Ross - A musician's creative journey with sound sensitivity.

S7 E4 - 7/13/2023
In this episode, Adeel interviews Ross, a Glasgow-based musician, composer, and piano teacher with misophonia. They discuss Ross's journey from a comfortable childhood in Scotland, his struggles with migraines linked to his sensitivity to sound, to his professional life intertwined with his condition. Ross shares how specific sounds, notably Scottish seagulls and domestic noises, exacerbate his migraines and misophonia triggers. He finds solace in teaching piano, predominantly online due to the pandemic. The conversation delves into Ross's discovery of his misophonia and its impact on his career. He recounts his experimentation with sound through composing and his interest in incorporating misophonia as a creative element in his works. Ross also highlights a transformative moment during a retreat where he recorded a howling dog and, inspired by the pitch, incorporated it into his music, reflecting on misophonia's potential in artistic expression. Adeel and Ross also discuss various coping mechanisms and Ross's mixed feelings about noise-canceling and filtering solutions. The episode ends with Ross expressing gratitude for the podcast, considering it a vital resource for people coping with misophonia.


Adeel [0:01]: Welcome to the Misophonia Podcast. This is Season 7, Episode 4. My name's Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misophonia. This week, I'm really excited to talk to Ross, a musician and composer based in Glasgow. Ross reached out earlier this year, and we immediately hit it off, since we share a lot of creative interests, and I also like to compose when I have time. Here we talk about... everything from his quite happy childhood and getting on great with his parents, the scourge of Scottish seagulls, bad techno, terrible bouts of migraines, and a healing moment he recently had with a specific sound that was causing a recent big problem. After the show, let me know what you think. As always, you can reach me by email at hello at or hit me up on Instagram or Facebook at missafoneypodcast. And by the way, as always, I want to remind, leave a quick rating or review wherever you listen to the show. It moves us up in the algorithms and that helps us reach more listeners. Thanks for the incredible ongoing support of our Patreon supporters. If you feel like contributing, you can go read all about it at slash missafunnypodcast. I also want to mention I was contacted by the Auditory Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, and they're trying to do some research on misophonia. If you're interested in participating, you can contact auditory.lab at That's A-U-D-I-T-O-R-Y dot lab at gmail dot com. All right, here's my conversation with Ross. Ross, welcome to the podcast. Good to have you here. Thank you. Yeah, good to meet you. yeah so yeah do you want to tell us uh where you are kind of what you do Yeah, so I'm based in Glasgow in Scotland, and I work as a freelance composer, musician, and I teach piano as well. So I've got about 20 students or so. Oh, really? These are all individual students? Like you go to their house kind of thing? Well, it's, yeah, it's kind of... um maybe like three quarters of them are are online and uh that really came about through um yeah the pandemic and just people reaching out and yeah um so i've got uh students all over the world the netherlands uh france um new zealand and and so on And then I've got a handful of students that come to my home that I teach, and then a couple I go to theirs. Okay. Yeah, it's a busy old life. Yeah, okay, cool. No, that sounds good. So, yeah, you're doing these lessons, but you also perform. And you reached out to me, I guess. Yeah. What is the, yeah, what's Ross's kind of misophonia situation right now, I would say? Like, what made you reach out? So, yeah, I think I... uh let's see so basically maybe for the last couple of years i've been getting really um bad migraines and increasingly bad and eventually after oh my goodness having all sorts of blood tests and a ct scan and And the lumbar puncture, that was fun. Damn. Yeah, we think it's migraines, but it's happening all the time. I'm constantly... I feel like I have a bad hangover at best and then other times it's like throwing up. Wow. Anyway, so I eventually saw a neurologist at the start of the year. And to basically, I mean, in some ways it ended up being a bit of a waste of time, in other ways it was extremely helpful. But Yeah, so he'd kind of looked at some of my results and we had a big chat and he said, you have a migraine brain, was how he put it, as in you were born with it, but your main trigger is sound. And I was like, that's a problem. um yeah yeah yes you're i'm a musician and a composer so i output sound yeah yeah and i thought well that's such a it's the way he's kind of determined that was um i mean i guess just from what i was saying but also the fact that when i needed you know if i have to just when it's really bad and i need to just lie down He was saying, do you need to close the curtains, have a dark room? And I said, no, that doesn't matter at all. I just need quiet. I need as quiet an environment as possible. And then I spoke about just basically misophonia and kind of spoke about how... And it was sort of like, as I was telling him, I was kind of, the penny was dropping, you know? And so when he gave me this diagnosis of chronic migraines with sound being the main trigger, it was just like this... I kept thinking it was like the end, spoiler alert, but the end of The Usual Suspects when the twist is revealed. And it's that, oh my God, this all makes so much sense. And it just, everything, I thought, yes, this explains so much. Did you know what Mr. Funia was at some point or at that point, or were you describing it and then you realized what it was? I did. So I've got a good friend who maybe a couple of years ago, I'd known him for maybe five years, five, six years, but it was only a couple of years ago that he He was the first person who mentioned it and that he suffers from it. And he mentioned the term. And I was like, oh, doesn't everyone feel that way? Right, right, right. And it really wasn't until. this at the start of the year this