By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Rock At Night (RAN) likes to be eclectic and cover musical talent other than rock ‘n’ rollers from time to time. Musical taste, like flavors, needs a variety! We recently chatted with Rev. Yolanda who is releasing a world beat EP for those who appreciate a little Eastern flavor. Namaste!
Q&A with Rev. Yolanda!
RAN: I listened to songs from Rev. Yolanda’s Gospel Kirtan Vol 1. And Vol. 2. and I definitely see an evolution from country, gospel, and pop to more of a world beat, multicultural sound. Your new song “Wahe Guru” from the upcoming Yolanda Nanda EP seems to embody a whole new spirit as you have entered the realm of “ambient kundalini dance rock.” Can you describe your journey into this new sound from both a musical and personal perspective.
Rev. Yolanda: Over the last 5 years, I have been listening to mantras and kundalini music artists almost exclusively. I have been thrilled with the work of Khrishna Das, Belinda Carlisle, Snatum Kaur, Manorama, Wade Morrisette, and so many others. My husband, Rev. Glen and I go to kirtans as often as we can, and I personally have developed a morning mantra singing practice. I have been interested in Middle Eastern sounds ever since I first heard the Beatles song “Within You Without You”. The spiritual transcendence of this music both grounds me and transports me. I know my self and others as inter-dimensional beings that exist on many levels. When I listen to, and sing mantras, I feel connected to all of the dimensions at once.
RAN: The song “Wahe Guru” is really catchy and I could see myself doing belly dancing to it. It has that kind of groove. When you wrote it, was it meant to be a dance song?
Rev. Yolanda: YES! it Was! .. and a special surprise on the album is a dance remix version by longtime friend singer songwriter producer Freddy Freeman. I LOVE dance music and I hear it incorporated into the kundalini artists I admire. I also have a connection to dance music from the clubs when I used to go out in my youth. At one point in the 80s I was signed to Chrysalis Records as a dance artist.
RAN: Other songs from the upcoming EP Yolanda Nanda include “Ades Tise Ades” and “Your Eyes”. They appear more suited for spiritual meditation. How were these songs inspired? Do you regularly practice yoga?
Rev. Yolanda: I am very into meditation, and as I said before I have a morning mantra practice. The songs “Ades Tise Ades” and “Your Eyes” (really all of the songs) were inspired by singing along with the artists I love as they do their own versions of the mantras. Ades Tise Ades in particular was so deeply moving to me that I cried and cried when I first heard it. I love it so much. In the case of “Your Eyes”, I felt the power of compassion when I chanted the Tara mantra and it reminded me of how we need each other to heal. After I recorded the song, COVID hit us and I made the video to encourage us all to be compassionate with each other.
In terms of yoga practice, I’m not yet acclimated to actual yoga poses. I want to incorporate the physical yoga aspect into my morning practice. I’m taking small steps toward that goal.
CD ReleaseParty- Aug 4,2020 8pm on StreamYard and https://www.facebook.com/REVYOLANDA
RAN: All of your music invokes a positive message. This is even more important to us now during the pandemic! Is there anything that you have learned about yourself during the last few months?
Rev. Yolanda: OMG YES! I have realized how much I don’t see because of my own white privilege. I have wonderful friends who have been able to share with me the blind spots I have. I believe I have allowed myself to experience feelings of anger, bewilderment, hopelessness AND HOPE in a way that I haven’t allowed myself to do before this. I can see how, in the past, I have used my spirituality sometimes as a “bypass”. My spirituality has become more grounded and connected to social justice. I see a HUGE human consciousness shift happening now in this world.
RAN: The big release date for the Yolanda Nanda EP is August 4th. Is there anything planned to celebrate its release? With all the social distancing, I was wondering if this is possible?
Rev. Yolanda: YES- a CD release PARTY, August 4th, 8pm- online of course. We will use the StreamYard Platform, but will simulcast on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/revyolanda We will share the music and videos with special guests who helped me make this music happen now, including my husband Rev. Glen Ganaway (who introduced me to mantras in the first place), my singing partner/spiritual advisor Doreen Younglove, producer Phil Carroll and producer Freddy Freeman. We’re hosted by Sidekick Productions- the award winning producer of the web series Skeleton Crew- where I’ve had a reoccurring role for 5 seasons, as a trans character. Joshua Pangborn creator of Skeleton Crew, and the new webseries Demon Doctor will host the party with Nakia Reynoso who was a semi-finalist on the first season of ‘The Voice’ and also a cast member of Skeleton Crew!
RAN: So what is next on the horizon for Rev. Yolanda? Do you have plans for a full album? Are you still writing Eastern influenced music or are you experimenting with even more genres?
Rev. Yolanda: YOLANDANANDA 2 !!!!!!!!! Yes there is another YolandaNanda coming. I’m already working on it. This will take the listener even deeper into the mantra/meditation experience. I’m doing extended play songs 6-8 mins at least. The songs will focus on deep spiritual insights, wholeness, the Path of The Beloved, and conjuring powerful esoteric energies. I also will combine certain Christian traditional hymns with some of the mantras, giving a different perspective to songs we already know. Its gonna be a TRIP (with or without mushrooms).
RAN: Best of luck to you, Rev. Yolanda. Thanks for chatting with Rock At Night.
Rev. Yolanda: Thank YOU so very much for the interview!
Music for purchase available exclusively through this website at a “pay what you will” price point until Sept 4, 2020 when distributed on Spotify and iTunes/Apple Music, as well as all major digital distributors such as Amazon.
Physical CDs are available now at KUNAKI
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