It goes without saying really, that Bjork is one of the most important artists of the 21st Century and is fully attuned to the possibilities of healing through voice, sound and music. Her otherworldly qualities often suggest that she is a creature somewhere between human, superhuman and extra terrestrial; yet her constant humility and contradictory mix of fragility and strength are beyond endearing. She is a true living icon and a talent like no other.
We love this behind the scenes video on the making of her album Black Lake.
She is always full of surprises with every new album she offers and with a plethora of talented collaborators in her creative embrace. Her look and sound are always on the cutting edge of style and innovation and her new album Utopia is nothing less than mind-blowingly impressive both sonically and visually.
Check out the latest music video for “Blissing me out” and then go and have some fun browsing around her website BJORK HOMEPAGE and listen to/buy the new album BJORK UTOPIA and you will likely find yourself being transported into multiple other dimensions at the same time.
Directed by Tim Walker & Emma Dalzell Creative Direction by Björk Director of Photography – James Henry Lighting Director – Paul Burns Producer – Jeff Delich Stylist – Edda Guðmundsdóttir Dress – Pam Hogg Shoes by Gucci Braid ornaments – James Merry Makeup Artist – Hungry Steady Cam Operator – Tommi Marshall 1st Assistant Camera – Þór Elías 2nd Assistant Camera – Daníel Gylfason Gaffer – Finni Sænski DIT – Benedikt Vilborgar Og Jóhannesson Local Production – Oli Páll Torfason & Daddi Bjarna Post Production – Coffee & TV
Blissing Me Lyrics:
All of my mouth was kissing him now into the air i am missing him is this excess texting a blessing or just two music nerds obsessing he reminds me of the love in me i’m celebrating on a vibrancy sending each other mp3s falling in love to a song this handsommest of wickermen he asked if i could wait for him now how many lightyears this interim while falling in love with his songs his hands are good in protecting me touching and caressing me but would it be trespassing wanting him to be blissing me robbing him of his youth cliffhanger like suspension my longing has formed its own skeleton bridging the gap between singletons sending each other these songs the interior of these melodies is perhaps where we are meant to be our physical union a fantasy i just fell in love with so i reserve my intimacies i bundle them up in packages my rawward longing far too visceral did i just fall in love with love?
SB: It’s an album of sacred songs, and chants from ancient texts. Each one has a positive message and is recorded in the original Persian or Arabic. The songs on my album “One with the Beloved” are mostly original compositions and others are my versions of traditional Sufi Mantras and folk songs.
Q: How did your upbringing influence this album?
SB: I grew up in Britain in an Iranian refugee household. We spoke Farsi at home (Persian) My parents had lost virtually everything in Iran. It was humbling to experience being an outsider and to learn the importance of compassion and friendship at a young age from certain English friends we had who were kind to us.I went to the US to go to college after getting my GCSE.
Iranians revere figures like Rumi (a 13th century philosopher and poet), whose texts are the main inspiration for the lyrics used in my album. Rumi himself was a refugee who had a revelation which transformed his creativity. I resonate with Rumi’s journey and his wisdom is timeless and universal to me. Leonard Cohen and Coldplay are among the most well known musical artists who have been inspired by his messages, yet his name seems to fall into obscurity. I am hoping to change that through my new album.
Q: Can you explain more about your vision of unity over separation?
SB: Whenever there is political violence that may hold a person in dread or despair that you pause before judgement and consider that this is a desperate act and not how people normally are. Of course some will say that is already happening, but is it really sinking into our consciousness that Islam, Middle Easterners or people of faith in general are not a danger? When people make these claims, they are attacking every person of faith and rather than to debate which side is wrong or right, I wanted to make a contribution showing the world that there is a universalist message from within a faith, which is wrongly associated with violence.