um appointment with the neurologist that uh this is what this is this is this is just making so much so much and it's not entirely um you know that uh there'll be other things like certain um kind of physical uh exertion um can can sort of trigger that Um, but mainly, yeah, I would say like maybe 90% of when I get a migraine is related to, uh, yeah, just, just usually something kind of in, in the mesophonia. And like in, do you mean like the kind of the classic triggers, like the mouth sounds or, or things like that or other types of sounds? Um, I mean, sometimes that, if it's kind of persistent, um, so, uh, so for example, we in, um, at the start of lockdown in 2020, we, uh, where, where I stayed, there were seagulls started nesting around all over the rooftops. And I think it was partly that thing of you know humans were were inside and you were seeing like foxes wandering down the street in the daytime and that kind of and i think like you know the animals were reclaiming right yeah yeah and i think that's what happened and the seagulls and uh in scotland are uh uh horrific they're mutants they're just like absolutely enormous big monsters and they're loud and this particular um i mean you might hear some during the course um it's not been so bad uh so far but that particular year it was it was a cacophony and it's screeching and it was all through the night all through the night and i had earplugs in and i could still hear it and i was just this frazzled mess yeah that's terrible and so that that was something that definitely um yeah like and and you know when i think about it that was when I really started noticing the migraines as well. And it's, you know, since then it's been... um so so that that's a big trigger um things like doors slamming if i'm woken up at night by um i've got a couple of flatmates and one in particular really bangs his door and yeah yeah um and then i it just you know that it kind of winds me up and i think the the anxiety of that is then you know, anticipatory or waiting for the next one or just kind of like, yeah. Yeah. And also just the, yeah, a bit of anticipatory. And just being wound up. Yeah. Yeah. And that aftermath of... you know like why uh this is so unfair yeah and just that building we're trying to let that go um so got a neighbor with their child yeah okay your neighbor or my child downstairs so this is i just this time of day they kind of let them out yeah yeah yeah it's fine it's like right right right um i can barely hear it from where i must be canceling out somehow so a little bit okay um and so these and then um okay yeah so yeah door slamming uh seagulls and stuff um So do you think has it kind of escalated a lot since lockdown or is this going to be a lifelong issue for you if you noticed it? I think it's escalated. I think the more... the more aware i am and the more the more i kind of uh come to sort of you know identify what what my triggers are i feel like that it in a way is makes it worse and and again maybe it's that that kind of anticipation over um but and yeah i don't know if it's i mean there's definitely you know uh i mean childhood i i can remember i mean it is just the sort of classic thing It was my dad who I had vivid, vivid memories of, particularly breakfast time, eating cereal and just, yeah, the sound of his jaws and just kind of turning in on myself and, yeah, just the usual.

Ross [12:53]: Around what age was that?

Adeel [12:56]: probably probably about seven maybe seven or eight uh that you know i can really remember that being um yeah i mean it's very very clear in my head i can you know i can't even sort of picture sitting at the table you know and uh yeah um that feels very clear and there have been i think throughout throughout my life this i i i feel like it's it's maybe kind of uh peaked and troughed perhaps but uh um or maybe maybe not maybe i i've just sort of no it seems to it it does that with with people like uh there's a common arc of yeah childhood yeah leave the house wanes a little bit and then get back into maybe the workforce like uh and then it comes back i've heard that a number of times yeah yeah i mean it's it seems uh just like where uh i i grew up in the northeast of scotland uh and right there's a village in the um yeah just a really beautiful part of the country and you know reasonably quiet uh and then i um eventually moved in uh to aberdeen which is the a new city to where i was and it's sort of like where hope goes to die yeah i've heard it's a bit of a bleak bleak city yeah yeah just a bit yeah it's very great uh yeah um but yeah and and and mad seagulls so there there were you know i that kind of a long um long lasting uh complicated relationship with seagulls uh yeah but yeah they're they're just so yeah i think there are times there that i became um yeah for sure definitely just you know extremely aggravated by certain situations but um i think you know now that it feels very much like it's it is now paired with uh migraines or at least the risk of of migraines um and So, so that it, it all, you know, I think, I think it was, you know, as I say, when my, when my friend Dan, when we, when he first spoke to me about misophonia, it was maybe a couple of years ago. And, and I really... Is this the visual artist you were talking about? Yeah. Over email? Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Dan Shea. He's, yeah, he's a brilliant visual artist and a really good friend. And... I guess when he first talked to me about it and I was like, oh yeah, I definitely have that. But I never... I never really researched it. I never really kind of explored it any further. And I don't know. It really just has been since the start of this year that I feel like, yeah, I'm kind of taking a really deep dive into it. And in a way, it feels like, you know, I was saying to someone recently, it's... as as much as there there's so much unpleasantness surrounding there there's there's also something really you know i like kind of thinking of myself it's like a research project you know um right okay this is how because with the neurologist you know i i was sort of given this arsenal of medication and like this is you know this is this is all fine but i and i'm you know i'm okay with taking