“Singers should soar. You have to have your feet in the earth and be the lotus rising and blossoming towards heaven” – Wah!
Welcome Wah! Thank you so much for joining us. So, to start off, why do you make this music?
The endless hours it takes recording, editing, mixing and proofing the songs gives me hours and hours of time in the mantra. Every track you listen to once, I’ve probably listened to 1000 times. That’s a thousand repetitions of every mantra in each track! Time spent immersed in mantra and yogic teachings keeps me in a higher energy. Bickering, gossip, competition, opinion, advice creates lower energy, I try to stay away from that stuff.
Yoga music has changed so much in the last 10 years. What was once a World Music genre is now called “Yoga Music” and includes everything from relaxation music to dance beats. What do you think of all these different styles?
Well you know what, there’s only two kinds of music – good music and bad music. In yoga, if the music brings me further into the mantra, I call it good music. If it pushes me away from the mantra, I call it bad music. Bad music comes from not enough production or too much production, good singers and bad singers, and that’s what we producers have to decide every day. It’s like making a film, the story is the main thing and all the camera shots, costume, makeup, dialogue support telling the story. In yoga music, the mantra is the main thing and all the production choices (instruments, beats, solos) support the repetition of the mantra.
What do you think of using heavy beats in mantra music?
The world has gotten louder. People are creating heavier beats for mantra because they want the tracks to get noticed. Heavy beats are one way people feel. So they put heavy beats on the mantra, so they can feel it.
But can the effect of the mantra be lost?
As long as the singer singing the mantra is absorbed in the divine, I think mantra can be delivered in any style. If the singer starts hitting heavy, well, that’s the moment the song falls into lower energy. Kick drum should hit heavy. Singer should soar. Remember? You have to have your feet in the earth and be the lotus rising and blossoming towards heaven. I didn’t say it was easy. I just said that’s the job. We all have our work cut out for us.
What got you into this?
I tried something new. I was 17 years old, in college, and went to a meditation program with my professor. They were chanting mantras. I loved how they sounded, how they felt in my mouth. I mispronounced every word. Loved it.
You’ve had the unique opportunity of bringing music to some truly incredible spaces, including museums and planetariums. Can you speak to how performing in these spaces feels and how different environments change the experience for you / for the audience?
You’re speaking specifically about my Healing Concerts. My favorite spaces are probably the planetariums because of how circular and welcoming
they are. People settle in right away in their reclining seats; they watch planets, stars and galaxies while they melt away into beautiful music. But lots of other spaces have been great too. We had a
double ballroom in a hotel near Boston, MA where everyone brought cushions, mats, pillows, blankets so they could lie on the floor and watch the stars on the ceiling. They dove for their spot as soon as the house opened. It was a magical night. Another memorable night was at the NW African American Museum in Seattle, WA, a gorgeous space with high ceilings and a great vibe.
Can you name a favourite performance space or type of space?
One of my favorite performances was in the Maximum Security Prison in Monterrey, Mexico. I had been brought there by a group called Kiik, they wanted me to perform for the female inmates. There had been a violent uprising only 2 years prior to that so most of the male prisoners were walking around in chains (hands and feet), the guards had machine guns, it was definitely more rough than the prisons I had been to in US. I didn’t know how I would be able to connect with these women – such a culture difference, language difference, everything. We were under a large tent the size of a small building, and it had been raining in the previous days. When I started singing I prayed and prayed and the wind kicked up and blew that tent up and down. All the water that had collected in the roof of the tent started pouring down on all sides. We were laughing and looking, it really opened the energy. We danced and sang together by the end of my performance and the ladies gave me flowers made out of carefully folded plastic bags, like origami.
What do you need to have with you while you’re working on new music (in the studio or at home)?
I know Dolly Parton takes her family quilts into the studio to make it feel like home. I don’t usually bring much with me. I need a good engineer who is musical and who pays attention while I record. So many guys will text and do emails during recording, and that really ruins the vibe. My vocal performance has to be magical enough to command everyone’s attention.