We in the West are urgently lacking when it comes to reversing stereotypes in a meaningful way about civilisations that we have been at odds with. Policies of alienation and adversity are outdated and are not working as they stand. We need to start focusing on humanising and not ostracising those we cannot understand—and engaging from that place. That means calling on imagery, figures in history, literature and artistic expressions that can help us regain a more complete picture of those who have been our so called “enemies”. If we can do it in a way that is relatable, then I believe, lives can change as well as perspectives.
I believe everyone can relate to a figure like Rumi because of the tremendous appeal of his writings and it’s no accident that he is experiencing a resurgence today at a time when our relationship with the Middle East is at its most chaotic. We need more of his voice.
Q: What measures do you feel people could take to try to overcome the current worldwide barriers of political mistrust?
SB: I could say what everybody else says: “vote” “be engaged civically” and “write to your elected Rep” and generally I would respond in such a way, BUT the truth is we’ve had colossal failures when it comes to our policies concerning the Middle East.
When it comes to something like our relationship with Iran for example (and I worked in Washington on this issue) there is a lack of reliable information and it creates this sense of desolation no matter what we do or where we turn. Historically, when our institutions are gridlocked, it’s up to the grassroots to get involved and to come up with alternative ways of pursuing the positive change that we urgently need. That’s not practical or easy when there is a large distance and gap in cultural awareness.
Music and the Arts are powerful tools in rebuilding that human bridge. Their potential is untapped here, and if we can make these tools accessible and personal, if we can trace the relationships between societal wounds and the wounds and fears within each person’s individual consciousness that exists, then there is hope, and I believe Rumi would approve.
Q: What is Sound Healing and how did you first come across this?
It’s a holistic modality that involves vibration and frequency (not just music) and it can have positive effects on the consciousness and the physiology. I learned about the cellular research that Fabien Maman was doing on blood cells and their response to sound vibration and was inspired to become a practitioner. I went on train at Fabien’s Tama-Do Academy of Sound, Color and Movement and became certified as a sound therapist in 2011, two years after leaving my career in Washington DC.
Q:You have worked in the past with many major businesses such as Google to provide their teams with Sound Healing and Talks. How did this come about and what has been the feedback and positive impact of these?
SB: I had someone who took a workshop with me in Bali who worked at Google. They invited my to their offices and I did a presentation for them in Singapore and had a great response. I have also done corporate events in Bali and shared about my personal journey to retreats and private groups as well as giving a demonstration of the deeply relaxing effects of the different instruments I play.
DC Strategist Turned Sound Therapist Launches Bold Music Campaign
Former Capitol Hill coalition strategist on US-Iran policy Shervin Boloorian embarks on an unconventional project of reconciliation between the Middle East and West through the power of music.
Boloorian, now a top certified sound therapist in Bali, launched a cross-cultural music project centred around his new album of sacred songs, with some wisdom from world-revered 13th century Sufi poet Rumi, all in original Persian and Arabic languages.
Guided by other music activism campaigns such as Live AID, and the Free Mandela concerts in the 1980s, Boloorian wants this project to raise awareness and start a positive wave of interest in Middle East and Western commonalities through music that he says goes beyond entertainment.
“Music and the arts are agents of change and education, we haven’t seen them reach their full potential yet because our focus today is on light entertainment.”
Boloorian’s new album, ‘One with the Beloved’ is currently being crowdfunded with the goal of leveraging its songs to support live music workshops, community forums and other engagement activities.
The first song from the album, ‘Baza’ received praise by renowned dance music DJs Timo Maas and Nick Warren who both gave the track a 5 star reviews.
“‘A beautiful, delicate piece of music.”
“…this is a brilliant song, full of emotions and very well arranged…Perfect for chill out/” read some of the online reviews.
The Sufi-inspired compositions vary in tempo and style; some recorded with meditative instruments used in Boloorian’s popular sacred sound concerts, and others with upbeat rhythms found in Sufi Zikr music.
Endorsed by leading Bali cultural and holistic community leaders, the project is also backed by world Rumi authority, bestselling translator and author of “The Essential Rumi” Coleman Barks.
