Gazel: A Discussion on Alan Watts and Philosophical Inspiration

>> The British-Turkish artist and producer Gazel is eager to release a new album, Book Of Souls. An undeniably ethereal collection of songs, each track on the album is representative of a different soul in our collective unconscious, and is influenced musically and philosophically by her middle eastern roots, as well as eastern mysticism and the teachings of Osho. Check out our interview with her below where we discuss Alan Watts, her philosophical inspirations, and her career as a producer.

Could you dive into some of the stories behind your upcoming release ‘Gazel’s Book of Souls’?

Sure. Gazel’s Book of Souls is the story of a teenage girl living in a desert town in the middle-east. The town suffered a widespread fire when she was a child, leaving her with only fragmented memories of her family and former life. In researching the suspicious circumstances surrounding the fire, my character discovers the existence of the Souls - spiritual entities that have governed the fates of the region since the beginning of time.

Each of the Souls represents a different aspect of the subconscious mind, things like the preservation of memory or the processing of pain and grief. Each of the songs on my upcoming album represent one of the Soul characters who dwell in the universal subconscious mind.

How have your Middle Eastern roots influenced the sound of your music?

I wasn’t aware they had until recently - people would say to me after shows that my tunes sounded foreign or exotic and I’d have no idea. I never write in major keys, I put that down to the minor sounding middle eastern scales. I have a collection of instruments from all over the world, there’s a lot of African sounds in there too. I’ll normally just pull out whatever instrument is closest and go with that.

How have you been influenced by eastern philosophy and the teachings of Osho?

I love the books and lectures of Alan Watts, he mentions Osho on occasion. I was struck by his quote about religion being like a finger pointing at the moon; people become obsessed with the finger and ignore what it’s pointing at. Music is like that too - people get dramatic about gear and techniques but it’s really not interesting how you get there. It’s about the music that comes out of you.

How were you introduced to writing music in your childhood?

My best friend had written a (really good) song for a school concert when we were about 14 and I thought - hey that looks easy, I’ll try it. I was forever copying everything she did. Anyway I wrote one myself and then just kept doing it. My dad was always trying to get me into programming music and I finally started doing that a couple years later.

Do you come from an artistic family?

Not in the typical sense. My dad is big into software and my mum is an architect. She does set building and prop design for my shows now. My mum is self-proclaimed tone deaf, but my dad has a lot of latent musicality in him.

If you could pick a philosopher that you feel aligns with the messages in your music most closely, who would it be and why?

Alan Watts. He is my biggest inspiration philosophically. I love that he never really aligned himself with any movement in particular or tried to convince anybody of anything. He called himself a philosophical entertainer, and that’s kind of how I see myself - except I like using music and mythological storytelling to explore the biggest questions. They seem to come closer to an answer than intellect and logic ever do.

What can fans be expecting to hear from you in the near future?

Gazel’s Book of Souls is my debut album and my biggest work to date, that’s out in October. The third single is out at the end of this month, and I’m touring at the beginning of May starting in London’s Paper Dress (May 1st) and ending in Liverpool Sound City. You can expect more stories from the subconscious mind, sounds from all over the world, and unique music miles deep. Thanks for chatting with me.

Listen to Gazel HERE!

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