Music for the Mass Awakening

This is a partial transcript from Post-Woke Podcast episode #50, in which I (Alicen Grey) magickally muse about my first album RUN RABBIT RUN! which you can stream & save here.

MICKEY Z.: Under her musical moniker, When Humans Had Wings, [Alicen Grey] has just shared her first ever album, RUN RABBIT RUN!. And Alicen is here with us today to talk about that experience and so much more. […] Alicen, welcome to episode 50 of Post-Woke, and congrats on your new album.

ALICEN GREY: Thank you so much.

MICKEY Z.: Now, for the listeners, you and I are speaking the day after RUN RABBIT RUN! was officially made public and shared. […] On the When Humans Had Wings website, you say this is “music for the Mass Awakening.” So since RUN RABBIT RUN! is your current music, I’m curious for you to let us know of what that means for you in terms of this album and what you would like it to mean to all these new listeners […] those people who find you and you don’t even know who they are, having conversations about you on their social media right now […] What would you like that to mean to them, that this is “music for the Mass Awakening”?

ALICEN GREY: Well, in spiritual circles, there’s this general understanding that at this point in human history, we are undergoing a timeline bifurcation. So you could say it started in 2020 with the Cooties-19 psyop. It was very blatantly made clear that humanity was facing a fork in the road. We were at a crossroads. Are you going to devolve towards transhumanism, or are you going to choose organic spirited evolution and choose nature and choose that which is life-affirming? There are nuances, and it’s not always so simple, but the choice was generally pretty black and white. Like, are you going to choose techno-totalitarianism or Life?

[…] And so the reason people call that a Mass Awakening is because we’ve been building towards this bifurcation and it continues to grow. The timeline continues to kind of split, and some people are committing even harder to the narrative that health comes out of a syringe and that you have no sovereignty, you have no free will, you have to do whatever the government tells you to do. And… I lost my train of thought there.

But point being: the Mass Awakening to most people is a reference to what we’re currently going through, where people have to make their choice and they have to commit to either […] the current that’s washing a lot of people away towards the deep ocean of transhumanism, or to stand their ground and build a new world from right where we are and not have fear. So that’s what Mass Awakening means to most people.

But then for me, as a musician, there’s the added component of my self-liberation. So I truly feel that because we are all connected consciously, that when any one individual makes a choice to unlimit themselves, to free themselves, they by consequence automatically remove limits for other people. It’s something like the hundredth monkey effect. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that or just for anyone who’s listening, who isn’t [familiar]: The idea is it’s been shown — in fact, this has been very well studied — this phenomenon where in a group of some species of animals (But I would argue any species of animal), when a certain small fraction of that species learns a new piece of knowledge, whether it’s how to use a certain tool or something to that effect, there’s a tipping point where when enough of them learn it, all of them learn it automatically.

So I don’t remember the exact example, but I think it was something to do with crows or maybe ravens, where if ravens in a certain location, isolated from all the others, learned a certain new behavior, suddenly all ravens would know how to do it. 

Really, this is so important to know for anybody who has fear or doubt that there’s any value in raising consciousness on an individual scale. It absolutely does make a difference. Even if a small fraction of humanity starts choosing life and choosing growth, and spiritual evolution, that small number does ripple out to the greater collective consciousness.

So when I talk about liberating myself through my music and learning how to sing without fear and devote myself to art and to honor creativity, I’m finding on my little personal scale that I get so many messages from people saying, ‘I also stopped making music, but you’ve got me inspired to pick up my guitar again,’ or ‘You’ve got me wanting to start painting again.’ And there’s something about the nature of inspiration — which I will remind your listeners for, like, the 100th time: Inspiration means to be filled with the breath of God, the breath of life… So when you are inspired, when you are driven and animated by the breath of God, you in turn inspire others. So it is like it kind of automatically just ripples outwards. And so don’t ever, ever underestimate the chaotic potential of freeing yourself on an individual scale, because self-awakening is necessarily Mass Awakening.

