Auriol Hays

Awareness through music

Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex! Who wouldn’t want to be one? Unfortunately, I am referring to the tv show starring Michael Sheen but I will share my candid thoughts about sex, if you don’t mind. I do believe it was  Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor, who said  “The sexual embrace can only be compared with music and with prayer.” Think about that for one second. Great sex can make you forget yourself. It has the unique ability to transport you out of your very skin and bones.  Music and prayer are not far behind.  I can see my Mother rolling her eyes. I just hope she keeps on reading…

We all want to be well adjusted human beings, right? A recent visit to a sex shop made me question just how well adjusted I am. No, it wasn’t one of those swanky, oh so posh boutiques littered with fluffy pink and white furniture. It was cold and mechanical; the implements of pleasure paraded brazenly, taunting anyone who dare pass. “Here I am! See what I can do for you!”  As I perused the goods on display, I was assaulted by the sounds of a porno movie being played in one of those dark back rooms. Don’t pretend you don’t know what happens there people! I did make mention of this to the elderly assistant. “Ah, I am so use to it I no longer hear the sounds.” Eish lady, I thought, I do.  Maybe I was being naïve. I hoped that I could hear Marvin Gaye crooning “Let’s get it on…”  Yeah, I am a romantic but an idiot I am not. Just as there are many musical genres, there exists a cacophony of sexual expressions. Who am I to judge the man with the toe fetish hmm?  After the initial shock of the porn sounds, I adjusted and well…handled my business.

In my mind the impulse to merge with another and share freely in any and every gloriously delicious way possible (with consent of course) is freeing, above all.  I do feel the same way about music. All works of ineffable beauty and magnificence is fuelled by the same innate and primal impulse. Yet it isn’t all sunshine and  roses is it?  This reminds me of something my Father once said, “Auriol, one’s core values have to be the same.” This is something I am always conscientious of when dealing with musicians, men and every other little thing along the way. Can we agree on certain things? Is there chemistry? And when things change will you have the courage to share it with me?

Where does prayer fit into this equation you ask? Allow me to share. Mind you this only happens with great concentration and sincere intent. When I pray I do find peace…and complete acceptance.  All the worries and burdens I carry are put aside. I pray for every single person I care about – cats and Ben Harper included. I pray that I will find peace, clarity and inspiration. I don’t pray for an end to world hunger or war. Instead I pray that every person find what it is they need and work towards what they desire.  Also, I thank the Gods in advance for more work, great food and an passionate enduring love affair with….my life.

I don’t really want to be a master of sex. Instead I chose to be a master of my life. Yes, that would be nice. I would like every part of my life to be harmonious and balanced. And that means being unafraid and unapologetic. Having the balls to look life straight in the eye and say, ‘Hey you! Just take a look at what I can do!’ George Bernard Shaw once said ‘Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire; the other is to get it.’ Perhaps I should settle for being a master of sex instead! The master of my life bit will take lots and lots (and did I mention lots) of time…

posted by auriol in human nature and have Comments Off

The Seventh Seal

Hallelujah! I am single after years and years of being married. The divorce wasn’t as messy as you would think. Of course the drama leading up to it was the stuff soap operas are made of. There was drama, tears, deceit, and so many betrayals. And let me not get started on the revenge bit! Ooh, the things I wanted to do! I am a Scorpio after all and our favorite saying, although we will never admit it, is this; Death is only the start of getting even! However, there was one thing that set me straight and it wasn’t my daughter, my family or even my Shaman. It was Music. At my darkest moments Music always pulled me back and reminded me that Life is filled with small moments, epiphanies, that will bring you back to your centre – if you are open to them.

