Gabriel Vanaver: WaterWings – A Storybook Experience

The newest episode of our podcast, Mindful U, is out on iTunesSpotify, Stitcher, and Fireside now! We are happy to announce this week’s episode features Gabriel Vanaver, (also known as Gah-bé) a Naropa alumnus (Yoga Studies & Music ’18), who is also a massage therapist, Cyr wheel artist, musician, spoken word artist, storyteller, poet, dancer, and audio engineer.

Gabriel Vanaver: WaterWings – A Storybook Experience

Gabriel Vanaver is publishing a fully illustrated storybook, WaterWings, with a musical soundtrack featuring musicians from Elephant Revival (Dango Rose, Bridget Law & Darren Garvey), The Super Saturated Sugar Strings (AK), Xerephine (CO), The Front Range Strings (CO), and grammy-nominated blues musician Guy Davis, and illustration by Katherine Breen. In this episode of Mindful U, Vanaver shares how his experience at Naropa helped bring this project to life. You can learn more and help support this project at a Water Wings *Sneak Peek* & Kickstarter Launch at the Laughing Goat in Boulder on March 26th from 8-11pm.

“Art and music is such a visceral thing, and it’s so experiential. And storytelling is a way to convey eons of moral compass and tradition as well. Every culture of the world has their own stories, and by telling those you don’t tell people, ‘This is the exact history, and this is what happened, and this is what happened.’ It’s more like these myths emerge through these cultures that people really latch on to and people connect with. And so, I was hoping to kind of create this new myth in a way to connect people to nature as well as humanity and compassion for other people.”

Full transcript below.

Gabriel Vanaver (Gah-bé) is a Cyr wheel artist, a musician, a spoken word artist, a storyteller, a poet, a dancer of hip-hop, lindy-hop, house, modern, tap, clogging and other urban and traditional folk dance styles, an audio engineer, a massage therapist, a yogi, a passionate chef, a philosopher, an idea and a way of life. All of these aspects make up Gah-bé as he appears today, but no one aspect defines Gah-bé. Because his worldview consists of his innate sense of always redefining and constantly becoming. Because every day has the potential for one to become even more awesome than they were the day before. (via fractaltribe.com)

Full transcript
Gabriel Vanaver
“WaterWings – A Storybook Experience

[MUSIC]

Hello. And welcome to Mindful U at Naropa. A podcast presented by Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

I’m your host, David Devine. And it’s a pleasure to welcome you. Joining the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions – Naropa is the birth place of the modern mindfulness movement.

[MUSIC]

DAVID:
Hello, today I’d like to welcome a friend and a special guest to the Naropa community. He’s also a Naropa alarm. Gabriel Vanaver. Gabriel is a graduate from the music and the yoga studies program. He is also a writer and a musician.

Thank you for joining me today.

GABRIEL:
Thank you, David. Thanks, for having me.

DAVID:
How are you doing?

GABRIEL:
I’m doing great. Very excited.

DAVID:
Cool. When did you graduate?

GABRIEL:
I graduated Spring 2017.

DAVID:
That wasn’t that long ago.

GABRIEL:
It was like a year — year and a half ago.

DAVID:
OK. Sweet awesome man. So, let’s start this journey. Who are you? Give us like a quick rundown of like what you were doing before Naropa and maybe a little bit about how you found Naropa?

GABRIEL:
Yeah. So, I’m a little older than your average college student. So, it took me a while to find this place. I didn’t think I was gonna go to a university — college. I grew up in upstate New York to a family of world music musicians and dancers. My mother and father own a music and dance company called the Vanaver Caravan. And they collect —

DAVID:
You were born in the circus?

GABRIEL:
Yeah.

DAVID:
Wow.

GABRIEL:
So, they collect world dance and music from all over the world and they teach that in schools and they also have a whole company anywhere from six dancers and five musicians to, you know, a smaller company or a larger one depending on where they go.

DAVID:
Companies when they perform together?

GABRIEL:
Yeah, they perform — so live music and live dancing. Modern dance, African, tap, percussion — a bunch of different other styles and fusing traditional folk styles with modern techniques as well.

DAVID:
All right. So, you grew up in the arts at a young age?

GABRIEL:
I did. Also, in the folk world with Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger and that whole world. My dad is a guitarist and banjo player. And so, I was just seeped in those folk traditions at an early age, which really grew my love for storytelling through music. Just that whole connection of bringing me into the story really helped me drop in to listening to that kind of — those gems that the stories would give me.

