Yael Meyer -Traveling At The Speed Of My Heartbeat
Traveling At The Speed Of My Heartbeat. Interview/Album review with Yael Meyer
Posted May 31, 2010, by GG-.
Featured Artists: Yael Meyer; Genre: Indie;
Catching up with old friends is an amazing thing sometimes. I’ve been out of the loop for a while, being sucked in and tossed around by the teeth of life. Getting to see my old friends at the BigSmile Magazine Beach Clean Up Day a couple months back made me realize that, yes though I’m getting older there’s no aging in reverse… well only in the heart. Tthere are still ways to sooth that creative thirst in the soul. But it’s been years, my well of contacts is all but dried out, so where do I even begin again? Well its simple enough to begin again at the beginning… so I called up Yael Meyer after hearing her new album, and we got together on a patch of grass and it went something like this…
GG- I’m here with Yael Meyer, and I’m going to be asking her a few things about her new released album named “Heartbeat EP”, the 5 song E.P. which can be found on itunes.com as well as www.yaelmeyermusic.com. What was your inspiration for writing "Heartbeat EP", because it’s very different from your previous album ‘Common Ground’?
YM- Well it’s been what? Five years, six years, something like that? I had a long time to write and after I moved here I started playing and hustling and doing the indie artist thing and I just got burned out. I decided that I was done; I didn’t want to do it anymore. Then about a year and half into my hiatus I started writing new material, with no intention for anyone else to hear. I started writing honestly and freely, without the pressure to please anyone. Then I had a baby girl around that time, and I realized that music wasn’t something I could quit. It’s like I knew I wasn’t really going to have a choice, and that I would always struggle with it, so I chose to embrace it. I had been wanting to do another album for a long time, but I wanted to do it well, with the right producer, the right musicians. Thank G'd, sometimes when you ask for something from your heart the sky opens up and says yes. Then serendipitously I met a producer called Bill Lefler who worked on an album a friend of mine had released. At the time I was working on music and recording by myself at home and called him up looking for an engineer to mix the music I'd been working on, but during the conversation I somehow ended up telling him that I was looking for a producer. So we got together, I played him a few songs in the studio and he said “let’s do it” and we recorded the whole EP together in his studio. For me it was magical. You know, it’s really hit or miss, I mean if there’s chemistry there’s chemistry, if there’s not, you really can’t fake that.
GG- So finding the right producer is a big career move as a musician, it’s kind of like being married to that person through a part of your soul, and they’ve got to have the same vision and the same direction and the same goal right?
YM- It’s huge! To me it’s the difference between finding somebody who sees into you, or someone who doesn’t. They’re not going to know how to convey who you are musically if they don’t see you. oops careful there’s poop right there lol and thank G'd it just happened to work out, we had very good chemistry and I trusted him and gave him room to do what he needed to do as far as his creative process and he also gave me room and made me feel safe so I could trust him with my music which is very hard to do, at least for me.
GG- So I found you on LastFM.com, what was the process of getting your music out to these social music sites and how are free music sites affecting your sales and affect you as a musician?
YM- Sales wise? I don’t know, I don’t know… this is like an experiment for me, and I also think that any business that you start, the first two years, you’re not going to see any return no matter what business it is, it’s all investment. Its frustrating at times, but I know that it’s just normal and I just have to keep putting in. It does affect other things. It does affect sales. I am selling every month which I wouldn’t be if my music wasn’t out there period. I think the first year for me, which was last year when I decided that I was going to start thinking of my music as a business that had to be sustainable (if I’m going to dedicate my life to this, it has to be sustainable)… so I think that the first year for me was about creating the music, the material and building the image, what I’m going to offer. This is who I am this is what I want to share. The second year is about building my community, finding people who enjoy what I do and want to be a part of it, because in the end, it is a community based thing. Any product out there can only be sustainable if people find value in it.
GG- What’s your demographic audience, who listens to your sound? I noticed on LastFM.com that you seem to have a worldly audience who really appreciate what you’re doing. "I" think mostly, because it's so real to true human emotions, and not commercially fed, this album just doesn’t feel like that.
YM- You know I really wish I knew more about who’s listening, who my audience is, but I’m starting to understand more and more who they are. I think it’s like you said, and it’s not about age; it could be little kids or teenagers, or someone will get my album and tell me “my twelve year old daughter loves it”, it could be a 60 year old. I think it’s more a matter of what you’re saying in regards to how people see life and what one believes. I like to think of myself as a dreamer. Some people say that in your twenties or in your teens that you’re a “dreamer” and you think anything is possible and then when you grow older you’ll grow out of it and just accept life… and I don’t, I don’t think I ever will. I won’t. I will never. I refuse to do that...and I think my audience maybe is the people who feel the same way, those who believe anything is possible. It’s anyone who believes that life is supposed to be beautiful and we’re meant to be happy and that each one of us can have an impact and make a difference in the world. I think maybe these are the people who feel connect to what I do.
