As someone whose work deals with human communication and interaction, it may seem ironic that I have kept the depression I have suffered for years a secret from friends and even family. It is easier when you have an intense work schedule and live on the other side of the world from them to mask this of course.
My wife and I took the decision to leave our lives in Japan after over ten years. The intensity of the move and the reasons behind it caused a huge amount of stress for us both and due to our backgrounds we were unable to communicate just how hard this was to any of our friends and family. By early autumn, my mother and sister one day had come over to find me curled up in a ball, unable to speak and in an uncontrollable fit of tears. This was nothing new after a life spent in and out of severe depression but it was the first time family had seen this directly in my adulthood. Severe bouts have led to terrible thoughts, and yes, among them suicidal, but these are the realities of depression.
Silence is the real killer. It feels embarrassing and shameful to speak of such things as it shows weakness, which leads to awful judgement from most people. This may sound negative, but the simple fact is we all judge others whether we want to or not. And those who suffer from depression have a stigma attached to them. That stigma's name is 'pity' and it isn't very helpful in truth, albeit understandable. People who suffer from depression can feel joy, can laugh, and can connect deeply to others, but they also need friends and family to support them now and then in a world where people are growing increasingly alien to one another.
I am happy to say that I have been able to deal with my bouts of depression with the love of my family. However, I have been unable to finish an album myself since 'The Shattered Light', as I found the pressure to complete something in any timeframe caused the stress that would in turn lead to depression. That's five years now, but understanding these triggers really helps in the long run, even if this means I will likely not complete a new album ever again. It is not something that ever goes away, not something that ever really heals. But being aware of it and how to deal with it the best way you can really is fundamental to a half-way passable life. The two genuine attempts to end my life were taken with a twenty year gap, so the struggle never really ends, and I am sure many people out there can appreciate this. You are not alone, even if it feels that way a great deal of the time.
'Love Retained' is a series of mostly piano sketches I made which I had intended for collaboration. The recordings are simply tracked to cassette, and contain no editing or mastering, so you know, filled with 'mistakes'. They are pieces I found really enjoyable to make, and have found I have increasingly enjoyed looping on low levels at night, or when the mind wonders/wanders. They are incomplete and yet it feels right for me to give this to friends, family, and anyone else that this connects to in some way. The incompletion is a beautiful and freeing thing.
Any healing that has happened is purely down to family and friends, so I would like to thank them very much indeed for the connection we all have. I am sorry for not being open about things, for locking myself away and not communicating the good and the bad the past few years. I felt the burden of responsibility for people and things that were never really my burden to bear and I am sorry for not reaching out when I should have. I hope you find some form of communication from me personally through these simple pieces of music.
This release marks my first and last solo release on the label I founded with my friend Ben many moons ago, and also marks me fully stepping down from the label after returning for a bit in 2016. This album has been designed by Christian Roth who has been a dear friend for so long, and along with another great friend in Jeremy Bible, they helped the aesthetic of the label right in those early days. I am so happy and proud of what we have achieved between us, and thank you all for listening and supporting our work.
Finally, this album is for the amazing women in my life. I love you very very much.
All profits from this release will be donated to Mind - a wonderful mental health charity who do incredible work. Please go to mind.org.uk
for more information.
released December 25, 2016
All music by Ian Hawgood.
Photography by Melanie Hawgood.
Design by Christian Roth.