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Emotion Tide - The Backstory

Life rarely happens in a straight line. It’s more often a series of twists, turns, unexpected events, and circumstances beyond our control. We can either resist the change when things don’t go as planned, which often leads to disappointment, or we can learn to adapt, surrender, and go with the flow. And when we do learn to surrender, that’s most often where the magic lies.

My story begins in late November 2021. I had just started working again after semi-recovering from a severe neck injury inflicted by a chiropractic adjustment gone wrong. I had been laid up for nearly nine months without full use of my left arm and had gone through a deep introspective healing process while recovering. The cervical spine injury forced me to confront a tremendous amount of unresolved trauma from my family of origin that had been preventing me from fully realizing my potential.

The injury had occurred in March 2021, just days after I had been introduced to a new music producer in Los Angeles, Mikal Blue, who I was excited to collaborate with on new songs. Mikal is best known for his work with Colbie Caillat, Jason Mraz, OneRepublic and Five for Fighting. He had invited me to perform a livestream from his studio, Revolver Recordings in Thousand Oaks, and apparently, by performing that show, I’d made some new industry friends who were interested in helping me further my career. I was about to sign with a new management company and begin working at a completely new level of artistry. However, despite all the exciting things happening, everything in my life was forcibly put on hold from that one fateful moment when the injury occurred.

It was clear life had different plans for me and I had no choice but to surrender to the healing process. At first, I was unable to literally move my body without excruciating pain and I was forced to be STILL. “Still” is not my preferred mode, but at the same time, I was also wrestling with some unknowns – like possible nerve damage from my neck down to my hand – would I ever be able to play guitar again? It wasn’t a given, and I was terrified.

But what happened next was almost magical. The day after I received the diagnosis and was told I would have to rest in bed for at least two months, I received an email about an online course exploring ancient Kabbalistic practices to heal intergenerational trauma. I know that sounds like a mouthful, but it resonated with me on a very personal level. Kabbalah is Jewish Mysticism, and the word itself means “to receive.” I had studied Kabbalah with different teachers over the years, but this course was very specific to something I knew I had been avoiding in my own life for many years. It was also precisely the same length of time I was ordered to rest, and I saw it as a complementary addendum to the physical healing I was forced to undergo.

Kabbalistic Tree of Life

And so, I signed up. The next seven weeks were life-altering as I found myself relating to the content in ways I had never experienced before through the Tree of Life, and my personal family tree. The intergenerational healing I was seeking was primarliy related to Holocaust trauma from both sets of my grandparents who had survived concentration camps. Most of my other relatives perished in the war. The way that trauma played out in my nuclear family was devastating and had been plaguing me for decades. Finally, after having some pivotal insights through the meditative aspects of the coursework, I was able to release a tremendous amount of deep seated pain and energy blocks, and start to create new music again. I couldn’t play guitar, but so long as I didn’t bend my neck down for too long and was very careful, I could play the piano, which was my first instrument. I began exploring some of these deeper insights I had gained from doing the inner work through writing piano ballads.

Many months later, just as I was getting back on my feet, I received an unexpected invitation from an old colleague in Morocco to attend a Middle East regional interfaith gathering in the southern city of Dakhla, Morocco. Years earlier, I’d been living in Jerusalem working as a musician and event producer, cultivating various initiatives to promote peace through music. I was an active member of the United Religions Initiative (URI) and had been performing in a multi-faith, multi-cultural band called Musaique. The band performed in Jordan, Egypt, Israel, and other international locations and had an inspirational element that kept music at the front and center of the dialogue process. I had also produced an international concert in 2012 entitled Harmony in the Holy Land, a musical prayer for peace from the heart of Jerusalem featuring Muslim, Christian, and Jewish musicians. At the time, Harmony in the Holy Land was a vision I had been working towards for years as a representative of the United Nations International Day of Peace Music Committee. It was an exciting time of my career and I was focusing on applying my musical gifts in order to make a difference.

When I received the invitation to attend the conference in Morocco in late 2021, I explained I was no longer living in Israel doing peace work, but was married and living in the States focusing primarily on music. “Yes, we know,” my colleague Nouafal replied. “We want you here, my sister. We will send you a plane ticket and you will come join us in the desert under the stars. You will be here with friends.”

Always having been a bit of a gypsy, and eager to get back out into the world after a long hiatus, I was thrilled by the invitation.

It was short notice but, two weeks later, I was packed and ready to fly to Casablanca. There was only one problem. Omicron was making its way through the region, and I had a funny feeling things might not go as planned. My flight was routed through NYC, and so I made a backup plan. Having been born and raised in the New York metropolitan area, I called an old friend – Derek Olivero, a co-writer who I’d worked with years earlier on a number of songs we’d never released. I told him, “If I fly through NY and end up getting stuck, let’s go to Woodstock and record Emotion Tide up at Dreamland.” Derek had recorded at Dreamland the year prior with his band ODG, and I had FOMO. I’d always wanted to record there, and after having been laid up for so long just after lockdown was starting to ease up, I realized it was time to stop putting off projects that had been derailed years earlier by unexpected life circumstances. I made myself a promise that, once healed, I would grab life by the proverbial balls and knock out some amazing tracks with musicians who inspired me.

