July 06, 2019
The Vocalist and songwriter Simrit Kaur, born in Athens, Greece, adopted and raised in the American South, is one of these artists.
Her music and artistry, which have attracted fans such as Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go’s, is known for its depth, haunting beauty, edge, and psychedelic atmosphere. Drawing on the harmonic beauty and melodic sensibilities of the ancient Byzantine, Greek Orthodox chants she grew up with, adding the pulse of the West African drum traditions she studied, and fused with her training in piano and vocals from different traditions, Simrit and her band tease out distinct facets of mystical poetry and the intimate ardors of the spirit. Over the last several years they have created waves with packed theaters and concert halls, chart-topping albums, and raving fans that have powered a palpable musical movement.
Simrit Kaur is a Renaissance woman who is the CEO of her independent record label, SIMRIT KAUR MUSIC, and she has topped World Music Charts including iTunes at #1 for consecutive weeks at a time, many times over, and Billboard Music’s top 5 and 10 with her last four consecutive releases.
Simrit’s unique sound and artistic contributions have inspired and pushed the boundaries of world and chant music into new places, throwing off old conventions. She mixes distilled philosophical statements with ethereal and hooky arrangements, turns 16th-century Gurmukhi poetry into hypnotically grooving songs, develops anthemic melodies and feels, and creates epic soundscapes threaded with mantras. She brings the depth of the sacred and ancient to the modern.
An Interview with Simrit Kaur: Imagine If the Aurora Borealis Could Sing
Interview By Liane Buck
We sat with Simirt to discuss Ancient Mystic Wisdom, numinous poetry, and all the spiritual nuances of her musical Universe.
OMTIMES: Simrit, you are a well-known Transformative Artist, a Spiritual Teacher, and a Renascence Songstress with a harmonic and hypnotic voice. How and when did your spiritual call occur? Was there a mystical event or situation that changed your life and set you on Its numinous path?
SIMRIT KAUR: I’ve felt I’ve always been really inside the Mystical. Ever since I was a very young child in grade school, I can remember having a very real and casual relationship with prayer and the Infinite. It was never a big deal, and I always felt heard by the Universe. Somehow, I feel I came in this way. There was never a “spiritual call,” as I’ve always felt a deep relationship with the Mystical ever since I can remember.
OMTIMES: Snatam Kaur once said It about you: “For Simrit, singing is not a performance; it is a sacred worship of the Divine. Her voice, her music, and her teaching reflect It devotion, which seems to come from her so effortlessly. Its devotion is a gift, a talent beyond any that will lead thousands into the lightness of being, and awareness that is so vital to humanity in It day and age.” What is the role your personal devotional and your life experience play when you are performing your sacred music?
SIMRIT KAUR: It is something that I don’t feel I am purposefully trying to have come through while playing music. However, people tell me they feel it so strongly. The vibe is ancient, deep, and sacred because of my intimate connection with the Infinite. It’s not a formal connection I have with the Infinite. It’s very casual, informal, just like it was when I was younger. When we are younger, we are naturally more connected because we haven’t had time to be indoctrinated. So, there was something inside of me that said, “keep the connection you have now as you grow older on It earth, and you will always have a strong sense of self.” It was something that I felt when I was a young child. It wasn’t even a question. The connection is a connection and for some reason. I have always been strongly connected with the Infinite. As a child, I never understood why people felt they had to do so many rituals to get in touch when it was such a natural way to be and feel. However, as an adult, I can now see how some people need or even enjoy ritual to get in touch if that helps them to feel the mystical aspect of life.
OMTIMES: Do you consider yourself a fearless person?
SIMRIT KAUR: I consider myself a courageous person, a woman of true confidence that comes from my connection with my soul, who moves through the presence of fear when it arises. I consider myself someone that doesn’t get debilitated by fear, but more motivated by it. I think anyone who is living on the planet feels fear from time to time; it’s not about feeling fear; it’s about how we deal with it. It’s a choice.
OMTIMES: Where do you get your inspiration for your work? What inspires you to create such outstanding soundscapes?
SIMRIT KAUR: The motivation is Life, itself, and my relationship with it.
OMTIMES: I love your music videos. There is one in particular that left a haunting impression on me, and it is the one where you sing Akal. Could you explain to us the importance of this chant, and tell us a little about that video clip?
SIMRIT KAUR: The music video has the chant: Kal Akaal, Siri Kal, Maha Akaal, Akaal Moorat, acknowledges the Time and the Timelessness (Life and Death), The Great Undying, and recognizes that we are the Great Timeless.
Most of the videos that I put out are meant for the viewer to have their own experience. If I tell you a story about what it means to me, then you may adopt that for yourself. I like for my art to have a mystery in it, a mystery so that you have the permission to draw upon it what you are meant to draw upon.
OMTIMES: You have the gift to bring & bridge sacred knowledge, Ageless wisdom, to our modern world. What do you believe is the importance of the old Traditions such as Mantras, Kriyas, chants and devotional poetry to a western world that somewhat has problems distinguishing Religious from Spiritual Traditions?
SIMRIT KAUR: Mantras and Kriyas are forms of Art, especially if we treat them as such. True Art is ever-evolving and doesn’t belong to any one tradition, people, or restricted to any one time. I am an artist who brings Art to life, and Art brings me to life. It’s a symbiotic relationship; it’s never one way.
So, to the extent that I put myself into the Art is the extent of what the Art gives me.
When there is dogma placed on Art, then the point is lost and mute. True Art is understood by those who have respect for it and treat it as such. Art is meant to grow, expand, and evolve. Mantras and Kriyas are meant for anyone at any time in any place; there is no better time than now for these ancient practices to be a part of our modern world. It’s as simple as that.
They are tools to help us remember our genuine nature. When humans get a hold of something, they tend to want to have ownership of it and claim it for their own with rules and regulations. Thus, making it inaccessible to others. Instead, we have the opportunity to see Art for what it is and feel its expansiveness and how it has no limitation.
There is no room for dogma in that scenario. Dogma cannot exist when we experience the reality of these Mantras and Kriyas and our relationship with them.
These practices were given to us as a safe, practical, and highly effective tools for our evolution from the ‘fight or flight’ ways of being, that can permeate all aspects of our lives; to our more genuine and expansive nature. I feel that spirituality is the relationship we have with life, including ourselves. It’s inherent. Mantras and kriyas are tools we work with to experience our inherent spiritual nature.
OMTIMES: You were born in and grew up also in a Greek family. How did the haunting Byzantine & Greek Orthodox chants influence your artwork and shape your passion for the ancient and the sacred Traditions of the East?
SIMRIT KAUR: They all influence my melodic sensibilities and tendencies. They were the catalyst for me wanting to practice Kundalini Yoga. They all take me to the same place inside, and that is ultimately why I practice what I practice. Because ultimately, the place I want to be consistent, is that deep, mystical place that I get to inside myself that feels like home. I wanted this ever since I was a young child, or I can remember.
Continue to Page 2 of the Interview with Simrit Kaur