Auriol Hays

Awareness through music

The God Complex

Some corners of the universe have bred the most terrible things. Things that act against our very beliefs. They must be fought.”

Guess who said that? Mahatma Gandhi? Martin Luther King? Mother Theresa? I will give you a clue. He’s a doctor. Yeah, that doctor. I am a certifiable Dr Who fan, or a Whovian if you will. I know you must be wondering, “Doesn’t this lady have better things to write about?” Right at this very second, dear reader, I do not. Roll your eyes if you like. Dismiss me altogether if you must, it changes nothing! So why not indulge a girl hmm?

Dr Who is a British sci-fi series and it stars The Dr, a  Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, who just happens to have two hearts. His spaceship, the Tardis, looks like a blue telephone box from the 60′s (bigger on the inside -  transcendental engineering, you know). With it the Dr travels throughout time and space, saving the earth from certain annihilation. “Aliens? Why should I watch a show about that?” you ask slightly mortified and outraged. “We won’t face extinction at the hands of aliens! At least not any time soon. Time traveling phone box my ass! I would rather watch the news.”

Oh all right! As far as I am aware of, we are not facing imminent annihilation. Shoo, that’s a relief isn’t it? Now you won’t have to spend thousands of rands stockpiling food or building an underground bunker (do people still build those? Hang on, perhaps they should, climate change and all..) At ease soldier, everything’s going to be just fine..or (insert eerie piano music) .. is it really?

Do me favor. Switch on your television or radio. Go head! Shake along dear human, my Granny can move faster! All right then, tell me, just what did you see and hear? It’s tricky isn’t it? We inhabit a strange world where somewhere, in a remote area or in your very own perfectly manicured backyard, something always seems to be going horribly awry.

On the off chance you cheated and didn’t do as I commanded (oops, I politely suggested), allow me to share the..uhm. ..bad news. We are being force fed the notion that we are not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, rich enough, black enough, white enough..blah, bladdy blah. Our political, social, economic, moral, ethical thingamabobbie on which our entire society is premised, is in complete disarray! Oscar, Nkandla, e-tolls, missing planes, India beating South Africa in cricket… It’s plain to see – we are doomed. Now tell me, honestly, wouldn’t you prefer a good old alien invasion instead?

Very well, I will stop haranguing you with delightful tales of doom and destruction, and deal with matters of greater urgency – the Dr and why you should, at the very least encourage your granny to watch the show. The Dr really is a scoundrel of sorts. With his dashing smile, quick and quirky ways, he lures us into his Tardis and transports us… anywhere really. Sometimes to an era of great historical significance or into the very, very, very far flung future.

One of my favorite episodes, The God Complex, sees the Dr and his companions, Rory and Amy Pond, trapped in a 1980′s styled hotel that has no exits, corridors that shift and the Tardis nowhere in sight. Everyone is at a loss. However, they are certain of two things. Each person has a door and behind it lies their greatest fear. Also, there happens a monster prowling the corridors. Just as the monster descends, the victim is filled with euphoria and exclaims ‘Praise him! Praise him!” The reason why this episode intrigues me is because it dealt with faith and fear and how both binds or illuminates our fate.

While on this mad dash, the Dr compels us to dig a little deeper and think a little harder and (this is the important bit, so pay attention) he never, ever lies… or tells the truth either! “You know when grown-ups tell you everything’s going to be fine, but you really think they’re lying to make you feel better?’ Amelia: ‘Yeah…’The Doctor: ‘Everything’s going to be fine.”

So into trouble or swashbuckling adventure (can one ever be sure what exists at the far end of time and space?) The Dr races! He faces his enemies as best he can, armed with three things: a sonic screwdriver, his companions and insatiable curiosity (not a bad feat after 900 years!). “There’s something out of place – let’s go and poke it with a stick.”

