Today kicks off the first interview in the new series of creative and healing arts visionaries I’ve newly started sharing through guest blog spots and interviews. These visionary leaders are amazing souls, each in their own way, manifesting a new and loving reality of co-creative Earth experience. I feel it important to support each other, share stories that can provide inspiration, and to honor the beautiful and empowering work so many are embracing, as we affect the collective through our embodiment of the light within each of us.
I was honored and excited when John William Bauld accepted this interview, as I believe he beautifully embodies the essence of following your heart’s passions and spreading that love to all you touch with your gifts. Not to mention, he is an inspirational example of how trusting and supporting your bliss, abundantly manifests in harmoniously satisfying ways for self and others.
John and I met via Facebook several months ago when one of my paintings caught his attention, which then began a dialogue between us. Being two creative artists with the focus of spreading love and empowerment, each in our own way, we shared an instant rapport. Synchronously, this was right as John was releasing his debut album he had just finished recording in California – the state I happen to live in. Not long after our initial connecting, did we both, the same day, honor our intuitive feeling to send the other a supportive gift of our work. I sent John a small print of the painting he had admired and John sent me a cd of his new release and since, we have followed one another’s journeys via Facebook. His cd arrived in supportive and synchronized timing of my starting the #2 painting, Temple of the Sacred Heart, in my new series, Universal ARKitecture, as I shared in this previous post from May of this year: Activating Greater Authenticity. I am grateful for his energetic support with my creative channeling.
The web is an amazing bridge that enables us to interface and connect on many levels with those we may never otherwise have opportunity to meet. In a way, the world wide web is like the Distant Healing Symbol in Reiki that pierces the illusion of distance, separation, time, and creates a now moment of Oneness. I’m grateful for the ability to connect with so many beautiful souls across the globe via these channels of connection and energy. It provides us ability to communicate with our “family” and to be of service to many.
I hope you enjoy a glimpse into John’s story and find some seeds of inspiration that support your own beautiful journey of “living what you love.” He not only demonstrates the power of trusting your intuitive guidance and heart, but how magical synchronicities take place when you do so. For me, I find it always lovely to hear/feel how connected we all are. It’s very cool when someone speaks and taps into the same language you use and share, demonstrating the Source we are tapping into collectively. Much gratitude to you John for your thoughtful time, giving heart, and for “being” a beautiful example for others.
John is a professional photographer of 18 years and a working musician of 20 years from Burlington, Ontario. He is the owner of a commercial photography business and partner in Phusion Images Photography. John performs live with various bands, kirtan for special events, workshops and retreats, and solo, light acoustic, mantra-based music at yoga studios all around Ontario and the United States. His modern acoustic, mantra-based – meaning traditional Sanskrit mantras – music is reflected in his self-titled debut album as a solo artist with Bobbyji and produced by acclaimed, Grammy-nominated Ben Leinbach (Jai Uttal/Deva Premal, Snatam Kaur, David Newman). This album also includes special guests Sabrina Marcantonio (Moksha Square One) and features the soulful sounds of violinist Genevieve Walker of Krishna Das. The intention of the John’s mantra music is simple: to create community, healing, empowerment, and well-being through the universal language/vibration of live music combined with yoga practice.
His band “Ananda” formed in the fall of 2010 through his kirtan leading teacher, along with the Toronto Kirtan Community’s Pat and Maie, who were instrumental in introducing the lineup of Bhakti band mates. John continues to be inspired, influenced, and open to all forms of music. Recent exciting projects include being awarded the soundtrack to the Canadian independent film “The Farmer’s Sun,” creating the original soundtrack for WWE celebrity Trish Stratus’ yoga home practice DVD, and he is the co-founder/organizer of “Yogafest,” as well as “Anandafest,” Canada’s premier annual yoga retreat and festival.
Interview with John William Bauld:
Tania: I see you started your musical journey at age 14 when your parents gifted you an acoustic guitar. Was this something you always knew in your heart you were meant to do and have your parents always been supportive of your passions?
John: I always knew that I was connected to a space within myself where that was connected to source, and the way to express this would be through visual art, photography and music. Coming from that place these things have always been able to flow freely through me, and I had a knowing from the first music performance I witnessed at a very young age as a child that music would be something I am involved in, not as a desire, but as something that I needed to share in whatever capacity that may be. My parents from as far back as I remembered encouraged me to follow what ever call, and supported a vocation of music and arts.
