Auriol Hays

Awareness through music

Ben Harper – With You

Everyone seems to think I am a stalker. A Ben Harper stalker to be exact. The fact that I wrote a song for him on my Call It Love album (With You)  does not make me look innocent by a long shot. So allow me to explain and then you can decide whether I am guilty of those charges or not..

It all started when I saw Ben Harper live in Montruex. I was so new to his music that I  couldn’t even sing along! I stood alone at the back of the hall, the night before I was meant to take the stage,  and…cried. I cried because I felt alone. I cried because I had no idea of the life I wanted to live. A few years later when I found myself at the beach at 3am devoid of all hope and again I sobbed bitterly. Deep  within there was a void (forgive me Zakes Mda) and I had no idea if anything could fill or I heal it. In that moment of blackening despair his music, the cadence of his voice pulled from that abyss… Finally I could curl my back against the world and feel safe…

My daughter calls him The Harp and loves ripping me off. I often wondered if I could ever express how his music affected me. Alas, life took care of that when her world was torn asunder by my divorce. Suddenly this happy-go-lucky kid was transformed into a sullen, silent stranger. That is until she found solace in Green Day, Kurt Cobain and a host of rock and punk musicians. Finally, she understood. Now she sings along to The Power Of The Gospel, pulls weird faces and mockingly proclaims, “Hey Momma! This is my jam!”

The love of music is our common ground. She sketches, I read and the music plays. Just the other day she gifted me with all the Arctic Monkeys music available online. Yes, yes, it was her favorite band until I stole them. Payback for stealing my beloved Radiohead by the way. Before you ask I do make fun of her favorite musicians (it is my sacred right as her Mother).”Girly, if Shmeagol from Lord of the Rings had to start a punk band…then they would sound like Bring Me The Horizon!” Yet  often I find myself humming along to their music. When she catches me in the act she says, “I see you like Shmeagol and his gang.” And Dammit all…I do!

Back to the seriousness of music. Musicians like Ben Harper remind me why I chose to be a musician. And often I need to be reminded especially when money runs low or I have a bout of writer’s block. I sing, we sing not for fame or fantastic wealth (yes, it would be great if it came, along with tall male groupies!) I sing, we sing…because there is nothing else we would rather do. We sing because by doing so we heal ourselves. We sing because when we do so we offer the best of ourselves to those who will listen, to those who need to hear.
I will leave you with this Ben Harper quote. “Music is the last true voice of the human spirit. It can go beyond language, beyond age, and beyond color straight to the mind and heart of all people.”
So go home, kick off your shoes, make some coffee, switch off your tv, lie on your couch with a blanket, put on some great music and… listen.

posted by auriol in life in general,My music and have Comments Off

Codex

When I was in university I was asked a strange question. “Auriol, do you think an ant knows its purpose?” I looked at her  and after a dramatic pause said, “Let’s go smoke and eat. We’ll talk about this later”. Later, of course, never came but I always wondered what sparked that question.

Now that I am older and have faced those looting ants, I have come to the following conclusions. All animals have an instinctive knowing; they know and deeply understand their purpose. They know what it is they have to do to survive.  We are the ones who struggle, question and live our lives (at times) without grace or understanding…

Just the other day I was out walking in my garden when a thought occurred to me. Just like animals we too have our natural rhythms and seasons.  The problem I have is that I never know just where I am on that wheel. That’s when dreams come in handy. When I am out of sorts I am plagued with dreams about missing trains or I find myself at school and later in some dodgy part of town.

When I am particularly troubled I go for a walk in my garden to get clarity. On one of my meanderings the image of a river came to mind and a message along with it. We all get ourselves into troubling situations and instead of accepting where we are – we fight, we deny or we run away. I was being shown that if I just relaxed I would get to where I needed to be. Instead of trusting that there was something bigger than myself at play, I got out of the boat, plunged into the waters and loudly shouted “I need”, “I want”, “Why I must I?”  and “Dammit all to hell!”

