Interview with TURYA about her Sensational Debut Album ‘Ocean’ Released 20th July 2018
Ocean - The Album
I had the pleasure of interviewing Turya recently, about to the release of her latest album. I had been drawn to the title of the album, Ocean, however when I listened to the tracks I found myself being wonderfully drawn into a very calming almost surreal world. This world was full of authentic and soul-filled poignancy and deep internal self-expression and reflection. I was curious about this woman and to understand where she had come from in her personal life experiences, to produce an album such as this.
London, England. After the consecutive successes of T U R Y A’s singles ‘Rain’, ‘Falling’ and the recent hit ‘Cry Me Out’, the gifted singer, songwriter and composer releases her hugely anticipated debut album ‘Ocean’ on 20th July 2018. To celebrate the launch, the captivating singer will perform an intimate gig at London’s St Pancras Old Church on the 23rd July where she will showcase her stunning album tracks.
‘Ocean’ is a path of ethereal self-discovery and the process of maturing, something everyone can relate to, and this is echoed throughout each song on the album. Throughout the album, T U R Y A takes the listener on an emotional journey. Starting with the feeling of innocence, moving into unguarded vulnerability, and then to an openness and fear of getting emotionally hurt, and then finding one’s own sense of security and reconciliation, ultimately finding peace in the relationship with oneself.
Nicki Wells, the lady behind T U R Y A, finds influence in her unique everyday personal experiences. Having grown up in the Himalayas and travelled throughout the world before settling back into London where she was born, her music is immersed in her profound, philosophical feelings about the world.
T U R Y A explains: “Ocean is about the journey from child-like innocence, to emotional vulnerability, then getting wounded in that openness and finally reconciling with oneself through surrender and acceptance. It was a cathartic body of work to make and was a healing process in many ways. The title track Ocean really sums up that theme of surrender, finding peace within oneself and accepting wherever the universal flow takes you.”
Esther: How did you feel when you first started out and how did you feel at the end?
Turya: Well, it was quite a long process to create this album, because I actually did three drafts in three years. Some of the songs I wrote were when I was sixteen or seventeen and then basically the evolution of the songs happened over a period of 10 to even 15 years. So it's not like I had a complete concept in mind when I started it, but it did evolve to be what it is today. Part of that was me trying to find my own sound and trying to find out what it was that I wanted to say and a lot of it stemmed from my own life experiences. So it was very much a personal journey and that's what the album has solidified instead, by an experience first in time.
Esther: The Ocean is wide, an expansiveness of everything, a source of ebb and flow. Your work captures that in terms of one's emotions. How cathartic was it for you to personally produce this album and what transformation do you feel happen to you personally?
Turya: The process of creating this album was probably first and foremost a spiritual journey for me, whereby I was seeking connection within myself and finding answers within and without. It's quite an emotional album because I went through quite an emotional rollercoaster at the time and it was the first time where I let myself be vulnerable and unguarded. I think that's also part of spiritual growth to actually allow yourself to feel weak in order to then gain your own strength. You need to explore yourself, find yourself and explore your insecurities as well, in order to come back to a center as it were and if one doesn't go through any difficulties in life - well basically it's a catalyst for growth to go through difficulties. So this album was very much a process of self healing and reconciliation with yourself’ after being unguarded. It was definitely a very cathartic experience and process for me to write these songs, because they are very much the essence of how I felt at a particular time.
Esther: You’ve had a very colourful and experienced life? You’ve travelled the world, so in essence I believe those experiences have given you the opportunity to understand what it means to be a universal soul, where your experiences and those you see in others, in other cultures bring a richness to your world. How has your music captured such an eclectic journey?
