October 19, 2019
Miten is a British musician known throughout the Yoga and Alternative Healing community for his songs of redemption and transformation. He travels with his long-time partner in music and life, Deva Premal, creating meditative evenings of mantra and song to millions of devotees around the world.
An Interview with Miten: The Heart of a Devotee
Interview by Sandra Sedgbeer
To listen to the full interview of Miten on What Is Going OM with Sandie Sedgbeer on OMTimes Radio, click the player below:
It’s a pretty rare thing for us to devote an entire episode of What Is Going OM to music. But when we do, you can bet there’s nothing ordinary about the music and the musicians that we’ve chosen to feature. We’re going to be talking about the latest album from singer and songwriter, Miten, who is celebrated worldwide, not only for his work with musical soulmate and mantra star Deva Premal, but in his own light as a composer, producer, and creator of international inspirational albums that regularly top iTunes in the Amazon charts.
Sandra Sedgbeer: Miten, We’ll come back. It’s so good to have you back on.
Miten: Thanks a lot, Sandy. I’m happy to be back. I’m happy to be anyway. Right?
Sandra Sedgbeer: Ever since the invention of tape decks, music lovers have been curating their own playlist music, or have played in the background while they’re working. But I think it’s pretty fair to say that few people, if any, have thought of creating a playlist of music to die too. But your new album Devotee is, in a sense, just that.
Miten: I have to say to the musicians as we were playing it, and my band, they know me well for that, I had to keep reminding everyone, can you die to this? Can you die as we were playing a piece, so it kept us on a kind of conscious level of empathy and compassion? It was a very beautiful journey for all of us because of that. By dying, I also want to make sure that you guys understand that anytime we let go into the moment, it’s a little death, and it’s a little resurrection. So, it really is music. I wanted you to be able to play and just chill out, just relaxing to space in the music, which is what I like to imagine we all do in our concerts. Just forget the day today, superficial stuff that we all have to deal with to get through life. But underneath that, there’s this other world where we have it with which we inhabit. And that’s the world of tears, and hopes and wishes and laughter and joy and, and, and longing and all those beautiful qualities that come with a spiritual name, but actually they’re just human. We were playing one night, we would just come down at the end of the mantra, and it takes us a while, and it’s like landing a 747 airplane, it takes a long time when you’re to come right down to a silence space. And as we were coming down, I thought to myself, this is the music I want to hear when I’m dying. I just want to be able to create music that supports that journey of being able to relax into the moment for a while.
Sandra Sedgbeer: Miten, You, had open-heart surgery in March of 2018 and I spoke to Deva in an interview she and I did at the end of last year about, how your music, Gayatri Mantra, helped you with some of the emotional, and physical, the fallout from that. I wondered that because you’ve said about your new solo album Devotee that your priority is to express musical excellence without ever losing sight of the basic objective, which is to create support for vulnerable moments in life when our defenses are down, and our heart is open. It made me wonder how much of the inspiration for “Devotee” sprang from your own experience of being vulnerable when your heart course quite literally opened.
Miten: Well, it definitely amped it up. You’re right. It definitely brought it all into focus. I feel like all the music that I’ve made in these last 40 years; since I first came to Osho, I was a young guy, 30. I was a songwriter, that was my occupation, my career. I stopped that when I came to Osho because I wanted to cleanse myself and get rid of the identification of being a musician, of song rights, or making music for money. So, all this, when I stopped playing, I just chopped the carrots and washed the rice in the ashram for many years, until the music came back naturally. It came back from the sense of gratitude and of being born out of a silent moment. Also, the other thing about the album is I revisited, and I haven’t played electric guitar for years so that was a whole different palette we had as a band. The album and especially on the opening track, Eyes/Ocean, you get the feel of floaty, but with a subtle groove all the way through, some need to relax and, and just flow with.
Sandra Sedgbeer: What’s the significance of the title Devotee? Why did you choose that word?
Miten: My story is that basically at 30 years old, I threw up whatever life I had been living and came upon an Indian mystic, and I lived basically with him ever since. That was Osho. And over those years, I understood the relationship between the disciple and the guru being very much mystical. It’s not a follower-leader, a leader-follower. It’s not what people think it is. It’s very much this mysterious thing that happens between a disciple and a guru. I’ve come to understand this, and again, I’m not a great scholar, but what I understand is that to be a devotee is when you move beyond, any kind of a label, and I realize that I am a devote of life. I’m devoted to this mysterious unfold in that I find myself in, and the music itself has become my teacher, has become my living guru. I see music as a very much as an alive spirit, something that exists in all of us all across the planet.
