By Willow Grier
CALGARY – Imagine falling into the darkness of sleep. As your subconscious mind tumbles through the ether, it wakes up to bright flashes of colour and sound. Flowing now, through a vast river of space, each flash opens up to a cacophony of patterns, a brand new world created and destroyed in each second of experience. You are the master and the servant in this domain. Both entirely in control and not at all. Born into this world, and simultaneously watching from afar. This magical, infinite space is the Flowstate; a meditative, illusive, and unfathomably powerful space that has unlimited potential and possibility. It is this state and space that inspired, and in fact created Laura Hickli’s first solo release, an album named for it.
“For me, when I’m in that state, I feel better than anything I’ve ever felt,” Hickli describes. “You no longer care that you’re trapped in a body, because when you’re in flowstate, you’re not. You’re finally as big as you know you are. You become less of a human and more of a spirit. Every single song on this album I chose because I wrote it in that state.”
Flowstate opens with “Float Away,” a love letter to getting into the meditative mindset that focuses on stripping away attachment to the physical realm to delve into the flow of movement and energy, and all things intangible.
“I like myself better when I dream,” is the opening refrain. “This is the way that I play. I don’t think anything’s as it seems. I could live in my head all day.”
Ethereal and deeply emotional, the album was recorded by Hickli at home, with the musician hidden away in a darkened room under a blanket to block out distractions, and the stark honesty and heart rending themes are resplendent in its unencumbered production. The singer/songwriter, who initially got her start playing in the metal scene, says that a big part of her solo work was learning to celebrate the darkness of life.
“Anything I don’t know how to deal with I turn into a song. It’s a form of therapy,” says Hickli.
“You take this whole thing that’s overwhelming you and fogging you from seeing reality, that’s putting a literal dimmer on everything, and when it gets too heavy, if you have that release, whatever it is, you can just put it all in one place where it feels like something came of it, and then you can move on. It feels like you’re empty again.”
Songs like “You’re No Friend,” “Midnight,” and “Hide Away” were inspired by the feeling of necessary isolation and retreat to process some betrayal or trauma.
“It gets scary to interact with people all the time,” Hickli explains. “If you’ve ever had your heart broken or a friend betray your trust (and I’m sure everyone has), it’s really crushing. It makes it hard to get back up again. These songs are a product of stress and feeling hardships from these interactions and how once that heaviness gets compartmentalized, I can see it a lot differently. I feel a lot more hopeful for it.”
“In ‘Hide Away’ I talk about escaping people. Going into myself and staying there. I say, ‘I just want to love myself a little, a little more,’ and I feel like if I bring that love into my life it will be a lot easier to stop hiding away from people.“
Hickli talks about one of the most important aspects of her solo work being the emotional connection she makes with listeners. Channeling something hard to express and allowing others to find release in that.
“One thing I like about myself is the fact that I’ll talk about feeling really confused,” she says. “I pretty much just talk about what everyone else is going through. If there’s a few cryers in the audience, it’s like ‘Good! Finally I’m actually making a difference!’ It may not be a huge one but at least it’s helping some person for even 30 minutes to feel what they have been pretending not to, or are scared of feeling. I will sacrifice myself socially to help other people feel what they need to feel.”
The release of the stunning Flowstate is just the beginning for Laura Hickli, who has a music video planned, an album release forthcoming with her band Time Boy planned for September, and will travel to Montreal in the same month by train to feed her artistic spirit.
“I’m not stopping. I have a lot of plans for what’s next,” she enthuses. “Even though I’m battling things, I will continue to write about what I’m experiencing. I want to continue to have art in my life in all different kinds of ways…Film, acting, drawing, creating. And I want people to share and create with.”
Hickli’s message to listeners is “Hey you, just lose yourself,” in hopes that in finding their own type of escape, each person can tap into the unlimited potential that exists within the Flowstate.
Laura Hickli releases Flowstate August 28th at the Ironwood with support from Rosalind and Anthony Kameka, https://www.facebook.com/events/391443197917022/.Anthony Kameka, atmospheric, Calgary, Calgary Beat, Calgary music, Flowstate, Ironwood, Laura Hickli, Rosalind, singer/songwriter, YYC