How Tribal Baroque was Created

Friday August 15th 2014

Thanks for the questions, guys! Here are the answers, plus some things you don’t know about me!

Susan asked: I am curious to know how you two met, how YOU learned to play the violin, how you and Thoth developed Tribal Baroque.

Timothy asked: How did TB come to be? Where did such a unique sound and style come from?

Chris asked: I was wondering LA, if you feel that you are also in a past or parallel life from the Festad. That was one of the most fascinating things about the Thoth film to me and also about Thoth’s music and language. When you two started to play together, it felt like you were also from that same world! You obviously connect to it wether it’s just through Thoth or on a personal level. Just interested to hear about your connection to it and was also wondering if the Festad is still the subject of TB’s music. Was the Festad theme just one opera? Thanks!

I’ll answer all of these together. I met Thoth on October 11th 2008 when I was moving to New York to study at Circle in the Square Theatre School. I had been looking forward to moving to New York and going to a conservatory, but I hated Circle. I felt really lonely and left out. I didn’t know how to make friends. I tried to dress normally at first, but it didn’t last long. I went to Central Park looking for the Angel Fountain. I remembered it from my childhood. ‘Where is that fountain with the angel on top?” No one knew what I was talking about. I eventually found it on my own. I would see Thoth going up the stairs or hanging around the tunnel. I recognized him from America’s Got Talent and had quite a negative reaction to him at first. I thought, “He thinks he’s so great. I could use that tunnel better then he can!” Isn’t that funny I would think that? I saw him several times before I actually saw him prayforming. I was walking through the tunnel on my way home and saw him standing in stillness. I stood waiting, curious to see what he would do. When he opened his mouth, my jaw hit the floor. He was a countertenor! And what a beautiful countertenor it was! I was very impressed. When he finished, I ran over and said, “You’re a countertenor! I love your voice!” He looked up at me somberly and said simply, “You’re intelligent.” I was amazed at the way he spoke. It was very deep, with no clear accent. “I’m coming back next weekend in costume!” I said. He gave me a look that suggested he didn’t believe me. I ran home and looked up every video I could about him. I watched his documentary over and over. The AGT clip made my blood boil. “What an amazing person! How is he doing this and he’s middle aged? He must hold some secret to lifelong creativity. I have to figure this guy out!” I said to myself. The next weekend my sister came to visit and I brought her to see Thoth. “Hello Zoe.” he said to me in that same somber, low voice as he came out from under his umbrella. Sis was enamored, too. A few days later, I ran down the stairs of the tunnel and fell on the floor at his feet and danced. He kneeled over me and sang to me. Every weekend, I’d go to the park and dance with him. I eventually learned all his songs, so I harmonized with him. People had a mixture of feelings about me. Some loved my voice, others thought I was intrusive. I started wearing a pink wig to school every day and was eventually outed for it in a group meeting. “We need to talk about the pink elephant in the room.” a student said. People’s comments eventually made me run out of the room crying. I went to the tunnel and told Thoth. “You’re not a elephant, you’re an angel. A Pink Angel.” Thoth said. That became my name. Pink Angel. I went home for Christmas and got my violin. When I got back to New York, Thoth invited me over to his house to see if we could play together. “This will work.” he said. He was suffering from nerve damage in both of his hands, which caused him only to be able to play with one finger. So I became his mentee. Things continued to evolve from there. We went out to play at the Angel Tunnel for the first time in March 2009, just 4 months after meeting. I was terrified those days. Thoth taught me various rhythms with my bells and ostinatos on violin and we had lots of deep, philosophical conversations. I discovered my personal style. I didn’t want to be just like him. I needed to find myself within his work. I eventually dropped out of theatre school to prayform with him full time. We were arrested summer 2009 in the Angel Tunnel for prayforming, which really bonded us. The name “Tribal Baroque” came to me one day when we were prayforming in the tunnel. The sound of our voices was very Baroque, but the bells and rhythms sounded Tribal. So I put the two together. It made sense. Our music just developed naturally. We were both heavily influenced by opera and classical music, yet we were both different and like to follow our own drum. We just meshed. I loved the idea of creating our own opera and our own story. I felt very connected to Thoth’s opera, the Festad. I tried writing my own story, but gave up because it was too much like his. The Festad is Thoth’s work, and it’s based on his opera. Our music isn’t based in the Festad, it’s based on our own story. I don’t consider myself to be from his world. I see more that we are from two worlds that integrate well together. Someday we will create our own opera with it’s own story. I think Thoth and I are twin souls, soul mates who have been working our whole lives to find each other. I had already studied voice and violin well before I met him. It’s like I was prepared to meet him. I consider myself more of a singer, as Thoth does about himself. Violin is just the supporting tool. I started studying violin when I was 7 and stopped when I was 16 because of tendonitis. I’ve been singing ever since I was 5, but started training when I was 11 or 12.  Everything came together for me when I met Thoth. Opera, theatre, costumery, singing, violin, dancing, creativity. I had always dreamed of singing with a countertenor. It was all meant to be.

20 thoughts on “How Tribal Baroque was Created

  1. Kaja

    I can tell you’ve got more time to blog these days. This entry is so you! Well, of course each and every is, but this one is just like I remember you 🙂 it’s so great you’re letting people know what you like. I can easy imagine people being so struck by the power of prayformance that it may be difficult for them to come forward, say what they think, ask for autographs etc. And there you go, Lila actually likes it.
    I very deeply feel sorry for younger LA that was socially abused by a bunch of sad people at school… but if anything good came out of this, you finding your safe harbour with Thoth, your music… it is hardto say, it was withworth it, I wasn’t in your skin and I don’t know how terribly painful it all must have been… but I see you guys here, I listen to your music, I see your love and it’s ever so beautiful…

  2. carlos

    Wonderful. You dream big. How they all come terrier but if they don’t I think being creative will see you through. You two compliment each other very well.

