Auriol Hays

Awareness through music

Archive for November, 2009

By the light of the Moon

I have always loved vampires. Make them bloody, sexy and scary as hell and I will be the first in line to watch! However, after watching New Moon with my daughter and seeing how she responded to those blood suckers I am having some serious second and third thoughts…

I have always tried to provide her with both sides to any story – be it religion, politics or sex. My sincere hope was that she would have a balanced view. You know what they say about unintended consequences.  Despite all my best efforts I think I have inadvertently raised an anarchist.  She can be militant and will argue with me about anything. Her favourite line is, “Do you have proof” and “Let’s go to the internet to see if you are right!” I really dig that about her but when it comes to love, I realised, she is a lost case. I saw it when her eyes glazed over as Mister Cullen stepped into view. “What did I miss here?” I asked myself…

Then it hit me! How many times has she not heard me saying that love is just a load of crap? How many times have I not written songs about love …its lack and dishonesty? About my lack and dishonesty? All the movies I watch are sad or bitter and the music is along the same vein. I love my Blues music where someone gets killed in the end! It’s the curse of being a Scorpio – hang on that is such a bullshit thing to say! It’s just the way I have chosen to be.

Instead of being overwhelmed by my emotions, I do the safe, cowardly thing – I show very little and try to feel even less. Every heightened emotion has always found its way to my music. And the really great things about love I have kept to myself. No wonder she responded the way she did to old Edward.

When the chicky was busy loosing her mind because her Vamp man left her my daughter could not understand her severe emotional response. “Why is she acting that way?” she asked. I am glad she could not understand what love or lack of love can do to your sanity.

Of course she loved the movie. It was the first dramatic movie with a more adult theme  she has watched. And personally I am glad I was there to watch it with her. Anyway, who am I to rip her off about New Moon? One of my favourite movies happens to be Underworld: Rise of the Lycans – a classic tale of forbidden love, mad sex and bloody revenge. Not all that different from her vegetarian chewing Vamps…

I know that tomorrow night we will have to have a very long talk about the movie – its themes and symbolism. I will end off our session by saying that real life is not like that…she will respond by saying “I know Mummy” and then we will rip each other off, call each other lesbains and say good night! LOL!

That is the beauty of having kids. They have this uncanny way of reflecting all your shortcoming and faulty reasoning. Now fixing that is another business altogether…

posted by auriol in human nature,insight,Movies,sanity's overrated and have No Comments

Massive Attack

The night before I had to sing on national TV – not just one song but three – I got absolutely no sleep. I couldn’t decide if I was nervous or excited and I was too scared to figure out which. We had to be at the studios at 6am. I was washed and ready to go by 4. MUSE and RADIOHEAD did very little to calm my nerves and stop the freak-out that was going on in my mind. Yes, I knew that my band had my back – but I didn’t want to sing pitch perfect but with closed eyes the way I did last time on live TV!  No matter what happened, I told myself, I simply had to do better. Believe me I prayed like hell and did some fierce bargaining with my people upstairs…lol!

While on our way to TV station I warmed up by singing along to some Radiohead songs in the car. The people at the TV station were very friendly and the performance went down well. I closed my eyes but only at strategic points. The live interview was another animal altogether. Sometimes I get just a bit too animated. The result; I ended up saying crap too many times and this on a Sunday morning. And no one lets me forget it either! After the first live interview I got some feedback and here’s the important bit – I actually listened. By the time the next live interview came around I was cool, calm and collected. Okay, in my mind I was…lol!

Now that everything is done and dusted I have the time to think about what has happened. I was really scared during all the media and promotional campaigning. In fact  the band and I only got enough time to sleep during all the madness. And when I felt a freak-out coming I remembered what my best friend told me. “When you are doing something new it is always a test of courage. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to be scared though. Be scared but try to get over it.”