MICKEY Z.: I like that entire answer. And before we shift into something else, I just want to respond to three things quickly. The point you made about reminding the listeners about getting out there and expressing yourself, that is on my list of stuff that we’re going to get you here. But I just want to say I admire that. You could be in a conversation that’s being recorded and say, ‘Oh, I lost my train of thought,’ and then continue in the direction that you chose to go in. And the irony and the beauty of that was we were talking about transhumanism versus humans, and humans lose their train of thoughts. We’re not machines and we’re not programmed, and it’s absolutely fine. Perfection is never the goal.

ALICEN GREY: Thank you for that!

MICKEY Z.: Yeah, so there’s a sense of like, ‘Yeah, so what? I lost my train of thought.’ This is my 50th episode. If I went back and listened to all the rest of them and cringed at every mispronounced word or whatever, I spoke too much and didn’t let the guest speak enough, I mean, I could drive myself crazy. But this is the self awakening, and this is a sense of accepting my humanity. I don’t want to be one of those robots that I hear talking on the New York City subway telling me what the next stop is speaking in perfectly enunciated English. So I just wanted to put that out there.

ALICEN GREY: I’m smiling so big right now because you’re right, that is an excellent point to remind people of. And I’m really glad you used the word “cringe,” because on my self awakening journey, I love to keep in mind this meme that I saw once where someone put an image of Buddha and like, a speech bubble, and he was saying, “Integrate your cringe.” Or was it Carl Jung? It was a picture of one of them.

And I think it’s so funny because our current generation, particularly Gen Z, they have this amazing way of reducing vast esoteric concepts into the most casual, colloquial English. Because what is the Great Work of transmuting the darkness of the subconscious into the light of consciousness, but an act of integrating one’s cringe? You have to learn how to cringe at yourself.

That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve been learning in my music. I cringe so hard on myself throughout this whole process, and part of what it means to liberate myself is to do the thing anyway and cringe the whole way. But don’t let the cringe stop you. The song I cringe the most at, let’s be real, is actually the title track “Run Rabbit Run!” Because at the end, I’m basically yodeling, I’m basically screaming “RUN RABBIT RUN!” at the top of my lungs. You should have seen me in this studio, Mickey, the way that I was going for it, screaming, “RUN RABBIT RUN!” And hitting high C5s and stuff. So anyway, yeah, cringe, cringe at yourself more. Just embrace it. Just do the cringey stuff. You’re going to be free on the other side of it. And it’s so worth it.

MICKEY Z.: It’s like you knew what I was going to ask next. It’s a perfect segue. But I just wanted to say [in response to what] you said about Carl Jung and Buddha: I was thinking, “Well, maybe Carl Jung was the Buddha.”

ALICEN GREY: Hot take.

MICKEY Z.: Yeah, I’m putting out the sizzling hot take here.

ALICEN GREY: Who isn’t the Buddha?

MICKEY Z.: Scorching hot take on episode 50 here! But since you talked about a little bit just now about the actual recording and the songwriting, I do want to touch on that because I know we could go at some point if we have enough time. I wouldn’t mind asking about the spiritual aspect of the symbolism of rabbits, but I do want to talk about the music, too, like, actually almost like in a nerdy music way. What was it like to be in your own studio and to be learning the equipment as you’re writing this album and to be as just someone who has sang for a big chunk of your life, but almost exclusively other people’s music and other people’s arrangement of that music… and suddenly you’re in a studio where everything that’s coming out of you instrumentally and vocally is coming directly out of your imagination, and you are giving yourself permission to say, “Yes, this is a song.” I’m always fascinated by the concept that you could wake up in the morning and let’s say — you mentioned “Run Rabbit Run!” the song — on a given day, you could wake up and the song “Run Rabbit Run!” doesn’t exist. And by the end of the day, it now exists. So what’s that like in terms of as a singer, as now a musician and producer and just as a creator, what was the process like and how did your past musical experiences as a fan and as a performer influence it? Because I know that you’ve kind of an ongoing joke of sorts is that you don’t really have a genre for your music. So that’s a lot there. But just take parts of it or wherever you want to go. But I want to hear a little more about the nuts and bolts of being a professional musician.

