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  • Mathilde Fongen

Very often, when I see cruelty, whether it's on the news, online, in person, in my life or in the lives of others, I think "Why can't we just be kind?". Whether it's violent, rude, subtle or passive: "Why can't we just be kind?". It seems like such a simple principle to live by, but at the same time I feel naïve whenever I think it. I feel even more naïve when I say it out loud. In the strange, frustrating and scary times we currently live in, I've found myself thinking about kindness and what it means to me.

We're seeing the best of people and we're seeing the worst of people. We are seeing wisdom and ignorance, cruelty and kindness. I'm seeing the best in myself and the worst in myself. I used to think that as long as I acted with kindness, everything would be fine, but what I forgot to do was define "kindness". The result of this thinking is more often than not that I fail to live up to my own expectations, whatever they are, because I never actually defined them, and I fall down that emotional black hole I know so well.


Lately, I've realised that what I've been acting on is quiet, outward kindness. I've tried to stay out of the way and to people please. I rarely raised my voice. My opinions remained my own and my views remained my own, and to an extent that's fine, but I sit here now, feeling I took it too far. Because what I've realised is that I am much happier when I step into a louder type of kindness. A louder more authentic voice. And when I turn my kindness inward.


It is not kind for me to sit in my privilege and feel heartbroken for the world. And it certainly is not enough. Movements are made up of individuals. If everyone thought like I used to and stayed out of the way, there would just be silence. And emptiness. And standstill. I'm not saying that everyone should scream if they don't feel that's right for them. What I'm saying is that silence didn't work for me. And I think there are a lot of people like me, who stay quiet and out of the way, mainly out of fear.


I was speaking to a friend this past week about our shared fear of being loud and vocal. Most of the time I feel like I'm lacking in information and that's a reason not to speak up about something. But isn't it then up to me to educate myself? Like so many have posted over the last wee while, it's not enough to not be racist, we need to be anti-racist. Silence is violence and me staying out of the way and being quiet isn't helping.


I'm a white, able-bodied, bi cis woman and only recently have I become clearly aware of my privilege. And I know I can never fully understand what it's like to be unsafe in a world where so many people are prone to be cruel to you because of what you look like. To be unsafe in the world. Sometimes we don't need to understand, often because we simply can't understand. Sometimes we need to listen, to educate ourselves and to raise the voices of others.


I have been terrified of my own voice. I've been scared to raise it, to show up and to be loud. I suppose starting this blog was the start of stepping out of quietness. It was the first step out of fear and into something I wanted. I'm new to using my voice, so I'm working on me. I'm educating myself more actively and I've started being more unapologetic and I'm learning how to be inwardly kind. My hope is that I can live in the world as loudly kind and fearless and from there play my small, but fierce, part in changing the world.

  • Mathilde Fongen

So I’ve been away for a while. I’d apologise, but I’m learning not to do that so much anymore. A lot has happened since I last posted to this blog and I used it as an excuse, thinking I’d leave it now until things normalise. But the thing is, I can’t control when things normalise, none of us can. And it seems "normal" isn't coming around anytime soon. The last post I published was about touring with the band I play bass in, Audiokicks. This was the end of February, when Corona was this obscure thing that was so far away that it didn’t apply to us. We were still confused about why it was named after a Mexican beer and joked about the Guinness virus, as we named our hangovers.

