Auriol Hays

Awareness through music

Waiting on a Sign

The Greek philosopher Aeschylus once said “The reward of suffering is experience.” I could be fashionable and disagree with him but I won’t. I will simply add this – it’s what we do with our experiences that matters.

The last few months brought “suffering” of a different kind. Life slowed down so much I feared I would never set foot on another stage. Just as I was about to throw all my toys out of my proverbial cot and curse the gods I remembered something; humans being have cycles of their own and all I have to do is find the meaning behind mine.

When winter came for me I did what most people do. I resisted, argued or denied what was in front of me. I wasted all my time and energy on people and on my favorite pastime: watching tv series. In my case spending hours watching the tv show Community was a more pleasurable option. But after a while winter became so unbearable that I had to reach for more blankets and that required opening my eyes….

“Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times”. Aeschylus was right. It’s easy to be happy when all’s right in your world. “Stop this or I will come to Cape Town and smack you” said one of my friends. It took a while for me to stop feeling sorry for myself, to be honest, but when I did winter had stopped being something I feared. Yes! I finally found meaning in my “suffering” and in time was rewarded. During those cold months I found everything I needed: a new band, new producers and arrangers and two confidants.

What matters most is “what you do with what you feel.” My future husband Ben Harper said that…in case you were wondering…

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Tango Till They’re Sore

It’s hard to see people for who they are on even the best of days. Generally we tend to gravitate towards an extreme. They are either mangy tongue twisting bitches or angelic being who perch on God’s shoulder for fun. This kind of attitude always lands us in trouble. Inevitably people can only be this: flawed, imperfect and very human.

Why is it so hard to look at someone’s actions and say, “This is who I am dealing with now and there is very little I can do to change that?” Yet even in that moment of utter disappointment we take on a burden that is not ours to carry. They aren’t the ones who are wrong. We are. There has to be something wrong with us.  I have girlfriends who stay with abusive men for years. They can’t look at their men or themselves in the mirror for too long….

There’s just so much to consider when you interact with people. There’s conditioning, projections and unfulfilled expectations from both sides. At times who the person is gets lost in between all that crap. At other times we prefer to only see the best in people – even when they act like assholes. “I know they’re better than this,” we say to ourselves. And usually we are right – just not at that particular moment.

The ability to see someone for who they are takes time and often comes with a great turmoil. You can’t really know someone when life is sweet and things are good. Most of us don’t want to think about  the bad times or people’s deeper issues. We are too concerned with ourselves and getting what we need from them. That doesn’t make us bad either – just very human…

There are a few things I know with 100% certainly. People will surprise you. Life will surprise you. Having family and friends that really see you and love you in spite of it all – can and will get you through nearly anything..

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Elijah Rock

I will be honest  and say that I thought EAT, LOVE, PRAY was a crap movie. People were ranting and raving about the movie. From the outrageous “It changed my life” to the demure “I found things that I could relate to”.I was getting rather annoyed by the hype behind this movie. And that is rather ironic coming from someone who finds meaning in horror movies! The sad truth is that I was having a narcissitc moment. You see I forgot people find meaning wherever and however they can.
Every now and then my friends and I call each other when we have a particularly disturbing dream. Sometimes, because we know each other so well the meaning of that dream is rather obvious. Heck, you can even say “You better watch out. I think that dream means you need to be careful of….” The dreams, in my mind, try to give form to all the jumbled thoughts you’ve been carrying around. Yet, people being people seldom take the time to decipher their dreams. I am including myself in that equation!  Yes, meaning only comes when you are ready for it.
I remember my first visit to a psychic. I think I complained about the people I was working with.She looked at me and said ,”Auriol, it’s not your job to wake people up.” Basically she was telling me to get out of other people’s business. I know so many women are not only raising thier kids but their husbands also. If you think those men aren’t educated you would be very wrong. These men earn good money but on are clueless on so many levels. They honestly don’t know what they are doing most of the time – work excluded. Of course you have to spell things letter by letter.I have also observed that many men are better husbands and fathers after their first marriage. Why is that? Why can’t we all just make sense of our lives when it happens?
A while back someone looked at me and said, “Auriol, why don’t you believe people? Who lied to you?” If I had the energy I would have answered him. Sometimes I think I have given up on expecting better from people. Luckily, I havene’t come across many scaly people in the music industry. Most of the time I trust my gut when it comes to sussing people out. The dodgy ones I avoid. I don’t waste my time on people I don’t trust and I try not to make an issue out of it either. All I can and will do is ensure that I am true to my word. Not because I want to be morally superior but because I know what it feels like when I don’t.
So when those bad days come instead of marinating in my doubt or letting it all hang out in my music, I clip my earphones on and listen to Mahalia Jackson. I love that her voice  carries me far, far away to a place where I can find meaning….

