A Bridge Between Souls (Part 2)
An interview with Lex van Someren
about his music (2000)
In 1999 you produced and released two mantra CDs „AUM“ and „OM“. That was quite a change from the kind of CDs you made before. And you used partly traditional mantra compositions, that are not of your own making. Why was that?
That some of the music is not originally composed by me does’nt bother me at all. Some pieces of music by other composers are feeling so close to my heart when I hear them, that they are feeling like my own music. When I worked with these mantras, they became my own music by giving them my personal arrangements in a similar way as I do with all my music.
I was asked by a German doctor for natural medicine to make a CD with mantras, which he could use in his healing work and his meditation classes. I did it, because I knew, it would’nt be difficult for me, as my whole inner being is in a continous flow of singing songs of praise, prayer and all kinds of mantras – it’s partly conscious, partly subconscious.
Mantras are single letters ore a string of letters, syllables or words. They can be whole sentences or even several sentences which are used in constant repetition. This can be done by humming quietly, speaking aloud or by singing. It is a form of prayer and a method for meditation. Mantras are tools of sound which help to calm the mind. It is not inherently necessary to understand their meaning because it is not the thinking in itself that brings about change in a person, but rather that which can be sensed far beyond the realm of thought.
Out of this flow I have always composed music. All of my music comes from that place of prayer, praise and joy. I have an inner urge to make this deeper state of being, which I expercience in me, available to the outside world – to as many people as possible.
I feel it as my calling to make this inner notion of the beyond / of spirit available to the widest possible audience.
Therefore, in most of my music this inner prayer is „packaged“ in a beautiful giftwrap that can be appreciated by many people – also people that wouldn‘t want to listen to pure prayer music, as for example mantras. That’s why in most of my music you’ll find elements of modern music, like pop-, world-, rock-, classical-, jazz-music, just as a way of wrapping it. If you listen carefully, you will hear the elements of prayer in it.
We live in a time where the things I’m talking about are becoming a mainstream interest. Mantras are now becoming populare all over the world. More and more artists are starting to use mantras and other forms of prayer in their music. So, the time seems to be ripe.
I felt I had to make the „AUM-mantras“-CD as a means of introducing mantras to a wider audience. Therefore it had to be interesting and of a high quality in a musical sense. At the same time, the mantras should’nt be too long and too repetitive, and it had to be possible to sing along with them and meditate with them.
I wanted this mantra-CD to be a powerfully potent medium for purification work and healing, to be used in many situations of life: privately for inspiration and as background music, for meditationgroups, in therapy, churches, hospitals, schools (by the way, small children love this kind of music and love mantras) etc.
These mantras have been charged with the highest possible vibrational energy through recording and doubling (dubbing) the voices and choirs many hundreds of times, most often in a state of altered consciousness. It has been a lot of work, but it was so much fun and in a way very easy to sing these mantras.
Compared with my other music it is relatively so much easier for me to work on mantra songs. And as I said, it’s fun. So, I look forward to having the time to make more mantra CDs.
Although it’s easy to sing and record these mantras, the arranging, mixing, mastering and programming of the songs are as complicated and difficult as with all my music. That’s the art, to make it sound on CD the way it does on CD.
Do you really believe that mantras and other prayer music can go mainstream?
Yes. Western materialism is starting to understand and accept that inspired sounds and uplifting music for our spirit can help to heal body, mind and soul, and that it can quiet the emotions and open the heart.
In Eastern mysticism it has been part of the wisdom through all the ages that sacred-power-words open gateways to other dimensions beyond this physical world and that they provide the joy of liberation.
We are living in times were the raising of consciousness in humanity at large is taking place and speeding up.
Nowadays one can notice many signs in our society that show that very many people are opening up to the inner values of life, hence to the dimensions beyond the physical reality.
I perceive this as a very positive change, which can be supported and accelerated by contemporary sacred music and mantra songs etc.
What about the „OM“-CD? You wrote somewhere that it is the most powerful piece of music you`ve made so far.
Yes, it is my gift to the world for the year 2000. I cannot think of a better gift. For me, this 1-hour-version of OM is the strongest I have ever heard in sound. Perhaps, one should’nt say that of his own product, but I am just being honest. I hope so much that many people will find an opening to this music. Because I know it can do so much good. This music with this powerful and effective mantra „OM“ is one of the best protections you can have. It does not only purify your body, mind and soul, but also your living space and the energy fields around you.
