(Original Photo By: Jonsar Studios)
If you were to take a look at the news in every corner of the earth at this very moment, chances are you may not find the happiest or most uplifting stories. We are living through a time with a great deal of conflict in many different places.
Aspire to Inspire is, of course, not geared towards current events, but the influence our guests have on the music world and the individuals that keep the machine running is undeniable.
For Waël Mechri-Yver, founder/creative director of the BABËL community and artist under the name Waï…understanding the world and how we all work together as a creative force has always been of the utmost importance.
Although Waël’s family had separated early in his life, the split eventually gave him the opportunity to travel the world with his mother, a journalist. From a very young age he was able to interact with cultures other than his own and interact with people well beyond the bounds of his neighborhood.
“I come from a separated family. My mother was a journalist and so I had the opportunity to follow her around the world and travel a lot. It allowed me to live in various places like France, Brazil, or the Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean…it introduced me to the beauty and the diversity of this world. Relating to music, it has allowed me to feel and understand a lot of the different rhythms of the planet. It really awoke a strong love for music in me, as well as a strong passion for the different rhythms and harmonies all around the world.”
Once Waël was able to experience the unity of music and the power it had across so many different places, it quickly became the driving force in his life. Starting with organizing his high school prom, Waël found a way into the music business and never looked back. Once he was in college at La Sorbonne University in Paris, he landed a role as the head of all events and parties that took place there as well. By that time he had already become well acquainted with a number of DJs and artists in Paris, giving him a lengthy résumé for his post-university endeavors.
“After my graduation, I first went to Burning Man where my love for underground music really started. That was where I met some of the French party maestros. They offered me a job in Paris and were organizing the best outdoor parties called BAGATELLE. I joined them and it was a great summer. It went so well that they eventually offered me the position of Music Director for the biggest nightclub in Paris, the former MAN RAY that we renamed and opened together as CIRQUE BONHEUR (meaning Circus of Happiness). For two years, I got to dive into the underground music world, which I really loved. Ever since then I have had a real love for deep house and electronic music. I had the opportunity and the honor to work and collaborate with the best deejays of our generation from all around the world.”
As Waël eventually moved to New York City, his passion for working with and showcasing artists whose music made a difference was something he has never stopped pursuing. He eventually decided to launch BABËL in an effort to preserve that power of music and strengthen the creative community that surrounds it. BABËL is a creative community, a collective consciousness comprised of individuals from diverse cultures and tribes who gather around music, arts, and the pursuit of magic. BABËL unites and transcends through the power of innovation and creativity. Members come together as a community to connect, inspire and ignite positive social change.
As many business endeavors can be, making the jump to create BABËL among other projects was no easy feat. Waël worked hard to overcome a number of struggles both personally and professionally that could have easily convinced a person of lesser heart to throw in the towel.
“Being an entrepreneur is a very scary thing. It is just as scary as it is exciting and thrilling. You take a lot of risks and often feel alone. I think I overcame a few personal crises like a difficult break-up and the serious health issues of my mother… that made it very challenging to maintain focus on my work and to keep the passion alive. After that we had a long financial crisis. We have overcome it too in the end, but it has been very challenging and has taught us a lot about running a business. What has helped me the most was the deep trust and appreciation of my business partner Juriël Zeligman who has always stood by my side. He is a true brother to me, someone who has built BABËL from the ground up. I really believe in the strength of our team; it’s essential to long-term success.
Personally, what has allowed me to break through various adversities has been intense introspection and really taking time to work on myself. Observing with honesty and objectivity my mistakes, my strengths, my weaknesses and a serious desire to change for the better has helped me define who I want to become day-after-day. Meditation and spirituality have been great tools/practices to get me out of that depressing groove, and nature! Nature for me has always been the greatest reliever. I lived in upstate New York for a little bit and that was very healing and beautiful. I was really focusing on my work and my passion and it helped me to realize that every storm and every rain will always pass. Things will shine again at one moment or another, and really understanding that we are all in this together. By observing other people and their struggles, you have a tendency not to focus as much on your own struggles.”
In addition to his mindfulness and deep understanding of the world outside of his experience, Waël has also looked up to the great musicians of our history that have left lasting impressions concerning how we all treat each other and keep pushing on through life. Artists such as Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, John Lennon, and Stevie Wonder have been major inspirations. In terms of atmosphere and creating an experience for people that will let them escape from their lives for a while, Waël has looked to the work of Studio 54’s founder, Ian Schrager, and the masterminds behind Cirque de Soleil or the founders of Burning Man.
But beyond all of the creativity we have witnessed, Waël sees that there is a lot more room for improvement, and it is time for the creative minds of today to get to work.
“In my opinion, music is one of the greatest services we can give to humanity. It needs to be taken with reverence. Once you have the opportunity to share your gifts with people, it’s also important to realize that you have an audience that is larger than you might think. You have people from children to teenagers to adults…people who are lost to people who are frustrated or angry. Those individuals need to feel better. They need guidance. They are looking up to artists for inspiration and teaching.
I remember when I was a teenager and I used to listen to The Beatles. There was a level of craftsmanship, poetry, and celebration of our world that was very light and beautiful. I think right now, in the society we’re living in, it would be important to try and change the channel of what we play a little bit – trying to really be cognizant of the words that we use because it isn’t necessary to create art that offends women or anyone really. It isn’t necessary to glorify money, drugs, or violence. I think there are more values to be celebrated like tolerance, love, community, peace, harmony, and hope. Music is a very powerful tool, and the words we use can leave a certain impact. Let’s use Music as the magical tool that it is to expand our consciousness.”
In such an Internet-focused age with a constant flow of news, trends, and ever-changing minds, it can be easy to lose our grip on reality and the effect we have on each other from day-to-day. Sometimes all it takes is a momentary step back and a good look at the big picture to center us again. If we implement Waël’s advice and use the power of our creativity for good, this world just might be a better place.
“It is very important to understand that we’re all here together, in one giant boat. I think it is time for more soothing music and a sound that is more uplifting and embracing. Music is here to inspire, heal, educate, make you smile… and I think it’s important that we come back to that message of love.”