I grew up with an affinity for word play. And I think that passed down from my grandfather and my mother and to me. And I would journal from an early age and make poetry from an early age. And I just loved words. I loved etymology and picking words apart and putting them back together. Obviously, I turned to Dr. Seuss and I loved his poetry — a bunch of other amazing children’s authors as well.

But yeah, I loved picking that apart. So, at an older age I began doing slam poetry and open mics and stuff and began performing and slamming at places in New York City, Washington D.C., California wherever I moved to I would get into the community and share.

DAVID:
When you were not doing the word — working sort of angle of the musician in arts — what do you play as a musician? Like what your instrument?

GABRIEL:
Yeah, as a musician I play guitar and voice. And so, I do a lot of rhythm guitar and rhythmic vocals, hip hoppy, rock and roll, fusion, folk — urban folk as they call it.

DAVID:
Nice little diversity there.

GABRIEL:
Yeah.

DAVID:
Mixing it all together.

GABRIEL:
Yeah. And so, it’s funny it’s like at a teen rebellion age I rebelled toward music because I mean my parents do music and dancing — I don’t want to be like them. I’m going to going to focus on like more pop culture and hip hop and rock and roll and then be — and do my thing and it brought me to where I am today.

DAVID:
Cool. So, you said you came to Naropa as a later student — can you tell us a little bit about how did you hear about Naropa? How did you end up at Naropa? And what drew you to that educational program?

GABRIEL:
Yeah. So, I think I heard about Naropa when I lived in New York and I had a friend who went to the Jack Kerouac school — the writing program at Naropa and I was like oh that’s so cool. A place that is for poetry — for, you know, growing that creative body of writing.

DAVID:
Yeah, I can see the beat poetry and the slam poetry kind of being friends.

GABRIEL:
Yeah definitely. So, when I moved to Boulder — I was like oh wow Naropa is here — I want to go for an interview and check out the campus.

DAVID:
So, you just moved here not even knowing —

GABRIEL:
Yeah, I just moved here, and I immediately found it and I was like ok I’m going here — this is it. I realized as I started Naropa that it wasn’t really writing that I wanted to pursue — it was more the musical side of writing. And I found my words were more lyrical than proper sentence structure.

DAVID:
OK.

GABRIEL:
And so, I wanted to explore the voice as it is in music.

DAVID:
Mm hmm.

GABRIEL:
Because I think lyrics are amazing and I — I mean as a lyricist I hear so much potential that’s not being utilized out there. I felt the need to bring my voice into the musical world.

DAVID:
Ok, so it makes sense that you would enroll into the music program, but then you also did yoga. So, what drew you to yoga? Was it the fact that you grew up in a caravan? Or you just had like a very acrobatic childhood?

GABRIEL:
Yeah, so actually after high school I immediately went to massage school. And I figured it was a great way to learn about the body. I was always just fascinated — fascinated with anatomy. And I really wanted to dive deeper and know how to take care of myself on a deeper level. And so — and it was also a nice wave — it’s like if I was ever to go back to school, I could easily support myself with working less hours and doing my homework as well. And so, it was kind of a natural progression. I went to massage school and then continuing my love for the human body and how it moves — learning how to dive deeper into like the soul of the body and how to really communicate and breathe into different parts of my body.

DAVID:
Nice. How do you see music and yoga informing each other?

GABRIEL:
Mm hmm.

DAVID:
Now that you’ve taken those two individual degree paths and now, you’re kind of like squishing them together.

GABRIEL:
Yeah, it’s a great question. I actually wrote my final yoga meditation paper on mantra yoga. And mantras are just a repetition of a word or phrase that is repeated to really kind of infuse into the body and infuse into every cell of the body. They’re usually positive affirmations and — and since Sanskrit is a completely phonetic language — it is technically reverberating every sound — truly into the body. And so, I began to realize during that class and during that — during Sanskrit and during my yoga meditation class — how it’s all connected and how every sound, every emotion behind sound — really translates into the music and into people’s consciousness.

And so, it really taught me to be mindful on not only the words that I use but really how the quality of engagement and quality of the sound that I’m delivering — hits home. And it’s such a powerful — music is such a powerful collective conscious tool — I find is the greatest impact in a positive way that I can have on this world.

