Gabi Holzwarth, Violinist

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Gabi Holzwarth, Violinist

City: San Francisco

Passion: Violin

Website: http://www.gabiholzwarth.com/

The Sunday afternoon of the World Cup Final, I returned home defeated as my favorite team since I was a little girl had lost and my favorite sports event had ended. As I was walking up the stairs, I remembered that I was about to meet Gabi Holzwarth who was referred to us by a friend for our first video passion story. She was described as "former soccer suite selling superstar turned full-time violinist." 

Gabi was waiting for me, dressed in a long summer black and white dress, her soft hair held up in a teenage like ponytail. She made me feel at home in my own home. As soon as you meet her, she scoops you into a deep sea of joy, playfulness and genius. At 24, Gabi has turned her passion for violin into more than a full-time job. She has become a vessel of inspiration to young women who are struggling with confidence and body image. I was one of them. 

Elle Wildhagen, our videographer and Gabi went on an adventure shortly after the interview, and what came out of it is our first passion story video. It may make you cry, make you smile or simply make you grateful. Share with us how it made you feel. 

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Alia Hall, DJ & Producer

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Alia Hall, DJ & Producer

City: San Francisco, California

Passion: Music

Websitewww.aliarhythms.comwww.soundcloud.com/aliarhythms

Twitter@Femvolution

They say if people remember one thing, it is how you made them feel. When I was introduced to Alia I felt energized, inspired and connected to her. Soon thereafter, I reached out and we met at a bar in the Mission. While I sipped my wine and she drank her water, Alia listened to my life story, then asked that one question that drove me to make a decision that put me on the right track towards living an authentic life. Alia has since become a mentor and coach, someone who inspires and supports me to be my best self. What is remarkable about this woman is how she embraces her incredible feminine energy that she exudes through her creations, presence and smile. Interviewing Alia at her peaceful home in the woods in San Francisco enchanted us, giving us a window to her past and an outlook to her future music endeavors.


On Passion

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I was always really into music throughout my life. When I was about 8 or 9, I started listening to music that was a little alternative to what other kids were listening to and making mix tapes. As I became a teenager, I developed a love for electronic dance music. I was also a trained pianist and Madrigal singer but that’s not what captured my heart - I loved the pulse of a dance beat. In college, I dabbled in the rave scene a little bit, but it wasn’t until I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2000 that I tapped into a thriving dance culture.
A few years ago, a friend who loved my mixes asked me to play her Obama fundraiser party at a club in SF. I had to teach myself how to dj to make it happen! I taught myself the basics to play that first event. I had a blast and so did everyone else. It was like I’d found the ideal channel for all those years of exploring my love for electronic dance music. After that, I kept getting asked to play at people’s parties. It unfolded so organically. It was the combination of my joy when I was playing with the effortlessness that it was opening up in my life that helped me know that I’d found my passion.
Opportunities kept coming to me and I kept saying yes. It was really a dream come true to have something be so fun for me and so desired in the world. With each event, I grew in my mastery and within about a year, I started being paid to contribute to underground parties and conscious dance events in the Bay.
My big break came when I got the opportunity to play Ecstatic Dance, which has grown to become a popular weekly event attracting 300+ people. I became a resident DJ for them. Now, I am playing around the the country as well as internationally. In the last year, I have been producing my own original music which I mix in with other people’s. My goal is to become a completely original music producer within the year.

On Mastery

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At first, I met with a few different friends and mentors who taught me the fundamentals of beat-matching and how to use the software. And then it was all about practice, practice, practice. But really the best practice was playing gigs. I learned so much just being in the moment with the music (and sometimes fumbling in the moment!). Gradually with time and experience my ear has become much more attuned to rhythms, sounds, and frequencies and I have a way more instinctive sense of how the music can flow together in a way that creates a really harmonious journey for the dancer.

On Transition

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I began my career as an advertising and marketing executive for big brands and companies. I knew that I was unhappy with that path, that I really needed a change, and that I wanted to pursue something more creative. But at first I didn’t know it would be music. That came just a little later and caught me a bit by surprise.
I was building my entrepreneurial business as a coach at the same time that this musical path began unfolding. I was changing career paths to create something that I felt much more passionate about. Once I got a taste of the passion, I was no longer content just living it at nights and on the weekends - I wanted to experience it everywhere in my life. Building my own business took a lot of work so until recently, music was a part-time activity. Now, I have re-oriented my life so that it can take more a front seat, especially because I am working on my own material.
I had been training for years as a coach and a workshop facilitator for various transformational organizations while also exploring women’s work and I became ultra passionate about supporting other women in their personal growth. So coming out of school, I started my business Femvolution and took a deep dive into learning online marketing and the art of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
When music began blooming in my life, I was ready to embrace it and to go for it in a way I may not have been earlier. It feels like all that early passion for music, combined with that early musical training is coming back around full circle at a time when I can fully honor it.

