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Film and Music: Interviews


Terence Trent D'Arby

16 years after his first album, some angels instructed Terence Trent D'Arby to change his name to Sananda Maitreya

I feel that I was drowning and somebody threw me this thing and on it was written Sananda. And I was very relieved.

Hi Sananda. How are you?

I got here this morning and it's already become a bit more emotional than I thought it would be.

What happened?

It's just kind of, you never can anticipate at what point do you come back and it actually FEELS like some sort of return. Those things you can't put your finger on exactly, but I've been speaking to a lot of people today that like the project and it just seems to be right so it just seems to be a time in my life to put into perspective everything that's happened to me.

Why have you changed your name?

Well, if I can try to capsulate it, basically it happened at 33, I became Sananda at 33, I'm 40 now. Between 30 and 33 I experienced some very profound crises of identity, I was going through a lot of emotional depression, a lo of psychological confusion, and it was very confusing on top of that not knowing where it was coming from. I basically had the Sananda experience, which took me into a completely different space. Basically what I'm trying to say is that between 30 and 33 I had a meltdown. And in the middle of that meltdown I was experiencing more and more disassociations from the idea of Terence Trent D'Arby on every level.

It's like the sound being faded down on something. In the midst of this confusion I began to have dreams where I would have the name Sananda spoken in the dream. And after about the third time dreaming that, I realised it was being offered as a way out. A clue to a larger identity, or an identity where I'm not pretending to be something else. That's basically what happened and I certainly am willing to be as patient as others are willing to be with me concerning it.

Why is a name so important?

Sometimes the name that you begin with birth fits all the way until the end. For those people I'm envious, because it wasn't the case with me. And the truth of the matter is, for reasons that now are clearer, because I can see the levels of trauma that I was absorbing at that time, it never felt really comfortable: I kind of liked it, but something was slightly off about it, it never felt like a grounded centred kind of experience, whereas Sananda does. If I were a plumber, I would have done the same thing. Because to be totally honest with you, it helped save my life. There's no doubt about it.

What else has changed?

I think I've grown up a lot. I've had to confront certain splits in my psyche that were probably caused by childhood traumas. Sometimes having a lot of power handed to you at a young age, before you're emotionally stable enough to handle it, can kind of push all the buttons that bring all the stuff out, and calls for attention to be addressed. And I'm just basically a more rounded individual.

I think I've definitely come to appreciate humility in a way that I didn't before. It's not always something I can put my finger on, even my level of perception seems to be more compassionate and a bit more laid back. Yet when I'm intense I'm somehow even more intense. And when I'm mellow I'm more mellow, it seems to be a heightening of the experience of being a human being. I was kind of led to believe that if I were to trust that this was the path necessary for me to find my fulfilment, then I would not regret it, although it was admitted that it might be a difficult adjustment period.

Was there a two-way relationship with the angels in your dreams?

It was about three dreams, it was a recurring scenario. It was a group of angelic beings, angels or whatever. There were always three of them and I was always the fourth party, and we would just be kind of silently walking to the woods, or something peaceful, and one of them would always call out the name Sananda, and I was just really excited by the name and the familiarity of the name. There was something that really sent a shiver down my spine when I heard it. It was about the third time of realising that there was no one else answering to that name in the dream that, by deduction it must be my name. It was something that was offered to me as a life-raft.

And that's the way I feel, I feel that I was drowning and somebody threw me this thing and on it was written Sananda. And I was very relieved, because I was going through a frightening part of my life where I couldn't figure out why I was enduring such periods of prolonged depression, and suicidal vibes, and it was kind of scary for me because I didn't really know what the hell was going on.

Does the name mean something? Aren't dreams just your subconscious and imagination? Or was something other-worldy communicating with you?

I don't tend to see life in compartments in that way, because dreams don't come from any different place that the clouds come from. I mean the clouds, one moment they're here, next moment they're gone, where the hell did they go? Where did they even start? They materialise when we need them, they dematerialise when they drop their water and we no longer need them. Same with dreams, they come when we need to pay attention to what it has to say to us... because you know we not only reached by spirits in the third dimension, that would put a very limited viewpoint of what nature is capable of doing to address us and how she speaks to us.

I believe that as many ways as you can hear, or as many opportunities for nature to speak to you and guide you and direct you, that's what you're looking for. And I was very much looking for it at the time because I was pretty much, whatever can get me out of this confusion and make sense of this whole scenario. It's not a religious situation, that I'm aware of... though I know that to Buddhists, Maitreya means one thing, to Hindus, Sananda means another thing, but I think I was too intimidated initially to actually know what it meant. Once I had agreed to take it on I kind of wanted to give myself at least some space to have adapted to it before I was inundated to what it was supposed to mean. Because I might have been afraid I could have never have lived up to it, had I researched it before trusting it and jumping into the water.

