Muses of Musical Medicine: Alais Clay Uses her music to build Resiliency and Power
Interview by Moriah Hope
Humanity is traversing a particularly intriguing time in history where societal advancement and decline are occurring simultaneously.
Like parallel realities, we see and feel features of heaven and hell operating concurrently on Earth. We see widespread corruption, environmental decline, degradation of the indigenous and an unjust ‘justice’ system… Yet we also see the evolution of consciousness, the awakening of the heart, and empowered communities rallying together and rising for global change.
There is no denying the chaos that clouds our minds from participating with nature simply and harmoniously. And there is also no denying the arousing human spirit that is hungry for change and immediate fruitful action. Both narratives are alive and thriving.
As creative beings we all have our own unique way of telling this dual story. Some are more inclined to speak to the pervading darkness, others to give voice to the power of the light.
Those who are in tune with the inherent function of equilibrium in nature recognize that it is also mirrored within our own makeup. Through countless spiritual practices we are learning the necessity of acknowledging both the light and the dark.
Many people on this path are getting creative with how to gracefully maneuver this balancing act. This makes me think of an amazing quote I recently stumbled upon from Maria Semple: “People like you must create. If you don’t create, you will become a menace to society.” Those with a deep capacity to feel and care for the collective NEED to create.
It’s no secret that music has always been on the front lines of activism. Here at The Shakti Journal, we ardently hold tight to music as a vehicle for speaking to the injustices of the world and promoting change. At the first Shakti Speak Easy live event in 2020, we will be joined by two revolutionary hip-hop artists who powerfully encapsulate both narratives of the dark and light in order to deliver a powerful message.
Hip-hop’s roots can be traced through a long lineage of talking blues and oral story telling. Soul stirring story and early free-form jazz poetry were used to pass urgent messages of racial inequality, political deceit and spiritual revival. Now Alais Clay and McAD of Freedom Movement will nobly carry the torch for hip-hop activism culture on the Shakti stage. Let’s hear what the artists have to say.
Moriah Hope, for the Shakti Journal: Tell us, who are you? Who and what do you represent as an artist?
Alais Clay: My name is Alais Clay. I am a lover of the Earth. I represent my self as a sovereign free being of this planet. I represent the dream of a world where humans can co-exist peacefully, naturally, and in thriving communities in harmony with our 2-legged and 4-legged animal brothers and sisters.
While I cannot speak for others, I do raise my voice in solidarity with the truth-seekers of this world, the paradigm-shifters, the people seeking to de-program from the lies we’ve been taught for so long, and the people working towards a positive rEvolution of consciousness at this time.
SJ: What is your intention or mission for sharing your music with the world?
AC: My intention with my music is to help raise the collective consciousness and heal the disconnect between humanity and the natural world. There is a powerful and deliberate narrative constantly being fed to us, programming us to consume more, extract, waste, abuse and give our power away.
I strive to bring critical political and social issues to light in my music and offer a positive call to action. Ultimately I believe all these issues stem from a deep disconnect from our true nature. It is my mission to help shift the global narrative from one of rampant usury and desecration to one of planetary collaboration, stewardship and resiliency.
SJ: If you could distill the essence of your music into three words, what would they be?
AC: Truth, Liberation, Calling.
SJ: Here at The Shakti Journal, we are advocates of ‘creativity through right action.’ What does right action mean to you? How do you make it a daily practice to remain in authentic alignment with the message you share in your music?
AC: Right action to me means living in integrity with my values and being honest with myself and others. I am constantly learning what it means to be in authentic alignment with my vision and message. Almost all of my songs for so long have been a call in one way or another to break free from our societal patterning and take our power back…
I’ve realized that I’ve been obsessed with this theme not only because I see the need for that in our communities, but because I have been longing for the feeling of true freedom myself for so long, and have had my own struggle with giving my power away over and over again.
I am more than ever listening to the messages in my music and really getting myself close to the land, learning what my dependencies are so I can be more resilient and self-sufficient in my own life, not dependent upon the same systems I speak about needing to change.
It is a continuous process but I am grateful for the reflections in the friends and family around me who are always inspiring me to step up more and more. I write a lot about rising up and building new villages with my brothers and sisters, and this is something I actively work towards actualizing in my daily life with my community in Colorado.
SJ: Tell us a story of a time when music brought you to your knees with tears of joy or pain. How did that moment come about?
AC: One memory that comes to mind is laying around a campfire after a Sister Winds festival in Loveland a couple years ago. I was so tired and raw. I needed to sleep but I also didn’t want to leave the fire, so I dragged my air mattress from my tent to the outside ring of the fire and stared up at the stars while my friends kept singing.
At one point, they were all singing “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley in beautiful harmony. I remember my whole body filling up with this warm, deep feeling of gratitude for my friends as their faces glowed in the light and Bob’s words channeled up through us, through the fire and up to the stars.
My eyes teared with the beauty of the moment and the depth of the words in that song… and just as they finished I watched as a huge shooting star flew by. I felt in that moment without a doubt that Bob had heard us singing his song from beyond the veil.
SJ: You’ll be a special musical guest at our First Annual Shakti Speak Easy, on the roster with some of the greatest activists of our time. What inspired you to say YES to joining us?
AC: It was an instant ‘YES’ when I heard Cynthia McKinney would be one of the featured speakers. She has been an inspiration to me throughout my own awakening process for her bravery as a congresswomen, speaking out in several cases where most people in Washington would not and did not.
I still have videos of her confronting Donald Rumsfeld years ago and I ask my friends to watch it because it is one of the most bad-ass moments in congressional history—a woman of color speaking up and calling out some of the darkest aspects of the US administration without batting an eyelash. I sampled a piece from one of her speeches for a song I released in 2011 called ‘We Will Not Rest.’
I admire Cynthia greatly for her work in the world, so to share a stage with her as well as Gloria Flora and my rEvolutionary hip-hop brother, McAD, and Little Star, is nothing less than an honor!
SJ: Tell us about one of the most cherished songs you’ve created, and why it is special to you.
AC: Right now my most cherished song is one that has not been released yet. It’s called ‘Pain R.I.P.’ The first verse came through the morning before my first Grandmother ceremony earlier this year in Mexico, and the rest of the song poured out after my first sit in the ceremony.
Writing this song brought me to tears multiple times and it serves as a deep healing song of release for me. I hope it can help others through their own healing process.
SJ: Do you have any upcoming projects in the works?
AC: I am currently working on a new album titled ‘Resurfacing,’ set to release on 2/2/2020. I’m very excited to share this new batch of songs with my global family!
Another project I’m excited about is a video I am working on for a collaboration track with me, Marya Stark, Xerephine and Magdelion Moondrop. We shot an epic music video in the forest in Northern California during a Shakti Sound womxn’s music production retreat and the song is all about the Shakti Ma rising. I’ve never done a collaboration with so many strong women and it’s a powerful piece to add to the soundtrack of our times. To be released soon!
Moriah Hope, for The Shakti Journal: Please share with us the best way for readers to stay in touch with you.
Alais Clay: Facebook, despite all its downsides in regards to our privacy, is still a good way to get in touch with me. You can also find me on Instagram or on my website.