award-winning documentarian: radio + music + photography
Recently, I rehearsed my songs in a warehouse studio space in Oakland with professional band of musicians with bass, drums, keyboard and rhythm guitar. It was electrifying. Despite having had a full day with little sleep the night before, I was charged, running on adrenaline and inspiration. Co-creating the accompaniment for my songs was like adding salt to soup, just after giving birth when you are so hungry that food becomes like breathing air - one MUST have it immediately. The songs came alive with a restored vibrance and energy that thrilled and nourished every single cell in my body. While singing, there were times that I had to laugh with excitement.
On our way there Dave, my producer, asked me, "3 years ago could you have imagined driving to rehearse your songs for a debut music performance?"
This was the very last thing on my mind 3 years ago, before the moment in my last post when I spoke of being called out by my son after I relentlessly tried to get him to take music lessons. He said, "I don't want music, mama. YOU want music!"
Before that conversation was a trip to the jungle of Costa Rica, to the land of our dear friends Stephen Brooks and Sarah Wu, to share in their wild and crazy fun wedding . It was there, in 2010, that I had an awakening. While the kids slept in hammocks amidst the steamy night air, thick with heat and humidity, I jammed all night long in music circles, singing. Singing as I never had sung before. Singing to support the music happening. Something was opening in me. A reservoir of creative power that was ready to emerge. And, then, there was a moment that would change me. I met Amir Bar-Lev at this wedding, along with his awesome wife who I had already come to know, Jenn Bleyer, and their little daughter, Yael, who was the same age of 10 months as my daughter, Sofi. We were instant kin to have been crazy enough to bring our families with 10 month old girls wrapped up to us in the jungle. The Brooks-Wu wedding was not to be missed.
As Amir played guitar, I sang, along with a group of other musicians and singers. Between songs, Amir said to me, "Ahri, you have an amazing voice. Amazing." No one had ever said that to me before. I was taken aback and inspired by the reflection of someone so accomplished as a filmmaker, with such impeccable sensibility. Before that night I held a lot of tension in my voice but in Costa Rica I distinctly remember saying to myself, "relax from the inside and support what is happening here to serve the music."
Interestingly, before our trip to Costa Rica, I felt compelled to paint an image of a woman in a white long dress with sleeves that seem like wings, almost in flight, yet her feet rooted into the earth, surrounded by the lush nighttime jungle, looking up at the moon. Behind the painting, and after we returned to the Bay Area, I started to glue clips that grabbed me from Sasha Frere-Jones articles on musicians and music from The New Yorker.
The painting lives in my house on the wall as a constant reminder of the seed that began this journey. When we got home from Costa Rica, I added clippings to the back of the painting and a vision to open and hone my voice. Then, there was the moment with my boy about his music lessons. Fast forward 4 years to deciding on the name of my debut album: DELVE.