On Failure

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I remember playing a really big dance event with a community I had been a part of for years. I rocked that set - I had the room going the whole time and people loved it. Then, on the last song of my set, something went awry with the control that manages the BPM of the track in the software - all of a sudden it jumped up to a super high BPM where the vocals were squeaky like the Chipmunks and it was way too fast to dance to. Not knowing the software very well yet, I was like a deer in headlights. I had no idea how to fix it. We had to quickly transition to the next DJ to cover it up. It was horrible, embarrassing and deflating after such a fun set. But, when I talked to people afterwards I learned that it didn’t make as much of an impact on the space as I thought it had. Some people didn’t even notice. I try to always keep that in mind so I don’t beat myself up and I can keep going.
That’s the key: just keep going and don’t let yourself get thrown off. You can recover quickly as long as you don’t obsess over the mistake. I have used this wisdom in other parts of my life as well! If I allowed each of my little failures to get to me I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would have stopped within the first month. Very few of my sets have been absolutely perfect but I choose instead to focus on the parts when magic happened and just strive to create more of that.

On Fear

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Fear is a self-created limitation. It’s often created when we project some experience from the past into the present, so we imagine that that experience will happen again, even if we have no evidence that it will.
I think the best remedy for fear is action. I don’t give the fear too much time or energy and just dive into engaging with my creations. Usually that initial pang of fear passes as I become swept up by the joy of doing what I love.
This happens when I step on stage too. Before every set, I will feel some nervous energy but it always dissipates within minutes of beginning. This is because I have to be so present and in the moment with what I am creating there is no time to stop and think and indulge in the fears. Also, just before I press play for the first time on stage, I ground myself. I take some breaths, feel my feet on the ground, and say a little prayer. I often will bring a couple crystals or sacred items with me to a gig to create a portable mini altar which helps me connect to something bigger than myself. This way, I can remember that the creation of the experience is not all on my shoulders. Saying a little prayer to Spirit before any creative act can loosen the tension and make you more available to tap into your genius.

On Money

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Those first few years after I left my corporate job were lean! I was trying to figure a lot of things out all at once. Money did not flow effortlessly and it sometimes forced me to question what I was doing because I gave up a nice income. In those times of doubt when my inner resolve would weaken, something in me just kept telling me to keep going. Even when I had my parents constantly expressing their concern and I had people suggesting that I go back to a job, I knew that it would be a big step backwards for me to do that.
I knew that I had to dig deep and find my own belief in myself and be willing to follow my own compass and not someone else’s. I knew that I had to be willing to trust in my own visions even if they were radically different. I look back and realize that there was a new version of myself birthing through and just like in labor, I was experiencing the birthing pains of that.

On Self-Love

 

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I believe self-love is one of the most critical factors for success on this journey of following your passion. To make it through the bumps and challenges and doubts you have to be willing to fully honor and take care of yourself.
This is often the first place I start with women I work with who want to start living their own passion. When we fully honor ourselves, it shows up in every aspect of our life. Things begin to align and it becomes easier to have what we want because we are letting ourselves be loved and fulfilled. Without this ingredient, we will continue to sabotage ourselves.
I vary what I do but it always includes drinking a big glass of water when I wake, drinking a green shake to start my day, and often includes meditating, working out, yoga, walks in the canyon behind my house, and ecstatic dance.

On Inspiration

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I am inspired by people who are creative, self-expressed, uninhibited and unapologetic about who they are.
I have been a long-time fan of Madonna for this reason. She has always been loud and proud with the way she walks through the world. She is also not afraid to evolve and to take risks. I think she is a radical example of how we can let ourselves grow and expand. I am also inspired by Lady Gaga for very similar reasons - I love the way she plays with her image and the way she expresses in the world. But one of the main reasons I like her is her work with her Born This Way Foundation which is about empowering youth to be braver, kinder, and to celebrate their individuality. This is such an important and powerful message.
Then there are the people who floor me with their artistry, their genius, and their passion - they are too numerous to name here but each one leaves a mark on my heart and inspires me to go deeper and deeper to open my own voice and share what I have to bring to the world.

On Support

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I have had a few mentors. The people I work with most closely tend to evolve as I do; each person supports a particular phase of my growth. I think having a mentor is incredibly important. It helps close the gap in the areas where you aren’t as knowledgeable and this person can provide tremendous support and encouragement. This person sees you for your greatness (and if they don’t, you need a new mentor!), especially at those times when you have trouble seeing it yourself.
My long-time friend community has always been very supportive at times when I didn’t get as much support from my family. I also have a community of entrepreneur friends who are building thriving businesses, and a community of creative friends who spend a lot of time in the music and festival scene. All of these groups feed different parts of me.

Advice to the Community

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My advice is to keep following the scent of your desires - you will find that the things you naturally gravitate towards, that you love to do, that make you happy and light you up are the things that are the clues on your path to help show you the way towards your passionate life. Typically these things are not rational or logical.
And stay on the path. It will open up opportunities you could never imagine from this point-of-view now. The journey unfolds gradually and new information is revealed as you go. The key is to stick with it during the times of confusion and frustration.

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