Friday, June 19, 2020

Craig Padilla

Music is the language of the Universe. It can be created with nature, and with man-made instruments. It can speak to the soul. It can tell a story. And all music is a part of history that gets preserved once it's recorded.  Music is vibrations of frequencies which stimulate the senses in all living things. "Listening" is both a proactive and a subconscious act of being in tune with sonic vibrations emanating around and within us.

My task as a composer is to make a musical story that I would want to hear and feel, and have that energy pass along to the listener. I've been playing guitar all of my life. The moment I had first heard Jean-Michel Jarre's "Oxygene" album in a local planetarium during a high school field trip, I decided that I wanted to make music like that.

My advice to artists is "Never give up. Never stop creating."  If you want something bad enough, and you're really passionate about it, then it's possible to manifest whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish. It is the Law of Attraction.  My other advice is "Listen to constructive criticism." Criticism can be good and bad. If it's constructive then there is something that an artist may be able to learn to better their craft.

There have been many occasions when I've suddenly awakened in the middle of the night with a melody stuck in my head. I've had to get out of bed and go into the music studio to record the idea so that I wouldn't forget it later. When creative inspiration hits me, I must act on it immediately. It feels like it's a part of my DNA.

Howard Givens and I continue to grow as a musical duo every time we create music, both solo and as a duo. This new album evolved from our personal journey of music, which is based on our appreciation of the way we have been experiencing the perception of consciousness. This is "The Bodhi Mantra": Bodhi is a Sanskrit name translated as "enlightenment" or "awakening" which relates to a Buddhist concept, wherein Bodhi is synonymous with the state of nirvana, being freed from hate, greed and ego. We represented this idea in the music by making it sound warm and peaceful; hypnotic and uplifting.

When I created "Vostok" in 2001, I had no intention on releasing it because I was making upbeat music at the time. However, I had sent a copy of it to a music reviewer who really enjoyed it, and he suggested that I send it to Spotted Peccary Music. I was not familiar with the label at the time, but I thought I'd reach out to them. Once they heard "Vostok", they were interested in releasing it, as well as future albums. I was also attracted by the positive and creative energy from Howard Givens and Deborah Martin, and by the high quality of music that was (and still is) being released on their label. I feel honored to be included on their roster.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020


Music, for me, has become a way of life. I write most days, and in fact, it is a chief pastime. That being said, I can’t be sure how the lightning of ideas strikes the inorganic molecule and brings it life. Inspiration remains a mystery. I can suggest that it has helped a great deal to follow my instincts and intuitions, given that they tend to take my music into more fruitful and less-predictable places.

It has been said that all music is rhythm, or percussion. If this is true, then I hope to help musicians and listeners alike realize that they can be free of militant or precise rhythms, as I feel that the West has a sort of craze with rhythmic precision that is far from ideal.

I would add music as a virtue that tends to be human. And I want to add that I love music, even traditional music, and would suggest to no one that they throw out their recordings. What generative enables us to see is that humans can also systematically PLAN music, in some ways. In other words, we can enable the computer certain possibilities, which it then enacts-- and often, then, we can and do curate the results.

That being said, music remains a mystery in many ways. Especially interesting to me are the ways that certain tones sound good together, and the existence of harmonics-- a documented phenomenon that shows what happens as key frequencies unite.

The act of listening-- we open our ears, and invite music into our minds. We allow it to create its effects. And I feel that we can open our ears and minds more or less according to our inclination(s). For example, Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy” makes me weep with emotion every time I listen closely, so I tend to avoid listening to it except for at certain times.

I try to amass a substantially-sized batch of sounds that I think will work together. These have to be iterable-- they have to work with themselves and one another, in pretty much any combination. It is helpful, for example, if they are already in tune with one another, and don’t contain sonic elements that are silly or offensive or might stick out from the rest. The second level happens with each track, and that is where I use my Python to index the larger set and randomly make extractions from it, then treating the extractions in ways that make them more musical in a loop-based mixing context.

Q How did your own parents introduce music to you growing up?

They were great lovers of music. They played their records all of the time, including especially The Beatles and The Beach Boys. My father was, secretly, very talented, and could play banjo, ukelele and piano. I always imagined he could have become a musician, if he had wanted.

Q If a youngster was interested in making music, how would you advise her?

