UPDATE - £120 was donated to Scottish Trans Alliance from sales of this album across the weekend 4th-6th August - thank you!
This is a compilation album. I've thought about this for a long time, possibly too long. But, finally, I have reached a point where I am comfortable with my past, comfortable that it *is* my past and comfortable that it is *my* past. I hope the emphasis makes sense. As such, this album covers my solo work from the late 90's through to the present day with a clutch of unreleased tracks dotted about too. This is the first time I have collected my pre-transition music and my post-transition music together, something I never, ever thought I would do. Actually, I never thought I *could* do it..
Gender dysphoria sucks. It really does; it's fucking awful. It makes you despise your own reflection, it renders your own mind your greatest enemy and it dislocates you from your own feelings, not to mention those of others. Your own skin disgusts you. In all truth, it has ruined my life; it made me frightened and timid as a child, angry and volatile as a teenager and sad, lonely and permanently anxious as an adult.
I saw two psychologists and a psychiatrist before I was 8 years old. I have no recollection of anyone other than the second psychologist. He felt I was too attached to my younger sister, was nervous around older boys at school and just needed a bit of discipline and some strict rules to sort me out. The psychiatrist put me on Mellaril - an antipsychotic which was contra-indicated for minors and subsequently withdrawn due to being linked to cardiac arrhythmia. What did they think was happening to me? But this was the late 70's/early 80's and, in the west of Scotland, this was unknown territory, as it was almost everywhere really.
Puberty was, inevitably, terrifying. I felt like a total freak. At some point, under weight of evidence, I accepted that I was somehow mad and tried to learn how to disguise my madness, largely by isolating myself. The value of seeing yourself in your culture cannot be underestimated - I saw no-one like me in the world and I felt an aloneness that could be crushing. Inevitably, my mental health suffered as a consequence. But that's another story (no, it is - *please* don't confuse or conflate gender dysphoria and mental health...)
Exactly how I came to transition is too long a story for here but, ultimately, I ran out of ways to *not* transition. I had tried and exhausted everything in order to just somehow cope, to keep going. In July 2012, I finally fell to pieces in my own hallway at about 6am one morning, under the strain of the simple act of trying to leave the house to go to work. I needed help. I didn't want it. I needed it. I am so fortunate that this help was available and was almost on my doorstep. I attended my first counselling session towards the end of September 2012. A few months later, I walked out of my front door for the first time as my true, authentic self. In the months that followed, I slowly(re)introduced myself to people, did some challenging live work - including a stand-up comedy gig - and, eventually, I formally changed my name. It was happening. On 13th November 2013, in a small meeting room in the office where I still work, I let my colleagues know who I really was, thereby renouncing my previous identity for good. The following day felt like the beginning.
This compilation is designed as somewhere between an acknowledgement and a celebration - I've picked tracks that have a particular resonance or memory behind them as well as some unheard things for the heads. DISCLAIMER: Despite my profound dislike of my own voice, it would have been remiss of me not to include "about to burst" given the context.
A handy guide:
1,3,5,8,11,12,14,15,19,22,23 and 24 are pre-transition.
2,4,6,7,9,10,13,15,16,17,18,20,21 and 25 are post-transition
A quick extra word on 7, 10 and 18 - in the early stages of my transition (late 2012 to mid 2013), I worked on a rhythm based project under the name Beth Azure. This was scrapped when I discovered there was already a musician of that name (I did Google it first...must have mistyped it or something....). 7 was issued on a compilation by Dreamdark, the others lay on a hard drive until now.
Right then. 25 tracks. 3 hours. 20 years work.
What shadows we are.
Keep fighting xxx
Caroline McKenzie, 2nd August 2017.
released August 4, 2017
music recorded between 1997 and 2017 by Caroline McKenzie and everyone she was before, hereby known as The Anhedonics.
photography - Glasgow, 12th May 2017
all rights reserved