British disarmament expert and British American Security Information Council head Paul Ingram is still part of the peace and security community Boloorian belonged to during his time in the US.
Ingram is a firm supporter of Boloorian’s unconventional new solution to repairing relations and start a positive dialogue between Middle Eastern and Western culture.
“There are many hundreds of thousands of people working explicitly for peace by addressing the symptoms of fear and conflict,” said Ingram.
“Shervin’s initiative to bring these together explicitly recognises a fundamental truth, that to work for peace you have to have peace in your heart.”
Prior to his days as recording music artist and sound therapist, Boloorian spent over nine years in Washington and Sacramento, leading and advising US-Iran peace coalitions, briefing elected officials, and reviewing a major coalition Iran policy brief sent to President Obama’s desk.
He worked with a number of congressional, non-profit and community leaders, Nobel Prize Laureates and ambassadors as an advocate for disarmament and avoiding war with Iran.
In recent years Boloorian U-turned away from his career as a peace policy strategist to become recognised as Asia’s premier “Tama-Do” sound therapist.
He spearheaded a movement in 2012 to incorporate sound therapy as part of Ubud’s live music culture and established the acclaimed Bali Sound Healers Collective.
This new project is particularly close to Boloorian’s heart, due to his past as an Iranian refugee migrating to the UK in 1978.
He first realised the magical healing power of sound as a child upon discovering the ability to hum to himself as a method of providing comfort and emotional support during this highly traumatic and stressful period in his young life.
“I was three when I left Iran and joined the many millions without a home nation,” said Boloorian.
“It’s a devastating experience and the story of the album is a reflection of my own journey, going from a very alienated and troubled place to one of inner calm,” said the Iranian-born vocalist.
After nearly a decade of working on policy reform, Boloorian decided it was time to leave DC and reconnect with the power of sound as a professional, becoming a certified sound therapist, musician and vocalist.
“I became a sound therapist because I realised peace was more about bringing soulful living back, not just some distant ideal,” he said.
Rumi is noted as the top selling poet author in the USA and is respected across the West and the Muslim world with his works translating into 23 different languages.
Boloorian explained Rumi’s voice easily crosses faith, nationality and ideology.
“Rumi’s popularity is surging just when the world’s relationship with the Islam and the Middle East seems at its lowest point. I see this as a paradox and an opportunity,” he said.
“I felt strongly that a sacred music project drawing from Sufi texts in Rumi’s original language creates something new for people to think about in terms of Iran, Islam and the Middle East.”
The sound therapist plans to incorporate story-telling and theatre events, forums for dialogue and collaborations between local musicians and those from migrant or refugee backgrounds in cities right across the world to follow a global tour.
“If the momentum is there, I see this as blossoming into a global collaborative,” predicts Boloorian.
“I’m urging international community and cultural groups, organisations, businesses and community figures to become a part of our project and to help assist us in whatever way they can.
We need help to push the Kickstarter over the finish line in the final weeks and help share the message that music can be a healing force,” he added.
The crowdfunding campaign concludes on July 25, 2017 with the ‘One with the Beloved’ tour beginning in August following the album’s scheduled release in September; with Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Italy, Spain, Germany and Holland already listed as destinations to be followed by dates for Asia, Australia and the US.
As a global ambassador for sound healing and motivating peace activity, Boloorian and his project have already been widely endorsed by many respected cultural groups, after appearing at some of the worlds most prominent wellness festivals and events including: MURFEST Wellness Festival (MAL), Byron Spirit Festival (AUS) , BaliSpirit Festival (INDO), Berlin Healing Arts Festival (GER) and , Talks at Google (SIN)
“Anyone who spends his time tackling the huge divide the world is currently experiencing with music and the teachings of Rumi is worth supporting,” said founder and director of the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival Janet De Neefe.
“Now more than ever we need to focus on the fundamental importance of peace and compassion to find a solution to our current global dilemma.