DAVID:
Nice. Okay, yeah, I’m seeing the relationship of how you like understood those things working together and it’s really nice to understand how the body is affected by sound and vibration and words essentially and then how words affect the body.

So, you’re taking the two ideas and kind of piecing them together. I really enjoy that. Always been a fan of like frequency and sound and how we relate to it and how we’re just kind of like swimming in it.

GABRIEL:
Totally.

DAVID:
Ok, so you’re Naropa — you’re graduating, you’re doing your thing — you got these two degree programs — and I remember me and you we’re like friends on campus — we would hang out every now and again and you always were like walking around with like a hula hoop and a guitar and a yoga mat on your back just cruising around. So, you graduate and apparently — I understand it — you started a project. And I’m curious — so what is that project? Like what did you start after you graduated Naropa?

GABRIEL:
Yes, so this project actually started long before Naropa — through Naropa I was able to get some pieces together and make it happen and make that dream a reality. And so, I started a musical children’s book project. And —

DAVID:
Not just a children’s book — a musical children’s book?

GABRIEL:
Yes. So, it’s been a long dream of mine to create a children’s book in general — growing up with words and wordplay and just loving pictures and everything and art and music has been a great driving force in my life. How this project started was it was actually in 2005, I believe, when Hurricane Katrina hit. I was feeling very emotional and the government didn’t really feel supportive of the people. Or they didn’t — just didn’t know how to — how to deal with this massive hurricane that hit. And everyone was going crazy and people were stranded and everything and — but not only that I think people lost a little hope in the system at that time.

And I was like well what people really need to feel that hope within themselves — to feel that drive not coming from an outside force and blaming other people. But to feel that inspiration to rebuild after their lives are torn apart. And so, I drew a picture of a fish jumping out of the water and creating a splash. And the splash became these wings that blast away from the fish and created this bird like bubble around the fish. And I was like, oh well that’s really cool. What if the fish is like engulfed in this bird like bubble of water and they fly through a hurricane and they see the destruction that’s happening of the hurricane and then they float downstream and witness the rebuilding that happens after disasters.

And people can kind of see the power of a hurricane and how it brings water inland and necessary to feed the planet and to destruction and creation are two sides of the cycle. Right? And so all is necessary if the tree branches break and the birds gather these branches and rebuild their homes with it — it’s just a metaphor about rebuilding after disaster — the whole story became a metaphor about rebuilding after disaster and another subtle metaphor, which I really — really hit home for me, was how we have to get out of our own narrow path and our narrow perspective and the moral perspective or the — you know a narrow view that we all have — we can’t help but only — we can only see what’s in front of us. Like just taking a step back really and seeing life from a different world view. And taking a break from your own stuff and being like ok what’s actually going on outside my little world and how can I look at this from a different angle to problem solve or just empathize with the rest of the world and what’s going on.

DAVID:
Wow talk about like fish out of water.

GABRIEL:
Yeah.

DAVID:
Yeah, I’ve seen a couple photos — you’ve shared with me just like a little bit about the project and they’re very interesting looking and the idea of a fish jumping out of water and then it’s like encapsulated in a droplet that turns into like a bird — super creative and like very fun, mind altering child’s play. It’s like a wordplay, but with photos and ideas. So, it’s really cool. So, if someone’s interested in this book and they want to go into it further — what would they expect in this story — like we kind of have the understanding of like creation and destruction and the fish jumping out and exploring what’s going on. But like what else can we expect in this story — without giving it too much away, I guess.

GABRIEL:
Yeah. Yeah. I don’t want to give away all the secrets. But —

DAVID:
Just a couple.

GABRIEL:
Just a couple. I think one thing to expect and one reason why I decided to self-publish this and not go into the publishing because the publishing kind of puts you in a box of is this a book for a children’s — four to eight, eight twelve — yada yada yada. And I was just like — it really is for the children in all of us and to connect adults with children — to connect the older generation with the younger generation. And to inspire the young — younger generation to feel like they can really pick themselves up and be creative and be compassionate — and look at different perspectives.

DAVID:
Yeah, how do you think you’re bridging that gap of adult to child and making the book all inclusive for everyone — for the child within.

GABRIEL:
Yeah so as a musical children’s book one of the reasons why I chose to go that route — I saw a lot of children’s music — boring a lot of adults or driving them crazy — like Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round — you can only listen to that so many times.

So, I really wanted to write music that everyone would enjoy. And so, these songs are just regular songs for all ages. They’re not catered to a child — like they’re not all happy major chords. They have some depth and some scary qualities to them and some dynamic rare —

DAVID:
Characteristics.

