Nesdi Jones - Motherhood, Music and Madness
Every month an inspiring Mumsician and her story will be featured on the blog, so that others can hear about the reality of life as a working musician and mam. This month Criccieth-born singer and rapper Nesdi Jones tells us about the realities of juggling life as a Mumsician.
I first came across Nesdi's work through the S4C documentary Seren Bhangra: Nesdi Jones. I was utterly intrigued how a girl from north Wales could become a star in India through the Bhangra music scene. Her rise to success has been through her Youtube Chanel. But recently, whilst chatting with Bethan Elfyn on a train back from Focus Wales, I found out that Nesdi had extended her blogging to discussing life as a new mam as well as her music. She goes under the name Motherhood, Music and Madness, which says it all really, and you can follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Youtube. I decided to contact her and get some advice...
Tell us about yourself:
My name's Nesdi Jones I was born and raised in Criccieth, North Wales. I'm a singer and rapper in Welsh, English, Hindi and Punjabi. I've received two number ones and a ten in the BBC Asian Network Official Download Charts and a best newcomer award in the UK Bhangra awards. I have a one-year-old daughter called Cadi-Glyn and an eight-year-old stepson called Jack. When I'm not doing music I have a channel called “Motherhood, Music and Madness” where I blog/make videos about balancing a music career, a full time job, parenting and whatever life decides to throw at me! I'm also a mental health advocate raising awareness on mental health topics and being a survivor of CSA as an adult.
How soon after giving birth did you do your first gig? Tell us about it. Were you ready to do that first gig?
I was back on YouTube within two months. My partner Michael found it hilarious I had a full face of makeup on, a nice top but then out of frame I was wearing his boxers! Big pants are must after having a baby!
My first gig was meant to be July [around 6 weeks after Cadi-Glyn was born] but I cancelled due to having an emergency C-section and I felt like I wasn't physically or emotionally ready to perform. I was officially back on stage in September which was four months after having my daughter. It was a YouTube event in Cardiff so it was the first time I left her for the day. My mum had to send me hourly updates and photos to keep me sane! It was nice that I had time to relax and just be a mam to Cadi-Glyn and to prepare myself to balance being a singer while parenting. I'm glad I didn't rush into everything. I think it made me enjoy being back on stage more.
How do you cope with childcare at your performances?
There have been events where we all go as a family. Cadi and Jack get more attention than I do! It's great that the kids can have a life of music and travel! If the event is not suitable for children or it spoils the bedtime routine Cadi-Glyn goes to either her grandparents / Nain a Taid or one of my sister's take care of her. Perks of being in a big family. Michael comes with me most of the time (unless he has to be at home with the baby) because I like having a familiar face with me at gigs. I am extremely lucky to have a very strong support system around me. I'd be a mess without everyone.
How did you deal with feeding your baby whilst away?
I was quite lucky that Cadi-Glyn took to the bottle and breast so easily so I expressed whenever I could. If anything came up I'd plan how much I needed to express and always had a stash in the freezer! When work got more regular I started combination feeding because I struggled with my supply as she got older. It worked for us well. Now she's weaned she just eats everything in sight so I don't have to worry so much now!
Has having children changed you as a musician?
Musically not really. But my attitude towards it as a career has. I had a habit of making stupid decisions on impulse. Now I'm more cautious because my career isn't just for myself anymore, but my family too.
How has having a child changed or impacted your career as a musician?
I was worried it would be really difficult! But the whole “your career is over once having a baby” is so untrue. While pregnant I recorded and released a song. Performed live on television and even filmed a music video seven months gone! I just have to plan more in advance now and not just pop to the studio or do last minute gigs when I want. Since having my daughter I've become more determined to succeed so it's been positive even if it is organised chaos!
How often do you go away/tour as a mumsician?
I haven't toured in a while but I'm always gigging away from home so I'm only away for a day or do. I have a lot in the pipeline which means I'll be traveling a lot soon. I'm anxious but excited to see how it goes.
What advice you would offer a mumsician-to-be?
Don't panic. Don't rush into anything. Things can and will go wrong but it works out in the end. There's always tomorrow for that unfinished song.
Does your child take an interesting music?
She loves music since she was tiny! We're always singing and dancing together. When I'm not around my partner plays my YouTube videos to soothe her, she immediately smiles and claps when she sees them! She loves Bollywood and Bhangra music like her mam. The only thing she'll sleep to is white noise which is just static which I can't stand! But a lot of babies love it. Reminds me of horror films and makes me shudder!
How easy is it to practice/compose/be creative with a child in the house?
It was pretty easy when she was young because she slept all day and the noise didn't bother her. Now I'm chasing her around the house or if she sees I'm going to record she'll start singing because she sees my microphone, which isn't very useful! I'm also getting more writers blocks because there are a million things going on in my head! Thankfully her dad and my in laws will take her out for a couple of hours if I need to get things done and get a moment's peace to think. She's with her wonderful childminder Julie once a week so if I'm not working, I try to squeeze a writing session in then! Things now take a little longer but I've learned if you just explain it to people they don't mind at all.
What plans do you have for when your child starts school, and how will this impact your work?
I haven't thought about it yet to be honest. I know I won't be taking her out of school because even though I love the thought that she could see the diversity in cultures my music involves, her education is extremely important. I'm sure we'll sort something out… we always do eventually even if it is last minute!