Together they fought off numerous threats to planet earth. Threats such the Cybermen (who demand conformity), The Weeping Angels (who steal time from their victims and hurl them into a forgotten past) and The Silence (” a race of genetically engineered priests who used post-hypnotic suggestion to manipulate other species into doing their bidding”). After every episode of Dr Who, my daughter and I would have a lengthy discussion…this isn’t just another tv show..

So forgive me if I only listen to the news intermittently and view the world with a certain amount of detachment. I won’t bore you with the very real threats we all face in our daily lives. Why should I? Whether on a person or global scale, we all have our very own Cybermen to face, our own Weeping Angels… It’s never easy but then again life would be terribly boring if everything was! Just remember that you, like the Dr, never face any of those things alone. I think it best if I ask The Dr to end off this blog post. After all the man does have a way with words..

“Homo sapiens… What an inventive, invincible species. It’s only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenseless bipeds. They’ve survived flood, famine, and plague. They’ve survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life, ready to out-sit eternity. They’re indomitable. Indomitable.”

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Stop The World I Wanna Get Off with You

When I tell people I was a silent kid, no one really believes me. They could never imagine  loquacious  me as anything but bubbly and well, loquacious.  Sullen and withdrawn I can be and most certainly was when younger. That’s how I how become a voyeur and a voracious reader. Two necessary ingredients to becoming a songwriter I think. But when I was younger, it was my anything but. I hid in books..

I was stuck in what I termed my ” metaphysical phase” for many years. I even became a psychic junkie for a while,  joined a Wiccan  coven  and refrained from eating meat for two or three years! It really was an eye-opening experience. Once I felt more assured of my place in this universe, I decided to become a musician. My every thought was bent towards it and the books  reflected that. It was a long and exhaustive process, finding balance.

First, I must make a small confession. This confession has a huge impact on how I view matters of the heart, in music and …other places. Dawson’s Creek. Dang! I loved that show and Pacey (Joshua Jackson) especially. The writers of that show should be persecuted for crimes against humanity! They convinced me that men were more than capable of expressing their heart’s desire.  I suffered for many years trying to prove them wrong! Tell me who wouldn’t want a boyfriends like Pacey? One who would say this..

“Actually, um, hold on. I’m not done yet. Because I also want for you to be happy. It’s really important for me that you be happy. So I want you to be with someone, whether it be Dawson or New York guy or some man that you haven’t even met yet. But I want you to be with someone who can be a part of the life that you want for yourself. I want you to be with someone who makes you feel like I feel when I’m with you. So, I guess the point to this long run-on sentence that’s been the last 10 years of our lives is just that the simple act of being in love with you is enough for me. 

Beautiful isn’t it? But  what man in this universe or the many parallel multiverses says crap like that? Let me not get started on the tv show Felicity and that aloof Ben! Me? I live with my heart on my sleeve but many, I realized do live by the same code.  Some have even forgotten they have a heart altogether! When I lose my way, I call my Mother, sometime rather teary-eyed too I might add.  She would always say  “Auriol, your heart is a bit too small. You need to believe in something, in someone. Don’t forget God has a plan for you. Have patience, write music.” But I can never wait for others to do and say things and I am dreadfully impatient..

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”  said Edgar Degas. I just decided to take my Mother’s advice and believe in something greater than myself or my own experience have patience and trust that it will all add up to something one day.  So I keep writing music. I try to refrain from watching soul destroying shows where words are crafted with great love. I try to stay jaded, to hope a little less… but never can manage it completely.

Pablo Picasso once said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  Curiosity is my response Mr Pablo. I read to remain curious. I try to understand the workings of the mind and heart through books, music, art, crazy tv shows, the laughter of little kids…and finally when I am close to understanding something true  – I sing

posted by auriol in human nature,Uncategorized and have Comments Off

You Can’t Hurry Love

I am asked about Love constantly, love and the notion of a  soul mate. After all, I sing about love; be it a lack of love, an over-abundance or a good lusty romp in the hay. I write about those issues, not because I have a string of lovers (oh I do wish!) but because I have an overwhelming desire to understand  people and nothing seems to cause greater distress than matters of the heart.