Shervin Boloorian’s music offers an extraordinary, healing journey with mystical sounds, both traditional and new”.
7 days ago I flew to Colorado to perform at the legendary Red Rocks with one of my heroes, Michael Franti. Since then, I’ve experienced so many miracles and received so many lessons along the way that I feel like my brain is being rewired. I don’t know if you saw it in the news, but Delta airlines had a malfunction last week that resulted in thousands of cancelled flights and even more delays. When I got to the airport to fly to Salt Lake City to open for Franti (this time at Red Butte) I was welcomed to lines of people pouring outside the doors of the Denver International Airport. By some miracle, I made it to my gate with plenty of time but it was then that I was informed that every single flight to Utah had been cancelled and that there would be no way to make it to my show. When I got the news I was so heartbroken but out of nowhere three women from MINNESOTA who saw me play with Franti at Red Rocks came up to me and offered to pray for me and reassured me that I would make it to my show somehow and that God would make a way. So I decided to get back in the huge customer service line and by yet another miracle they were able to get me on the only flight to SLC that day and I literally got on a plane and out of a taxi and walked on stage to play a sold out show with Michael Franti for thousands of people. Flash forward 24 hours later and I am back in Denver experiencing a major disturbance in the force. Extreme unexplainable depression and sadness, anxiety and fear and very intense energy all around.
Over the course of the next 24 hours my flight to New York City was delayed over and over again to the point where I was going to miss my entire flight to Frankfurt which would have resulted in a weekend of missed gigs and disappointed friends in Europe and I just knew there had to be a way. While we were stranded on the Tarmac in a lightning storm for 3 hours in New York I got to know the woman in the seat next to me and she too offered to pray for me, and assured me that the “universe”‘ is always working in our favor and that one way or another I would get a flight to Germany and make it to my tour.
How to explain the following chain of events is almost beyond words, but I will say that Delta Airlines went above and beyond the call of duty to get me to Frankfurt on time. So 8 hours after that I am sleeping on the plane when the PLANE ALARMS went off and people started rustling on the plane as every single flight attendant rushed to the back of the plane. Turns out someone was SMOKING on the plane and the pilots and flight attendants thought it was an actual fire and reacted accordingly…I have never seen nice flight attendants so angry in my entire life. When we landed the German police escorted the smokers off the plane but not without getting the biggest verbal reprimand I have ever seen from the Pilot.
By the time I finally got off the plane I was literally jumping for joy through the airport and over the next few days was blessed with so much love and support and amazing harmony from this beautiful international community here and the stories that it took to get me here are just the beginning of everything that has unfolded and aligned since I’ve been here.
So If any of you are feeling down, or empty, or hopeless, do not let your mind block out the blessings that are waiting to pour out for you. There are miracles around every corner and sometimes it takes those moments of lows and highs to bring us back to center. Not only do we all have so much to teach each other, but all have so much to give each other too. I was feeling so sad and alone so many times this week and it was purely the kindness of people I had never met whose words of encouragement reminded me that all things are possible with faith. I read a quote the other day that said “doubters are just dreamer with broken hearts”. I’ve also read that “pain is our greatest teacher”. In these times, it is so important that we keep the faith and that we hold each other close. Don’t hold back your sacred water when so many are in drought. We all have an intricate role in this beautiful dance. Even when we are faced with great burdens, there is always a greater blessing coming along. We just have to stay true to the music that is all around us.
Yes, and I have to say these vegetables are going to be so uniquely experimental.
Is that because of the way you’re growing them?
We’re just bathing them in love and excitement and treating them as if they’re our children. We are just trying everything that they would ever possibly like and singing nursery rhymes to the first sproutings and gonging them with sound. It’s really out there and it’s really fun, actually. When you see them start to popup and germinate, it’s really a turn on. Suddenly, you wake up in the morning and all these little green leaves are popping up out of the swirl. It’s pretty magnificent.
