Talk It Out - Joselyn Wilkinson of Joselyn and Wild Roots - Los Angeles, CA -
Jodi: So we’re at Noura Café on a very beautiful, moody, rainy day and I’m with the very talented, very beautiful Joselyn Wilkinson of Joselyn and Wild Roots. Hi, Joselyn.
Joselyn: Hello, Jodi.Jodi: So you have a new album out, and it’s called Shapeshifting. Can you tell me what exactly Shapeshifting is, because I read that term in Newsweek about the Tsunami and the earthquake. I read that Shapeshifting is an element of geology or physics or something.
Joselyn: Wow!Jodi: Can you explain what Shapeshifting means to you?
Joselyn: It has so many different levels. The most obvious level that comes through the song is that we are constantly becoming who we are. It’s about personal growth and personal experience, and the point in your life where you’re doing the same thing over and over again, and then you decide to ascend to the next level. You decide to change yourself. You decide to become more truly who you really are. So it’s kind of shifting through all the crap and the surface layers that we put on ourselves. Discovering truth. That’s one. And then there’s another more spiritual aspect to it as well. While that journey is a spiritual one, it’s interesting that you bring up the geological aspects too, because the earth is shifting. Nothing is permanent. Everything is always in flux. We’re always trying to find this precarious balance between all the things that we think we are, what identifies us, and somewhere in the balance we find out who we are and what it all means.Jodi: And how did you come to that term? Where did you find the word Shapeshifting?
Joselyn: Actually, I was doing some reading on Shamanism and on Central American peoples who believe that you have a spirit animal and that you can shift your consciousness and even your body into discovering other spiritual truths. I just thought that was such a beautiful concept and such a beautiful term. It just really reflected many different metaphors as far as how we live our lives.Jodi: Great! So, what would you like to see happen for yourself and for the world this year?
Joselyn: Oh, I’d like to see some sanity happening. I think things are really out of balance and really out of whack. We’ve just got to come to the truth of who we really are and what we really need. Do we really need oil? On this planet, the oil is drying up. Do we really need that? No. We need to find a better way. We need to look at our policy and ourselves and just operate in a sane way. I think everyone’s really caught up in a whirlwind cycle and it’s hard for people to see the big picture. It’s not just this generation that we’re talking about. It’s many generations to come. Many generations in the past have led us to where we are today, and people have a responsibility to think before they act.Jodi: I definitely think when we have faith new opportunities display themselves, reveal themselves. So, if we become less dependent on oil, then we are bound naturally, as history has proven, to come up with a better solution. Do you agree? Is that what you’re talking about?
Joselyn: Absolutely. It just takes a little imagination and it takes people putting their priorities in a sane direction.Jodi: How do you define sanity?
Joselyn: Do what is sustainable. I think it is as simple as that.Jodi: Being self-sufficient.
Joselyn: Yeah! So, the lifestyle that we’re living right now is not sustainable. It will burn itself out. We have to be able to think about the future and what is good for the long term, and think of things in the big picture.Jodi: And I think that includes being ecologically, environmentally and economically secure within.
Joselyn: Most people are living in debt and so is our government. To me, that’s a little bit insane.Jodi: I agree. It’s very dangerous, because then we become so needy and reliant on others and we’re not truly producing at our greatest capability.
Joselyn: Absolutely.Jodi: There’s so much rain going on in LA right now. I feel like I’m in a completely different state of America. I feel like I’m home in Northern Michigan under the roof in a swing chair on the porch. We’re in the wake of the Tsunami…does all this rain mean something?
Joselyn: I wish I knew. But it does seem like there has been a wave caused by the Tsunami that has rippled across the whole world. We’ve seen it in weather. We’ve seen it in people’s consciousness. People are all of a sudden open to the idea that “Oh, I’m not the only person in the world. There are hundreds of thousands of people who are suffering right now, millions of people who are suffering and I need to give from my heart to them.” So, that’s been interesting to see, because everywhere that I’ve gone, people are overwhelmed by generosity and by a feeling of wanting to reach out to the victims. That’s incredibly powerful. You can’t help but feel devastated for all these people and want to help them in some way. Those are the times when the human spirit more truly reveals itself. I think all this weather- it’s very interesting. I don’t know what exactly the connection is, but there must be some connection.Jodi: I think it’s a love year. I think that this is a new year where we’re committed to loving other people. It’s in the nature of the universe. I like the study of numbers and 2005 is a 7 and 7 is a number for really caring for other people. I think that it’s no coincidence that the new year has brought us to a place where the human spirit rises to want to love others naturally. I think we’re seeing that, and I think it’s really interesting.
So, what in the global consciousness is Shapeshifting?
