Interview by Daisy Jones, Featuring Artist Aïsha Devi
Release Date: 2015
Album: Of Matter and Spirit
Genre: Experimental Techno
Style: Abstract Ethereal Techno
Josh- I found this song and video after listening to Amnesia Scanner on Youtube, it was referred to me and just the visual thumbnail showing the performance directed by Chinese artist Tianzhuo Chen was enough for me to decide that I would be sharing this video and piece of music. There’s a lot of meaning in the visuals that are accompanied by the high pitched vocals and electronic techno structures. I strongly recommend this piece to any human that has the ability to press play, and without a doubt Aïsha Devi’s answers about artistic process and beliefs in this interview are really quiet impressive and extraordinary.
Daisy Jones: High-pitched, candy-coated vocals, shimmering synth lines and heart-thumping bass are stitched over images of near-naked people wearing rubber masks, drooling at each other and munching on the carcass of a raw chicken in this completely off-the-wall music video for Aïsha Devi’s electro masterpiece “Mazdâ”. If the video, which was directed by Chinese artist Tianzhuo Chen, feels overwhelming, then that might be because it’s so heavy with reference points that they all eventually bleed into one multi-coloured, iconoclastic creation. With symbols such as third eyes, the shiva, swastikas (a sign that was used universally before it was hijacked by the Nazis) and Sadhu ritualism, it can be hard to keep up. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to. We speak to Aïsha Devi so she can tell us more…
Daisy Jones : “This video makes me feel insane! Tell me about the ideas behind it.”
Aïsha Devi: For me, it started with a crush on Tianzhuo Chen’s work, who is the artist who made it. When I saw some of his artwork I totally fell in love. It was so powerful. A lot of the symbols he uses in his work, I use too, symbols that have a religious background but are used in a very iconoclastic way. These ideas corresponded exactly to what I was trying to do in music. So I wrote him an email and he also felt the same connection. We’ll probably continue collaborating together – this is just the beginning. He practices Tibetan Buddhism and he really uses his body as an expression and works on the limits of his body. It’s very close to bondage. But instead of inflicting suffering on your body for spectacle, it’s for enlightenment – which I feel a lot of this video is about.
Daisy Jones: Do you feel like the sound of your music has those same religious, or spiritual ideas?
Aïsha Devi: For me, religion is dogma, tyranny and mind control. If you see the application of religion it manipulates the masses, but also religion is about exclusion. Spirituality is about inclusion. It’s about including every single being in one form. I’m absolutely monist. I think that religions try and make us ignorant and worship icons that are images and outside of yourself. But if you drop this, you start working on your inside. All you can work on is your own energy. When I’m singing I’m in a meditative state and I’m mixing mantras and I’m working on the frequency of my voice more than the significance of the words. After a while, the repetition makes you lose the sense of the words and you come to a state of serenity. In Western Europe, we love words and we love a message. To me, pop music is so connected with advertisement and the format is so close to propaganda. I like to get away from that pop format and transcend that square vision of European music.
Daisy Jones: There is something very meditative about this track in particular – in it’s rhythms and repetition.
Aïsha Devi: Meditation started as inspirational and then it became a method. I was an outcast and grew up very solitarily and depressed with no friends. When I started art school I met some people that helped me reconcile with humans and I realised that I was not the only person on earth. I was anorexic for fifteen years and had eczema all over my body. But when I started meditating, that all went away – which was a revelation. It was a healing process. Music was already a healing process for me and meditation was also healing. Then both methods merged and became one thing. Now when I make and perform music it feels like a transcendent form of expression, and a healing method.
Daisy Jones: Your new album Of Matter and Spirit is out today. What does it sound like?
Aïsha Devi: I know what I’d like to achieve with it, but I have no idea what it sounds like. I never listen to my music. It feels weird to listen back. But I think it’s very different to anything I’ve done before. I wanted to do something that was conceptually relevant. It’s called, ‘Of matter and spirit’ because I think we’ve lost the balance between the materialistic, external things and the spiritual, internal things because capitalists want us to only believe in what we buy and see and what we have in our hands, which isn’t true.