Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part interview with Nirinjan Kaur and Matthew Schoening. You can also read Part 1, where they share how their new album To the Heart came about organically and beautifully after years and years of touring together.
Can you tell us a little bit about who you are – what your passions are?
Nirinjan: I am a mother with two young sons, a dog lady with two pups, and a wife to my hubby. I love to make a beautiful home and spend time with my family. I love hiking in nature, doing yoga, singing, and spending time in sacred community. I love the Sacred in all spiritual paths. I guess you could call me a mystic. I am a total passionate junkie for anything deeply sacred. I love to sing about and dive into experiences of the Sacred, and fill my family and life with that love, to uplift those that I love in the best way that I can.
Matthew: Who I am is always praying to be a better man. I take what I can from life experience and do my best to do it better the next time. Integrity is key for me. Sometimes I am a bit too direct for people’s taste, but you can always ask me anything, and I will give you an honest answer, even if that answer is “I don’t know”, or even “it’s not appropriate to discuss this.” My passions, besides music obviously, include motorcycling, mountain biking, snowboarding, backpacking, hiking, Chinese traditional teas (gung fu cha), the red road, wood working, and design. I have many passions! Most of which have to do with the outdoors, meditation, and very old ways of spirituality (tea and red road, for example).
What are three things you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
Nirinjan: 1. To serve my children in the best and most loving way possible; 2. To serve my husband and family in the best and most loving way possible; 3. To serve everyone who hears my music, or that I meet, in the best and most loving way possible. To be a vessel for all of these people, to access more love than we all thought was imaginable.
Matthew: Other than simply staying healthy, being a happy and grateful person as much as possible, and helping other people do the same. In my eyes, to be attached to specific task accomplishments is to not be open to the flow of life. Sure, I set goals that propel my life forward and help me take steps, but I cannot tell you today three specific things that I can say for sure I want to accomplish in my lifetime, because I may feel differently about it tomorrow, depending on how things go today.
Can you give us a sneak peak into your creative process?
Nirinjan: There is always a lot of laughing going on, for sure! We have fun together! Matthew is a true genius musically, and I am very grateful to work with him. He composes incredibly beautiful music, often starting with a simple riff, or chord progression, and building on it. He’ll sit there and play it, and I’ll meditate with what he is playing. I try to listen deeply, and listen to what the music wants me to sing, or what mantra wants to be sung, and I’ll do that. Then, Matthew builds and builds from there, in his own similar intuitive creative process.
Matthew: For me personally, creatively, it is entirely about getting out of the way. The more I am in my head about it, the longer it takes to get something good. Some call it “writer’s block,” but I call it “overthinking.” I have much more success if I tune in, create a comfortable space in which to work, meditate often throughout the process of writing, and allow the music that comes out to come from a source that is not my mind, but somewhere else. Basically, I get out of the way and let it flow. When I drop into this space, it is effortless and a deep meditation.
What do you love most about your Kundalini Yoga practice?
Nirinjan: That it’s there! It makes everything better and constantly helps me be better.
Matthew: Honestly, I do not personally practice Kundalini Yoga. I do however love to play music that helps people in their practice. We all have our modalities and methods of healing ourselves. My methods compliment Kundalini Yoga, and its methodology, but does not include it specifically.
What do you hope your listeners experience or learn as they listen to your album?
Nirinjan: I feel that the music and the listeners have their own relationship. I hope they have a healing and deep experience with it, in ways that I can’t imagine.
Matthew: A deep warm sensation of being held by the music and mantras. Like a warm bath in which they can drop in and take a journey, yet remain grounded, open, and clear.
How did come to start practicing Kundalini Yoga?
Nirinjan: I was born into a family of Kundalini Yogis, so it was always there.
Matthew: Touring with Snatam!