Here’s our finished song – I Dream! A blog will follow soon…
“I dream we’re everything – no more them and us”
This month’s collaboration is with an amazing human being and musician from Taiwan, called Stone, who is a member of the band Mayday. I was honoured to study alongside Stone at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in 2001/2. He impressed my greatly with his gentleness and humility, his generosity, and his ability to really listen, and bring what was needed to a piece of music, rather than adding more than is required (which is something I always struggle with). Stone later invited me out to visit him in Taiwan, where I was lucky enough to sing in Mandarin, and Scots, at his wedding, and to record in Mayday’s studio!
Dubbed as the “Beatles of the Chinese-speaking World”, Mayday are influenced by The Beatles, and try to spread the ideals of love and peace through their songs. Here’s one of their impressive live music videos from earlier this year: https://youtu.be/h6WhDdeF40Q
Stone and I began our collaboration by discussing what was on our minds. I shared that the invasion of Ukraine and the horrors of war, including the trauma experienced by refugees, was something I was thinking a lot about, and Stone saw a bigger picture: conflict, which has happened and continues to happen across time and across our planet, and the causes of conflict.
In recent years, Stone has been finding out more about Taoism, and he asked me if I knew much about it (which I did not) and kindly shared links with me to help me to educate myself about some Taoist principles and texts. He mentioned that in Taoism, there is less focus on nations or boundaries, and more focus on how an individual can relate to this world (which perhaps explains why few wars come from Taoism). Values of simplicity, humility and compassion immediately appealed to me. There are also some pretty radical ideas (to me, at least), like this one: instead of defining ourselves as distinct from others, and even other species on this earth, like plants, or animals, we could consider ourselves to be as one with everything in nature. Rather than defining things, perhaps it’s ideas and ideals that we should be defining or challenging. Do we have to follow other people’s ideas? Do we have to aspire to the same life as others? Or should we enjoy the sun, follow nature’s lead, grow vegetables and enjoy life?
I loved this idea. It also reminded me of a saying I’ve heard: “there is no them and us, only us”. We’re all humans; what does it benefit us when we divide ourselves into groups and make judgements on one group over another?
We discussed how lucky we both are that we have music as a way to communicate with others, and the fact that our music exists, and will exist, beyond our own existence. We also considered the fact you have to create, perform and listen to music “in time” – in the present; it happens over time. Music that can hold you in the present moment feels really good for the soul.
Finally, we talked about the concept of flow, fluidity and change; in ourselves, and our sense of ourselves, in the world, in others… and we made a plan to create music which embodied the concepts of one-ness, simplicity and flow that we had been discussing, even to the extent of me sitting at the piano and playing, without any intention (something I’ve never done!), in the moment, to see what came…
With huge thanks for the translation, provided by Alice, Instagram: @mayday_stereo