Interview with Sananda Maitreya for All Music Italia, by Federico Traversa.
You grew up all over the world, born in Manhattan then you moved to Chicago, Daytona, Orlando then Europe, London and lots of other places. How much, moving around the world in your youth, has influenced your music making it so rich in shades?
The thing is, even BEFORE getting to all of those places, my imagination had already taken me around the world many times. As a person of a few heritages in my bloodline,
I am naturally predisposed to feeling at home in many places. My music reflects my comfort with THE WORLD. My tongue speaks only a very small number of languages, but my MUSIC speaks all the languages of the world.
If I cannot say it all, I will say nothing.
I read that as a teenager you were a boxer and had excellent result. What boxing and being on the ring has taught you?
How to confidently knock bitches out !
It also taught me that I would probably rather sing to beautiful audiences looking at me As opposed to getting punched in the face by a very sweaty man with a hairy back.
You were a soldier, you were sent to Germany and Wikipedia says you were “absent without leave”. How did you choose to enter in the US ARMY and how did you cope with all the rules and regulation of such environment?
The American Army was the best education I were given by an institution.
We were made for each other. I needed a very strong ‘Father Figure’ to fight & rebel against and to prove my own strength. The Army indulged me in this. I am a warrior & needed a warrior’s upbringing. I lost my father very early & needed a place to mourn about it in the process of BECOMING my father. I owe a great deal to the Army.
They could’ve kicked my ass even more than they did, but somehow showed enough mercy to let me know that they understood my journey.
Because of my time standing up for myself in the military, I were later able to stand up to other major institutions without having to give up my balls.
In your previous life you had a planetary success, in being together with Prince and Michael J, the most successful Afro-American artist of the planet. How did you live that period of your life and how did you cope with being as famous as Coca-Cola?
It was like awakening as a God of Olympus. I was born on the Mountain, I never really had to CLIMB it, I just Woke up there. Problem is, When You Are BORN At The Top, THERE REALLY ISN’T ANYWHERE INTERESTING LEFT TO GO EXCEPT DOWN.
GODS BORE EASILY, so the danger is in no longer being challenged by your PRIVILEGES, so we make mischief and hardship for ourselves in order for us to do things worthy of our ‘TIME’. WHEN YOU ARE BORN AT THE TOP, WHERE ELSE CAN YOU GO ? Anyway, my success felt natural. God promised me that I would do big things in the world, so I believed him and EXPECTED to be successful.
And let me say that I had the greatest respect for the other artists you mentioned. I grew up as a big fan of both of their works.
When you are a world-class superstar, especially to the levels you have reached, you’re under lots of pressure. There is the label that pushes you to keep doing music that is always identical to your most successful single, there is fatigue, there are people that flatter you by keeping you out of real life , then drugs, alcohol, easy women, excesses. How do you cope with all of this madness without actually going insane?
THE BIBLE tells us that ‘TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN, IS MUCH REQUIRED’. So I am aware that DESPITE OUR RIGHT TO COMPLAIN ( which all who ‘Do The Work’ Are obliged ), it is clear that ‘The Suit Is Cut To Fit The Cloth’. I do believe, and have since early childhood that I am on a Mission From Heaven. And that my life has always been guided by Angels & The Lord’s Will, so I am aware that I am never given more to do than I can process & handle. I am a very tough & resilient motherfucker. And I am capable of handling whatever my job requires me to do. Since I’ve always felt to be a part of a much larger picture, I never allowed myself to forget my mission and become consumed by drugs or anything that I thought would render me less effective as an instrument of harmony.
At the peak of your success, you interrupted the relationship with your label and you waited around 6 years before publishing a new album. Something very similar happened to Prince and George Michael. How did you manage this complicated time?
I managed to negotiate this time by understanding that, as difficult as it was, it was merely A RITE OF PASSAGE that somehow WE MUST ALL PASS THROUGH. Probably some Masonic Ritual codified into the system. The Greek Epic stories tell us that ALL HEROES MUST SUFFER THEIR LOVE! So if the Greek Gods & Goddesses Suffered THEIR Lives, who are we to think that WE are exempt? To suffer our love grows both our love AND WHAT WE LOVE. And If We Are Not Willing To Suffer It, Then WE ARE NOT WORTHY OF IT. And remember RECORD COMPANIES ARE STONE COLD BITCHES. Nothing PERSONAL, they just are.
In 2001 you came back with WildCard! and you changed your name to Sananda Maitreya, which in Sanskrit means rebirth. And you actually had a fantastic rebirth in place with tremendously inspired records and a renewed will of playing with “Lila” the game of life. What started this change?
What started the change was the change in the game.
I no longer recognized who I was & prayed for a resolution.
I was inspired by dreams to CHANGE MY NAME & it would change my karma & give me a new start IF A VERY HARD BIRTH. I had become merely nothing more than a CORPORATE ASSET. The problem was I always saw myself as a lot more important than a name on a set of books & woke up to realize that I had lost ownership of my previous identity which had become the PROPERTY of other interests.
I REFUSE TO BE A SLAVE for anything but LOVE.