I will be honest  and say that I thought EAT, LOVE, PRAY was a crap movie. People were ranting and raving about the movie. From the outrageous “It changed my life” to the demure “I found things that I could relate to”. I was getting rather annoyed by all the hype.  And that is rather ironic coming from someone who finds meaning in horror movies! The sad truth is that I was having a narcissistic moment. You see I forgot people find meaning wherever and however they can.

Every now and then my friends and I call each other when we have a particularly disturbing dream. Sometimes, because we know each other so well, the meaning of that dream is rather obvious. Heck, you can even say “You better watch out. I think that dream means you need to be careful of….”  Dreams, in my mind, try to give form to all the jumbled thoughts you’ve been carrying around. Yet, people being people seldom take the time to decipher their dreams. I am including myself in that equation!  Yes, meaning only comes when you are ready for it.

I remember my first visit to a psychic. I think I complained about the people I was working with. She looked at me and said ,”Auriol, it’s not your job to wake people up.” Basically she was telling me to get out of other people’s business. I know so many women are not only raising their kids but their husbands also. If you think those men aren’t educated you would be very wrong. These men earn good money but on are clueless on so many levels. I have also observed that many men are better husbands and fathers after their first marriage. Why is that? Why can’t we all just make sense of our lives when it happens?

A while back someone looked at me and said, “Auriol, why don’t you believe people? Who lied to you?” If I had the energy I would have answered him. Sometimes I think I have given up on expecting better from people. Luckily, I haven’t come across many scaly people in the music industry. Most of the time I trust my gut. The dodgy ones I avoid. I don’t waste my time on people I don’t trust and I try not to make an issue out of it either. All I can and will do is ensure that I am true to my word. Not because I want to be morally superior but because I know what it feels like when I don’t.

So when those bad days come instead of marinating in my doubt or letting it all hang out in my music, I clip my earphones on and listen to Mahalia Jackson. I love that her voice  carries me far, far away to a place where I can find meaning….

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Mao’s Last Dancer

I have good parents. They did what they could with me. I didn’t do anything extra circular and spent most of my time with my mother. Music, art and dance were the furthest things from my mind. All I knew was the life I had in between my four walls and for a long time that was enough.

Then music came along and ruined everything. I didn’t want to run away to foreign places or dream of fancy clothes and money. I just wanted to be more of myself and knew that music was somehow involved.

The last time I sat in front of a psychic she remarked that my love of masks reveals a great deal about me. She did have a point, of course. So much of what I feel is left unsaid or concealed. Through music I can say and feel more. There is freedom there. So when the lead character in the movie Mao’s Last Dancer remarked that he dances his best in America because he feel more free – it resonated throughout my body.

I remembered that I sing my best when I feel free enough. A while back I had a freak out because I was away from home. I could not think straight lest of all sing properly. After some great Zen advice in under less than 140 characters, I made an important decision. I cannot allow fearful emotions to overwhelm me and drag me into an imaginary and nightmarish future. I need to be present so I can feel free, sing better and not loose my bladdy mind…

Sure, sure I have to let go of my hang ups and be more honest about what I need in my life and make some hard decisions. You will be glad to know that I have removed a great deal of the masks in my house and replaced them with colourful paintings. That is a good start, I think…

posted by auriol in human nature and have No Comments

Talk Show Host

There are some things I can’t rid myself of – no matter how civilised I say I am. When I was a wild pagan I loved putting on my robe , creating a circle (that my cats regularly invaded), lighting the incense and candles and waiting for something to happen. After many years of spiritual rehab there are certain things people know about me….