GABRIEL:
Yes!

DAVID:
Yeah, all right.

GABRIEL:
And so, I really wanted to make this audio play — musical — as a musical storybook to really kind of open people up for adults to be kids and kids to rise up a little bit. Show them a real story. Like a real journey — a real hero’s journey of this fish that’s —

DAVID:
The complexity of all emotions.

GABRIEL:
Exactly.

DAVID:
That are able to be felt within the music — that’s cool. So, I’m curious is there anything else that inspired you to go the music route too? Sounds like you had this idea of you wanted to bridge the gap of emotional maturity or just age difference and just how different people show up and you wanted to make it all inclusive for everyone but — was there any other reason to add music — is just because like oh you’re just — I’m a musician — it’s what I do and it’s what I know best and I’d love to integrate it or —

GABRIEL:
Yeah, so I wasn’t — I didn’t always see myself going the professional musical route. And so, I wrote a few versions of the story — one all rhyming. This is years ago before when I was living in California. I wrote one all rhyming, and one completely narrative version and I was like ok — I sent it out to a few people and got some feedback and I was like ok yeah this is — the rhyming one feels played out and the non-rhyming one doesn’t jump out at me at all. And so —

DAVID:
Like the lyric — lyrics are rhyming?

GABRIEL:
Yeah, and so like — and no one can replicate Dr. Seuss. No one can like do that. Like it’s something that’s very finite —

DAVID:
They don’t call him doctor for no reason.

GABRIEL:
Yeah, they don’t call him doctor for nothing. But as a musician and growing up with all these folk musicians and Pete Seeger’s — Abbey Yo-Yo — if you ever heard that musical storybook — it’s really fun. That was one of my favorites as a kid and it had a musical song inside of it that everyone could sing along and — and do that and so I was like well I’m going to school for music. Maybe it’s time to bring Water Wings to life through music. And so, I worked with Paul Fowler. I took a semester to write the music and bounce it off of him and see what he thought. And he gave me some really cool ideas and I just — it came to fruition. It came to this almost half an hour musical audio play.

DAVID:
So, when it comes to the music aspect of this book — who else did you collaborate with? Cause you just do voice and guitar. What you told us — but you played me some music and there were some other components to it. So, can you tell us about what the process was trying to find other musicians? What was a style you were looking for — what — and like what you were expecting?

GABRIEL:
Yes, so I mean the — the songs that I wrote in school were very basic chord progressions. And I was like this is great. This could be so much more. I’m like how can I bring it to that next level? And so, I met Bridget Law through fractal tribe. I do circus stuff as well. In fact, the tribe is a circus collaborative that performs all over the place and they perform with Elephant Revival and — and so —

DAVID:
And Elephant Revival is a music group.

GABRIEL:
Yes. Yeah. Elephant Revival is an amazing music group. And so, I found Bridget and told her about the project, and she seemed really excited and onboard and she introduced me to Dango Rose who is the bassist for Elephant Revival. And she was like you guys would match well and I think you guys could really develop the project — more so.

DAVID:
And what does Bridget play?

GABRIEL:
Bridget plays fiddle.

DAVID:
Fiddle.

GABRIEL:
And so —

DAVID:
She wails too.

GABRIEL:
She wails. She plays the fiddle on the project and she’s also the voice of the little fish on the project as well.

DAVID:
Oh cute.

GABRIEL:
Yeah.

DAVID:
Yay.

GABRIEL:
So Dango plays the bass and he helped me edit the project a little bit and helped me arrange some things and we worked on a couple of songs together. And Dango just created this format called Elephant Collective and it is a production house, a musical media platform and an artist production development.

DAVID:
Okay. Kind of do it all it sounds like.

GABRIEL:
Yeah. I think they’re trying to reinvent the wheel a little bit because I think to empower musicians and to kind of give them a new way to make a living or bring music into people’s lives because I think there’s a difficult — we’re in a difficult time with the music industry is — is rough with the streaming rights and everything and people don’t really make much money with that but —

DAVID:
Yeah there’s a lot of DIY kind of situations going on with the music of people trying to be more creative — get it out there, produce their own music. I mean you can literally write an electronic album on your laptop with some earbuds. You don’t need anything further than that, but —

GABRIEL:
Totally.

DAVID:
It definitely helps to have more stuff.