Joselyn: I would hope that people are becoming more conscious. I would hope that people are evolving, and just becoming more open, less guarded, more open to sharing who they are and co=creating a better world. We live in a wonderful world. There are so many wonderful things here. It’s not like everything is going down the tubes. There is so much beauty. There is so much to look forward to. There are so many beautiful people. I think if we can just drop some of our guardedness. I’m speaking for myself too. Just work very consciously on creating the world that we want to live in, because we’re creating that every moment.Jodi: You have such a deep complexity, and such a soulful, spiritual nature, vibe, energy about you. It’s just so deep. I look into you and I see infinity. I see very far into you, and I think that’s really cool. It’s great that you’re a musician, because your gift is to share your message with the world. Who are the people that make up your audience?
Joselyn: I guess as an artist, I’m supposed to know that. That’s what they say. I’m definitely supposed to know my demographic.Jodi: See, we have a purpose here.
Joselyn: Well, the types of music I perform come from many sources. I grew up with folk in the mountains of Montana. I came to Hollywood High and I was amerced in hip-hop and funk. I lived in West Africa and I was amerced in percussion there. I learned percussion there and African rhythms. So, my music is really a combination of all of those things. It is soulful. It has kind of a funk and soul vibe to it. There are some folk inspired lyrics, my percussion and world rhythms throughout it, so I think my audience has to be varied as well. I think the youth would respond to it on some levels, but I think in general, it’s a little bit more for a mature audience.Jodi: Adult Contemporary.
Joselyn: Yeah, it’s for people who can just accept the melding, the fusion of different musical genres and styles. It all really sounds like one thing, it sounds cohesive, but there are many different influences.Jodi: I think so. It’s very eclectic, and I think it has a lot of passion. Your band is named Joselyn and Wild Roots, and what I think drew me to your name first and foremost was that spiritual rhythm, the percussion aspect of it. I think the heartbeat and the drumbeat really creates a rhythm that drives our soul, and I connected with you a long time ago though email on a very spiritual level. I’ve always wanted to Talk It Out with you. How do you reach out to your fans?
Joselyn: Just on a personal level try to stay connected. We have our website, a great website designed by Jason Luckett, another artist – a great musician and web designer. It’s part of our collective. By doing live shows, email.Jodi: You’re always at the Temple Bar. Is that your home base?
Joselyn: Yeah! I love the Temple Bar! I really do. They’ve created such a wonderful vibe for West LA. So, it’s really necessary, and they’ve given a lot of musicians a home that wouldn’t otherwise have one in LA. It’s always a good vibe there. You can always go there and find something good.Jodi: Totally, totally! Is community service a big part of your life?
Joselyn: It is. It’s my day job.Jodi: The reason I bring up community service is because you’re talking about the Temple Bar and having that be some aspect of community service, and I think they’ve brought that to the community, whether it’s their community service or not, I don’t know, but it serves a purpose in the community for musicians, for audiences. It brings people together.
Joselyn: Absolutely.Jodi: One of the great powerful emails you sent me during your promotions, for your promotional networking, is when you sent me a link to the Art and Culture center of LA. There was a petition going around – it was to save the Art and Culture scene in LA County. – and you sent it to me and I sent it to my fans, and I just wanted to let everybody know that it passed. As a result, we were able to save the Art and Culture financing that was allotted for Art and Culture in LA. Can you explain that, because I’m sure I’m not explaining it right, you know, and how is community service very powerful and important to you?
Joselyn: Well, the petition was for the LA County Arts Commission, I believe. There was a proposal in the Mayor’s office, I think to eliminate it or just bring the funding way down to only support an administrator but no program. And the LA County Arts Commission just does great work! They give grants, they provide forums for artists, they have wonderful databases and resources, and it’s just really important that that stuff stay alive. I mean, we lost the California Arts Commission a few years ago. They’re still in existence but they don’t have any funding anymore for grants.Jodi: When did we lose that?
Joselyn: I think it’s been two years now.Jodi: Was that under Schwarzenegger or Gray Davis?
Joselyn: That was actually under Gray Davis. Yeah, that was a real shame. His wife was an advocate for the arts, so it was really a shame that we lost the Arts Commission. It was a really small budget to begin with.Jodi: Can we get it back under Schwarzenegger?
Joselyn: That would be wonderful. Absolutely. It’s just where they place their priorities. For some reason, people do not place the arts as a priority. They think of them as a luxury. How can you place your soul as a luxury? Arts are the expression of a people’s soul. People need them to feel alive and to express themselves and to have knowledge of the world, and to experience life and to be alive in their life. So, the arts are so important not just for children, and they’re so important in Arts Education, but they’re really important for adults as well. I think it’s a shame that they place them as a luxury.Jodi: That is one aspect of our dysfunctionality as a culture.
