Front And Center: Mari Fix, Owner And Co-Founder Of FRAGRANCE OF SOUND®
By Myki Angeline
Mari Fix is truly one of a kind in her field. As the main vocalist, performer, and creative force behind FRAGRANCE OF SOUND®, her talents and professional experience goes far beyond that of a musician. Although, it was her parent’s musical influence that sowed the seeds for her journey into experimental sound healing. Mari has learned to play several instruments including a wide variety of horns, gongs, wooden and clay flutes, and drums.
FRAGRANCE OF SOUND® was created in 2002 by Mari Fix, K. Bach, and Erial Ally and is described as an ambient soundscape performing and recording ensemble invoking harmonic sacred sound, and experiential primordial multi-sensory states of awareness. This unique organization provides concerts, therapies, and educational workshops which include healing with sound baths. Click here to learn more about sound baths.
Mari brings over 25 years of training to her practice of therapeutic sound and healing. In short, Mari spent years studying with 3 medicine lineages and has been a member of Danza Azteca Cuauhte’moc. She has also studied Wicca. A direct Apprentice of Taoist Master Sifu Ching Fung Dao Shr for 9 years, she is authorized to facilitate the Taoist energetic and meditation practices of the Kunlun System®. She plunged into her own in-depth internal study of her moon cycle following a spontaneous Kundalini awakening. Mari is also skilled in photography, costume, make-up design, and graphic art which are evident in the overall production of each performance.
Something else I would like to add and highly recommend to everyone: Mari exposed a very vulnerable time in her life through art using paints and canvas. Stripped down to what was left after a traumatizing break up, Mari created her expose for “Healing With The Arts,” ™ a University of Florida program in which she is certified to facilitate. This expose is an emotional, empowering journey through art and poetry that will render you speechless. Click here to learn more: https://healingwiththearts
The layers to this phenomenal sacred sound smith seem to span lifetimes as her desire to learn and apply her knowledge to her craft is always ongoing. I was very selective in my choice of questions for Mari; her responses are mind-blowing and truly broadens your understanding of ‘self’.
For more information on FRAGRANCE OF SOUND®: fragranceofsound.com
For information on sound baths with Mari: sound-bath.wixsite.com/fragranceofsound
WiMN: How old were you when you started learning to sing and play music? What was your first instrument and why?
FOS: I came from a family of musical people, so I probably was singing by a few years of age. My first instruments were the piano and the guitar as we had them in the house, and then later the flute. I quit piano lessons as I did not want to practice. Following along those lines, my flute teacher got wind that I was not reading the music she gave me, but was memorizing the piece in it’s entirety when she would play it for me. She really came down hard on me for that.
My dad played the banjo and sang and my mother played the piano, accordion, ukelele, and sang. In fact, my mom used to sing on television, but not for a profession. They did not encourage me to go into music as a profession either. Instead, my parents used to play music and have sing-alongs with friends and neighbors on a monthly basis.
I am most proud of them for playing music at senior centers and homes for the aged in their later years, as well as playing music for Stanford Childeren’s Cancer Ward while we were growing up. As a musician, giving to people in this capacity is one of the most gratifying things I have done, as I found out that I received more than I ever gave. Just to look into these people’s eyes is the biggest payback I could ever ask for and is so heart opening.
WiMN: During your lifelong quest for knowledge and experience in all of the areas you are currently skilled in, was it a path you took alone? Or did you find time to create personal and/or romantic relationships along the way? How did this effect your learning and training?
FOS: In a manner of speaking, I believe that whenever one takes a path like music or any other art form, one is always taking the path both alone and in community. As I have worked on and off with other individuals for certain amounts of time, I have found that most people aren’t exactly committed to your path unless they are getting what they want, be that money or a feeling of ownership of the project, or something else. People I thought were solidly with me (partners, significant others) vanished like thin air suddenly and left me alone with myself. If I depended on them for anything that I was suddenly without, I found myself in a new and different frontier that now dictated my music and the production of it. I feel that that is why most musicians try to have control over the whole process by owning all the equipment and being able to do everything on their own to some extent, but I also find that putting yourself in precarious positions where the bottom falls out and you can’t control the situation guarantees some serious exponential growth. Often you see the brilliance in a person earlier in their career where they were fighting to keep alive or clamoring through the hardships, and their music becomes ho hum once they have a smooth life and everything at their disposal. Sometimes it is the opposite. Once I was working with a music partner who owned most of the instruments. She was my mentor at the time. She suddenly decided that she was going to put time solely into her own project which left me with few instruments and no partnership. I was catapulted into getting up on stage with one non-traditional instrument and singing in a bare bones, improvisational A Capella type fashion. Strangely enough without that challenge, I would have not been the chance taking, trusting, improvisational musician that I am now. So adversity seems to have made for inventiveness, raw fortitude and exploration at least for me.