  3. Susan Gee Rumsey

    What a wonderful blog! Seriously interesting — and, yes, inspiring. I KNEW you two were twin souls even before you confirmed it. Many other things I did NOT know: that Thoth has nerve damage in both hands and plays with one finger (wow), that you both tried out for Cirque du Soleil. Some things I might have guessed at: that you were classically trained, that you were ridiculed in school. So sorry about the ridicule — I have never understood how some people can be so casually cruel. I can only think they are so unhappy in their own lives that they are eager to inflict pain on anyone who seems the least bit vulnerable. I truly hope your future dreams come to fruition. I believe NOW is the time for that documentary and/or film of Tribal Baroque (brilliant name, btw). I pray for you and Thoth to be able to achieve some kind of worldly stability, a foundation — whether that means homes in various cities or a Festad school or a well-funded IRA account or whatever — so at intervals you can rest and recover from the strenuous, generous work that you do. Thank you for this glimpse into who you are and how you came to be.

    1. la Post author

      Thoth has regained the ability to play with all his fingers, but he still has numbness and pain in his hands. He’s never be able to feel me without it. Isn’t that odd?

      1. Susan Gee Rumsey

        Poignant in its irony, I would say — to always feel this pain mixed with feeling pleasure. But thank goodness you are there. I hope someday Thoth can be healed of his pain in his hand and the numbness pass away.

  4. vasiliki

    Wow! love those dreams Lila! you are wonderfully inspirational, dear life-force LA and thanks for sharing some things about you. You have such a compassionate manner and a really open mind so i love reading your posts. They are brilliant! Like the shiniest star. To go with what you want in life or rather need, is truly the path of the warrior. It is a tough path but the only one possible for the warriors. even in the presence of the most vile actions by humans, warriors continue. daily actions are kind and truthful. You and Thoth represent that. There will be major set backs because we are living through a very difficult era in the history of the world but in some years time we will see the positive changes coming, as long as we keep on this path of ‘the art of life’.

    i was feeling rather sad today and after I put on your music, it made me feel better. The one of the waltz..track number 11, i think it was. It is quite bombastic! and my spirits arose as i danced to yours and Thoth’s soothing voices. I feel like I have a base, a home, when i listen to you.

    i remember being at the circus school, all of those years ago. the course director told me that women, after the age of about 30, that they’re ‘over the hill’ and there was a woman who was 40 in the class!! who was a superb base for doubles trapeze. I was the only one to bash this idea down and had a long debate with him over it. I then ran away from the circus!

    My wish is that women keep performing and creating into their 90s and beyond
    My wish is that all of the world’s citizens get a basic income (with no questions asked) which includes rental cover and healthy, organically grown food
    My wish is that we keep being generous to one another
    My wish is to expose abuse of any sort by talking the moment we see it or detect it, especially towards children
    My wish is that war ends, today
    My wish is that Tibetans can speak Tibetan in their own country, live as they always have as nomads, that the Dalai Lama can return to his place of birth and that the torture of Tibetan people ends today
    My wish is that Indigenous peoples are respected
    My wish is that we all have inner peace and wisdom

    with loving kindness,

    1. Susan Gee Rumsey

      Vasiliki, I smile to think of you running away FROM the circus. And I wish for YOUR wishes to come true. FTR, now in my 60s, I am more creative and productive than ever — and looking forward to the next 30 years. May we all be freed of suffering and filled with peace and joy.

          1. vasiliki

            i used the word ‘bombastic’ but that is not what i meant! i thought it meant uplifting, explosive but it doesn’t…excuse my ignorance..

          2. vasiliki

            Lila, i’m sorry things didn’t work out for you getting to Rio. I have to say that there are many of us who love you in Europe, including me.

          3. Susan Gee Rumsey

            Selfishly, I would have TB in San Francisco. ;^) But if they remain in Europe, I will just have to go there to see them (and I will!). Really, anywhere they are happy and safe is good.

  5. Pat Alexander

    Hi Lila, I have wondered about these things when I watched you and Thoth at the Tunnel so it’s fascinating to read how you and he came to be.

    I have a scouting report from the Tunnel which I hit today around 3:30. A cellist (with very beautiful hands) and bass player were performing classical music there. Pretty good crowd. I hope I’m wrong about this but the acrobats may have branched into 2 groups. They were doing their schtick at the band shell (no boom box happy to say). Music was supplied by very loud drummer group which I heard way before I got to the fountain. There was also another drummer group playing on 72nd st. But by time I crossed the street the acrobats were doing their thing on their usual staircase so either they zoomed across the street without my seeing them or they’ve split in 2. A lot more so called “comedy” and crowd reaction in their so called act.

    Will report more if I visit there again…

    1. la Post author

      Thanks for the report. It’s the same as usual. I wish the park would get rid of them. There are a lot of the same Afrobat-like groups around Bethesda now. Last time we were there, there were about 4 different groups all doing practically the same show. They learn from each other. I couldn’t believe crowds went from one show to the next watching them. They even say the same jokes and do the same tricks. It’s a tried and trusted method to rip people off.

  6. Bill

    Pink Angel is a great name for you. Of course, the name “Angel” would suffice. I don’t think I ever said this to you, but when I hear you sing, voice resonating off of that arched ceiling where I see you and Thoth, I tear up more than I care to admit. “Angel Tunnel” . . . “Festad” . . . emanations from a place far away. Could be coincidences, but I seriously doubt it.

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