Tania: Over your 20 year career as a musician, how has the diversity of musical styles evolved into what you are intentionally creating with your music today?
John: The fortunate thing of growing up performing so many varying genres of music in front of live audiences, has enabled me to strip down the music to be something that directly connects with the energy of the room, venue or event, and have a mutual exchange with the audience as a participating member. It is as though everything I have learned over this career, has taken me to a place where I can unlearn all of it, and I simply listen, and pay attention to that place within, which connects to that greater source in a performance.
Tania: Who has been an inspiration to you in developing the beautiful, modern acoustic interpretations of traditional Sanskrit mantra music you are creating?
John: I have crossed paths with wonderful teachers, many who I have worked with one on one, others in groups, the list is vast, and some are to be kept unnamed – everyone is a teacher for me. Krishna Das was a big influence, the first time I met him after a performance in New York, and heard “Baba Hanuman” in Savasana at yoga class, it was the energy in music I was looking for. Tony Murdock (Vishnu Das), has been a great teacher from the very start in every capacity, and in particular with the Sanskrit mantra language/pronunciation. I was so fortunate to meet him.
Tania: Would you consider the mantra music you are sharing to be your greatest passion? What are your hopes and intentions for it?
John: The mantra music is what I am most passionate about in the space I am in today, and the message is simply for those who enjoy it to connect with that place of peace, bliss, or stillness within themselves where the music takes me. The practice is always coming back to the mantra every time the mind wonders, and that in it self is perfect.
Tania: I have had the pleasure of listening to your beautiful, self-titled debut album that was just released this year – congratulations again by the way! – and found it to be soulfully inspiring and your voice to carry a beautiful resonance that touches the heart. So much so that when it arrived at the divine timing of a painting I was doing titled, Temple of the Sacred Heart, I found it lovingly supportive to the energy of that piece and directly associate its manifestation with your music. Do you hear stories like this a lot and find that your music has the ability to work on unforeseen levels in healing and opening ways? Any favorite stories you’d like to share?
John: Thank you for sharing your experience, what a beautiful story! The music comes from a place of love, and we all have that place inside of us, and that ability to create from that space in life. I do receive many emails, and talk to students, and participants after kirtan practice who express how supportive, healing, and helpful the sound vibration was to them. In essence, that place within one is always there, if the music can aid in taking listeners away to that still place inside, it’s beautiful, though it is always there and accessible.
I have many stories, but one that keeps coming up is that many people have expressed how they play the music in their car on a regular basis to help reduce stress during traffic, it is a common theme.
Tania: How was it to work with the amazing Ben Leinbach, who produced your album?
John: Working with Ben was absolutely amazing, we had a blast. Many of the artists who inspired me had worked with him, and traveling to San Anselmo, California to create music in the comfort of his home studio was so inspiring. From the fun jams, to the serious arranging, and latte breaks in the afternoon, it was one of the best moments in music for me working with a true genius at their craft. He is hilarious at times, and has such a laid-back demeanor, he brings out the best in people. We were guests at his performance with Prajna which, was an unexpected treat and break from the concentration of the studio. It was an honor to co-write music together, and more recently we reconnected at Bhaktifest, West (Josua Tree, CA) where he played drums for the set with my band… we all had some great moments on stage together.
Tania: I found the songs and their sequence to almost tell a story energetically and each integral to that story – one of my favorites being “The Ocean.” What were your inspirations behind choosing these 5 particular songs for your debut album?
John: I had narrowed down over 60 potential songs to 17, and sent them out to Ben. Interestingly enough he selected four that were on my personal must have list that made the record. “The Ocean” was a personal favorite, and an interpretation of a song written by my good friends Carl & Brian from Big Blue X. It is the only song without a Sanskrit mantra. Ben really liked it as it was, and felt it would be nice to show another side on the record. It flows nicely, and the vastness of the Ocean, and driving the California coast while listening to first edition mixes is an image I’ll always have in my mind. People often ask why “The Ocean is my woman”, and “what does it mean?” The answer is always that if I give my interpretation away, that it will take from theirs, and what they are experiencing.
Tania: Not only do you have this beautiful debut album, but you also perform live (did I read correctly – 300+ performances a year? –that’s awesome!) This includes kirtan events, workshops and retreats, performing live with various bands, and offering your music at yoga studios. Can you share more about that last one, and how you have incorporated your music with the practice of yoga?
