White Sun, a Los Angeles-based band comprised of two yogis and an Emmy Award-Winning Composer, made a historic chart debut by reaching Number One on iTunes’ World Music category in the first 12-hours of its presale. Their self-titled debut album includes 15 diverse tracks ranging from contemporary pop songs and layered vocal solos to orchestral pieces and stringed ensembles. The album also features orchestral harp, celtic harp, tabla, guitar, taiko drums, bass, harmonium, banjo, mandolin, frame drum, metallophone, and two solo gong tracks.
We recently caught up with them to ask a few questions about the making of this album.
Q: What was your inspiration for this album?
A: We wanted to contribute. We are yogis, and these are our songs. This is our first album, but we are already planning our second, third and fourth. I expect that our sound will evolve as we ourselves evolve, and as we grow even closer as a team.
Q: Can you share a story from the making of this album?
A: The gongs, the string ensembles, and the bigger instruments were recorded in a very large studio. But for the most part we worked out of a cozy (and dazzlingly equipped) home studio. The entire White Sun team is very close; all of us are friends and family to each other. So whenever we make music together we also laugh together, drink tea together, hang out with the dogs, and watch the occasional YouTube video. Adam is a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, so sometimes Harijiwan and I would find ourselves bumping into large and sweaty Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters at the studio—some of the sweetest people I have ever met. On Sundays I would usually fall asleep on the studio couch, exhausted from a packed schedule.
Q: Is there something that your fans would love to know from the making of this album?
A: One of the highlights was working with the Boyle Heights Community Youth Orchestra, and shooting a music video with them. Since instrumental and choral ensemble training have been cut from almost every public elementary school curriculum in Los Angeles, it is so gratifying to see the children expressing themselves through music. When we were on set filming our music videos, we were all blown away by the professionalism of the children. The kids were patient, poised and ready—more so than many of us adults. Some of the players were so young that their feet dangled from their chairs, too small to reach the floor. The work we did with them is some of the work I am most proud of.
Q: Are there any special contributors to this album? If so, tell us about them!
A: Abhiman Kaushal – The first time we heard Abhiman’s tabla playing, we were so blown away by his talent that we all just started to laugh. None of us had ever heard tabla played like this. He is an extremely agile player, and was layering complex polyrhythms inside of music he had never even heard before. I recently told someone in India who our tabla player was, and his jaw dropped. The contribution Abhiman has made to White Sun’s music has had a deep impact on its spirit. He is also a professor of North Indian Tabla at UCLA.
Laura Merians – It was such a gift to work with our close friend Laura (we call her Lolly) on our music videos. The visual accompaniment she created brings the songs to new heights. For me, she has been able to capture both the future and the past—mysterious and mystical while evoking the lost golden age of filmaking. She has directed music videos for superstars like Bjork and Sigur Ros, so it was a pinch-me-moment when we found out that she wanted to be a part of the project.
Arjuna O’Neal – We began playing live with Arjuna right out of the gate, and he is like family to us. His artistic prowess on the mridanga is complimented by a rhythmic power that makes me feel like the beats are resonating inside of my skull. He started a non-profit organization called The Share Necessities, which works to support the education of homeless children. White Sun has done, and will continue to do, benefit events for this important cause.
You can pick up this amazing album on the Spirit Voyage website: