Playing in a temple

Music

Miten talks to Punya on his album ‘Devotee’ and the recently-released ‘Deva Premal – The Essential Collection 1998-2020’.

Devotee by Miten - coverLast October, when Devotee came out, Madhuri wrote a review about the album praising your voice of that of a ‘matured’ man, the lyrics of your songs, thanking you for creating ‘for all these years the sound-track to our bliss’.

I understand the tracks were newly re-recorded and arranged, how was it for you to re-visit some of the older songs?

Yes, right, some of my older songs had a rebirth. I loved the whole process of recreating songs with different musicians… magic happens – and I was looking for the magic.

Deva and I call our touring band ‘the temple band’ – Joby Baker, Spencer Cozens and Miles Bould. All truly great musicians who understand our vibe and devotion to meditation through music. Every night before we go on stage, we chant and I remind them that they are playing in a temple… no matter how big the concert hall is… when we begin to play, Osho is always with me, and every venue is Buddha Hall.

So when Deva and I were in Australia for a tour we decided to record the album at the same time… and we spent a week with the band just having fun and playing whatever came to my mind. I wanted the songs to have a loose feel, not too structured… more open to interpretation… and breathing in relaxation.

'The temple band' in Rocking Horse Studio, Byron Bay - with aboriginal art
Rishi playing his tribal drum
Happy boy! - I played electric guitar for this album - no acoustic!
Our beloved Manose
Deva in the studio
Joby - best bass player!
Our Baba Julian plying blues harp on 'Bring me your love'
Spencer Cozens / piano + keyboards
My amp with Saraswati
Spencer and Joby - they love to make magic in the kitchen too
Joby loves his food!
My family

I wanted there to be a depth in the actual performance of the music. We were playing on the edge of life… in meditation… a deep groove and playing with sincere and focused attention to the mystery of life and death. I wanted it to be the kind of album that could accompany people in deep and sacred moments in life.

Not only sad… but also deeply celebrative! It is basically Osho’s view of celebration of leaving the body – and the mystery of it all.

So… older pieces like Silent space with you and Rhythm of the heart fit with the vision and it was so nice to revisit them with the band.

Into your hands I lay my spirit has always been a favourite in music group, but I wanted an alternative and more creative musical composition. It wasn’t until after the recording that someone told me that according to the Bible these were the last words of Jesus, and this added to my vision for the album.

I was helped in the composition of the song by our keyboard player, Spencer Cozens, and bass player, Joby Baker, who produced the album with me. Rishi played hand drums.

There are some new songs in it as well. Anything you want to say about them?

Dance when you walk is a good message, walking in godly rhythm – Jah rasta fari Osho!

Into your hands brought out the gospel in us all – ‘open your voice and sing to the beloved’.

Bring me your love is my Tantric love song… (bring me your darkness, bring me your light… bring me your love). Bring it all – I am ready to receive you as you are. (youtu.be)

Which of the songs is your favourite and why?

I love all the songs – they are my babies – I love them all equally, in different ways. I love Into your hands especially… we worked a lot on that track.

How was it to work with Deva, with Joby and Manose on this record?

It is always an honour!

It’s great to have Deva and Manose by my side in my life. We inspire each other. There is always a sense of love and care in everything we do. Whatever we do is always fun – creative fun, and with a sense of love and good intention, and respect.

For me and Deva every concert is music group/satsang – every note is for Osho, and even though Manose never met Osho, he feels him through Deva and me – and the music we make together… Wherever we are, we always feel we are playing for the community, the sangha.

There is such a variety in styles (blues, gospel, folk), still the tracks do not clash with each other. What holds them together you think? The arrangements – the background so to speak?

One reason for the similarity is that the album was recorded fast and everything has the same instrumentation… We played most of the album ‘live’ in the studio. I think that is the key.

And it was very loose. Sometimes the musicians didn’t know what I was going to play… they had to pick up the tune as it unfolded, Rivers of Babylon for instance. We were jamming a lot. Improvising…

The intention was to make music you can ‘let-go’ with, whether its a reggae track or a blues… it has the spirit of meditation.

It was a sacred time and we were playing sacred music.

Devotee to love, to music, to the divine, to Deva. Comments?

To life!

Deva Premal - The Essential Collection 1998-2020Now my questions regarding Deva Premal – The Essential Collection 1998-2020 that was released last week.

I read that you chose the songs and curated them into the 3 CDs. Where did you start? Made a list first, tick the very very essentials and then started putting them in order? Which order? Was it easy to choose? Was it easy to put them in a flow? I suppose you enjoyed doing this, going though so many memories…

I began by making a playlist of my favourite Deva tracks. It was in lockdown in March when Deva and I were in Costa Rica for our annual Costa Rica Gayatri Festival and Tantra Mantra program. With no touring schedule, I decided to revisit all our recordings and once I began – it felt so good – I decided it would be great to share it with friends.

There is so much Deva has recorded in these 22 years and I know many haven’t heard just how many amazing tracks she has released. Every morning I enjoyed, after my beach walk at 6am and my coffee and exercises… I would put on my headphones and sit in the garden and be with Deva – to listen to all these beautiful tracks… mantras.

One of my favourites is Keshava Madhava – Manose composed it after hearing it in a dream – Krishna was singing this to him in his dream. And this highlights the beauty of Deva – her voice, her serenity… such a tranquil spirit.

White Tara is also one of my favourites. The Gyuto monks of Tibet were incredible and they loved Deva’s voice in the midst of their strong, guttural chanting. The head monk, who chanted this with Deva had been in solitary meditation for three years, three months, three weeks and three days before we met him. He was the most gentle – and strong – human being.

We remastered and edited one or two pieces. For instance, Moola mantra, which originally on the album was about 50 minutes long. So, that one was an edit.

Deva with the Gyuto monks of Tibet
Deva with the Gyuto monks of Tibet for the recording of Tibetan mantras for turbulent times
Links

Devotee: devapremalmiten.com
Deva Premal – The Essential Collection 1998-2020: devapremalmiten.com

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Punya

Punya is the founder of Osho News, author of many interviews and of her memoir On the Edge.

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