The „OM“-CD is a one hour journey of sounding OMs with six different musical phases smoothly flowing into each other. It consists of solo voices and choirs by me and Sara Olivier (with the basic key in F). Because of bubbing the voices partly up to 250times or more, and because it’s many intriguing harmonies, this has become a unique piece of music with an extremely powerful sound vibration. We have let the individual OM’s and harmonies travel from left to right and back in the stereoscopic image in order to increase the vibrational effect. Using headphones will enhance these vibrations in your brain. You may put together a new OM-meditation from each of the various phases. To do this, set your CD-player to one of the subdivided sections on the CD and repeat this part as often as you want with „repeat I“.
We have put the song „Amen“ at the end of the CD following two minutes of silence to support you in your waking-up process and to inspire a mood of Celebration. Dancing and singing along will enhance this emotion.
Just a few words about making the „OM-Meditation“. I had to make a 10 or 12 minutes OM-version for the AUM-mantras CD. While Frank Steiner and I were working on this, I discovered what a wealth of material and ideas I was touching into, much more than what would be possible within just 12 minutes. Then, the idea came to create an enlarged version as a 1-hour meditation-CD. The basic material of recorded voices and many arranged harmonies of these voices were put together with the help of the computer. Without the computer it would not be possible for us to compose such a complicated choir composition. A lot of credit has to go to Frank Steiner, who did all of the arranging work; and he created marvelous harmonies out of Sara’s and my voices. He worked for days and weeks (non-stop) to make my compositional and structural ideas work. At this point it is appropriate to tell a little story.
Frank is an open and sensitive person, however a bit sceptical about esoterics and meditation. He likes to make jokes about the fact that mantras have a potential for healing and for clearing the inner and outer environment.
I had to laugh very much, and I was delighted, when he told me after working for months on these two mantra CDs, that he noticed that he had not been sick for all that period, although all of his family got some sort of illness during that time. Normally Frank has some minor illness ever so often. He wondered if it was because of all the OM’s and AUM’s he had heard day-in, day-out. I’m sure it was.
Why „OM“ and „AUM“?
OM consists of the three letters A-U-M. It is the most basic sound we have on this planet, which encompasses all other sounds. This sound, this mantra, doesn‘t belong to a specific religion. It is universal and available to all of us.
The sacred syllable OM or A-U-M evokes all that is otherwise inexpressible.It is the highest spiritual sound on earth. When inwardly repeated with a truthful mind it is calling upon the Highest and a blessing to all creatures. It is an affirmation of the infinite Truth and a profession to purity. It means the acknowledgement of the eternal, of the undying self.
Tagore said: „OM“ is the perfect sound which encompasses the unity of all things, it is the word that symbolises the perfect eternity. All our religious points of view begin with OM and end with OM. The mind is given an indication, a hint of eternal beauty and is simultaneously freed from self restrictive selfishness“.
You’ve made many CD’s. Which is your favorite?
When we sell CD‘s people often ask me: „What is the best CD?“
I can’t tell, because it’s like asking a mother which of her children she loves most or likes best. These CD‘s are my children, my babies. The creation of every piece of music and each new CD is like giving birth to a child.
An intense and often long process of working on the different songs has come before the CD was born. It involves a lot of work, discipline, patience, sensitivity, care and love. Yes, I’ve put so much love in each of my CD’s, that I can’t point out one and say: „That’s the best one“.
Love doesn‘t compare, doesn‘t divide and doesn‘t judge. Each CD is different from the other one, and I love them for it. Each one has its own particular sound, style and dimension. There are always elements in each CD which I’m not satisfied with. When I hear those parts back again, I usually have a feeling of: „What a pity, it could have been done better“. But the thing is, it could not have been done better in the given circumstances at the given time.
In general I am very pleased with what I have accomplished with each CD. They are products that hold a certain standard and quality which I can stand for.
As you said: Each CD is very different from the other one. Why do you not keep to one specific style, sound or concept for your music, like most artists do?
Because I have so many different kinds of music inside of me, and because I am a person dedicated to grow and to develop myself. And when one is open to grow, new doors open up all of the time.