What have you got growing?
In the main farm- some people call it an allotment farm- we’ve got potatoes, beetroots, fennel, some marigold flowers, radishes, cucumbers, sunflowers and artichokes.
What inspired you to grow vegetables?
My girlfriend Raisa. It was turning us on forever. It’s very hard to find truly organic food. I know there are farmer’s markets, but they’re quite hard to find. It’s so much of a turn on to eat your own food, that you grew yourself.
I’d really like to start a community on some land that we’re going to get and I am learning to be more self-sufficient and less dependent on a very corrupt system.
I’m hoping to have a center called “Lion Heart”, where we would have a conscious dining center and a center for music, writing and performing. We’d have “Heart Mountain”, a child-led school where they choose their own educational directions based on what they feel passionate about. We’d have a laboratory for studying the properties of light and water, which is where the next great breakthrough in technology is going to come from. We will have all kinds of areas for growing vegetables and looking after animals. I really want a whole town of the future. Raisa just wants somewhere nice to live, in a quiet peaceful place. I’m going to have to maybe tone down my massive world domination vision and she’s going to have to put up with some of my more eccentric ideas and we’ll meet in the middle somewhere.
If you start small it could just naturally and organically grow like your vegetables.
I just know that in my career and in my heart, I’ve always started big. I never started small. I usually have some huge big vision and then do the closest thing to it.
That’s an interesting strategy which leads me into a question about your workshops and thinking big. “What About You?” and “Transforming Shadows”. What inspired you to create those workshops?
We had so many wonderful questions and answer sessions when we were presenting our films around the place, both One Giant Leap and What About Me? All the subject matter in the films was so personal and about practical daily living of life, so the conversations and the Q&As got very deep and people were opening up so beautifully but a 35-minute Q&A session was not enough. I also just wanted to do something else that wasn’t directly creating art and it was actually Raisa who suggested I do it. She just said “Listen, you’ve done your music, you’ve done films, you’ve done everything! Why don’t you book somewhere for a weekend and just offer your direct self and see who shows up?” I was like “well, what would I do with them for that weekend?” She said “Well, what do you have to share?” I think the one thing I do know about that not everybody does know about, is how to have an idea and take it all the way through the stages of actually making it, releasing it, having a bar code on it and maybe some awards and everyone loving it. So, I thought I’d make the weekend about that.
The main workshop now is “Transforming shadows”. That’s where we go inside and meet all the crazy characters that live in our head and all the dysfunctional beings that keep leaping out and sabotaging things, so we give them new jobs. That’s become more what I do now but on the project building master class “What About You?” we’ve now greenlit more than 1000 new companies and projects that definitely work.
I think the secret is not just in thinking big, you have to think big while having zero attachment to the outcome. That’s what everybody forgets.
You’ve got to do everything that you love and it will be so enjoyable, so even if it never got big it was still time well spent because you love doing it so much! If you can find something that you love the process of so much that, of course, you would prefer it to be big – but it’s not a deal breaker as to whether it was a good use of your time- then that’s what you should be doing.
I always ask everybody in the workshop “if you had all your life expenses paid for, what would you do after breakfast?” That’s your project.
Awesome wise words! So how has “Transforming Shadows” taken over?
I think because everybody benefits from going in and meeting crazy beings that are inside them, that they usually try to push away and instead realising that they have just been looking at them wrong. Everybody can benefit from that. Not everybody will create the project they really want to do by having no jobs and families, they’re not all waiting to do that great dream project.
Do you think that everybody can dive that deep? It’s not easy work, right?