As far as romantic relationships, the heart will do with you what it wants. I don’t think you can avoid relationships as you are usually pulled in like a magnet, and if you avoid them entirely, one may always deal with…what if. And if you engage in them and it is not beneficial in hindsight, you may also find yourself in…what if. However, these pullings that you follow will both affect your music and your feeling sphere and they are the grist of your life. Without these twists and turns, the depth of you would not be there. The yearning, the reaching, the diving into deep waters, the clinging to the rock with your bare fingernails holding on for dear life. The breaking free of illusions and the relinquishment of the mind that doesn’t know, into a space of pure presence. The willingness to surrender to where the path takes you and what is required to grow is hard business.
I know a woman who had a famous musician for a husband. He died and even though she is an extremely accomplished musician, her rockstar life changed. Suddenly all of the attention, work and parties lessened. It is hard to relinquish all of that. Look at Keith Emerson. He lost his dexterity in his fingers and was challenged to think his fans would accept him anymore since he couldn’t play like he used to, so he committed suicide. Perhaps he could have had another musician play his compositions and centered on conducting and orchestration, thereby becoming a different version of himself. The question is, are you willing to think outside the box and re-create yourself anew again and again. Rising from the ashes of your former life? A daunting task when we hold so dearly to our self images. But we will change, whether we age and get wrinkles or loose our vocal range or transcend our reality altogether by manifesting a version of ourselves that goes beyond our conception of what we thought was possible.
I have gone through drastic changes and still do. Wondering is is worth it? Or what I should be doing? and then taking steps to move to the next place. Building the tower, having it burn to the ground, looking through the ashes, building again or moving onto a new site and a new space. The most challenging place in all of this is the space of not knowing. The unnerving time when you don’t really have a direction and have no idea what to do; the relinquishing of habitual doing to the absolute sheer mystery of it all in all it’s anguish, loss, forgiveness, stillness and discovery.
WiMN: Your ability to infuse music and sound with healing is very unique and captivating. Do you feel this type of healing is for everyone?
FOS: I feel that everything in life can be healing. Even destruction and change. I have really been talking about that mostly here haven’t I? So yes, the process of healing is for everyone as we can not avoid change forever. Healing can take place from even writing a musical composition in which you pour your heart and soul into it, raw and unfiltered. Healing can happen when you give over to the changes in your life, and rise to the occasion.
Concurrently, Therapeutic Sound as a practice is a bit different. When you are interfacing with clients, I feel that there is a great responsibility to learn about as many aspects of healing as possible to be responsible to the client. I see a movement of musicians that suddenly decide they want to be “Sound Healers” and advertise themselves as such without any background in the healing arts because they see it as another avenue to make money in. There are classes you can take in a weekend on how to become a “sound healer,” but learning some technique on how to play a gong or learning about theories and information does not really make you a healer. Firstly it is really important to be honest with yourself and thereby be honest with your clients. Secondly the theories of frequency 432 and other theories that are hyped in sound healing are not necessarily more than myth. The important thing here is to firstly convince yourself that what you profess is actually real, and walk away with actual results. Refrain from perpetuating un-truths. C isn’t necessarily the root chakra as an example. If you are called to become a “healer,” I would be as humble as possible and start studying everything you can about being a healer. Learn energy medicine. Get repeatable and duplicate-able results. Don’t be satisfied with parroting the myths, and always strive to grow. There will be a time at that point that you will know when you can feel good about offering services. If you get a two year degree at a sound healing institution, this is only the beginning. You are not an expert, only a fledgling that has digested their information until the healing is real. I would strive to prove that these theories you learn are actual not just hearsay. Ask every elder of merit. Seek the truth and you will find the way.
I spent 9 years apprenticing with a doctor of chiropractic, homeopathy and energy medicine and 14 years apprenticing with an old school therapeutic “sound healer.” In indigenous societies, healers are seen by the good works and the results of that work. Then they are termed healer by the learned in the community. People are not usually termed masters without a good 45 to 50 years or more experience. I can not emphasize this enough.
As far as finding a therapeutic sound practitioner to experience a treatment from, I would look for someone that has a proven track record and has credentials in various healing modalities. Playing years of Sound Baths does not make you a healer, so once again investigate credentials. I recently ran into someone that said they had a degree in sound healing from a college where no sound healing classes are taught. Do your homework and check things out with a discerning eye. If you are aspiring to be in the healing arts, please hold the torch of integrity high as being truthful and responsible is the oath we take as healing facilitators.
Lastly, looking to music in it’s essence as healing is for everyone, as I am sure it has saved many of our lives in ways we can not fully comprehend. Such is the potency of a poetic lyric, and a lingering tune that comes on the radio at the most opportune time, as if the universe were speaking just to us.
WIMN: Having a strong social media platform is something many businesses prefer when gaining recognition and foot traffic. Is this something you have found to work for FOS? Which has been your best method of gaining and maintaining clientele?
FOS: Social Media serves as part and parcel of what I am creating as an artist, but I am not sure I am an expert in this area as I could always learn more about it and am endeavoring to do so. What I find is that if you are doing your own social media, it can be very time consuming. It is an integral part of the business though so you need to be ok with doing it, and if you are not ok with it, you will need to create another way to get the word out, whether it is a fan that does it for you, or you are doing side musician work where you are hired to do gigs who’s venues do it for you. Your Media is an art in itself and the vision you put out there conveys your message.