I just hate it when the hardest things to do sound so easy.

posted by auriol in My music and have No Comments

I’ve Loved you for So long

It’s official – my band kicks ass! Now you might say that I am exaggerating but, forgive me, you were not on that stage with us last night or at band practise. It was magic – plain and simple. And as I sit in the plane listening to Radiohead I am reminded of just how magical it was. Yes, they worked their asses off but I must confess I got the distinct impression that the band didn’t really care about the audience at all. Hell, they were just too busy having fun but the evening didn’t come without a bit of drama….

I think it’s traditional that every band has a good dose of drama and this time it was provided by our drummer Aidan who locked his keys in the car…lol! Within a few minutes every man and his mother rocked up and tried to help him out. I think he must have known that we were not going to step on stage without him. As Andre says, “the man is tight around the corners”!

I met Shaun, the guitarist at Gin when we played there months ago. I have a dodgy memory and have been known to forget people and everything in between very easily. A fact that my smart daughter uses to her advantage…lol! Still I remember meeting Shaun and that by itself is a miracle! I wasn’t all that shocked to see him the first time at rehearsal. I find it hilarious that he seems to forget the chords of songs while I forget lyrics or get verses confused…lol!

Did I mention that Brendon, the bassist, eats way too much, never gains weight and has perfect hair. Damn him! And if he ever gives up music he would have a great career as a massage therapist. Oh, and let’s not forget Andre who can’t dance to save his life. His claims of being a killer on the dance floor  fell flat when he started moving while we were shooting the music video for single Turn Up the Volume. Trust me when I say he needs help. Then he almost blinded us with his camel toe! Hey, no one is perfect….

In case you are wondering why I am going on and on about my band – allow me to explain. I never thought I would be privileged enough to experience that magic between musicians again. I have to restrain myself from bursting out into song at the thought of it. And this is not just the Sherry and Vodka talking here.  Even though I appear bubbly and talkative I don’t easily take to people.  I always consider myself lucky when I meet people who I connect with… but to have that in a band is more than I could ever have hoped for.

posted by auriol in My music and have No Comments

Psychic Junkie

I ‘ ll come clean and admit that I was a junkie….and not just any junkie but a psychic junkie. I remember my first hit as though it was yesterday. Her name was Marie and she lived in Observatory, Cape Town. I got her number from a local newspaper and decided to go for a reading. I mean what was the worst that could happen? I remember arriving at her gate feeling sweaty and anxious. I just didn’t know what to expect. Just before I knocked on her door I peeked into my bag one last time…money…check…list of questions to be answered double check. I took a deep breath and waited…

The first thing I saw as I walked into her house was a collection of Native American artifacts and chicken feet scattered in strategic spots. I later discovered that neither belonged to her. She took me to the lounge where the smell of incense filled the room. Once I was comfortably seated she did a number of things that I found rather strange. Finally the reading had begun….and an hour later I walked out there a bull blown addict.

I was fascinated by the idea that someone out there had all the answers to my questions. I kept replaying the reading in my head over and over again. “Canada in 3 years”, “a career in music” “another son”. All these claims seemed rather outrageous…How could I ever be a musician? I had no training. Heck I didn’t have any job to speak of and I didn’t know any musicians! Then again just how did she know about the shoes I bought a few days ago or my aunt who recently died? She “read” me as though she knew me and offered a great deal of advice which (after careful consideration) I decided to follow. The next few weeks proved rather eventful. Everything she predicted happened.

I had so many questions juggling around in my mind. How was I going to get to Canada and when would I meet those key people who would drive my music career? I wondered if she got it wrong or whether I was doing something to prevent those events from occurring. The longer I thought about these questions the more unsure I became of myself and my future prospects. As badly as I wanted my questions answered I didn’t have the cash to see Marie again. So I did the next best thing. I nursed my addiction by devouring every book, article or interview where the word psychic was mentioned. Every Saturday afternoon I could be found loitering around the occult section of Cape Town library. Then I hit the second hand book shops in Long Street. Modern technology fed my addiction even more. I discovered an internet based radio show in the US that dealt exclusively with esoteric matters. They introduced me to the world of trance mediums, channeled teaching and ascended masters. When I discovered that I all I had to do to get a reading was purchase an internet phone. I ended up getting my fix whenever I wanted it – and this time it cost me nothing!

