WR719: Mira Black

Episode 719 August 29, 2022 00:42:24
WR719: Mira Black
Witchpolice Radio
WR719: Mira Black
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Hosted By

Sam Thompson

Show Notes

You can’t keep a Winnipegger away from the city for too long! Although she hasn’t been able to perform in town since the pandemic, Mira Black is making a return with an intimate new show, “Journey of Ashes”, on Sept. 18.

Check out this conversation about the show — which blends music and spoken word — finding a new outlet on TikTok, and so much more.

Want to hear more Mira? Catch her on episode 247 (Sept. 2017) and on the Acoustically Inclined episode (379, May 2019).

This episode brought to you by our pals at Devine Shirt Company, who have brand new Witchpolice merch in the works! Watch for that!

Huge thanks to everyone who supports the podcast on Patreon! You can help out for as little as $1 a month if you like the show and want to throw some change in the guitar case! You can also throw a one-time tip via Buymeacoffee.

As always, if you like the podcast, please tell a friend or 20! Rate and review on your podcast player of choice! Word of mouth is still the main way Witchpolice Radio reaches new ears.

Thanks for listening!

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Episode Transcript

WITCHPOLICE RADIO: I'm here with a returning guest to the podcast. But it's interesting because I've been doing the show this way through Zoom for the past two years now because of the pandemic. It's why this started. But you're someone that's always been on the show in person, both times I've had you on the podcast for two different projects. It's been kind of in person. So this is your first appearance on this sort of version of the show. But I'm glad to talk to you again. I mean, you're always doing something interesting, and it's very cool to hear that you're coming back to Winnipeg. So I think that before we get into any of that, if you'd like to just introduce yourself and maybe give a bit of background about what it is that you do. MIRA BLACK: Mira Black, and I am a storyteller. I'm a songwriter, poet, spoken word, artist, musician, gypsy traveler. I saw you when I was playing Winnipeg. But then again, when I did my reunion with Acoustically Inclined. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: That's right. MIRA BLACK: It was the most magical show I've ever done in my entire life. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Oh, that's cool. MIRA BLACK: That reunion. Yeah. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: So I think that's maybe a good place to start, too, is that you're known to people in Winnipeg from that group for a long time. People would recognize you as a member of Acoustically Inclined, and then also from your own stuff, too. Before you left Winnipeg, you were playing a lot of shows and making a lot of music here. So where are you now? Where are we talking to each other from right now? MIRA BLACK: Yeah. I'm in Calgary. So I moved to Calgary in 2014 for a few years, and then I went to Vancouver and Victoria for a few years, back to Winnipeg for a couple of years, which is where you and I were introduced first, and then back to Calgary, and yeah, so I'm getting run where the wind blows. I've always been that way, but I've been based in Winnipeg. I was born there, and I keep coming back there, whether it's after five years, ten years, or one year. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Right. Can't keep you away. Yeah. MIRA BLACK: No. Except, well, one thing kept me away. I haven't played a show. Even when I was living elsewhere, I always came home for a show every year, at least once. Except now, March 1, 2020 was my last show. And when it's my last show, period, if I can recall correctly. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, before the thing the thing that uprooted everyone's lives, especially creative people. Right. And so I'm sure you're sick of talking about it. I'm sick of talking about it. But it has affected everyone so much that it sort of has to come up. Every one of these episodes I do, whoever I'm interviewing has been affected by this. So, like you said, that's your last show. You played two years ago. What has that been like for you as someone who has been playing music for as long as you have to have that sort of imposed break? MIRA BLACK: Well, first, of course, I was afraid, like everybody, and then I moved into the concern. A lot of my process was pretty common, and for me, it turned into really looking inward, as, again, most of us need to do, for better or worse. But for me, being such a deep extrovert and showman my whole life, the time that I spent by myself really turned into, on the other side of it beneficial in that, I really dug into my art. I dug into my COVID projects. Learning to use film and Photoshop and to make content. Yeah, I did a lot of that. And then my writing just became the show became from just not just, but from predominantly me on stage, hanging with musicians in the audience. It's grown into this really multimedia, experiential communication, spoken word story. It's a storyteller telling a story of a story that's unfolding with music and spoken word. