Auriol Hays

Awareness through music

Mean Mistreater

Sometimes I am convinced that most of us are ill prepared for what life throws at us. Scrap that! I am always ill prepared. Music is easy compared to everyday living. You practice your notes, rehearse in real time, in your sleep and you can pull of a decent performance. Life, on the other hand is more…complex.

The only way to get through it is by having something to look forward too. I still want to celebrate a birthday in the desert listening to Radiohead, Muse, Grand Funk Railroad while being surrounded by friends all huddled around a big fire. I want to lie on my back, gaze up at the open sky, hear music being played around me and forget everything for a while. Ah, it is a sweet dream…

I do wonder if I would have been better prepared for this life if my mother taught me how to be a proper lady. If I knew how to cook, clean like a pro, walk comfortably in heels and to dress better. Instead all I can sing a song reasonably well and write a good song if I am inspired. My world does feel rather small and at times I wonder if it is enough…

There are days when I am deliriously happy and manage to forget all my shortcomings. I put on some good music, cook and do a little impromptu dance with a wooden spoon in my hand. Or I sit in the sun and read a book while my cat naps on my lap. Then there’s my daughter who’s just an all round comedian-wannabe rapper-writer-painter. Mostly she lives to mock me and my taste in music.

Maybe I just need to write less depressing songs about death and revolutions and simply be more observant.  While on that note, I should also stop comparing my cooking to the dishes I see on MasterChef. After all I am not trying to win a competition! I just don’t want to poison anyone….

posted by auriol in human nature and have No Comments

Lifeline

Elton John was right – sorry seems to be the hardest words. Now I am not a fan of his music but the man has a point. If we were actors or politicians life would be easier. We could say something completely rancid and get away with it – after making the necessary public apologies and shaking hands with the previously offended.

The philosopher Solon said “Put more trust in nobility of character than in an oath.” In other words don’t believe a damn thing people say! The biggest mistakes I ever made were when I ignored Solon’s advice. Now I pay attention to what people do or fail to do. Yes, I like to watch!

I am tired of people trying to be “good”. Hell, I have made good, bad and awful decisions. I have prejudices that I won’t apologize for. If I am to release myself of those prejudices I will do so on my own terms and when I am ready. There will be no handshaking going on anytime soon to appease others.

Call it Karma or the workings of the Universe, but we all get hurt and hurt others in turn.  Either way I don’t regret anything – especially not the “bad” decisions. They were my greatest teachers after all. The insights I gained I guard closely. They are “Tattooed across my heart….every letter bold and dark.”  Yes, Ben Harper sang that…in case you didn’t know

posted by auriol in human nature,insight and have No Comments

Give Till It’s Gone

I don’t like playing games or showing off. It might seem like fun but ego tripping, inevitably, bites you in the ass. Once, a silly boy told me he thought I had no personality because I did not respond to jokes or conversation the way he was accustomed too. Reciting names and facts do nothing for me. I guess I am just not interested in appearing smart.

Self worth is a tricky thing and when you have little of it your ego takes you on all kinds of unexpected detours. Most of my life I have always waited on others to step in because thought I wasn’t good enough. When I started off in music I felt that most keenly but had people to guide me. I always knew that my musical career was about more than simply singing a tune – it enabled me to find my own voice so I could say “Dammit-all I am good enough and can do this on my own terms.”

There is greater value in being honest with yourself  first – especially when you are scared and don’t know which way to turn. That is something I learnt a few years back. I cannot afford to play games with myself or be in denial. Luckily I have family and friends who won’t put up with my crap when I can’t find that honesty! So I don’t have to be piss drunk or falling to pieces before I can own up to my feelings or what needs to change in my life.

These people keep me grounded but even they get it wrong at times. I have a friend who is one of my most trusted advisers. But something tragic happened just the other day. I came to realize that I have outgrown the need for his advice. That was an epiphany I never thought I would have. Sometimes this dude has no idea what he is talking about and it’s time I said, “Hold up mister. You are wrong …”

Aristotle was right when he said “the ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation….” I just have to learn to do something valuable with all that awareness and contemplation…

posted by auriol in career,human nature,life in general and have No Comments

Earth, Wind and Fire!

Music is not for sissies. This is the one thing I got with absolute clarity while watching Earth, Wind and Fire. One of the members, Verdine White, stepped on stage in a pair of crazy yellow and black lacy pants and shook his 60 year old ass at the crowd. And dammit all – we loved it!! He rocked the fook out of those pants and everyone in that hall. I still have not recovered from that ass shaking or their brilliant performance…

So many questions tumbled through my mind as I watched them. I wondered if I could ever rock a crowd like that. I knew the answer the minute the question popped out of my mouth: not yet…As much as the entertainment industry, Idols and law of attraction would like us to believe…not everything can be achieve instantaneously.  There is no substitution for  experience, hard work and mad talent.

That’s why I don’t like it when people rattle off my supposed “achievements”. Heck, I don’t really think I should be called a jazz singer. I am not worthy of that title – yet. How can I be when I have Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone and Anita O Day at the back of my mind? The Earth, Wind and Fire concert left me asking important question: What do I have to do to be my best….

These days all musicians talk about is how to brand themselves, generate more hype and get more fans. Everyone has a strategy. Get seen here, wear this, get into that car and then post it online so people can admire you or at worst be envious.

