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Trevor Hall Exclusive Interview: KALA, time and the journey within

September 20, 2015

“A year ago, my grandmother said to me…‘isn’t time such a wonderful gift?’ Trevor explained. When my grandmother looked up to me from her wheel chair on that golden afternoon, something happened. I didn’t know it then, but that one remark would stick with me for weeks and months to come. That was the seed. That was the beginning … ‘Time.’”

That was the beginning of KALA, which means ‘time’ in Sanskrit, and what has become Trevor Hall’s most eloquent expression of coming into his own musical identity.

Hall’s music is an eclectic mix of acoustic rock, reggae and Sanskrit chanting that echo the teachings of divinities, while maintaining a harmonizing tone amidst a universal message.

In an exclusive interview, Hall discusses the surrender that was necessary to let KALA emerge:

BJB: An integral part of the spiritual path is the awakening and expansion within yourself. Can you talk about how the expansion within you is expressed through KALA?

TH: I think that we're all divine beings, we've just forgotten that and are distracted; so it's not like our divine essence is something that we have to gain because we already have it within. It's something that we just have to remember and go in. There's obviously many different ways to tap into that essence and remember that. You know for some people it's writing and for some people it's walking and for some people music. So music for me has been the thing that has helped me come inside because music is like a mystery to me. And it's like I don't know, it brings me into a place where I know there is something much deeper within me. And so yeah, I mean with KALA, KALA is a very interesting album. I released an album last year called Chapter of The Forest after I had taken a year off before that because I was kind of going through a tough time and just tired from the road and burnt out; and in Chapter of the Forest (COTF) I wanted to do an album that was just like healing, you know, for me. I felt like with that album I was really coming into my sound, whereas like all the other albums before I was still exploring a little bit you know? So I was like whoa, I feel like this is like coming into something and by the time KALA came around I was like, I'm going to hone in on that. So it was really cool, like going deeper within myself and deeper within my musical expression and my spiritual expression and, umm yeah.

BJB: If you have to go deeper in, to do what you needed to do to create KALA, it's almost as if you had to unlearn smallness; you know smallness, like being afraid of change or afraid of failure or like doing what you think other people would want you to do. You have to fully be authentic and be Trevor, and that seems to have come through COTF, Unpack Your Memories and KALA. When you listen to KALA it feels deeply healing.

TH: For me also, people say to me, "Your album is so healing to me."

BJB: It is.

TH: And I'm like, well, you have to understand that I'm a listener too. You know, like I always get to say that I'm the most privileged listener because I get to hear it first, before it comes out. For me the songs aren't necessarily speaking from where I am presently, these are things that are talking to me, they're like meditations for me and they're helping me heal me. And each time I play them and each time I share them, I get a new perspective of the message and the healing. And KALA, by God’s grace, was definitely another super healing album for me. It really brought me back, like we said, deeper into that space and like you said unlearning. We're so conditioned to so many different things and as an artist, you do have a lot of pressures of what's main stream and what is success. Some of those things are good but some of the things you have to unlearn and go within, and COTF was the beginning while KALA was definitely the journey of going further into that space of what's in my heart.

BJB: It's beautiful. It reiterates that the healing of yourself tethers out toward the healing of everyone. If the healing is coming out though the sound of the music and lyrics, it's for all of us listening to it and however it resonates within each of us. It's amazing how spiritual music can be, specifically your music.

TH: Sometimes I'm like, ‘Why can't I just write like a regular person?' but it always gets so emotional.

BJB: No, it's perfect. The first time I heard “Jagadeesha” I thought it was such a beautiful song that is not simply empty lyrics. I literally stopped what I was doing and thought, "What kind of person could create this?"

TH: A really emotional person! (Laughter)

BJB: We live in highly transitional times, and people share a desire for authenticity, sincerity and community. What is the highest vision you hold for your music?