Usually I can be found huddled in a corner with someone, a glass of whiskey in hand, listening intently. “How did you meet? When did you know that you loved her? When did you suspect it was over? What have you learnt?” I pay attention to every word, every gesture and when something  heart wrenching  is unexpectedly revealed, I whip out my  phone and jot it into my secret folder.  I am inspired by the bravery of those I speak to. How do they do it, I wonder? How do they rush into love without fear or doubts? Or in spite of it?

The idea that there’s someone who will “complete us” is utter tosh  of course. Great for movies and  music but nonsense nevertheless. Although I am an incurable romantic, I am a realist before all else. I do not believe in soul mates.  My list of dvd’s might convince you otherwise, but let’s not get into that. Here’s my theory.We humans really are an arrogant lot.  After being alive for a bit, we mistakenly believe that we have the answers.  We know how  things should be done, we are firm in our beliefs  and unflinchingly in the pursuit of our ambitions. Life is running smoothly  and then Boom!  We meet someone or something completely blindsides us and we are forced to re-evaluate everything.

This happened to me on numerous occasions! And not all of those run-ins were pleasant either. Sometimes I would have a rip roaring argument  that leaves me in complete ruin and tears and very much beside myself.  Then I go slip into the familiar, I  over-think everything. Why did I meet this person now? And why the hell couldn’t I just be speak my mind?  And why, oh why, was I such an idiot!!?

Would you like to know why I think this must happen? It’s just a little idea I have,  so bear with me. We are gifted with people, with events…with moral dilemmas that challenge and demand that we  take a hard look at the choices we make. Why do I use the term “gifted” you ask? What greater gift is there than clarity? Granted those gifts usually come wrapped in drama, frustration, anger and tears..but you are never the same afterwards, are you?Sometimes we are so busy with our lives that we forget what  we really desire and those people  are thunderstorms, the wayshowers who illuminate the path… back to the selves we left behind.

Not only are we arrogant but we are also lazy.  We never do what needs to be done. There’s always tomorrow…and tomorrow..and tomorrow. The biggest gifts I was granted was my daughter and my divorce. That gave me the clarity I needed.  I am a better human being as a result, or I try to be. And that’s all I ask of whoever I allow into my life, personally and professionally. That  honesty and clarity always be present…because when I am not honest with myself and my needs – the universe will gift me with a little surprise to turn my life upside down, so that I may answer the very question I was so busy running  from.

I have quoted my Beloved Ben Harper on many occasions, and for perfectly valid reasons. In the song Don’t Give Up On Me Now, he sings, “And I don’t even know myself, what it would take to know myself. I need to change I don’t know how. Don’t give up on me now..” So I don’t…I don’t give up on those I love and care for, and most certainly not on myself. Especially when I lose my way or am at a complete loss.  My favorite poet Rumi once said, “ Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.’  Forget the idea of a soul mate. Try being your own best friend. Try seeing the best in others, living honestly. When those thunderstorms do arrive, stay. Listen and try to see – not the person involved but the lesson about yourself you are being shown.  Trust me, if you do that…whoever needs to find and love you will…

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Show Me How To Live

“Mummy, I want to know how you feel about this, not Jesus!” Her response was classic and hilarious! “Auriol, that’s how I feel! How can you ask me to leave Jesus out of it? He is the way, the truth and the life.  Don’t be doff!” When your own flesh and blood accuses  you of being doff (daft), it’s time to reassess. I love that lady, trust her implicitly and she tolerates me regardless of my heathen ways: the tarot decks,  tattoos, my love of religious/mythical iconography and all things obscure and esoteric. I asked her to procure a statue of Shiva from her trip to India. She returned – but with the wrong Hindu God! “Bloed van Jesus, my kind! Ek sal vir jou bid” she said as she handed them to me. I couldn’t help laughing. Even though she disagreed vehemently (idolatry she called it), she brought me something nevertheless.

