Who am I?

About Me

My name is Jemma and I'm a freelance artist (J*M*A), producer, singer and songwriter based in Bristol, UK.

I also have ADHD which like many people was only diagnosed recently as an adult.
The diagnosis was both devastating and made me feel like so much in my life now made sense

I had struggled through school, though very naturally interested in music I wasn't disciplined enough to learn or take grades. I found I preferred to play my guitar and make up songs and chords.

I eventually became a gigging singer songwriter but fell out of love with it (which also makes sense in the context of having undiagnosed adhd).
During the covid pandemic, I started writing again with my guitar and did some toplining for other producers but realised I wasn't making the kind of music I actually wanted to listen to- I didn't know exactly what that was but knew finding out would involve learning music production.

And so began my journey to "being my own producer". I'm still on that journey but through producing and releasing my own music I'm trying to show that you can be
neurodivergent and have a successful DIY career in music.

Full Disclosure: Although this platform is open to all who identify as neurodivergent or indeed for anyone for whom this advice resonates with- I have an extra interest in providing a safe space for the following:

people with symptoms of ADHD- particularly innattentive (ADD) characteristics


Non-binary people

LGBTQI+ people

People new to learning music production

The reasons for this are manifold but centre around feeling that a place of acceptance for those of us who are still a minority in Music/Production is badly needed.

more about me

If I tell you I have 2 degrees and am studying for a masters degree in music production you might say: bravo, it seems like you've got some stuff sorted

but if I was to also tell you the longest job I ever held down was 18 months and I've never worked in either of the fields I previously qualified in, you might wonder why

or not... you know most people are not that interesting but when you feel like you have bags of potential and you keep looking at everyone just living ordinary or extraordinary lives
wondering "how are you DOING that?" because you genuinely feel like you are doing everything wrong and don't seem able to do the same things then yes there probably is something wrong.
And by wrong I don't mean having ADHD or being diagnosed (or undiagnosed) is wrong

I mean what is wrong is the way you feel about yourself and how you carry that instable sense of self with you wherever you go 
because it might just be me but I have found my fluctuating motivation and confidence in my abilities has held me back from doing so much and most of my life I didn't even know why.

Even when I managed to start working in a field that I loved and sorted so many other pieces of the puzzle- (exercise, eating healthily, being sociable) this one massive piece-  understanding, compassion and acceptance for the way I was, was missing. 

I still wasn't making progress and couldn't feel good about anything I was doing and I just didn't know why- I felt defective and as if I could never achieve anything or be happy.

I wasn't in a depressive state which was why i couldn't understand why I couldn't do things for myself I was able to do for other people in a heartbeat- a friend might ask: "hey could you proofread my flyer for my business?" sure no problem, can I proofread and distrubte my own flyer or publicity? not a chance, or perhaps there's a chance I'll produce something too late in the day for it to be useful- classic!

In the same way you don't understand why you can't remember to stay motivated about your passion, it's also confusing for other people and you already know that, you already know your ethusiasm and ability to see something through to the end will wither and die so lets just add that to the shame pile and feel terrible about ourselves all over again shall we...?

One of the reasons I wanted to try creating this space is to be able to identify and confront my own fears, anxieties, stumbling blocks but also to identify my incredible assets too- sounds like i'm talking about finding my boobs but I just mean that sometimes what holds us back from tackling something before the time stress zone has been reached is the fact that on some level YOU KNOW that you can knock something out of the park if you need to due to your/my/our incredible ability to hyperfocus-  most people do not have this ability. This knowledge and the way your brain only kicks into gear under incredible pressure is both an asset and a curse- I want to learn how we can utilise this known state to create a more consistent output and less stress (body doubling helps create a microcosm of this) 

FYI I am not a fan of the whole "ADHD Superpower" nonsense- I mean that your brain relaxes on some level becuase it knows you can do stuff under immense pressure- it's just that that way of working doesn't really fit with todays emphasis on consistency and being reliable- when those are the standards and you know you're not reliable, how you can you build and maintain self worth and self esteem?

I am saying that we have to learn to hold ourselves to different standards which acknowledge what the world expect from us but also allow us to build our own thing based on however we are- and however we are is not good or bad- it just is.

I'm personally trying hard to build up my self esteem after being repeatedly told (and telling myself) to "get out of my own way!" this message has been  internalised as:  STOP BEING YOU. Suicide rates are much higher in the ADHD population so I'm guessing this message is probably not working. 


how do we do this?

we have to learn what we are good at and what we are interested in and where we need more support and how do we get it- I'm not necessarily talking about other people doing things for you I'm saying instead of feeling intense paralysing fear over looking at spreadsheets or whatever one of your things is, if you can acknowledge that and share it with others who understand then we can lighten the load by being alongside and reduce the feelings of inadequacy that you might feel you need to hide from everyone. 

it might that you realise your skills and interest lie in mixing or in ideas generation so that probably means partnering with someone or something which connects you people who need those services or skills

I also think it's important to acknowledge we are interest and curiosity based and it's ok to have lots of interest or hobbies which have waned- I started my artist blog the vigilante dillahtanty exactly for that reason (pre diagnosis) I didn't have the language of neurodivergence then but I knew I was interested in lots of things and was fed up with the idea that everything had to be turned into a side hustle or be sustained and important in your life forever- even then I knew I had varied fleeting interests and I wanted that to be ok. Normalising this will i hope reduce the depressive state you can find yourself in when you realise "oh dear, I've wasted money on another dead end hobby, just like last time..." I'll find the link but there's a great post about how actually these are not failures, perhaps your curiosity about that particular thing was satisfied and you learnt everything you needed to know about that thing for now. 


I think that's probably enough for now and I know this is a nichey ramble but for those people who this speaks to- hello! we are looking for each other!

please do say hello if you have anything to add or want to be involved- I plan on starting to roll out some of these things such as regular body doubling/ discussion/accountabilty sessions over the summer (2023) and look forward to meeting you all.