Spirit Voyage had the pleasure of recently catching up with Jai-Jagdeesh to discuss her newest album: All is Now Light. Capturing the mystical energies of the sun, the moon, and water, Jai-Jagdeesh’s All Is Now Light simultaneously soothes and invigorates the soul, and is the ideal soundtrack for beginning the day. Recorded in Tulum, Mexico, between the Caribbean Sea and the Mayan Jungle, these meditative chants provide a powerful remedy and preparation for a day in modern life. Whether accompanying a yoga practice or used as a regular musical morning companion, this creation is an illuminating point of bright, life-affirming, heart-healing light.
Spirit Voyage: What was your inspiration for making a Sadhana album?
Jai-Jagdeesh: My inspiration for making a Sadhana album was a little bit like that cartoon lightbulb that sometimes hovers over a character’s head when they get an idea, or when something suddenly clicks into place. I’ve been sitting on this material for YEARS, but it never felt like the right time to record it… and then, quite suddenly, the right time had arrived. The light went on over my head, so I started checking with my collaborators, and everything was such an easy “yes.” Schedules aligned, the studio was available, plane tickets were cheap. Boom, done. I love that type of synchronicity!
Spirit Voyage: What makes this album different from the rest of the albums in your catalog?
Jai-Jagdeesh: The main thing that makes this album different from all the others is how quickly we finished the recording process. I’ve NEVER finished a project in 5 days — and, in fact, we actually recorded TWO albums worth of material in those 5 days (more on that later, but you must know: my producer Ram Dass Khalsa is a STAR…), so there was definitely some sort of cosmic force involved. The alignment I had picked up on? Yeah, something about that made our work REALLY efficient. And EXTRA potent. And FUN.
Spirit Voyage: Can you share a story from the making of this album?
Jai-Jagdeesh: We were in Tulum, Mexico for this project, working in my friend Bogdan Djukic’s close-to-home, embedded-in-a-busy neighborhood recording studio. It was LOUD there; construction next door, car horns every other minute, packs of stray dogs loudly arguing in the street. For the first few hours of the first day, it didn’t really matter, because we were just jamming and conceptualizing… but as soon as we needed to hit “record,” it became necessary to have relative quiet. And every day — without fail — there would come an eerie moment of perfect silence, within which the song would materialize. Not without interruptions, and not always totally effortlessly, but we could all feel a sort of a buzzy energy when the “right” recording window had opened. At the end of each studio day, I found myself shaking my head in awe at what had just happened.
Spirit Voyage: Can you give us a sneak peak into your creative process?
Jai-Jagdeesh: I wish I could give you a sneak peek into my creative process, but it’s honestly so irregular, therefore unpredictable, therefore hard to explain! Song ideas — either melodic or lyrical — show up at weird times, usually when I’m not focused on creativity. Sometimes stuff drifts in while I’m out walking; other times I’ll have an idea while driving; occasionally the best inspiration strikes while I’m showering.Then, when the seed of an idea has been firmly planted (which now happens in the form of being saved as a voice memo on my phone), I usually give it room to breathe. I like to let pieces of music become themselves, rather than trying to force them towards some sort of imaginary finish line. Once in a while I’ll get a little obsessed with a particular song, melodic theme, or idea, and I’ll play it over and over and OVER, exploring whatever sound comes to mind while I do. That’s how the ‘Guru Ram Das Chant’ became itself; I was so captivated by it that I couldn’t stop playing it, and I found all of the nuances (plus so much more that didn’t make sense to include in the recording) by turning it into a daily singing meditation.The one thing that’s totally clear to me about my creative process is that, if I’m not in “listen” mode, it doesn’t work. If I’m pushy, deadline-driven, or approaching the song with an agenda, it doesn’t gel. But if I’m patient, and if I’m willing to be in a fluid relationship with the muses, they are very generous with me — for which I am very grateful.
Spirit Voyage: Is there something that your fans would love to know from the making of this album?
Jai-Jagdeesh: I have to tell you about that 22-minute ‘Wahe Guru Wahe Jio’. For one thing, it’s the melody of the ‘Wahe Guru Wahe Jio’ section from ‘I Am Thine’, which we’ve all been singing together at concerts and classes for YEARS… so it’ll be very cozily familiar for many people. But the thing that’s really special about it is that it’s one fluid take, uninterrupted. No cut and paste repetition of instruments, no recycled vocals, all live & alive. And we three musicians had ZERO line of sight to each other, plus no way to communicate without destroying the recording — which means that, when you hear the moments where the track suddenly slows down or speeds up, that was all intuitive. I couldn’t possibly tell you how we managed to do it, but somehow we KNEW where the energy was going to lift and lower, as well as exactly what to DO to lift and lower it. That experience was a project highlight.
Spirit Voyage: Can you tell us about any special contributors to this album?
Jai-Jagdeesh: The three people who worked on this album with me are all people with whom I’ve worked before, and are also people whom I love dearly. Gurusangat Singh (of the GuruGanesha Band) is so great on bass that a part of me wishes we had needed more from him; as it is, we only asked him to record on one track, ‘Mul Mantra’, and he was the perfect finishing touch. Ram Dass (currently on tour with Snatam Kaur) played all of the guitar parts from start to finish, and not only did he do it SO sweetly, he also did it WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY ENGINEERING THE WHOLE THING. I am stunned by his technical prowess. And Bogdan, crazy talented Bogdan (perpetually touring and recording with my beautiful friends Markus & Gely of Mirabai Ceiba), left me speechless. He played the violin, the oud, and ALL the percussion; I don’t even have words for how much I appreciate him.
Spirit Voyage: What do you hope your listeners experience or learn as they listen to your album?
Jai-Jagdeesh: I hope everyone who ever listens to any part of this album is simultaneously put in touch with their deepest depths and their highest heights. To me, these recordings feel like they came from the bottom of the ocean and ALSO from somewhere way out in space; like, if you were in a submarine and it was orbiting the lunar landscape, THIS is what you’d hear. Crazy, right? I know — but it’s exactly the feeling that is conjured for me by these sounds. They leave me feeling like I’m in an abyss, but I’m TOTALLY held and contained, which is such a cool state of being. I hope other people experience that, too; that grounded vastness. Above all, my prayer is that this soundscape will take us all FAR out into realms of personal discovery that help make us better able to show up for ourselves and for each other in this challenging Age on Earth.
Spirit Voyage: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Jai-Jagdeesh: I know I’m not supposed to pick favorites, and I NEVER do, but I have a favorite on this album. And it’s not just an album favorite, it’s a CAREER favorite. It’s the 4th track, ‘Rakhe Rakhanhaar’. I cry every time I hear it. My brother told me he spent an entire afternoon listening to it over and over, weeping all the while. And a few of my friends who got a sneak peek in the weeks leading up to the release came back saying things like “Woah, dude, that ‘Rakhe Rakhanhaar’…!” I think its delicateness is what captures and captivates me the most — and the trio of voices is a huge part of that. Bogdan and Ram Dass really made magic on this one.