‘Feel the power that comes from focusing on something that excites you.’ Oprah Winfrey
When I came back to India at the start of this season, I was all guns a blazing, looking forward to the next phase of the album – the Goa launch and India tour. The band was back together and I was feeling really excited about the next few months.
Meetings, planning, marketing, PR, ideas flowing, potential collaborations in place.
Only thing was, that I was feeling really tired. In fact I had got to the point of being tired of hearing myself say how tired I was!
With that in mind, I decided to take advantage of one of the main delights of living in Goa. The opportunity to take a hut on the beach, spend time with nature and myself and re-charge my batteries.
As so often happens when I take the time to connect and listen to myself, one of ‘Life’s Surprises’ occurred and I discovered that what I was feeling underneath all the excitement was actually something very different.
‘Let music lead the way’ has been my motto for the last however many years. However, I realized I was no longer letting music lead the way, I was letting a preconceived idea of what I am supposed to do with my music lead the way.
Is ‘marketing’ music? Is ’PR’ music? Is ‘planning and management’ music? Whilst all necessary, my motto had subconsciously become ‘Let business lead the way’!
Being in the creative world has (in some ways) turned out to be harder than anything else I have ever done. Law, business planning, the corporate world of consultancy, although hard, had a structure that included other professionals to help you do your job. Musicians in the current market, often find themselves needing to do everything, with little or no resources. Luckily (due to my work background) I have the ability to do most, however something was going amiss.
Doing it all in the preconceived way I thought was necessary to be successful was causing a tiredness and a tension in me. A ‘disconnectedness’ in myself that was the direct opposite to what my music first brought me – A common theme amongst anyone trying to make a living from their passion, I am sure.
What if I were to bring the focus back to the creative and drop the idea of what I was supposed to do?
What if creativity, whilst bringing us back to our souls and our roots, also links us in with the magic of life?
If (as I believe) when we honor ourselves and our passions, things do work out for us, I needed to take the leap of faith in relation to my musical ‘success’ and create the right space for some ‘magic’ to happen.
The first thing I did to honor my re-found wisdom was postpone the album launch from November 2016 to January 2017. As it turned out, the weekend that was planned for the November launch was the weekend the Indian government decided to de-monetise. What a disaster that would have been! Our actual album launch (held in January at the Museum of Goa) turned out to be such a great event, I really couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Since my ‘return to heart’, every time we have played our performances seem to have got better, our crowds have got bigger, our appreciation stronger, and for the first time my phone kept ringing asking us if we were available to play. What a nice turn around that has been. What’s even greater is that it feels like it is only the beginning!
One of the beautiful things I learned when I first came to India was to let go of trying to control the outcomes. ‘Success’ as we know it is out of our hands. All we can do is honor our needs and trust that when we do that things work out.
When my body is tense my voice is tense, when my body is tired my music is tired, when the music is tired how can an audience be drawn to me? I am sure this is the same for everyone in every type of work that we do, just particularly obvious when it comes to me and my music.
So I (yet again) end this blog in a similar way to before:
Maybe our creative passions are there to teach us and help us in everyday life, as much as they are for us to gain joy? Maybe they need to be seen as a critical part of who we are as opposed to a luxury for the talented few? How would life be if we all managed to get over our fears and follow the yearning of our hearts and our passions?
Friday 20th January, MOG – museum of goa 7.30pm, very happy to announce that we will be having the Goa launch of our new album eXhale.
We will be giving our first full band performance of the album. Line up includes:
Natalie Matos: acoustic guitar and voice
Vivek Philip: drums and backing vocals
Anna Shabalina: cello and musical saw
Karan Sajnani: lead guitar and didgeridoo
Linar Rizatdinov: bass
Derek Julien: lead electric guitar
Ali Cat: congas
Yummy food and drinks are all available at the museum.
A bus is also being organised from Anjuna, so please get in contact if transport is a problem.
As many of you know, the album was funded through the support of a crowd funding campaign, so looking forward to celebrating with those that have supported us as well as new people we have met along the way.
I would be so grateful if you could help by spreading the word. If there is one thing I have learn”t through the making of this album, it is that good hings happen with a little help from everyone!
“Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.” Kahlil Gibran
I read an article the other day that was giving advice on media, promoting yourself and making the most of what you do.
Within it, the article suggested I should answer the question – why do I do what I do?
In truth, there was never really a plan, music just kind of came up and bit me on the bum. Having had a musical childhood I had long left all playing behind, however after a life changing event, I found myself burdened with a wealth of feelings that just had to be expressed through music.
As I child I had played a number of instruments including piano and cello, however I was feeling the need to sing. Since I was unlikely to get hold of a piano in South Goa, I decided to pick up a guitar.