I am tired of it all and tonight I was reminded of one pertinent fact. I have to remember to get on stage, have fun and not be worried about notes or my big boobs popping out of my dress. I have to trust myself enough and get comfortable in my own pair of yellow and black lacy pants.


posted by auriol in famous people,My music and have No Comments

She’s Only Happy in the Sun

I have been a little obsessed with Ben Harper lately. Most of the time I do not listen to music. I prefer writing music or just singing badly when I am alone, but when I do listen it usually means that something is going down. Each  emotional cycle comes with its own soundtrack.  My undying love for Radiohead had a lot to do with unfulfilled expectations. Now some would argue that their music is depressing and I can’t say I really care. To each one his own, right? But this Ben Harper phase has nothing to do with the fact that he is that good looking. Promise. I listen to his music and it always leaves me feeling strangely comforted.

When I have really bad days and am without music, I listen to Ben and it reminds me that there is a time for everything. There’s a time to be on stage and a time to be aggravated by my daughter and driven insane by my husband. This has been a hard because on bad days it’s music that I crave more than anything. As you can see I am struggling with balance…

The one thing I have realized is that I don’t want a life filled with music. I want my life to feel like music. I remember a vivid dream I had a while back. I will spare you the esoteric mumbo jumbo – but will say this. In the dream I saw how music affects people.  It was beyond extra sensory. I got to touch it, feel it coursing through my very being. It was an ineffable experience and simply knowing that drives everything when it comes to music. Sure, I write the odd meaningless song  but then there are those songs that feel wonderful as you write it and even better when you sing it…

My mister gets upset with me because I forget basics like cooking at times. My head is filled with music and it can crowd out everything else. Thanks to the Food Network I have discovered that I can get excited and passionate about food as well. This has  made life a lot easier. Trust me, I would get a headache just thinking about what I needed to cook! I doubt that I will ever feel passionate about cleaning though! I am not that mental.
So I watch a Ben Harper clip when he is in rehearsals  and am reminded – I have time..
posted by auriol in My music,on the wild side and have No Comments

Down by the Riverside

Sometimes all it takes is one thing, one event, one  person to wake you up. It doesn’t matter if you know what’s right or good for you, until something happens to kick your ass wide awake – nothing will change. “The biggest lessons come from the biggest messes”. I tend to agree with the self help guru on this one. It really depends on what you do with what you learn, how you make sense of it and the actions you take. These things have  been percolating because it’s a new year. I won’t even lie the last two years have been the hardest I have ever gone through. Still here I am…

Most of the time I think in terms of music. I wonder what I could be doing to improve my prospects, what areas I should be working on. I learnt that there is no point bitching about other musicians – why they get more work and opportunities while I don’t. Still I don’t envy anyone or try copy them. That is just a waste of my time. After all I am not them. So I do things that make me happy instead. If I get to watch a good movie, have a great conversation or read a good book I am happy. These days cooking or baking  has been added to the list.

When I was looking after my daughter all those years ago, the small things kept me sane. Music had a lot to do with that. I would rummage through my husband’s jazz records and listen to them over and over until I knew the melody and the words. Later on I would hi-jack his beats and write songs to them while the family slept. I never wanted or expected big things. So when I am at home and get into a bit of a funk, it’s always the small things that help…

Very often I will go to our bedroom, close the door and belt out all the jazz standards and spirituals that I love. It really is freeing…just allowing my voice to go and observing the results. Sometimes I hit super dodgy notes! “Just try to fit it in with the song” Tina Schouw once told me when she was my teacher. Yeah, I should try to fit the dodgy things that happened or the ones I caused into the natural rhythm of my life. Doesn’t that just sound easy? Of course it really isn’t..

Back to the jazz … I realized that I need to reconnect with that freedom in the music that gets on to  my album.  Honestly, I have not felt that as yet. I love singing my album and there are good songs on there but…and that “but” I feel is my own doing.  I was watching Confessions of  a Teen Idol (shoot me) and the one guy remarked, “This industry depends on what you do with who you are.” And that is very true. This festive season break made me realize that I need to bring more of who I am not only to my music but also to my life.

posted by auriol in My music and have Comment (1)

Time is Running Out

Many people don’t believe in past lives. “I’ve already got enough problems in this life. I don’t need to add to it by looking into the past.” Luckily I am not one of those – I believe. Yes, I was a singer in many other lives. I was also a German general killed by his double crossing soldiers and an introverted girl living in a Greek village.

I really am not here to convince anyone of anything. Make up your mind and get on with your life is what I say. But this is what got me thinking….When I first thought about singing I wondered why certain songs felt so familiar. I was not part of a musical family and hardly heard jazz music growing up. It was Jim Reeves and Roger Whittaker all the way baby! But the minute I heard those jazz melodies – something somewhere switched on. And that’s why I am a singer today. It all started with an itsy-bitsy feeling that I couldn’t shake.

The past life in Greece with my sister was amazing. When I asked why recalled that life now the answer given to me was,”So that you can remember what love it feels like to be loved. ” Damn, I sobbed like a baby! That past life recall came at a time when I felt utterly and completely unloved.

I listen to one particular radio show and shoo….the ideas and theories are really way out there. Sometimes I am a bit shocked! But I listen regardless – just in case I get that itsy- bitsy feeling that says, “Take a deeper look”. I think we all become a bit poorer in spirit when we stop being curious…

posted by auriol in on the wild side and have Comment (1)