It goes deep but it’s fun. If I only feel satisfied when you go deep then I’m “vamping” you to go that deep. Some people come and they go crazy deep, other people come and they just have an interesting intellectual experience and find that they walk away with some interesting new things to think about. Now that’s obviously what’s appropriate for them at that moment where they are. It’s nothing to do with me from where our vessel journey is taking them. I just cook the food and some might eat three bowls full and others might just have one mouthful, and the other one might spit it out. That’s none of my business. It’s very important as a teacher to not attach to how deep people go. Everybody’s got their own soul journey and for some, their process and their progress go fast, some other people are slow. I make it as palatable and as fun and accessible as possible and then I don’t attach one more inch to what people will do with it.
What are the benefits of attending a group process versus maybe one-on-one therapy?
I think it’s different things for different people. When you have a group, it’s wonderful for people who feel quite isolated; especially isolated in their dramas. They suddenly realise that their dramas are exactly the same as everybody else’s just with different hats on. Obviously with one-on-one I can go deeper and give focused attention for a whole hour or longer.
I just think that the greatest benefit of all is that whatever ailments you have just seem to disappear afterwards and that wasn’t my intention. The amount of letters I get from people that say “I did your workshop and I’ve had 20 years of eczema and it’s gone.” or “I’ve had panic attacks or depression and it’s just gone, I haven’t had it since the weekend” or “I’m now talking to my daughter for the first time in eight years”. None of these things are directly intended, they are just the obvious things that happen when you start editing yourself down and you stop running from 20% capacity so you start opening up to all the treasure that you always had inside. Most illnesses are a symptom of not doing that. Illness is a symptom of suppressing and holding ourselves back, of containing and hiding, of being dishonest with ourselves and to other people or wearing masks and playing roles. That’s what creates illness, all that suppression. So obviously when people start practising techniques which are less suppressive, then their body doesn’t need to act out with those ailments to get their attention as much because they’re doing what they should be doing. I believe a lot of disease, maybe all but certainly the majority of minor ailments, is really your body trying to tell you to stop suppressing.
That’s an interesting perspective. Do you have groups of people come to work on those things on retreats?
I would like to do that at Lionheart.
You do walking and hiking where you take people up a mountain, don’t you?
Yes, we do the heart mountain retreat in the fall and we’re doing a residential What About You? project master class on a beautiful Greek island called Paros in July that is also coupled with our music. We’re making an album there with incredible musicians. People are allowed to walk through in the evenings and hear what we’ve composed. There’s also one coming up in Nicaragua in October. These are usually things I’m invited to do. I rarely think oh I think I’ll do a weeklong retreat and arrange all of that.
How do you prepare yourself for holding space, and presenting and teaching workshops and retreats?
I can’t really do any preparation at all apart from my usual preparation for living my life, which is just being me- a more different, more prepared me for that group. I just be me. The most authentic version of myself in the moment that I can be and I trust that the rest will unfold.
That word authentic is very important in what you do and it seems to be the cornerstone of what you’re teaching.
However you are behaving will usually elicit that from whomever you’re in front of. So, if you’re being a petulant, argumentative little bitch, you’re going to bring out the petulant argumentative little bitch in the person you’re talking to.
So, people are a mirror?
Yeah. And the more you’re in your center and you’re authentic and you’re loving and kind, and not “doing kind” just being kind, which is a natural state. That kind spacious open part of someone else in front of you finds it generally quite easy to come forward.
That’s very true. Do you want to say a bit about your transition from pop star and filmmaker to where you are now?
I don’t really think about it as a transition. I think about it as an addition. I am still making beautiful music and I’m making a great film with Ram Das where we’re walking each other home. I’m still doing all of that. I’m just doing more I guess.
Is it like being on stage performing, when you lead workshops?
There is a performance aspect to it, as I’m like a fool. I’m not playing the fool and by me being like that, it makes everyone laugh at how we all are. So there’s a slightly performance aspect to being the first one to be ridiculous and being the walking permission slip for everyone else’s foolishness. And obviously, it does feel good when everyone’s really receptive but it’s not as rehearsed as performance can be, it’s much more spontaneous. I really enjoy that. When someone asks a question which I haven’t answered before, I usually will say something much more insightful and deep when put on the spot. So, I really love being asked questions.