I am afraid the good old, it’s going to take a number of years and please stick with it, remains the best advice. It might be some time before the music even feels personal or relevant. Stick with it, and sooner or later, I believe it will. And as a young person makes the music more and more their own, so do they progress, until their relationship with music becomes an impassioned commitment.

Q How would you explain your creative process to a youngster who is curious about life's possibilities?

There will be times, I would suggest, when life seems to restrict a person, to limit their range of choices. I would reassure the young person that music, and art, in general, have a way of re-opening these closed pathways, and restoring creativity and free expression to one’s life.

Q There is a river in Russia, the Yenisei (which is sometimes spelled Yenisey) does this have anything to do with your album title, Yenisei Crossing?

The river “Yenisei” is part of “Yenisei Crossing”, which alludes to a crossing of that river. Why a remote part of Russia? I have had a series of dreams of varying clarity in which I live in primitive Siberia, eking out a living on the chilly plains. Siberians would know about the Yenisei-- where it is located and its resources.

Q What is the story of the creation of your album Yenisei Crossing?

At the time, a lot was going on with me creatively. I had been working on a series of Python applications that enabled my processor to, mainly, choose a body of samples, treat them in any of certain ways, and then map them out on a live looping console. I could get some unexpected and really interesting loop-based compositions this way.

The first immediate advantage was that I did not have to spend hours preparing loops for mixing. The Python code took that task out of my hands. Nor did I have to rely on my own rather specific and perhaps predictable choices. The random functions available to me put sounds together in ways I would not have predicted. Sometimes the result was unlistenable, but more often than not it was intriguing, to say the least.

Pursuing coded music has become a sort of dream-escape for me, or pastime. Like my nocturnal visions of Siberia, they took me places I never thought I would experience.

Q What is it about the sound that attracts you to your unique work?

All I can say is that I like what certain music(s) do to my mind. And I am amazed at the chance to help others feel the same way.

Q What would you like to try that you have not tried yet?

It certainly would be a thrill to have a church’s pipe organ to play.

Q Where do you dream of going? (vacation, tour, exploration, by time machine, etc.)

Portland is already a favorite destination, though my wife and I have only been once. We actually plan to move there when we retire. I like the idea of setting down that close to the Pacific Ocean.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Ben Cox

I think music is particularly interesting because it is temporal. You can read at whatever speed you want. You can look at sculpture or paintings at your own pace. You can watch movies (or video of theatre) at a different speed and still get the gist. Music (including opera) is experienced at a specific speed which is part of the experience.

I’ve been making music with electronics since I was about 12. It’s something I can’t not do. My previous album came out in 2005, and although I never stopped making music in the interim, I didn’t dedicate as much time toward my own music as I felt was necessary to come up with results that I was happy with sharing, other than a few tracks here and there that I was happy with. Much of my musical efforts over the past 15 years or so have been toward mastering other people’s music (see discography here). I decided it was time to come back out of hibernation and put together a (small) collection of tracks that I could be happy with presenting as an album; this is the result.

I know that I am conscious. You know that you are conscious. This knowledge is itself consciousness. I know that you are conscious (and vice versa) because you and I know that we are the same sort of thing, and because we observe behaviors in each other that are consistent with our own experience of consciousness. And thus, (most of us) conclude by induction that others are conscious, as we are.

Now consider a cat. A cat exhibits complex behaviors, and most people agree that cats are conscious (at least, for a few hours a day). The jury is still out on ants, though. Plankton? Probably not, except on SpongeBob.

But now let’s consider artificial intelligence. You and I can say “well we know Siri/Cortana/Bixby/Alexa aren’t conscious”;  we know how they work. Are they not conscious because we know how they work, or are they not conscious because their behaviors are insufficiently complex and we can explain them away? Science fiction abounds with robots and artificial intelligences with varying degrees of consciousness and recognition/acceptance of their consciousness (and their free will and their rights). (Maybe you can tell that my favorite literary genre is SciFi and my favorite writers are Asimov, Banks and Clarke?)

What about the in-between areas, where (when?) we have robots which (a) we know and can explain how they work and how they make decisions, and yet (b) exhibit behavior that’s complex enough that we can’t explain all of the factors that went into a given course of action? (We already have enough trouble auditing/debugging convolutional neural networks.) I would say that if a system exhibits behavior that we can’t tell whether is conscious or not, then it is morally imperative that we treat it as though it is conscious, and recognize its rights accordingly. If we turn that back around, can we prove that we are conscious?