Using it mainly for note reference at first, I found myself writing a number of songs that helped me to make sense of how I was feeling. I had never thought of using these songs in any way other than therapeutically for myself and in fact would hide away at the back of my house to quietly sing so that no one would hear me.
When a friend (who played and sang) discovered that I had written a few songs, he encouraged me to sing them to him so that he could back me with guitar. I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling of how I felt when I sang him the first few songs. I felt so embarrassed, my heart was racing, sounds in the room seemed to be heightened and when I had finished I wanted nothing more than to disappear. Seems crazy looking back that sharing some music with someone could cause such anxiety. The desire for approval was huge. I felt like I was sharing such an intimate part of myself.
Luckily (whilst I don’t know what he actually thought) he patiently smiled and came up with a guitar part, gently encouraging me to feel more confident in what I was singing.
I don’t know if he ever realised what an important moment that was for me – the slightest reaction in the wrong direction and I could have very easily refused to sing in front of anyone again.
It is only with time that I have realised just how many defenses and barriers I had up against presenting who I am to the world. Always worried that I was not good enough, I spent much of my time presenting what I thought people wanted to see.
Musically, I seem to have this overwhelming desire to achieve a feeling in me. This feeling comes from writing and playing my own songs and will only come about when I relax, open my heart and allow every bit of me to flow.
Interestingly, when I am in this space it doesn’t seem to matter whether anyone else actually likes what I do!
It is the desire for this feeling that has pushed me to get over my nerves, get over my insecurities and follow my passion. Like a drug addiction, it has often felt like there is no other option. Yet what is different and so much more beautiful, is that the more I play, the more the vibration of the music helps me to relax, the more I reach the feeling I want to reach. In fact the feeling grows and grows getting bigger and bigger, reaching new heights I never thought possible. It reminds me of a picture of a cyclone as it gains speed, yet the music (and image) works in a positive way, infiltrating all that surrounds it, capturing, lifting and softening.
This ever expanding musical cyclone has taken over me and my life and in so doing has helped me to soften as a person, trust and feel confident in who I am and what life has to bring.
Before I got onto the musical path I was running a healing and music centre, with my main practice being Reiki and healing. Music and healing have become one in the same to me. Creativity and passion – the human spirit.
So with that in mind, I find myself writing the same thing I wrote at the end of my last blog:
Maybe our creative passions are there to teach us and help us in everyday life, as much as they are for us to gain joy? Maybe they need to be seen as a critical part of who we are as opposed to a luxury for the talented few? How would life be if we all managed to get over our fears and follow our passions?
‘Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.’ Plato
Music is now so intertwined with my life and learning’s that it would seem like something were missing if I didn’t talk about the effect my music has had on me personally.
Coming back to music late in life has meant that I have had to learn quickly and often be guided by others. Equally I have had to learn to maintain a trust in my own instinct. Making an album has been a far bigger life absorbing and life changing event than I could ever have imagined. Almost two years on from the crowd funding campaign, it is hardly surprising that there have been the usual ups and downs within it all.
I truly believe that when things go wrong it is because there is something to learn/something better out there to be had. The desire to protect the integrity of my music has taught me to voice my needs early on. I have been lucky enough to be quite clear on the direction I have wanted to take and as such, I have been able to move towards those that listen and gently move away from those that don’t. Each time learning to trust more and more that when you have the courage to close a door that is wrong, you gain the key to another door that is so much better.
It may take a while at times to find the new door and yes, at those moments it can feel excruciating, but that’s another thing I have learnt – life has its own sense of time and the more I can let go and allow myself to tune in with life’s wheel, the more I seem to be shown a new door with so much ease it can make me laugh out loud.
The consequence has been creating music that I truly love and working with people that I truly love working with. When life has all got a bit much I have been lucky enough to be able to pick up the guitar, feel the vibration through my body, engage the soothing hum of the voice and be lulled back into an open heart and a sense of knowing that with a bit of patience and trust it all works out in the end.
So with that in mind, I would encourage everyone to follow their passion in whatever form it takes and to whatever degree is possible.
Maybe our passions are there to teach us and help us in everyday life, as much as they are for us to gain joy?
Maybe they need to be seen as a critical part of who we are as opposed to a luxury for the talented few?
Our trip to Europe encompassed France, UK and Ibiza, culminating in the launch of eXhale at Lamuella Ibiza on the 12th September.
Although the use of androids, tablets and endless phone beeps can get a bit much for me at times, in truth, the growth of technology has been such an amazing thing. During our trip, Vivek and I got to experience what it was like to take his studio on the road. Armed with his mac book, sound card, mini keyboard and microphone he seemed to manage to be able to set his studio up just about anywhere, from a long train ride, to my sisters bedroom (where he cheated just a little by borrowing a spare television to create a second screen) to the confines of the ‘pod’ in the Ibiza campsite where we stayed.