So you even have given a Ted Talk, right? How was that?
Well that was funny. That was the first 16 minutes that I ever spoke without notes because you can’t have notes. That was just the beginning of totally jumping off the deep end with my mouth and trusting it would come out fine. And it was okay. Yeah, it was nice. Now I never use notes even if I’m talking for an hour. I’m doing a workshop this evening in about one hour from now called Ego Volcano.
Are you deconstructing the ego volcano or are you exploding it?
Well, it is about enjoying it but not being obsessed with it. The ego is an illusion and I think we’re meant to meet the ego fully and enjoy all it’s individual characteristics. I’m also remembering not to be governed by all its comparative uptight worries. That doesn’t mean eradicate it like many people try and do.
Right, so it means to just understand it?
Yes, understand it. It’s like, if you imagine playing a video game and you’ve got the little guy on the screen running around. You’ve got you on the joystick making it jump around. The guy on the screen is the ego. You are the glare of the game of the joystick. So the ego is directed by you. Most people think they are the character on the screen and they don’t realise that they are the ones holding the joystick so they’re just moving for whatever the ego wants. It’s a whole load of drama.
Is it possible to sit behind the ego and not be in it’s totally competitive uptight state, being very present, noticing how uptight it is and noticing all its fun thinking and still not taking actions or writing emails from that ego place. You still notice all the urgings, but you’re the soul who directs what actual actions get taken and what words get said.
So you’re about to go and teach that to a group of people this evening. Meet the Ego. Is this the first of that kind of workshop for you?
No, I’ve been sharing this with our online workshop groups once a month and we’ve done “Mojo Blast”, we’ve done “Looking for trouble”, we’ve done “What About You?” and many others.
Do these all form chapters in your new book “Insanely Gifted”?
Insanely Gifted is a condensation of all my workshops. The basic message is that if we really feel our feelings and participate with what our genius body is doing to discharge uncomfortable feelings and if we are really willing to be in a state of listening not doing (and other things like that), then life becomes much, much more relaxing and fulfilling.
Our creative projects, our intimacies, our missions, our parenting, our sex lives, they all skyrocket when we go into the listening field, into the spaciousness, into the space around things rather than constantly being yanked left and right by them. We need to give ourselves a moment of space, a moment of pause, and a moment of listening all the time.
It’s a book about all the different things I’ve learned from many different cultures. It’s about all the different tools that I’ve learned to be in balance and to be the most successful, enjoyable, full of potential life masterpiece that you can come up with.
What’s the greatest key that you’ve been given or that you’ve found along the way for staying in balance?
The ability to walk around inside of your body and like a wine-taster, feel what’s being felt in a different place when you’re feeling reactive, rather than abandon that feeling and fight whoever did it to you.
If somebody triggers you or something upsets you, usually what we do is jump into the masculine side of our essence and jump into controlling it back to how we want it, fighting that person, manipulating that person, complaining, escaping. We rarely do the feminine thing, which is instead of doing something we decide not to let it impact us. Instead of turning away from the feeling, turn towards that feeling. Feel it, know that it was yours already. No one put it in you. They may have triggered you, but they didn’t cause that feeling, rather they are triggering feelings that already live in you and have been there like little pressure cooker time bombs waiting to go off. This really is the difference between living life as a slave or living life powerfully!
It pains me to say this, but there are quite a few people these days who have a negative opinion of hip hop, and I think they’re justified. When you look at some of the ways it is represented in the mainstream media, it makes sense. Radio stations are flooded with uninspired songs touting shallow pursuits like designer clothes and emotionless sex. Rap icons glorify violence and drug dealing. And major hip hop blogs spend more time covering twitter beef and groupie fights than the music itself. But that’s not what hip hop is supposed to be about, and it’s certainly not what it was when it started. Most people think that “hip hop” refers only to the music, but in reality, when the term was coined it encompassed five pillars; rapping, DJing, B-Boying, Graffiti and arguably most importantly, Knowledge of Self. Regardless of which of the first four pillars you engaged in, it was always a path to the 5th pillar. Today I’m going to talk about using my favorite of these pillars, rapping, to increase my knowledge of self, as well as heal some of my past wounds in the process.