John: I perform for classes in yoga studios daily, sometimes twice a day, with 365 days in a year, the 300 performances is a very conservative estimate. What I am doing is reading the energy, and weaving/surfing the music like being on a wave with sound dynamics. I sync the sound with the breath, and the asana, even at times coinciding with the mantra appropriate for the posture. It is a long story as to how this transpired, but the short version is that after attending the Toronto International yoga conference over three years back, there had been a few ladies who were at my gig the night before with my former pop/rock band. They recognized me, and asked me why I was there, and I explained that I had been practicing yoga for many years, and love kirtan music/practice. I said one sentence that firmly put me on this path, which was “as much as I love pop/rock music, I would love to perform at a yoga studio one day”. Those words changed everything for me. As it turned out, the three of them were yoga studio owners/teachers, and asked me to perform a few days later. I had put that intention out there, so I followed up with a yes, and 6 students at the first class tuned into 12 the following week, more studios were contacting me, it grew very fast from there. I am grateful, because in the same time teachers were coming into my life coinciding at that time on this new path to teach me in perfect synchronicity with events that were happening. Life is always a work in progress, I am still learning so much every day, and am aware that there is much more to come…
Tania: You’ve been involved with some amazing things, including being a co-founder of Anandafest, Canada’s premier annual yoga retreat and Bhakti festival. How did this idea develop and how has it impacted others?
John: Anandafest was amazing. It was a vision to bring people together, and give folks who always wanted to share their gift with the world, but didn’t have an outlet, or just needed that extra support to make that thing happen for them. I had such great partners on the event, Angela & Carl are amazing, and we are looking at bringing the festival back in 2013. In the final sharing circle, people didn’t want to go home, and shared how great it was to connect, and develop new relationships with like-minded people – it was beautiful.
Tania: Speaking of Bhakti festivals, congratulations on your recent invite and performance at Bhakti Fest, Joshua Tree, California. I know you’re still beaming from the awesome posts and photos I’ve seen on Facebook. Can you share a little bit about this experience and how it has affected you?
John: Bhaktifest was a whole new mountain peak in itself for me. To perform among artists who are leading the international Bhakti scene, and spend time with so many inspiring people… that is an article in itself, there are just no words to express that feeling, and being a part of what happens in the California desert. That energy is just very, very special. Shri Dar has built something that just brings out the best in us all as human beings, and gives us a glimpse of what the world can be..
Tania: Why do you think music so profoundly moves people and why do you feel mantras in particular have this powerful effect?
John: Music is an international, universal language. It comes from source, it is everywhere in the world, it is powerful beyond words, it is feeling, it is memory, it is love. I have found that I can be anywhere, and with a guitar people will start dancing, singing, or laughing and connect with people you have never met before. What other thing can do that? Music combined with the mantras, which have been spoken, chanted, said aloud, and repeated internally for thousands of years, contain a very beautiful frequency, and resonated with me before I was on this path of discovery.
Tania: What do you hope others will take away from the experience of your music?
John: Only that it takes them to that place within themselves that is truth, and still, and love – in whatever that may mean or be to that person.
Tania: A few things that struck me about you, which really inspired wanting to do this interview, is how you just emanate a love for life, what you do, those around you, and that you have a naturally innate, heart-based, committed passion that knows nothing else, but to “be” and share what you love to do. Have you always felt this way and how has this made a difference in your experience of life?
John: Wow, thank you for the question. I am on a path of self discovery, as we all are in our own way. I am only ever doing the best I can from the awareness that I have in the present moment, and putting out to the world the best possible version that is accessible, which is all that we can do in any moment – it is choice, and it is a practice. Working for the media at a young age as a photographer I quickly discovered one similar trait in all of those I met, who I respected greatly – from international success stories to next door neighbors. It was that anyone that had done great things, or achieved something wonderful, all operate from the same place of source, which is a place grander than themselves, beyond ego and of passion, commitment and unconditional love – you can feel it. My only hope is to come from that place, and be in it while here..
Tania: What I also resonate and share an affinity with you on is your free-spirit and multi-faceted expressions of creative and healing arts. You seem to have found a way to incorporate all of your gifts and loves into the many things you share as your service to others and have had opportunity to travel all over while doing so. Alongside your 20 years as a musician, you also have 18 years of professional photography artistry. Can you share a little about your photography businesses, what they embody for you, and how this part of your artistic expression developed?