Since I made my first CD „The Northern Light“, I am on a discovery tour as a musician and composer, being influenced also by the musicians I have been closely working with.
„The Northern Light“ was arranged by Christoph Haussmann, a German musician, who loves the synthesizer. He was able to create very special sounds and arrangements for my songs. From him I learned how important the arrangements are to transport the quality of consciousness which I am looking for.
The Norwegian songwriter Øystein Sevag arranged the second album with me, „Shangrila“. He is a composer and musician of true genius with very specific ideas about arranging, structuring and mixing the music. The cooperation with this unique artist created the sound and style of the Shangrila-CD.
When I had my first musical meeting with Kailash with his digderidoo playing, flutes and drums, I discovered my shamanic side as a singer and composer.
Since that time I have been using elements of shamanic singing and world music in many of my arrangements. I actually have plans to produce a purely shamanic world music album.
Since 1995 I compose and arrange most of my music together with Frank Steiner. He is a versatile musician. We have a wonderful working relationship and friendship that allows me to try different styles and sounds.
With him I composed: „Ayam“ with world– and popmusic-elements, „Mystic-Fire“ is more mystical, „Ocean of Love“ with classical acoustic instruments, and then the mantra CDs, which have a different style of arrangement again.
And currently we are finishing „Saga Symphony“, which is a completely new adventure for me. I discovered that Frank has such a talent and skill to arrange and compose symphonic music. I wanted him to use it for my new CD. We have actually given two mantra songs a symphonic arrangement and it works very well. Although we cannot afford at this moment to record this music with a full symphony orchestra (which I hopefully will be able to in the near future), it still sounds as if we have done it.
That’s because of the great skill of Frank Steiner in using his keyboards, computer, samples and machines in such a way that you hardly can hear the difference. Of course, we have added many voices, choirs, a string quartet and other acoustic instruments.
I shouldn‘t forget to mention the input of the sound engineer, Uli Gitschier, whom I have been working with for many years at his Seraphon Studio in southern Germany. He is really an artist with sound. I am very grateful that I found him, because he holds the credits for the wonderful quality of sound that each CD has got. His technical „tricks“ with recording and mixing have been a blessing for my music. He actually uses mainly analog machines to create the sound, and old legendary Neumann microphones, which are known as the best in the world.
Back to the question. The more I think about the big variety of music I’m composing and performing, the more I see it as if I am creating my life’s symphony. Probably, when more time will have gone by the red thread that goes through all my music and other work will become much clearer, much more visable. I actually am working on ideas to create a show – a performance, in which all of these different sides of me, and all the different elements, come together as one whole.
You have plans to start with your own band, so that you can perform your music completely „live“. Do you think you will have more success that way?
I certainly believe that, when the play back music to which I always sing „live“ doesn‘t come from a tape, but instead is being performed by a band with good musicians, it will have a much stronger and deeper impact. My concerts will gain more directness, radiance and atmosphere.
I can imagine that there will also be a bigger chance to be taken serious as a performer and singer by the media.
The jump from performing solo to singing with a band is the step and the medium to be able to fulfill a big vision that I have been carrying inside me all of my life.
A vision to touch people on a heart and soul level and uplift them into higher (altered) states of consciousness. I know how to make such a thing artistically possible. When one, together with other people, experiences an altered state of consciousness – a space where the basic oneness of all things and all human beings becomes a living reality, even if it is for a short period of time – it can create such a powerfull energy field, that profound healing and transformation can take place in our body, mind and soul.
Through my life-journeys I have come to realise that when an awareness of basic unity is becoming a direct experience, it is the greatest incentive for healing that exists.
This unity consciousness is the highest form of love. And there is nothing else, except grace, that is so direct, so effective and profound in facilitating healing, bringing inner peace to help us to return into the harmony of creation.
Through my music and performing-arts people can have a direct experience within themselves of this altered state of consciousness. I have been doing this work for many years in small ways, and as soon as the time is ripe, I would like to do it on a wider scale, to make these kinds of experience available to many more people.
That’s what my work is about. Founding a band is only a means, as is „success“. I am not interested in personal success. But as an artist I need the success to be able to share my talents, knowledge, wisdom and experience to do my part in making this world a better place to live.
You call yourself a „visionary artist“. What do you mean with that? Are not all artists visionaries?