GABRIEL:
Yeah and to have this network — this Elephant Collective network — we got this guy Phil Norman to write an amazing string quartet on one of my songs and he brought in the Front Range Strings which is his group. And they just did an amazing job and I’m so excited about that.

DAVID:
Awesome.

[PLAY SOUNDBITE INSERT]
They splashed into a puddle and seeped deep beneath the earth where they fed the seeds, trees, shrubs and entire forest. [MUSIC] [SINGING]
Follow your heart at your pace.
And all will fall into place.
Let the flow be your guide.
I am always at your side.
In all aspects of life there are ups and there are downs.
We are — we flow high on love.
There is no limit.
No one way to live it.
We are alive.
So, we adapt and change.
We are alive.
So, we adapt and change.

DAVID:
What was it like collaborating with artists? So apparently you had this vision pre-Naropa and you consolidated it a little bit more while being Naropa taking music and understanding your body with the yoga practices and all this. And so, Water Wings started to come to life a little bit more. And then you were adding other musicians. What was it like guiding them musically for a book that you’re writing? Was that like a different experience other than just writing a book on your own.

GABRIEL:
It was an incredible experience actually. And it really helped me — still helping me come into my own as a director — as getting out of the way of the artist to really shine. Even though it’s such a heart-centered project for myself. I felt like I just had to convey that to the artist and be like this project is really special to me and you can — here are the lyrics and here’s — here’s the basic chord progression. What can you bring to the table — like how — how can you elevate this project and how can we really work together —

DAVID:
Some elements of trust were in there?

GABRIEL:
Definitely, and just letting go my original thoughts. I was at first like — I want it this way and do it this way and I can convey those a little bit and it was important to you know tell them my vision, but equally important to just get out of the way and see what like — just giving them a couple rules and like any — on any creative platform — you just get them like two — two rules to work with and that’s how a beautiful thing is created.

DAVID:
And you also pick like super good musicians. So, there is a lot of ability to trust and just maybe step back from what you thought you wanted and realizing like damn they’re good.

GABRIEL:
Totally.

DAVID:
I like that — and you didn’t say anything.

GABRIEL:
Yeah — yeah, it’s pretty amazing and the cast of the project is really like a dream. I actually wrote a part at the end of the book that is a — just an old guy sitting by the river strumming his guitar and singing the blues and I actually wrote that part for Guy Davis who actually flew out here and did it. So, I wrote that part before just dreaming like that would be amazing if he could do it. And he’s a family friend, but he’s also very busy — Grammy nominated and traveling all the time. And he’s an amazing blues musician. I was so grateful that he — we scheduled it a few months in advance and he just flew out and did it and I was like here’s what I got. And he did a little blues part and then it’s like the second part of the song is more just like the fish coming home and telling her community just about her journey and what she learned, and Guy just wrote amazing — like this amazing kind of bringing it all home arrangement.

DAVID:
Wow.

GABRIEL:
Yeah.

DAVID:
Yeah it sounds like it all came together and sounds like a different sort of beast to tackle when you’re bringing in multiple musicians you have an idea, but it also has to be choreographed with the visuals. So. how does one engage in such a book? Like do you put on MP3 or a CD or some sort of audio file where it’s being read to you and you just go along with the story? How does that work?

GABRIEL:
Yes exactly. So that is one of the ways you can enjoy the book is by just pressing play on your stereo and just flipping the pages along with the music. You can also just read the book — if you just want to read the book. Or just look at the pictures. I really wanted to make it all ages even for people who can’t read, and you know just the pictures really tell the whole story. And if you’re on the go — if you’re in a car you can just play the music without the book.

DAVID:
Yeah, multi-functional — there’s many different ways to get the story and it sounds like you had like super good musicians, so you have this like high quality awesome kind of like audio-based center of it as well.

GABRIEL:
Yeah, and it has like this kind of new format or un-utilized format — I just have like a — I’m still kind of testing what works the best. Right? And so, what I’m gonna do is put in a little chime — like a little orchestra chime that says to turn the page, right, because you might not know when to turn the page, but —

DAVID:
Instead of having a voice that says turn the page!

GABRIEL:
Exactly. I don’t want to bring people out of the magic. I want it to just be like nice and magical and give —

DAVID:
Give me something whimsical.

