Monday, May 28, 2012
Music Video Monday: Kaya
Here's the music video by Kaya, called "The Alchemist", which has apparently made it onto the Top 40 Adult Contemporary charts. I'm actually not surprised, because the song shares the same title as a very popular novel by Paulo Coehlo. I'm not sure if that is intentional or not, but I'm glad that he's getting some radio play. I actually haven't listened to a radio station since I started working for the music distribution company, so I have no idea what's popular or current unless I happen to hear it by some other means.
Kaya came to my attention a few months ago when his profile and new album were featured on the cover of the music catalog devoted to alternative rock / heavy metal / hard rock / industrial rock / death metal / punk genres of music. I thought this was odd, because the album cover is not in keeping with the rather dark and death-obsessed covers of the albums that are featured inside the catalog. His song titles all sounded positive and very spiritual: "Born Under the Star of Change", "The Alchemist", "No Coincidence", "The End of the World", "The Day of Questions", "She's My Guide", and "What is Human."
I asked several co-workers about this strange marketing technique, but no one seemed to know. They did tell me that Kaya would not appeal to the independent music stores that cater to the hardcore / heavy music genre. As one who is familiar with the personal nature of people's musical tastes, I completely understand why Kaya would not appeal to a person who prefers loud music with provocative cover art. But for me personally, I was looking forward to giving his album a fair listen. His musical themes on spiritual topics seemed aimed directly at me!
On May 18th, on the final day of our annual label conference, I attended a dinner and then got to see Kaya perform a few songs for us. I must say that I was not a fan of his voice. A review called it "husky", but I'm not sure about that. He doesn't seem to be a natural singer but has a dream to be a singer, so he pursued it. He was popular in his native Quebec and even opened for Celine Dion before walking away and pursuing a spiritual life.
He became an avid dream interpreter, and even wrote a book about dreams, called How to Interpret Dreams & Signs. According to the promos, Kaya has slept for 20 hours a day and had amazingly vivid dreams, sometimes as many as 50 per sleep cycle. 20 hours a day? I get a headache if I sleep more than 10 hours. Who has time to write down and interpret 50 dreams?!? This seems entirely too much. However, I got a free autographed copy of his book and am reading it with interest.
Since his performance at label conference, I have listened to his album, Born Under the Star of Change, several times a day and have grown to love it. His voice takes some getting used to, but its unique to him. Sure, it might sound even better if Josh Groban was singing these songs, but this is Kaya's project and what an amazing one it is. The songs are inspirational with a strong positive vibration that touches you at the soul level. This may actually end up becoming my favourite album of the year (a distinction I thought might go to Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball, but I like the feelings I have when I listen to Kaya's spiritually-infused album).
The cover booklet not only offers the song lyrics, but also the background information for the inspiration of the song. Here are my thoughts on his songs:
"Born Under the Star of Change" is the lead song and what a perfect one to start the album with. The lyrics resonate to the current feeling around the world: "You built your life, playing by the rules, that held no truth, that were misleading. Being someone else, you lost yourself, in the world of illusions and false meaning. But you were not made for this and you will not stay in this...You were born under the star of change, born to turn the page, time for awakening, time for a new beginning..."
Okay, now that we are awakened, the second track is "The Alchemist." Its about having the power to turn "vicious stones into precious stones." Alchemy is a popular idea among New Age spiritualists. Its based on the ancient legends of turning lead into gold, but in spiritual circles, its more about an inner transformation of our undesirable life experiences into useful lessons to draw strength from. I really hope this song will reach #1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary singles chart. And if Paulo Coehlo's novel The Alchemist ever gets made into a movie, I hope the movie's producers will use this song for the opening or closing credits in the film.
"Finally Free" is about a young lady who was dying and changed his life. She inspired him in a more spiritual direction for his music and its a sweet tribute to the young lady who touched his life. Apparently, Kaya is involved with several foundations devoted to sick or terminal children to help accomplish their dreams and they have touched his life as much as his music had touched their lives.
"Seven Seconds Too Late" is about being in the moment so that we don't miss the opportunity when "love comes to us, but we don't recognize it, it can disappear and not come back for a long time." Yikes! The song is a ballad with a hint of Spanish guitar rhythms.