GG- Ha-ha, that’s awesome! I think your daughter has some footsteps to fill when she grows up.
YM- Ha-ha, well, actually I learn a lot from her. She’s a great teacher to me.
GG- Tell us about motherhood how has that affected your experience in your writing? I feel it shows a lot in your music. I feel that in your last album, it was about self exploration and this album is more of exploring the world around you in a sense and taking a deeper intricate look into the little things about life that make it go round.
YM- I think that life is made of little moments, sometimes people say “are you happy? Are you not happy?” and in the end, there’s happy moments and there’s sad moment. I think it depends on your outlook. How many happy moments do you find in your day and how many sad moments do you find in your day. It’s a switch inside the head in which how we choose to perceive life, because there’s always going to be something you could complain about but we can always find something to be grateful about, and I might be wrong, but this is my own personal opinion. It boils down to the choices we make and how we want to see life. We’re all human and we’re all going to go through the whole spectrum of emotions, and the album goes through those emotions. It’s not all happy, its introspective its melancholic and about being in situations you don’t want to be in, but at the end of the day it’s about the little moments like sitting in the sun, or having an ice cream with your daughter or when you wake up in the morning next to the person that you love. It’s the little things that give you that feeling of “thank God I’m alive!” You know...if you have enough of those moments in the day then maybe you can say you're happy.
GG- That’s a good answer… so do you plan on touring, traveling through the states or possibly through other countries?
YM- I would love that, I would really really love to. But right now my live strategy for the moment is, I want to play free shows. And I want to play free shows that have a built in audience which is why I’m playing festivals and the Apple Store… and we’re negotiating a few more gigs throughout the summer. Right now I just want to be able to bring my music to as many people as possible and I feel an entry fee at this point could be alienating to some. I want everybody to feel free to come and enjoy the music and not be worried about paying an entry fee.
GG- Tell me about the musicians in your band. How do you guys click in the studio as well as outside the studio?
YM- Well right now in my live set, it varies in the size and amount of musicians. One of the people I’m playing with is Fil Krohnengold, I met him through Bill. He plays keys, guitar and sings back up vocals. He’s very talented. He played on Meiko's last album. I met him because he played accordion for the last track of my record. When he came he started fooling around with the guitar and so we asked him to play guitar on the track as well. It’s always how it happens with musicians, it’s always somebody who has a certain circle of friends that they play and feel comfortable with and you meet other musicians through them. At the Apple Store we will also have The Deacon (drummer/percussionist) with us and I met him through Fil.
GG- There’s been a lot of things that have been happening around the world lately, it’s actually gotten pretty scary. Tell me about how the earthquake in Chile affected you and your family?
YM- Well thank G'd my family is doing very well and they weren’t affected. Chile has very strong regulations for building because they are located on a fault line. So it’s very common to have little tremors, which out here you call earthquakes but in Chile we call tremors. But this was an 8.8, it was very strong, life there is kind of like “where were you when the earthquake happened” so it was quite a life changing experience. The last earthquake I experienced out there was in 1984 or 1985, I was four years old and I remember pieces of our house falling on the dog house, but I wasn’t scared. The person I was with at the moment was very calm, so I’m not afraid of earthquakes because I've been through them. A lot of people were affected by the earthquake itself, but the thing that affected people the most was the tsunami that followed the earthquake that people were not prepared for. It was the huge wave that hit that ended up destroying most of the infrastructure and killing a lot of people. You know I feel that earthquakes are supposed to shake the ground for us and remind us how small we are. To me the way that I feel, I mean it’s horrible to be in any disaster situation at any time, but I feel that in themselves earthquakes aren’t bad. So it has that duality for me, you can be safe in an earthquake but I feel really really bad for those who were affected directly so (we could add here if it's ok with you that I am giving a song download "pay what you like") I set up a song download to raise money for those affected by the earthquake on my website - it's called "All Around Me". You can download and "pay what you like" for it and all proceeds go to relief efforts and to rebuild homes for those who lost them during the earthquake.
GG- There are those thing in life that we can’t control like earthquakes but what about the things we do control as humans such as the oil spill or the immigration laws that have been recently passed in Arizona. These are things also that as humans we control, but as individual people we have no control… so essentially it might as well be an earthquake.
YM- Well the difference is that an earthquake is not intrinsically evil, it’s just energy that is concentrated at the bottom of the earth that needs to escape, it’s the most natural process of life, of this world. It reminds us that we’re one, but too often we’re divided by countries and ideas etc even though we’re all living on one place, one world. But for example the oil spill situation is different because it is a man-made problem and my heart has been breaking every day. I fight between going into deep depression and not wanting to know what’s going on, to strong anger and desperation because I really don’t know what to do about it.