medication but it's There's got to be, you know, another way. There's got to be a better way. This doesn't feel like it's really addressing the root. Yeah. And so in the last few months, I feel like I'm kind of navigating and this, yeah, I don't know, just this kind of stage in my life. how, as I say, it's kind of got worse. It often does. Yeah, yeah. Oh, so you mean the more you've learned about it, you feel like you're picking up more triggers and stuff, or your anxiety anticipatory is coming up? Yeah, yeah, I think so. But, yeah, at the same time, I'm trying to... yeah i think kind of find the the positive um some kind of positive angle and i guess like we you know in our correspondence this we've kind of spoken about the um creative potential for it and that's definitely something that i think uh yeah really that that it feels like it's kind of next to my sort of creative agenda to really yeah because i think like we talked about like you know most of the world including probably us when you first hear about it we think it's just um next level irritation we don't what we don't well i think when at least when i've started you know obviously i've done some research in the past couple years talking to everybody but you know there are these other uh dom the domino effect of how it affects relationships and then then you can go back to your childhood all the way down to that breakfast table yeah i i guess my you know from the the sort of creative point of view like i i i suppose you know in my mind what i could come back to is um control and and you know just the the the absence of control is is where or when it's it's most problematic right right right right Maybe I've been watching something on TV or listening to music or something. And sometimes I'll maybe apologize to whoever's in it. You know, like, oh, sorry, that was a bit like... And I'm like, really, really sorry. But, you know, they're oblivious because it's just not... Some sound you made? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because to me, it is something that I would, you know, be really... Right. A bit upset about it. But, yeah, I think... I mean, I was thinking back to when I was studying at Aberdeen University and I did a PhD and it was a kind of practice-based PhD and a kind of portfolio of compositions and... One of the projects that I did was called Orphans, and it was an audio-visual intermedia project where I was looking at gathering so-called orphan films, and that's... If anyone doesn't know, it's... Usually film, I think it also encompasses photography, but visual imagery that exists in the public domain because the author is unknown. And often the people in the film or photographs are unknown. So it has this term of orphan film. So I was kind of going through different online archives and kind of gathering things and I liked the idea of, you know, I was thinking like what would be the corresponding sounds to that, so the kind of unwanted sounds, the sounds that kind of irritate us. So it was things like maybe wind distortion on the microphone or feedback and screeching and glitches and digital distortion, all that kind of stuff. And then taking those things and making them the focal point and expanding it into an entire kind of soundtrack to this orphan footage. So I was kind of reflecting on that. I don't think it was like a conscious... you know uh kind of misophonia thing entirely but i think there was something kind of conceptually there about um unpleasant or unwanted sound and and giving that uh um turning on its head and trying to find the sort of compositional potential um and so that that's kind of been coming back to me um that project which was which i did oh my goodness maybe 2012 uh which seems a long time ago uh and and now you know having more awareness of of what misophony is and what my own triggers are and uh yeah i i think i i really what i want to do now is to capture those sounds that are so triggering and unpleasant but take control of them and you know so when um i think when i first reached out to you that i i think i was just having this complete uh you know oh this is amazing this is amazing this is horrible and amazing um and i i'd like uh uh i'd i'd I thought, right, there's got to be an app. There's got to be something musically related. And I found your podcast was the first thing I found. Oh, I see. I see. That's how you found it. Okay. And then I spent... So I was in Corsica doing a... basically to escape from sounds that were, you know, I was just going crazy with the migraines and the sounds. So that's partly why I kind of decided to go there. And so I'd spend time just doing a lot of writing and and a lot of listening and listening to a lot of the other interviews that you've done and so it was just like this month of kind of self-discovery you know it ended up being amazing and there were things like know it was very very quiet where i was staying and it was kind of up in the mountains and uh and beautiful very quiet but um there were certain sound like there was a dog would howl and a really whining kind of howl quite often I would hear that and that was driving me insane but I decided to record it and then I thought right okay I'm gonna I'm gonna take this recording and I'm gonna take this And I think it was like an F sharp because it was consistently howling in the same pitch. This is interesting. So I can take this sound and I can kind of take some ownership of it and turn it into something beautiful like a like a kind of ambient drone and and then suddenly it's it's got this compositional uh potential to you know that i know this thing that's off in the distance that's right driving me crazy it's now something i i kind of have and can mold into something control yeah go back to a little bit of uh control um yeah i wonder if that's i i because i know that that is um um it's that that is a um a therapeutic modality that um a dr jane gregory kind of uses uh she has some cbt exercises that involve actually imagining that um, some of your triggers are members of a symphony and she, and asks you to kind of conduct that. Um, now it's a little hard to do in the middle of a trigger, like your, your flatmate is slammed, but I think there are situations when, when that