Yesterday saw the release of a very special album, Full Bloom (buy it for real here or digitally from iTunes), from Soft Circle, better known as our friend Hisham Bharoocha. We’ve known for a minute that Hisham was the mayor of Goodvibesville, but when we were an hour late to call him because we couldn’t figure out the stupid phone recording device (not awesome), HB called us (awesome), and then proceeded to give the run down on everything from the ins and outs of making music to his trip to Southeastern India tomorrow for a two-week artist residency to his fascination with traditional Inu and Burmese music to the fact that four appendages aren’t really enough to make the kind of music he wants to/needs to make (all awesome). Then, we got off the horn and realized that the phone recorder didn’t get anything Hisham talked about (totally, totally the opposite of awesome), and we had to call him back all over again to get the details one more time. Hisham, being one of the better forces in the Milky Way, said yes (ultimate awesome). Read all about (some of) it after the jump.
So let’s talk about the specifics about when you were recording the album—again. Hah.
(Cellphone cuts off, Hisham calls back)
Um, so let’s see, so I wanted to challenge myself to see how far I could go with the project on my own. I guess I wanted to try and make something that came purely from me. Since I’m playing every instrument, it’s like the frequencies were coming directly from me and that created this pureness. That was a nice challenge to have, and the way I recorded it was to play the instruments that I usually played live at the same time—for example the guitar the drums and the vocals. If I had a song where I played all three of those at the same time, I would do one take in that way and then do overdubs on top of that later, so it was playing electronic drums and real drums and vocals. I would do that all in a row as well and try and make one—that everything could be based off of. There is no real editing to the structure, it’s live, and I played live on top of it again and again. So I feel like it has a live feeling to it.
Who produced the album?
My friend Chris Cody, who recorded the latest Blonde Redhead album as well as a lot of the recording on the TV On the Radio record and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs last record and he’s recorded Celebration and a bunch of different bands that are not coming to mind right now.
Tell me a little bit about what kind of state you were in when you recorded it.
I think the goal for me is always to get closer to feeling like—I feel like when you have a good experience, what you feel is this love for life or you feel this inner sort of bliss. You’re at the beach and you feel so excited that you’re there or you’re in love or something and you have this amazing feeling. I’m always trying to be in that place. I have a meditation practice and it’s Vipassana-based, and it’s all about observing your life and observing sensations that you have in your body. I feel like making this record was sort of an observation of all the different moods that I feel. So it’s an expression of whatever I was going through in my daily life. If you listen you can always tell that I’m trying to get to that feeling of bliss or that feeling of inner peace or love and it is the voyage through feeling that, no matter what experiences I am having in my life.
What’s interesting too is that you are coming from a band like Black Dice and I wonder how much that informs the music you are making now?
Yeah, I feel like it definitely does inform it. It seems like with Black Dice it’s like a mental battlezone. And for the way I [was] trying to make this [album], it was [about] ignoring the choices to make battles with things or create tension. Instead, this is about just trying to come to peace with however I am. It’s more of an accepting sort of angle—to the world and to myself.
What about the tribal aspects of Soft Circle?
I think that with my music I’m trying to reach the trance-inducing state, which is parallel in my mind to having a peaceful feeling. You can hear that in all kinds of music—African drumming or Indian music or the Inu music I was talking about before. There are all these different places where that exists—for me, even death metal has a meditative feeling. Or composers like Terry Riley or Steve Reich—I feel like they had a Western approach to getting to the same feeling. The way those things connect, they’re trying to go for the same thing. It seems like the goal is similar.
The meditation…how long have you been practicing that?
In high school I did a certain type of mediation practice and I totally left it for a while when I was in school. And I felt like after I moved to New York, just trying to make it here you create all these rules for yourself in your mind—that creates a lot of tension that doesn’t need to be there. So I got back to my meditation practice because it seemed like the only way I could save myself. My mind was just overrun with all these rules and they were causing things to not happen in a positive way. I needed to sort of break up the energy, and meditation is definitely the way to really get in touch with being at peace and being able to objectively observe what I do and how the world works.
I still get caught up in getting so upset about what’s going on in the world, but sometimes there is no control and it doesn’t really create anything positive by getting upset about it or angry. So instead I try to create peace within myself or get in touch with that and try to deal with the world from there, because then you can really have a positive ripple effect with the world. If you can interact with the world through peace, then you can give people that viewpoint and hopefully—it seems like a longshot—but it seems like that’s the only realistic way to make a positive difference in the world these days, you know? That’s kind of my outlook on life—to not just be an entertainer but to sort of give that positive outlook. Hopefully that will ripple out into the world and that could be an inspiring thing for people creating and growing as people.
When you were talking about recording this, you mentioned that it got a little bit lonely, the lack of the collaboration—do you think for future Soft Circle work you might be working with other people?
I would like to try and see—it’s definitely hard to find people that have sort of a similar intention, but I want to search it out and see what comes to me. I don’t want to be limited to—it’s not an ego thing for me to play by myself, it’s just that it is the practice that I wanted to do. I’m definitely excited to try and connect with more people.
If you’re performing with other people, does that mean you aren’t going to be wearing that one-man Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation headset?
I might still be wearing it. I’ll probably still end up playing a bunch of instruments, but we’ll have even more layers to the music so that’s pretty much the goal.