What should audiences expect from your event at Faclan: the Hebridean Book Festival?
I’m presenting a solo concert in St Peter’s church – Under the World, a musical journey weaving together the sounds of voice, violin, keyboard and lyre. It explores the archetypal story of the descent to the Underworld through two powerful female characters drawn from an ancient Akkadian myth.
This year’s festival theme is Fear. How do you think your event will fit in with that theme?
I think a story of descending into the darkness to explore the unknown, face death, and confront your fears fits pretty well with the theme! I see the story of a descent into the dark as a symbol of the process of change and metamorphosis, and a way to attempt an understanding of the process of creation itself: descending into the darkness to search for what might be found there, and bringing it into the daylight.
What are you most afraid of and why?
Leading up to a concert, generally my greatest fear is that the performance won’t go as well as I would like it to! (Or that I’ll sprain my wrist, or lose my voice.) I’m definitely a perfectionist – which can be a positive thing – but means that it’s also very easy to listen to the harsh voices of self-criticism.
What was the last book you read?
Feral by George Monbiot
Who is your favourite writer and why?
I don’t really have a ‘favourite’ anything – but I do read a lot, and I’m always trying to explore a broad range of styles and subjects. At the moment I’m reading mostly non-fiction.
What do you find is the easiest and/or the most difficult part of your work?
Juggling my different modes as a performer and composer can be challenging. Composing is solitary work, and I enjoy being in that private zone while I’m writing a new piece. I love performing as well, but it does require a significant mental shift to move back into a public space.
What are you working on at the moment that you are most excited about?
I try to have several different projects on the go at once, so that I can switch between them. I’m currently completing a new piece for violin and string quartet inspired by the poetry of Muriel Spark – it will be premiered in mid-November, and I’m really looking forward to performing it with the Brodick Quartet. While I was living in the Outer Hebrides I recorded three new solo albums (at the amazing Black Bay Studio on Great Bernera), and I’m excited to be releasing the first of those in early 2019.
Jessica Danz: Under the World is at St Peter’s Church, Thursday 1 November, 8pm, as part of Faclan Fringe.