We all live in a global community, consuming content from different parts of the world. As we educate ourselves about different cultures, we realize how important it is to revel in the beauty of diversity while attempting to unite people with the shared values of comparison and respect.
Joss Jaffe’s musical journey centres around the concept of unity. With a desire to unite people through spirit, love, joy, community and consciousness, Jaffe creates songs that invite the audience into “a space of spontaneous joy”.
Today, the artist is releasing the music video for “Gayatri (Robin Livingston Remix)”. The music video traces the life of a man who resolves to follow a bucket list that leads him to interact with different people and ultimately shows him what has kept him stationary for so long – loneliness.
Jaffe and Livingston’s collaboration has given a new life to the Gayatri chant. In an interview with CelebMix, Joss Jaffe discussed his new music video and the dream that motivates him to create his music. Check out the interview below:
Please tell our readers a bit about yourself.
I am a musician, composer and record producer. I perform as a vocalist, guitarist and tabla player (North Indian drums). My last 3 albums have been a series titled “Dub Mantra” merging Mantra (sacred chants) with different forms of Dub music, from reggae to electronic with Indian, African and world music elements.
As an artist and multi-instrumentalist, what initiated your interest in Indian classical music?
My parents introduced me to yoga, mantra chanting and meditation at a young age. My Mom was a yoga teacher and played mantra music in the house frequently. I began drumming for the “Satsangs” or gatherings where people would chant bhajans and sacred songs from India. From there I wanted to go deeper into the study of Raga (melody) and Tala (rhythm). I began studying at the Ali Akbar College of Music in 1998 at the age of 17 from master musicians Ali Akbar Khan (Sarode & Voice) and Swapan Chaudhuri (Tabla). It has been a life long study and I feel like I’m still just getting started! The musical tradition is so vast.
How did the association with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pandit Swapan Chaudhari begin and how has the journey been under their mentorship?
As I got deeper into the study of Indian Music during my teenage years all the signs were pointing to go and study with Ali Akbar Khan at his school in Marin County California. Many wonderful musicians had worked there such as Grammy nominated artists Jai Uttal and Silvia Nakkach. Since he was getting older I knew I wanted to learn as much as possible while I had the chance. I was fortunate to take so many classes at his school where Swapan Chauduri was the director of Tabla and percussion. For many years I took as many classes as possible! From 2009-2011 I took every class offered at the school. It was kind of like going to a music conservatory. I’m so grateful for the education I had and would recommend others to go there today and study with Ali Akbar Khan’s son Alam who is carrying the torch very well.
Even in India, classical music now has a niche specific audience. How do you perceive the audience’s response to the music? Also, what kinds of struggles/obstacles have you gone through to share your art?
To be clear, I don’t consider the music I am making to be Indian Classical Music. It is certainly inspired by elements of Raga and the instruments of tabla, sarode, dotar and bansuri can be heard in my songs. From this musical foundation I feel like different genres of music are accessible and can be influenced by an Indian Classical aesthetic.
Many kinds of music fall into niche genres and I feel the challenges of connecting with an audience are similar in any sub-genre. I think the best music really transcends genre and becomes relevant for people to play and listen to in their lives because they love it. Music is a story and you need to find a way to tell it to new audiences. There are lots of ways to do this: a new creative live show, touring to new parts of the world, networking with other artists and influencers, using channels of activity that are parallel to your genre such as yoga, fitness or surfing in my case, and of course great music videos!
Your music has been recognized by magazines and you have travelled the world to showcase it. We would like to know your perception of your music and the kind of message you’d like to convey to the audience.
For me music is an expression of love, peace and joy. When I am playing music and people are listening, singing and dancing along everyone feels love and happiness which transcends the experience of ordinary life and it’s challenges. Like Bob Marley said, “when the music hits you feel no pain!”
That is my message. For everyone to snap out of the doldrums of mundane experience and realize what a blessing and incredible moment we are sharing on planet Earth right now. Lets be inspired to make a better world for everyone to live together!
Please tell us about Gayatri (Robin Livingstone Remix).
This song is a remix of “Gayatri” from my last album Dub Mantra Sangha. It sort of takes up where the song lefts off with a four on the floor beat, an energizing rhodes pattern and a building bass line with exotic world music elements. From there it was a perfect opportunity to go into a purely dance realm with a deep house beat and lots of great colors from Robin who was the primary producer for MC Yogi’s original break out albums. He has a great aesthetic for this kind of music and it was a pleasure to work with him and make the song sound so nice!
The music video seems to show the importance of solidarity. How did you come up with the concept of the video? Is there symbolism behind the image of Racoon?
I have to give props to filmmaker Matthew Cobb for his great concept. Running a marathon while wearing an animal suit was his idea and I immediately loved it. It reminded me of something funny and light hearted like Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” or something out of Foster the People’s album covers. It was also a great followup to the animated music video for Ganesha which was hand drawn by the talented young animator Maureen Kuo who has since gone on to work on “BoJack Horseman” and “Tuca and Bertie.” I helped him develop the idea by having an epiphany moment, something that changed his perspective through helping others like in my music video for “Aloha.” I loved the acting by Jairo Cuevas, so expressive while inside a Racoon Suit! It makes me laugh every time.
We would love to know the creative process you go through to create your tracks?
My general rule is “there is no timeline.” But of course there always is a timeline and eventually you need to motivate. But I like the idea of letting the creativity sort of bubble up naturally over the course of going about your daily life. I always have a voice recorder or a pad and paper with me (napkin scribbling, back of grocery receipts) to capture the moment of creativity when it hits. It’s sort of like remembering a dream, if you don’t write it down quick it can escape and drift off back to wherever those magical ideas come from! The real trick is the follow through. It’s one thing to have a great idea but then you have to execute it. This is where the rubber meets the road. Scheduling, budget, planning, logistics, putting together a team. You have to land the creative spaceship somewhere in the physical world eventually!
Would you like to share with us your future projects or endeavours?
Yes! I’m very excited to be working on a totally different concept album. It is in a “Dream Pop” vein with lyrics in English and indie-pop-electro musical sound pallette. It’s really exciting and it’s been a challenge to put myself in a new artistic space. I look forward to sharing it with you!
Share your thoughts on the music video via tweet @CelebMix.