Then there’s my Father. He  is an agnostic and a political terrorist. Again, I am being unkind. He never stopped being a revolutionary! This makes every visit entertaining, as words are  flung to and fro while drinking coffee or eating sandwiches.  “These religious factions are stopping people from concentrating on the more troubling issues we have. It’s always Jesus-this, Jesus-that..” My parents provide my siblings and I with endless entertainment. Jokes aside my parents taught me two valuable lessons, that of balance and faith. I wrote this a while back..for my Mother.

“I remember being eight years old, playing with bricks in the backyard of what was to become childhood home. My parents, who understood my need to be left me alone watched from a distance as, brick by brick, I tried to construct a  home in the dirt. When my creation was complete I saw what my hands left behind. Four cold  walls and nowhere to run. No door, no windows. I should have known that I would always be searching for an exit; that nothing could ever house  a heart that longed to explode into wide open spaces.

“Years passed and still I dreamed of houses, all filled with different Gods. Once I  was shown a home I shared in the deep recesses of a jungle. At its center stood a Christ like figure rendered beatific in stained glass. Whenever the sun dipped, the moon ascended or a storm approached, the figure appeared to move.  It towered above us from  ceiling to floor  – illuminating everything. Only years later did I realize it  was the House of My Mother. It was always her love and tireless devotion that rooted me, cajoled me, threw  blunt objects when enraged and nurtured me on tasteless bits of food and acts of great kindness. She, like the Christ figure in that home, tried to teach me a lesson it took lifetimes to comprehend. Love, changed the ones its powerful rays touched – irrevocably. And every shade of Love; even violent love, lustful love, selfless love is worth knowing…”

In our political climate, with all the numerous scandals, it’s so easy to become disillusioned. I have seen my father switch off the television set in disgust and mutter, “These bladdy politicians..”  Later my Mother would call, “He was just upset but he’s better now.” Do they have a perfect marriage? Oh hell no! They argue about everything, all the time! With such crazy characters around – we had to learn to make our voices heard. My sister does so in a fashionably explosive way and me? Well, I am the diplomat in the family (I like to think…)

In short, it should come as no surprise that I am  a musician and  my sister a brilliant teacher. I see this clearly now. My father taught me to be more politically aware and my Mother how to trust myself; to have faith when there is every reason to give up and walk away. This does make me wonder how my daughter views me and what will become of her. I am not the sanest of people! I can only hope she manages to navigate her way through this world and gets the needed guidance, not only from me, but others. And when all else fails, she can do what I do – go home and be reminded that she matters, she belongs, she is loved..

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She’s Thunderstorms

 “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”

I love good old George Bernard Shaw. He always hits the spot. This blog post deals with music, imagination and desire.  These three things are intimately related, in my thinking, and is premised on one simple idea. Everything really does all starts in one’s head.  Whenever I write a new song, the ideas  have been fermenting  for a while. Lyrics, images and melodies all lie dormant, ripe and ready for the picking. Similarly, great sex (I heard, I am a saint after all) is  fueled by longing, mystery and the various shades of one’s  bedraggled imagination.  Human beings, as we know, are the only species who engage in sex for pleasurable. I would take it a step further and state  that it’s the primary reason why I am a  musician.  Music brings me gluttonous, voracious pleasure.

Desire and imagination are my inconsistent , yet and terribly evocative bedfellows. I think that applies to all artists.  I have had numerous scandalous love affairs, plotted, killed, conspired and mourned so many  - in my mind! All it takes is a dash of the imagination to enliven me.  Finding the music comes easily once I am emotionally primed. In that instant  everything I feel, want and need is within my reach and inhibitions a thing of the past!  Once the song is written and my desire  sated, I can clean the kitchen in peace.