I TOOK THE advice of the Angels in my Dreams, changed my names and never looked back.
Do I miss that old life? ONLY IN THE MOMENTS WHEN I DON’T Feel WORTHY OF THIS One. Otherwise, HELL NO, THEY CAN KEEP IT!
David Lynch, when we were writing “Boom-A journey into Transcendental Meditation” told me that both hell and heaven are inside us. To limit the first and to embrace the second is the job of the enlightened man. Do you agree?
I cannot even begin to suggest to another Buddha how to describe the states they’ve known.
If Master Lynch says this then it HAS TO BE TRUE for others too. There comes a point where the work of an enlightened man is to stop judging ANY STATE that they are witnessing and simply be the ‘Witness’. We may judge what is within us, BUT ‘The WORK’ is the WHOLE POINT of the exercise. I know MANY ENLIGHTENED MASTERS who find PEACE to be very boring and not challenging enough, so they CHOOSE CHALLENGING LIVES. Master Lynch would certainly identify with what I am saying. So Yes, Heaven & Hell Is Within Us. And some of us are more HELL RAISERS than others. Some Yogis dream of Sitting atop peaceful mountains. Some dream of KICKING SOMEONE’S Ass until they see the light. AS LONG AS WE ARRIVE, HOW WE ARRIVE Matters ONLY To The NARRATIVE.
In Italy you found love, you got married, you have 2 beautiful boys and you have been living in Milano for many years. Our country nowadays lives a very delicate situation with racism and inequality. As a father of mixed children are you afraid?
Not All All, my children are NOT MIXED, THEY ARE ITALIANS, plain & simple.
More importantly neither their Milanese culture nor they themselves even CONSIDER
the concept of ‘Mixed’ EXCEPT that their father is am American.
Neither am I an AFRICAN AMERICAN. My bloodlines came from nowhere NEAR AFRICA,
I AM A NATIVE AMERICAN ABORIGINE. And from the generosity of our spirit did we include both white AND black tribes into our bloodlines, A FAVOR TO THEM BOTH.
In fact MOST of the so-called ‘African-Americans’ are being politically blinded to who they are. MOST OF THEIR ANCESTORS came from AMERICA & Meso-America, NOT from Africa.
So I do not brainwash my sins to even THINK in terms of Race or ‘Mixed’ since ALL BITCHES ON EARTH ARE MIXED, and No One Is Really Getting Away With Fooling ANYONE. WE ARE BUT ONE RACE, THE HUMAN RACE, all the rest is TRIBES.
AND ALL TRIBES CAME FROM AND through OTHER tribes.
So THERE WILL BE NO PROBLEM with how my sons see themselves. They will see themselves as Italians, Milanese, Juventini, in whatever ORDER they choose to prioritize these things.
IT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT for the most part, PEOPLE SEE YOU AS YOU SEE YOURSELF. Since we are PROJECTIONS of our Own Programming & Imaginations. Since I don’t see myself as a ‘Victim’, A Hostage, or a Stereotype, nor a figure to be pitied, others agree. But rather, I find that WHEN YOU CARRY YOURSELF AS A MAN, AS A REAL PERSON AND NOT A CARICATURE, you can go ANYWHERE in the world and be safe among men, maybe even honored among them.
All of us are capable of seeing beyond issues like RACE when we are invited to. And as clichéd as it may be, LOVE CHANGES ALL.
As to whether or not I am afraid, THIS IS MY WORLD, SO WHY SHOULD I BE AFRAID OF IT? And I do in fact operate under the ASSUMPTION, that if ANYONE should be Afraid, it should be THEM & NOT Me, because I KNOW Who I Am & there isn’t a damn thing to be afraid of except getting too bored & complacent.
Is is true that at the very beginning of your career you took Muhammad Ali as a role model?
Grand Master Muhammad remains a seminal influence. Besides having been entertained by him he taught me some very valuable life lessons. He was the right SuperHero for me at the Right Time. I might have overdone somewhat my imitation of him in my swashbuckling youth.
When are you the most inspired to compose music and to write?
There is generally no exact pattern. But a good rule of thumb is that INSPIRATION IS MOST LIKELY TO STRIKE THE MORE INCONVENIENT IT IS TO ACCOMODATE IT. And as often as not, once you are in the mood, you stay there for a while. At THIS Point in my evolution after more than 35 years of professional songwriting, I assume that I’ve paid enough dues whereby when I feel like summoning the writing spirit, SHE COMES. So if I WANT to write, she will usually show up within a couple of days ready to work. ‘SHE’ being the MUSE.
If you could do a duet of your dream with artist of any era , included the dead, who would you choose? Personally I would have loved seeing you sing with Little Willie John, Sam Cooke or Blind Lemon Jefferson.
I suppose that me & Whitney might’ve made a cool situation. But we were both surrounded by idiots.
Which will be the direction of your music in the future?
The direction of my music will always follow the direction of the 4 winds. THEY are the true authors of my work. The rest is just me scratching both my head & balls and getting the credit for it.
Credits Photo : Manuel Scrima for TreeHouse Publishing