My position is that it doesn’t matter. Consciousness is a red herring; it is a property that we can’t define, and can only implicitly/indirectly observe. It is an illusion; a trick of the light.

I’m attracted to mythology and folklore in general, not exclusively Egyptian. I think it’s actually part of my fascination with consciousness, as the archetypes that are explored in myth tend to be similar across cultures and may have origins that predate the emergence of humans. As a teenager, I was completely captivated by The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes, and although I understand that current science rejects some of his ideas, I found them fascinating and inspiring.

I was born in Cleveland and grew up in Northwest Indiana. I went to college in Illinois, and then came to Pittsburgh for grad school. I liked it here, so I stayed. I currently live in the Strip District right outside of “dahntahn” Pittsburgh. I have a reasonably short commute, which has gotten even shorter over the last six weeks. (I lived in the north suburbs and had a long commute for 10 years, which influenced my decision to go work on autonomous vehicles from 2015-2019, though I’m now back out of that industry.)

I think my interest in drones is explicitly linked to growing up in the Midwest where you can look off into the distance on a hazy summer day and just get lost in thought for hours on end. Some of the drones I make are explicit attempts to capture aspects of “The Hum.”

As a kid, I was very interested in listening to the LPs we had at the house, which included Switched-On Bach and Rumours and The White Album, along with some rock classics like ZZ Top Tres Hombres and Tejas. In school I was in all (ALL) of the bands and really loved a lot of the band and orchestral pieces we played, by people like Percy Grainger and Paul Hindemith. I was also a big fan of Claude Debussy, and Holst’s The Planets was huge for me as well. As a trumpet player, I was (am) pretty enamored of Live at Jimmy’s by Maynard Ferguson.

I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, so the Foellinger Great Hall at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts is pretty high on that list. It’s a gorgeous venue, which I got to know as an audience member and as a member of the University recording staff. I’ve seen hundreds of concerts in that hall, including the Chicago Symphony.

Another highlight was performing The Pines of Rome in a brass ensemble consisting of hundreds of high school and college students at Butler University in Indianapolis. I still get chills for that piece of music.

On the other end of the spectrum, there used to be a little cafe in Urbana called The Nature’s Table which was about 400 square feet with maybe five tables, that used to be jam-packed for live jazz combo music (many featuring university faculty) several nights a week until 3am or so.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

John Gregorius

I think what drew and still draws me to instrumental music is the mystery. It's a spiritual thing, it's an awe inspiring thing that 12 notes can produce something that moves us so deeply. Music has often been used as a product but in it's purest sense it's the connection with something bigger, something beyond our understanding.
It's sort of like breathing, it's just something I love to do. If prayer is simply talking, connecting and or listening to God, then while creating, recording or "painting" the music, being awake to this conversation or simply being awake to the divine presence is how music can become prayer. Instead of getting lost in the mechanics, get lost in the present, listening and speaking.
Through my years of playing with pop bands and many other times in life, I tried to make or play the music I thought people wanted. It wasn’t until I started making the music that honestly moved me that “success” happened.  Now, success often doesn’t mean money or huge numbers of people listening. Remember Van Gogh only sold 2 painting in his lifetime. Yet, there are stories of people playing my music through tough times and they found healing in it.  Now, that’s success! I say this to you and to myself. I’m constantly questioning the worth of my music and why I work so hard to make it. This has to be the answer. I make music because I love making music. If one person benefits, then it’s worth it. There’s a poem by Emily Dickinson called not in vain which speaks to this perfectly.
 If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