However, every so often my  desire for music and everything else wanes and I am left alone  thinking, “I will never be able to write another good song or sing that way again!” That’s when you will find me at the beach with Ben Harper urging me to “Find a Better Way” or the Arctic Monkeys prompting me to “Snap Out of It”. Sometimes it takes a day or two, sometimes an hour.  I have come to appreciate the cyclical nature of my life.  A dear friend once remarked, “Auriol, you tend to run away or close yourself off from people when you are scared. It’s your self defense mechanism, I get that, but don’t you think it’s time to try something new?” That bladdy bastard, I thought. He has a point. Now, I face my doubts with greater confidence, well I try … and the music, after such a bout, is surprisingly optimistic. Therefore, it’s never a crisis of desire, I realized but a crisis of my imagination – as Ester Perel  phrased it. Once I could not imagine, let alone desire, dealing with my doubts or fears in any other way..yet..

Distance from music or those we love, creates anticipation (sometimes fear) but ultimately fuels the creative process. At this very second, I have not sung a single note to anyone (aside from my cats who do not appreciate it) in three months. I am itching, chomping at the bit to  get out there with my band. I can’t wait to feel those butterflies pounding wildly in my belly. It’s such a rush!  Everything I go through, the people I meet,  all serve one function; they create breathing space. This absence or distance is often  viewed negatively.  My friend and fellow artist Toni Scott  reassured me, when I aired my frustration, “Auriol, view it as a I time for gathering research. ” That one sentence helped me in so many ways. It lessened my frustration and made cleaning the kitchen seem less of a chore. Research indeed!

Back to the cyclical nature of my life. I am a Scorpio after all, and we are known for our legendary mood swings. “Mummy, one minute you are so happy and then you turn into a crazy person!” My response? “Sweety, I am your mother. Very Colored, partially French and absolutely insane. Deal with it!”  A friend of mine once said his love for French women stemmed from their unpredictability . I liked that idea so much I decided to incorporate it and now am unpredictably French by association! However, when I deal with people I love and care for – I am as predictable as clockwork. I will pick up the phone  at 3 am,  answer a mail immediately and do small things to assure them that they matter. But Music, oh it allows me to be as French as I can imagine! It’s a phenomenal way of maintaining one’s balance!

Karen Maire Moning once said “Desire makes life happen. Makes it matter. Makes everything worth it. Desire is life. Hunger to see the next sunrise or sunset, to touch the one you love, to try again. Hell would be waking up and wanting nothing.”  Whether it’s the sincere desire to live a better life, be a better mother, musician or live in a sustainable environment (I do belong to Greenpeace by the way)…we must have something  passionate to revel in, something that brings balance to a world filled with injustices and bad reality tv. We need to be reminded of not only who we are but what we are capable of.

“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” Oscar Wilde said that. Regardless of what I do or where I go, Desire is my first name, Imagination my last and music will  run rampant in my veins…but  can call me Auriol.

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Eleanor Rigby

“I never use to speak much when I was a kid.” No one seems to believe me – especially  school friends. “Come on Auriol, I don’t remember it that way …” In my defense, I was referring to primary school specifically. There never seemed to be enough time; enough words for all that silence. I still spend a great deal of my day alone. Socializing or networking is a necessary evil. I  have gone a week without leaving the confines of my house or speaking to anyone. My silence has landed me into a great deal of trouble also.  Now I try my best to speak my mind – without music. It is not as easy as it sounds..