[For any of you that have never heard of a ‘pod’ it is a small round wooden structure that seems to be springing up in campsites all over Europe. Looks like a little “Hobbit” village]
We most probably did fall into the trap of work, work, work. In fact there is no most probably about it – we did fall into the trap. Equally, we did our best to create a balance by enjoying the beautiful sights around us, and at the end of the day, it is great to feel really proud of our results.
The main bulk of the music for Sandeep Mohan’s feature film, Shreelancer, and our promotional video all got finished in my sister’s bedroom before we left for Ibiza. (If you haven’t seen the video yet, you can find it on our youtube page)
From the moment we arrived on the Spanish island our attention was focused on the launch. As so often happens, original plans did not come to fruition and we experienced a last minute change of venue, plus our CD’s and backdrop were stuck in Madrid by Spanish customs (we had posted them to Ibiza from Goa). Experiencing the need to take quite a few deep breaths and trust that when things go wrong there is always something better around the corner, we were rewarded with the usual magic and synchronicity that ensured we would get everything we needed.
Massive thank you to DJ Jossie Avrats and the three different people that independently pointed us in the direction of LaMuella, and also to Trudy West for doing such a fab job and for being available (even though she thought she would not be) to Russ Morgan for the loan of the drums (even though this is something he would not normally do) to Dan Booth, who happened to say, ‘why don’t you just take my mixer in case you need it’ (which of course we did) to Annemeike for managing to get our CD’s released in time (our backdrops never arrived, but we are hoping Spanish customs are now decorating their offices with details of a brilliant new album called eXhale!).
I could go on and on with the list of magic. However, the biggest thank you really needs to go to Vivek (as well as to the universe for bringing us together!!). Really none of it would have been possible without him. Even though it was his first time in Europe, he chose to focus on the launch over the delights of Ibiza (which is not something many people manage to do!). His dedication came shining through with a seamless performance on the night (plus he is now very familiar with what it is like to work in the inside of a ‘pod’!)
Lesson of the month for me: In times of need – breathe. In times of disharmony – breathe. In times of mistrust – breathe!
Breathe, step back, visualize how I would like to feel and trust that everything will fall into place. ‘eXhale’ and watch it all unfold in a new and beautiful way.
So it’s been another super busy and yet oh so enjoyable month here in Goa, followed by the start of our trip to Europe.
After many ups and downs and twists and turns the CD cases for eXhale finally arrived just in time for us to pack a load for the September 12th launch of the album in Ibiza (Goa lunch to follow in November).
For those of you that don’t know, I have not wanted to use the standard CD case as I wanted to avoid the use of plastic. After numerous people telling me they could give me what I was looking for, I came to the conclusion that I needed to design a simple card case and have it made in Goa, have the CD’s made in Bombay and collate them myself (with a little help from friends!).
We have also been finishing off a new promotional video, which should be out in the next few weeks, plus Vivek and I have taken on our first film together, ‘Shreelancer’ (although my first, this will be Vivek’s 23rd musical score for feature film).
Directed by Sandeep Mohan, Shreelancer is a great film about the journey and difficulties of following a creative path. When Vivek first suggested that we work together on a musical film score, my first thought was ‘what if I don’t like the film?’ I am very happy to say that this is not something I have had to worry about, with the subject matter being right up my street. Add to that a great Director and the involvement of a very talented singer songwriter and friend, Andrew Sloman, as well as studio time with Elvis Lobo and I feel truly blessed.
With Elvis Lobo, recording for Shreelancer
Oh, and did I mention that we moved? Vivek now has a great new place for his studio which he hopes to set up fully when we get back from our trip.
Luckily, as much as the energy has been flowing out, the support has also been flowing in. We now have Bhagvati Nath helping us with promotions and Trisham Dey helping with bookings and planning our winter multi city tour of India.
My lesson of the month? Relax, let the love flow and recognize that I really am supported in everything I do 🙂
So it’s all been happening here in Goa. After many months of hard work our new album ‘eXhale’ has now been released to the crowd funding contributors and you can find a preview copy under ‘Recorded Music”
Please take a listen and feel free to post any comments or feedback. Official launch will be happening in Ibiza in September, following which it will be available at all major download sites. Indian launch will take place in November starting with Goa and leading to a winter tour across the major cities.
The album currently includes a bonus acoustic track ‘Free Falling’ recorded live here in Goa.
Special thanks to Vivek Philip for all his hard work and dedication in bringing the music to life.