My music comes from the desire for communion.  It can be deep or distant or mysterious and at times it’s a struggle but much of the time it’s a space of being home or grounded. For me, I cannot be content without a close, honest and prayerful connection with our Loving God. I think this comes out in the music.  On Heaven and Earth you hear a specific spiritual space compared to Still Voice which was a deeper time of searching of both God and who I was. Full of life is simply letting Joy and Mystery flow together, discovering spiritual connection in nature and love. 
The most beautiful place I performed in was St. John’s Episcopal Church in Rancho Santa Margarita.  The cathedral’s acoustics were amazing and was filled with natural light. It was a deep spiritual space which felt much like being up in the mountains with a breeze blowing through the trees.   
I would say that I come up with my best ideas by either sitting in a quiet room with a guitar, looper and reverb or out in nature.  We were able to get a home on the east side of Tucson. We are only 2 miles away from Saguaro National Park west which is home to the Rincon Mountains.  It’s a place we often hike. We often watch the evening light change these mountains to an amazing pink color. 
For Full of Life especially, I've been influenced by the Sonoran desert of Tucson. There is so much life that thrives in the many seasons here. We have a fairly short monsoon season in the middle of the hottest time of summer which nourishes the plants and animals through the year. The Saguaro cactus somehow thrives in the environment and can live up to 200 years. The spring is full of colorful flowers and creeks running from snow run off. It snowed a winter back and it was amazing to see snow falling on the cacti. So there is this great mystery of life in the desert. Maybe this is why mystics and monks have found deep spiritual life in the desert.
It usually starts with one or two chords or arpeggio. Then, I add harmony which moves it the way I'm feeling it should go. Sometimes I start out looking for a certain space, like slower repetition or maybe a bit more complex solo piece. I've been inspired by using different tunings. For Full of Life, I used Robert Fripp's New Standard Tuning which brought new ideas and ways of approaching the guitar and writing.
Much of the music is "written" on acoustic with a looper to either create atmosphere or second and third parts or melodies. Solos are improvised but I do this sparingly. The more ambient pieces like "Rincon Fading Light" are at least begun with improvisation. From there I work intuitively with layers, atmospheres and melodies.
I’m very interested in music as prayer.  Does that mean a more stripped down, solo performance kind of recording or a simple prayer without ceasing approach to production? Maybe it’s a entire record where the listener can sit in a prayerful space? I’m not sure yet, but I’m excited and inspired right now to keep creating.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Chris Russell

Nature is a big inspiration for the art I create. I love to go hiking, going into nature, recharging my creative battery. I feel like I am trying to bring the energy from the forest back into the studio. Inspiration is all around. You have to slow down and observe. I paint a picture in the mind's eye with sounds, all my tracks usually are, multiple takes stacked together with no composition or planning, for me my music is a mixed media collage that comes to life.

One reason I make Ambient music is to peer behind the veil, as an attempt to explore other realities. I love to go out at night stargazing, staring into the black void on a dark night far away from the light pollution of the city. My music is all about the vast expanse, other dimensions, paranormal, sci-fi themes. Sometimes I imagine that this music is what aliens would like to listen to, riding in their UFOs!

My Dad was a big believer in spiritualism, UFOs, Cryptids and Government Conspiracies, I have seen and experienced things most people have no grasp on. That all influences my deeper dive into creating soundscapes. I feel this is music for the future, I like to think I'm making it for a coming golden age.

I was baptized and raised a Catholic and now I feel like I have an even deeper spiritual level, I do not follow religious dogma, my church is the forest, nature.

I was born in the Peoria, Illinois area and currently live in LaSalle, Illinois with my wife Megan and our two cats Leo and Lulu. I spent about ten years playing and exploring electronic music in my bedroom, not being too serious. My first music released to the public was on and then later Myspace Music. MySpace got me in touch with other ambient musicians and helped me get my first record deal on AtmoWorks. My first ambient electronic album I released was titled Aralu.

I started off with computer based music tools, as the technology evolves I get new plugins, that is what I dive into, I like to keep it all on my personal cutting edge. All my music is DIY (do it yourself), I have had no classes, I watched no YouTube tutorials, I had no training. It's all just what I have figured out for myself. I started in the early days with two boomboxes, keyboards and a drum machine, I would bounce recorded tracks back and forth to add layers, one box playing and the other recording. Then in 1999, I got a PC with Sound Forge, and another program called Acid, which I currently still use today.

I love collaborating, I wish to do it more, I always pick up new things working with other people. I believe a good collaboration is going somewhere you couldn't get to yourself. I just recently finished a collaborative album with Philip Wilkerson, that is a follow up to our 2014 release Vague Traces.

My most recent release, Destiny (on Spotted Peccary Music) on a personal level is my ten year celebration of releasing my own music, and is a celebration of taking the creative path less traveled that can be both challenging and rewarding.