can be kind of, um, you know, possible and useful. That's interesting that, yeah, you kind of just, you know, tried it out in an organic way. Um, I actually, I mean, the other way you can do it, um, as far as the opposite of ambient. And I, which I kind of used as, as kind of experiment to some of our exercises is throwing, throwing that sense through like bit crusher or, or something distortion. Yeah. Maybe trying to turn it into a other beat or kind of a, I don't know if you're from with Russell Haswell, but like he's a noise. I think he's from Scotland actually, but. yeah like extreme like a noise artist um but anyways starting going a bit of a tangent but yeah that's really cool what you're talking about is trying to take those sounds and making a compositional piece I had somebody I think Marcelo used I don't know if you heard that episode he used triggers in actual pieces and I think I linked to some of them in the show notes on YouTube but yeah he'd be a great person to maybe talk to I think I gave him a link to that little Google Doc which we talked about so uh anyways i i kind of took over that uh conversation a little bit but uh um but yeah that's yeah that's that's really so as you were um uh yeah during that that that month in in in korska any other kind of like self-discovery realizations um Yeah, I think I need to live alone. It took you that long to figure that out? Most of us learned that a long time ago. I mean, my classmates are brilliant. They're really good guys. Yeah, I don't know. I think, I mean, I was doing a lot of... i was doing a lot of kind of soundscape recording which i hadn't done for a long time and it was something i used to do a lot um and yeah i don't know i i felt like I don't feel like my my my listening skills are, you know, are at a pretty good level, but I felt like in Corsica that somehow they were they were everything felt very heightened. And I was it was just the wherever I went, I'd have my my uh my zoom h5 with me and my binaural mics and all the rest of it um and there was things like i there was one night i kind of went off or a weekend i went off traveling exploring i stayed in a hotel and there was a fridge in the hotel and there was this um it ended up it was just like a little symphony inside the room because there was and it was interesting that it was it could have annoyed me but um like the fridge had this really beautiful hum to it was it was just it was almost like a kind of harmony like with kind of two pitches happening i thought right get that that was i thought right and and actually if i remember rightly it was in the same pitch as the the whining howling dog yeah this is beautiful and um and and so yeah i think i i definitely uh and I think also like compositionally because I've spent a lot of time the last few years just writing for piano mainly and it just because I'm kind of finished the project that I've been working on and I'm really keen to get on to the next thing I think I just felt yeah more more um kind of tuned in with the with the soundscape there um I mean I don't know in terms of self-discovery i i don't know there were yeah i mean there were there were definitely um i think just because it was a month away and i wasn't teaching and i was you know there were maybe like there were certain memories and uh uh experiences that that would kind of maybe sort of resurfaced and um and i thought yeah actually this is i felt like i was seeing um things with it through a different lens almost since you made this migraine, the sphagnum link and doing this research. Yeah. What about, so going, did, did, um, but was, were the images of the breakfast table, the one that came up and I'm curious what was, well, I mean, I'm curious in general, what was happening around that time? Like, what, what was your, what was your, what were your, what were your parents, what was your family like at that point? I mean, great. I really, really, you know, very happy childhood and gone well with both my parents. And but I mean, it was with my dad, you know, I've since I've mentioned it to him. You have? Yeah. And it's like he's you'll be going great and um and he does take a lot of um stick from from my sister and i and uh uh what do you mean what do you mean take on a lot of stuff oh we just reached her oh oh right um we we make fun of them and and oh yeah we're ruthlessly and we're just awful children um but yeah i uh And I mentioned it to my mum. So my parents are divorced now. And she was like, yeah, yeah, it used to annoy me too. And I was like, but I wanted to kill them. But yeah, thinking back... so you know my mom asked obviously anything that i did and i was like i honestly can't think of anything at all but that hurt that your mom did that was not true no not at all but you know my dad was there was some you know i was thinking about my my sister i fought a lot growing up and you know we get on really well now um but i i do remember like she there was a time where she got into techno in a big way and so I had like you know I have these memories of it almost gives me a headache just thinking about it it was the thumping kick you know that muffled kick on the other side of my bedroom wall and right and because she knew it really antagonized me it was then i was like oh i see it was like you know thinking about this it's it's like weaponizing sounds you know and and so it was that oh we'd have terrible terrible fights because it and it wasn't even good techno you know it was just yeah it was the worst and and so that was that was one um and yeah we'd get into you know this was older when you were i don't know how far apart you guys were in age but uh so we're like older than six seven yeah um yeah we were we're three years apart and this would have been yeah probably like early teenage years i would think yeah yeah uh and yeah i just and i i mean i remember i can remember uh becoming more aware you know things like dogs barking yelping um like it was that persistent sound repetitive yeah yeah that What about at school? Were you friends? Well, there were... There's one memory in particular that... I mean, I don't know that it's a misophonia thing as such, but it's... I had these two friends that I sat together with in primary school. So