"One Word" is my favourite song on the album and I hope he releases it as the next single. I personally think that its the strongest song on this album. In his explanation of this song's origins, he wrote: "music is a deep expression of our soul states, of who we are, or of what we'd like to be." As I wrote last week, the vibration of the music we listen to does have an effect on our soul and can inspire us to our best selves or lead us towards our self-destruction, thus why it is important to listen to uplifting music rather than the dense / harder genres.
"No Coincidence" is exactly what he means. During the performance at label conference, Kaya said that he doesn't believe in coincidence, meaning that a coincidence we have was meant to happen and can't be dismissed as a random occurrence according to statistical probabilities. In his explanation for this song, Kaya wrote: "This song is a good example of how I follow and am receptive to synchronicity. For me, Destiny, signs and symbols are a way of life; they're really real and concrete. I've learned that the broad lines of our lives are prepared metaphysically long before they take form in reality. What I love most of all is to listen and follow these coincidences to live my life, make my decisions and fulfill my life program." Amen to that!
Here are the beginning lyrics to this song: "As I look in your eyes, I see a light, a flame that awakened me inside. A message I can't ignore, it seems like I've known you before. Is it an open door to my soul, or just a simple twist of fate? And I know this was meant to be, there's no coincidence, ooh...ooh, no coincidence..."
"In the Heart of the Sun" has a kind of Middle Eastern flair to it and is about attaining self-awareness. This would also make a great single for radio airplay.
"I Always Come Back" is a song that Kaya did not write, but he feels that it told his life story in a simple song. He was a hermit for a few years before he decided to come back and record music again.
"The End of the World" is the perfect song for 2012! In the song, he expresses his view that he believes "the end" that people feel is more about the battle waging within in our process of spiritual transformation to be more than we were indoctrinated to be by our society, religions, culture, education systems. What's truly amazing is the charitable view that Kaya holds of religious fundamentalists who hold such horrific visions of end times. Here's what he wrote in his explanation of this song: "Fundamentally, the extremists who hold this kind of apocalyptic outlook are really lovely people. They are very intense in their convictions, their faith and beliefs and their spiritual practice even if some of them follow paths that lead to despair. Because of a lack of knowledge, they don't realize that they are talking about themselves, about the end of their own world, about the great, intense, sometimes destructive upheavals they are experiencing within themselves, at the heart of their search for new values, new life principles."
"The Day of Questions" is another song that deserves to be a single. It has such a positive, infectious vibe to it and an amazing back story. He had written it 15 years ago and forgot about it until he found it in his tape recorder in his desk and pressed play. He felt like he was meeting his younger self, when he was struggling with depression during an intense period of his life.
"A Woman of Experience" is a beautiful ballad dedicated to his wife. He wrote that it was a #1 song in Canada 15 years ago and was instrumental in getting him back into music after he had walked away from it all. The original song was recorded in French, so this English version is new for American listeners.
"She's My Guide" sounds like its about his spiritual guide, but he said that its about his daughter. Its a beautiful love song, from a parent to a child.
"What is Human" is the last track on the album and its great advice for anyone who has difficulty being consistent between their work and personal lives. Kaya wrote: "Many people have discrepancies in their personal and social dimensions. At work, they are nice and kind, whereas in their love or personal life, they suffer from great lacks, fear of not succeeding and some are prepared to go to any lengths to achieve success." I especially love the last stanza's lyrics: "We own a golden palace, yet we lock ourselves away in the tiniest closet and say we're running out of space. We need the courage to open the door."
This album is truly amazing and an inspiration. It grew on me as I listened to it over and over. There was great care and love that went into the recording of this album and it shows. I noticed in the past week how positive my energy feels after I listen to this album. I can't recall any album outside of Enya's that are as spiritual as Born Under the Star of Change. At least, spiritual in a universal way. As one who has listened to hundreds of albums distributed by the company I work for in the past year and a half, Kaya's release is the best one by far and I hope it will find great success, resonating with music fans who want something deeper than what normally gets played on the radio. Buy this album. Your soul will thank you many times for doing so.