Absolutely not. Many artists reflect upon what has been in the past or happens in the present times. In my understanding a visionary artist is someone who holds a vision of a new world, a new and better way of living and he creates new forms of art and rituals to uplift our spirits in the present and the times to come.
In my opinion, someone is only an artist when he/she creates sacred art (otherwise they are just craftmen/women) – which means: he/she draws (the) inspiration from beyond our three dimensional world – from The Beyond; where our dualistic perspective is dissolved into Oneness and Unity – where through higher consciousness only Love and Light can prevail. Within the soul of each living being there is a deeper knowing and understanding of this.
The visionary artist is a mystic who puts his inner perceptions (visions) and experiences of the Beyond –of the spirit- into forms, sounds, melodies, colors etc., for the public to get a direct experience in this three dimensional plane of that which is beyond our five senses – and of which our soul knows so well.
The visionary is someone who has concrete answers how to create and change the way we live, to make this a better place. A world where we live according to the wisdom of our souls.
I believe, deep within us we all have a knowing of how this world can be a better place – where there is true peace of heart and where a consciousness of Oneness (respecting our differences) is living reality. The visionary takes it a leap further and says: If I know this as my truth, I have to take the responsibility and live up to do it. So, there is no other choice than to create from that inner truth, and show ways in this world how to get there.
That’s what I experience and do myself. It does’nt mean that I feel I have all the answers, but some answers, yes, I know I have.
And this knowing I follow in my art – dedicated to really change something for the better in this world – with all the consequences it involves.
At this point I would like to share with you a poem I made some time ago:
CALL FOR LOVE
Who am I
This lonely man
On this lonely planet
This planet full of lonely (lovely) people
Where everyone is suffering from corruption of Truth
The only tool I have is my music
To send a call for love
Across the oceans separating our hearts
I pray that my music be heard
As a cry for honesty, sincerity and an insistence for Truth
Bringing our souls in resonance
With the Essence of Life
May it be a Ray of Light
Alleviating the pains, consoling the hurts and healing the wounds
Of lifetimes of desolation and separation
Uniting all of us in the Heart
And teaching us to make our life
A song of praise
A hymn of love
A dance of joy
This is the vision of a stubborn man
Who will never give up
The journey towards his dream
Of a world that will be in peace
With the laws of the universe
Living in harmony with
„Thy Will Be Done“
On one of your CD‘s there is the quote:
„His work is an expression of the vision he holds to create sacred performance art,
multi-media events, music and rituals which bring transformation, healing,
upliftment, inspiration and love to people of all ages and of all walks of life.“
Tell us about your visions for multi-media events and sacred performance art.
I am dedicated to create music and performance-art that can contain our new sense of the divine in our modern times- I hope that my art can contribute towards nurturing the sacred in our churches with liveliness, a sense of wonder and awe, beauty, humour and inspired vision. At the same time, I wish that our theaters and concert-halls become temples of sacred art once again.
During the last 20 years I have been creating many multi-media theater events on a smaller scale. Some of the theater-productions, especially during my time in Norway, have been in big theaters with lots of people involved and nationwide publicity. But in general speaking I have been working with smaller audiences, mainly as a solo-artist, relatively unknown to the media.
The last few years I have done a lot of inner searching and I have been contemplating about the directions to take. I’m working on a plan to create a band with good musicians to perform my music completely „live“. A first step on the way is to create a multi-media show with my music, clowning, dancing, lights, projection-screens, etc. Creating
an aesthetic performance, using all technology at the service of simplicity and the power of the heart.
I envision an event or a show, or concert that doesn‘t just last for one or two hours and then you go home.
As soon as people enter the foyer of the theater, the concert hall or the church they should have a feeling of entering another world – another dimension – a sacred space; where the whole environment and atmosphere is filled with a spirit of beauty, simplicity and warmth. Aesthetic in color, form, sound and light, but profoundly simple. Painters, sculptors, designers, etc. will be involved to decorate the theater, the tent or the hall, and all the entrance spaces, like the foyers, with works of aesthetic beauty.
I believe strongly in the power of beauty, harmony and simplicity for the expression of true art, to nourish our souls.
