Interview with Terry Oldfield & Soraya by KERANI
The Europe Tour – 2014
On Friday October 17th 2014, I had the privilege of meeting Terry Oldfield and his wife Soraya for an interview just hours before they were to go on stage at Spiritual Balance in Strijen, (a pitoresque, almost quaint, little town near Dordrecht).
We introduced ourselves over a hot “cuppa”, which obviously broke the ice, and some apple cinnamon cake I had made the night before. While Terry was signing copies of his latest album, Soraya and I got engaged in a short but pleasant conversation. I was charmed by her loveliness as a person and by the ease at which she was able to address delicate issues of life. I could have sat there forever, cuddling my cup of tea, but duty was calling . Afterall, I was there for the interview.
K: Terry, Soraya, thank you for making yourselves available for this interview. Welcome to the Netherlands!
T&S: Thank you. It’s lovely to be here.
K. You arrived last week, you have already given a concert in Belgium and you have also spent some time in England. How does it feel to be back in Europe?
T. Well, I love the autumn leaves. We live in Australia; it’s a wonderful place to live. Because I grew up here in this part of the world. I am always very nostalgic about the seasons and so we were wandering about in Belgium, in Lier and watching the leaves falling on the water, the ducks and the smells that bring back all those memories of my childhood…. It’s just so wonderfull.
K. Soraya, aren’t you cold?
S. (laughs) Well, actually, it has been quite mild since we have been here. It’s funny, before we came on this trip, I thought “I have to go and buy jumpers – because we usually come over in summer.
K. You will be travelling to Spain, Denmark and Sweden very soon. Is there a country you haven’t been, but where you would absolutely like to perform?
T. Well, we were a little disappointed because we were going to Poland this year – I have never seen Poland. The organizer had some problems and had to cancel our concerts. But, ehm…. I have been to many other places. We have not done South America. This is a whole area I would love to go.
S. Yes, South America would be absolutely wonderful. We enjoyed Sweden… other than that, I don’t know. We are just always in the present; wherever we go, it just always seems right.
K. Your new album is called “Sweet Awakenings”. Can you tell us something about the story behind it?
T. Well, it was the re-discovery of the time when I discovered the flute, which was in Greece back in the seventies. I was nineteen. I lived on an island as a kind of a recluse, I suppose. A fellow traveller happened to have a flute and sold it to me for $20 or so (laughs). As soon as I picked it up, I made a connection with it. I could play and get a nice sound out of it and I just decided then that I would learn to play the flute and since that moment it has taken me on this amazing journey.
S. And in recent years, you’ve been playing a lot of bansuris and pans, but you really discovered the silverflute again.
T. That’s what this album is about: the reconnection with the silverflute rather than playing many different kinds of flutes.
S. The sweet and pure sound of the silverflute, that’s where “Sweet Awakenings” comes from.
T. The title really refers to those moments of awakening, like when you have a glimpse and everything drops away and you find yourself really focused in this present moment. Everything seems very simple. Each track is a kind of reflection of a moment in time.
K. Terry, what inspires you to write music? Is it a certain event, a story perhaps or a beautiful landscape or an experience?
T. Well, it’s like everything in life. There has to be some kind of a motivation to do anything. We plant ourselves in a situation where we have to do something. You can just sit and breathe for a certain amount of time but after a while you have to think about other things. Inspiration comes to me just by making myself available to write something. I used to try really hard to write down ideas, but if there’s nothing there, then there’s nothing there. So quite often, I just sit in the studio, pick up the flute and if I then don’t feel inspired, then I won’t try to do anything. But if there is something there, it will come. I don’t go and look at the sunset and suddenly become inspired… it doesn’t happen that way. It happens at any moment, but I don’t know when. But there can also be an intension to be available. For example, when we were running our Indian retreat last year, all through the retreat, there was this song coming through. Each day, there would be another couple of lines, words or a melody. But once the melody is there, then everything seems to come very quickly; the words seem to drop in. But afterwards, when I sing the song, I can’t answer how I wrote it.
