Mae Edwards Debuts Multi-media Project 'Starlette & Saint: A Memoir on Dualism' Today
In the late '80s, Mae Edwards (www.maeedwards.com) was still years away from embarking on the powerful and life-changing spiritual journey that has come to define her music and artistic aesthetic. Perhaps sensing something big was coming, she wrote lyrics that perfectly captured her bold approach to life.
The opening lines of "Castle of Dreams," a song she wrote for Stages of a Dream, recorded by her prog-rock heavy metal band Mental Landscape, were: "I will feel no regret tomorrow. No fear for what the future holds..."
For Edwards, that "future" is now, as she embarks on the release of a fascinating and bold multi-media project, starting with the rollout of 45 tracks on four CDs over a period of a few months, which she is launching today, December 1 with the 11-track set No Prayers Could Ever Save Me From the Love You Never Gave Me.
She has also published the lushly illustrated hardcover book "Starlette & Saint: A Memoir on Dualism," which includes lyrics and chord charts for every song and beautiful spiritual prose commenting on them. Her commentaries reflect her years-long studies into numerous spiritual traditions (Christianity, Buddhism) as well as thought provoking references to folklore, world history, psychology, U.S. travel destinations and popular film.
For the lavish "Starlette" persona, which represents the egotistical narcissistic self, Edwards dons a 1930s Hollywood hairstyle, feathered boas, tough leather outfits and fishnets. For the "Saint," she wears the white hooded robe of the Virgin Mary, the armor of Joan of Arc and bears the Sword of God as a symbol of spiritual strength.
The songs and book are also available digitally, with the tracks downloadable as mp3s and the book available on iTunes/Bookstore.
Also in the works is a unique 52-week menu set cookbook, inspired by the emotions of these songs.
The creation of these ambitious works is the culmination of the powerful re-awakening of Edwards' musical soul. Years after burning up Sunset Strip clubs like The Whisky and Roxy as well as The Troubadour, the multi-talented singer/songwriter/musician had settled into a comfortable suburban L.A. life as an award winning film editor. While a 2010 Regional Emmy Award and being in demand by Disney, ABC Family, Sony and Dreamworks offered something of a creative outlet-and she still penned the occasional song-those dreams she once had to share her music with the world had been dormant for years.
A key line she read in a self-help book by Dr. Wayne Dyer kept haunting her: "Don't die with your music still inside you." A few years ago, she took action. Reading through the three ring binder of tunes she had written over the past two decades, she was struck not only by the stark honesty of their moment, but how taken as a whole they reflected her years of expansive spiritual study and growth. It was a dynamic evolution from darkness to light, from being an ego-based person to one that is more spiritually centered.
For Edwards, music came alive again, and it was time to share her journey. Driven by the passion that defined so much of her early life, the Saigon-born, L.A.-raised multi-instrumentalist-who started playing the violin when she was four-went full throttle in the studio, recording an eye and ear popping total of 45 tracks. To add depth, gravitas and edge to fresh recordings of these pieces, she co-produced them with Johnny Karlsson, a onetime Swedish guitar wunderkind best known for his extensive work in TV, film and game music. Karlsson also created beautiful orchestrations.
The tracks were later mixed by Eric Greedy, whose pop/rock resume includes everyone from Ringo Starr and Robbie Robertson to Barbra Streisand, Smashing Pumpkins and Kelly Clarkson. In fashioning her fresh ethereal indie-rock vibe, Edwards draws upon the trademarks of her past-intense, soaring vocal style, lush harmonies, and a brooding musical vision-while incorporating colorful and compelling lyrical snapshots of her spiritual journey.
Realizing that, in this era of digital single downloads, 45 tracks is a lot for an emerging indie artist to release to the public all at once, Edwards has opted for a unique rollout schedule for the music connected to the concept of "Starlette & Saint." The release of the provocatively titled first disc No Prayers Could Ever Save Me From The Love You Never Gave Me will be followed several months later by Hieroglyphs of Emotion (Disc 2), followed in turn by Elements in Continuity/Essays On Parallelism (Disc 3) and finally, Grace. After the release of each CD, she will preview one song from the upcoming disc every week onSoundCloud (connected to her website). The new disc will be released once each Soundcloud cycle is finished.
"When the idea for the project took hold," Edwards says, "I recognized that I wanted to document my personal evolution in song and prose, understanding that I would be looking backwards from the viewpoint of Grace - the state I was in when I started recording the songs and writing the book. Without even realizing it at the time I wrote this material, all these songs were leading me to Forgiveness/Inner Peace, and I know I could never have arrived there without them and the catharsis they offered me along the way. So listening to and reading everything in succession, the listener and reader will become part of my journey from ego to grace.
"My goal is to use my experiences to inspire people to take stock of their own lives and change course if they are unhappy with where they are right now," she adds. "I kept praying about how to accomplish the monumental goal of doing the project in a multi-faceted way, and took little steps towards it every day. I felt as though the music created itself as I gave energy and time to it. It was like taking a drive in the fog and seeing only a little bit in front of you at any given time. But the result is magical."
Edwards' desire to create a keepsake hardcover book instead of smaller, conventional CD booklets explaining the songs is rooted in her love of classic album artwork-and growing up wishing legendary artists like Led Zeppelin would have included these kinds of guides to accompany their classic works. "I know many artists prefer to let the listener create their own interpretations," she says, "but I wanted to share with people not only my inspiration and what the songs are about, but also the process of how I escaped the emotional quicksand expressed in some of those songs so that I could ultimately embrace light and grace."
Each disc reflects a different signpost along Edwards' road toward this spiritual enlightenment. The concept of No Prayers finds her in a dark starting place, holding everyone who has hurt her responsible for her metaphorical death and punishing them for not validating her. The songs are immersed in self-pity, self-destruction and not taking responsibility. Hieroglyphs of Emotion includes songs that reveal a slow opening of her eyes to connect and empathize with other people and realize that they are feeling all the high and low emotions she is experiencing.
Elements in Continuity/Essays on Parallelism finds her breaking through to a rich appreciation of life, being in awe of all Creation, embracing the complicated yet simple realities around her. In these songs, she may be going through some hard challenges, but her sense of wonder makes them hurt less. She has developed all the spiritual tools she needs to ultimately embrace Grace, where every song is connected to the Source of Life, the Energy that runs the Universe. Edwards unabashedly admits her emotional piece "The Halo Effect" is a love song to the Creator.
Edwards is currently working on several other projects, including music for meditation and prayer, several apps related to spirituality, a step by step book about how we can live our most joyful life, and another rock CD entitled "A Year in Los Angeles" about artists of all genres who come to Hollywood to pursue fame and fortune. She is also looking forward to public speaking to share her spiritual insights.
"Everything that is healthy in life is something we do first for ourselves before our positive energy goes out to bless everyone else," she says. "So while I created this project to take stock of my own journey and reflect upon the places I had been and where I am today, my hope is that if anyone is suffering from suicidal thoughts or feeling alone or despondent, my songs and my book may serve to delight and free them from this spiritual bondage. I want them to know I've been in the same places but have ultimately emerged to discover Grace."