An interview about the CD Atma Bhakti
The first four questions, and especially the first, are the most important to me: Are there any personal reflections or back-story on particular tracks, what inspired them, etc. - or reflections on the album overall?
Yes. I have been since early age around organized meditation groups, meditation camps, meditation techniques, discourses of sages, rituals, mantras for this, mantras for that… etc. So this music was born maybe as a personal growth out of this ‘structured spiritual path’ if I can say it somehow… Until not long ago I was living in a mystery school (kind of ashram) where I am not any more since 2 years… and the CD Atma Bhakti happened in a stage in which I discovered more the ‘silent’ approach to meditation or connection to God. Not listening to anyone or following any ritual or technique… simply ‘being’ in silence with myself got stronger as a way of prayer. So Atma Bhakti was born in that space, of self-encounter. Not wanting to become anything or achieve enlightenment, but just ‘being,’ flowing, letting happen. To acknowledge the presence of God and worship the Supreme, the Divine in a relaxed way, effortless. There’s a zen saying, “If is simple it’s right. If it’s right it’s simple.” Maybe that is the root of my own experience of connecting to the subtle world in a relaxed private way, at home, just sitting silently… I also thought like this the connection is more genuine. So this music is the bridge, and I wanted to share it.
A little more is explained by me on this subject, if you watch the video about “the making of Atma Bhakti” in youtube.
What do you draw inspiration from in your music and life?
The feeling and energy of love, the rhythm and noises of Indian streets, my love and interest for prayers of all different religions and cultures, contact with nature, the remembrance of my music teachers and the impact my spiritual gurus had in my being.
Another inspiration is the vision of protecting genuine Indian music using good compositions and good musicians – let me explain a little: in the name of ‘India,’ because ‘it sells’, there is so much trash music created that it is really an offense to Indian cultural music – anybody is nowadays launching mantra-music just to make money… So a motivation for me is to represent and keep the legitimate conception of this music and transmit it to those who are still capable to distinguish and appreciate – I don’t compromise with ‘marketing’. Indian music culture is very ancient and as such very complex… a western doing Indian music would have to live many, many years in India to understand it well, and in company of a Teacher - it’s not about taking music classes, it flows in the veins, in the heart, it’s a total different understanding. I constantly hear mantra singers who don’t even pronounce rightly the words in Sanskrit… or they have no clue about Indian music scales and ragas.
Is there anything in particular that you want people to know about you or your music, or anything else you’d like to share or see written about in the article?
My music is done from the heart, it is hundred percent genuine. I am not commercial in that sense. Sometimes I save amazing compositions for years until it’s the right time for me to focus on a particular piece, and then when they are ready to be recorded for an album. I am very detailed about everything in a musical piece: that it is balanced, that it has the right spices, the right ingredients – like a good Indian dish. Authenticity is key.
Also most of my music is conceived based on what I am going through in my life, my emotions, my experiences, being in love, etc. Like Atma Bhakti, it was born from my state of being, from the most silent stage of my life, an amazing inner growth period. I think that gives a lot of real feeling to the melodies, mood and the singing itself.
What led you to play music in this particular genre?
I think the genre of devotional music and mantras came from my path as spiritual seeker, I spent many years at Osho Meditation Resort in Puna playing music for meditation. Then as meditation coordinator in Osho Mystery School I was also in charge of the music – and my spiritual teacher, Gurudev, had a great musical sense and intuition, so he was a great inspiration. And of course I enjoy it, I love it.
But I cannot say my genre is only mantras or devotional music. I also sing, play and compose other styles, like Sufi, ghazals, classical music, folkloric music, love songs (in the ‘Boolywood music style’ direction.) My upcoming CD “Secret of Love” is a beautiful CD of love and life songs. So I am able to do different styles. Music in India is in the Being, in the Soul. It depends with whom one gathers to play… then different styles naturally come up.
Who were/ are your musical influences?
The first inspirations were the surroundings… as a kid in my house music gatherings were happening spontaneously every week. My mother, brother, uncle, etc. are great singers. Lots of musicians in the family. So it happened naturally. My mother sent me to tabla lessons when I was just a kid. From there, it all started. It’s in the blood and in the culture. Lots of festivals, dance shows, etc. also were happening in Gujarat (the state I am from) where music was always the ‘queen’ of the event.
My tabla teacher Ustad Allarakha was and still is a great inspiration - in tabla playing of course and as a being, an attitude. He was pure innocence and had such a loving energy.
Additionally, as a singer, Jagjit Singh was a very strong inspiration when I was younger… I admired him immensely and was listening to him all the time. Also some sufi musicians like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen. They are just amazing.
Also my spiritual teachers Osho and Gurudev had a big impact, from the inner to the outer music.
Finally I travelled a lot through India, and each place is an endless inspiration. Music is everywhere in completely different styles. India is an endless fountain of inspiration.
What are your musical goals in the future?
Continuing doing music as these last 30 years, share it, hope that people enjoy it and buy it! (since I live of music)… but not compromise… many musicians make promises of healing and wellbeing through their music. I never do this. This is up to the listener, not up to me. I can share my own experience, but each person is a different world, one cannot try to influence.