GG- The only thing we could do as people is protest or beyond an opinion, there comes a point where society has to have a revolution… and that could be bloody, and people will be sacrificed and basically it will be ideas fighting power, do you think there are any sign of that?
YM- I plan on it! Are you with me?
GG- I’m with you!
YM- I think we should start a revolution! You know what I think, I think our generation is a different generation, I think that we realize that the world is one place. The older generations grew up with much more division and much more racism, and in our generation races are getting mixed, languages are getting mixed… so many families are multicultural. So we realize that though we may not speak each others’ languages that we’re all human and we all live in the same planet. We all have the same dreams and same expectations and if we learn to speak each others’ language we can all learn to live together…
GG- But smiles are universal…
YM- …yes they are universal but so is pain right? So I have hope for our generation and the generation that we’ll raise. With my daughter, I learn what teach our children is very powerful and also how much we can build together when we have that opportunity.
GG- It seems like they do have a lot stacked up against them, it’s going to be hard for them to understand now since they’re young. But I am having these conversations with my ten year old niece and she’s starting to understand that as a country things are changing, we’re on the brink of class systems failing, and revolutionary ideas and to them it’s so much to understand and take in… to be honest I barely understand things. We’ve built a society structured on economic division and racism and that’s a very scary truth.
YM- Its true, a revolution is very much needed, and to me I think we can make a change, I think we can make a difference with the way we live ourselves. It’s not enough to talk about it; it’s beyond being verbal about it. It’s about being aware of the consequences of our actions and the way we live, it’s about holding your principals and wearing them on your sleeve and living by them every day. If you really believe that the earth is important then we have to take care of it. It’s about the little things like shutting off the water when you’re brushing your teeth, whether or not you recycle… if you buy used or if you buy new. You can decorate your house with used goodies. If you compost your food, you can lower your waste; you could go from maybe filling up a trash can every day to filling up a trashcan maybe every 3 days. It’s all these little things that make a huge difference, it may not seem like a huge difference when one person does it, but it’s very huge if everybody does it. And you can’t go preaching to people to live a certain way, but you can live that certain way and hope that if it is meaningful enough maybe people might become inspired at a certain point.
GG- That reminds me, I’ve noticed that you don’t have any influence of religious or political ideals in your music. Will that change eventually? Do you feel you’ll express any of that?
YM- No, because… I am Jewish, I am very observant, but what I’ve come to believe through my heritage and what I grew up with, is that we all speak a different language and so much gets lost in translation. For instance I may talk about “God”, and that one word alone can alienate a lot of people. Because though it may mean something to you, it probably means something different to me. So I’d rather not use words that have an intrinsic meaning behind them, because I want to build bridges and I would much rather spend my time learning the language of the people that I encounter, so we can have a conversation that is meaningful and talk about what we really want to talk about, instead of using terminology that has conflicting ideas and end up having a completely different conversation. Really, we’re all just trying to get to the same place. I don’t think religion is bad; and I feel in the center all religions are pointing to the same place. But I don’t feel that a lot of people see that perspective. So I would rather not talk about religion in itself… (GG- you have a little spider crawling on you… It might have gone, oh… there you got it) … I’d rather talk about what I really believe in which is the spiritual revolution, that we’re all people who have the power to bring goodness, joy and light into the world and to everybody. We’re all unique pieces of the puzzle and we all have to work together and that we can build a better world. To me that’s what I believe in, and it doesn’t matter what name it has.
GG- You know… as I grow older I find myself enjoying the constant reinvention of myself, how are you reinventing yourself?
YM- That’s a great question… I like putting myself in situations that challenge me, I like taking myself out of my comfort zone. I love traveling, meeting people that speak different languages, different ideas and just opening my mind to different opinions on life and learning from one another. And in the day to day life, I can still do that here. My daughter teaches me so much every day, she’s fresh, brand new. And every day I get to make a new world with her. Because whatever I show her, that’s what her world is. So I get a unique chance to start anew with somebody and build the world I really believe in. I get to teach her everything that I think is beautiful and important and because she doesn’t know anything else, the world is whatever we decide together that it is. That challenges me to constantly question everything that I do, everything I say… because everything I do and say is going to shape who she is. If I really want to be the best for her as a mom and as a guide in life, then I have to question life and question myself so that when she asks questions, I can give either good or honest answers. Hopefully I can either find profound answers that are going to be satisfying to her or simply say "I don't know, what do you think it is" and open up both of our minds to ask more questions.
GG- Awesome, well I look forward to having a family someday too… well I’m going to wrap up this interview with you, so if there’s anything else you’d like to add…
YM- Just want to say thanks GG- for having a deep interest in my music and keeping in contact through the years.