S. During the Indian retreat, there was such a beautiful connection with all the people present. There were all sharings deeply from the heart. Quite a profound connection happened in the group and this touched something within Terry and from that came those words.
T. For example the line “There’s something in the air just passing through” is just the way I feel now here with you. They are just simple words, but all they’re saying is that here I am, feeling what I’m feeling in this room with you. That somehow seems so simple looking back at it , but when I sing it it touches everyone in their space.
K. Soraya, your part in this creative process is equally important. Do you and Terry have an agreed way of working together when it comes to music? Or do you have an unspoken agreement?
S. I suppose we have an unspoken agreement, really. We move through life together. We pretty much do everything together. We have a little cottage in the forest in Australia. It’s very simple. We sit on the veranda. We both have our separate studios, but then we come together on the veranda and we have our “cuppa” (=cup of tea) (Terry says “Chai!”) and we look out over the forest and our energy comes together there. We often discuss the philosophy of the moment and then when we sit to sing then things happen and then that will usually grow into something. So basically, it’s just a weaving of energies.
T. When we prepare to come on tour, we have to put in quite a lot of work in the practicing because we need to know where things will happen, so we can agree. For example, when is the flute solo going to happen, etc. Even when we play, it’s never quite the same as we planned. A lot depends on the response of the audience. One thing we have started to do is include the audience in the singing – it’s not compulsory, though! (laughs)
S: When Terry and I met, I used to have a singing group in my home. I would invite people. It was to allow them to open their hearts. Not to be great singers, but to express. And when we do this now in our performances, it appears that all voices become one. There’s a unification happening and everyone is part of it. That makes it very special.
T: Just like in our last concert. When you’re up on stage, you can’t see the audience because of the lights. And there was this singing coming from nothing, just like an echo.
K. Terry, you sing more often than in the past. You’ve discovered your voice.
T. Yes. I first discovered my voice several years ago while doing a soundcheck in Belgium. I sort of decided that I would sing rather than play the flute. Because when I play the flute, there’s a lot of improvisation. Before I play each note, I tend to hear it in my head before it comes. My playing is a reflection, an echo of what I hear. And I thought: “Oh, let’s see what my voice can do with this, ‘cause then it would give me another instrument to play with”. This is the pre-singing. So, I started off with the pre-singing in a mid-Eastern kind of style and now I sing songs because I discovered that I do have a voice.
K. Your biography says that you read “The hidden side of things” by C.W. Leadbeater at the age of 16. That is not an obvious choice of literature for a teenager. Your quest for the alternative started at a very early age.
T. I came across this book by accident. In my teenage years, I was very unhappy. I found myself living in a shared house in London – I was 16 or 17. It was a sort of house where other people were passing through and there was this yearing of searching. I became a macrobiotic for three years until I fainted once in the street from lack of nutrition (laughs). The book talked about things that were hidden from the surface and I was fascinated by this. It awakened something in me and that was the beginning of my jouney.
K. You mention the word “freedom” quite often. Where does this need of freedom come from?
T. I felt I was in prison when I was young. I was sent away to a boarding school that I hated. That’s why I started travelling and ended up on this island and discovered the flute!
K. In your latest video “Music in Reflection”, you say: “Writing music happens when I’m no longer there to get in the way. Please explain.
T. I’m talking about “me”, the personality with all the history and the description of who I think I am. When that drops away, there is a channel free for this energy to come through for something new to happen. Because, I, Terry (ego), is based on life’s experience and a projection into the future. So, when the whole process of thinking quietens down, then there’s a freedom for this energy to pass through me and that’s where the real music comes from.
S. I think that something new can only be born on the moment and that moment is not connected to anyone or anything. It’s free.
T. So, I’m very excited about this new way of presenting this in the film.
Click on photo for video “Music in Reflection”
K. Are you planning on shooting part 2 of “Music in Reflection”?
T. Well, it’s sort of already being done in a way that I don’t understand. Because what you do with films these days is that you gather footage and gradually it gets its shape, it becomes a story.
