Analog Suicide

Behind the world of I SPEAK MACHINE with Tara Busch & Maf Lewis


On the road with Gary Numan. Shifting my technician.

I wanted to do a proper “tour diary” of this wonderful, surreal & sweet experience Maf & I are having & I will. But there’s something on my mind.

I say hello to you on a bleak, beautiful rainy day from Bradford, PA. I’m looking out the window at the mist, clouds & fog sensually suffocating the vibrant green, rolling hills. I want to listen to Houses of the Holy on a loop.
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So. We are currently on a 10 date tour of the US with the incredible force of nature that is Gary Numan. Initially, it was pretty surreal…but Gary & Gemma are so down to earth, unpretentious and passionate and SO funny…the band is fucking amazing; tight, heavy, raw and just stellar. The crew are the kindest, most professional, helpful & hilarious people you could ever hope to work with. So it’s become a truly pleasurable experience of which I’m really enjoying in the moment,instead of that drifty, detached feeling of an effervescing, anxious mind. At ease, I guess.
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See….I’ve always have had problems managing my nerves around most people, suffering from severe inferiority, insecurity, & feeling hyper-self aware..and that is just offstage. Onstage, ever since incorporating instrumentation into my live setup (ie: not just singing but playing everything as well), my nerves and awkwardness would hijack me tenfold onstage. This tour has been a big game changer for me because something in my mind has rewired itself a bit. The hijackings have stopped.
As I Speak Machine, and the previous “Tara Busch” solo work where I would sing and play everything live, I never felt like I was good enough or solid enough as a solo performer to stand onstage and have the privilege of performing for anyone, let alone do a tour opening for one of my biggest musical heroes. I would stand up there and perform, but just not feel worthy at all. Also, I was always struggling with learning curves that I throw at myself and very careful to keep myself working a bit beyond my capacity and comfort zone. For better or for worse.

But this has its drawbacks, which results in feeling like a total amateur onstage, taking me back to the first time I ever sang in front of a “large” amount of people in elementary school – jangling nerves, shaking hands and unsteady voice…. and that magical second nature feeling I used to get from just being a singer fronting a band gave way to feeling like a nerve wracked, unconfident maniac that had no business handling the machines that I shared the stage with at all.

Thats not to say I didnt enjoy performing, I somehow loved it and craved it like all artists do. I have been singing and performing since I was 5, and that love will never leave me. But I resented the partitioning of my brain that had to take place to maneuver the synths, play perfectly, hit all my cues with the films, sing as well as I possibly could – all technical aspects – which left little room for that beautiful feeling of having the performance in your blood; almost on a sort of autopilot so that the “performer” can have the spotlight instead of the technician. I’ve practiced my component of the I Speak Machine project (which is of course the writing and playing the live scores) OBSESSIVELY for the past 4 years, over and over & over. And over. The “technician side” is far slower to the bus stop than my “performer side”and it took a long time to catch ‘her’ up. It was hugely this repetition and patience that really helped in the end. I must have enjoyed the process deep down or I would have given up ages ago.

Meanwhile, as you may know, I Speak Machine did 4 dates with Mr. Numan last year, all of which were a blast. All of which I practiced obsessively for and was a jangling bag of nerves for each and every one. I enjoyed them and am incredibly grateful for them, but as far as my performance, something was missing. That component of it being in my subconscious, in my blood, so that the performer can take over instead of the technician.

On the second night of the tour (the same night my $9 thrift store platforms split in half after the show), I was just about to launch into The Demon & The Dove. The show had been completely spotless up until then for a change (!), but all the while, there was a voice behind my brain sizzling away at me: “you’re bound to fuck it up, here it comes. You don’t deserve to have a good show because you don’t deserve any of this”, “You have no idea what the hell you’re doing. etc etc.”…I made a decision onstage right there, just as my cue to hit that first A kicked in, that I no longer had a single fuck to give about that voice anymore. Nothing. And it died. And I was free. Basically, I was either going to stay in that nervous dungeon and rot, or I could walk away (curiously, this is a similar train of thought that went through my head when I decided to stop drinking earlier this year. Me & my epiphanies…). The nerves gave way to relief, and the technician let the performer step up and have her turn.

It’s become better ever since for me. I’ve begun to improvise a tiny bit more, adding a song at the last minute that I hadnt rehearsed in ages. I would never in a million years have attempted this until now without practicing every tiny nuance for at least a month before. I am planning things for the next live shows that I would never have attempted before. I guess because my fucks to give are delegated elsewhere?

That’s not to say I don’t get nervous & reactionary and have shitloads of challenges to deal with; I just have shifted my head around to accommodate what matters…or I’ve learned how to START doing that. I imagine it’s also all the encouragement Maf gives me as well – I’d likely still be crumbling inside without him- but I had to just “stop giving a fuck” to the self deprication.All this would never have happened without the previous plight and obsessive rehearsing, I suppose.
Anyway – I had to get that off of my chest a bit. And maybe some of you go through this as well. Has very little to do with being a proper “tour diary”, but I’m just so happy for this chance to do this tour in the first place – and it’s had everything to do with my being able to rewire my head as far as what it goes through when standing on a stage and performing (with the technician in the wings) for you. I can jump and almost float.

I might do this little nugget in Toronto, but I’m afraid! Oh well. Baby steps.


  1. Thanks for sharing! It is generous and helpful of you. Anyway you are wicked awesome and I am so glad to hear of you vanquishing that unhelpful voice. Your success lifts us all.
    I was lucky enough to hear Gary Numan in 2014( still can’t believe he came through Winnipeg) but was not able to be at any of your dates with him this year. Chicago was nearest and work did not permit the 16 hour each way drive. I do look forward to hearing Ispeakmachine live and am sure I will eventually get the chance.

    Comment by Andrew on May 23, 2016 at 1:07 pm

  2. I can relate to this so hard! Thanks for sharing, it’s not easy discussing things like this but I have found (recently) that once you do, it really does help. You have done fantastic though!

    Comment by AJ on May 23, 2016 at 2:07 pm

  3. Tara, I love this. Just as I moved to fronting my own band, I suffered a serious brain injury and my resulting anxiety is sometimes overwhelming. I’m trying to learn to get rid of that same voice, and your writing here certainly helps.
    Good luck, and hope we cross paths on the highway.

    Comment by Bobby Speedy Gray on May 23, 2016 at 3:45 pm

  4. This is so beautiful and so important. Dealing with what is, rather than the mountain, tsunami, or battalions of imagined fears that are (not) about to block,crash upon, or attack you, is where you claim your power– your mind isn’t focused on dealing with these fears that aren’t real, haven’t happened and don’t even exist! Your mind and body react to those imagined fears as if they were real– chemically as well as spiritually and mentally–shut the voices down, silence them, put them on the gallows, then the town is freed of its oppressors and you have the blank space to create in– everyday, every moment. It took me doing some work with Landmark to get all of this clear for myself–You are amazing. Love you Tara. Singing with you is a gift that I treasure. Your presence in this world is a gift.

    Comment by Sean Frazier on May 24, 2016 at 4:15 am

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