Sandra Sedgbeer: There are nine songs on this album, and I had a hard task trying to choose three that we could play one in each segment. I liked them all, but I’ve chosen to play “Rhythm of the heart.” Can You tell me a little bit about the inspiration for that song?
Miten: it’s a love Song, Sandy, really. The heart is such a mystery and an understanding of what it is to be in the rhythm of the heart; it’s not, it’s love, you know? And so, it’s way bigger than our minds and way bigger than us. We tried to manipulate love and relationships, anything like that, you come to see that we’re just a tiny speck compared with the power of love. So, there’s a mystery, and there’s a rhythm that I like to feel. I always tell my friends and my younger friends who have kids, make sure to help them with rhythm, that’s as important as speaking. Help them to make sure that they can feel where the one drop and the two and the three in the fall. It helps children to be grounded in the present in their own energy. Yeah. The rhythm of the heart.
Sandra Sedgbeer: All the songs on “Devotee” are quite long. I mean, they range from four minutes to nine minutes. Why is that?
Miten: I don’t know. I don’t know. Just because you can, I mean, I don’t think in terms of the radio or anything, really Sandie. So, I’m very grateful that you enjoyed the music and that you play little excerpts from it. I ‘m very honored that you do that; it’s not my intention when I go in into the studio to make three-minute songs or something like that. I just like to let them roll and see. One of the things about making music, and I found that in the albums I’ve done with Deva or, I’ve produced, and it’s that there’s something about, repetition, and not following a specific structure that leads to an unusual listening because not many kinds of music does that. And I just found, yeah, that’s what I like to do. And I learned that with David because when she started to chant the Gayatri Mantra, she mentioned back in 1996 or something when she was seven, she was born to the Gayatri Mantra and, this mantra gave me as a musician the opposite, the possibility to enjoy a different landscape, a different palette. There was no nobody, there was no pre-ordained idea of what the music should be. Nobody was making mantra music back then. Only Krishna made one CD, and Jai Uttal had made one.
I put the essence out, and that was the first time we felt like, oh, we are just singing. Just don’t worry if it gets boring, it’s not, it doesn’t matter. It’s not about that; it’s just about given the person who’s receiving it space to just speak it, just have it there and relax. And so, I learned that lesson when I put the chords to the Gayatri Mantra and started to record that. It was a thing that Deva, and I coined a phrase we used to say to each other, “trust the chant.” And so, we were just singing it for 10 minutes or whatever, and you have this possibility to go into a deeper space, psychically and spiritually with the music that does that. So that’s why I like to do it.
I just promised myself that no record company is going to tell me what to do anymore. No manager is going to tell me what I should put on the cover. It’s just Deva and me, and we’re just doing it. You know, we’ve just always put out our own music. Whatever money comes, it goes back into the whole thing, and it just, we let that whole thing circulate.
Sandra Sedgbeer: I think your audience knows that, and that’s why people gravitate to you. You mentioned at the beginning, um, the album begins with Eyes/Ocean, which is described as an expensive meditated journey. This one actually features Deva herself, in a guest role. Is there a reason she doesn’t sing on many of your songs, many of your albums?
Miten: Yeah, there is a reason. When we started to sing together in the Ashram, Deva still had a German accent quite strong, and she was very shy; she would sing second voice to me. I was kind of lead guy back then when we started because everybody knew me from the Ashram. They didn’t know Deva. Deva wasn’t a musician, she wasn’t known as a musician. She was actually a bodyworker. She was a masseuse, and reflexology and different things that she was focused on in the Ashram. What happened was that when Deva found her voice, which was much later, when she rediscovered the Gayatri Mantra she was singing in this language that didn’t require her to sing in a certain way. Deva’s German accent did her work at fitting in with my English words. But when she discovered the guidance from within, suddenly she was free. She was singing in Sanskrit, and Sanskrit is not only an ancient language, but it’s a very strong language. She does sing on many of my songs actually, but she’s not featured as she is in this one. I have to say on this one, Eyes/Ocean, who is featured is Manose with a beautiful Indian rock singing that he does on the, on the album and, on this track.
Continue to Page 2 of the interview with Miten