primary school would be like up to 12 years old. They did this thing where they would run with their forearms down the edge of of their desks and oh okay okay uh that was oh oh it was horrendous and and again it's that thing that you know your friends once they know that something upsets you or annoys you then so they would they would know at that point that that or or they knew that that was upsetting and then you told them and then they just kept doing it oh yeah even more so yeah and yeah and i i can remember sitting there with my fingers in my ears and they were both still like just thought of it and yeah I remember that was the last last year in primary school and that is a really that has stayed for me yeah yeah and yeah and i and i guess yeah uh that that's that was a major major uh thing into that seemed to go on forever well this is interesting so i mean it seems like uh you're you're another one that kind of goes against kind of the the i guess the um so one of the prevailing histories of like something semi-traumatic happening during childhood or some, like, you know, rough household where, you know, not a lot. It seems like a super happy childhood. But, you know, potentially there are maybe some neurological route or something that may have turned on at some point. So that's interesting. Yeah. I mean, I... Yeah, and sometimes, you know, I kind of wonder about this... apparent link with um with my gains and and you know what the neurologist had said about having a migraine brain and being born with that. And I don't know, it's, it's still something I'm trying to figure out because I don't, you know, I don't, I didn't have migraines as a kid, I don't think. And it's something I'm, or maybe I did and I just assumed that was a headache. You assumed you were hungover. Yeah. You know, common Scottish pastime. Scotland, you know, Scotch and headaches, 12 years old. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Did it, um, did it, uh, did it affect you? I mean, affect your career, uh, going, going into your career, maybe choosing, choosing music as a path where we, did you redo extra sensitive to sound in general and that kind of influenced all this? Uh, I, I think I, I mean, I can, I can remember being, uh, really interested in uh again it's like the glitch or the the unwanted sound that i remember being really interested in exploring and i had this first keyboard i had when i was oh i don't know maybe like 12 or 13 and it was it was like a larger model and i remember uh It was just like a very typical, the kind of keyboard you would get in music class in school. But I remember being really interested in playing the highest note on a string sound, but then there was an option where you could increase it by an octave, and then you could change the pitch bend range. And so it was glitching out the keyboard, and I was finding all these... um crazy crazy sounds and and so i think i i got i remember being really really interested in in those kinds of like how could you um yeah almost like hack the i suppose it was it was almost like hacking before i knew really what kind of right you know circuit bending and all that kind of stuff um but Yeah, I don't know. Music, I mean, when I left school, I went to college in Edinburgh for two years. And I was, yeah, sort of between the age of 16 and 18. And we had, I mean, at that point, I didn't really know that I was going to do composition. But I got really interested in that. And we had this recording studio, which... So this would have been between 1996 and 98. And it was still taped that they had. So I got to learn how to do the whole splicing and all that stuff. And I loved it. And just... playing around with the, you know, slowing the reel down and that kind of stuff. And there was like an archive sampler where you could get like seven seconds worth of a drum loop or that kind of thing. Right. And that... yeah i don't know that that was like a really amazing amazing time just playing the sound and trying to right use the studio as a bit of an instrument in a way and yeah and i guess eventually that um kind of set me up and then I got a bit uh I started working at a bookshop and I was there for five years and uh that I don't know I was like oh earning a wage and and yeah you know being able to buy drink and go out every night and then I was just going nowhere um yeah yeah yeah but uh yeah and then you know and then did you at university and then specialized in in composition and um and mainly it was kind of electronic sound art that kind of stuff i was doing and then bringing some of the the visual elements into it um but uh yeah i mean again kind of during that period there's don't know that i mean yeah i don't know that the music funny necessarily like in a bookshop you must feel like almost a library it must be a little bit uh jarring when you you know someone drops a book or slams the door yeah it was it was about um Or eats while they're reading there, yeah. Yeah, there were, like, lunch times and things in the staff room, I can remember. Ah, yes, yes. Oh, my God. Did you know, because I've worked at jobs where I hated being around co-workers at lunch, but I don't think I realized it was because of the sounds, per se. I just thought they were also just super boring people, which definitely was the case in many situations, but... yeah no there were there were just certain yeah a couple of people yeah but it was it was the sounds and yeah i'm just gonna go and eat somewhere else so what are your then yes what i guess what are your you know coping methods now other than you know going to the mountains of course there's got to be some practical data yeah um yeah i so i think um i think i'm still figuring that out um i you know i got uh noise canceling headphones and uh you know that's uh they're they're good they can serve the purpose um i tried the um there's the earplugs um i don't want to say the brand but uh yeah the the there's like loops and flares and yeah yeah and and i i kind of uh someone had kind of pointed those out to me and um and and i think this this is maybe something maybe this is a kind of maybe a sort of self-discovery kind of thing um where i What I'm kind of realizing is that I get really conflicted with, you know, the notion of canceling and filtering. And I know that this is probably going to help me, but I have this really conflicted sort of... sense at the moment of um you know part of me really wants to just experience life unfiltered and warts and all and but then that is usually very quickly countered by me wanting to bludgeon someone with my shoe So that's, you know, there's a bit of a conflict there. But it's a tad. Yeah. It's a split second decision you have to make. but yeah there's something about the with the flair earplugs and the fact that they they um i mean it's amazing just that they cut out these upper frequency or this frequency range um and you know i think that that is incredible but part of me feels like well we're all going to lose our capacity to hear that frequency range the older we get, and I kind of don't really want to be, you know... Accelerated. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. So that, yeah, that's something I don't know about the earplugs, but maybe I need to give them more of a try, but... The noise cancelling, for sure, helps. When I was in the airport, Charles de Gaulle, Paris, two days ago, coming back from France, it was a cacophony and and that that's that's definitely it was something i was um yeah there's really like a particular experience that i could maybe talk about it's kind of related to that but um but it my my head was pounding was absolutely pounding and it was hot And we were queuing for hours and it's just this din of voices and, you know, and so on. But putting the headphones on and getting the noise, it just felt like catching a breath. That's what I felt like. And... yeah so so i think they they are a bit of a lifesaver i think i have a better relationship with noise cancelling than i do with with earplugs um and yeah and apart from that i don't know i'm still trying to figure out i um i'm hoping that when you know when i really kind of delve into uh the compositional thing of, you know, taking control of these sounds. I think that that's going to be again, sort of, you know, kind of thinking of myself as a research object. Right. We'll see. Maybe that will be a maybe it'll be bad and special um it could make you because you know another another um coping well another therapy modality is to kind of when you hear a sound associated with something else that it is not and so if you can kind of potentially if you're um you know destroying sounds uh or making them more ambient if you can then next time here in the wild might not be the next time but eventually if you can associate it with um a sound or a sound that you redid or processed then maybe that can kind of help you catch that breath as well yeah so yeah yeah i think so um yeah i i mean somehow this kind of memory that i was thinking about this kind of related to the the that sort of airport thing um where i'd been doing uh i was working with my friend tanya who's who's a dance choreographer and movement therapist her and i were doing a project in uh in aberdeen and it would have been 2014 and uh it it was basically the idea was that we would uh we would develop a um a piece of of dance with the guy um working with us and i was doing the sound of music But we would do it in a kind of public space. So we would, rather than work in a dance studio and then take it onto a stage, we would kind of create it and develop it and then eventually perform it all in the same space. So we chose, it was a university building. And it was... um it was really intense i mean i think i think it was maybe about two weeks that we were there and we'd been being allowed to to work in certain parts of this this building but of course you're it's very um you're kind of exposed to the there's students going about their day and staff and janitors and so on and you're trying to do this and they're obviously kind of curious as to what you're doing and uh Yeah, so it was really unusual. It was interesting in a lot of ways. But it was torrential rain for most of it. And although we were indoors, it was this glass roof. And it was just this... cacophony of kind of white noise, constant, absolutely constant. And I remember, you know, you could be sitting next to someone and you had to shout to be heard. It was just so intense. And at the same time, I was having issues with my flat that I'd lived in for about 12 years. lived there alone and uh but i was i was basically getting evicted because the building was had just fallen into total disrepair and i was the last one in the building it fell into disrepair because the the leasing agency had allowed it to um yeah and i was woken up one night at the same time that we were doing this residency with rain hitting, you know, falling on my head. And I woke up to just water pouring down the walls and over the light fittings and everything. And it was just dripping. You know, just the sound of water dripping. Yeah. Yeah, and basically it was about three days of that, and three days with pretty much no sleep. And it just... It felt like... to kind of have that experience and then to go into this building where it was just water and white noise and that it was a particular sound that had never really bothered me up until this experience and I was thinking about how it it's it's like you i guess like sound just loses its definition and and like you couldn't it's really hard to kind of describe the way it felt to me but it was like nothing had an edge to it it was just like my head felt like it was filled with cotton wool and um and yeah there was no dimension or definition and at the same time it just kind of felt like you know that life was was becoming like that that i was gonna have to leave i didn't know where i was gonna live um it was a complete a complete nightmare um and yeah i remember it sort of It was just a horrendous, horrendous experience. And this sound is kind of the overriding thing. And then afterwards, when we did the performance, a couple of weeks after that, I remember it was just so, things were really, really bad. And the only way that I got the flooding in my flat to be dealt with was to kind of name and shame my leasing agency on social media. Oh, wow. And the plumber was around that afternoon, you know.

Ross [56:01]: Mm-hmm.

