Continuing down the path of phenomenal women in the electronic music world, we enter the realm of the ever so lovely, Living Light. Living Light, (Eartha Harris) is a life long musician with an incredible history. She has produced as Project Sphere from 1998-2006 and has been touring as live keyboardist for electronica act Psylab since 2007. As Living Light, Eartha has released two albums on Desert Dweller‘s-run-record label Desert Trax, including a #1 selling album on Beatport, and currently has individual tracks and remixes on Merkaba Music’s “Resonant Mind” compilation, Ayla Nereo’s “Hollow Bone” remix album, Desert Dwellers “The Gathering” EP and Heiss’s “Awaken(D)” remix album. Her music is filled with enchanting soundscapes and gorgeous rhythms. Her current release, Ecliptic ReVisions (out on Desert Trax as well), showcases beautiful remixes by Govinda, Kaminanda, Supersillyus, Kaleidescope Jukebox, Suduaya, Skytree, Erothyme, Om Frequency, and Sacred Sound, of her EP, Ecliptic Visions – available for purchase on iTunes. I have always been fascinated by her repertoire and have admired her strength as a female producer/musician for the past 17 years. Recently, I had the honor of interviewing with her on her journey through music, her newest release, thoughts on females in the music industry, and more. As I discovered more about her through this interview, I can say that Living Light is more than just an incredibly talented and intelligent musician, she is a role model to any female looking to break into the music scene. Aside from picking up her newest EP, Ecliptic ReVisions, find her on tour and experience her uniquely beautiful dub and downtempo sounds.
Jexime: What was the “a-ha” moment that inspired you to create Living Light?
Living Light: I knew I wanted to start a new solo project. I stepped away from my previous solo project in 2007 when I started playing live keys for Psylab. After touring on the road with the band for 5 years, I started really itching to get behind my computer again. Psylab was a really intense live setup. We had a bassist, a drummer playing a full Roland VDrum kit, a samples and effects guru, and me – usually playing at least 4 keyboards – topped off with our own monitoring system – all crammed into a tour-truck that we drove up and down the East Coast. The problem was that we had so much gear that it was too expensive to fly to gigs, so we could never branch out ~past~ the east coast.
Then on December 21, 2012 I had a vision, while sitting in a solstice ceremony, of the sun’s rays hitting the Earth and how the light from the sun and stars compose and effect everything in existence. My friend leading the ceremony was (and is) a healer and has many healing modalities, one of which is biophoton therapy. After seeing this vision, I turned and asked her about how exactly biophoton therapy works – for which she described as literally meaning “The Living Light”. I made a joke that Living Light would be a pretty great band name….and then suddenly, it wasn’t a joke at all anymore and I saw how brilliant (no pun intended) of a name it could be with all it’s different meanings ~ we are living light because we are all made of start stuff, we are living lightly upon the Earth if we are leaving a “light” carbon footprint, we are living light if we are not letting the negativity of the world drag us down too much (keeping a light and upbeat attitude), AND *I* would be living lighter than I was in the band because I could fit everything on my back and no longer have to lug around 4 keyboards and a monitoring system! **AH HA!**
And from that point onward, everything unfolded with divine timing. I went away to south India and was saturated with beautiful and mesmerizing scales, flutes, drums, sitars, and the sounds of the tropics for over a month. I spent a weekend in silent meditation on a houseboat in Kerala, waking with the dawn to see families bathing and praying along the banks as the golden sunlight nipped the tops of the waves. I visited temples where people fired off guns, smashed coconuts, and threw themselves into tantrums in praise of shiva – a deafening and violent cacophony of sound, all taking place in buildings that look like they were built for an amusement park in the 1970s. And the day I returned to Boston, the marathon bombing had just taken place and the entire city was shut down and there were tanks roaming the streets on the other side of town. What’s more, I returned home to my income, which I thought was stable, no longer waiting for me. I suddenly found myself without work and without a dollar to even leave the house, in a culture that i no longer wanted to be a part of, and I went into the biggest reverse-culture shock I could have ever imagined. All of this was the influence behind the first album.
But in that moment of horror at the world I had returned to, I remembered the amazing beings I met in India, many of which truly had nothing, and I looked around and saw my beautiful home and my amazing recording studio and realized that, while I didn’t have money, I had riches beyond what was even imaginable to many of these people that I had just spent my last month with. What’s more, I had opportunity, and I had maybe just enough time to do something great, it if I started right away.
From that moment, the music began flowing out of me and within three months I had my first album written. I *wish* I could always write that fast! Haha! Well, necessity is the mother of invention, they say. 😉
J: Ecliptic Visions is such a gorgeous piece of audible art. Hearing the preview for Ecliptic ReVisions has definitely been quite the tease; a plethora of such amazing talent and beauty. What was the impetus behind the album and what was the creative process like?
LL: Over my years in music, I’ve met a lot of very talented musicians and producers, and so I saw doing this remix album as being a great showcase of that talent. I also saw doing this remix album as a wonderful opportunity for cross-exposure between all of us involved. It is an incredible feeling to hear how your music is interpreted by another musician, and as a solo-producer turned jam-band-keyboardist turned back to solo-producer, that collaborative element was something I had been missing. I’m really proud of how the release came out and of how much attention and energy everyone put into it. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such talented innovators of the electronic sound 🙂
J: Which DAW do you work in? Do you use any outboard gear or are you primarily digital?
