Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
I have had moments that have felt like “breakthroughs” in my performing career where I felt like when I played at a certain venue or with a certain artist I then “made it” but then I realized the creative life goes on and on and is a constantly shifting endeavour. A time when I achieved a certain type of sound that reflected a unique and personal voice, would be my new album coming out called “Máscaras”. I began working on this project in 2018 and was trying to deepen my knowledge about electronic production and creating atmospheres and soundscapes. I was searching for a unique way to put together these varying sounds I had in my head and how to also express some sort of political and emotional feeling at the same time: how to have a multitude of elements but maintaining an equilibrium amongst the content. I feel I made a breakthrough in my artistic process with this album.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
The ideal state for creative activity for me is a relaxed, quiet openness where my senses are a bit softened to allow for the abstract and more subtle consciousness to enter the space in order to channel the creative spirit. It’s a state maybe akin to meditation or reflection or prayer where I am a little bit here and a little bit “there”, or halfway between physical awareness and a spiritual type of being. To be distracted from this delicate space is easy enough: a phone call, a notification, a baby crying etc. but I try to be gentle with myself and the situation and not allow frustration to get in the way of the sacred space that is the creative act. To enter into this space it requires me to have a desire to search, to be curious, to be in a state of soft awareness where the music comes to me. I sometimes can have difficulty entering this state of mind but I try to be patient knowing that we can’t always have productive creative sessions no matter how much we desire them, but to be open to the moment is the method to enter this state.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I absolutely believe music can heal and have experience with this. Music has given me insight into personal relationships, philosophies, higher awareness, spirituality, friendships and so on. Sometimes just listening to music has relaxed my mind and body to allow for both physical and spiritual healing. I have also had the experience of music hurting me in the form of hearing loss and loud sounds. I am a drummer and have spent countless hours with loud music with and without ear protection and so therefore unfortunately I have been hurt by loud sounds. I see music as a healing force in the way it can be transcendental and free of a material form, where sound itself and the vibrations from those sounds give us a sense of peace akin to a trance state, meditation or prayer. I can also see how music can allow us viewpoints of different cultures and perhaps allow for an appreciation of a wider sense of truth, eliminating the fear of the unknown and the racism or prejudice that come sometimes comes with the othering of people.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I do believe there is a universality of music and this is one of the most powerful aspects of this art form. Everywhere on Earth as far as I know people make music. At the same time the making of music and its consumption by audiences is not divorced from the material and political state of folks and as such we cannot separate the lived reality of the folks making the music and the music they make: music isn’t made in this perfect bubble where “we are all one.” I believe as someone who lives and is active in Canada and to other artists active in the more privileged parts of the world (often the places that have benefited from colonization apart from the Indigenous folks of whichever particular place) have a responsibility to respect and honour traditions from which you are not apart from but of which you are influenced by and maybe taking from, maybe even stealing from. Where is the line between stealing and being influenced by a culture that you have no connection to other than liking the music you hear? Is there an exchange of some sort? How are you contributing to the cultural expression of a particular music? I think one has to look deeply and critically at oneself and see how you are telling you own story, your own personal history and how much you have taken from another culture. I don’t believe music making exists in a vacuum so we have to be extremely careful that as artists we are not contributing to the erasure or oppression of a culture or people.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
I believe that everyone experiences their sensual stimuli in different ways obviously but for me what has been interesting is experiencing how music can alter the body, the physical space in which we inhabit. Music can make you more or less tense, can relax you, can make you less reliant on visual stimuli and can even produce visual effects or maybe even allowing us to see into more subtle consciousness. I think this shows us how the senses are merely vehicles for a larger experiencing of reality and that they are all limited in the experiencing of a larger reality in which consciousness resides.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
For me, being an artist is an exploration inwards and outwards, it is a constant search and becoming, a realizing, a meditation, a way of being a better person, being open, learning compassion, loving-kindness and hopefully by doing this work my art expresses these things and by extension my audience and listeners find different avenues to look within and around them. Being an artist is a spiritual work, a personal work, a professional work, at the same time it is a political work because we are in the material world so it is impossible to close our eyes and aim for the heavens when we have so much oppression, violence, suffering and war around us on earth and it is impossible to be affected by that.
What can music express about life and death which other forms of art may not?
Music can express the nameless, the transcendental, the spirits that co-exist with our material reality. The abstract nature of the vibrations of music allow for it to be an art form which shows us that things are larger than us and that life and death is more than just the physical reality.