ALICEN GREY: Well, one of my other big lessons in this process was how to have fun. I’m not lying when I say fun was very much a foreign concept to me for most of my life. I mean, I grew up in super strict conditions. Rules, rules, rules. And in fact, that plays into the theme of my second album, which I know we’re going to talk about later. Having fun is something that at first, I approached in a kind of mechanical way, like, “Okay, how can I have more fun in this process?” And it was like something I had to knock off a to do list. Like, “Did I have fun today?” Until it became a habit, until it became something automatic, like, I could be having more fun and then I open up more. And so fun is a fun practice.

MICKEY Z.: Fun is fun.

ALICEN GREY: For real. I mean, there’s this running joke with me and my Facebook friends that I unironically love the phrase Live, Laugh, Love — because I know it’s like, kitschy and there’s like a million home decor items that say “live laugh love.” So people start to take it for granted. But when you really stop and meditate on Live Laugh Love, it is rife with profound spiritual significance.

To Live, I mean, that’s everything. And to Laugh, the more joy in your life, really is a great barometer of how healthy you are spiritually. And then to Love, that is the ultimate calling. And those three words [together], I love that there’s alliteration. It’s just the most poetic, beautiful condensation of the spiritual path, in my opinion. Actually, I do have a Live, Laugh, Love sign in my kitchen that I made because I love it so much.

So, yes, in my music, you’ll see, I mean, like I said, I yodeled on the end of “Run Rabbit Run!” I screamed F-bombs on the last song. I did a lot of inner child work on this album. I went retroactively, asked my inner child, “What haven’t you done that you would like to do?” And she went wild. She just was doing whatever, like, “Oh, I want to do this on this track, and then I want to do this on this track.” And I was just like, “Okay, no limits. I won’t stop you.”

I’m not going to make the mistake of the caretakers I had growing up who just would just say no to everything, simply to stifle me for no other reason. So learning how to have fun has been one of my favorite spiritual practices. And I hope that it’s clear in the sort of sassy elements of this album that I really did have fun, and I’m having fun promoting it — just like putting on rabbit ears for no reason.

And once you realize there are no limits on how you can live your life, none at all, life just becomes so much more whimsical and interesting. Something I think about a lot is how a lot of artists are so notorious for doing the most basic shit. Think about what it says about how bland and uniform our world is that if you wear mismatched socks, people notice. And it’s noteworthy. Like, it doesn’t take much to be noteworthy. All you have to do is somewhat go against the grain and slightly break a pattern or an expectation and suddenly you’re an artist. In a way, it’s sad because that just doesn’t speak well to how tightly controlled we are by social expectations and by shame. But at the same time, it’s really a relief to know that it doesn’t take much to invite more fun and play into your life and, by proxy, into the lives of others.

MICKEY Z.: Yeah, and also, to use my own phrase, to “keep your guard up,” that we do live in a culture that tries to commodify any sort of rebellion. And so that person who wore the mismatched socks that might be an item you’ll see at Urban Outfitters in a month, and then you say, “No, no, I’m not looking for a trend.” I’m looking into my heart to say, “What do I want to do?”

And to bring it back to you, I would agree. When I listen to your music and by the way, it is such a fascinating difference of playing it on my computer. And then before we spoke, I was walking around my neighborhood and I had decent quality earphones in, and I was listening to “Ears to Hear,” where you do vocals in different [ears] — one’s in my left ear and one’s in my right ear. It’s a serious musical creation with extremely complex and profound lyrics, but never-not being whimsical. The word that you use so much to describe this, where you walk this… I don’t know if it’s a fine line, but you found your own path… let’s just phrase this way: you walk your own path, where people will like this because they like the music. Then you get the people how I was growing up [who want] to memorize the lyrics. I was curious to see what songs sounded like poems. But then the general vibe is what’s going to keep people. And at some point, even if people don’t get the lyrics, they’ll get your vibe, the whimsy.

You’re giving them permission, in a way, to break the rules and to explore and to express themselves. And as you said, you are inspiring them. Because we live in a time where perhaps more than ever, we need more imagination. And I don’t think you’re doing this — I mean, obviously you’re making conscious choices, but you’re not compromising your musical choices, making those conscious choices. That’s the impression I get.

