I am convinced that role models can help us achieve our own wishes and goals. That’s why I launched the series “conscious creatives telling their stories”. Here I would like to introduce you again and again to people who are consciously and creatively shaping their lives.
My interview guest today is the singer Marjan Shaki from Vienna. Marjan has made a name for herself in the musical theatre scene in Vienna in the last 13 years and now embodies the musical dream couple from Austria with her husband, Lukas Perman. She has been involved in social organizations for some years now and sets her name, amongst other things, to help in a big way.
Dear Marjan …
… was there any moment in your life when you realized that you wanted to be a professional singer or did that just happen?
I was still a little girl when I found pleasure in dressing up, dancing and singing. It probably first struck my family. Children just do what they feel like doing. Instinctively and freely without the thought of doing anything with it. Only when I saw the musical Cats at the age of about 6, I realized that somehow there was something like a stage in combination with a job. At the age of 10 years my older, very musical brother took me to the sound studio, because he was looking for a high, tender voice for a background choir, and probably wanted to save some money 😉 so I came in touch for the first time with studio singing. So I gradually developed an interest in it.
At the age of 16 I dropped out of middle school and started a musical theatre education in Hamburg. My parents supported me, although my father was skeptical at first. The deal was that I would push back to school if I could not do the training and related exams or find work afterwards. That was a good incentive, as I did not particularly enjoy going to school, where there were subjects I did not really care about.
… did you grow up in a parental home which dealt with life very openly and consciously?
My mother came to Hamburg from Iran alone almost 60 years ago. My father was born during World War II in Silesia and grew up in Berlin. As a young man he was politically involved, first as a teacher in Iran and later as a journalist and painter. Both were culturally very open-minded and interested in the different stories of people and in our house, it was always sociable, with many parties and discussion rounds. I grew up with a variety and colorfulness and above all learned not to think in drawers. For me, it was perfectly natural that we are all different and yet can fit together.
In addition, I also learned very early to help people, to help and involve them when they are alone, lonely, with fewer or more connections. I remember many Christmas parties in a big round, but not necessarily familiar, but friendly nature. There was always something going on. And it was culinary and musically also always very inspiring. This has all remained very positive in my memory and I try to pass it on.
Not for nothing did I end up in a multicultural working environment, where I can – at least on stage – fill different lives with performances. Which quickly became too one-dimensional and vain for me. Rather, my husband and I developed the love of travel early on and were backpacking around the world to experience the “real” life and different cultures and not just absorb them in a textbook. Also, a great psychological interest has developed for me, which I only operate privately. Special literature about the psyche and dynamics of people, the backgrounds, these are the things that have shaped me very much and are still interesting. How do we become who we are – also as a society, collectively. That helps to understand better.
… who and what inspires you?
I’m inspired by lateral thinkers. Almost without exception, as a child we all are. But we lose it over time, through the conformity to which we are soon forced. Those who manage to stay that way and yet remain optimistic or regain this lateral thinking inspire me a lot. I’m also not sure to slip into a narrow construct of thoughts every now and then. But children and far-sighted adults remind me of the versatility and stratification. It is always a question of perspective and you can always change it.
… have you ever wondered what you can or can do to the world with your actions? Or is there still need for change, so you can be satisfied with it?
I ask myself this question almost every day. It is also essential if you look at the situation of the world or just walk through your everyday life with your eyes open. However, the dimension sometimes intimidates me.
My husband and I have spent many years trying to be socially involved – first for Haiti, then later in the nearer areas – by bringing together what we can do best – singing, playing, and putting people together for a performance – to combine with the money, to make it available to those who need it. Which found approval in the form of concerts and artistic actions, in auctions, etc. We have organized many charity gala events with a large orchestra and great artists and have started a number of smaller events, and have been able to donate several hundred thousand euros in total.
Choosing the organizations is the biggest challenge. There is innumerable suffering in the world and very good business is done with it. Nevertheless, many extremely idealistic relief organizations fail because of the regulations to which they are exposed, because it is not always in the interest of the rich and powerful of the country to really help. The gap between poor and rich is grave in many places, sometimes the countries themselves have enough capacity to eradicate their poverty in society, but how often is this just a product of politics, including world politics. Also, we approached many actions in a very idealistic and visionary way, realizing that corruption prevails in many countries, and even the western world is not always interested in really helping. This is very sobering and debilitating.
We continue to support where we can and where we get a reasonably clear insight into the work of the respective NGOs. One hundred percent clarity is probably not there. But above all, you can always do something good from person to person. In a small frame, very directly. Because at least you really know where it goes or that it is implemented. This is worth nothing less than donating in a grand manner. It is also about resonance, in the sense of good results in good. And a snowball effect. If everyone starts small, it can turn out to be big in the end.
… in which form is it important for you to have like-minded people around you? Do you like to talk about the topics that move you or do you deal with yourself a lot?
I used to look for like-minded people. Maybe because I was still in search of my own truth and felt confirmed by many similar thinkers. In between, I then sought the discourse with people who think very differently, to challenge me and them. In the meantime it is very mood-dependent. And it depends on the individual, whether he is interested in me in any way.
I like different ways of thinking, I’m looking for different perspectives to question or extend my own view as well. If I have the impression that someone insists only on his right and wants to bring his opinion through with a loud fanfare, I quickly lose interest. The conversation is what interests me. The exchange of ideas, not the plea or the monologue. Nevertheless, it is sometimes refreshing to just exchange fun stuff and superficialities to give the brain some peace and quiet. Of course, this is also possible with like-minded people! It does not always have to be profound, otherwise you lose the lightness of being. And to keep silent, e.g. in nature, also has quality.
… what does it mean for you to live a creative life?
Creativity for me means openness and flexibility. Sometimes as a result of boredom imposed on me. We are all so busy and distracted. I’m always short of breath and try to bring everything under one hat, sometimes do not notice how fast my everyday life goes. Then I put the phone to the side, I do not mind, leave everything lying and see what happens. But my daughter is a great inspiration when it comes to creativity. It arises in silence, sometimes in the hustle and bustle. I prefer the former, because it is already very lively anyway. Creativity is on the move, does not stop. Grows and arises through synergies of individual things.
At least that’s how I see creativity.
Picture Marjan Shaki: Herwig Prammer