Adeel [56:04]: But it was a really, really, really damaging kind of time. And I remember thinking, yeah, it would have been a few weeks later. I remember thinking, oh, God, I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. And then it wasn't until later I was thinking, I think I did. I think I did because I didn't think I'd function for a good two weeks. I couldn't get out of bed. I was so unwell and just not functioning. But then maybe about four or five years later, I was I was doing a I suppose it was a kind of it was like an artist retreat type thing and it was for artists of all all kinds who were maybe a bit of a crossroads in their career um and we uh it was really just the kind of i think maybe five of us five or six um and just kind of reflecting on on where we were and and where we were going and um and at one point during we were there for a few days and at one point during the the retreat we'd gone walking in these woods and we'd kind of gone off in our own way and just exploring and there was I remember hearing this white noise in the distance and it was it was a waterfall and so I kind of went And I didn't have a recorder with me at the time. I think I just recorded it on my phone. But I went and kind of sat and was just... And it was like being bathed in white noise. And suddenly it was just... it was just amazing and and the fact you know the water the the noise and um and it just felt like i'd made my peace with with this sound that had really troubled me. And I thought, yeah, I'm kind of, I'm okay with this. Yeah. That's, that's really interesting. That's the, yeah. That's an example of a, you know, kind of a, a healing moment after. Yeah. Obviously it's kind of traumatic when you have water pouring over you as you're, while you're sleeping. Yeah. Yeah. Just a bit. so yeah i don't know i mean maybe uh there's maybe something about that kind of reclaiming um those upsetting uh or traumatizing sounds and i think that's kind of maybe yeah just what i'm trying to maybe want to explore or or navigate yeah feel like i definitely feel like a lot of this is whether whatever whatever age the association happens but there's a part of you that is trying to is trying to that's another i don't know beautiful thing that i've uh discovered talking to some types of therapists and thinkers is it's not to look at misophonia necessarily as some defect as it's something that's trying to help you in good faith but it's not necessary at some point after whatever time initially the problem happened and I think as a child we have a harder time navigating what should we be afraid of? What is a real warning? And I think in the case of misophonia, maybe an incorrect association is made and then sticks with you as you get older, where maybe for most people it goes away. But the important point I want to make is that your body, that was actually... thinks it's trying to help you that's the amazing thing it's not a it's not working against you where the outside world they want to tell us hey you're a control freak you're there's something wrong with you i want this i want to give you meds yeah you know it's probably why you don't feel comfortable with the meds because it's like it doesn't really get to the root of the problem and the root of the problem might not be a defect it might be your body acting in good faith obviously you don't want it to act that way we can we can try to heal that way maybe for you for this case of the water it was sitting next to a waterfall but i think it's trying to uh maybe honor and um uh maybe sitting for a waterfall was way for you to kind of honor that's part of you that was trying to protect you so yeah there's a lot to explore here yeah yeah definitely yeah and i think this is it that i you know and and you're asking about uh um uh you know what uh what is what can be helpful and and the noise canceling headphones and so on but i think honestly i think the podcast there's your podcast as well is definitely like i've i think like in corsica um and and since then um i think there is something about knowing that you know right i'm gonna go and i'm gonna just pick out an episode maybe at random and um and i think yeah to to to know yeah just to hear other people's experiences and and um as i'm sure like many many people kind of listening you must have lots of moments where they're saying me too you know like oh my god and other things that i thought oh yeah yeah definitely like i remember uh someone talking about um the just like the tone and timbre of a person's voice or the way that they and you know for sure there there are you know there would be I don't know, YouTubers or whatever. It's people who I cannot, I just cannot listen to. But I think it's things like that that I think I'm, it does feel like a bit of a lifeline and it's, you know, it's maybe a different kind of form of assistance or support, but it's also, there's the discovery and Right. So, yeah, yeah, I don't know. I remember... You think discovery in terms of, like, you're discovering new triggers? Like, you're kind of maybe... Yeah, and things that... I don't know, things that I maybe... that I'm maybe still questioning, you know, is this misophonia or is this just another one of life's annoyances? You know, but to hear some of the You know, there are the mouth sounds and there are the classic, you know, dictionary definition type things. But just some of the other triggers that people have mentioned has just been amazing to kind of, you know, it's like, yeah. Yeah, no, there's a lot. Sometimes it's not all related purely to sound. I remember one when it's like dad clapping his hands together and rubbing them really fast kind of thing. It sounds related to touch. And so... yeah obviously yeah like you said classic maybe some people have the classic ones but then there are these outliers which are interesting but usually related to some childhood memory which is which is interesting yeah i think yeah i mean it's it's like the white noise thing as well like it is something that i kind of wanted to I think that's that's one of the things I'd like to explore, because I know it's it's something that's is, you know, is the health to to have therapeutic, you know, the babies with colic or whatever, play them. Right. White noise and. yeah i don't i i don't know that i yeah i don't know where i'm going with that but um well there may be i mean well sorry to interrupt but i was just thinking because you know white noise is kind of like a white light it's kind of all the that's all the frequencies i wonder if there's a way to kind of creatively kind of pull out certain colors or certain, maybe certain colors from sound, which are certain triggers. Because obviously every trigger is, you know, if you put every sound in the world together, every kind of trigger together, it will be white noise. And if there's some way you can kind of like tell different stories or have each, you know, each bit of that white noise is a memory kind of thing, there could be something. We could turn it into a creative project. But yeah. but uh yeah yeah this is interesting in your case was interesting because like because the white noise was the white noise from the dripping was a problem at one point and then it turned into a healing situation