GABRIEL:
Yeah exactly. Exactly. So —

DAVID:
That’s awesome. So, I feel like we’ve covered a couple of things about the book but tell me a little bit about the visuals. Who drew these pictures? Did you conceptualize them all or did you have some sort of ideas and you hired an artist or had a friend do it or are you the designer of that?

GABRIEL:
Yeah. So, years ago when I created the whole storyline, I created a whole storyboard. And it was basic pen sketches and I went through a couple illustrators before Naropa — while I was at — in the beginning of Naropa. Just kind of — and it’s a big project. And I found this woman who is in the art department. Her name is Catherine Breen and she graduated Naropa as well. I loved her art. She has a great technique for depth and shadows and shading, and my style is very like explosive and very like movement oriented and hers is more still. And so, we really work together in collaborating. And I directed my vision with the storyboard, and she was able to really capture that really beautifully and add her own artistic choices in it. And just elevated the project to another level bringing this amazing surreal quality to it. I don’t know if surreal is the right word, but just like a larger than life hyper real maybe. And like this softness of colors and blending and shadows and shading.

DAVID:
Yeah, I’m really enjoying the fact that you have utilized multiple ways of telling a story whether that be through audio, through visual or through the actual writings. So, it’s like there’s so many different ways you can go about this journey that you created. And it’s just really cool — it feels kind of new to me. I’m sure it’s out there and I’m sure it’s been done multiple times and — but it’s not like the average thing that people go do. Like, oh I’m writing a book — they write a book. They’re not like writing a 30 minute long musical composition along with the book to tell the visual story. You know I mean? So, it’s — it’s very diverse and it’s very — they’re like touching all your faculties to allow you to digest the story. So, I don’t know — I’m just kind of digging that right now.

GABRIEL:
Yeah thanks. It is very visceral. Art and music is such a visceral thing and it’s so experiential. And storytelling is a way to convey eons of moral compass and tradition as well. Like every culture of the world has their own stories — storytelling and by telling those you don’t tell people this is the exact history, and this is what happened, and this is what happened. It’s more like these myths that emerge through these cultures that people really latch on to and people connect with. And so, I was hoping to kind of create this new myth in a way to connect people to nature as well as humanity and compassion for other people.

DAVID:
Yeah. Awesome thank you so much. So, I’m actually kind of curious what was it about Naropa that helped you bring it out. Because it sounded like you had this idea, but stepping into a contemplative model and using different artistic abilities that you’ve developed over your time made you actualize this project a little bit more and like what — what do you think it was? Like do you think you would have been able to get it out without stepping into like a higher educational facility?

GABRIEL:
You know — it might have come out in some form or another but Naropa really infused this sense that I could really do it. It really kind of help in the musical side — my musical persona really developed a lot in just making me believe I could really follow through on my dreams and follow through on my project. And having this vision and I felt a lot of support around my musical endeavors and what I had to offer, and I felt like the teachers were really there for me just to help me make that happen and give me the tools spiritually kind of that I needed to be like yeah, I can do this. Stage presence — I was always shy as a kid onstage.

DAVID:
Same here.

GABRIEL:
Even though I — I grew up on stage and so I was like in the cradle — like my mom had me like right behind her or whatever when she was onstage.

DAVID:
You’re like strapped to her chest while she’s dancing.

GABRIEL:
Right, she was probably dancing on stage while I was in her tummy, right.

DAVID:
Maybe, yeah.

GABRIEL:
Probably.

DAVID:
You were on stage before you could stand.

GABRIEL:
Yeah. And so, I’ve always known the world and I felt comfortable in that world, but I never felt comfortable really taking center stage. And so Naropa really helped me forgive that past me and — and let myself truly shine onstage and bring my gifts that I have to offer the world. And let those shine — let those come forward and not be — not have any shame around that. Work through that shame and —

DAVID:
Oh. I’m thinking about the word confidence and how that motivates and or pushes us to actually do the thing we know we can do, but we’re just afraid or scared or hesitant like it’s — it’s confidence. You had the skill, you had the idea — the storyboard was there. You probably knew a couple artists that could have done it, but it was the confidence that was not there. And it’s really interesting to — to be a human and develop your confidence within yourself. Because we can all have the ability to do something. But it’s this emotional thing and you know it’s a self-judgment. It’s like — it’s hard to motivate yourself to be confident, but it is possible. But when you have other people reinforcing ideas into you and letting you know like, wow, that’s actually really freaking cool. Like do that. Yeah, I would love to see that. Then you’re like whoa maybe people do want to see this. Like we need to get out of our own way.