ALICEN GREY: I love that you chose the word “imagination,” because when you break down the word, it’s I Magi Nation. And what is a magi? The magician is the creator of reality. So to live in your imagination is to be the magician creating the nation that you wish to see.

And so that’s why, going back to the mass awakening theme, it’s so important that people start understanding that no matter how much fear mongering you see in the headlines about the so called New World Order, it’s not up to them. It’s up to us! And Art is necessarily crucial to the creation of the world we’d rather see.

So part of creating reality is first discovering what you desire to see in your reality. And the only way you can find your desires is to give yourself the playful freedom to do so without shame. And so for me, I know I want my world to include more Whimsy. I want a whimsical world. 

[…] I really need to talk about this. The creative process taught me that there is a sacred space, and it’s a liminal space where, when you’re creating, the rest of the outside world just ceases to exist. It no longer exists. You’re somewhere else. You’re in another dimension, or you might as well be. And it’s even more profoundly obvious when you’re collaborating with another artist and you’re both co-creating something, the rest of the world just… you forget it’s there. And we need that feeling. We need more people accessing that liminal space that is Heaven, essentially, and anchoring Heaven to Earth through Art and through the creative process.

Because we’ve got these darker magicians trying to script it into being that the world is going to be based on the blockchain in just a few years, and there’s no escaping the social credit system. But the artists know better. And I’m trying to wake up other artists and remind them that you have a sacred responsibility right now, at this point in human history, to create as freely and as enthusiastically as you can. It’s not just about you. It’s about everybody. And it may not look like me writing an album about rabbits has anything to do with stopping the New World Order, but it has everything to do because it’s chaotic free energy, which is the antithesis to a forced order to recognize that there are no rules and you can have fun and laugh more — laugh in the face of evil. That truly is the answer. I really believe that with all of my heart.

MICKEY Z.: Amen to that. Really. I’ve always felt every time somebody creates a song or paints a painting or writes a poem, it is striking a blow for freedom, because we’re particularly in a capitalist society well, I shouldn’t say that any totalitarian society, your creativity is naturally suppressed because that’s what they would fear more than anything. Or there’s a famous line from 1984 where he talks about the powers that shouldn’t be. The one thing they fear the most is Love, because that’s where their underlings were getting the most freedom.

But you mentioned rabbits, and now I want to shift gears back into more of the symbolism, although this symbolism interwoven into everything you talk about. But could you explain the rapid symbolism and perhaps use that if you choose, to segue into your next musical project, which I believe also has an animal guide to it?

ALICEN GREY: Yes. Okay. So the album was primarily inspired by contemplations of astrology, specifically Vedic astrology. So in Vedic astrology, instead of there being a focus on the signs, the twelve zodiac signs, there are these 27 subdivisions of the Astral realm, and they’re called nakshatras, or lunar mansions. So […] instead of thinking of me as a Sagittarius rising, you could think of me as a Jyeshtha rising, which is a more specific energy within Sagittarius, if we’re looking at it from the tropical angle. (I know some people are going to come at me like, “That’s not sidereal!” but I don’t want to get into that debate right now. Point is, I’m focused on Jyeshtha nakshatra.)

And so in Vedic astrology, every nakshatra is associated with so many symbols. Every nakshatra has its own flower, its own color, its own note on the tonal scale, its own deity. And so it’s like you are by contemplating a specific nakshatra, you sort of enter this realm of, like, a dreamscape, that is a specific consciousness stream. And the [yoni] animal associated with Jyeshtha is the rabbit. 

Funny enough, rabbits were always very important to me, long before I knew anything about Vedic astrology, long before I learned that in this system of astrology, I am a rabbit incarnate. That is what it means to have the yoni animal associated with a certain nakshatra. So on contemplating Jyeshtha and rabbits, and the fact that Jyeshtha is my Ascendant — and as an astrologer, I do personally perceive the Ascendant to represent one’s highest potential, because it’s your personal horizon point, if that makes sense. So it’s what you’re moving towards. And so I was asking myself before I started writing this album, what would it mean to move towards my horizon in Jyeshtha? What would it mean to go there and to really explore all the themes associated with Jyeshtha, like royalty and power and boundless creativity and ferocity, and all of these things I’ve previously been afraid of? 