Who knows why we go through the things we do. Some would say we are tested from time to time. After coming out the other side I know this for sure. Trying to control never helps. Having a level head, family and friends do. Instead of shouting and cursing the heavens, I write music and through it am reminded of my purpose and grace. That way I can stay in the boat and enjoy the ride…

posted by auriol in the other side,Uncategorized 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

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)

Street Spirit

We are all bound to fail at something somewhere along the line. Still what is it about failing your drivers’ test that is so damn upsetting? The first time I failed my test I cried for a few hours. “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I get this one thing right?” I would ask myself over and over again. It was only when one of my closest friend said “This is only a test. It is not an indication of anything else,” that I could laugh at just how silly and over dramatic I was being.

Andrew wrote his test before I did and when I saw that the examiner driving the car back into the traffic department instead of him – I knew he did not make it. He could barely look me in the eye. I knew that if he were alone he would break down and cry. This was his fifth attempt.

It would be awesome if we could do everything right at the first go. This is why so many of us spend hours reading self help books, push ourselves mercilessly  and go to endless workshops. We want more than anything to succeed and just move on to the next phase of our lives. Who knows why things happen? Maybe we are not ready to move on yet. Maybe there are things that we need to learn by failing…or maybe it is as simply as learning to be patient – with grace.

So I failed the test. Strangely enough I did not feel bad. I spoke to the examiner and she gave me pointers. We even shared a few laughs. She knew I was nervous as all hell. I then made another booking immediately went home.  The one thing I learnt today is that I am able to have a balanced attitude – in the midst of failure. Because failing at any one thing is never an indication of who we are and what we are capable of doing…

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

Black eyed angels…

Maybe, maybe, maybe…let’s just face it people life is littered with maybe’s. Yet I am always amazed by the sheer number of people who act as though they know their shit 24/7. People who are so certain of their actions….so certain of their “rightness”….people who are so mired in their philosophies, ideologies and conditioning. And after coming through a stressful situation the only thing I think I  know is that I can live my life with maybe’s and uncertainty…

A friend of mine once said that no one can live their lives by just looking at their feet. And even if you try to walk that straight line and never raise your head…you miss out on all the fantastic things that take place around you. But hell, no one really wants to hear that. Most of us demand that we walk from point A to point B and in a straight line. And as much as we like to blabber platitudes like, “people are complicated” …it will mean nothing until you stop looking at your feet and begin to really see people for who they are.

A while ago I would have said that I made many wrong choices in my life. Now that I am a bit older I know that those choices were never wrong….just more colorful and intriguing. Saying that by itself is a big thing. I am not merely rephrasing so that I can sleep easier at night. In my mind it means that I have seen something else at work here… I have greater empathy for people and myself. It’s the lack of certainty that made that possible. Somewhere along the way I shed a lot of the esoteric mumbo jumbo that once meant so much to me…that defined me. Life happened and forced me to let go of it so that I could have a realistic way of seeing myself and everyone else around me.

At the end of the day I don’t really care about rights and wrongs.  When the shit hits the fan and life goes haywire what matters to me most is that I could learn something valuable about myself or others….and the idea that I was enriched by the experience is enough…

posted by auriol in life in general and have Comment (1)

Exit song…

We all do stupid thing, socially unacceptable things, things leave others shattered and other things that can get our asses kicked to high hell. Welcome to planet earth bitches…this is the way the cookie crumbles and the way the playas roll. So where am I going with all this you ask? Well, I recently learnt a few valuable lessons the hard way and I need to share it.

I can man up and say that I did some crazy, socially unacceptable shit and after coming to my senses I had to sit and wonder just how the fook I got there. See I was under the false impression that I was a “good” person, that I had things sorted out. I was so invested in the idea that I was this “good”, compassionate, socially, morally, esoterically and politically correct person that the inevitable happened. I got bitch slapped by the universe and a few people in it. In a series of moments all the ideas I had about who I thought I was fell away. I mean if I believed this…then how could I do and think that? In short the arrogance and certainty I once possessed about who I was… was gone. And all I was left with is the dark, horrible thought that I fooked up big time, hurt people and that yes, I am human and horribly imperfect.

A while back I wondered just what I was supposed to learn from all this life imploding drama, and then I remembered something my best friend once said. He told me that we can’t grow as people if we keep trying to do the right thing…keep trying to not make mistakes…or not step on people’s toes. Shit happens and all you can do is deal with it one moment at a time…

posted by auriol in life in general and have Comment (1)