Spotted Peccary Album page:
Spotted Peccary Artist Page:
Artist website:

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Hollan Holmes

Anyone, if they set their mind to it, can achieve their dream. Early in life, I did not see my potential, even though others saw it. Find your passion and pursue it with everything you've got. You will be surprised at what you can achieve. Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life.

We are what we tell ourselves we are, so that is why I try to always think positive and try every day to do my best. I fail more often than not, but I try to learn from it. I make my daily habits revolve around my art and music and my health, so that I can improve as a musician, a husband and a man. When I'm gone, I want to leave behind something that others can enjoy for a long time. If I just played video games and ate junk food all day, I wouldn't be leaving behind anything good. I think that doing something – anything – that requires creative thinking is vital to our happiness, even when (or especially when?) it requires struggle and practice. It teaches us discipline, perseverance, dedication and the value of hard work. Nothing good ever came from being a couch potato!

I would stress the importance of experimenting. Exploring sound and sound relations. Ideas often come from being inspired by music you love. Maybe NASA and all their achievements inspire you. Maybe a video game soundtrack moves you to create your own compositions. Do not copy, do not steal, but let the work and actions of others inspire your own ideas and influence your explorations. Experimentation is a huge part of what I do, both in music and art.

Sound design is something that makes up half of my interest in all of my musical endeavors. It's very important to my overall music making experience. Eric Persing and Richard Devine are among my favorites. Joel Thomas Zimmerman (Deadmau5) comes to mind, as well. They're an inspiration, because they create sounds that are original, very unique and very emotive.

While I love my Texas, I do not love her heat. I'm definitely wired for cold weather. I guess my dream home would be somewhere in Western Wyoming or Eastern Idaho. I have a thing for mountains and clear rivers. Both are deeply inspiring and peaceful places. Maybe I would spend Winters in Southern Utah, Arizona and West Texas. The Desert Southwest is crazy beautiful to me.

Music was always on in my house, growing up. My dad loved Country & Western. He was actually pretty good with his harmonicas and accordion.  My mom loved a lot of contemporary music during the 60s, 70s and 80s, like Burt Bacharach, Chicago and Roberta Flack. My sister loved pop, like the Beatles, Elton John, Jim Croce, The Eagles, Bread, etc. I was exposed to a staggering variety of music growing up. All of it was important in finding my own interests.

In the last few years, we've seen an explosion in software synth technology. The main attraction is that they're very cheap when compared to their hardware based counterparts. However, it's so much more fun to play with hardware synthesizers, especially the modulars, because they're tactile; you can touch them. Physically twisting a knob is so much more more fun than pushing a mouse around on a computer screen. Each realm has their advantages and disadvantages. The old vintage modulars were problematic, they would drift out of tune and you couldn't save patches. Software synths pretty much eliminate those drawbacks.

I was born in Dallas, Texas. From there I moved to Wichita Falls, then Abilene, then to my current location of Euless, so I've been in Texas all my life. The land is what inspires me the most. I love the Hill Country of Central Texas, but I find most of my inspiration in the rugged lands of West Texas. While West Texas may seem more connected to Country and Western music, I think there is a connection between that land and more electronic based sounds.

The possibilities are endless. It's about how the land makes me feel.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Sangeeta Kaur

The hope of the hopeless

I don't tend to follow the news so much just because it is just so heavy. I hear it through my husband, he does follow it. We know there is so much tragedy out there, all things imaginable, and yet sometimes it does not seem real because we are not experiencing it first hand or seeing it right in front of us. Some things that pop out though, with the teens and the children and all of these things that are happening in schools, violence and shootings, and depression, suicide, its just unreal, it feels like "how did we get to this place? what is driving our youth to this place of such deep suffering, what are we doing wrong?"

It is not their fault, especially the young ones, they are just born into this world. They are shown what they
are shown, they have the life that they have. Some are less fortunate than others, some may have some
emotional imbalance. We need to really give more attention to the youth and their internal struggles, and
look at what we are doing as adults in our society that is for children. It was really hitting me hard, thinking
we just can't continue like this. The album COMPASSION came from that place, caring for others, looking
out for our children, looking out for the youth. For me, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is someone very special,
everything for him is about love and compassion. Just recently he had announced this new program where
they want to bring curriculum into the schools called Seeing Learning ( where
they can teach about compassion, and empathy, and relationships with one another, teaching how to
communicate to one another, understanding our feelings. You know, this whole new curriculum for some
schools being added, teaching kids to connect to their feelings, and to other kids with feelings, and you
know we really need that!