„In Beauty we are united
Through Beauty we pray
With Beauty we conquer“
-Nicolas Roerich- (Russian painter)
The shows or concerts I envision are spectacular through their profound simplicity. I would like to use many different media on and around stage – highly sophisticated lighting and sound equipment, projection screens, musicians, dancers, singers, clowns – but all at the service of utmost simplicity.
Only through profound simplicity meditation ( a sense of inner stillness, harmony and oneness) becomes a possibility.
If one can bring all the artistic and technical skills to the vintage point of what I call „profound simplicity“, theater can become an immensely powerful medium for opening people up to their soul dimension, to their divine nature. This will be so healing and transformative.
I can imagine to create and direct shows like Cirque du Soleil. Not with world-class acrobats, but with world-class artists. Artists with a gift and a capacity to touch and activate the soul within people. I imagine to go around the planet with a huge tent (marquee) as a traveling temple for the sacred arts.
I also imagine putting together (directing) a clown show. A whole evening stage show with lots of sacred clowns, traveling around, to spread this message of lightness and humour througt beauty, harmony and simplicity.
When all this is on the way, I imagine the foundation of several institutes for contemporary sacred arts. Where professional artists can come to reconnect with their own depths and find their true unique soul expression througt their art and skill – where (art) teachers can be trained to guide children and adults into the realm of soul expression through the arts.
Where doctors, therapists, teachers, social workers, etc., can come to get additional training in discovering the sacred artists within themselves. Where they learn to express themselves from a soul-level.
I imagine inner adventure-parks (as a contrast to the superficiality of the Walt Disney fun parks) where one can go on inner journeys by means of sacred arts. I have plenty of ideas for this.
I’m praying that I will be guided to meet the right people to bring these visions into being. It needs lots of money, people with management skills, open minded and dedicated artists, and lots of goodwill from many people.
I have carried these visions inside of me for all of my life. I feel I am on the right track now to realize the dream. It’s my dream. And I cannot stop dreaming it. I will dream this forever until it becomes reality. And if not, then at least I know that I have tried all that’s in my capacity and all that I believe in, to make this world a better place to live.
You used to perform mainly as a clown, and you tought clowning. Are you no longer doing that?
For many years I gave many clown workshops (the Sacred Art of Clowning) all over Europe, culminating in a 3-year long intensive training with a group in England and a group in Germany. Twelve students in each country finished that program in 1996.
Since then I have not been doing clown workshops and also my clown performances have become fewer.
No more teaching (at least for a while) to have time to develop and to become more professional myself as an artist.
Not so many clown shows anymore, as composing and performing my music got to the forefront. I love creating my music, and my concerts are my bliss. Nevertheless, I do have also my theater shows, which are a combination of clown acts and my singing.
I still love to do my clowning, but I need the time to compose and perform my music.
Perhaps it will all fit together in the near future, when I’m able to create the multi-media events that I have in mind.
It’s so releasing to laugh and make people laugh, especially when it comes from the depths of the soul. Good clowning is the world’s number one way for getting in close contact with people (strangers) and intimitely communicate with them. It opens people up inmediately, if they have not build a wall of steel around their hearts. We all (almost) love to laugh. It’s a gift I have, to make people laugh, which I like to use artistically.
I have an enormous appreciation for my dear friend Patch Adams, a doctor and clown, who initiated laughter and clowning as one of the major medicines for all illnesses. He is now building his own hospital where clowning and laughter will be an essential treatment for the patients.
Tell us about your performances in churches. How did it start?
The last few years I have been „infiltrating“ the churches in Germany as a clown.
Since 1995 I am regularly being invited to one of the biggest Catholic churches in Frankfurt, to come in as a clown during the Sunday morning services. The priest and
I got a really nice connection going. We always create the service together beforehand. In 1995 I explained to him what I am standing for as an artist and as a clown. I told him that my whole inside feels like a priest, but that for this lifetime I had chosen to bring the message of spirit as an artist (a fool for Christ), I think he understood what I was saying and he sponteneously invited me to join him in the communion service on a Sunday morning. I was amazed that such a thing could be possible in a Catholic church. I had done my clown shows in serveral protestant churches (like Piccadilly Church in London) before that time. Well, we did it with a full church (500 people), and in the beginning the priest was worried to disturb his congregation with this crazy idea. But he felt and saw how I got the people into amazement with my music, I got them to laugh, dance and sing in a way they had never done before in this church. I did my acrobatics behind and in front of the altar. People were in tears and so grateful for the experience, and the priest enjoyed it so much, because they had never laughed so much and so freely during a church mass.