For those of you who have listened to my music or seen me perform, you may remember me best for my comedic songs. They tend to be the ones that people enjoy the most. But if you’ve dug a little deeper you will probably find that I can get quite introspective with my lyrics. In fact, even with my comedic songs I will often do this. I like combining levity with seriousness because it makes inner work fun. I want the pursuit of personal growth to be enjoyable, and I can’t think of a more joyous way to do that than to rap about losing my pants while taking a long, hard look at what’s underneath. The surface that is, not my pants.
“Then I found my pleats just in time for a hot date with,
this girl I met at the class with all of the sadists,
I was gonna put on my best mask so she would be fascinated
but then I realised that I would only find true love if I showed up truly naked”
Many times in my life I’ve put on a mask to impress someone, whether that be a friend, a teacher, an employer, or a prospective lover. And after writing a four minute song of comedic punchlines about misplacing my corduroys (which are making a comeback soon I swear to you), I somehow stumbled upon this nugget of wisdom. This is often the progression of events when I write. No matter what the subject is, I will almost inevitably circle back to uncovering something about myself. Or at the very least reminding myself of a lesson that I may have forgotten.
I lived in Ubud for 3 years and I experimented with my fair share of healing modalities, for lack of a better word. Some of them were very powerful. Some of them were downright dangerous. The realization that I kept coming back to, over and over again, was that the most potent healer in the world, is always yourself. I believe that there are many great healers that can help, and many amazing tools to improve your own capacity for healing, but regardless of who or what you engage in, responsibility for self is always the key. And there is no chance of responsibility for self without knowledge of self.
Which brings me back to hip hop. There are few things in the world that I find more ecstatic than finishing an awesome verse and rapping it all the way through for the first time. And then performing that song live for the first time and getting an enthusiastic crowd reaction. So with the idea that all hip hop pursuits are meant to funnelled into an increased knowledge of self constantly in my mind, I can heal myself while I do what I love. In fact, I can’t think of a better way to heal myself. So let me give you an example of when I recently had a major epiphany while writing a song. The track is about this sensation I’ve experienced lately where my mental perspective and emotional state spin around so fast that I can’t tell what is true and what is ego, and all I can do is just sit back and watch. I knew I was going to write about this when I started but I had no idea where it would go. But when I’m focused and in the zone, my words tend to go where I need them to. They took me to a girl I had recently developed feelings for. One minute I was in love with her, the next I thought my desire stemmed from my ego fearing the loss of her. I realised that this whole spinning sensation had blossomed from my ambivalent feelings for her, and that it was seeping into the rest of my life. So I explored this by writing about it, and by the end of the verse, out popped the epiphany. It was something that had been holding me back for a long time and I never even realised it.
I discovered that I had a deep rooted belief that I could only achieve my goals if I was alone, and so I was preventing myself from pursuing romantic relationships and unconsciously using this excuse to justify it. This realisation cleared up my thoughts and emotions, the spinning sensation subsided, and I was able to feel clearly what I truly wanted. So I went for it. And though I didn’t get it, I’m much better off for trying. I’m pretty much always better off for trying, and I couldn’t even begin to count how many incredible things making hip hop has influenced me to try.
Jonny Freesh is a 3rd culture kid originally from Canada, last seen in Indonesia and now found frequenting hip hop nights in Melbourne. He brings a truly original brand of hip hop to the table that he likes to call “explosively quirky”, and is known best for his visually jaw-dropping music videos. When he’s not rapping about losing his pants or his beard, you’ll probably catch him ranting about how crowdfunding platforms like Patreon are the future of the music industry.