S. A few days ago, we were in Kent (UK) doing film.
T. Yes, we set up a greenscreen.
S. It seems like we’ve been directed into a new stream of expression. I’m not sure how that’s going to turn out, but it seems like we have been asked to run an online TV station.
K. Tell us more!
T. We wouldn’t run it ourselves, but we are part of the birthing process of it. We’re talking about interactive television.
S. We haven’t talked about this before, but it seems that we are being asked to head in that direction, so with a lot of recorded interviews, etc. We will see. At this moment, we have no idea how this is going to happen. There was a very good photographer who would do a lot of work with this. We spent the whole day filming.
T. His name is Chris Bishop and he has a lot of fantastic ideas and he’s very careful with his production. He has all the best quality equipment and only likes to work in the highest quality. I think this is important because I feel that with so many possibilities these days, anyone can make a video with an Iphone, for example. To actually take that step up to high (television) quality with the internet, is important just to keep the integrity.
K. You mentioned the word “interactive”. Does this mean that you will involve the audience?
S. We are going to involve people, invite people, we will ask the audience to be part of it. We are playing with words at the moment, but it’s going to be a conscious, good news TV. We are going to be exploring the universe together and philosophy.
We will be talking about real life issues in a deeper philosophic way rather than running away from them all, projecting negative energy towards them.
T. And we will be using music to bypass the rational defense systems that we all have to enter into the emotional body which then connects us with who we really are in this moment because if we truly connect with this moment – Eckhart Tolle said this in “The Power of Now” that there is an enormous power in this moment, because this is the authentic energy that is constantly streaming through at every millisecond.
We waste so much energy resisting that presence, only because we are afraid.
S. We are not trusting in the flow of the universe and sometimes things can be so challenging but yet, if we can surrender to that and see beyond that and follow that flow of healing in the highest possible way. The energy of the universe is available to us at any moment.
T. It’s an exciting way to work because using music to reach people on a deeper level and using some words but talking about “What questions come to me?”, because they’re the same questions for all of us in life. I was talking to my 92 year old father who doesn’t do much, he just sits in a chair, but he’s thinking very deeply about it. He said to me: “Terry, science said that matter cannot be created, it cannot be destroyed,… so where do we come from?” So you see, this is a mystery and if we can live with a mystery, then everything drops away.
S. Sometimes, we don’t need to know the answers. Sometimes, we should simply trust in that great mystery.
K. Soraya, you are an inspirational facilitator, therapist and a musicion. You organize spiritual retreats in India. Tell us about these retreats.
S. We travel all over the world and we meet so many people! You touch into different pools here and there as you’re travelling. And it’s really wonderful to invite people to a place that is completely different, where people feel that they are away from all the known and then keeping time and space to go deeper, to go into a deeper, more profound state together, to explore life together. I love to facilitate groups. I love people, I love to connect with their hearts. Terry and I love to share the music together and we also like to explore life together. I’ve always loved ancient mantras, ever since my early twenties and years in an ashram. I love that tonal language where it’s beyond the conceptual mind of the intellectual mind and we’re just entering into pure sound together. I taught yoga and followed a very yogic path for many years, so we share all of that in a beautiful place in South India, right on the cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean, listening to the rolling waves. You have the coconut palms, …. The food is amazing, the chefs prepare beautiful vegatarian, glutenfree dishes. It’s a pure and clean environment. Terry and I facilitate classes. We have yoga, meditation, chanting, music and sound journeying, aroma therapy and so much more! Just deep philosophic investigation of life. We have also trips out to beautiful Indian temples, we go up into the mountains and see where the spices and the herbs are grown. There are also wonderful Ayurvedic and Siddhar doctors. So everyone gets a health assessment and then they have 10 days of 1 ½ hour massage and treatment each day. So, it’s also to treat the physical, the mental, the spiritual and the emotional.
