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.
Playful and poetic British vocalist and composer Joanna Wallfisch shirked the bus aspect of her latest West Coast tour in favor of a bike. The tour was aptly named The Great Song Cycle.
Joanna pushed through challenge and triumph while traversing the coast with only her body and two thin wheels propelling her forward; what transpired was a tour full of music made richer by the beautiful struggle Joanna intentionally created.
As you’ll discover in the following interview with this unique songstress, her journey was not passed through without contemplation and growth; it birthed it.
Why did you decide to pass on “traditional transport” in favor of a bike for this portion of your tour?
J: The main reason was freedom. Life on a bicycle is to be completely self-reliant and self-sufficient. I carried all that I needed for my multi-faceted month; my instruments, my home, my clothes, food, water, and myself. When traveling by car, train or plane one can easily forget that you have to carry yourself with you wherever you go. On a bike, you become so attuned to the body you live in and how mind, spirit and flesh can actually exist simultaneously together and also as separate entities. It was a complete thrill to know that the only way I was going to get from A to B was by the strength of my own body and mind…. Read more on Huff Post!
Illness and new life required Leslie Nachow’s attention flow from her music to her family after her acclaimed album Tenderland debuted in 1998. Now, eighteen years later Leslie has re-opened the gates to her creativity, and birthed her next album Balm for Gilead. Leslie wrote the songs for the album two weeks after her mother passed away, infusing it with authentic emotion and poignancy that makes a direct strike at the heart. There will be tears while listening to this album, but, as they trickle out, love will pour in.
Because Leslie is such a gifted writer, I wanted her to share, in her own poetic vernacular, what the journey from Tenderland to Balm for Gilead looked (and felt) like.
Bailey: The struggle of harmonizing the nourishment of creative needs with caring for loved ones is such a challenge, especially when one of your loved ones is ill. What was it like to set aside music to be the caretaker for both your mother and son? How did Emily support you through this transition?
When you have a baby it can be a struggle just to put on some pants and walk to the mail box. Well, Sarah Bowman and Rene Coal Burrell of the band Famous Octoberhad the baby, put on the pants and didn’t just make it to the mailbox, they went on tour for the “One Day Baby” album they also birthed. Sarah and Rene are a living testament to the fact that creative passions, career and parenthood can harmoniously coexist as they travel through the United States sharing their music and nurturing their young family.
I was able to get a glimpse into their journey thus far, and gleaned plenty of inspiration for my own journey through motherhood.
And sometimes, there are no words, just rockin’ toddler dance moves.
Music allowed me to hear the voice of my unborn baby.
During my pregnancy, I set the intention that my baby would offer me insights and answers via movement when we listened to music. I believed it was his opportunity to show me a glimpse into his soul.
Music also supported me in understanding and expressing (via my own movement) all the emotions I couldn’t actually verbalize to my baby (or to myself, sometimes). Each note sparked a new idea, question, or simple moment of appreciation for the being developing in my womb.
I would play reggae music as he moved back and forth across my mid-section. Some days I would try out 90’s hip-hop (I swear he would tap his foot to the rhythm). Classical music (the ultimate baby music cliché) just put him to sleep, no complaints.
His favorite music ended up being anything that made me dance. If I was shaking my bloated pregnancy booty it was (and still is) a good day for him; he’s down to shake along with me.
Oh, and we also listened to audio books. I had to drive a painful amount of time for work (four hours, three times a week). He slept through those audio books: Miranda’s dilemma about whether her Latin lover was actually murdering middle-aged art dealers in downtown Los Angeles really didn’t interest him.