In these chaotic times I seek solace in music – music full of melodies that lull my mind into calm and encourage me to just take a freaking breath – music that will whisper a long “shh” in my mind’s ear.
So, I’m always on the prowl for “mind medicine” tunes, and scored when I found Shambhu, an artist whose website aptly describes him as an “intuitive new age guitarist” who creates “heartfelt relaxing music.”
I was intrigued by the consciousness, grace and calm woven into this album and was able to peek into the insightful mind, heart and spirit of Shambhu in the following interview.
Bailey Gaddis: How do you think your music can positively impact the collective consciousness, given the current political climate?
Shambhu: We can lift the collective consciousness by expressing love as the song of our lives. I play a heartfelt music founded in love and inspire listeners through my musical meditations and reflections. Soothe was recorded during the recent election as an aural antidote to a sour political climate. It is music I played to calm down and connect and I hope it has the same effect on you.
Bailey: Do you have a regular meditation practice? If so, do you believe it influences your music? And how?
Shambhu: Music expresses the feeling I want; meditation is the practice of attaining it. Meditation is fundamental to my music. I meditate daily, often very early in the morning, and I live the peacefulness of spirit. Meditation is an awesome practice for disciplining the mind, feeling the heart and finding the inner calm. Even 5-10 minutes of regular practice daily is helpful.
I’m mindful while recording and performing. Each song is created as a unique ‘consciousness’ – a destination born in silence, manifested in sound, and satisfied in the fullness of spirit. The songs on Soothe balance what a good friend described as ‘exquisite and impeccable’, and yet, ‘relaxed and comfortable.’ There is a heartfelt intention inside every note and touch. The music feels like a comfy slipper. Meditation is the key.
Bailey: I recently played your album while receiving a massage and it seemed to greatly enhance the experience. What are the most common situations and/or environments you hear people enjoy listening to this album during, or in?
Shambhu: And I listened back to Soothe recording sessions while on the massage table, as well! Paramahansa Yogananda wrote that Heaven is “behind the darkness of closed eyes, and the first gate that opens to it is your peace.” Massage carries the intention to relax and immerse in peaceful serenity. We breathe deep and release. We are clear in mind. My intention with music is recreate a meditation in sound, one that soothes the mind and inspires the heart. For Soothe, I played the guitar delicately with intricate expressions of nuance and subtlety. Some listeners call the experience of my music ‘magical’ and ‘opening a space within.’ Others feel a calm inside the songs – a sense, a mood or a feeling that helps listeners touch one’s own reflective place. For others, my songs are surfaces for reflection. Soothe works as a background for calming any moment. If you’re listening at home, work or at school, try listening behind other activities. Or listen to the album full on and enjoy the music and sound quality. There’s something in Soothe for everyone.
Bailey: What are the primary musical genres woven into Soothe?
Shambhu: I’m a former rock/jazz studio guitarist who trained at a New York City classical music conservatory. I began practicing meditation in my 20’s and lived for a few decades as a modern-day monk. A meditation student of note and friend at the time was guitarist Carlos Santana; we often played acoustic sets at meditations. He was already exploring the deep connection between his music and his soulful heart. It took me about 10 years to put it together. Over time, as my meditation practice advanced, my music evolved into a ‘new age’ / ‘contemporary instrumental’ genre. But, the jazz/rock studio guitarist is ever-present in all the songs.
Bailey: One track seemed to organically flow into another as I listened to this album, almost like it was one fluid track – was that intentional?
Shambhu: My music emerges intuitively. I hear songs inside. My creative process is to spontaneously play what I feel in any moment and record everything I play. I listen back later and find the songs. There is also a sense of Nature in the music. I observe the rhythm of Nature as a meditation. I spend time on Maui, Bali and other beautiful places where I feel my presence in the flowers and the stars and watch Nature unfold. The waves break randomly, wind blows through the palm trees, singing birds dart across the sky, flowers are abundant with gorgeous colors and fragrance. Was there ever a mistake in the rhythm and flow of Nature? Do we witness the grandeur and magnificence of Monument Valley or Grand Canyon and ask for a correction? Nature seems perfect as it is. I learned from Nature to trust the music that flows through me naturally and spontaneously. The songs flow similarly, one into the other, organically and naturally.
Bailey: What do you believe is your primary purpose for this album?
Shambhu: Aldous Huxley wrote, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” Heaven is within and my music is a canvas for conveying what that feels like to me. My purpose is to inspire and spread love, and my music is the realization of a journey I began years ago as a young monk. Maybe it’s my effort to compensate for driving forward the very technologies that are now disrupting our lives? I know that Soothe is my heaven on earth. May it also be yours!
To hear Shambhu’s music, check out his website ShambhuMusic.com
*This interview has been condensed.