Every time I felt unsure or had to make a big decision in my life I lunged for the phone and scheduled a hit. Sometimes in person and sometimes over the net…and as any addict will tell you finding a dealer is never a problem. Finding the right quality of product always is. I could get a mediocre reading for R250 or R500. In the psychic field the price of a reading guarantees nothing. This time Susan in Rondebosch was my dealer of choice. Marie cut me off – she knew I was an addict and would not take anymore of my money. I knew that things were out of hand when I couldn’t go to a holistic fair with money in my pocket anymore…

One morning I woke up and I knew that my endless trips to psychics were over. The need to know every little detail of my future was gone. I realized that I had no more withdrawals, no more cravings and hadn’t touched my internet phone in months! If I look back at my life as a junkie I will be honest and say that it did not happen over night. Something rather profound happened when I walked through Marie’s doors so long ago. I realized that there are so many truths out there and some were rather strange even by my standards! All I had to do was decide what my truth was and live it. That may sound easy but getting to that truth was not.

Being a psychic junkie made me wonder about the reality of  so many things. It forced me to look at the way I was living and how I go there. I did a lot of investigating into the way I was conditioned by my culture, religion and society at large. Then I came the real hard work… deciding whether those beliefs served me or not and replacing them with ideas and beliefs that did. In the process I shed some friends and made some hard decisions.  Life had become more peaceful. Three years later and I am a working musician (who still lives in South Africa) with only one daughter…

I don’t regret being a psychic junkie. Marie gave me the courage to follow my passion and become the musician I always dreamed of being. Hopping from one psychic to the other also taught me to stop searching the skies for signs. I learnt to listen to my own voice, make up my mind about what I wanted and then work towards it. In short….I grew up. And when I do feel lost or unsure I no longer reach for the phone. I simply walk into my garden with my cup of coffee…toes in the sun and then wait for the answer…

posted by auriol in sanity's overrated and have No Comments

Great Balls of Fire

My day started with a bang. No, I didn’t put the music on full blast or wake to the sound of gunshots ringing. My day started with a good old fashioned argument. Not a silly argument about dirty dishes or pets not being fed on time, but an argument where things are said that annoyed, angered and hurt. We all have that moment and sometimes it takes hearing things like, “You can be such a bitch!” or “I really don’t like the way you are behaving” to wake us up.  Still coming face to face with those dirty truths can be painful.

We’ve all asked ourselves, “Why is this so damn hard?” somewhere along the way. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about your career or things with a more personal bent to it. After my fantastic all-out argument this morning I realised that it’s supposed to be that hard. When you are dealing with things that really matter the road is never paved with gold or good intentions.

I come across musicians who expect everything to be handed to them.  I hear them say, “All I see are idiots who know nothing about music getting recognised. I work hard and I am ready.” In fact I have thought that many times myself! I know now that it alluded to my insecurities and ego more than anything else. I was nowhere near ready. If I was I would not be bitching about it. I had to hear things I didn’t like and rely on other people’s judgement. “If you want your music played on the radio create a sound that will work on the radio” they said. I didn’t fool myself into thinking that eventually the masses would come round. They might but I could be dead by then.

Still why is it that we never take those closest to us seriously?  No wonder they have to shout and scream to get their points across. Sometimes you have to shut up and listen because (dammit-all) they do have a point. Dammit-all they do matter that much and hells bells you were in the wrong.  Sure, being righteous is easier. Not wanting to move past your anger even more so.  Owning up to your bullshit takes balls and not many of us (myself included) always have a pair hanging around.

