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Crises abound in the world at the moment, resulting in divisions and stresses affecting our collective state of mind. I wrote ‘Freedom Is a State of Mind’ with Justine Hansen in Cape Town. It has a crosscutting theme of space. Both inner space and physical space in the form of a sanctuary or safe haven, which we urge ourselves and others to protect

At the planetary level, it is not only our planet’s ecosphere that is threatened but also our relationships with the natural world and one another. Attitudes that are “poles apart,” as the song mentions, are also apparent in South Africa where systemic inequalities and crime as well as environmental, political, technological, and economic stresses have contributed to widespread despondency. In the face of this, how do we retain resilience?

We discussed this and other issues during their songwriting session – the first that Hansen had been part of. ‘Freedom Is a State of Mind’ is about finding and protecting places of refuge both “deep inside” and in the spaces, the commons, still accessible to us. Our oceans, nature reserves, communal gardens – places where we can connect with nature, ourselves and one other, and become more mindful of our interdependence.

“The song is a call to protect places of sanctuary, inner and outer, in order to gain increased self-possession and with that more humanity, simplification and healing with ripple effects,” says Justine. It is also a call to create safe spaces for dialogue where people can speak their truth more freely, even when it goes against convenience and convention.

“We can ‘balance our voices’ in order to overcome adversity”

Listen to “Freedom Is a State of Mind” here:

Watch the music video here: 

Although literally hailing from different ends of the world, Scandinavia and South Africa, we quickly found common ground in a desire to try to speak to what we might have in common across divisions, and to look critically at the deeper reasons for our crises.

During the session, we came from a theme of responsibility for others to a theme of convenience. The kind of convenience that drives not only environmental damage but also a market-driven colonization of inner space.

As you know, I co-wrote songs in Cape Town in 2018 and 2019, and in Denmark between 2020 and 2021 as part of an arts-based doctoral research project. ‘Freedom Is a State of Mind’ – out on January 19th 2024 – is the third single from the upcoming album ‘Songs in the Key of Collaboration.’

In this session, we first had a give-and-take-conversation and took careful notes, before playing a melody game. After a few hours the song was born, drawing on Justine’s backstory, which is one of overcoming a great deal of turmoil and hardship in her youth.

It is a call to protect our sanctuaries, whether tangible or intangible, from being slowly appropriated in the midst of the many interconnected crises we are living through.