Emotion Tide is a soulful song about allowing oneself to fully feel and express the pain that comes along with a broken relationship – any kind of relationship – not just romantic. Oftentimes, people hold back their tears in an effort to be strong, but true healing can only happen when we allow those tears to fall and cleanse us of the grief of a broken heart. That had been my pattern – always needing to put on a tough face and be strong in the face of adversity. When Derek and I wrote it, I had come to the realization that I had been bottling up feelings about things I’d been through for far too long. Creating a professional recording of the song was years in the making. Whenever I had performed it live, people told me it was one of their favorite originals of mine. Friends, fans and absolute strangers gravitated to it. It was way past time to record it and share it with the world.

Dreamland Studios is a state-of-the-art vintage analog recording studio built inside an old church in Woodstock, NY, and

Dreamland Studio

managed by the legendary drummer, Jerry Marotta. Jerry has played on some of my favorite records by Sarah McLachlan, Indigo Girls, Peter Gabriel, and a host of other incredible artists I’ve been influenced by. Having met him briefly while living in the Hudson Valley, NY, working with him was on my bucket list, as was recording at Dreamland, which is owned by an old friend of mine -- entrepreneur and jazz guitarist, Joel Bluestein.

There were definitely signs that my “Plan B” was “meant to be” along the way. While I was waiting for the news on whether or not the trip to Morocco would be viable, I ran into a fellow musician in Santa Cruz, where I was staying at the time. I bumped into Rick Walker, an incredible drummer and pioneer of the global musical looping phenomenon, at a show at Santa Cruz’s reknowned venue, The Catalyst. My being there at all was unexpected, as someone had gifted my husband and I two tickets to a sold out show at the very last minute. And for Rick, it was the first time he had been to a concert anywhere since lockdown had started. We spotted each other within moments of entering the venue.

Inside Dreamland Studio

“Oh man, how the hell are you?” What else do you say to someone you haven’t seen in nearly two years of global lockdown? We got to talking and I mentioned I might be going to Woodstock to record with Jerry Marotta, and that it was all very last minute but I was hoping it would work out. Rick replied emphatically, “You’re going to work with Jerry?! That’s amazing! He’s one of my favorite drummers ever. We almost started a band together with my brother!” I had no idea Rick knew Jerry. He went on to tell me how incredible of a producer he is and was so excited to hear we’d be working together that he offered to call him up and relay how much he respects my artistry. I was honored and flattered, and saw our unexpected meeting as synchronistic -- an affirmation from the universe that I was on the right track.

The evening before my pending flight to Morocco, I had a nagging feeling that I should cancel the trip and just go to NY. I was conflicted, but listened to myself and contacted my host to say I would regretfully not be attending. The following morning, I received word that Morocco was closing its borders due to Omicron and the entire conference would be rescheduled. Thankfully, rather than driving to the airport at dawn only to find out at the terminal that I wouldn’t be boarding the flight, I was snuggled in bed sleeping peacefully. Thank goodness I’ve learned over the years how to listen to my intuition.

My co-writer, Derek Olivero

All packed up with somewhere else to go, I grabbed a flight to NYC, met up with Derek, worked out the tune which we hadn’t performed together in years, and drove up to Woodstock to get to work recording.

It was all very last minute and the timing was tight. Jerry squeezed me in. A unique and somewhat bristly character at firstd, it took a little while until he warmed up to me. He was busy helping some piano movers get a nine foot grand piano through the door for his upcoming sessions with Pat Metheny the following day. Jerry had called Michael Visceglia, Suzanne Vega’s musical director and bassist, in to play bass, Derek would be playing guitar, and I would be singing and playing keys. Mike worked up a chart, and we got to it.

Ariel Shafir, the house engineer, was working the board, and we had the studio for the day. We cranked out the tune, and as I was driving back to NY to catch my flight home the following day, I got a call from Jerry.

Jerry Marotta on drums and percussion

“Hey, I wish you were sticking around longer, I’d love to work on some other stuff with you, maybe write together.” I was happy to hear it and told him, “Well, truth be told, I don’t have any other commitments, I’m here to make music and would be happy to stay longer.”

And so, my dear friend, psychedelic poster artist extraordinaire, Kenny Schneidman, generously offered to put me up in his Woodstock chalet for a few weeks while I worked with Jerry at his home studio on fine tuning the track. A patron of the arts and co-founder of the Arrowhead Ranch and Retreat in Parksville, NY, Kenny and his partner, Rose, have been huge supporters of my music , backing my career, helping make music videos, and inviting me to perform at their 50th Anniversary Woodstock celebration in 2019. Needless to say, my decision to stay in Woodstock felt like a bit of a homecoming.

