Name: Wild Anima / Alex Alexopoulos
Occupation: Sound Artist
Current Release: “Hidden Eden”, a collaboration between Wild Anima and Lush Agave is a concept musical short film and art zine created in Iceland.
If you enjoyed this interview with Wild Anima and would like to find out more about her work, head over to her personal website.
For further reading, we also conducted an expansive Wild Anima interview a while ago. Also, read our Lush Agave interview for a deeper look into the Iceland project.
Wild Anima: "Some mantras have healing qualities and hold really deep power inside them. In sanskrit 'Mantra' means protecting the mind, I call them the ancient usb keys. When you dive into the meaning of each mantra you discover an endless stream of wisdom and knowledge packed in a short grouping of syllables that have been passed for thousands of years and can still be passed on for years to come. You could spend a lifetime studying just one mantra, hearing about it from different teachers and learn new nuances each time. It's like holding an SSD drive that has endless memory capacity and that does not break as long as humans are alive and pass on the knowledge they hold. These are a sort of archeological artefacts when you think about it.
In my music practice I have also realised how healing in my daily life music is as part of my mental balance and health in general. Certain songs and sounds have had a tremendous impact on myself at various times in my life. Right now whenever I find the ability to connect to my musicality and do some free singing, I experience a form of reset into my consciousness, it affects me on a deep level. I feel my whole energy field changing whenever I use my voice in a fluid and liberated manner. I also find this sort of deep healing in "complex" electronic music as well, there are some non mainstream electronic artists who I find manage to bring a very special healing energy in the use of beats and sound design, through a raw and powerful use of sounds. It is a different form of healing frequency from that of the voice, it resonates some very deep aspects of the cosmos to me, in a way. Sounds carry their own wisdom and language, its another form of understanding, a way of integrating emotional processes and impulses from the physical world.
But I have also become aware of the less beneficial aspect that music can have at times for me. In Buddhism, music is considered a distraction, which was a surprise to me at first. But I realised that it indeed can be a source of addiction and disconnect from reality, not in a beneficial manner. On the other hand spiritual music has another kind of distractive quality that leads the self or the soul towards a place of reconnection.
There are times when I attain certain states of intense bliss through singing and playing music and I had to realise that I was at times in search of this hit like a drug addict would. in a way I feel like when this happened it was a way for me to connect with the source of all things, the origin of nature, that lies inside of me. A form of mysticism, and I think a lot of musicians could relate to what I'm talking about, although not everyone would name it in that way. And this aspect of music can be both enlightening on a deep level and deeply self-destructive. I see a lot of artists who have prioritized music above all loose interest in 'normal' life and leaving behind other aspects of human life that are as much important or necessary, and in that sense music can lead to live in a dillusional state and have a big disconnect with the common reality we live in as a human collective.
Sometimes when I hear really loud hyper commercialised pop music in a shop it makes me feel really sick on a physical level, I literally want to vomit, it's a strange effect. I once had to run to the bathroom even, when a certain song came on in the shop I was in. It made my guts feel bombarded, it's like my body wasn't able to contain this sound. It was a terrible experience having to run home because I was feeling sick, I'm laughing thinking about this.
Sometimes distraction is the best way to find oneself again. The mind needs this stimulation. And, I guess this is what we are looking for in music and especially live music. Being in contact with the physical aspect of sound, its frequencies have a great impact on the way it affects us. Being in direct contact with the person emitting these sounds is also very meaningful. Because the sounds emitted from someone's body, or someone's energy let's say, is a direct transmition from the energy source that sits in this person, the essence of this person and the origin of the living itself, of existence.
There is a huge dilemma in the frequencies and rhythm patterns we use in most of modern western music. Most of today's music is tuned to the 440hz frequency for example, which narrows the potential of using sound in its wider spectrum. And these templates and criterias aren't necessarily based on the healing qualities of sound itself. There are well known experiments that show the effect of sound and frequencies on water or sand and how this can affect our own bodies.
I have studied the traditional Mbira music of Zimbabwe for 3 years with Chartwell Dutiro, who has now passed away, and this opened my awareness to a lot of different qualities of playing music and the power of tones and overtones, as well as the counterpoints that blend together in that music and the beyond mesmerising and complex though minimal structures of the polyrythms and polyphonies of Mbira songs.
The truly ancient quality of this music definitely feels very healing on a deep level. It is like a language that builds your soul back together. I sometimes feel music is like energetic surgery, it heals your inner emotional wounds. When we play an instrument, sing or produce music, there is an alchemical process happening. We communicate with our internal world in ways we might not be able to with other people, a therapist or maybe even while spending time in nature. It is a deeply intimate experience, though I do feel it is very similar to spending time in nature, I feel that when we are in contact with music whether we play or experience it, the nature comes out from our own selves. It is like a gateway to self-healing in some way. It provides a means to connect with our own capacity of healing independently from an external source. It builds a ground for us to access and activate our own healing capacities.
I have been learning the ancient tradition of Tibetan sound healing with Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. I met him by chance while I was researching a master in Tibetan sound healing in Mcleod Ganj, India, home of the Tibetan people and government living in exile. What I have been experiencing with this tradition in my own experience of using sound is that sound and the body are intimately connected. Using certain sacred syllables coming from sanskrit which are derived from ancient sources, that are said to be the origin of creation, has a great impact on the molecular structure of our bodies. I would be curious to research this a little deeper. I for now only have a direct experience of it by practicing these techniques and don't really know the science behind it. But I think this would be really interesting and probably very inspiring for the medical world as well.
I know that singing in itself has the capacity to balance the vagal nerve behind our necks, this makes a lot of sense to me knowing how much better I feel after I sing the "Ah Om Hung" mantra for example or just when I sing in general. This mantra is very special in helping basic energetic harmony. It comes from the Tibetan Bön Buddhist tradition which is Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's tradition and is a way to heal Body, Speech and Mind. In Tibet the mind is centered in the heart space. There lies another one of our nervous systems and is greatly overlooked by our own scientific scholars. Although things are changing more and more.
The HeartMath institue for example thrives to share how much heart coherence, the balance between brain and heart nervous communication, has a measurable impact on human wellbeing. So in this particular example, using sounds as a means of developing heart coherence has a very deep healing impact and is free to use! In fact Tenzin Wangyal calls this the „three precious pills“, in reference to the herbal pills of Tibetan medicine. I am really grateful for the heritage of Tibetan culture and its presence in my life. I tend to keep it as something intimate and don't share much about it on my socials for example but it is an integral part of my daily life.
I am very drawn to spacious, ambient sounds. I find that they instantly set a feeling of expansion and connection to something bigger. There is a soul like quality to extensive reverbs and delays. I am using these a lot and when I first started producing sounds I used to have comments that there was too much reverb or delay on my music, but I honestly just really liked that texture. So I just stuck to it.
I find the use of chords and harmony very powerful in buidling a healing sound as well. I very much like the subtle dissonances that can be layered through ethereal vocal harmnoies or synths. I like to build a contrast with sub bass kicks and crisp percussion. I find this combination of sounds ideal to create a spectrum and variation of intensities that mirror many different feelings and emotions. Though the main element I use that is for me a source of a healing element, is my heart and the way I interpret the music. I put my main emphasis there really. This comes first in my creative process and composition, the technique and musicology come after."