Tommy Perman, Scottish artist, designer and Bafta award-winning musician is not the only person to have found the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown profoundly depressing, made even worse by the negativity he saw all around him.
“Last year, when the coronavirus crisis hit, like lots of people I felt quite lost and alone,” he said. “I was relying on social media to try to stay connected to others. But I found Twitter especially negative and it was definitely impacting my mental health.”
So he decided to do something about it.
Tommy sent out over 50 messages to friends and acquaintances all around the world asking them to send him sounds that made him happy. He received dozens of replies, not just locally but from places as far afield as India, Mexico, Hong Kong, Australia and the USA. Their responses ranged from the familiar – birdsong, owls hooting, the sounds of animals; to cosy domestic noises such as the squeaking of a door, a bleeping dishwasher, a three-year-old girl playing on her father’s xylophone.
Some responses were more exotic.
One reply from Bangalore in India said: “The cow is a holy animal for some Hindu communities in India (and also the cause for a lot of unrest and polarisation). This is a man singing as he brings around a richly decorated cow seeking alms (food and money often). He came around our studio often and this was a very familiar sound before the pandemic. It is a sound I miss hearing these days.”
Working mainly at night, after putting his two children to bed, over a period of four months Tommy turned all these into an 80-minute album featuring 20 tracks which he has called Positive Interaction.
He is now selling this album online but the payment is not in money. You can download Tommy’s album in return for sending him a message telling him what makes you happy.
He said: “I want to share this album with as many people as I can. Rather than asking for money I thought it was a nice idea to encourage some happy thoughts. The reaction to the project has been extremely uplifting. At first, I shared it with the friends who’d contributed and I was delighted with their responses. Since then the project has been shared more widely and I’ve received hundreds of messages from all over the world in ‘payment’ for the album.”
One message said, “Waking to find the cat asleep on my legs makes me happy.”
Another message came from Rose Boroughbridge of England who wrote: “I was out walking in the dusk the other night and heard something that I thought I’d send on for your Positive Interactions […] standing under a tree in the dark, listening to the owls chat and hoot at the bells, made me very happy indeed.”
If you would like to hear Tommy’s album of happy sounds then simply send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org telling Tommy what makes you happy.
You could also share your happy thoughts with us here at Happy Ali, either by emailing us at email@example.com or by commenting below this post.