And from there, very naturally, the songs started coming. It was like I really did enter the realm of Jyeshtha, and the song just kind of came out. And I actually have a video essay where I tie all of this symbolism together as a companion to the album.

MICKEY Z.: Awesome. For anyone who’s listening, who isn’t into your type of astrology, I urge them to remain open-minded and see some interest in it, because I feel like we are, in our own ways, open to this. And, like, I am in traditional astrology, a Taurus, and I’ve had people my whole life say, I’m stubborn like a bull. We already accept this. Yet when someone uses an exotic word like Jyeshtha, maybe other people’s eyes glaze over or they say, this is too much. And I’m really glad that you explained it and that they trust that the album will inspire people to dig deeper into what inspired you, because I find, as a lifelong music fan, but just an art fan, one of the great treasures that I’ve had is to learn about what inspired the artist to create a work of art that inspired me. It just seems like a natural progression. It doesn’t have to mean that I align with them, but I’m curious and want to know more. So I appreciate you explaining that, and let’s use it to segue into what you’re cooking up next and the other animal that’s inspiring it.

ALICEN GREY: Oh, my gosh. Okay, so my next album, the working title, is Ugly, and I’ve got to be graceful in how I express, like, what inspired this. So no joke, no lie, no cap: my spirit animal is actually the deep sea angler fish, and I’m not being, like, [culturally] appropriative when I say that. I actually did a spirit animal meditation, went into a trance and all of that, and I met the angular fish. This was maybe seven, eight years ago.

And it terrified me because when I went into the meditation, I was like, “Oh, I can’t wait. I’m going to meet, like, a wolf, or something cool.” And instead, in the meditation, I started by walking through the desert in my mind’s eye, and then suddenly the desert transformed into the ocean, and I got pulled deeper and deeper and deeper into the water until I was face to face with this giant angler fish, and she was swimming circles around me, and it was quite terrifying.

And I did not revisit her for, like, six years or maybe five, because when I was out in Seattle — (I talk about Seattle a lot, because it truly was the scene where I had my spiritual awakening, and it was central to that evolutionary experience for me) — I decided, I want to know, why did I meet the anglerfish during this meditation that I did? To find out what animal represents me.

And I started revisiting her in meditations and had this cascade of revelations about who she really is and how she’s so misunderstood, all because she looks ugly. 

For anyone who isn’t sure what I’m talking about, the deep sea angler fish is that fish you may have seen in Finding Nemo where it’s this fish with a giant jaw full of fangs and a light on top of her head. And most people don’t know this but the fish with the light on her head is the female of the species. The male looks totally different. He’s like a puny little — he’s just like this little tadpole of a fish. And so the angler fish is actually this fierce force of femininity. 

And I came to realize that when I resisted contemplations of the anglerfish, I was actually resisting my own femininity. And that has been an ongoing theme in my life, my fear of my own particular Shakti, my particular feminine essence, and how I express it. 

And so in this album, one of the things I learned from RUN RABBIT RUN! being my first album […] is that I was really holding back. As much as I did have fun exploring weird sounds and like, yodeling and everything, I held back on making darker sounds because I was like, scared. I didn’t want to creep anybody out because… I’ve been writing music and keeping it all a secret, like keeping it to myself since I was like twelve… and I tend towards a darker sound. And I really wasn’t willing to show people that side of my sonic profile yet. And in contemplating the anglerfish, I realized there’s such rich potential in giving those darker, scarier human emotions a harmonic context and giving them a place to exist free of judgment, free of fear. 

And I think one of the things I was scared of that stopped me from writing darker music as my debut was, I didn’t want to immortalize negative feelings and then replicate them in the minds of others because music does have brainwashing potential, and that’s something to be aware of as a conscious artist. But I do believe there must be a way to honor the more uncomfortable human side of the human condition without letting that darkness then define who you are as the person experiencing the art. So my next challenge with this album, Ugly, is to face all those ugly feelings that I’ve been avoiding and to harmonize them and give them a sonic context, but in a way that honors the truth of those darker experiences without becoming overwhelmed or immobilized by them.