John: In high school I fell in love with the camera, and was so excited that one could actually obtain credits for taking an art class, where your job was to go out into the world and take pictures. My teacher Ian was a huge influence on me, he understood the place I was coming from, and we still keep in touch, and are friends to this day. Working for the media was a great experience for me, but I quickly learned that it is a choice to put out to the world what one is seeing through the lens, and how it will be interpreted. I quickly decided that I wanted to show people at their best. The work that comes in is always right for me, and photographing close to 500 weddings to date, I have played a small part in people’s lives on what is often one of the landmarks of a person’s story. It is a large responsibility, and I am thankful to do this work for those who entrusted me..
Tania: What inspires and moves you most in life and how has this manifested into what you express as your passions and gifts in offering to others?
John: Passion is everything, and those who follow their bliss, their dream, their goals inspire me tremendously. I love to see anyone who is living the experience that they wanted to have in their life, especially when it benefits many… In all of the heroes I was drawn to as a kid growing up, I was always most inspired by those who brought out the best in people through what they do, and through their actions. In music, there were people like Bob Marley and John Lennon, in martial arts Bruce Lee, and his journey to make it to the top, writers like Joseph Campbell, and politically, many great leaders who shared a message of: all people, sharing one earth, and that there is enough to go around if we want/choose it to be that way. They were always able to come from a place within themselves that was authentic, and committed to the path that was presented before them in their lives. My parents were like that growing up, and these types of people inspire me tremendously. The list is very long beyond the obvious legends, as many are men and woman I have crossed paths with who’s names will never be known. They are often as much, if not more poignant, due to the fact that one learns from those folks first hand, and directly. Their creativity is often limitless, and coming from that place which is as vast and as wide as the ocean.. Rather than residing in a state of competition, competing for that which has already been created, those that have inspired so many often believe that creativity is infinite and ever-expanding, the same way that our universe is, and are able to reach that place within themselves. It’s thrilling to see anyone in that space..
Tania: What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had and why?
John: There have been so many experiences on this journey, memories from stages while performing, stories while working with the newspaper that are so vividly imprinted.. sunny days metaphorically, and those times when you have to hang on to the mast, and hope that the ship will sail you through to the next day. We all have them, and the list is very long on both pages. In this time, I do feel that if I can play a small part in making somebody’s day a little better for them through the music that is all I ask.
Tania: This is an amazing and powerful time of shifts for everyone.What would you share with others that are struggling to make their dreams a reality, are challenged and on the fence about pursuing their passions and leaving behind jobs they don’t like, and are facing fear about taking that leap of faith?
John: In my experience, I have found that fear is a blockage, and everything works out when we trust. We are here to be the best that we can be, and when we are still, aware, and pay attention the answers come.
Tania: What are your dreams and visions for your work? And are there any exciting new projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?
John: I am really excited about Anandafest 2013, and bringing that back again. There are more tours planned with the music, a video shoot scheduled for next year, and to keep pressing on with this path with those who enjoy this.
Tania: Is there one vulnerable thing you can share about yourself that you feel others would relate to and find comfort in hearing, coming from someone who is “living” their dreams?
John: There are always mountains to climb, and every time you reach the top of one, another one is revealed. Concentration, commitment and focus is everything, and quite often I have seen those who are concentrating on a past story that becomes a blockage in their life. Often you are not going back that way, so make a new story, and follow whatever that thing is that you are passionate about. It’s always a choice. It takes a lot of courage and flexibility to live your dream, the work is always just beginning. In regards to vulnerability, sometimes people who don’t know you (or who do), will make assumptions, and opinions that are unwarranted – maybe they don’t want you to succeed, or are just not supportive. In the beginning it can be difficult to understand this – why wouldn’t someone want you to succeed, and live your dream? Everyone is operating from the filter of their experience, and coming from the very best place that is possible at that time, as to the space they are in. This was difficult at first for me, and I am still learning, but I have personally learned to send love, press on in life, and stay true to the path that is ahead…
Tania: If someone else wants to interview you, book you for photography services, or book you for performances at yoga studios, workshops and events, how can they reach you?
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/JohnWilliamBauld/featured