We are teaching our kids math and science and technology and history and all of that, but we are not teaching them to connect to who they are, and to each other. We are not teaching them compassion. And that is actually human nature, we want to connect. So this album really reflects all of these ideas and feelings that I had for a long time and it was really a dedication to His Holiness and the dedication and the work that he is doing, and to all people, all beings. Just trying to collect more of that into our consciousness.

Music is the connection to the source, it is the sound vibration, it is the direct connection to source, the direct connection to God, the direct connection to your higher self. It is the sweetness in everything. It is like dessert after dinner (laughter), music is sweetness!

For me what it means to be an artist really finding what your message is, and in the beginning when we are so young we are just creating something innate, something natural just happens, you kind of go with what you are loving and feeling connected to. For me when I was younger I just loved music, I just loved it! I was drawn to it and I loved the human voice, I loved hearing all the nuances of what the voice does to create such beauty. Eventually I felt like I can see the mechanism inside the body, the throat and the mouth and the breath. For me that was something I became very fascinated with. As I grew up and had my own life experiences, and went through all that I went through, when I finally kind of woke up and had a stronger consciousness I knew that being an artist was a huge responsibility, if I wanted to take it seriously and really go forth with it, because as we see music, visuals, film, all of these sensory stimulating things, it is powerful. It affects our emotions, our thoughts, our ideas about beings, we are so sensitive to all of these. Being an artist is a big responsibility. What we decide to put out in the world will somehow affect one person, or many people. I really try to be clear about what my message is, and really focus on having an impactful message, one that can really affect someone positively, bring some light into their world, inspiration, upliftment. That is just MY goal in the work that I do. As an artist I feel like when we get to that point we ask ourselves what is our message, what do we want to say to the world and ask ourselves does our message help others? And if it doesn't, how do we feel about that? Is it just for us, or for others, and do we want to choose a message that will impact the world in a positive
way, because we have to know that it will impact at least just one person in this world that will hear it or see it or experience it. So, as an artist I think it is important just to really be responsible, and clear.

When I look back at my childhood there were no accidents, everything was perfection up to this point, all the positive aspects, all the negative aspects were all good at the end. I am Vietnamese and coming from a Vietnamese family, you don't, especially from my parent's generation, immigrating from Vietnam after the war, you know, their idea was not "Let's raise musician children." No, we need to have better foundations, stability, we don't want our children to suffer and struggle like we did, all out of love. But even though that was their feeling initially and for many years, when I was really young one day my dad came home from work, and he brought home a VHS and he said "Oh, my co-workers said that I should bring this home and let you kids watch this. His kids really loved it” He popped it in, and I must have been about six, and he pops it in and it was "The Sound of Music!" And you know, if my little soul came into this world to become a musician and a singer, then that was like heaven to my ears and heart and mind, I watched that VHS over and over nonstop for days and weeks and learned every song and every nuance and every gesture. I really absorbed that music, and it was the first time I heard the voice used in that way. I was so drawn to it, and I think that was really the beginning, the beginning of the whole world of music and discovery. From that point on I remember going to school and just wanting to sing and get people together to sing. I was probably trying to copy "The Sound of Music" with the kids. I asked my parents and enrolled in violin and singing and choir, since I was six years old through to adulthood, I was in and never left, I was so so so inspired by music. My parents thought "Oh, she just loves music, and it is one of her hobbies, great! At least she is happy, but she is going to be a doctor or a lawyer." And so I did, I went to college and I was a biology major and I was minoring in music, and I took voice lessons for the first time when I was 18, and my teacher looked at me and said "Look, you have something, if you really want to pursue it, it is one or the other." And so for a year I just kept minoring in music and then finally I couldn't resist it, I dropped out of biology and went straight into music, and my parents, you know it took them a while to really accept it. I ended up getting my master's degree in voice performance, and they finally said "Okay, this is what she wants to do." Now they are completely supportive and have been so happy and there is nothing else in the world that I should be doing, so it is all good! And it brought them joy, and it brought a lot of other people joy, they see that "she has been called to do it."

It is the hardest thing to do, to pursue a career in the arts.