TH: Well, just that. I try to be as sincere as possible. You know, unfortunately no matter even if it's a pure thing we take it and market it and try to make money off of it. And I think people can trust when they know if somebody is being authentic or not, and I also think they know within themselves too, am I being authentic or not? And it can be a battle because there's a dance that has to be done. You know, it's like I just feel so weird if I'm not being true to myself, and I can't go on like that. I can't fake it. What's the saying, "You wear your emotions on your sleeve?" If I'm sad, I'm sad, you’re going to know. So it's the same thing within the art and the creation, like I know people are going to know if I'm being “hokey pokey” or whatever, and I'll know myself and I don't want that. And the purpose for me playing music is to go within. Yeah it just happens to be my job and I get to share it with people, but in its deepest sense I was playing music way before I shared it with anybody. Why? Because it was my way of going within, my way of talking to spirit and my way of spirit talking to me. So I'm not going to abuse that relationship with spirit for anybody, for nothing.

BJB: So how are you with the surrendering? How are you with truly letting it be what it will be and surrendering to divine timing?

TH: Well, that’s what KALA is; and it's a dance that I'm so not good at.

BJB: So it's almost like another lesson of, ‘I thought I was done with that but here it is again.’

TH: Well you know they say we're entitled to the work, we're not entitled to the fruits, so the fruit of our work is doing the work, you know, as best as we can, and as sincerely as we can. Whatever happens after that, we can't control that. Whatever the work is before you, you want to just be super sincere with the work. But even I get frustrated. You know some days I'm like, ‘I can't believe this is on and that's not on!’

BJB: I know!

TH: But it's good, you know, even with that. It keeps it interesting. And that's part of the journey, learning to just do the best you can and then surrendering.

BJB: Definitely, because I believe we're all on a spiritual journey and you may find yourself on this path without knowing how to walk it. It seems like the anchors are to be authentic and sincere and just who you are, without being so easily influenced by what's going on around you and pulled in a direction you don't want to go. It takes courage.

TH: It takes incredible courage. I mean, to me sincerity is the most important thing. The most important thing.

BJB: I agree.

TH: Sincerity is humbleness and if somebody is sincere, the supreme teacher, or whatever you believe is spirit, will open whatever is necessary for that person to go within. You know, I believe that strongly. And it's like the only pre-requisite, spirit is not asking us to be perfect, nobody is perfect. It's asking for sincerity.

BJB: So you've experienced so much. What have you not experienced that you want to call to you now, or let emerge?

TH: So many things. I have visions and dreams and ideas of things that I want to happen, but um, I still struggle so much with balancing that spiritual life and work life.

BJB: Do you mean an inner push and pull? And just being in the world.

TH: Yeah, just being in the world. I eventually want that line to go away.

BJB: I think I would like that line to go away too!

TH: It does get blurred. It gets blurry sometimes which is really beautiful, but then when it's two distinct worlds, I think you have to be on your guard to deal with that separation and that struggle. I want to get better at that. I don't want to see two, I want to see one. I want to see the one in everything.

BJB: That would be great, but it seems like when one layer falls away there's another one.

TH: That's the journey. There's a saying, “It’s better to aim at lions and miss than to aim at jackals and hit them.” So it's like, I'm going to go for it, you know, even if I might miss I'm still going for it rather than saying, "Okay I'm comfy here." I don't want that. I'm going deeper.

BJB: Commitment.

TH: Yeah.

BJB: Can you tell me about your creative process?

TH: My process? I’m still figuring it out.

BJB: I imagine you meditating in Hawaii and the ideas just floating in.

TH: No (laughter). It’s so funny because the music is so heavily spiritual but, it can come out of the most nonspiritual places sometimes. For me, my writing process is just to remove myself, because as soon as I start thinking, it’s ruined. I reason like, 'Is this cool, is this good, does this make sense?' So when I'm out of the way and it just flows out and I write it down, I don't even know what it's about. I have no idea what it's about, but I trust that it's about something. So I'll record it and it's like I don't know, three months later, a year later or five years later, I'm like oh my gosh that's what that's about. So on KALA, “You Can't Rush Your Healing” (YCRYH), when I wrote that song I was completely fine. I was in Hawaii, I was feeling great, like oh this is an interesting song, YCRYH, whatever I'll record it. And you know two months later I'm in the hospital. And there's the song, “You Can't Rush Your Healing,” and I'm like, 'What the heck?!'

BJB: But it was perfect because your wife didn't go to Nepal.