 My second album, Call it Love, incorporated more silence than my debut album, Behind Closed Doors. That was deliberate tactic to induce intimacy. Truthfully, I spent a great deal of time silent; that translated into the music itself. Jazz aficionados praise the use of silence. AAJ Staff professed, “Technique in jazz is paramount, and utilizing silence is part of technique. Knowing when to play notes and fill a void or when to lay back is just as important as playing the right notes.” Pop music is infused with a plethora of  sounds that demand one’s attention. Ideal for radio but troubling for many other musicians who want to earn a living from their craft but do not fit the mould. Being neither a jazz  nor a pop musician, the process of finding a soundscape for the third album is worrying and a bit too  thought provoking for my liking. Where to go from here?
Allow me to share a funny story. I wanted to use the allegory of Plato’s cave to shape my album. “Ah, that’s awfully clever,” my one friend remarked. Hell, even I thought so! In one fell swoop I could entertain and educate. How bladdy arrogant of me! All I  needed to do was pay attention to the songs I had written. They were surprisingly upbeat and happy. Also, I wasn’t as immersed in my own silence anymore. My tendency to over-think has not subsided  (I still drive everyone insane) but I speak more now. Finding a new balance  also meant employing silence differently,  personally and professionally. Anyway, I am a singer, not a philosopher. 
A while back I let slip a small confession on Twitter. “I tend to write and record new albums when my life is in flux,”  When Call it Love was first released, a few people were rather concerned. The music was sparse, broken in places and the silences? They howled of sadness and inner trumoil. This time round the music is more universal.  The sound is bolder, less cautious and the silences are meant to arouse interest, create anticipation.  Does this mean I am a more balanced person or “together” third album round? Not a chance in hell! I am deeply flawed  and get so many things wrong, but with every song,  I want to answer the one question that will haunt me until I die, “What does this really mean?”
And on that note, there’s a  Buddist tale, known as the Flower Sermon, where Sakyamuni delivers a wordless sermon to his disciples by simply showing them a white flower. Wisdom without words. It reminds me of the Japanese proverb “He who speaks has no knowledge and he who has knowledge does not speak.” 
Why couldn’t I be born Japanese instead? It would be brilliant and I would have great hair!  Alas, I am not, so all that philosophizing will have to be evened out with a touch of practicality. Either way, I am excited and I hope that those who buy the new cd will feel the same. 
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Damn you Pinocchio!

“Oh no! Not another lecture!” That was my daughter’s constant refrain  as we lay in bed at night. It didn’t matter if it was a fairy tale, movie or a song, I had questions that she needed to answer or at least give greater thought to. “Mummy, I was five years old when you decided to tell me about WW2 and the Nazis.” Before you judge me, it started with a  story and a song and then turned into a lecture. “I was really scared you know.” That she might have been but at least she was informed. I was re-watching the movie Artificial Intelligence, a few days ago, and wished she was at my side so I could ask her , “Why baby? What do you think it really means?” Her response would have been (as it was back then) the same, “Mummy, why can’t you accept things as they are? Sometimes a story is just a story. There is nothing more! ” I, naturally,  refused to accept such an answer.

Pinocchio, the original bad ass and rebel without a clue, was hanged in Collido’s  initial version of “La storia di un burattino, the story of a puppet (1881). Originally rooted in Italian mores, the message it sent kids was simple and gruesome. If you are a bad ass and refuse to conform we will hang your ass buster! The story evolved  as societies and ideologies shifted.

I could point to various things, such as  the moralistic angle of good overcoming evil, the hubris of the creative mind or the spiritual allegory of a boy transforming into a man after being enlightened. Yet the issue that deeply troubled me was this: why was Pinocchio so willing to sacrifice his uniqueness to become a “real” boy? And was the price he paid in the end really worth the struggle? Similarly was the price David paid in Artificial Intelligence, namely 2000 years of solitude and devout prayer to his Blue Fairy, really worth one day of unconditional love?

Just like him we all go through  stages of initiation until we are self reliant, have a moral centre and can be called “human” (and hopefully find happiness along the way). One of  my stages of initiation involved  a divorce. Yet every now and then I do wonder if there was an easier way that did not involve the dismantling of my entire life. The answer, of course, is a resounding no. Being an entertainer I couldn’t help be drawn to Pleasure Island, where the lure of fame and fortune, dazzles too many  to their ruin. I, too, resided in that dark mythical place for a while. “Auriol, sing this. Auriol, look there! Auriol, wear shoes for crying out loud!”  I did, indeed, feel like my life wasn’t my own.  Now I  question every musician who comes into my  space. “What drives you? Why do you get up and make music? ” If the answer is silly (such as free drinks and easy chicks) I will dismiss them entirely or use their services briefly without investing too much  energy in their music or lives.

