Resonant Frequencies Vol. 1 – Rrao
You’re involved in a number of different electronic and dance music communities within NYC. What are those and what was your first formative experience with electronic and dance music?
Some of my first experiences upon moving back to NY and approaching the scene were at Trans Pecos. I was working there, and at the time there were lots of diverse communities utilizing the space. I was so happy to see communities of women supporting women within dance music, as well as LGBTQ & POC visibility. I have to give a shout to Hannah Daly (HD) who was incredibly welcoming and supportive, and works to get marginalized people behind the decks! After my time at Pecos I began working at the record shop Halcyon, and soon after as a sound engineer with subBASS Sound System. Both of those experiences deepened my connection to the underground dance community, the latter most intensely. My life really began to revolve around it then, and certainly does now. I currently work as a sound engineer at Output as well, which has ushered in a new slew of promoters and parties.
My first experience with electronic and dance music happened through my parents and extended family. There was always a focus on music in our house. We'd have our own little dance "parties" and listen to all sorts of stuff. I remember my Mom listening to Cafe Del Mar, and my parents going to see Tiesto, etc. My brother, Trishul, was also really into it. He is amazing. He was making dance tracks in his teens on our old pc as DJ RPM (hehe) circa 2001. I still have that CD! My cousins in India played a big part in it, too. They were influenced by stuff in the UK, and when my brother and I would visit them in the summer we'd all listen together and connect through it. We still do!
As a practicing reiki healer, do you feel there is overlap between your spiritual and musical work? How did you begin studying reiki?
I was introduced to the healing arts as a teenager from my mother, Sandhya. She's a Massage Therapist and Polarity practitioner, which is very similar to Reiki. That introduction opened my eyes to the validity of energy work, and deepened my understanding of the greater forces at work. I have studied with various spiritual masters since I was 12, most prevalently with Sri M, a Kriya yogi. In 2015 I walked 2200km across India with him, spreading a message of peace and meditating with thousands of people. After that experience, and opening up to many sensitivities within myself, I became inspired to find a way to use that sensitivity in a proactive way. When I got back to to New York in 2016 I found my Reiki teacher, Corinne Feinberg, and went on to complete the Usui/Holy Fire Reiki I & II trainings with her. I'm actually wrapping up my training and finishing the master level next week! Very thrilled about that. At present, my end goal is to use both as a vehicle to share the same experience. To take from the well that I can access when I'm connected with Reiki and bring that power into my music in order to subliminally invoke the same sentiments, create shifts, or just touch people in some way. It's funny.. I want everything to be so intensely profound in life.. basically because of the profundity in the connections I have felt with other energies, like Reiki..this intelligent, universal, loving, healing force. It's insane really! How do you come back from that and just go through the regular motions, you know? As with any high, I have to come down and I find myself searching and trying to keep that connection going in whatever I am doing. It drives me mad and is perhaps silly and lofty, but it inspires me.
You can often be found on various dance floors in Brooklyn, listening attentively and lovingly to the soundsystems you help set up. What’s going through your mind during those moments? What are you listening for exactly?
Aw, lovingly! I'm mainly listening for balance and saturation, while also connecting with my physical response to the frequencies that are present. Making sure I can feel it!
What can you tell us about your mix? If you can convey one thing to listeners through it, what would it be?
This mix has been helping me look at otherwise challenging things with joy and momentum.
Now, perhaps more than ever, NYC dance floors are a politically charged zone. What do you dance for?
At risk of being cliché..empowerment, liberation, and to support and celebrate the community of people I am dancing with.
As part of our mix series, we ask our contributors to choose one charity they’d like to shine a light on. Do you have a cause you’d like to let others know of?
There is so much going on in the US right now that needs attention, but the organization that has been the most constant in my life is the Satsang Foundation, which works in tandem with the Manav Ekta Mission. You can peep them at http://satsang-foundation.org and http://manavektamission.org. The founder, Sri M (Mumtaz Ali), is a dear friend of mine and someone that I admire deeply. He puts his ideals into practice as an educationist and spiritual teacher, working tirelessly to unite people beyond religion, race, nationality, class, etc.