My house will always smell of incense. Nag Chumpa to be exact. If you scout the room you will locate a mother/goddess figure along with a Tarot/ Oracle deck. And in between my Dune collection you will find a few New Age books. I keep those books, even though I haven’t picked them up in years, to remind me of one very important thing. There is no point being an idealist about anything.

It’s amazing that in this day and age women still feel pressurised to be all things to everyone. If you just had a baby you better look sexy, darling. Your house should be organised, finger licking food laid out on the table and after the kids are asleep you need to be porno ready for your man…

I am under no illusions about who I am. I know that I will make mistakes and fook up. That at times I can be a bitch or  misunderstood. I will never love ironing or be comfortable seeing myself on TV. Now if I could only get rid of that idealism when it comes to the people around me – life would be perfect!

The best I can do is accept people for who they but that is never easy to do. I once heard a self help guru speak about effective communication. He said that you have to speak to people in a way that syncs with their value system. And that makes sense to a certain degree. I would most certainly get my own way a lot more but it does not sit well with me because the approach is essentially selfish.

If we all communicated that way then no one would be asked to see or feel beyond themselves. Everyone would be too busy trying to figure out an angel to get their way Yes, I if I could rid myself of that idealism when it comes to people life would be perfect. But a perfect life would be boring and give me nothing to write or sing about.

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Dexter

We are all wired differently. Don’t worry this isn’t a woman-are-from-Venus men-are-from-Mars rant. It’s about behaving badly and I do it every so often. The latest episode happened at a family function where I wasn’t feeling very talkative. The First Husband was not impressed….

“Auriol, what’s wrong with you?” Is this man not married to me, I wondered? Has he not noticed that I go into lurk mode and try to hide out from everyone? Even the people at my record company know this about me…lol!

Yes, we all are guilty of thinking people should behave in a certain way…. and then stepping outside of those boundaries ourselves. I can be very social when I choose to be but there are times when I just want to be left to my own devices. That is becoming harder to do these days. Anyway, it’s the best and only way to observe people… but the First Husband was not having any of that either.

I felt like a bad child being sent to the naughty corner. I did not want to admit that he had a point here and there. Sometimes I do not care enough so I retreat. Other times engaging is just too costly because once you are in their “stuff” – you are invested and that changes everything.

I am not one of those people who can only care a little bit or care from a distance. I know of many people who do that very successfully and I find it fascinating and odd. People who I care about will hear from me often. At least a few times a week and I make time to see them whenever possible. The rest of them….oh well…No one’s perfect.

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Guns on the Table

I am usually more intrigued by the psychotic villains than the boring, predictable heroes. I like to think that most people share this view. So yes, I was really annoyed when they killed off Franklin in True Blood and relieved that Russell, the King of Mississippi did not die a true death. This kind of thinking worries my family a great deal…lol!

I think they would be happier if I wrote funny, happy songs about love and teddy bears. I ignore them because writing about the darker emotions is just more appealing. When I write music I often become the people I write about. Over the years writing music has become more than merely cathartic. It has made me more empathic.

I have never dismissed people who think or do things differently. Although I might shoot them the odd “are-you-out-of-your-mind?” look. I am open minded not insane, remember? I think this tendency had its roots with my father who was a bit of a revolutionary in his day.

I was always being lectured about this struggle and that injustice. And while I always listened, I was always more interested in the emotions and thinking that lead them down a certain path. Whereas the old man was more concerned with in righting the wrongs and overturning the “system”.

The ability to empathise with people comes in very handy when I write music. Even when I write about a crazed lunatics or happen to be killing off someone in a song – it really does feel good. Why? Because there is such freedom in just allowing oneself to feel an emotion and release it.

It’s been hammered in us. Don’t think this. Don’t feel that. And all those repressed stuff tend to drive people batty and make them do some crazy s**t!

So what if I don’t always write about the “good stuff”? There are more than enough musicians doing that. I write and sing for balance and maybe some kind of peace. If I happen to find people that can relate – cool. If not I guess the body count in my next album will be a lot higher….lol!