As I sipped on some whisky a few moments ago, and was flooded by this feeling of Awe, Gratitude and Bliss. I know what you are thinking, “Auriol, you had one too many girl! Time to lay off on that whisky!” Trust me I didn’t even finish my tipple. Music showed me so many times that anything is possible. Sometimes I am surprised that I could forget. I am always flooded with the butterflies the day before a show.  When I am caught in the midst of them I feel as though I am about to meet my Lover and can barely think or stand still. It is a glorious feeling…

I am besieged by that feeling when I lie on the bed with my daughter and she plays me all her “questionable” music. Those moments are filled with magic because at that very second no one else on the entire planet is allowed into her space. I am there and get to share her life in a way that no one else will. When I hear her laughing, see that spark in her eyes, how can I possibly be sad or feel sorry for myself? I reckon most people lose their way when they forget that.

It would be so easy to stop believing that anything is possible after the divorce. To wallow in self doubt, negativity and just write sad songs all the time. Does this mean that I am okay? Not by a long shot. I  will still have those moments when I feel like crying and collapse in tears…when I call up Mark and dramatically exclaim, “Am I doomed to be alone forever? When will things ever be easier?” Mark has wanted to smack me straight so many times and came close on a number of occasions! However, I have something I never had before – perspective on my pain and my life.

So when those dark moments come I will play a song by Groundation called The Seventh Seal and be reminded of  my purpose…and that “Music will always rescue me”. And if that doesn’t work I will plop myself on my daughter’s bed and allow her to to share her latest boy crush band, One Direction, with me. Then we will lie on the bed and laugh and laugh. Well, she will laugh at me…and that will always be enough

posted by auriol in human nature and have Comments Off

A Rush Of Blood To The Head

“Hell is other people” I have heard this so often. I was about to say the same thing when I realized that “Hell is my perception of other people.” Honestly, I wish I weren’t so full of shit or weighed down by my expectations of others.  Sometimes I expect too much or too little. I am big enough to accept responsibility for that. After all no one else can be held accountable for the way I view others. When I loose faith in my ability to understand people only two things get me through – my love for my daughter and my love of music.

I don’t waltz over the keyboard immediately and start writing music. I lie on the bed with all my cats (they always know when it’s a code blue situation) and listen to Ben Harper for a while. Then I question myself about those expectations and what it reveals about my state of mind. I have been accused of over thinking, but if I do not take the time to understand myself who will? In the Wisdom of the Tao it says, “”One who understands others has knowledge. One who understands himself has wisdom. Mastering others requires force.  Mastering the self needs strength.” I am tired of feeling weak and out of control.

A recent visit to a homeopath was more than surprising. After 30 minutes she looked at me and said, “You do not share easily and keep everything locked inside you. This is why you are having problems breathing.” And I thought I just needed to exercise! When I troubles with people I do not share them – least of all with those involved. I talk my way around it, under it or try to resolve it through music.

If I weren’t a musician I would be a diplomat. I could spend all my time hiding behind other people’s troubles. But music doesn’t provide me with that as option. Ben Harper said it best,  ”You can’t fool music because it exposes you to the depth of who you are, who you really want to be….Whether I am honest as a man is up for debate within myself…but as a musician I know nothing but honesty.”

Sometimes things have to be said, confrontations had so that all that the energy can be released. But, first I have to deal with my ego, its conditioning, prejudices, expectations and once I am resolved – only then can I face with person I am having issues with. And if I am lucky a song comes…if not at least I have peace of mind for a while…

posted by auriol in life in general and have Comments Off

Brendan’s Death Song

My daughter has a hamster called Peaches. I call her Nibbles or Nipples depending on my mood.  In fact I really could not stomach the creature but after seeing how well my daughter cares for her and the trauma of two very close near death hamster experiences, Peaches has become one of the family. In case you’re wondering where I am going with this let me put you out of your misery. We just did a Nina Simone show and I sang Four Women. The climax of that song is of course the last verse where Nina sings “My skin is brown//my manner’s tough//I’ll kill the first mother I see//My life’s rough//I’m awfully bitter these days//Coz my parents were slaves// What do they call me?//my name’s Peaches” When my daughter heard line she shouted from the audience, “Peaches, is my hamster!”