I do this because, for the longest time, I felt like a wooden boy. With every  smile,  ”everything is fine” and “I am happy” my nose grew a tad bit longer. So off I went..and chaos ensued, villains were encountered (the biggest one being myself of course) and choices were made. Perhaps I raise this issue as it is the start of a new year. A time fabled for new beginnings and pledged promises. Perhaps just as fairy tales need to evolve, so they reflect not only the world we live in but the one we wish to inhabit, I need to shift and augment my own internal narrative. After all I am, for all intents and purposes,  a real boy ( or a real musician).

So I pay attention instead ( as much as I am able to) to my surroundings and those in my life. I search for clues, read voraciously for truths that resonate, and always ask myself , “What do you want? And  is the goal really worth the sacrifices you will be asked to make?”  The answer, unfortunately, will always be yes… and for now, that’s enough.

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Let It Be

Often while at the beach uncalled for thoughts slip into my mind. These thoughts comfort me when every door seems not only sealed but invisible. When every heart I hope to reach a stony, cold fortress and every face lifeless and mute. “I am a musician and, dammit-all, I believe in all things impossible!” When that siren calls I turn up the music in my headphones and walk. Sometimes I don’t know what it is I hope to find as I walk.

I refuse to believe the images paraded in the media or on social platforms. Silly boys disguised as men offering sage advice so others can get laid with minimal effort. My friend once asked me why I follow these chaps on Twitter (when clearly they are idiots). My answer is simple. I like knowing how other people’s minds operate – especially when I am at odds with how they view the world. This is how I practice tolerance…

I don’t think anyone can escape knowing that dearest Nelson Mandela died. I am not about to discount his contribution to a seemingly united South Africa. That would be folly and arrogance of the highest degree! But can I say what everyone’s thinking?  I am so, so, so very bored with it! Bored with the reminders. Bored with the fake sincerity offered by celebrities and politicians. Bored with the pictures of grief or gratitude unfolding. Dammit, we know what should be done! The voters know it and the politicians know it.  Rumi once said “Unfold your own myth” and this is something I am trying to do in my own life. Shouldn’t we all? Every time I question my daughter’s choices (or bug her as she would claim) all I am hoping she will do is walk her own path, find her way and damn the rest to hell! Even if that excludes me.

When I walk on the beach or follow the rants of people on various social networks, I detach and observe.  The question that often pops into my mind is this – how free are you really? My folks, hell they are controlling and they mean that in the way only parents do. They want what they think is best for me. When I declared I want to be a musician all my Mother faithfully said was, “Okay Auriol” while my Father mumbled that I need to get a real job. When I came home with a boyfriend of a very different racial background, not a word was uttered. I think my parents liked the idea that I am open and progressive. When I declared my love for all things Ben Harper my Mother ushered me into a corner and confessed conspiratorially, “I had a boyfriend who was Muslim once and looked a lot like that Ben of yours…”

The point I am making is this. It took me a long time to uncover how conditioned I am. Even though it is still a work in progress, I am able to appreciate the chains that culture and religion offers but decline their comfort nevertheless. It took even longer to free myself of the notions of how a lady should behave or how best a musician should prostitute themselves in order to survive. In short I walk alone and live on my terms. I wish others would forge their own destiny and all that jazz…but who knows how many lifetimes it took for me to get to this point hmm?