I teach Yoga as well, I teach Kundalini Yoga, a very powerful practice, a very beautiful practice, life changing. It really changed my life and brought me a new perspective, it made things very clear to me. I could not NOT share it with others. So in the midst of the world of music I share Kundalini Yoga especially with the Vietnamese community since the last almost ten years now.

My father's side, they are Buddhists, my mother's side they are Catholic. Both sides are not just sort of dabbling in it, they are hard core in their beliefs and their practice. So honestly, I am really grateful for that because I grew up going to the temple on one day and then the church the next day. You know it is written and taught, it is really important that children up to the age of eleven are extremely sensitive and open, no matter what they choose in their adult life, whatever spirituality they choose it doesn't matter, as long as we nurture them in their young life, expose them to spirituality, open them up to it. I really had that growing up, I really didn't follow any of it at all until I became an adult, I didn't feel that it was really "it" yet, until I discovered Tibetan Buddhism. I remember sitting in my first meditation class, it was that moment when everything you are hearing, you have been trying to find those words to say, to explain, I really felt like I came home to something that my heart knew, my soul knew, it resonated so deeply, it made so much sense to me, and then I just could not stop wanting to learn more and more and more.

Sound Bath Meditation

Nowadays a sound bath is so popular, it is as available as a Yoga class now. It is the most healing, most beautiful experience. You basically are in a room, and lying down, and nowadays it has evolved a bit since a decade ago that I remember from when I first started going. Basically you are in a beautiful space, you are asked to relax and the instruments that can be used are gongs, from large sizes to small and it could be crystal singing bowls, Tibetan bowls, these beautiful sound creating instruments of all different shapes and sizes, even a vocalist can be there. The people who are playing these instruments are usually trained and they are hypersensitive to sound, creating sound therapy. When they play it, it is like a deep meditative experience, bringing these sounds to stimulate the cells of your body, your energy points, really bringing you to a state of neutrality and relaxation, and we know that when we come to that place of neutrality and relaxation things can actually move, energy can flow, balance can happen. Some of the scientific things are for example the gongs, we tend to use the pasi gongs, they are tuned to certain frequencies, a high frequency and low frequency. It is said that the sound of the gong is the replication of the sound of the universe. It is like our innate music, it is like the sound that our body and soul is vibrating in all the time. When we bring that sound onto planet earth, it is like we are coming home again, in that sound current, which really helps to release a lot of toxicity and stress in the body, it brings a lot of balance. It is a great thing if you have a busy life and you are super stressed, in a crazy environment all the time. Just surrender and let someone play these sounds for your body to heal, and your mind to heal. It is guided through sound, it does not have to have words, although if the practitioner decides to sing or make sound or say inspiring words. The human voice is an instrument in itself, and it can bring a lot of healing when the intention of the singer is in the right place and there is that purity.

Actually you will find a lot of recordings of the crystal singing bowls, you will find the gongs, you will find recordings of all sorts of sound elements. It still works, the frequency is much more powerful with it live, but with recordings the frequency is still there if it is recorded properly, and it still is very effective.

With my album Compassion I wanted to create that experience, it was inspired by "sound bath." That is why we brought in crystal singing bowls heard in a lot of the songs, it is very subtle but it does not need to be loud, just subtly there. I wanted to bring in a choir, and explore rhythmic elements and vocal sounds that are used for sound healing as well. So all the songs are basically created with the intent of making a sound bath with these elements of the voice and the crystal singing bowls. I feel really proud about the album, because it is my fourth album in the last four years. When I recorded Niguma, where Ardas Bhaee originated from, it was the first album I had recorded in four years, since my first solo album, Yoga is Love, I needed that break to develop more, to grow, to go deeper in my spiritual practice. It popped out four years later and now I am making an album a year, I can't stop. So for the last four albums, for me it felt like growing and finding a sound, finding my voice, finding the sonic feeling to it. With Compassion I feel like I arrived in a place that feels like home.

The video "Ardas Bhaee"

It is such a great space, the whole production was such a beautiful experience, with the collaborators, other composers, the orchestra, the choir, it was really really big and at the same time everyone who was on the production were amazing people, very kind, loving, talented, it was a fun and very rewarding experience. I feel like the sound, the music really reflects that, so I am really happy with it, it has gotten a lot of amazing reviews and several rewards already, and you know, just sitting with it now, and living with it, sharing it as much as possible, getting it out there, letting people experience it, has been great!