A chat with Wa Wu We
On December 1, Patterns of Perception hosts the first extended live set from Wa Wu We, an alias of revered producer Sebastian Mullaert. Below, Mullaert tells us about the concept behind Wa Wu We, which until now has existed only in production form and as a record label.
Tell us about this project: what is Wa Wu We?
Wa Wu We have evolved into two different ways of expression for me. One being a very deep and meditative expression; a way for me to create a frame to allow people to let dance take place – to flower in a very natural way. The creative process in the studio is the same, I’m allowing a very natural process to take place.
The second being a way for me to express myself without caring about the rules of production and mixing, an opportunity for me to be more free in the studio and transcend the frame I’m unconsciously creating for myself.
In one perspective the sound of Wa Wu We is very functional and in another absolutely not (as some of the music is very hard to play).
How is it different from your other work as Sebastian Mullaert?
The line between Wa Wu We and Sebastian Mullaert isn’t totally clear. Both of them are aliases by me and of course flavoured and filtered through my preferences and experiences.
But I would say that Wa Wu We goes deeper and more meditative, more repetitive and hypnotic and also (as said above) at times challenge how we are used to mixing dance music today. All these can also at times be applied on what I do as Sebastian Mullaert but with the later I also allow myself to bloom out into more musical and epic expressions, something I also love to do but not as Wa Wu We.
You’ve said the concept is ‘music without boundaries’. How so? Does this apply to yourself, in terms of freedom of creative expression, or also to your listeners, who might be free to interpret the project and the music in their own way?
Music without boundaries is an amazing thing, but in reality we often have clear boundaries – we have a clear frame or life situation. In this frame or situation we express. I believe “breaking the boundaries” is how we “meet” or “face” this very moment (with its temporary frame) and express what is. You could also describe this as “allowing the dance to take place”. In this very expression, experience is taking place and that experience is beyond and before any boundary as the concept of boundaries itself do not exist here.
In this aspect I don’t see any difference between the musician or the listener/dancer. It’s all about letting the experience take place. This is creativity and creation – regardless of the temporary role, action or situation that are coexisting in that moment.
Here is a story I wrote for my mother. It’s a metaphor for the realisation of this very moment in a strong and vivid experience – like one can have in dance, music, sessions of meditation or psychedelic journeys – and how these moments and experiences can continue to vibrate in our daily life as a deep connection with everything we “meet”. This is why I believe dancing is so important and it is in this experience there are no boundaries.
Here is the poem / story:
Wa Wu We; The Drum of Life.
Once upon a time there was a girl who lived in a little house with her mother and father, right next to a deep forest. Like all children, the girl was full of curiosity and full of life. The curiosity opened doors to amazing imaginary worlds in almost everything she met on her journeys through the woods.
One day when the girl was playing in the forest she came to a small glade. It was a peaceful summer’s day, sunbeams were shining through the canopy and there were songbirds in full throat all around. In the middle of the glade was a big stone, covered in moss. In the middle of the stone there was a hollow which gave it the shape of a big bowl. The night before, a great storm had swept through the forest and the stone bowl was full of rain water. The girl climbed up the stone and looked down into the water. The surface was completely still and in the water floated a purple star, shining so brightly it almost dazzled the girl. She jumped down from the stone, amazed by what she had seen and also a little bit scared. What was it? Could it harm her?
The storm had also torn some old branches from the big trees. She picked up two of these branches and went up to the stone again. As before, the purple star was shining in the bowl. Cautiously, the girl touched the surface with one of the branches, and instantly a beautiful tone rang out. The tone was so alive and resonant that the girl couldn’t say if she had heard it or if the tone was actually part of herself, so deeply did it seem to resonate within her body. The girl touched the surface with the second stick and another, deeper, tone was heard. This tone too seemed to absorbed her, but this time in a slightly different way. She closed her eyes and could sense parts of her body she couldn’t remember ever feeling before. When she opened her eyes, she could see that the star was shining even more brightly than before, creating a hovering light above the surface of the water. The purple light coming from the star was not outside her, she could feel the light shining within her, as if the star and the light were everywhere and everything.
Slowly the girl started to play with the sticks on the surface, each strike on the surface creating a new tone and a new wave of light, building up a song of sound and light. The sound was making the girl dance and the light was lifting her from the ground. Floating several meters above the stone, the girl noticed that she was not alone. The glade was full of different kinds of animal, all moving to the song, in unity but each one in a different way. The trees, the flowers, the clouds in the sky, yes everything was pulsating and vibrating together with the rhythm and melody. She was the sound, she was the light and in its vibration she could feel the animals, the trees and everything else. Suddenly she disappeared. She was everything and she fell through eternity.
The next day when the girl returned to the glade, the rain water in the hollow was gone and she couldn’t see any star. But still, deep inside, she felt the unity of the dance and when she looked around at the trees, the flowers and the birds in the sky, she could sense that they were all part of this deep knowing.
For as long as I can remember, my mother has been telling stories. Her sharing these stories with me helped me to find ways to open doors to creativity. My mother is still a little girl, wandering through the woods. Now with grey hair and a slower pace to her walk, but still with the same vibrating force of imagination and the same love for the stories that come to her. One of the stories she told me was about a little boy finding a very special drum in the forest, a magical drum filled with the power of dance. The drum helped the boy find his own dance and creativity, and to awaken joy and happiness when sharing it with others. The sort of joy and happiness that give us and the people we meet strength to investigate life; investigate the endless creativity that we all are part of.
Let the drum of Wa Wu We be heard, let it be played and let each of us dance the song of life, moment by moment. In the dance we can express what is now and get a direct experience of … this! Where there is no separation; where there is just for us to be.