It’s funny because it’s the first time my daughter saw me perform. Usually she rips into me about this and that. Yet, it was nice seeing her beam with pride afterwards. “Mummy, you can’t hug everyone after your show!” she said demanding attention. The performance went well and Don Veno, the saxophonist, added something special to the show. Of course there were things I could have done better. All of which was discussed and will be taken into account when we take the show to Johannesburg.

When the evening was over my siblings and I hung out at my house and that’s where I learnt a valuable lesson. Sometimes you have to get out of your head and into your skin with bad pop music. Radiohead relaxes me but hurls me into the past. Muse has the same effect. Ben Harper makes me want to crawl into bed and dream of having brown babies. This never bothered me but does become problematic when I need to chill out.

My sister and I let my brother entertain us with his dubious dub step music. He even gave us a little dance performance and as a result has a new nickname. He is the American Indian…and we had a kick ass time just hanging out. Considering that there  is a big age gap between the three of us, I think it’s great that we enjoy each other’s company as much as we do.

All in all I had a great time on and off stage. There we so many people who helped to make the show a success. Sherwin, the chef from Balducci’s in the Waterfront, provided food at the rehearsals and before the show. Did I mention that there were over 20 people in my house a week before the show? It was a mad house with all the cameras and discussions going on while we were rehearsing. But I loved every second of it! Now I have to focus my attention on the next thing that’s a few months away. What can I say?  I do love my job…

posted by auriol in musical performances and have No Comments

Funkier Than a Mosquitoes Tweeter

A friend asked me what I was doing in 1998. After pausing for a few seconds it came back to me. I spent way too much time playing klaverjas, perving over men with my friends and reading books in the library that had nothing to do with what I was studying. Oh, I was also going out with a boy who regularly overdosed on rap music. I was spontaneously and deliriously happy…

Having just recovered from a serious bout of writer’s block – I feel a bit like my old 1998 self again. Sure, life isn’t perfect but I feel more evened out and polished at the edges. When I have writer’s block it generally means that I am not dealing with my life very well. It leaves me feeling hollowed out and empty….as though there is no more music left in me. Everything just feels muted and bland.

Every emotion, I have learnt, has its place. I am just tired of wallowing in one state of mind and writing a soundtrack to it. Now I actively seek out happiness – no matter what form it takes. I have cut down on my daily Ben Harper intake too. He leaves me feeling comforted but a bit too sad. So I might as well just chill out and enjoy the ride because things will go wrong till the day I die. I can’t afford to linger in depression or hurt. That would just make me a sad human being and a terrible musician.

Many things have changed since 1998…Granted I do not salaciously perv over men or drink cheap red wine anymore. Now I am more civilized…urbane. I like the odd glass of white wine (Boschendal please) and regularly play an invented game called man poker with a friend of mine. Currently I am in the lead after trumping him with a picture of Jason Mamoa. And yes, I will go and watch Conan just because Jason is the lead. Plot? Who cares about that…?

posted by auriol in human nature and have No Comments

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…

posted by auriol in human nature 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

You Can’t Hurry Love

I can’t say that I am a Phil Collins fan but a recent interview I came across disturbed me. Phil lives in Switzerland and had a fantastic music career by all accounts. In my mind no one should be that damn sad if they are parking off in Geneva and have a few Grammy’s in their basement, excuse me. Maybe I am being too harsh on the guy. I don’t know what he’s been through or how his illness is affecting him. He just seems a bit too eager to step out and take his final bow…

Phil says that he won’t miss banging on the drums due to his health constrains. Personally I think he’s lying.  Being in the presence of a talented drummer is an amazing experience. I freak out at every band rehearsal. Poor Keith is getting sick of me by now!  So the idea that he won’t miss it is inconceivable. Maybe he finds it easier to say he won’t miss it…Yes, I could be projecting but music, to me, is the one thing that does transform me into a functioning human being.