Spring has sprung

A couple of weeks later my relationship ended. Seven years we’d been together, and the thing is, when something that’s been a part of your life from just before your 20th birthday to just before your 27th, it feels like a part of you. It is a part of you. So when that ends, your whole life is flipped upside down. Then the whole world flipped upside down. I moved out of our home and into a friend’s flat (thank you roomie!). “Stay here a couple of weeks” he said. “As long as you need”. And then lockdown happened, and I lived on a mattress in his spare room, everything I own in bin bags and boxes, for six weeks. I remember speaking to my family in Norway when they were locked down. I remember discussions at the shop I work in about when we’d close and how crazy it was that we were still open. How crazy it was that the country was still open. All I could think of was how my life felt open and closed at the same time. The truth is, ending my relationship is the bravest thing I’ve ever done. It’s the only decision I’ve ever made while putting myself centre stage. For the longest time I played the background character in everyone else’s production and it turns out mine was left without a lead. Now, I’m in my own flat, with my own things no longer in boxes and bin bags. My days are fuelled by red wine more often than not and I stumble between feeling lost and seeing a clear path. I’m flawed and I’m a complete mess most of the time, but I’m working on not apologising for that. I’m stumbling between feeling like a lost little girl and an independent woman. I’m stumbling. Lockdown has forced me to spend time with myself. While connecting with friends and family over Whereby, FaceTime, Zoom and Hangouts, I’m forced to be alone. And as painful as that can be some days, I know deep down that it’s a good thing. So here I am, posting again, getting this blog of mine back up and running, because writing is too important for me to lose. I’ll be back writing about anything and everything. Writing about self and love and loss and lockdown. I'll be back in a fortnight. Stay home, stay safe x

  • Mathilde Fongen

Yesterday, I got home from a week long tour with Audiokicks and I think I speak for all four of us when I say that, although our bodies are glad to get back to normality, we'd have loved to keep going. Returning the rental van, which we named Betty for reasons unknown, and unpacking made me very aware of how good last week was and how lucky I am to be in a band that gets on as well as we do.


On Monday, we set off from Aberdeen to Manchester in a van loaded with drums, amps, guitars, merch and sweets and the closer we got to Glasgow, the more it started to rain. Ready to blame this weather on Western Scotland, we would come to learn that it would follow us for the full seven days. Regardless of how sunny it was when we looked out the window in the morning, it would be sure to rain once we stepped outside.

On a six hour car journey, conversation goes to a strange place. How many sheep are there in the UK? What's your favourite dinosaur? What's your favourite biscuit? What beauty standards are highland cows judged by? We learned a lot about each other and googled some things none of us had googled before. In Manchester we stayed in a hotel called Ram Lodge, which can only be described as prison like, with a shower I felt cleaner avoiding. We played in a vegetarian café called Fuel that night, where we also enjoyed the best food of the tour. Recommendations include the halloumi fish and chips and the breakfast fajita (I could not stop talking about how good that fajita was and quickly learned I was the biggest eater of the group). Manchester provided the most questionable accommodation and the smallest crowd. It provided the best food, and the first of many pints and late night conversations.


There's something to be said about playing to a tiny crowd (read the sound guy, the other band and two other people). We listened to bands and met musicians we would never meet otherwise and we got to do what we love every night. We got to create something. There's a quote from the film "Fighting with My Family" that goes something like "If millions of people aren't watching, it doesn't mean it's not important." Playing to a small crowd made me aware of how much I love just playing, regardless of who's listening. I love that atmosphere and the sharing experience of a bigger crowd, but there was a moment of contentment in Manchester where I realised how much I love simply playing.


Tuesday took us to Leeds, and we had the most fun playing there. None of us are sure why, although the local porter "Taddy" might have something to do with it. There was dancing, banter, great bands and many more pints to be had, rounded off by the most amazing late night take away pizza. I think Leeds was where we discovered none of us like going home before closing time. We also had the greatest bagels and an impressive game of Jenga in a café called The Doghouse. Turns out we all rule at Jenga.


Next up was Glasgow and the lack of sleep started to take hold. It didn't stop us from playing our third night of tour and enjoying another few rounds of beer and excellent company. Conversation brought us to morning time and we also had our third and forth days of rain. I learned my lesson not to point out when the sun comes out. It scares it away and brings out the grey clouds as it turns out. I also learned I have terrible taste in pizza toppings and cannot eat a meal without spilling on myself.


Edinburgh, Dunfirmline and Inverness followed with more delicious food, many more pints of Guinness and many more favourites to be discussed in the van. Loading, unloading, sound checks, check ins and check outs, miles and miles of road and lots of sheep along the way, I didn't grow tired of it. I mean, I was tired, but that was more due to copious amounts of alcohol, and not such copious amounts of sleep. Late night conversations, carrying amps through cobbled streets, the desperate search for the next cup of coffee. At the end of this tour, I feel I've found my place. I feel I'm part of something special. And with Guinness, dinosaurs and first class dancing in mind, what can I say but let's do it again.