I once asked a friend who was going through a tough time how he would get through it. “What other choice do I have but to get through this?” he replied.  Yes, now’s the time to grow some balls and dangle them about. What other choice do we  have?

posted by auriol in sanity's overrated and have No Comments

Everything is Illuminated

The mind can be a terrible thing.  It can comfort. It can lie… and seduce you into believing virtually anything. My daughter confessed that when she was smaller she thought God looked like the Mr Min guy on the TV ads! When I asked her where she got this idea from she replied “It just popped into my head”. She never questioned her thoughts and continued to believe it until she knew better.

I once heard someone say that when new people enter your life it signals the start of something other. Yes, it’s very similar to the line, “When the pupil is ready the master appears.” But we all know that people don’t really like change that much.  All you have to do is attend a party in Cape Town to understand. Everyone hangs out with their own friends and rarely talk to people they don’t know.  Now don’t act as though you were not part of that reluctant click once. I can already hear the justifications… “No dammit, I just have standards!” or “I am shy in front of strangers.” Perhaps there is merit to those arguments but that tribal mentality is very revealing. It shows how reluctant we all can be to not only new people and new ideas but how caught up we are in our insecurities. We want to stick with what we know and have it reinforced by the people who hang around us.

My daughter and I have lecture sessions a few times a week where we talk about more “serious” matters. Yesterday I explained that my sister was assaulted by her boyfriend and the impact it has on the family. I could see  that she was very shocked and angry. “I didn’t know he was bad,” she said. “No, he just made some bad decisions,” I replied.

In the movie Everything is Illuminated, the character named Alex says, “I have reflected many times upon our rigid search. It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us, on the inside, looking out. Like you say, inside out.”

Yes, we all make bad decisions sometimes and until everything is illuminated we will keep repeating our mistakes.  So the next time someone around you messes up remember this – none of us came to this planet knowing everything…

posted by auriol in human nature and have No Comments

Undisclosed Desires

I am just going to say it – there was a time when I hated kids. Aside from their basic cuteness – I thought they were an annoying bunch. So year in and out I would look at people with little kids and think, “Ha-ha, at least it’s not mine!”  I would ignore all the dreams where my future son would make a guest appearance. I had to get on with my life…yes, the one where I was just annoyed by children in general.  Looking back I realise that that it said more about what I was going through than anything else.  I needed to grow up and let go of my “stuff” but I was nowhere near ready for that yet.

Now that Christmas is around the corner kids are on my mind once again. My daughter, the comedian, calls herself a casual Christian because she loves Christmas and thinks that Jesus was on to something.  She is possibly the craziest person in my life and reminds me about everything that is good and unusual on this planet. And now that there are more kids in the family there is more to celebrate. My poor mother in law is going to cook and bake her soul out while the rest of us eat, drink and become very jolly…lol!

My family and the crap we all get up to got me to thinking about kids in orphanages. For a kid it’s a catastrophe when they don’t get presents but to have no one around you to love? Most people feel guilty about something this time of the year and so give wherever they can. Yet after speaking to someone involved with kids it became apparent that they are forgotten the rest of the year. Can you imagine being forgotten?

So made a decision to do something because…dammit-all….I am lucky. Yes, my parents had their issues and life wasn’t always rosy but they were there. I always felt at home.  Honestly I don’t really know what I am going to do just yet or how I will get it right but I have to do something. We all should do something.

posted by auriol in human nature and have No Comments

Valley of the low sun

Nothing is accidental. Your birth, your death and every little thing in between. It all happens for some crazy reason. They say you only get to understand that reason once you’re dead. If all you are trying to do is get from one day to the next that kind of information doesn’t help. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of something bigger operating behind the scenes. If not, you just have to suffer in silence like the rest of us. And in this world there are so many things to be scared of. Today it’s death’s turn.

Some of us  worry about family and friends dying. The rest are just plain ass scared. And why not be? With all the dodgy psychics and esoteric double speak – how can you know what is real or what is truth? I suppose that’s a question you could ask about virtually everything and everyone in your life. And the fact that we all have our own truth makes finding an answer so much more complex.