Turya: Referring to other cultures; I have grown up in quite a multicultural way I was born in London, which I believe is probably the most multicultural city I know and then growing up in Italy and India. I think growing up in a multicultural environment is incredible for one's own development of self and education of the world. I think what is a disease is this small belligerent, small-mindedness, village mentality of thinking of other people as the separate it's kind of tribal mentality. Growing up in a very multicultural way, in a multicultural city, it has very much ingrained this idea of integration and embracing other cultures; specifically growing up in India, I absorbed Indian culture quite deeply and you know, it comes with a lot of richness in terms of their humanity; in terms of the culture and in their values. It's such an ancient culture and there's a lot of depth within elements of Indian culture which I find remarkable.
I absolutely love living in London. I think it is breathing with life and color and variety and I think a variety in one's environment is key for expanding one's own views of the world and expanding one's own comfort zones. I just think it's very important to keep on learning; keep on discovering new things; talk to strangers; talk to people, you can learn something from different cultures and musically, I've really been influenced by other cultures and I think we're heading towards a world that is about cultural integration. It's becoming a much smaller world and I think it's inevitable that we are getting more and more fused to things like the internet, which I think is no bad thing, because the idea of borders and separation and you know, what's mine is mine, it's just all illusionary and negative. I mean, especially through music, I think it's such a universal language that can join cultures and can harmonize people together.
Esther: What other practices do you personally do to maintain peace and balance?
Turya: Well, I grew up in a meditation practice and I meditate every day and I work a lot in nature. I have a dog and so it's a great excuse to go out and I find being in the nature and being in a kind of meditative temperament is key to maintaining my sense of peace and balance. I also just love creative things; I do pottery; I love cooking and I find that very therapeutic. Anything that is creative, you know, also music of course, it's very cathartic but, creativity, I think, really helps to find one's sense of balance and of course you know one's own spiritual growth. Be that through meditation, yoga and or reading ancient scriptural books can be inspiring. But first and foremost, I think having a silent mind and a kind of witnessing temperament is very much important for maintaining a sense of peace and balance in one's life.
Esther: The track ‘Rain’ can you share a bit more about the meaning of the track.
Turya: This track is very much about allowing rain, which symbolizes hard times to come and let it wash over you. So, even though it symbolizes hard times, it also symbolizes freedom and liberation, catharsis. It's basically about not resisting difficulty, but going deep into it and allowing yourself’ to grow and learn within it. It is referencing to a particular relationship, but ultimately it is about the relationship with yourself; there isn't anyone who can truly disturb your peace, unless you allow them to. That's really what I learned in the making of this album is that when you are really the one who controls and decides how much power you give of yourself, especially in relationships. We all become very vulnerable, but it's this whole idea of taking your strength back and your power back and protecting it, securing it within yourself and that can never be sucked out of you. It is your own power essentially. So the idea of the song ‘Rain’ is that allowing whatever needs to come to come and embrace the strength within yourself to be able to withstand it and accept it and therefore it's something that is beneficial to you and something that you can grow from.
Esther: What are your thoughts about humanity and the search for peace and balance in life?
Turya: I think humanity and the world will always be fairly complicated because I think that's its nature. I think we're all here in this, almost like a video game, filled with challenges, tests, levels and the point of it is to grow the point of us being here, which is to find our little special mission and go from one level to the next, but learning throughout each level as it were.
In terms of searching for peace and balance in life, it's a very personal journey and I think we can only truly make that decision for ourselves. We are the architects of our reality and I think that attention is very important. Wherever you put your attention, if it's negative attention, then your reality will be quite negative; if it's positive attention, then it will reflect in your life. So I think we have to be quite careful with what we want and how we express our thoughts, because it is all designing our reality and so I think everyone has to find their own sense of peace and balance in whatever way works for them, but first and foremost, I think it's about having a kindness and a sense of lovingness to oneself and to one's neighbor as it were, to be kind to others.
But first you have to work on the relationship with yourself and do whatever healing is necessary to feel at peace and secure. I think secure is a big word in the West that we need more of. People in the East seem to have a lot higher self esteem because, the culture has some very strong values already ingrained in place, whereas in the West, there are a lot more insecurities and I think we're a lot more prone to influence as well. So, I think it's very important for us to build a sense of self-esteem and self-love.
