Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
Breakthrough moments – playing my first gig in New York in the east village with Frank Bambara. He is one of the most insane percussionists I have ever seen. Playing my first gig with The Rajasthan Folkstars in Delhi. Touring with Manu Idhra (Portugal) in India and in Europe. Performing my DJ set in Berlin for the first time. All these gigs really gave me an insight into how people react to different sounds and I ended up unlocking certain processes in my mind that made me a better performer with a deeper understanding of my environment. Just seeing the audience react taught me how to navigate a dance floor in different situations. I am so grateful for these experiences.
These moments are the ones that gave me the fuel to go back into the studio and make better music. I am still inspired by these moments even today!
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Yes, intermittent fasting is one technique to enter into that focused state of mind for creating music. When you fast for the first three days, you will not be able to get into a creative flow. But after 3 days, you will get into an amazing state of mind. Your creativity will start flowing like never before. Its crazy to see how this works.
Meditation at regular intervals during the day is also a great technique. Splashing water a few times a day on your face and than meditating to break away from your thoughts is another way. This helps reset your brain before you enter the studio again.
Making music is spiritual activity in my opinion, as you have to go inward as I mentioned earlier. It’s a special experience and those who are lucky to have music in their life are truly blessed.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
We are often distracted by worldly affairs and are so busy just trying to survive that a lot of us don’t get time to appreciate the simple things in life. Spending time with family, surrounding oneself with nature, friendships, expressing our gratitude for just being alive. I feel that because of this modern life style, our hearts have become more numb than before and we have lost our sense of compassion, empathy and love. We only serve our own desires and as a result of this way of life, a lot of the younger generation are anxious and depressed. They feel alone as they are only connected to their ego mind which deals with the grind of life and are not connected with the wisdom mind which connects them to nature and everything around them leading to the ultimate source if creation.
Music and sound have been used and should be used more to help humanity to realign their hearts so that we can connect to what’s important. Sound healing is an area, which is super exciting and many people, are using it to put the listeners into deep states of meditation. For many centuries all religions have used sound to help people connect to God through their hearts. I feel our generation needs the most help and sound is definitely one of the elements that can aide in our overall healing. Any type of music that makes one feel the presence of something greater is the ultimate form of expression.
Sound and music are representations of the spectrum of human emotions so that’s why some sounds hurt as they come from darkness and some sounds soothe and heal as they come from light. Just like one should eat organic food and look after one's diet, one has to be careful as to what one listens to as sound is connected to the heart and the heart is the source of all emotions. We as a community have to use sound healing in as many ways possible to help people get over their traumas and feel as though they are connected with a higher source. Chakra Healing through sound and south baths are examples of this type of healing.
I feel that every city should have areas where people can just go and have the option to lye down and get a sound bath. Just how we have parks in every city, we should have sound baths where people go to heal and realign their chakras. You can have areas for each chakra. If I were mayor of a city, I would definitely implement this idea!
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
There are many examples of cultural appropriation, which has been done with lack of taste and understanding. Even well known artists can totally screw up and represent other cultures in a distasteful way.
I feel that most of the times artists don’t really do their homework when they take elements from other cultures. They don’t really know people from that culture. They have never visited that country. They have not collaborated with any musicians from that country. They probably just take some samples from sample libraries and sometime use these samples hastefully. The way to incorporate other cultural influences into your art is to study that culture, visit the country, and collaborate with musicians who are proper ambassadors of their instruments. However, taste is something that cannot be taught to music producers. It’s something that’s either there or not. Some people develop their taste over time but generally it’s a yes or no kind of thing.
Tasteful music producers can take samples from a common sample library and really make those samples sound unreal and full of character. In the end, if people create art that is distasteful, people will not react positively. So one should focus on integrity and authenticity when taking from other cultures.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
Our sense of hearing is connected with our sense of sight. Sound and light really go hand in hand. Visuals can really stimulate a music performance and enhance what we are hearing. However, too many visuals can also sometimes distract the listener from the sound.
From my own personal experience, I know that when I really want to have a deep listening experience, I will just stare at one point and keep listening to music without changing what I am looking at. This helps me to listen to it with more clarity. It creates a contrast effect and it works. So one can say that the presence and absence of light can affect the way we listen to sound.
Smell can also add to the equation. If you have a club that stinks of armpits, you will not want to stand there, no matter how good the music is. Taste is not so important when you are on a dance floor as no one is eating, but if you in a restaurant, than having good background music can enhance your taste buds ad your food will be more delicious. Touch can also play a role. If you at a music concert with a loved one and both people are being tactile with each other, then the entire experience is heightened.
So all the senses are connected and that’s why its very important for concert organizers to have a good sound system, make the venue look good, have the right lighting, have incense and essential oils, have a good group of people that can connect with each other and also have good drinks to enjoy. In the end it at all adds up!!
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I feel that music breaks all boundaries and make you realize that humans are pretty much all the same, no matter what background, religion, country or sexual orientation that they come from. We all just want to be happy and avoid suffering of any kind. Dance music is a like a religion for me as it really make you feel as though you are having an collective experience and this feeling stays with you even after the night is over. You look forward to the next moment of togetherness and one feels like they let some steam off, which is so important as we live in a world full of stress and anxiety that comes from our jobs and other aspects of our lives.
These experiences of union make you look around you at your governments and establishments and question them as these institutions don’t seem to understand that the human conflict is not with each other but is within. The way the world is going it just seems like we are headed for a nuclear war soon and this is very scary and it will impact our planet in such a negative way.
Today people are so polarized and judgemental of each other’s religion and ethnicity that it shocks me to see that these values still exist in society today. This makes me think that music and art have projected me to a space, which is more advanced in terms of its values, and is an example for people to look up to. It’s a sacred space where everyone is in it for a great musical experience of togetherness and union. However the outer world is still far behind and is dealing with very basic values, which still need to be refined.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
As I said before, music represents the entire spectrum of emotions that humans go through. There are sounds for each emotion out there. Words don’t have musical notation so they cant always penetrate the heart and arouse a feeling like music does.
In my personal opinion, life is a symbol of the creator and music is a reflection of that creation so that’s why they say there is no life without music and sound. Death is the end of the symphony and no one knows what lies next!