As the season changes, so does the sound: Following up from 2014’s Here For Love,
Kirtan Soul Revival’s new album REMIX brings new elements to the already full and funky KSR groove. Joining forces with Todd Keller, Calia Marshall and Helen Styring Tocci on the album are several noted electronic music producers and DJs.
Each artist brings their own vision to the devotional tunes. The remixing maestros include Srikalogy and Duke Mushroom on the opener, “Ganesha Sharanam;” DJ Hip Sockit and Nur Habib on “Sacred Ground;” and THEOTONE on “Rhadye Shyam.” tm.pOMpey — AKA Terrence Pompey, KSR’s drummer—contributes reimaginings of 3 tracks: “Kali Ma,” “Jaya Bolo Ram,” and “I Release.”
“Working with Terrence and listening to his electronic music was one of the inspirations for
creating the album,” says Helen Tocci.
“On tour, Terrence would occasionally play us something he was working on and we would always love it,” adds Calia. “And we’ve been friends with Srikala for quite a few years now…So we realized that we knew some talented folks that we could collaborate with."
The electronic beats give a dance vibe to KSR’s mantras, in what became a collaborative process for everyone involved.
“Everyone likes to work differently,” says Todd. “We did ask ahead of time for a rough draft to make sure we were on the same page…some back and forth edits with suggestions and discussions between all of us.”
“We were responsible for the sequencing of the album,” says Helen. “Aesthetically how all the pieces would come together, because the electronic artists hadn’t heard each other’s music. But it’s magical -- they all had very clear purposes, and they were all different.”
Todd himself got into the “mix” as well, contributing his own take on the closing track, Sri Krishna Govinda. “That actually came about because we were almost a little short (of tracks) at one point, explains Todd. "We were hoping to get another track or two done by
other people and it didn’t pan out. So I said, 'I'll try it!' 'Sri Krishna Govinda' was the last track on our first full-length record (Here for Love), which had nothing but a capella vocals and a violin. So it was pretty much wide open to interpretation. It was a challenge because there was no guide for the timing of the vocals. A lot of work but a really fun process, I had no idea how much joy I would get. It's really interesting to hear the original track and then the remix."
KSR is spending the launch month on a tour of California, including an appearance at Bhakti Fest West. Then they will be celebrating the release of REMIX on Saturday September 24 at a place the group has called home many times, the legendary Integral Yoga Institute.
The fun begins at 7 pm with refreshments, followed by a KSR concert with special guests, and then a dance party with DJ tm.pOMpey and DJ Hip Sockit spinning. The evening will conclude at 10:30 after a traditional community circle.
“On the last tour we had a couple of dates with DJ Hip Sockit, where we were playing kirtan in preparation for ecstatic dance,” says Helen. “It was really exciting and very successful, and that’s one way this album has influenced our artistic work. The CD release party will be more like that. We’re broadening our genre and the breadth of how we share our devotional music.”
"Helen and I are both dancers, we met through dance, so that holds a similar space in our hearts to chanting," says Calia. "These practices are really helping us embody our expression, to connect to the divine, and to the divine in others. It's been a blessing to bring those two practices together."
Anyone who has enjoyed KSR live should love the multilayered REMIX. The three-part harmonies are in full evidence, creating lush waves over the new wash of pulsing drum beats and inventive electronica. It’s great for yoga practice, running, bopping along at your desk or just closing your eyes and drifting into a world of pure meditation. The rousing “I Release” is impossible to sit still through, and you’ll find yourself singing along to the Hey Jude callback at the coda of “Kali Ma.” And as promised, the closing “Sri Krishna Govinda” has been transformed into a synth symphony. Recommended for devotees of both Devotional Yoga and modern dance grooves.