Editor’s Note: This is the first of a 2 part interview with Crown of Eternity and their newest album When The Music’s On. You can also read Part 2, where they opens up about their Kundalini Yoga practice here.
Crown Eternity’s new release, When The Music’s On, comes from a space of deep exploration, surrender, healing, and love. It is Crown of Eternity’s most vulnerable album yet. It envelops the listener with a new depth, honesty, a delicate longing, and a powerful journey of triumph into the infinite pulse of the soul.
Drawing upon Mike Tamburo’s creative spirit and ingenuity as a multi-instrumentalist and arranger, and the unique studio alchemy of long time collaborator Anthony Molina, Crown of Eternity creates a richly expressive sonic palette of layered harmonies and expansive soundscapes that transcend genres and touch the heart deeply. The hypnotic and cosmic vibration of Gallina and Mike’s voices engulf and guide the listener on a journey of exploration of the richness of each moment and the celebration of the infinite flow of creativity.
We were thrilled to learn more about Crown of Eternity and the making of this album
Spirit Voyage: What was your inspiration for this album?
Mike: The lyrics to the title track say it best: “When the music’s on and the music flows, it’s a miracle in stereo.”
There is something that happens when you are playing the music and it is flowing through you that is truly one of the greatest experiences life can offer. It is like everything else disappears, time disappears and the lines between performer and listener blur and fade. It is like a moment of pure creation. I wanted to make an album that was really just a celebration of that experience.
It is pretty cliche, but I can say that over and over again, “Music has saved my life.” Not only has it given me a purpose for my time on this planet and a way to express myself, but there have been so many times when hearing the right song at the right time has changed everything for me. Music inspires, heals, consoles, informs, celebrates and exalts the soul. It can make you feel something when nothing else can.
John Beaulieu is a dear friend and one of our favorite teachers of sound, music and consciousness. There is a video of John talking about really using your ears to feel and becoming sensitive to the pulsations all around us. He tells us that how we listen and what we tune into affect our thinking, postures, emotions and so much more. He says if we only listen to one type of music then we are limiting ourselves to that particular vibrational spectrum. He suggests listening to as many types of music and sounds as we can to allow ourselves to really expand into being more diverse people with more diverse experiences and to make us more flexible in every area of our lives.
Gallina and I have always been attracted to a lot of different types of music and we spend time listening to nature each day. Our thoughts really echo what John says. We try to create our music with a similar philosophy to how we listen. We wanted to create an album that had a huge palette of sounds for our listeners to work with along with the consciousness each mantra provides. We wanted to create an album that was fun and contemplative and heartfelt. We wanted to push the boundaries of what we had already done. We also wanted to explore our voices in new ways. Also, I think there is a part of us that is always trying to push the concept of what meditation music really is.
Mike: This was the first time I started working on a mantra album as more of a personal and recording meditation project than something I intended to be performing or even sharing with other people. This was so unlike our first two mantra albums which evolved from arrangements we were sharing in our yoga classes and workshops or Sadhana while we were still running an ashram from our home. This time around everything came out of a deep need to go inward and tend to my personal healing and eventually evolved to integrate Gallina’s journey with her own healing. It is like certain aspects of this album wrote me. The mantras that we chose emerged from what we needed in our lives at that time.
We returned home after what felt like an endless tour schedule and we were both looking for some rest, meditation, self healing and a way of coming home to ourselves after giving so much on tour. I was also getting antsy to get back in the recording studio as recording is one of my favorite activities. I would say that 90% of our performances in 2015 were what we call our Sound Journeys. These experiences are generally acoustic and are more like group sound healing experiences with Gongs, Bells, Singing Bowls, Monolina and Hammered Dulcimer. I love sharing these sounds, but there was a part of me that wanted to plug in a guitar again and just rock out. Little did I know at the time that I was simply expanding on our ideas about Sound Healing or Sound Therapy. Shortly after we came home from tour we discovered that our dog Chi had developed a rapid form of bone cancer. It was heartbreaking for both of us. Chi was the perfect studio dog. She would just sit calmly and listen to whatever I was playing. She was an excellent critic and would always let me know if she disliked what I was playing. If I got too experimental, she would often leave in a huff or fart on me and walk away. You could not ask for a better studio mate. Also Gallina had been dealing with some persistent health issues that required a fierce commitment to self-love and self-care while on tour. Over time this forced us to redefine and honor our roles in our creative musical relationship in a different way.
