We recently had the opportunity to talk with Krishna Kaur and her producer, Ram Dass, about the inspiration and the music on her new album, 𝗟𝗼𝗼𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗨p. It is an album that reflects her life’s spiritual journey in a musical landscape that draws from her ancestral roots.
The seven tracks on this album weave songs and mantras in a tapestry of musical influences from West African rhythms to the jazz and swing of the 30’s to 50’s Ben E. King soul.
Krishna was really inspired to bring in African musical elements on this album. In Krishna’s words, “African music just rolls and rolls in a continuous flow, like the beat of a human heart. It is not for the intellect, it is to touch the spirit and the human heart, and elevate the human soul and you feel that all the time.” She talked about being inspired by the children at all night music festivals in Senegal, “The dancing and playing of drums while the babies were sleeping on the mother’s back fascinated me.. They were in the party, they were always there to absorb this pulse from a very very young age. It becomes organic to them. They grow up with that rhythm inside of them that is so close to the Earth. How wonderful it must be to feel that at such a young age.”
Ram Dass, her producer talked about working with these strong African elements. “In west African tradition, music is all cyclical, it is all circles. Chord progressions aren’t really a thing, so the music is inherently meditative and most of the music is meant to be danced to. It is a collaboration between the music, the drums and the dancers, so it all just keeps moving. This cyclical style lent itself perfectly to what we were trying to do with the meditation tracks on the album.”
These meditation tracks were very purpose-driven for Krishna. The turmoil in the world felt like it was calling for a reminder to keep reaching for what is beyond the chaos. Krishna says, “I felt the need to share a practice that helps us communicate clearly and innocently, and so honestly in a way that you don’t even need to use your words. Sometimes, we can’t change things with laws or with rules. To fix what is broken in this world, to me, we need to change the frequency, we need to change our vibration as a community and as a country and then it can happen.”
“Seeing between what is real and what is not real, beyond all the lies and corruption, from the top down. I was rocking in the sea of all that. I needed to keep looking up and remembering that even though there is stuff whirling around like crazy, there is a place where clarity lives. When I can draw that in, then that is the one thing I can rely on. That is in the music and the mantra. I want to make sure I never stop looking up and saying ‘thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Krishna sings to the deeper meaning of this life. These songs invite us to find peace within, to never surrender, to greet every day with gratitude and to trust in our hearts. She says, “The divine never gets tired of raising its children. I never want to tire either, I don’t want to tire of the things around me, I don’t want to tire in my sadness of the things that are going on in the world. I see it as just a message coming through.”
Musically, ‘Looking Up’ is rich and full of life. This album features traditional West African percussion along with piano, electric guitar, saxophone, and synthesizers. Daniel Higuera, also known as Jai Jot, a drummer from Miami, played all the percussion, calabash and drum kit. Jared May brought his own magic to the mix with his bass. Grecco Buratto elevated the album with his electric guitar on “Nirankar”, and “On this Day – En Este Día.” Ram Dass, who produced the album and played keys and guitars also managed to be an entire choir. Krishna was longing for a full gospel choir on the album, but COVID made that impossible, so Ram Dass stepped in and sang every part himself.
Krishna invited Dejah Gomez, who is a former cast member of The Lion King Musical, and one of Stevie Wonder’s backup singers to sing on the album. She also had the silky sounds of LarIna Williams voice, who was a backup vocalist for Anderson Paak and The Pharcyde. These musicians will leave you intoxicated in a sea of groove and soul.
LarIna and Dejah are both Krishna’s yoga students. Krishna mentioned, “We did sadhana (morning yoga and meditation) almost every morning together and I heard their voices, and it felt like it was something so sweet coming through. These two sisters are so powerful, forceful and energetic, but when it came to them singing in sadhana, they brought a very sweet power with them that I just loved so much. I knew that it would be so powerful to bring that to the record. With the COVID situation, they were able to find a way to lend their spirit, lend their voice, lend their prayer to this process. I feel like they are part of my family, and that they showed up and were around me at a time when this was so needed. That they were willing was beautiful.”