Joselyn: Yeah, it is.Jodi: It’s backwards. It’s a dyslexic view of the world to think that our soul doesn’t crave understanding and connection.
Joselyn: So we kept the LA County Arts Commission, which is wonderful. I think that as far as the community service aspect, I think that any business, or any artist, or any person living and working in the world can create community service just by what they’re doing and how they’re proceeding – what kind of businesses do they support, what is the goal of their work. Something like the Temple Bar, it’s not a non-profit, but it provides an amazing community service for so many musicians and audience members – everybody has a great time. People get to play their music, so everybody wins. In my work, I also work with at-risk youth, middle school youth, creating theater and doing arts education. That is rewarding for me, to work with the youth. I have a great time with them. I learn a lot from them, and it’s also wonderful for them, because they get to express themselves, create pieces of theater, gain self-confidence and have a great time. So, community service doesn’t have to be so hard, it can be full of joy. I think it’s just how you approach things. You have a wonderful community service aspect to what you do. You’re serving your community, you know?Jodi: That’s the purpose of Talk It Out. I hope so. I always have that as a dream, as a hope, as a goal.
Joselyn: Yeah. It doesn’t always have to be – I mean, everybody’s mission is different. Not everyone has to do community service – they can do whatever they do in a conscious way so that it helps others and inspires people, brings a smile to their face.Jodi: Why does our soul need to be of service?
Joselyn: Well, I guess it doesn’t need to be. It feels good, though.Jodi: It feels good, but you know, I’m trying to define the soul as what does the soul need to survive? It certainly needs to give, it certainly needs to receive knowledge and other things from other people, and we certainly need to love and to do spiritual work. I think our soul craves to do some kind of continuation of progress, of moving the universe toward time. [insert Jodi Leib’s Physics Theory: Progress is the motion of the universe towards time. P = MU x T ] Jodi con’t: So I’m wondering, being of service, yes, it’s giving, yes, it’s getting outside of yourself, but what is it really? How does it really move us? What is the secret to being of service?
Joselyn: I wish I knew that too! I think that when people’s lives are not necessarily of service, they wind up feeling empty. When people’s goals are to make the most money that they can, send their kids to college, and not really look back, they end up feeling at some point like they’re lives have an emptiness to them, and that’s a very common theme in our society. When people take the time to address that emptiness, and find something that really feeds their soul, then their lives become much richer and they enjoy their children more and their lives more, and everyone benefits. It’s a problem because our society doesn’t really create work that’s meaningful. You have to go our there and create it yourself or find it. And, it takes a lot more effort than finding an entry-level job in a company that will earn you the paycheck that you desire. I remember one of my professors in college giving us a speech saying, “There is no job out there waiting for you. You have to go and create the job that you want.” And, I have absolutely found that to be true, all the way through.Jodi: It sounds like you’re doing intensely rewarding work all the way through from how you spend your days, the inspiration you get from your job. It totally inspires your music and therefore through your music, you are able to inspire your community, then it comes back into your business, your job, the children you help everyday. It’s like a circle, a self-fulfilled fully realized soul, that’s what you are.
Joselyn: No, no, I’m not there yet!Jodi: Realizing. You’re close. You’re a bubble. You exist within this self-sufficient floating bubble. I don’t know who’s talking now. I don’t know what I’m saying, but that’s how I see you.
Joselyn: That’s the nicest thing.Jodi: Your hot air balloon is flying. You know, because all the elements are in place and you’re navigating your life. You’re providing the fuel. I don’t know, it’s just visual imagery, but –
Joselyn: I like it.Jodi: You know, it’s floating, and it’s doing great. I wish you all the success in the world. I’m happy to hear how other people can take this Talk It Out Session, to take this experience and really transform their own life. I think it really is looking within. I think the Shapeshifting for this year comes into place where we look within. What truly are we lacking? Figure it out and then go after what will fulfill us, and that is perhaps the biggest purpose of the year.
Joselyn: How wonderful would it be if we finished this year 2005 with more of a sense of peace about ourselves.Jodi: About ourselves and others. It’s, like, a love year, a partner year. Maybe by next year, we’ll really be ready to take on ourselves. This year by loving others, we take on their reflection. I don’t know. I don’t want to try and define it.
Josenly: That’s a hard one. Some people think that you can’t love others until you love yourself. Some people think that you find yourself through serving and loving others. It’s all a balance. It’s really a quest and a search, but if we can just open ourselves, and put positive energy out there in the world, it will come back to us. It absolutely will come back to us. That’s all we can hope for.Jodi: Absolutely. It’s beautiful. Thank you so much. You’re a beautiful spirit.
Joselyn: Thank you, Jodi, for yours.Jodi: Yea!
Check out Joselyn’s website at www.joselynwilkinson.com.