Guest Recommendations: Anika Mottershaw

Anika Mottershaw, of the indie record label Bella Union, likes Katrina Ford, having a cat, and re-reading her favorite paragraphs from old books.

Katrina Ford

I’d say it’s impossible to recommend a person without seeming a bit gushing, especially when that person is definitely just one of the coolest people ever. Katrina is a brilliant talent; and I’ve spent most of the year listening to her singing in two of my favourite bands, Celebration and Mt. Royal.

Calling someone “one of the coolest people ever” is a pretty tall claim, but I’d say I reach that conclusion 90% on her being an amazing woman — talented, wonderfully creative, kind, funny, smart — but also 10% on her just being exotic. I write this as a British person who grew up in the English county of Kent, and lives in London.

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Illustration for The Bygone Bureau by Laurel Picklum

I know plenty of Americans but I just don’t know anyone like Katrina. She’s unique, and I’ve never been anywhere quite like Baltimore. I stayed with Katrina and her husband Sean for a week in September, in their beautiful home in Baltimore. I met lots of people and Katrina took good care of me, kept me well fed, and let me put hats on her cat Zumi. From what I saw, the Baltimore music scene is an amazing thing, with a lot of collaboration and good-hearted, supportive people. I met Jimmy who runs Friends Records, and hearing him talk about bands and records was very inspiring.

Anyway, not everyone will get to go to Katrina’s house and terrorize her cats, but everyone can experience the wonders of her creativity. I absolutely hate describing how music sounds when you can hear it for yourself…

Celebration have a few albums, and another on the way, and hopefully many more to come. Sean Antanaitis, Katrina’s husband, plays many instruments in Celebration and is entirely amazing to watch. The musicianship of him and the rest of Celebration, David Bergander, Walker Teret and Tony Drummond, is just a joy and they are one of my favourite live bands. There is so much soul in what they do.

Mt. Royal is another group Katrina sings with who have created an EP which I have been blown away by.

In both bands Katrina’s vocals are simply striking and brilliant.

Getting a Kitten

I was always under the impression that we weren’t allowed cats in our house. Long story short: I asked our landlord if I could get a cat and she said yes.

This was basically like being told you’re having a baby (and that you always wanted a baby), and getting the kitten itself was very much like giving birth. First you take a trip to the doctor (the animal shelter) and the get you to fill in your medical history (a form which makes sure you’re not a psychopath). While you’re there you see a bunch of babies (kittens). You have a vision where you see your baby. Then you go home and you feel all nervous about getting a Demon or the Child of the Devil, the change, what it means to exist, what is the meaning of life, etc. A few days later you return to the hospital to collect your baby.

Then on the drive home you are really hungry because you just gave birth and giving birth is hungry work.

You introduce your new baby to your housemates and then you gradually invite your friends over to meet Baby. Unfortunately all of your friends don’t realize the importance of having a baby and fail to bring gifts for Baby, so Baby’s toys include: a sock, an empty loo roll, and a piece of paper. Regardless, Baby is very, very loved and is showered with attention.

Several months have passed since I brought Baby (his name is Pyewacket) home from the hospital and I can honestly say, having a baby was one of the greatest life events I’ve had thus far. Birthing is easy! He’s a sassy little mister, playful, weird, sweet, occasionally cuddly…

Altogether, getting a kitten has been a great experience.

Here is a photo of him dressed as The King:

kitten

Having a Favorite Paragraph from a Book You Really Like and Thinking of It Every Day

Without a second thought I seem to recall images and sentences from both of these paragraphs pretty much every single day… and it’s a pleasure to do so.

1. Alas! in the acacia-avenue — the myrtle-alley — I did see some of them again, grown old, no more now than grim spectres of what once they had been, wandering to and fro, in desperate search of heaven knew what, through the Virgilian groves. They had long fled, and still I stood vainly questioning the deserted paths. The sun’s face was hidden. Nature began again to reign over the Bois, from which had vanished all trace of the idea that it was the Elysian Garden of Woman; above the gimcrack windmill the real sky was grey; the wind wrinkled the surface of the Grand Lac in little wavelets, like a real lake; large birds passed swiftly over the Bois, as over a real wood, and with shrill cries perched, one after another, on the great oaks which, beneath their Druidical crown, and with Dodonaic majesty, seemed to proclaim the unpeopled vacancy of this estranged forest, and helped me to understand how paradoxical it is to seek in reality for the pictures that are stored in one’s memory, which must inevitably lose the charm that comes to them from memory itself and from their not being apprehended by the senses. The reality that I had known no longer existed. It sufficed that Mme. Swann did not appear, in the same attire and at the same moment, for the whole avenue to be altered. The places that we have known belong now only to the little world of space on which we map them for our own convenience. None of them was ever more than a thin slice, held between the contiguous impressions that composed our life at that time; remembrance of a particular form is but regret for a particular moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years. (Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way)

2. “Like a work of art,” she repeated, looking from her canvas to the drawing-room steps and back again. She must rest for a moment. And, resting, looking from one to the other vaguely, the old question which transversed the sky of the soul perpetually, the vast, the general question which was apt to particularise itself at such moments as these, when she released faculties that had been on the strain, stood over her, paused over her, darkened over her. What is the meaning of life? That was all — a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one. This, that, and the other; herself and Charles Tansley and the breaking wave; Mrs. Ramsay bringing them together; Mrs. Ramsay saying, “Life stand still here”; Mrs. Ramsay making of the moment something permanent (as in another sphere Lily herself tried to make of the moment something permanent) — this was of the nature of a revelation. In the midst of chaos there was shape; this eternal passing and flowing (she looked at the cloud going and the leaves shaking) was struck into stability. Life stand still here, Mrs. Ramsay said. “Mrs. Ramsay! Mrs. Ramsay!” she repeated. She owed it all to her. (Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse)

Anika Mottershaw is 23 years old and lives in London. She works at the Bella Union record label, draws pictures, makes silly movies, puts on gigs and spends time at home reading and watching movies, and eating a lot.