TH: You know your stuff! And that's it, the divine timing is everything. That everything is being perfectly arranged. And that’s my thing. COTF was an album about going within, going into retreat within oneself and healing. KALA, when I think of KALA I think about surrender and time because in the Western world the way we look at time is so numerical, and a mechanical thing that we’re just trying to beat. And there’s another side of time that is so important and it’s about space, cycles, patience, and healing; and so when that thing happened with “You Can’t Rush Your Healing” when I found out my wife would’ve been there if I didn’t get sick. I was like, ‘Why did I get sick the very last day in Hawaii?’ The very last day we were packing up our things. That’s not a coincidence.

BJB: No, it’s not.

TH: So when I think about that, I think about time and how everything is being arranged perfectly, perfectly, perfectly. If we can do that, if I can learn to do that and remember that, then man, I’d be so less stressed. You know?

BJB: Yes, I would be too! (laughter)

TH: We all would be!

BJB: It’s the frustration that it’s not happening fast enough or the way we think it should happen, and it really is that trusting and just standing in the faith of it all.

TH: And you don’t have to be a religious person to think that. It doesn’t matter. So KALA, yeah, that’s the biggest thing I take from KALA and it’s something that I’ll work on for the rest of my life. It’s such a journey.

BJB: Sometimes on this journey I think, ‘I don’t want any more lessons.’

TH: Yeah.

BJB: Well, my two favorite songs so far are “To Zion” and “Samay”.

TH: I was going to name the album “Samay” and it was going to be the first track, but then the idea of KALA came along. “Samay” also means time, but KALA just has a power to it.

BJB: That speaks to the relevance of the divine timing of your grandmother saying that to you exactly when you could receive it and you doing something with it, and giving that message to all of us who are so caught up in time wanting to do this or get that.

TH: Oh my gosh, you are preaching to the choir. I always think like that. I think, ‘Ah man, I got to know this before this, or I gotta learn this, or this should be this.’

BJB: Or we should be here.

TH: Yeah, or I should know this already. A quote I like is, “God will give you everything for your spiritual advancement, hold onto nothing.” If you’re sincere with pure intentions, you’ll come to know that thing at the right time. You know talking about timing, if you go up to a tree and pick an apple before it’s ripe, it’s not going to be good because it’s not ready. Everything is just being arranged.

BJB: But there’s a difference between knowing something and truly embodying it. When you have the insights, you take it into your body and out of your head.

TH: I completely agree with that. You know I’ve been reading and studying these things for a while, but it was not until now, with this album, that I truly felt what it means to surrender. Like you said, we can read about it and hear about it, but to truly take it within oneself and feel it is a whole different thing. So KALA just really helped me to do that. And it’s something I’ve been praying for, for a long time.

BJB: I can hear the sincerity in your voice. You’re making a profound impact with your music, and I’m so grateful to be here to hear it and spread the word on your behalf.

TH: Thank you. It’s crazy, because I still get so blown away and I almost get uncomfortable when people come up to me and say, “Your music has done so much for me.” I don’t really look at it as my music. I’m listening to it too and it’s helping me too. And it almost feels like, 'Why do I need to take credit?' I get really weird.

BJB: Well, it’s coming through you as the vessel for this. Each person brings a valuable piece to all of this. Thank goodness you listen to it. Thank you, Trevor.

“The one great gift we all share, without exception, is time. The value of time is incalculable because it is an immeasurable part of eternity, consisting of moments.” As we recognize this we see just how super special the present moment is as the only real moment. These moments are continual gifts that allow us to make good and right use of our time by striving to better express the perfection within us.

As Hall continues to reach toward that connection to something bigger through his musical expression, we get to listen to what happens as he “dances” in and out of time as a conduit of remembrance.

When it comes down to it, ideally, that is what spirituality is about; improving the state of your fellow human being, yourself, and the world at large.

Trevor was the featured performer in Deepak Chopra’s 2nd annual Global Meditation for Compassion at the Deepak Chopra Center, and will be featured on the Emmy Award winning PBS show On Tour that will air in the fall.

Hall is currently in the midst of his summer tour. For more information on Trevor Hall, a list of tour dates or to purchase KALA, log onto trevorhallmusic.com.