K. Do you get people from all over the world?
S. We do! We invite people from anywhere. Last year, we had people from Sweden, Holland, from many different parts of Australia, etc.
K. Where can people sign up?
S. On the websites:
We invite those who would like a wonderful holiday,… and enriching one where you’re really getting back to yourself and deepening in your selfbalance and understanding.
K. Soraya, you are writing a book titled “From Grief to Gratitude”. Would you like to share some information about it?
Well, it’s a very personal book, which has been a healing journey for me. Five years ago, my teenage son suicided himself in an Australian hospital after being given medication which caught him out of his mind. This was undoubtedly the most challenging experience I’ve ever had in my life. It threw me to the ground and made me question everything. I experienced deep grief and loss. I had already lost a brother and a husband. But losing a child is something else. I don’t think there’s a comparison to that.
My son’s name was Prem, which means Love. He was a very beautiful, loving, intelligent young child and very deep and enquiring. He found puberty very difficult. He had a suicide attempt in the hospital but was put on life support for three days; they actually brought him back, but unfortunately he was brain damaged and we had to make the choice of letting him go. So, I sat with him for eleven hours until he passed. Terry was there, sitting in the corner of the room holding space (being there for me) as I sat with Prem, massaged him, talked to him and encouraged him to pass over to the light in a positive way and I promised him then that he would not have lived in vain, that I would tell his story. Because he used to tell me: “Mom, when I overcome this difficulty in my life, I would like to work as a councellor and help other teenagers.” So, I thought that by telling his story, I would help other parents and young people. In my work as a therapist I often see parents who struggle with their teenage children and those young people trying to find their place in the world and it’s such a different place now. There’s a huge availability of drugs, the peer group pressure, the news, the judgement, the fashion, the expectation placed upon people at a very young age to decide upon a career, the pressure for finance, …. . It’s very difficult for them to actually to know “Who am I in this world? How do I express myself?” So, I began to write by his bedside because I found it very challenging to be there during those eleven hours and to hold the light for him.
I am very glad that Prem didn’t die immediately because I was able to call all my family and everyone flew into the town. We all visited him before he was taken off life support; his brothers, his cousins, his aunties, my parents. I gave everyone an opportunity to spend time alone before he was taken off life support to say anything they wanted. Because I feel that the soul heals and he knew we were there and that we all had a profound love for him.
K. By writing, you found a way to heal yourself.
Initially, I fell into terrible grief and disbelief that this could happen because he’s had such a beautiful childhood and he was so loved. It was the outside influences that he found so difficult. Through writing about my feelings and expressing very honestly on paper, I felt that – although it’s very exposed – if I share this, I’m sure that my feelings have been experienced by many other people and I find that we often need to be validated. So I hope that people will feel validation that their feelings are important, that they’re real and that also they can pass through and that we still have the gift of life. I know that Prem would want us to be happy; he would not want us to suffer on his behalf. We are alive and those who are left behind most often suffer more than those who have passed over.
So, it’s a story of hope and healing. I hope it will be a very inspiring story. I love life, I still have three beautiful children. I still include Prem as my fourth child; he’s always with me as love is always with us. My life is wonderful again. I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful family. I’m always inspired by life and I love to share with people and the thought that others are also suffering and not being able to get passed their suffering, if I can help in any way with my writing, then it’s all worth it.
K. You are about to give a concert here in Strijen, in just a few hours. Do you have a special way to prepare for your concert, like a ritual before going on stage?
T. We use essential oils to make ourselves smell nice. (laughs) We don’t need too much before we go on stage. Being relaxed is important. We like to do the soundcheck early. We need time to go away and then come back fresh. Usually we have a lot of nice people around us who help us make the place look nice.
That’s it really.
Thank you so much for this open hearted interview.
The team of Peaceful Radio, my partner and I attended the concert that night. We clapped, we laughed and sang along,…. It was everything Terry and Soraya had described. We were enchanted. As for me, well, I have become a fan for life!
Kerani, October 2014.