Honestly, I did not even know I was going to be writing another album of mantras when this album began. After a few days home it became clear to me that I needed to delve deeper into chanting and meditating. I was trying to understand my connection with the divine. I was trying to find my voice again. I was working through a lot of grief dealing with Chi’s illness and everything Gallina was working through. There was a lot of healing that still needed to happen in our family. A huge part of my daily meditation practice became me in the home studio with a microphone, my headphones, my looper pedals and whatever instruments I needed to support the mantra at that time. The looper acted as a sketchpad for me and something to keep practicing along with and allowed me to try out a number of variations for each of the mantras I was working with. The recording allowed me to work through so much of it. Eventually, I passed the music onto Gallina and I think that helped to inspire her healing journey as well. There were some mornings where I felt like I was writing Gallina a love letter with the arrangements. I could not wait to hear how she would relate to what I was doing. I could not wait to hear her voice on the arrangements. When I shared it with Gallina and also with Anthony, they both went into full creative mode. It was really beautiful because I had worked through so much with the mantras and it was very healing for me to give them away for more perspectives and further expansion and realization. I am really pleased that we ended up with a broad range of sounds that explored a vast range of inner spaces.
Mike: We focused a lot more on our vocal arrangements on this recording. Also, we worked a lot independently of one another. I was kind of private while I was meditating with these arrangements and when I passed them to Gallina, she had a similar experience working with what I had come up with and figuring out how to make this as much her own as it was mine already. I think this really gave Gallina some space to explore her creativity. Instead of trying to sing everything in unison, we allowed space for each other to explore our own voices and to weave our unique interpretations of each mantra into a cohesive whole that still honored the authenticity and diversity of our perspectives. A few times this process changed the music completely – yet it really came together as a whole new expression of our love for each other and music.
Spirit Voyage: Are there any special contributors to this album? If so, tell us about them!
Mike: I have been deeply inspired by the work of Sean Conrad. He runs the Inner Islands record label. They released my Presence cassette a few years back and they will be releasing a cassette of our bell and gong music next year called Dream Architecture. Sean has a number of musical projects that have released some of my favorite music in this decade – Ashan, Channellers, Orra and more. I was working on our “Ma” track and I felt like it almost sounded like something he would be singing. Rather than hiding the influence, I asked him to join us on backing vocals on the track. The three of our voices blend together really nicely.
We have been working with our producer Anthony Molina on a number of projects since 2013. He is like a brother and a honorary band member to us. We have worked on 6 releases together and we still have some projects waiting to be finished. We fell in love with Anthony’s work aesthetic and his incredible ear. He is the kind of producer who not only works really hard to keep the integrity of our unique artistic vision but adds an incredible sonic alchemy that enhances our sound.
Gallina and I compose all of our own arrangements and have a certain vibe we feel is a little different than a lot of other artists. Back in 2013 when we were working on our 1st release Vibrate the Cosmos, I was pretty raw in my preferences of recording technology. I was still working on cassette 8 track and I was pretty experimental in my thinking. Somehow Anthony could hear and appreciate where we were coming from and at the same time really push us to enhance our sound while still holding a space of grace and fun. Early on he helped me set up a Protools based recording studio in my house and transmitted a great deal of knowledge and skill. Over the years this freed up our collaboration to evolve beyond the technical to the more subtle refinement of our creative vision. We’ve done so much together in a very short period of time and I feel we both really honor each other’s strengths and weaknesses and continue to inspire each other to grow. I feel like When The Music’s On is the culmination of us working together so far.
You can learn more about Crown of Eternity in Part 2 of our interview.
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