It inspired the priest to do this with me twice a year, at least, and he always found wonderful quotes and passages in the Bible about humour, joy, tears, dancing and celebration, not forgetting to express our feelings as part of our rituals.
So, these joined services were highlights for him and for me, and for all the people that filled the church. Because the church announced it beforehand in their magazine and newspaper, the church always was overfilled. People were bringing their children; some had to stand because all of the 500 seats were taken.
Since then I have got more invitations of other Catholic priests to come to their church and do the same. So, I’ve been to quite some churches with my art. It’s part of my mission to awaken the spiritual atmosphere of our churches to a spirituality of joy, of wonder and awe, of beauty and fill them with rituals that bring people a true spark of inspiration to act upon in their daily lives. Rituals that are human, and not frozen acts following the described rules of the past. I agree with Matthew Fox that this is the responsibility of artists. I know that in the U.S. there are lots of churches with lively, lovely rituals that make you feel part of the community immediately. There is joy and liveliness as part of the service.
But in Europe that’s very different. Since 1997 I live in Baden-Baden (Germany) where I found a wonderful medium-size church, where I can perform as often as I want and whatever I feel like. The priest (Old-Catholic, they are freer and more open) of that church and its community have complete trust in me for what I am standing for and the quality of my art. I do lots of concerts there and some clown shows, and every year the whole month of August, free concerts every night, every day. Many people living in or near by Baden-Baden come almost every night and some travel a 100 miles to do that.
People are telling me: „This is what we want in the churches, why can it not happen frequently and in all churches?“
I see it as part of my calling to transform this old stifled energy in many European churches, and bring the sacred energy, that most old churches still carry within them, to the hearts and the guts of the people. Wherever I am entering churches, I feel that the angels, Christ and the spirits present there, are eager to laugh, dance and sing with the people that are coming to the church.
Through my art, which is my prayer, I show people that prayer can have many forms. It can be in a clown’s act, in a happy song, in a dance and in a good cry of releasing grief.
Through my work, my art, I want to remind people that we live in a sacred world. We have to drop our fears, and dare to take our responsibility to do our share in perceiving and treating this world as sacred.
I am dedicated to make this world a better place by promoting art as a sacred vow. My focus is: contemporary sacred art, to soak the world with a grounded and practical spirituality.
In our western society art has become superficial and ego-centered, in general speaking. Like the mythologist Joseph Campbell, I think that the artists of today need to be reminded ot their true responsibility in creating rituals, forms, sounds, music etc. that carry a spark of divinity – that remind us of our divine nature. We need the (sacred) artists to show us how we can make everything we do in life a prayer – a song of praise.
You seem to have great ambitions.
Well, I think it’s no use of criticising the world or society and do nothing or very little to change the things you would like to see changed.
I’ve grown out of the „victim“-role (being a victim of what society likes to label onto us). I would like to do everything I can, with all I have and all I am to change things, as far as this is in my capacity. That’s what I am here for, to take full responsibility for my life in this world. I have learned that if I am totally committed, without compromising my Truth, I am able to do so much and be a real factor of positive change in our world of today and tomorrow. I believe that miracles are possible, if I really want to make my dreams for positive change come through. Of course, it is important to join together with other highly motivated people that share my dreams, my visions. That increases the possibility considerably for miracles to happen.
I’ve learned that it’s important to use my ambitions in service of the talents and gifts I have. And not the other way around (putting your talents in service of your ambitions).
And if the ambitions come from the right place within – originating from that still place within the heart and soul; inspired by the communion with divine Truth, you know that your ambitions are in service of a divine mission, and not in service of the ego.
And after many many years of inner searching I know that these specific ambitions I have come from that inner space. That doesn’t mean that the ego is not involved. The Ego (the personality) is important as a mediator for the soul (the Higher Self) to get things done in this world. One has to be very aware all of the time to put the ego in service of the soul (Higher Self), and not the other way around.
I feel the need to express my visions and dreams – or ambitions, if you wish – also as a means to see if there are people out there, who resonate with those visions, or have similar dreams so that we can join together in whatever way and do the job.