SFYogaMag caught up with Nordic songstress HÄANA in anticipation of her upcoming events this month. She’ll be facilitating a meditative sound experience DEEPSØNØS, at Harmonia in Sausalito on Friday March 11th and performing at Morning Gloryville on Wednesday March 23rd . HÄANA has toured internationally in the EDM world, has been featured in Vogue and Yoga Journal, and special appearances include performing for Michael Jordan's wedding, opening for The Rolling Stones with Kanye West, and for Obama's Inaugural Ball. She is deep in the yoga/music/meditation scene, performing at festivals and events around the world with her brand DEEPSØNØS. We can't wait to see her live!
Can you tell us a bit about your musical background?
My first instrument was the violin—I started playing classically (Suzuki method) at age 3. I come from a musical family and my mother taught me a little piano also. My sisters played the flute and clarinet and oboe, and I would write and arrange music to perform for my family at holidays. That was fun :) I lived in Spain for a year, and was very inspired by the artistic culture there. I started improvising and writing my own music. I ended up traveling with a dancer from northern Spain, and we’d perform together. Her dance would inspire my music and the same in reverse. We lived on Formentera and had a very free lifestyle of lots of performances. I started a few projects on the east coast: Copal, a middle eastern/eastern european influenced band in Boston, and when I moved to NYC, Nyxyss with Haj i Ji, an IDM-centric eclectic DJ/violin project. I attended Dubspot, electronic music production school in NYC and shortly thereafter I started my solo project HÄANA and started to produce my music and tour with it to EDM and transformational as well as yoga festivals.
Wow, you seem to have traveled quite a bit and picked up an eclectic mix of influences along the way. You also cite many Icelandic musicians as inspiration - how does the Icelandic culture and landscape influence your creativity?
I spent 2 incredible weeks in Iceland a few years ago—I was the official photographer on a yoga retreat, and followed that with a week of exploration and adventure in Reykjavik and surrounding. One of my favorite memories from that trip was traveling to the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands), a cluster of islands to the south. I took my violin along on a boat trip, and performed a sonic improvisation in a gorgeous acoustically-rich cave to an audience of about 40 Icelanders. So inspiring. I also traversed the land divide between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, at Þingvellir (Thingvellir), and felt compelled to sing—created a beautiful simple melody that I captured and then later used as the basis for one of my compositions. I am very inspired by the music coming out of Iceland and Scandinavia. It feels rooted, earthy, organic and so captivating. I revived a traditional folk melody with Brym Al Mar, using it as the basis for that cinematic piece.
So, with such a vast knowledge at your disposal, are you producing using both analog and digital instruments?
Yes, I write a lot with violin and piano, I incorporate a lot of found sounds and textures in nature. I recorded the sounds of bird calls, seed pods, crunchy bits, breaking sticks in the jungle of Costa Rica, and used those sounds in this first DEEPSØNØS Episode:
On Brym Al Mar, I recorded organic shakers and percussive elements: mustard seeds, peppercorns, dried rice, etc, and worked that into the rhythmic portions. So fun :)
How cool! And what inspires you when recording meditation music like DEEPSØNØS?
I love to create a mood or a feeling, to tap into the space that I would like to drop people deep into, whether it’s a visual or auditory inspiration as the basis for the environment. I turn off the logical part of me, and tap more into the abstract creative part of me. I record violin in a few passes. On one meditation, I recorded a full 10 minutes of me playing a low A. That was a meditation unto itself. Yes I could have just recorded a snippet and then cut and spliced it together into one long note, but I wanted that intense physical meditation of one long multi-bowed drawn out note. Vocals are generally used more as a texture or color, no lyrics, and aiming for a pure tone, breathy and angelic. I feel supercharged after recording or performing vocals for meditation: so much more oxygen, so much more connected with my physical body, and vibrating in every cell of my being.
What a beautiful way to put it. Clearly, the process of creation is akin to meditation. Has producing DEEPSØNØS and performing at yoga festivals expanded your practice of yoga and meditation?
Yes it has! I started my journey with meditation music, first with composing music for live events. I collaborated with my dear friend and talented yogi Aarona Ganesan in NYC, who founded Yoga Soundscape. Taking yoga classes with Aarona and developing a strong bond and friendship with her, and with her guidance as to what she was looking for from a music-driven yoga class, I was able to more deeply understand the practice and what I was building. I toured with Wanderlust Festivals for the past 4 years. I tapped into all areas of the festival: performing on the mainstages, accompanying yoga classes, leading sound meditation hikes, and this all culminated in me starting DEEPSØNØS as an amplified analog and digital deep bass meditation experience. You know when something is right because it evolves and expands exponentially. So far, I’ve had the honor to perform these workshops at numerous places internationally and on the west coast. I try to start each day with meditating in nature. And anytime I’m feeling stressed, worn down, or on a long travel day, need to get some supercharged rest, I’ll put on my headphones and drop in on one of my 10-minute episodes. While brief, I sometimes drift away and drop into a deep restful space, and wake up feeling like a new person.
And of course, I have to ask about SF! Do you spend a lot of time up in the Bay?
I’m currently based in LA, moved there from NYC about a month ago. I travel a lot and tour in the summer months. I’ve been spending a good amount of time in between tour dates in Sonoma County—a friend of mine has a studio and land up there where I go to write/produce/record, and I was just up there working on my new album for my solo project HÄANA, as well as some new 10-min meditation episodes for DEEPSØNØS
Well, we’re very excited to hear what you’ve been working on.
Find links to HÄANA’s music and upcoming tour dates at www.thisishaana.com
Photo: Sequoia Emmanuelle
Post written for SFYogaMag.com