LL: After playing in Psylab, I wanted to take a break from outboard gear and have been producing with all VSTs (though I do still use a little Nord Modular on some of the tracks 😉 ). As for my DAW, I have been using Cubase for the past 10 years and it has not failed to disappoint! I love that program and could not imagine my life without it!
J: There has been an incredible rise of females joining together in the electronic music world – in your experience in the industry what are the most prominent changes you have seen take place?
LL: You know, it’s really hard for me to say. I’ve been producing electronic music for about 20 years now, and in that time my music has dipped in and out of various subcultures including goth/industrial, synthpop, jam bands, and now the transformational circuit. Out of all the genres that I’ve played in, the jam band scene probably had the least amount of female musicians and the goth industrial scene probably had the most. But I’ve personally never really paid much attention to gender in music. To me, the music is it’s own entity – beyond gender. To me, it just feels like a channeled expression of Source. I haven’t really said this publicly before, but I actually have a bit of discomfort around my music being identified by gender. For one, I feel the music writes itself, so to even claim full responsibility for it always feels a little funny to me LOL! – but to then tack my gender onto it feels even stranger. In the end, I don’t want people to listen to my music or book me for shows because I am a woman. I also don’t want people to NOT listen to my music or book me for shows because I am a woman. I want people to listen to my music because the like it, and book me for the same reason.
All that said, I do love that I am seeing more and more of my talented sisters rising up – even if for my own selfish reasons. As a gal who’s spent the last 20 years gigging with guys, sitting in crammed, smokey green rooms with guys, sitting in tour buses with guys, having to explain why she’s putting on makeup before getting on stage to guys, etc. etc. being able to potentially tour with other females feels like a breath of fresh air 😉 Haha!
J: What advice would you give to females just starting out?
LL: Well, the advice I have to give on the creative process is the same for both genders. Just do it! When you first start out, you might feel disappointed by how long it takes to make the sounds you’re trying to make, or get a song into a place where it feels like it’s coming together, but that’s all part of the process. Just keep going! You are probably going to hate the first 10 things you make, but somewhere along the way, you’ll stop comparing it to what you think it SHOULD sound like, and start appreciating what it actually DOES sound like… and that’s when the magic start to happen and your true art emerges 🙂
As for the touring life : My #1 tip for women is: Take care of yourself. Seriously. This is one place where men and women slightly differ. As women, we just biologically require more self-care to function at 100%. As a female musician in a world of men, I used to always want to be accepted as one of the guys and never wanted to be seen as a “prima donna” and so I’d refuse to receive help lifting heavy gear, and I’d drink beer in the green room if everyone else was, and I’d eat the crappy backstage pizza, and push myself to be awake at all hours, and feel weird if I needed to step away to do yoga or get my own food or put on makeup and do my hair before getting on stage. No matter what, the touring and gigging life is hard on the body – all night flights, sleep deprivation/jet lag, being crammed in a seat for hours and hours, bad airport food, bad turnpike food, sleeping on event promoters couches, sleeping in moldy motels, sleeping in cars, sleeping in pup tents, high stress, low pay – and somehow we’re supposed to stay looking young and fresh and beautiful and happy throughout it all. On top of this, producing music is a sedentary job – which is just terrible for the body in it’s own way. To keep from burnout, it is absolutely imperative that you do everything you can to be healthy – eat crazy healthy when you can, stay hydrated as much as possible, take vitamins and supplements, workout, do yoga, moisturize, cleanse, detox, nurture yourself, and try to stay away from the alcohol – which is probably going to be offered back stage in abundance in various forms. I’ve seen so many musicians bring added stress to their lives by not following this rule. Now don’t get me wrong, I like my occasional glass of wine, but there is a time and place for celebrating, and I have learned first hand that is not while touring. It just makes all the physical and mental stresses that come with the profession exponentially worse.
J: Seeing you perform live at PEX Summer Festival in 2013 and 2014 was an absolutely beautiful experience. *Thank you* for that. What plans do you have for 2015?
LL: So far my main focus this year, in addition to gigging festivals this summer, is finishing my next album “Tales from the Karman Line”- which I hope to have completed and released by this fall. It is my hope to then join forces with a larger act and do a proper tour. Fingers crossed! 🙂
J: What does the future of Living Light look like?
LL: The future looks bright! I am still amazed by how well the first album was received as well as each single and remix thereafter. The outpouring of interest and support has been phenomenal. I am looking forward to expounding on this sound further with the next album – which is going to be sold as a fundraiser for causes working to save the environment. I have always been inspired by the positive influence that we can have as musicians and public figures, and as nature has been the biggest source of inspiration behind my music over the past 15 years, environmental issues always hit closest to home for me. It’s the least I can do for mother nature to return the favor for all the inspiration she’s given me. 🙂
Living Light is currently on tour! Check out her website or facebook for upcoming dates in your town.
Purchase Ecliptic ReVisions on iTunes.