I am not sure that I can say exactly how much of my success is due to social media. It is just a partner in the process. When people look for someone like me on the internet, Social Media initiates the handshake. I find I get some traffic from social media and some traffic from word of mouth and testimonials. I don’t think the old fashioned way of building actual relationships has gone out of style yet. I think people yearn for relationships with artists, and that yearning drives the interest in seeing an Artist’s works in progress, behind the scenes footage and the fan’s interest in participating in your process. Fans want to be in community and part of the creativity. This is part of gaining and maintaining clientele as well as being the best you can be at your craft. Bring your clients into the process and into relationship with art itself.
WIMN: Can you share with us a healing session that stood out from the rest?
FOS: I was doing an event and a participant came up to me afterward and said she had come in with a malady that she had for years that was completely gone now. Another client had a frozen arm and she said her arm started to move in the session, and energy suddenly shot through it and by the time the session was over, the arm was back to normal miraculously. Another person said that after I worked on him, the vertigo that he had experienced for years was gone. I talked to him the next day and he had maintained the results from the work. Now I am not professing to have healed them or anything but I am glad that individuals are seeing results. This isn’t to bypass regular medical intervention by a trained physician so by all means go to your doctor first for anything you may have. Perhaps though, don’t underestimate the possibility of your potential to heal in any given moment. The universe in all it’s awe and splendor is a grand possibility and mystery.
WiMN: Have you found that being a woman in your field of expertise is more challenging?
FOS: Yes in some ways it is more challenging to be a petite woman, as schlepping the equipment is more challenging for me personally. Ha ha.
Other than that, I don’t think it is more of a challenge for me being a woman mostly. However, I have run into situations where I am wanting to keep music professional and someone that supposedly wanted to work with me actually had ulterior motives.
A man I was recording with suddenly announced that he wanted a relationship with me after we had recorded a lot of material at his studio, and started pressuring me repeatedly. Needless to say, I walked away from the material as I felt at the time it was my best option. I don’t imagine that being pressured by a woman is quite as prevalent if you are a man even though it exists out there. I think women though know just how prevalent this scenario is for us. And I haven’t even addressed woman pressuring women and men pressuring men here. I think the #metoo movement is definitely a great thing as we are finally bringing these issues to light in public, as well as looking at how we as women can support each other to change the status quo and step into our true empowerment. We have the collective power now to more easily bypass the pressure to acquiesce, be silent or comply, and take a step in correcting decades if not hundreds of years of patterning. As perpetration is not good for women, it is also not good for men, and we have the opportunity now to collectively and individually self reflect, examining into the root of the problem in all it’s aspects – even the most subtle ramifications. This examination can be the best thing for us if we are honest in every way and with all sincerity wish to go beyond into a new paradigm. Changing takes guts and fortitude, and being willing to make improvements, walk away or fight like hell. Every woman that stands her ground and is willing to look at the situation in truth makes it easier for the rest of us and the generations to come, though she may make what she feels is a personal sacrifice. This sacrifice though will ripple into the eathers and will reward her with an unfettered heart and soul.
WiMN: How has healing others through FOS changed your life? Was this something you always envisioned doing – even at a young age?
FOS: I was always interested in mediation, music, art and all things spiritual as a child. I was always reaching out and counseling and helping people. I wouldn’t say I imagined myself a “healer” in my early life. It is just something that I kind of landed into.
I had an internal vision of a man when I was small when I was staring up at my ceiling. Later in life I met him after having an auto accident when I needed a chiropractor. I recognized him at once. A woman worked for him and she inherited land out of state and went off to live there. When she did that I just knew I was supposed to apply to work for him as I got a few signs from the universe. I started working for him and he taught me most everything he knew. He was what I would term a miraculous facilitator of energy medicine and alternative modalities, and I am very grateful for his 9 year apprenticeship as it allowed me to develop my intuition and expertise.
In turn, I met my therapeutic sound healing mentor in 1991 after attending a Halloween party and meeting one of her associates that was a musician who invited me to work with them. I took to that association like water, and the rest is history.
I do want to post a caveat here. Most people engaged in healing activities do not exactly feel that they are the healer. Instead, they feel that they hold a space for the client to open up to healing. This healing instead comes from the universal force that contains all possibility within it.
WiMN: Do you have any upcoming workshops and/or appearances you would like to share with our readers?
FOS: Actually I do have events coming up. I am also available for private Therapeutic Sound Sessions as well as to facilitate community sound events. You can find out all about my workshops, offerings, or get on the mailing list by writing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join one of my meetups or Facebook pages. For inquiries out of southern California, contact me and we will see what we can create together. I and some of my partners are also available to travel.
“Mari is that rare gem. She is what I would call, an authentic “Sound Shaman” who creates a sacred space for healing and upliftment. She is too modest to tell her audiences who she really is and what she is doing. She creates no over-sized flashing performance nor does she seek fame nor worldly recognition…she simply year after year is the very best in the field of creating a wondrous experience for those lucky enough to discover her work”. – Raul Rosiles; founder of Soul Based Living