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Oh, cool. So I guess you took kind of the idea of adapting to your surroundings and used it to branch out in different directions. MIRA BLACK: Yes, just divisions, as we all as I learned more about different art forms by design, and even the online streaming and creating my own videos, and then the TikTok world, which is a whole new language and Instagram and all of that, really having to adapt. And inside that adaptation, my art turned into more of a visual thing. Now, I still use my words and my voice predominantly at the moment, but I do have intention of creating the story and different characters with video. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay, well, I don't want to talk too much about it, but TikTok, one thing I've noticed, I'm still learning what it is and how to use it. I just got to post clips from my interviews. But you seem to have embraced it. You seem to have understood what is meant to be used for. I'm not there yet, but I'm just looking at some of your posts. I mean, you're engaging with other people. You're doing little performances with other people's music and things combined. And how did you figure out what to do with it? Because I don't know. MIRA BLACK: Yeah, it's a game. TikTok has an element of a game and it has different threads inside that game, like different ways to play the game. There's a dance component, three main anyway, right? There's dance component and then there's vocalizing and taking someone else's sound and doing that really well. And then the third element, which is, of course, your own, whatever it is. And often I tend toward the musicians. So people who are putting out harmonizing, they put out the harmony using the melody or vice versa. And then one of the big things that has come with all of us going online is that this access to superstars in ways that we never did before. This I never did hanging out. So I just did one that's harmonizing with Michael Buble. It's fun. And it wasn't even him. It wasn't even him. I saw him just harmonizing for fun to some other dude. And it happened to be on my stream because I was following the harmonizing dude to do some interesting they harmonize and let you do the melody. So then I put in a third or fourth voice and it's fun. And it's, again, a way to connect. There's just another way to connect. And in the heart of the pandemic, those ways of connecting became really fun and important. And so now there's a way to learn how to give my own offerings. And that's where I'm at now. But it's interesting, it's fun. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Is this something that's just fun or does it have the potential of opening up what you do to a larger audience? Because it's such a short idea. They're just like little quick clips and I don't know if you have the opportunity and again. This is probably because I'm not super well versed in it. But to really get to know someone's work and what they do. I mean, you hear you harmonizing for 15 seconds with Michael Buble. which is really cool. But that doesn't really give an insight into what you do as an artist. Right. Other than just your voice. MIRA BLACK: That's true. And I have watched the algorithm and of course, you have to be mature and calm down and realize that just because you don't get a lot of like, doesn't really mean anything about you or your art. However, and I sort of got trained by poetry slams because they always say it's really like, love the poet, not the point, whatever, but the piece of again, with the game. So part of winning the game is to attract more people and raise your algorithm. And then eventually, once you have enough of a following, TikTok gives you the option to go live. Okay? And that's when it really gets fun. And there are certainly intelligent streams. I do a lot of the antics and comics and cheeky, sarcastic cheek is where you have to figure out how to say something poignant in a quick amount of time in such a way that's catchy and people get it and like it and want to kind of throw you around them. So you say something. I copy your voice pointed at my people, which points my people at your people, your people at my people now work together and so on. But the real point is to come up with your own poignant, whatever it is to say or antics. TikTok is like you have to be either really silly, very talented or get naked or something. So I'm hoping for the middle. But I'm a jokester as well. So it's fun to say reiterate someone else's sarcastic way of saying something really thingy like a gesture might in the court and so there's that. But once people get on live, then it becomes a community. You can actually communicate live with people. It's a little bit different than Facebook which is sort of pockets and pieces and moments and things and announcements and connections over. Whereas TikTok people will just sit and be like, hey, what's up? And read the thing. Oh yeah, I got these glasses from Mission Eyewear, but great. And then other people you sing and there's people who play and sing things live and give them your instincts and your feedback and support and so on. So it's a gang. There you go, TikTok 101 by Mira Black, right? WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, I think a lot of people well, I definitely need to know how to do it. You're coming back to Winnipeg and this is your first show in two years. Was that always the goal since this pandemic has