Based on the nature of some of your performances, I see that there is an environmental consciousness that permeates through much of your work. Can you speak to why that message is important to you?
If there’s no water, there are no farms. No farms, no food. I think the necessity for clean water and food will become imperative in the next 5 years. The midwest has already drained their aquifer, and many areas live off borrowed water, piped in from elsewhere. If we can’t get good food and water, we can’t survive. There are so many things that need fixing – I’m in Florida at the moment, where entire cities like Naples have been sprayed multiple times with Naled, a carcinogenic pesticide supposedly fighting the Zika-virus carrying mosquito. Not as effective as tablets placed in standing water areas, the Naled crop-dusters have blanketed homes, plants and people in toxic pesticide. How can you drink the water there now?
Tell us about someone you met in 2016 who really made a special impact on you or your way of thinking:
Vandana Shiva is a powerhouse, a champion of organic and small farming in India. She has worked tirelessly to rid India of Monsanto and its GMO seeds. She speaks with poise and determination. www.vandanashiva.com/
What are you excited about now?
Teaching. Helping yoga teachers get the other 7 limbs (besides asana, there’s yama, niyama, pranayama, pratyahar, dharana, dhyan and samadhi) I teach at a lot of Yoga Teacher Trainings. I also teach retreats with Dr James Leary, bringing more healing and self-healing practices to health professionals, school teachers, social workers.
Last but definitely not least, favorite food!
Green smoothie (1/2 apple, 1/2 avocado, 1 stick celery, 1 handful cilantro, 1 handful parsley, 1 handful basil, lemon juice and tamari)
YogiTunes is proud to offer our subscribers several fantastic albums by Wah!:
Wah! has been working in the field of personal development for over 25 years and has published books on yoga and healing. She has lectured at Princeton University, Loyola Marymount University, performed with Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, and taught at Omega Institute and 1440 Multiversity. She’s been featured in Ladies Home Journal, Mantra Yoga & Health Magazine and Yoga International Magazine. She teaches retreats, sound healing workshops, yoga teacher training modules, and performs Healing Concerts in planetariums and theaters across the country.
Designed, composed and performed by Wah!, her multi-media Healing Concerts are regularly performed at UC Boulder’s Fiske Planetarium, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego, Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles), Franklin Institute (Philadelphia), NJ State Museum in Trenton and in other major cities. She has lectured at Globe Institute International Sound Healing Conference in Oakland, The Journey Expo in Cleveland, and Soul Foundation in Encinitas. Ladies Home Journal says she has a “natural gift of music to help people with healing.” Her women’s leadership trainings have been welcomed into communities in Asheville, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boulder, Atlanta and Charleston. Her CDs have sold over 100,000 units worldwide; if you have taken a yoga class in the last 5 years you have undoubtedly heard her music. In 2011 iTunes featured her with a compilation titled “Greatest Yoga Music Ever.”
Wah! is a legend in the yoga world and her teachings inspire profound personal growth. A guest speaker on Cate Stillman’s Yogidetox Course, a regular contributor to LA Yoga Magazine and leader of retreats and trainings worldwide, her latest book Healing: A Vibrational Exchange shares effective and innovative tools for spirituality, communication and self-healing.
Wah! is an active voice in the movement to stop global warming and uses facebook to educate and raise awareness about environmental issues. She supports wellness and offers free workshops (for cancer patients in San Francisco, San Diego) and benefit concerts for various causes like Farmer Suicide Prevention (helping farmers in India cope with crop failure and loan sharking), and AIMS hospital founded by the spiritual leader Amma. She created a yoga program for the Women’s Detention Camp in Rainbow/San Diego County. She mentors young musicians, many of whom have become sacred music leaders themselves. Fans find a connection in her music, using her music and teachings for personal growth and healing.