Born in Melbourne to Sikh parents, Manika Kaur makes ambient musics pulling from her kirtan roots and embracing many styles of music into a blissful whole. Inevitably she would end up in the orbit of master producer and Killing Joke bassist Youth who released her third album, Scared Words in 2018 on his label and has now remixed her. (listen above)
Manik Kaur website
Thanks John, about 2 years ago I was introduced to Manika’s sublime music by her manager. I was immediately blown away with the clarity and vibe.
My vibe was to get into the right meditative state of mind and then navigate to what I thought was appropriate. My approach really was to deconstruct and take away a lot of the original arrangements. Reduce it down to its core essence and then add some very subtle ambient elements. It’s almost like doing a screenplay version of a book, or a translation of a poem from one language to another. Opening doors to different places.
Yes . Killing Joke has a devotional spiritual centre to its core and although the expression is very different, it also supplies an antidote to the current political double talk and the rise of far right nationalism and populist governments.
Devotional music has become very popular recently, but from Alice Coltrane hitting number 1 on the album charts, to Popol Vuh having a huge renaissance and even the Hare Krishna devotee albums selling thousands and doing very well on Spotify and other streaming platforms. Possibly as a reaction to the extreme material society and consumer culture we live in now … it’s an antidote.
4. Is music the last culture that spreads across cultures and unites us
I’d say not, especially as a South Korean movie just won best picture at the Osca’s …The more multi-cultural exchange going on the better. Last year I did a lot of recordings in Africa and we are now regularly collaborating with artists there and for me it’s about building bridges and exchanging creative ideas and cultural idiosyncrasies. When we do this, you realise we share far more ideas culturally then we thought possible.
Everyone wants to have a good time, everyone wants to party and dance to music they have never heard before, meet new, interesting people, share experiences with new and old friends and build a better future for everyone.
Music can cross and bridge divides like nothing else and music that helps us travel deep within ourselves and also be able to teleport us to cosmic universes that are super far out too ….Music is Mystical by nature and is a very powerful tool today.
Q and A with Manika Kaur
1.What is it about Indian music that sounds and feels so devotional?
In India, music has always been essential to the worship experience. Music creates spiritual vibrations which enhances devotion. This long tradition shared over centuries has always been used to express love for God and so will always carry devotional connotations.
The sound that we create moves beyond the vaja (also known as harmonium, an organ like portable instrument, that is predominately used in Indian worship music). We remember what came before and acknowledge what is here now and in doing so, through music, we share a story of our generation.
2. Why did you decide to work with Youth? What did you want him to add to your sound?
Youth pushes through the sound current and takes the listener with him on that journey. This new expanse makes space for more listeners to shift into a deeper awareness. Youth’s style allows us to reach more people and hopefully bring to them a new experience.
3. Does your Sikh background bring different texture to your music?
Growing up in Australia while being raised as a traditional Sikh girl has greatly influenced on my sound. I lived in two worlds and often felt like one foot was in Punjab and one in Australia. My sound is like a conversation between those two sides of me – a harmonic display of East and west.
4. Is music the last culture that spreads across cultures and unites us?
This very much depends on the artist. Music can create deep emotion in us and unite us. But so much of popular music today is degrading and objectifying women and so this mentality seeps into the fabric of society and over time women lose more and more of their rights.
I just want to help others and myself to become more peaceful individuals. Through self awareness we raise our consciousness leading us to become more compassionate and loving. I hope that the music we create can nudge people into this place of self exploration.