GABRIEL:
Totally.

DAVID:
But how is it we develop confidence? Like where does that come from? But it sounds like you were able to find your confidence of a skill you already had, and you were to like sharpen it up with this project.

GABRIEL:
Totally. I mean the skill that I already have, but really also developed, you know, tenfold while I was at Naropa. Music before Naropa — I was — I would play guitar. I wasn’t taking myself seriously. And it really helped me also just take myself seriously. Like be like no I have — I have a gift to share with the world that I can develop and it’s unique. I’m not just learning classical guitar. I’m learning how to play the way I play. And how to play what I’m inspired to play.

DAVID:
Oh, I like that. Cool!

GABRIEL:
And I think that’s what’s unique about the music program at Naropa is it’s not it’s not a competitive program. It’s really what you make it. And by what, I mean what you make it — it’s like how you can inject yourself into the musical world.

DAVID:
Yeah. And I too took the musical program and it was super fun. I actually like learned how to edit and record and like this podcast wouldn’t exist if I didn’t take some of those classes.

We only got a couple minutes left, but I just want to know when does this project come out? Like when do you finish this book? When can we expect this?

GABRIEL:
Yeah, now we’re in the final stages of recording. We have — literally have one more recording session. And two more pages to finish. And we are set to launch. I’m gonna run a Kickstarter at the end of March. And March 26 is the launch date. We’re gonna have a Kickstarter launch party at the Laughing Goat in Boulder and it’ll be available online at the Kickstarter website.

DAVID:
Okay. How would one find that?

GABRIEL:
I have a website called Water Wings Productions dot com.

DAVID:
Okay.

GABRIEL:
And that will — you can go there and that’ll have all the links to the YouTube. I have a little teaser trailer. You can look at on YouTube.

DAVID:
Yeah, I’ve seen that.

GABRIEL:
Yeah. And as well as I have a Facebook page Water Wings Productions and an Instagram page at Water Wings Productions.

DAVID:
All good things.

GABRIEL:
Yeah.

DAVID:
You’ve created all the things.
GABRIEL:
All the things — just trying to work on all platforms, all levels — and I have a lot of future ideas about the project that once this comes to fruition and this production comes to fruition, I can really focus on the next phase of it and bringing it to the world and bringing it to life.

DAVID:
Nice. OK. We look forward to it. That’s going to be super fun. So just for my last question — I’m just kind of curious like is there anything exciting or interesting that’s coming out that you want to talk about that is affiliated with your book or maybe with Naropa or anything?

GABRIEL:
I’m extremely excited about this project. It’s a lifelong dream to bring this to fruition. I’m extremely proud of my team and what we’ve come together to accomplish. It’s really — everyone’s kind of gone above and beyond. And put their own artistry into this project, which has been amazing to see and as a budding director, producer it’s really been magical to learn how to encourage those aspects and get out of the way and also direct to keep my vision alive. And it’s been amazing working with my illustrator Catherine. And amazing working with all the musicians and producers. Just want to shout out to all the bands involved. Zaravin. The Supersaturated Sugar Strings was this band from Alaska. They’re fantastic. They’re on song two. Darren Garvey, Bridget Law, Dango Rose — all of Elephant Revival. The front range strings of Phil Norman and Guy Davis — blues musician Guy Davis who I’m so happy and proud to have on the project.

DAVID:
Awesome. Well thank you so much for sharing and like thank you to you for actualizing this project and not just letting it be a thought baby — to bringing it to life. And so, we all look forward to your book and we’re just excited that you’re like composing it on such a bigger level. And you’re not just an audio composition. It’s a visual audio and there’s like a story to be told. So, thank you for sharing your magic to us and the world.

GABRIEL:
Yeah., thank you David. And I also just wanted to thank Evan Reeves and Elephant Collective for sticking with me through the project.

DAVID:
Awesome, yeah, I got the team on.

GABRIEL:
Yeah!

DAVID:
So that was our guest. He is a friend of mine. He is also a Naropa alum. Gabriel Vanaver. He is a graduate of the music and the yoga program studies here at Naropa University and he is also a writer and a musician. So, thanks again.

GABRIEL:
Thank you, David.

[MUSIC]

On behalf of the Naropa community thank you for listening to Mindful U. The official podcast of Naropa University. Check us out at www.naropa.edu or follow us on social media for more updates.

[MUSIC]

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