When you think of “yoga music” the sounds of sitars and chanting may come to mind. But the music that is played in yoga classes has been evolving and changing over the years. The notion of “yoga music” is not as easily defined as it once was. The last time yourBuddhi sat down with Pete Kuzma, he talked about writing and producing a yoga album. Since then, he has not only composed ALL of the music for our videos, but has finished his own album as well. After listening to “Equilibrium” I have a whole new perspective and appreciation of what yoga music has the potential to be. Here Pete talks about his inspiration for the album and his viewpoint on music’s place in his yoga practice.
What made you want to create a yoga album?
My motives were pretty simple, really. Music has always had the power to enhance the every day. It is ancient, man. And whether it’s in our heads or in our iphone buds, we are hearing the soundtrack to our lives. I view the practice of yoga as a pretty special element in life, a gift. And I guess I just felt compelled to offer up my own soundtrack to that special element in hopes that it would or could help people feel a little more deeply.
Were there any artists that inspired you?
Not really. Lame, I know. I think I was more into how the album was going to ‘feel’ and ‘sound’ from a production value. I could mention an artist like Peter Gabriel, but it’s bigger than just him. It’s how producer Daniel Lanois was able to make so much space for the instruments, how it felt in the atmosphere and the context of what you were experiencing while you were listening to a song like “Mercy Street”. Another example is how far Ayub Ogada had his percussionist sit from the mic while he was recording his parts in the studio. And how those rhythmic elements were mixed, affected and lent themselves to creating a cohesive sonic aesthetic. Or how the frequencies and naturally occurring reverb of a piano behave during a solo Keith Jarrett concert in some huge opera hall in Bremen somewhere. So I think, for me, I was more inspired by all the subtle elements I knew I wanted.
The last time we talked, you said “I have this idea of creating a body of music geared toward savasana. It’s mellow, deep and takes you places.” Would you use the same words to describe the album now that it is done? Elaborate a bit on the overall feeling and mood you are looking to create for people.
I think I would actually use those exact words again. Except that in the end, I wrote and included some more upbeat (less savasana-esque) songs to create an album that would compliment a 75 min flow in its entirety. Meaning, it is formatted for a class and could be played from front to back. And of course there are a handful of compositions in there that would work during savasana as well. I hope that the album and its songs compliment someone’s yoga practice or listening experience.
There are some people who feel like music and yoga don’t go together. And there are those of us who think that music adds a unique and important element to the practice. What are your thoughts as both a practitioner of yoga and a musician on music’s place in yoga?
Really good question. And I gotta be honest. When I show up to a class and the teacher says ‘we’re gonna rock to the sound of our breath’, I get a little bummed. I can dig the purist vibe. And if you want that, and I think everyone should experience it, then let that be your thing. But it’s almost 2013 and the world is changing. Yoga is changing. Extremism in any one direction is not good. Bring on the remixes, Krishna Das, Desert Dwellers, Buddha bar compilations, etc. Music changes your brain chemistry. It is a free, non-overdosing drug. I say we find more ways to harness it. That sounds a little cultish and weird, but you get what I’m saying.
We’ll be giving away a copy of Pete’s new album at our Yoga & Breakdancing event on November 10th. Get your tickets and be entered to win!