Musician Sirgun Kaur drops by to discuss her newest piece, one that represents her newest recording techniques and collaborative output.
“This album represents huge growth for me. I decided to spend the money I was going to put towards my vocal sessions in the studio to purchase my own small home studio setup. This allowed me to record all my vocals at home. It meant I could record when I was really feeling inspired, rather than at a time that I just happened to have on my calendar. It made a big difference.”
With an affinity for the spiritual side of music, Sirgun has worked and studied to incorporate uplifting vibrations into her pieces. Her latest release -8 (tuned to 432 hz, which is believed by some to be the frequency of the Cosmos) aims to uplift and inspire those who encounter it.
During these perpetually tumultuous times, we need as many individuals as possible who are willing to elevate their fellow men and women so that we may begin to see a better future for ourselves and our future.
In this interview, Sirgun discusses her album, her faith, and her relationship with music.
Prox: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and what was your relationship like with art, music, and religion?
Sirgun: Hi there, I’m Sirgun. I was born in Los Angeles, California, and was raised there, and in Southern France. I had an unusual childhood, at least from a geographical standpoint, but it really shaped my relationship to music. I spent a lot of time writing poetry about my sense of misfit-ness as a teenager, which eventually led to me writing a lot of sad music. At the time, music was my best friend. It got me. In my early twenties I discovered yoga, mantras, and chant music and that’s when my relationship to music got turned on its head. My teenage self has used music to express my regrets, fears, and other forms of emotional pain—in effect using music like a psychologist who never said anything back. Chant music offered me a vehicle to rise above my negative emotions without dissecting them, or even needing to understand them at all. The ethos of yoga and any practice that understands the law of vibration (attraction) is that you must focus on something higher vibrational than the problem you are facing—not the problem itself—in order to be receptive to a solution. In other words, the answer to every problem is to find a way to vibrate at a higher level than it. Enter chanting.
I practice a spiritual path called Sikhism (5th largest world religion!). We congregate to chant and pray, in order to elevate our own vibration, so we can go out into the world and be a beneficial presence. I never thought I would be part of an organized anything, but it has been a huge boon in my life.
Prox: How has Phoenix shaped you and your spiritual pursuits? What is the energy like in comparison to other places you’ve spent a lot of time in?
Sirgun: When I moved to out to Phoenix in 2011 I left Santa Monica, CA, where there was a fast emerging chant scene. I had just gotten married and also released my first album of chants. It seemed like the opportunities for performance were a lot more limited in Phoenix, but I soon found out that there is a large community of chant lovers here. And also a great bunch of musicians to collaborate with! I really enjoy being here because it isn’t as saturated by people doing exactly the same thing as me. It’s nice to be in a place where the chant music is actually needed. I was just remarking to someone the other night that people in Phoenix are so naturally friendly and happy. It’s a great place to live!
Prox: Would teenage you be surprised by where you are today?
Sirgun: Yes and no. I don’t think I had the bandwidth to imagine all the changes and transformations that have occurred externally and internally for me. BUT, I think teenage me would recognize a lot of what has transpired—because so much of it includes things I longed for as a teenager—community, love, family, purpose.
Prox: What are your thoughts on Cymatics? Do you believe that sounds can help us heal when used correctly?
Sirgun: Definitely. I would like to suggest a subtle difference in my perception of this phenomenon. When a child cuts her finger and we put some hydrogen peroxide on the cut and then a band-aid over it, the child will often think that it was this preparation that “healed” her finger. Of course we all understand that it was her skin that healed itself. The intelligence of the human body is breathtaking when you consider it. Similarly, when we see someone who was ill heal after they undergo some alternative treatment like the one you are suggesting, we say it was the music that healed them. Well, the music wasn’t the thing that healed them. It was their body doing exactly what it was meant to. Just as the hydrogen peroxide and the band-aid create an environment for the skin where natural healing can take place, so does the music. Sometimes humans just need an excuse to allow themselves to get better… and music is a great one.
Prox: How does the conceptualization and recording process of -8 differ from others in your discography? What was your headspace like for this one?
Sirgun: I love this question! -8 is the first album I’ve recorded at 432 hertz, which is a tuning that is thought to be in harmony with the frequency of the Cosmos. It is a much more deliberate tuning than 440 hertz, which is standard for most music nowadays. Also, I had a lot of time to work on this album on my own. I produced the album, with the help of Chad Wilkins, who also played most of the instruments you hear. It felt really good to have hands on involvement in my own music.
The last few albums I had done were produced by someone else, and I got to hear progress, but I wasn’t in the studio directing the sessions with my musicians. In fact on my other albums, I never even met most of the musicians! It was an ideal way to work at the time though, because I had babies and I didn’t have the time to be as involved as I got on -8.
I haven’t told many people this, but this is also the first album I funded entirely on my own. I crowd-sourced my first two albums (The Music Within and The Cosmic Gift), and the next two were on the Spirit Voyage label. This album represents huge growth for me. I decided to spend the money I was going to put towards my vocal sessions in the studio to purchase my own small home studio setup. This allowed me to record all my vocals at home. It meant I could record when I was really feeling inspired, rather than at a time that I just happened to have on my calendar. It made a big difference. Recording on my own also meant that I got to do something I had wanted to do for every album, but didn’t get to: record a ton of background vocals, vocal doubles, and harmony vocals. For each track, I must have given the mixer/engineer about 40 vocal tracks. It was an epic job, but I love the way they turned out. I’m all about backing vocals!
Prox: What is the significance of the title?
Sirgun: 432 hertz (our tuning) is minus 8 hertz below 440 hertz (standard tuning): 440 - 432 = 8
Prox: Do you feel like you were able to accurately convey what you were feeling with this project?
Sirgun: Honestly, this project just kind of evolved into the shape that it took. I didn’t know what it was going to sound like. I just knew I wanted to love it. And I do.
Prox: What are some things that influence and inspire you that we may not know about?
Sirgun: I don’t so much get inspired by things nowadays. I can feel inspiration come but I don’t know why it’s happening. It catches me off guard and I have to get out my voice memos app to record it, or run quickly to the nearest piano. For this project, I had to train myself to be a little more disciplined in my relationship with inspiration because my children would only be with their aunt for a short period of time, and that’s the time I had to get inspired. So I’d do some yoga, or meditate, or have some tea and then calmly sit down at my piano to write. Sometimes playing another song I had been working on led to writing the next one.
Prox: Are there any artists, books, movies/TV shows, or music that you’re enjoying at the moment?
Sirgun: I have been enjoying listening to Peter Kater’s albums lately. I actually just met someone who housesat for him and apparently, his piano is tuned to 432 hertz. I just discovered Bruce Lipton’s work on The Biology of Belief, which I find fascinating, and also confirming of a lot of what I know already. He’s basically offers scientific evidence on the law of attraction. As for TV, I could not believe how quickly I got through Zumbo’s Just Desserts. I thought the artistry was spellbinding.
Prox: Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring artists and creatives?
Sirgun: This is also a reminder for myself: enjoy each moment in the creative process. The joy of the “result” is short lived. Also, value yourself and your work. The way you feel about yourself, and what you create, influences how others will connect with it.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Sirgun: Thank you so much for having me. I really loved these questions!
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