It’s been quite some time since I had the time to write a few words. Of course, motherhood has been blissfully kicking my ass these last 6 months and Samiyah has slowly been teaching me the virtues of patience. Though not a surprise, everything else in life seems insignificant compared to the well-being of my baby girl. Still, I wasn’t fully prepared for how much of my life I would quickly change to accommodate this angel. Lack of sleep, quiet time, alone time, time with my instruments, time with my friends…these past 6 months have tested every fiber in my being about the Ego. Can I let it all go for something much larger then myself? I have come to learn that this larger gift is the experience of unconditional love.
Life is beginning to just now resettle into a new rhythm that has space again for other joys. We’ve moved and in our new space comes a dedicated music studio. I look forward to stealing moments there again now that we’ve managed to get Mia to sleep through the nights. Of all the promises I’ve made to myself, nothing seems more important than the one I made when she was born – to commit my life to her in every way I can, including teaching her what it means to have passion and to dedicate yourself to something, to fight for the time to soak yourself in it.
I want Mia to know that anything worth anything in life is the thing that takes a lifetime of pursuit and exploration, the path you’re willing to spend quiet, intimate time with late at night while the rest of the world is sleeping so you can understand just a little bit more about it and your place on it.
So this is Next…balance again where music, love, motherhood, art, creativity, joy, friendship, family, inspiration all have their place in my heart and my day-to-day life for myself and for Mia.
Very happy to announce that SoulAvenue and I landed one of our tracks – Here We Go (Ehru Blues Mix) – on the latest Buddha Bar compilation and this one was remixed by DJ Ravin. The album’s slated to release April 6! Hope you enjoy!
I wanted to share you a new song that I worked on with SoulAvenue, the same producer who remixed Wildflower World. This is on his new album. Do let me know your thoughts! We’ve named it One by One.
Not long ago, I sat down with DJ Mason of Below Zero Beats to chat about music, life and things that move us. Mason played the interview on the show last month, but was kind enough to send me the file so I could share it again with all of you. So here we are. Me, Mason and Music.
I sit here staring blankly at a blank piece of paper, but for the faded blue lines that help me write straight across the page. My task is simple – to come up with 8 lines which when all said and done will make up 2 versus of a song. This canvas stares back at me pushing me to find poetry in explaining one word: Truth.
Word association games leave me with new words: fear, danger, strength, courage, compassion. Are these not some of the most complex human emotions? And what I have is 8 lines. I will massage the words and hopefully find poetry.
Arabian…thank you for your patience.
Serendipitously, Jesse took me to a Reason event back in February. This peculiar, hidden soiree of music tech geeks was an adventure for me as one of the only female music producers present at the event. But it’s typical in the world of musicians and gear – women are generally the minority and certainly so in that hip hangar of the Santa Monica Airport.
When I arrived, I was early or everyone else was late – so I quickly stuck out my hand to the closest guy standing next to me and introduced myself. He said his name was Arabian. Well, I got Sheik for a last name so figured we might have something to talk about. Mostly, I did the talking. For 30 minutes, I went off about water rights and its cut-throat, dirty politics throughout history and the plight of the Palestinian people. And since Arabian has an understanding of just how dirty this world can be, he listened – though he quickly admitted to me that he’s an avid golf player and probably couldn’t say much about water rights. I forgave him, partly because I figured I could slowly convince him to be more water mindful if we ended up becoming friends and I had more opportunities to harangue him on the topic.
Typically, I forgot I was at a music event until Arabian asked the right question in such a setting, “So what kind of music do you do?” After replying “World Dance Music”, he said, “Well, I’m the guy you should know if you’re into dance music.” I’ve been in this business long enough to know that they ALL say that. Not one to be too quick to judge…(clearing of throat here)…I handed him my CD and asked him about his musical journey.
Turns out, Arabian could in fact school me on music and after 3 days in a studio with him, I’ve had the privilege of getting some music history lessons – particularly on electro-funk. See, Arabian produced a little track called Supersonic for J. J. Fad back in the day and was a founding member of a little group some folks like to call NWA. So who knew? Sweet, folk songwriter who got her start in a gay bar in San Francisco would one day be working on dance tracks with her new friend, Arabian Prince. But then, didn’t we always figure it would turn out this way? Arabian and the Sheik.