Kenny Schneidman, Poster Artist

It was right before the holidays, Omicron had reached NY, and timing was challenging. Jerry called in musician/engineer Aaron Mones to assist with the session. We got it done, and I’m now happy to be able to call Jerry my friend. A few days later, I flew back to California with the plan to get the mix done in Los Angeles.

Mid-March, I met up with Mikal Blue in Los Angeles to revisit the conversation we’d had about recording together prior to my injury. I shared with him about the deep healing process I’d been through and that the new music I’d been writing was on a more personal level than anything I’d written before. I shared with him about how I had grown up in an incredibly abusive environment and that I’d made a commitment to myself at a very young age to break the cycle of abuse that I knew, even at nine years old, had been passed down through the generations.

Mikal was very receptive to what I shared with him, especially in light of the unfathomable skyrocketing of child abuse incidents reported during lockdown and the importance of raising awareness of this serious issue. We decided to work on a full album together. The intention is to tell a story about transforming cyclical patterns of trauma in order to live a triumphant, joyful life. Trauma is repeated over and over again until healing happens. I have always believed in the power of self-introspection and personal development in order to experience a life of fulfillment – but not everyone can relate to that or take that first step. Somehow, I had made this commitment to myself from an early age that I would find my own path to healing, and songwriting has been a huge part of that process. With this new album, it’s my story but I believe it will resonate with anyone who wants to break free from the bonds of trauma and transform their lives.

After sharing my music with his creative partner Dean Dinning (Toad the Wet Sprocket), who is musical arranger on the tracks, the idea was born to write my album as a rock opera – telling my story in a musically theatrical way that would lend itself to fully expressing the depths of what I’ve been through – a heroine’s journey of sorts with a redemptive quality to the tale.

With Mikal Blue & Dean Dinning

And so, in May 2022, Mikal, Dean and I began to work on the new songs for the album. We started with two tracks, The Invitation – a song about opening up to the power of intergenerational healing, and Love Who You Are – a song about my own journey overcoming abuse by developing a personal relationship with God {as I know Her to be. ;}. Mikal mixed Emotion Tide in order to create cohesion between the three songs, and its theme goes with the overall album concept of healing and personal transformation. In July, I went back to LA to record a fourth song, The Only Way Out is Through, which is about going into the depths of hell to face the demons that often hold us paralyzed with fear.

Mikal called in Gregg Bissonette, one of the greatest rock drummers around, to play on the tracks. Gregg is in Ringo Starr’s All Star Band, as well as having played on Santana’s Supernatural. I was thrilled to find he really resonated with my songs and lyrics, so much so that he told me to call him when I’m ready to tour. ;-) Having two legendary drummers on what will eventually be a full album, I feel deeply grateful they felt the spirit of what I’m laying down.

Gregg Bissonette writing drum charts

As I continue to compose and finalize the rest of the songs for the album, I’m collaborating with several other songwriters who also resonate with story I aim to tell. And, the more I share my story with others, the more I discover how many people have been through similar experiences as I and buried it because of all the challenges that come along with speaking out about abuse experienced in ones family of origin. It’s scary to open up that conversation sometimes, but when we bring those experiences out of the shadows and into the light, that’s when it starts to become possible for true healing to occur.

And so, the working title of the upcoming album is Into the Light. We plan to complete the full album later this Fall and start releasing new singles in 2023.

Alas, as I sit and write this backstory, I happen to be on a plane back to Morocco. The interfaith gathering was rescheduled from November ‘21 to June ‘22, so of course I attended and spent ten days there over the summer and fell in love with it. I’m now heading back for my second stint, where I’ll be performing with my favorite Bay Area surf rock band, The Mermen, and meeting up with some musical collaborators, including my dear friend and co-writer Alan Roy Scott, who is on a world tour right now. Adventure awaits. I look forward to those magical moments in the desert under the stars, listening to the mystical music of Morocco and being inspired by its ancient legacies. More stories to come…

Emotion Tide is out now.

Listen HERE >>>

Stay tuned for the official music video, coming Sept. 22.

Release Party with The Mermen

Sept. 22, Le Taros, Essaouira, Morocco

Song Credits:

Composed by Aliza Hava & Derek Olivero

Produced by Jerry Marotta at Dreamland Studio, Woodstock, NY

Engineered by Ariel Shafir

Mixed by Mikal Blue at Revolver Recordings, Thousand Oaks, CA

Vocals & Keys: Aliza Hava

Guitars: Derek Olivero

Drums & Percussion: Jerry Marotta

Bass: Michael Visceglia

Acoustic Guitar: Aaron Mones

©2022 Aliza Hava Music (ASCAP) | Derek Olivero (BMI)


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