Lewis (who plays bass in my live band), and a few back and forth emails with Fundsurfer.com I got my new crowd fund campaign going for my CDs and digital download keyrings. In 2 days I’d reached 24%, which I am so grateful for all the support, and actually very surprised how well it’s gone so far.

I’ve had a quiet day of no pledges since, I start to question myself about if I’m doing the right thing, but then I remember all the wonderful backers who have pledged already, and how their generosity and belief means I should stay strong. (More on staying strong in my next blog I think – about my news single Strong, which is out now at online stores.)

For now, I have one last question – Can you help bring Empress to life?
(A pledge, a social media share, a message to others will all help!)



Food Food Food

Anyone who knows me knows I love food…a bit too much some might say! I love my dads Chinese, helping cook, and then chatting with the wider family around the table on a Saturday. I love sitting around the table at home after work and catching up on our day, while listening to the radio. I love bringing Miss Millies home after a late night gig when I’ve missed dinner. (I only found out while away at Uni that Miss Millies is a Briz Ting!) But that’s not why I wanna talk to you about food.

You see my New Year’s resolution was to start shopping locally: local food markets,  and so on. My mum asked me ‘why?’  – she was confused, thought I hated Tesco like the Bristol rioters. No, not really to be honest. For a long time they gave me what I needed, I could shop online when I couldn’t get to the shops, and make sure I didn’t overspend.

Before anyone up the other end of Town gets upset, have you been to a local shop in Knowle West? I couldn’t believe the range up your area, you are so lucky! We basically have giant sweet shops : (

In fact the last time I went into a ‘corner shop’ near Stokes Croft (The one on Ashley Road) I had a free game show play out infront of me… It was pretty awesome!

Me and my friend went in to get ingredients for dinner and we somehow start talking to the owner about supermarkets. My mate says the basics are cheaper but they get you to spend more in the end with all the offers on things you don’t need. The owner rebuts and says even his basics are cheaper than the supermarket. His till has a computer that goes online and he gets up some supermarket comparison site. He shows us the cheapest big bag of Tilda Rice, it was £8 reduced to £7 special offer in the cheapest store. Now go and see how much mine is” he says. We are gobsmacked, his rice – exactly the same – is £4.59!!! *(price at the time and subject to my memory).

It then turns into a game, we start grabbing items off the shelf and shouting the product name and size/weight and he looks it up on the supermarket site. “Wait a minute,” he says, “I can’t guarantee I will beat them every time, but when I beat them, I beat them by pounds. When they do beat me, it’s by pennies.” But to ours and his surprise he wins on every item! More customers join in, we almost forget to buy dinner and go cook it! One thing was for definite, we were having rice for tea!

So back to my resolution: At the time I was also buying the Knowle West veg bag for a while (from the Edible Lanscapes project), and one day I tweeted a Knowle West only meal, veggie omelette with salad. It got me thinking how nice it would be if all my food were from within a few miles of where I live. I love cooking from scratch and knowing exactly what’s in my meal, this was one step better. And it would make it so much easier, I wouldn’t have to read everything and see where it’s from!

I started off by shopping at the Tobacco Factory Market on a Sunday. They have some really nice food stalls you can buy food to eat there and then, and it’s next to Aldi, so you can easily top up on things not sold at the Market. It’s fab for getting local honey, which is perfect to help prevent or at least decrease the impact of hay fever. (Not good to be up on stage snotting over the mic, struggling to see). The bread is amazing, a wide choice, proper Artisan (slow baked with less yeast).

Problem was (apart from the fact market shopping is always more than supermarkets when it comes to the meat, delicious as it is!) I was in the Studio recording a lot of Sundays. So I then eneded up breaking my resolution and going to a Tesco on Saturday when I realised I wasn’t going to get to The Market.

I then started hunting for a weekly Saturday Bristol Food Market, which I have yet to find. But lucky for me, I’d inspired my mum, and she had started driving to nearby farms with farm shops on Saturdays. I’ve been to two so far with her. Farrington Farm isn’t too far a drive and has pretty much everything you need ( I didn’t check for deodorant that week, but they had Ecover, Toilet Roll etc not just food). I also got a giant Scotch egg with cheese, which was a blast from my school days and I think I’d go there just for that! Neston Park Farm had great food in their cafe, but the shop was smaller and less products and variety, and was quite a drive for me (closer for those who live in Bath) . So worth a trip once a month or so but not for every week.

So I think I’ve found the solution, going to farms some Saturdays with my mum, and some Sundays at the nearby Market in Bedminster. I have to really plan my meals to make sure I keep to my budget and have enough food for the week, but it’s worth it: the food is gorgeous and my conscience is clear ( well on the food-miles front anyway!)

I’ve also stopped eating so much meat so I can afford the farm food but that also means good news for the animals and the planet (meat production wastes a lot of resources), plus by default I eat far more veg (healthy) which I love anyway.  I could probably do with loving butter and cheese a little less, and could probably dance off dinner more often. That can be my post Easter resolution, and maybe my pyjamas won’t be so tight, the next time I sit down and write!