been going on that Winnipeg was going to be the place to get back to performing live? MIRA BLACK: Well, I have performed in Calgary, so there's a way that I'm curating smaller again with the adaptation piece. Right? I'm curating smaller storytelling, gatherings of like 30 to 50 people. And even in Winnipeg I chose to go to the St. Norbert Art Center which is a max indoors of 80 people. And I'm not doing the outdoor 200-400 people things anymore at the moment just because of the nature of what I'm doing. This is a really intimate story and it touches on some topics around mental health and the journey from trauma to awake and healing and enlightenment and utilizing my skills as frontline worker, case manager, shelter counselor, my education, and utilizing that with my art and my voice, my vocalization, my spoken word, my extra version, my showmanship, and sort of opening those conversations so that people can I think it's really important. There's no question, especially now, there always has been a need for us to bring the essence of grieving to the front and center rather than pushing it aside and pretending and trying to keep up with the Joneses as well. That's how schools get shot up and people get bullied and traumaatized and hurt themselves because there's nowhere to really feel safe. And so that's what I'm doing. Journey of Ashes. Is that it's? That, ah, Phoenix fire. It's those places and spaces where I hope to create a conversation that some might feel as dark and others will feel comforted by the acceptance of the shadow and the strength in the shadow. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay. Do you think that people are maybe more open to talk about some of these issues now just because we've all been so isolated? MIRA BLACK: I really do. I think that the pandemic forced many people to do personal growth work and open to that introspection and self inquiry like we never did before. And that has come out with, yes, higher rates of all kinds of trauma and so on. And the knowledge and the awareness and the connectivity. It was something globally we all went through. It was an equalizer in some ways. And so there's this piece of my heart that feels like it's time. It's time for the nurturing, it's time for the mothering and the conscious men to rise the space and platforms for conscious men and women to say, hey, this is going to happen. We need to talk about this and be together in it and love each other and stop trying to cover it up with the things that don't work. Just because it looks pretty and shiny and they tell us that we need it and want to sell it to us doesn't mean it's going to help anything. And we get that now. Yeah, I really think so. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, I think maybe a lot of people's bullshit detector has been honed over this time and they're not willing to just accept something because it's in front of them anymore because we've all gone through this. I have this hope that coming out of the pandemic, and now that's starting to happen. Shows are happening, people are out. I'm hoping that there'll be some kind of, like, just a big push of really worthwhile art coming out of this. Because, like you said, a traumatic experience everyone's gone through and everyone's got some kind of feeling about it. Whether whatever it is, whether it's anger or sadness or a mixture or joy to be back, seeing family members and friends, do you think that we should be expecting like a wave of just really great creativity now, or are people still cautious? MIRA BLACK: There's sort of three things that come up for me. One is that because of the nature of the streaming and the ease and the apps and the ability to make a full album just sitting with me on the computer, want to so there's that which is great in its own way, has all wonderful. Let's hear all your voices. But it also creates a lot of noise and it keeps us apart. There's just a lot of my feeling and what it was for me, music and art, the liveness the live theater piece, the energetic aspects, , the feeling of the music, the feeling of the based in real. and actually having an artist speak their truth. It's different than swipe up, swipe like, I have 3 seconds. There was a time, I noticed, on all of the platforms where a lot of the Instagram posts started with ‘stop scrolling’. It was like, that just makes me want to scroll more totally. It's a thing like, the shock factor is difficult. And that, even in live shows as awesome as Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga and all but KISS and all those really big theatrical shows have their benefit. There's also a way of, like, would James Taylor survive in this day and age? Right? Would we hear from the real bard and troubadour? I don't know. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Because they're too understated. Like, they're too quiet. MIRA BLACK: They're subtle. They're subtle. And it's poetry. Like what? Goodbye, you mean? What does that mean? Right? We would sit and listen to these folk musicians, for example, or the poets or the artists, or the singers, songwriters. I kind of dated myself with some of my examples, but I think it's harder for the troubadour to get heard. And yet so there's a yes and no in your question, and also the depth that we all have to go into to survive. We've always said Winnipeg is so extraordinary. Winnipeg, Manitoba, the prairies are so extraordinary because we sit for six, seven months, a year inside. What do you want to do? Let's say that song. Let's learn this song. Or do you want to write something together? Let's draw, let's write, let's philosophy. Let's talk about that. So I've noticed at least five of my friends alone have one Juno in the last month. All from me, right? Have one Juno. Now. What does a Juno mean? On and on? That's a whole different podcast. But the point being that I feel like we dive in even deeper. So it's like, the question will be, what are the people going to do? What will the people push? Will they push the sort of grotesque extremism, , and the need for sitting home live streaming, and will you shock me and to stop my scrolling and sit down and pay attention from all the ADHD that can happen? Or will we cultivate and curate and be sick of all the noise. Like, who's going to win? I mean, maybe that's an age old question, but who will prevail? The ones who really long for connection and honesty and consciousness and truth and what's really happening and stop bullshitting me. , take off the filters. Although I really like the filters. That's my hope. And my contention is that there will be it can have the capacity to create a kind of temple inside the realm of a musician who is bringing out their heart for you have dug into what they see in the social world and reflect it back. It happens all the time. It's just that I feel like we're on a tipping point right now. What's going to win? And I hope that it's me. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: So this show you're doing Winnipeg, is there anywhere right now that people can find out more information about it? What's the best way to sort of get some background knowledge on what to expect when you're here? MIRA BLACK: Yeah, my website, there's a live concert page that has the write up and has the tickets. You know, it's really about finding out. There's so much about finding out. It's experiential in that it's a little different every time. This time it's just me and Gilles. I've kind of put away my high heels. And I'm bringing out some even more heartfelt conscious work that I do. And like I said, my history in psychology and healing work and enlightenment intensive. I have that designation as an enlightened master. And usually I show up and make it fun. And this is, hopefully, it's fun and it's also a deep conversation. It's not cocktails I'm not playing cocktail lounges and jazz clubs right now, and big festivals like I once did. It's more about creating a really brave container and telling a story about moving through triggers and traumas toward enlightenment and shining and connectivity and love and healing the world through connecting with each other and shining. I shine, you shine. Then the two of us shine. And they tell two friends and they tell two friends. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Right. MIRA BLACK: Yeah. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Is this show going to be something that you replicate in the future as well? Or is it a one off? Like, is this just a one time show or is it going to be sort of your show that you're presenting going forward? MIRA BLACK: Yeah, this is my new theme. Certainly I'll do my fun Mrs. Jones, all girl bands and my jazz one off. Those things will, of course, happen. But no, my writing right now is really focused on this. So it's not a one off in that the concept itself will be ever growing. And my hope is that it will be funded in grant and people will love it and support. And then I can create the kind of like I keep using the word temple because that's what it feels, it feels sacred to me. But there's also an element of creating, bringing these characters that I'm writing, and I've been writing quotes for years now, bringing them to life and speaking about these characters through spoken word. And there's one that's really fragile and one that's very philosophical and one that's very much the diva, and how that kind of dissociative aspects of one mind can blow out into three and then reunite into one again. So there's a structure that has famous in it, but I'm really embracing the spontaneous composition, the improvisation. It will change depending on what's in the room and how that is, how that feedback occurs or how that energy is created. What musicians I have on screen, of course. Yeah. And the spoken word will be the same as it was the last show, but the music around it will be different. And I'll choose different acapella pieces depending on what's rising in me in that moment. There's a new student named Evan Miles. Ah, they have a thing called the Gerry Atwell Mentorship program at SNAC now, which is just amazing since Gerry died. And so I've chosen one of them who's a wonderful jazz pianist. And so he'll improvise over some spontaneous and I've never played with him before. Right. It'll be california. I've been playing with him since I was like, 19, I think, which is just everything. He can do anything, in my opinion. But I don't know exactly what will happen every time, you know what I mean? I really want to keep that aspect of live and journeying and whatever place and space I'm in and my learnings and my teachings and my evolution will affect it as well. Right, yeah. I've had people who are tearful in the beginning and then that is a piece of the show. I don't ignore that. And other people where I make a joke and they really feel funny, and then I talk about things that are serious, as well as bring the levity and the joy, so, yeah, it will shift. My hope and my intention is to really embrace that spontaneous composition, that jazz element. Historically. While bringing jazz came from holler songs and needing to communicate really difficult things and heartfelt things onto the blues. On to bring cool hip hop. Rap. All of that. Spoken word and the kind of battle plan. All of that thread that the minstrel and the bar utilized. The medicine women. The shamans and the suitcase. All of that to me. Is what I'm being called to express. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Sounds like I almost wanted to say a fun show. But I mean, if you're dealing with serious subject matter, but it sounds like you're going to make it entertaining regardless, right? I mean, that's always a part of it. MIRA BLACK: Exactly. It's still me for my fans, it's still me. I'm still being real. I've always had that element of bringing things that can be thorny. Like someone I remember someone saying to me that they see me having the capacity to shine light in the darkness. And when I shine light in the darkness and bring it to light, yes. We all go through these horrifying things and we have our elements of divinity or devotion or nurturing, or existential meditation or connectivity with friends and sports and ways to express that. And I feel like those things that make us separate, there's so much division right now in religion or skin color or sexuality or gender identification, all of that. Men and women, there's these ways of separation. And my intention is to embrace the places where we're the same. When we fall on our knees, when we rise in epiphany, there's a sameness. And the more authentic I can be to my experience of that, the more it will touch yours. But the point is, none of those traumas ultimately matter in the end. There's joy and victory and recovery and spontaneous epiphany and aspects of divinity accessible anywhere, even in the darkness. When we can be together, we can reach out to whatever, whether it's an idea of God or whether it's my best friend or whether it's my lover or my forgiving my enemy, whatever. There's elements of healing in that. And so, yeah, it'll be fun in that. It will be interesting. Maybe that's the way I hope is that there is elements of levity and fun, , because I laugh at myself where there's ways where I've done. What could possibly go wrong? I'm going to do this jump off the cliff. And I tell those stories and I also talk about the moments where it was horrible and I was in a lot of pain. And so it isn't really about telling the nitty gritty of my laundry at dirty laundry at home. It's more about the poetic aspects that rise out of me from those places of breathing and those places of absolute epiphany and source and healing and victorious. Yeah. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay, so again, the website is the best place, I guess, to find details and tickets , yeah. MIRA BLACK: And I'm still accessible. Just DM me, message me, I'm still here and it might take me a few days, but if there's any questions or needs, I'm happy to receive. But yeah, websitemyname.com, go to the concert page. There's a link directly to the ticket. St. Norbert Arts Centre will also have it all over their platform. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Awesome. Glad to hear you coming back and that you're able to come back and play a show here again. So it's always good talking to you. The good thing about this being a podcast is because it's going to come up before your show, but someone could listen to this two years down the line… what is the best way to sort of where would you direct someone? The website is one thing, but as far as just keeping up with what you're doing on a regular basis, as far as new things you're working on, new shows, social media obviously would be the way to go. Is it TikTok? Is there somewhere else you'd rather send someone? MIRA BLACK: Yeah, it's funny, there's three different worlds, right? TikTok is kind of the snippets and antics and caricatures and my aspects of an actor, and then moments of my philosophy. And then Instagram is really snippets of art and song. And then Facebook is sort of where I hang out with people. What are you doing? So I'm really very much, especially because I travel so much, unless I'm working front line, I'm really accessible all over social media. I want to say TikTok only because that's my newest. I'm just having a lot of fun on TikTok. But where you can see my art most is probably Facebook. I often go on live and play things and I risk looking like an idiot even when it's brand new. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay, cool. MIRA BLACK: Thanks for asking that. And thank you Sam. Like, it's really important that there's people like you that are offering these places for artists to recover, really, and connect and your intelligent questions and your interest in what we're doing is really important. Thank you. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Thank you. I appreciate that. Thanks.

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