I read that you experienced 'reverse amnesia'.

What I meant by it is, I'm not here trying to squash Terence Trent D'Arby, it's not like that at all. I had gone as far as I could go, psychologically, emotionally, and there was a point by which I could no longer use my excuse, of my career, as an excuse to not prioritise what meant more important to me, my name or my survival, my psychological, emotional survival. I mean I was contemplating suicide and stuff, we all think about it, but this was a prolonged period of time where I was in a very black black space and couldn't understand why; I just had to accept at some point that it was a purification, or cleansing of something that had to be addressed. At the moment that I did it I felt a huge sigh of relief, I knew it would be difficult from a public perspective but I just somehow trusted, and maybe there's a part of me that seemed willing to engage difficult processes.

How have you changed musically?

Sananda has been the songwriter from the very beginning, it's just that until the time that I was ready to take the mask of Terence off and reveal to myself more of my journey... I just wore that mask, but at the end of the day I've always contended that the songs seem to come through me far more than any other process I can take credit for. So it always felt like it was coming from someplace else anyway.

I'm now willing to assume that Sananda was the Wizard of Oz behind this personal experience. And at some point, you know, your name is not, you've taken on this name and it in effect functions as a mask. When you're through with this life, or when you just determine in this life that you wish to basically reincarnate within this life, and invite a new energy, a new idea of yourself into it, then you definitely will begin to experience things that give you the indication that Alex is just one aspect of who you are. Hopefully a very agreeable one.

It seems to me the last three albums all have a very similar feel.

Well I've always felt for some reason, maybe it's an intuition, a personal instinct, but I always knew that Sananda's record would be the pivotal record for me, and maybe it's because everything matches up, if you look at the fact that Terence's name is on the front, Sananda's name is on the back, it's a kind of goodbye to one and hello to another, so it does feel to me like a transition. Like the tying up of some unfinished business and the introduction of some new business that I will be exploring on the next project. It feels like that to me, and I'm not really capable of saying where I would place it exactly, it just feels like the last logical step.

What sort of dreams have you had recently? Do you still get people trying to tell you something?

Often, and often I have a lot of dreams that I'm the one making suggestions, you know, they come in all forms. But I go through periods of time where remembering dreams, because I've kept a dream diary since I was a kid actually, I've always been very encouraged by the additional, emotional, and psychological space dreams give is to sort things out with ourselves. And also it gives us a kind of Neverland where other interactive forces of nature can communicate with us without the limitations of our belief system in the third dimension. But since I'm seeing more clearly that the life I'm living with my eyes open is just as much a dream, I've placed slightly less importance, in this period of time, on the dreams when I'm sleeping at night. I'm getting more out of interpreting the dream that I'm seeing every day in the course of my life. That's become my new hobby. Interpreting everything that happens: if I had dreamt this, what would I think it meant? That's become a lot more fun, and I'm getting a lot more out of life that way.

Unless you achieve as much success as you did a few years ago, are you concerned about how the public view this?

Well you know it's interesting, because defining success... basically you're being depended on to keep the lights on in a building with 1,200 employees... because for me now, I'm actually in a much much better position than I was then, although what I don't have is the same level of attention focused on it, that sometimes only being with those big situations can do. So it's a trade off, I have a lot more now than I did have then. But the couple of things you give up might be those things which basically causes a lot of people at one given moment to know who you are. But if I understood your question exactly, it was...

Are you concerned about some people always referring to you as Terence Trent D'Arby?

No, I've gone through that, there's a part of me that would just like to live my life as Sananda Maitreya exclusively, but at the sane time, the irony is that in having surrendered and assumed this identity as Sananda, it's actually given me the necessary space to take a step back and let some stuff fell, and then begin to re-appreciate the whole Terence experience in a way that I couldn't at the time. I mean something to some people's history, and I can appreciate that now in a way I never could have at the time. So if they remember me as Terence, I'm not here to block or take away anything from him, but to now build a future for myself in addition as this other entity that I know means well to the world in however way he can serve.

What were your thoughts when Prince changed his name to a symbol?

I understood totally. Just as I flinched when it was suggested that I do it, because you go through all that [groan] arrgghhh... people will think, people will say... but you basically you can't call yourself a man if you're concerned about things like that. If you follow the truth of your heart... For me, like with a lot of people, it was just that it was nothing that you could pronounce. I think that was the biggest problem people might have had with it. But at the same time, I kind of understood that what he was doing was important because I do believe that more people in your generation somehow, this is going to come into play more often.

Your generation is a pretty special one, and they already come in more precocious than my generation did. I really do anticipate that forerunners always foreshadow where a generation is going, more people having that experience. So I think more people will see that they have every right to reinvent themselves if they choose, if it brings fresh energy and creative matter to their life.


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