MICKEY Z.: Well, on that last note, it made me think of the musical genre, very American musical genre of the blues, where these sort of sad tales were given a certain musical sound that I felt as somebody a lot of the rock and roll that I grew up with grew out of the blues. And I feel like they didn’t immortalize the negative vibe, but they honored it and then they transmuted it into memorable music. And I look forward to hearing that on the next album, whether it’s called Ugly or not.

[…] I’m going to just turn it over to you for a couple of minutes here. What would you want to say to your listeners or potential listeners as we wrap up here about your experience of expressing yourself this way and RUN RABBIT RUN! in particular?

ALICEN GREY: What do I want to say? It’s funny, I feel like I’m going to answer this in a roundabout way. So, since I was a writer primarily for so long, I got really accustomed to that feeling of triumph you get when you’re able to articulate a feeling. That’s one of my favorite feelings: when I’m able to give words to something complex and nebulous, like just an emotional state.

But what music is teaching me is that there are deeper forms of communication that involve a great deal of trust and are telepathic. I really do liken music to telepathy. And so as for what I would like to say to listeners and potential listeners, I feel like whatever I needed to say was said by the music and the music continues to speak for itself. I’ve said what I needed to say and now the music is kind of its own consciousness speaking to people in a way that they can understand. And that’s the nature of telepathy, which I love to contemplate, psionics and these mysteries of the universe. 

So, for example, one of the most fascinating things I’m finding now that my album is out and people are giving me feedback, I love hearing how people tell me they perceive my music. Like one person was telling me she perceives the song “Run Rabbit Run!”as the soundtrack to a car chase in a movie. And I was like, wow, I wasn’t thinking of that at all when I wrote the song. But if that’s how it speaks to you, then that’s true as well. That’s also the truth. 

And so I’m learning how to be truthful in my musical expression and also to honor the truth that is brought out of people when I share my truth. And so I’m not perfect at it, but I am doing my best. And as a matter of fact, before this interview, we set our intentions. Before we got on the phone, I said, “May the truth flow out of me without hesitation.” And so that has been one of my primary motivations for making music. Just tell the truth. Just tell the truth. And so that is what my goal ultimately is. 

And I keep learning how to tell the truth even more deeply, even more richly, even more accurately. And oftentimes I’m finding truth doesn’t even have words. It’s just vibrations, it’s feelings, it’s sounds. And it’s also beyond those things. It’s been a curious journey and I’m just glad for anybody who is willing to come along on that journey with me. I’m just so grateful to be heard at all.

MICKEY Z.: Well, thank you for that. It is a fascinating concept to think of these entities, these individual seven songs, each having countless hundreds of thousands, millions of separate lives, because they live differently in the minds and hearts of everyone that hears them. What a wonderful concept. And my wish would be for everyone listening is that they will listen to and purchase your music and that they will seek their inner truth and speak their mind, whatever that means to them. It could be starting a podcast, it could be recording an album. It would be fruitless to even attempt to list the myriad ways that they can do so. But there will be no greater legacy of RUN RABBIT RUN! than to have all the people who’ve been inspired to creative action through it. So thank you for doing that. Thank you for leading by example, and thank you for being here on episode 50. I wish you all the best with the album and I will be listening and watching with the excitement and just sheer joy as I watch your career take off. So thank you for being here and all the best with the music.

ALICEN GREY: Just thank you so much for holding space for this expression of truth and this conversation about awakening. It may ripple outwards to everyone who needs to hear it.

MICKEY Z.: Amen. […] I trust that this episode helped clarify the reality that you do not need permission to live a positive and creative life. You do not need permission to express yourself, and in fact, we need you to be expressing yourself now more than ever. 

We need more music, not more machines. We need more poets, not more politicians. We need more free thinkers, not more group think. And as Alicen Grey emphasized throughout our conversation, we need this Mass Awakening. It’s a call out to you to do your part. And during that process, remember to keep your guard up.


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