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I’m Every Woman

I get to meet lots of interesting people. It is one of the perks of my job. This past weekend in Eldo’s was no different. Whenever I meet exceptional people I wonder where they get their courage and balls from and why I, at times, feel like I have none.Let me explain. When I sing I feel the most free I ever get to be.

Yet, despite all the good fortune that has come way there is still this 6 year old wondering, “Are they really talking about me?” So when I ran into a compulsive attention seeker I was really taken aback. Everything about her screamed “look at me. This lady was the exact opposite of who I am. Was I jealous? Not even a little bit. But I knew why she was being shown to me.

She got me thinking about the fallacies and plain stupid thoughts I have about my own self worth. There’s all these “should be more of’s” in my head. I should be more organised, smarter, street wise, cook better, prettier, thinner, more exciting in bed, easier to approach, sociable, run a better house and dammit I should own a car by now! But because I suffer from all those “should be more of’s” I end up committing a very grave sin. I demand less from the people in my life.

Immediately my standards drop because I am less than I should be – in my head. I think everyone can relate to that. In my mind there is a link between your self worth and how capable you are of giving and receiving love. On stage I often say that love sucks. But if I had to be truthful I would admit to being an incurable romantic. I am just full of shit because I don’t feel I am worthy of any of it. Yeah, love is for other people….

At the gig Charles made an insightful comment. “Most of the music today celebrates the loss of love. They are all mourning it,” he said. Of course he had a point. My argument will always be, “You need to have a balanced view of love. Love is not always kind or easy or nice.”

Trust me I do write songs that speak of love and all it’s magnificence. I just don’t share them or even take them out of the closet that often. Most of the times I peek at them from behind a half opened door. Give me time. When my balls drop I might let others hear me sing that song…lol!

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Don’t Smoke in Bed

I always tell my single friends to wear good panties “because you just never know when something interesting might happen”. I am not advocating promiscuity by the way. If you are lonely and in need of a good ole rogering – good panties just make sense…lol!

There are certain things you can logically anticipate. Other things will catch you unaware no matter what! I think it’s vital that we accept that for our own sanity. Here’s another thing to consider. No one can be aware 24/7. It is just not possible. Desirable – sure. Possible – not always…

Honestly, I can’t be nice or take the high road all the time. No one can unless they are prepared to visit a psych ward.  Someone once told me, “You are an entertainer. People don’t want to see someone who is moping or anti-social.” My first reaction was, “You have no idea of what it means to be human. There’s a time for everything.”

I get that people loose interest easily.Musicians are being packaged and produced every second. Fans want access to “their” musicians and real contact if possible. But what happened to accepting people’s humanity in between all this mess?

There is just so much pressure to “live the life of your dreams”. Sometimes we forget that there is something bigger at work than ourselves.  When you forget that  – the “should do this” or “must act like that” comes into play.

Crap (kak) man – just be yourself and wear good panties. After all, you just never know what could happen!

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Dreadlock Holiday

“Mummy, I have a hard life. I wake up early in the morning (6:15) and come back late. Why do you have to stress me out like this?” All of this drama because she could not locate her socks. I did not have the energy to start an early morning war with that little girl – so I said nothing.

Her little rant really got me thinking about gratitude and empathy. In her world she matters most and who am I to argue with that? Granted, she is only a small girl but I worry. Some people never grow out of that mentality and if I don’t wake her up to her (sometimes) selfishness – who will?

Sure, we get older and life gets trickier. We have bills to pay and things that we cannot run away from. That is just part and parcel of being alive but does it mean that we stop caring about others?

Granted I am not in the soup kitchens or working with the disadvantaged but (and here comes the justification) I do make space for people as best I can and I try to be aware of my own faults and double standards when they crop up. Empathy is what matters most to me…

I do not believe in the saying “charity starts at home”. It starts wherever it starts and that should be good enough because a kindness rendered to someone – whether it be a kind word, smile or a piece of bread – matters. It changes the one giving it and the one receiving it.

So while I get annoyed at my daughter I am aware of the fact that I spoil her. A lot of who she is has everything to do with me. And did I mention that she is one fantastic kid? lol

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