Phil’s honest ranting frightened the bejesus out of me. The emotions and the fears he harbor are all very real to him.  But strange things happen when you allow fetid thoughts to fester and swell. Honestly I want to smack Phil and say, “Shit man there is nothing wrong with who you are! Forget that twat Noel Gallagher and all the anti-Phil websites.” When I think of Phil Collins the music video for You Can’t Hurry Love comes to mind. Love for music, passion and fun was written all over him…

Yes, yes, I am projecting. If I were faced with such negativity would I survive it? Who knows? All I can do is keep those I love close, give no energy to the negative and try to  remain deeply rooted to the mystery and wonderment that is music.  Above all that… I want to always have empathy for others even if I disagree with their choices. That would not only makes me a better musician but a better person. Good luck Philip. I hope you make it to the other side in one piece…

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

The Will to Live

My mother taught me many things – some good, bad and some down right ugly. The one thing I will always remember is how she starts her day. When we moved to JHB I discovered just how important it was that I do the same. The only thing I have added to my morning routine is a good dose of Ben Harper.

I listen to one the song I Want To Be Ready. I love the opening lines: “How I am strong is to know what makes me weak//How I am found is to know just whom I seek”. For me this is a call to remember what matters  most because trust me, sometimes I do loose the plot.

The one thing I have experienced firsthand is that when I forget the Universe bitch slaps with me a horrendous reminder. She knows that I am not smart enough to figure it out myself.  So she prods me in the wrong direction so I can  get to the answers on my own. Once I broke my ankle and the inability to move at my own speed made me question just where I was going. Then there was a time when I could not hear a single musical note for months….

A few days I managed to get hold of a documentary about the migrant workers of China. After watching it I know I will look at the label “made in China” with greater introspection. Sometimes I forget what my parents had to go through so that I am where I am. I will talk to my daughter about this movie and about the migrant workers in our own country. Maybe she will clean her room more readily and stop giving me silly reminders that her birthday is around the corner…

Yes, my mother taught me how to start my day: with a clear head and a greater deal of gratitude so that I can be ready for whatever comes my way

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

Diamonds on the Inside

Sometimes I am convinced that my world is too small and that I am making it smaller by the day. I am full of crap when it comes to who I  spend my time with, the music I listen to, the food I eat and everything else in between.  My husbandis a big thinker. He loves  new ideas, gadgets, new music and anything and anyone who’s innovative and cutting edge. While I am simply trying to control what’s in front of me. In fact I will only expand myself when it involves creating music. This makes for every interesting conversation, monstrous arguments and great songwriting.

As I sat on the couch at 2 in the morning it hit me; music is my drug of choice. And if you think this is funny blog post you would be wrong. I am happiest when I am about to write music or perform. Virtually nothing comes close to it. So when I am not engaged in those things I tend to be very introspective, sullen and down right cranky. The husband  is constantly expanding his horizons. He wants to do this and try that. All I want to do is write music and sing. Do you see the problem?

I make no space for the possibility that happiness might exist outside of music. The only exception is my daughter but even  she notices that my head is littered with music. So I step back, delay or avoid music altogether and…become the most miserable person in the room! I do not laugh as easily or smile as much. I end up spending hours in my pajamas. There is no reason to wake up with a spring in my step…

I also wondered why I struggle to write happy songs. It’s not that I don’t feel it or that I am a sad person. There’s this switch in my brain, I realized. It says “you shouldn’t feel good for too long”. So I don’t revel in feeling good about myself anywhere except when I write music.  And because writing music is so intensive and laborious that feeling stays with me so much longer. All of the things that would make me a balanced person I sacrificed in the pursuit of music. My love of learning, Capoeira, writing, going out….all willingly offered to great gods of Music.

See the addiction and why I risk living in a small world?

posted by auriol in Addiction,career,Insanity and have Comment (1)