Spirit Voyage writer Ramdesh Kaur spoke with Snatam Kaur from her home in Santa Cruz recently. Warm and kind, here is Snatam’s take on her new band, the Redwoods video, her upcoming tour, and where she is now spiritually.
Ramdesh: Sat nam Snatam! Your new band in this video is amazing…how did it all come together?
Snatam: I’ve been playing with Ramesh for a couple of years, and I needed a guitar player to come with me to 11-11-11 in India [The 11-11-11 Kundalini Yoga and Music Festival in Rishikesh, put on by Spirit Voyage and Golden Bridge Yoga]. Ramesh has played with Todd Boston before, so we texted him “Do you want to come to India?” He replied “Yes!” (Funnily enough, we later found out he didn’t know who the text was from and had just answered spirit!) It was challenging for him as he had to learn 30 pieces in just a few days, but it went wonderfully.
I moved to Santa Cruz to create a home life for my family, so that we wouldn’t have to travel for rehearsal and recording all the time. We moved to the Bay Area in February. At that point, we knew we were going to play with Ramesh and Todd, and we were looking for an instrument like a cello or a bass to add lower tones. We decided to play with Matthew and he brought such a beautiful energy that we decided quickly he’d be a great 4th member. That’s kind of how it all came together.
[Snatam wanted to share her experiences working with her bandmates, and so she describes what she loves about working with them individually below.]
What I really enjoy about working with Todd is that he’s ready to go anywhere and do anything. He’s involved in a lot of service projects. Being with him and seeing that and being a part of some of the service projects is amazing. I really enjoy his guitar playing. As you can see in the video, it makes me dance! His energy is really positive and fun to work with.
He fits right in the pocket of the rhthym. There was no denying it. After years of a lot of touring, I’ve become really sensitive to that. And it was great to find someone who just fit right into the pocket and could hold the fort down, but who could also rock the house with a drum solo.
I’ve been really enjoying his cello playing. It has a beautiful tone, almost like a human voice. Some of it is the way he plays the cello, and its like someone is singing with me. He does a lot of creative things; he’s adding low tones and low base sounds that allow the music to really go somewhere. It’s been wonderful to have him join and be a part of the group.
Ramdesh: In this video and at Sat Nam Fest…you’re dancing! Where did the dance come from?
Snatam: One of these songs is Todd’s pieces that he composed, and I think its really beautiful. It makes me want to dance! I think music is really healing and dance is really healing, and I like to share that expression with people as well. Often in the past when I’ve been recording in the studio, I’m dancing around. When I listen to other people’s music, I’m dancing. I think I’ll be doing more of that, sharing it with people.
Ramdesh: It seems like you are just blossoming as a performer and a woman…so much is happening in your life. What is a recent highlight for you that sticks out as a precious moment?
Snatam: Recently in our new home, we set up a little family Gurdwara, a Sikh temple for people who don’t know that word. We play music (myself, my husband and daughter) and just enjoy that space together. I’ve been able to take more of the music that I share with people on tour and create more of that in my own home life. My daughter being a part of it as well is really fulfilling to me. It’s wonderful to experience that.
Ramdesh: In this video, the line “May the precious flowers of my devotion, blossom in the gardens of my heart” blows me away…where did this line come from?
Snatam: It comes from Singh Kaur’s song Beloved God. We’re thinking of recording it at some point, perhaps a live version. We were singing Mere Ram [from “Ras”] in Europe, and I felt like I wanted to have some English added in with it, because English is a way for people to connect in a different way to the mantra. I love those lyrics from Singh Kaur, and I brough them to Thomas [Barquee] and Ramesh and we just gave it a shot and it really fits nicely. Mere Ram is “my beloved god”, and to have an English counterpart really opens up people’s place of awareness. It’s been really fun to share that with people.
Ramdesh: Any funny stories from your video shoot?
Snatam: On the day of our video shoot for the Live in the Redwoods video, Matthew, our cellist, drove all the way down from San Francisco to Santa Cruz (1.5 hours) and realized he forgot his cello! He drove all the way back, and then down again to Santa Cruz, unpacked his cello, sat down, and we hit record on the cameras and audio gear. We had one hour at that point, before the video crew needed to leave, but we didn’t even need an hour! What you see in the video, is what happened at that very moment!
Ramdesh: Tell us about your upcoming tour.
Snatam: We’ll be in Oakland this Friday night and Sacramento this Saturday night. Shortly thereafter, we head to the east coast, including Boston, New York and Connecticut. We’re excited to get out there and share with people this new sound. We’ve got a whole crew lined up to be with us, including the band and very important support people. It’s going to be fun and exciting. I’m also going to be at [3HO’s] Summer Sosltice this year. I’m excited to be there in New Mexcio for that. I think with having this local band now, we can really look at the calendar and fill up our tour dates and keep up with a good amount of touring. It’s a good balance in my life now. Before I would tour for a month and be off for a month. Now its easier for me to keep up my global practice [with Spirit Voyage] everyday and my music practice everyday. It’s great. I’d been working with so many beautiful musicians over the years. This is definitely an experience of growing, communicating and experimenting. I feel really blessed to have the power of mantra, chanting and Kundalini yoga. We’ll be incorporating more Kundalini yoga into the concerts. This will be the base of the experience for me…really sharing with people from the perspective of really giving them something. This [Kundalini yoga] really works for me, and the work I’ve done with the recent Spirit Voyage 40 Day Global Sadhanas has really inspired me, and I want the concert to be an experience of personal transformation and to support and facilitate that energy for people and balance it with my own life.
Snatam: I’m looking forward to praying for the children. My daughter is already excited. We’ve already started singing the shabad together. The waves are already in our house. To open this up to all children and to be a part of that is really incredible. Sopurkh and I are putting our energy into being conscious parents and doing a meditation to put our focus on that is really exciting. Being a part of the Global Sadhana community never ceases to amaze me. I’m excited to see what will happen and I feel really privileged and honored to be a part of this experience.