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  • Stonefeather

Taking a step backwards in the mist...

Hmmm... a cryptic metaphor of how I'm feeling and forecasting in this current Lock-down situation. I was born a stoic optimist - trusting in the universe to always have a rationale, some kind of cosmic balancing algorithm that keeps things in check. In Te Ao Māori, our Atua Whiro is more often known as the cause of dark forces; of negative energies and spaces. But other perspectives direct us to think of Whiro as a balancing mechanism; the Atua who chairs the 'Cosmic Select Committee' and reminds us to remember the Yin of our Yang. I acknowledge Whiro with the COVID-19 pandemic circulating the globe; balancing up our values and giving us the opportunity to take a step back and review our actions. I'm hearing mum's voice - "... just have a think about your actions...". I wasn't a 'bad' kid. Quite the opposite actually. We all had/have/ have had our moments. But opportune time for humanity (or at least me) take a step back and reflect, re-focus and re-design.

Reflect: If Im talking about my practice as a musician, I feel a little hostile towards my very westernised up-bringing; my capitalist, consumerist, conditioning, manipulative, coercive paradigm or bubble. I feel ripped off that nobody told me that 90 something percent of what I was feeling at the time (between ages of 11-30yrs) was ego based and largely centred around being needy or wanting to be liked. With the lucidity of hindsight, that's quite a substantial part of my life dedicated to something that I now detest - the insidious, psychologically manipulative nature of the music pop industry. I wouldn't say there is a dedicated industry of promoting ART...that would morph into the Design Industry? I've been thinking about 'fine lines'. There are fine lines everywhere...and they move, like everything anthro-centric, with politics and often hidden agenda's based on profit. Why didn't one of my old music teachers or parents ask the question "Why are you studying music?" ...My initial response might have sounded something like "I just love music..." which is the response I hear during auditions now. BUt if they had have asked me to dig deeper, why do I love music? I might have acknowledged earlier in life, the broader role's of music in society rather than just adoration and egotistic stardom.

I do remember loving the connectivity of music though - groove and harmony. You can achieve groove as a soloist, but there were moments performing in the Whangarei Boys HIgh School Big Band where the groove, swing, connection, harmony...was addictive and contagious. This wasn't about needing to be liked...this was about belonging to an entity, group, whanau that was connecting and analogous within one thousandth of a second. Community, whanau, choir, kapahaka...belonging - not an ego based virtuosic soloist, but a member of something of value. My reflection hopes to remind my students to stay on this side of the controlled borders (fine lines) surrounding our NZ Music industry...

Re-Focus: Since the COVID-19 lockdown or rāhui, I have been re-focusing; playing around with my 'life aperture', where my focus is, my lighting, my lens, my 'Why'. I have been deeply embedded into our Featherston community recently, writing funding applications for At Risk whanau during the lockdown, a lot of communicae going out for our local marae hub, connecting and informing our community through my efforts as a lyricist - and acknowledging my small contribution. I am thinking of Francis Whitehead 'Embedding Artists' and her various projects that utilise skills of artists, designers, creative thinkers in more communal way than the traditional. I am enjoying being useful in other ways rather than entertainment. There is a LOT more value here than satisfying my needs to be adored by as many people as possible. TBH this adoration shit never really drove my musical direction (hence starting a jazz inspired, improv, reggae, soul group with independent distribution) else I would've started a pop band. But its reassuring to acknowledge those fine lines and contribute in a more meaningful way. Another fine line has popped into my mind - I don't want to belittle other musicians work or any past work that I've done ...more so just developing and re-focusing my own energies to something that I feel is more meaningful than the whims of a younger Wazza. My re-focusing is to acknowledge what skills I can offer my community as a traditionally educated musician; empathy for others - a constant companion when composing; acknowledging syntax and design in lyric writing, using concise messaging (without metaphor) to ensure clarity of information;

Re-design: Investing my energies with a more defined purpose. What a great time to be alive. Man! So lucky. In this time, born into a system of profit based ideology, with competitive product saturation driving everything...this little bug .400 nano-milli something long has given us an opportunity to take a breath. I breathe deeply. I re-focus my 'lens' away from quantitative, unit based, like-subscription based feedback ...and more towards a contributing role. I'm feeling the desire to tend the maara kai (vege garden).. rather than do the whaikorero.x

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It sounds interesting and fun, but it's a dilemma I find myself and my students in constantly; stress inducing, produce diluting effects of collaboration. I acknowledge that many physical products, br

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