Esther: Why do you think it's important for individuals to seek their version of self expression?
Turya: I think self expression is very important because it's an outlet for creativity. It allows us also to shed our skin; it allows us to not become so stubborn and conditioned within ourselves because you are venting. I think it's very important to vent and I think it's wonderful to be able to be creative in the process of venting, so you can actually create a product out of your venting. A lot of people get quite stagnant and just do the routine of life. Without any self expression, you can become quite dry and I think self-expression is about self-discovery and about shedding one’s skin in the sense that you can be reborn after you let things out of you. You can reset yourself and therefore you're free of your own burdens and you're free from your emotional clutches. So I think self-expression either through creativity, music, cooking, gardening, I mean, it could be anything, drawing; it could be even working with kids; it could be how genuinely you express yourself with your friends; anything that allows you to transform yourself. I think it's the whole journey of evolution for all of us and very much part of self growth, whatever age and whatever place you are at in your life.
Esther: What is it ultimately that you want to share with your audience through this beautiful new album; what do you want them to take away?
Turya: I think what I want people to take away is what my artist name represents and this is the word ‘Turya’ which is a Sanskrit word. There are many different meanings of this word; it's also a state of silence; a state of consciousness that one can reach through meditation within oneself, but the meaning that I really resonated with is that it is the silence one experiences after sound. So I want people to take away from this music or from my live gigs a sense of silence within themselves after the sound and I really liked how the word represented my sound. That silence represents this particular sound; there's something very powerful about that. I've experienced it in films, for example, I'd leave the cinema and be left in silence or you can experience it after a show, or a gig, after piece of music. You’re left in silence and for me that's really powerful; for me, it means that you are going back to your natural source which is silence and the depth of that which is your true nature.
Esther: When did you realize you had the gift for singing and more importantly, the gift of healing through the vibrations of your voice?
Turya: I realized I could sing probably when I was 11 or 12 and I started writing songs. There were times before that when I lived in India, when I was six and I wrote a blues song and I remember watching a cartoon of this African-American, ‘mama baking a cake and singing this song’ and it just left such a big impression on me and I wrote a little song which I played with my friends doing that clapping game and it went something like:
‘I'm gonna wash my hair, wash my hair, wash wash-wash-wash-wash my hair. I'm gonna read my book, read my book, read-read-read-read-read my book.’
And it just went like that and then you could just make up anything; I'm going to brush my teeth; I'm going to, you know anything. It was just childish imagination. But it was a melody I created at the time. I feel like I always wanted to write songs and share them with the world; for me, songs are like gems of the soul. They are like little treasures of one's deepest emotions and thoughts that can be given and shared and scattered across the world. It's something very precious and I think singing in particular is such a healing form of self-expression. I can't say how my voice affects others, but I just know that it's very healing for myself to sing and to share and to give. I think it would be wasted, if I couldn't give it and share it with others. I feel it’s my mission in this lifetime to be that instrument, essentially, to be like an empty flute for the divine to manifest through and for the kind of universal melodies to work through and then I feel like I'm really playing my part in this whole game of life as it were.
I just want others to feel more connected to themselves’ and hope that my voice helps people to feel a sense of home within themselves; to feel familiarity that they are already where they need to be and it's about realizing that we just need to unravel what is already there rather than searching outside of ourselves. We need to realize that we already are where we need to be and who we are is just about going deeper within ourselves. The thing about music and the voice is that it penetrates through all the layers, all the fabrications. It penetrates through all the junk of our minds to go straight to the heart and the heart is really where in ancient Indian philosophy, we call the ‘Atman’ or the soul resides. It resides in the heart and so music has the power to penetrate straight to it and vibrate it and for me, there's no bigger privilege than doing music, because it is just the biggest teacher; it is love itself.
So I just feel really blessed to be able to be part of this and hope that it provides joy and sweetness in people's lives.
Thank you so much for this interview.
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