yeah yeah yeah that's uh it's yeah i mean it's it's you know i get very very poetic about it i'm sure but you know like the drip to the to the waterfall the you know it's that that that kind of right but it's yeah there was this funny you know during that retreat as well someone um one of the artists that was there was a photographer and he did this um um i don't know what i've done with it but he he he was doing um what do you call it like double exposure double exposure photos um yeah and with a uh polaroid camera and oh that was it yeah so so he would give us the camera we would take a picture of something that we'd maybe encountered on that trip in the wondering forest and then he'd take a picture of us and he would do the double exposure of whatever the thing was and so my one it was the waterfall and i took a picture of the waterfall and then he took my photo and the photo was amazing when it came out because it was like the waterfall was coming out of my head okay yeah just like this i thought yeah i could get very very uh deep about right symbolic about that but it was it was beautiful yeah yeah um well very cool we've yeah we've kind of blown blown past now i'm sure we can well we'll do our own yeah well well we have other uh ways we can uh yeah we can continue continue this but i think for the yeah i think we covered a lot of ground here just kind of here it's great to hear about your past and your relationship with misophonia Um, yeah, I don't know anything else I want to say right now, I guess, to wrap up for people who are listening, other than, uh, we're going to have to, we're going to have to do a Mr. Funny podcast, of course, for all the listeners. Yeah. I highly recommend it. Just, uh, just stay away from certain, uh, certain animals. Um, yeah, I don't know. Um, Yeah, I think, you know, just like we kind of corresponded, I think it is this, the creative potential for, you know, I forget the individual's names, but some of the people who've spoken about how they've incorporated, was it Dan, no, was it Ben, somebody, a screenwriter? um yeah yeah yeah it's fascinating and um how he he kind of incorporated miss ben moody yeah yeah i thought that was that was uh wonderful to see and how he had um yeah kind of woven that into his writing and um other people so i yeah i Yeah, I don't know. I'd just be very interested to... Do you... When you're composing, do you feel like... Well, at least if you can get quiet, do you feel like that? At least for me, because I don't get to compose that much because I have other, you know, jobs. But when I get into that mode, it's very, like... A, it's like, you should be doing this. This should be your job. But also, like, it really kind of, like, helps. It's almost like taking a drug. It just kind of helps kind of process the... misophonia it just kind of centers everything you feel like that that just that yeah you mean your work when you can get can it kind of like really calms you down definitely i uh yeah absolutely i and and there i think it's funny because i think my if I'm then taken out of it whether it's seagulls out my window or oh my god like bin men they're just the banging that drives me nuts or whatever is going on you've been men like garbage oh yeah sorry garbage yeah yeah Yeah, they're kind of sort of at war with them at the moment. But yeah, there's this sound of the bins slamming on the garbage can. And they have this, they shout to each other and it's like eight in the morning. Right. When that takes me out, I feel like my... my anger level is is higher than it would be just generally you know in that it's it's like oh you've taken me out of this beautiful you know my my head space but yeah yeah um there's uh i mean it's interesting i i feel like i'm doing more and more ambient music and uh it was funny i was i was uh uh looking on spotify you know when they do their kind of end of year these were your whatever most right yeah and i and and this last one i was like scrolling there and i was like oh my god it was like number 16 until there was an actual uh vocalist on words yeah yeah this is that things are really changing here and there's just ambient ambient instrumental um and yeah like um uh just the last couple of days i've been kind of playing around i've got a I know people can't see this, but these things here that it's kind of, it's almost like a harmonium type. Yeah. Yeah.

Ross [72:10]: I know what harmonium is.

Adeel [72:17]: Yeah. And so I've got this fruit pedal for it and I was just, I've only had it maybe a year or so and I was just, and so it's really designed for making kind of uh drones i think it's originally a chinese instrument and uh so i got this fruit pedal so i had that thing going on and um and yes absolutely blissed out uh and so yeah this and and i'm finding as well that there are certain i'm getting really interested in uh really sub-bassy sounds that, you know, I'm finding that there are certain notes that just resonate. It's almost a physical sensation when you play them. And that's, yeah, I don't know. just by the nature of the sound it feels grounding whereas as opposed to that white noise which is you know yeah so right so yeah i've been getting into yeah is is really really cathartic uh yeah but also i mean throughout lockdown i was working on an album mainly piano compositions and um arrangements of old scottish gallic uh songs um and and it's funny there's a couple of couple of those that uh i can tell i i can uh i mean i can tell because i wrote them but um from uh i i can remember now that when they were first kind of um written or when they first kind of came to be and um and oh yeah this is some of these are like just naturally very quiet compositions and this was this kind of late at night everyone's in bed it's it's locked down and uh yeah it was just there's just something about embracing that quiet quiet yeah yeah well uh cool i'll put uh links to all of your band camp or whatever else you want in the show notes and all that stuff uh yeah this is fascinating anyway like i said we'll obviously we'll continue this um because i think this yeah lots of potentially and hopefully people listening who are creative i've been trying to kind of contact as many as possible so if you want to join in and if you have an idea if you have ideas where i don't know i'm putting together a little group of people i'm corresponding with um but yeah ross thanks thanks again for for just for coming on and reaching out yeah no i really appreciate it Yeah, again, just thank you for this podcast. It is a lifeline. Thank you, Ross. As always, great to talk to people interested in all things creative and potential creative inspiration from Misophonia. If you liked this episode, don't forget to leave a quick review or just hit the five stars wherever you listen to this podcast. You can hit me up by email at hello at or go to the website It's the easiest to just send a message on Instagram at Misophonia Podcast. You can follow there on Facebook and on Twitter. We're at Misophonia Show. And of course, we're on threads as well at Misophonia Podcast. Support the show by visiting the Patreon at slash Misophonia Podcast. Theme music, as always, is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.

Unknown Speaker [76:33]: Thank you.