The song that resonates deeply with me is Nina Simone’s Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood. For the longest time I tried my best to convey my deep desires to those I cared for. I would call, email or even try to find the music for it. Yet even this idea has been abandoned. I refuse to be trapped by my ego – always on the defensive. However, the path to being truly free is not a popularity show and some have voted me off their island!  Trust me, I too have lost myself to the ramblings of my mind, my heart or emotions. Many times in fact! But my guardians ( a fancy name for really cool friends and family) are never too far. So I get to remain sane – most of the time…

There is little I have control over but never again will I be a coward or allow other people’s choices or agendas to render me helpless. My path is a lonely one…but at least when I walk along the beach, write music, love  those I chose to – I do so freely. Can you say the same? And if not, what will you about it?

posted by auriol in insight and have Comments Off

Come Home To Me

There’s so much I have to share about the song  Come Home to Me.  Of course I knew of the Arctic 30′s  plight and Greenpeace’s stand regarding drilling in the Arctic.  Many friends and even my very insane Father was appalled (he was swearing in the lounge) when news of their arrest reached us. I watched like so many others  did – detached; a mere observer. The turning point came when I was asked to write a song. How could I, a musician who knows so little of politics and (ashamedly even less about issues concerning the environment), write the kind of song that would reach not only the protesters and their families but anyone  would listen?

This bothered me a bit until I remembered to skin walk. No, I am not referencing a bad horror movie. It’s a technique I use when writing music. I  closed my eyes and for a second imagined (and became)  whoever I need to become…their Mother, Father, Lover, Friends… What would I feel? What would I say? I also didn’t want the song to be too optimistic. I knew that if I were at home waiting, I would be racked with not only doubt but a deep longing. I wouldn’t be able to sleep and would sit by the phone, my eyes glued to the television. These were the thoughts that rumbled through my mind as I sat with Andre at his keyboard. The song was completed in less than an hour.

Knowing there’s one person who believes in you – no matter what is said and done. One person who will always fight for you. One person who will never leave your side…It makes the world of difference. I knew that their family and friends are..and the entire Greenpeace organisation will always be by their side – regardless of the outcome. It’s from that space that the song was written and honestly, it is one song I am immensely proud of..

If I could say anything to the Arctic 30 directly I would say this.

“You might not always feel brave. In fact you may experience moments of utter panic (as I do whenever I have to cook or ride a quad bike). It’s human. But to thousands out there you are more than brave. More than courageous and stronger than you imagined you could be. And whenever I sing this song – I too am right there, at your side,..with your friend, family..and thousands of other people who have your back. And all we wish and pray for is your safe return.”

posted by auriol in greenpeace and have Comments Off

When The World Ends..

A few years ago I would wake up, startled, at 2 or 3 am, petrified and unable to sleep. “Where am I? How did I get here?”  Very often only the sound of the crashing waves would diminish the war raging in my head. So I would get into my car, listen to music and just stare at the waves… Right now it’s almost 4 am. I can hear my daughter snoring and see my cats sleeping blissfully, all huddled together. The thought that rumbles through my mind is a completely new one, “Man! I am glad I got here..”

Over the last three years I discovered that Love is so much more than a chain one links to a single person or experience. Love came to me in so many different forms and nudged me awake. Some times friends would drop in..or I would be gifted with music, a love letter from my four year old godson or an especially filthy joke from my daughter.  As I slowly awoke the music I wrote and sung changed. Songs written from a place of great loss were sung with greater compassion. Compassion I finally learnt to extend not only to others but myself.

Very often I am reminded of my Mother, the most generous soul I know. Every morning she would wake as the house slumbers, gather her holy books and pray.  It doesn’t matter that I disagree with her religious convictions. It matters more that she epitomizes faith in action. When the crashing waves couldn’t calm me and I found it impossible to speak, all it took was hearing my Mother say, “Auriol, my child, didn’t you miss me?” And suddenly the walls housing all my tears would collapse. Without her (and she is rather insane by the way) I would not have the unflinching faith I have in music or myself.

The point I am making is this. Everything passes and the ability to get through the good, bad and trying experiences is…whatever you need it to be. Did you expect me to say faith, love, patience? Just because that helped me does not mean it will be the same for another. We are never left alone. Never without guidance. Never without hope. Sometimes all it takes is the sound of waves at 3 am or the face of someone we trust. So go ahead. Take a closer look at your life. They are all there..the signs, markers, people, music…. guiding you back home and to yourself..

posted by auriol in human nature and have Comments Off