When I think about how some people have died something interesting emerges. I once had a friend who was very flamboyant. The kind of person who stands out without trying. Just as I was getting to really know him he died in a car accident. Yes, he died as loudly as he lived. Right now I have a relative who has always been very independent and proud. She never had to ask for anything from anyone. Her dying is a prolonged, painful process. Everyday she is forced to reach out and ask others to be there for her. She is learning humility, patience and so many other things. And no matter how much she asks for death, it will only come when it’s her time.

Yet we all die in small ways. Yes, it sound cliché but hear me out first. Most of us will encounter death in the following form; Death of a way of being. Very often those little deaths are forced on us, because humans are just lazy. We have to be pushed off our asses or backed into a corner before we make any kind of change. So either you loose your job or someone enters your life and turns it upside down. No matter what happens or who gets hurt in the process, the real question is always the same “What will you do now?”

Don’t look at me. I don’t know any of the answers but I am hopeful. Hopeful that I will pick up something useful here and there. For me, right now, that is more than enough.

posted by auriol in silly thoughts and have Comment (1)

Paranoid android

How do some people remain sane?  When I think about what policeman must go through on a daily basis, nurses and doctors,those working with the abused and addicted – I wonder how well they sleep at night. Could I do what they do?  Do I have the stomach, balls or empathy for that kind of job? All these questions tumbled through my mind as I sat in the courtroom. Brawlers, thieves, and everyone else fell silent when the judge walked in. Strange what a piece of clothing can do.

I watched the judge carefully. I enjoy singing and writing, for crying out loud.  She sits in judgement of others day in and day out! Her very words have huge implications. And I wondered…did her job make her more empathic or hard as nails? What toll did it take on her and her family? After facing so many criminals and liars everyday can she laugh freely? Is there still a person who can be pleasantly surprised underneath that clothing? How well does she separate the personal and the professional? In fact how well do we all do that?

I think that our jobs reveal a lot about who we are at a particular point in time.  My sister who is a year away from being a teacher is getting the chance to raise her voice and stand on her own feet. My mother, the travelling traditional healer/teacher, loves helping people while my retired father is just a grouch day in and out.  He sits on his ass and complains about the church and politics to anyone who will listen…lol

For the longest time all I wanted was to be a musician. Now that I am here, one question pops in and out of my mind continuously “Is this all there is?” If we don’t   try new things, step out of the comfort zone and walk on the wild side every now and then – we  run the serious risk of becoming a paranoid android…

posted by auriol in career,sanity's overrated and have Comment (1)

Feeling Good

“I just can’t take this anymore! Nothing I try works! After everything I’ve done, I’m still stuck in the same place!” We all know what that feels like. All you want to do is throw away that damn towel, forget as much as you can and try to make a new start anywhere else. When you reach that point you don’t really care about the lesson you’re suppose to learn or what gifts that troublesome situation can unearth. All you want to do is run away. Fast.

I know of some talented musicians who are always broke and play music in the dingiest, grottiest places. Amazing intuitive who want to help everybody but always struggle to get by. We all know those kinds of people and sometimes we are those people. It’s no sin, just life. We try to do the best with what we have. If you are lucky  you have your own Tony Robbins who can give brilliant, uplifting advice.  Anyway, as Tony was talking I remembered something – small but very significant. I remembered that I have so many things to be grateful for…

Sometimes we are all so focused on where we want to be that we forget where we are and all the hard work that got us there. In order to get out of my funky mind space I made a list of things that I am rather excited about. One of the things that I was thrilled about was the fact that I found a kitten. I am naming him Napoleon – not after the historical figure but after the choreographer from So You Think You Can Dance…lol! Hey, it is one of my favourite TV shows.

After making the list, I put on some John Lee Hooker, kissed my cats and went about my day. Dammit I did feel better…

posted by auriol in human nature and have Comment (1)