It’s official. On a rainy day in February, the band joined forces in cubby surrounded by every drum imaginable, courtesty of Michael. With a timed heater on, we set out to write the new album – at least sketch a few ideas.
The world is on our mind – liberation, sexy politics – these are the words that swam through the air. Playful we were but I felt shy at the first time creating in a collaborative world. These are how artists learn to trust – one session at a time. Swirling around what’s floating in our minds – hoping to come up with the next piercing moment to change the world – one song at a time. Jesse show us his version of the process below.
Harpal and I finally made our way to Seattle last weekend. We had a chance to visit Natasha, my dear friend and publicist, and a bunch of our old friends from my time in San Francisco. It was heart-warming to be with all of them. They have been there from the beginning of my musical journey, from the days I started as weekly regular at the Lush Lounge in San Fran. Very healing. Very sweet.
We started our weekend catching up in Natasha’s condo and on Saturday, we made our way to Solomani’s before dinner. A guitar magically appeared – courtesy of Munira. What soon followed was an impromptu performance of Wildflower World. Hope you enjoy.
p.s. The update on the third album…we’re having production meeting #2 on Sunday, November 2. Me, Michael and Jesse. I still need to decide what this album will be about…Journaling abounds.
With less than 6 months between me and REVOLUTION’s release, my musicians, Michael Duffy (drums/percussion) and Jesse Stern (bass, keys, percussion) have officially gotten on my case about starting album #3. I have yet to recover from the emotion ride that birthing an album involves, yet Michael has challenged me to find another set of passions to express. I’m thankful though that this time, I’ll have them as partners in crime to create the music collabaratively.
What would album #3 be about? I’ve taken to carrying around my journal with me everywhere again. Perhaps the answers will begin to emerge in the quiet moments I share with pen and paper observing the world.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying friends and family, creating remixes with Soul Blender, meeting new people and taking the next steps for building Azadi’s catalogue and exposing it to more and more people. Many thanks to Dave’s Lounge for featuring my track “In You” alongside Thievery Corporation on podcast #127. It was a high moment in my career thus far.
Last Sunday, I had a chance to chill with my friend and fellow Producer – Raoul Juneja – aka Deejay Ra. A bit of coffee, a bit of conversation and most of all, good laughs about music and life. Can’t get much better than that. Ra…good times, good times.
p.s. USC fans…Harpal went there. I have two words for you…GO BEARS!!!
This past weekend in London has been filled with long chats with two musicians I deeply admire. DJ Swami and Nitin Sawhney.
Swami and I go back a few years and he melted my heart yesterday when said, “consider me and my family your family here in London.” I spent Sunday afternoon with his wife and two children at Hampstead Heath, a sprawling Victorian park in inner London. Four years ago, I met Swami and after taking a listen to Rock Candy, he told me that next time I should just do the album by myself. As we sipped tea like proper British people, he asked me if I really self-produced REVOLUTION. My response: “You told me to!”
He stared back and said, “You really listen to us when we tell you something.” I trust Swami and his musical ear/advice. If he says something, I’ll listen. His wife backed me up. “I definitely remember you telling her to do the next album by herself.” He was a bit in shock and also happy in a way a big brother can be. I listened and I think he was proud that I as an Indian woman tackled the hairy world of production. Not too many of us floating around. Still, the constructive feedback followed. Again, I listened. I hope to make him proud again on the next album.
The day before, I spent the afternoon with Nitin Sawhney in his studio. We listened to tracks from his upcoming album. I shared songs from my album. His positive and constructive feedback followed. I am humbled that these guys care enough to spend the time to offer me advice.
After music talk, Nitin and I grabbed a drink at a local pub and talked politics. I love it when musicians get together and talk about the world. There is no shortage of rebellion and skeptism charging through the air. Noam Chomsky and “common sense” are often used in a sentence together.
The weekend was sweet and enlightening, but most of all, inspiring. Travel has a way of refueling the soul. Songs are emerging from within. I can feel it.
When I got back to my computer this morning, had a gift waiting from Yuriyi. He’s made a chillout mix and included the new Wildflower World Remix by Soul Avenue.
Enjoy, enjoy! More news from London in a bit…also, check the Ashanti Omkar post. My show with her is live on their site!