SOV Interview with
Deva Premal & Miten
by Heera Sazevich
Deva Premal and Miten are blessed with the great fortune of traveling the world showering audiences with music which uplifts the soul, cracks hearts wide open and transmits the deepest silence of meditation. An extraordinary gift that some lucky few here in Ketchum were able to enjoy during the Sun Valley Mountain Wellness Festival in May. The concert was a long time dream come true for Cheryl Welch, owner of Chapter One bookstore (whose sannyas name is Nimagna), who worked extremely hard to bring Deva Premal and Miten to this community. Thank you!
During the concert, Miten recounted a wonderful story about meeting and singing for His Holiness the Dalai Lama at a scientific conference in Munich, Germany. We took the opportunity to interview Deva Premal and Miten about this amazing encounter, their own spiritual practices and the vision for their music.
Deva Premal: There was a pre-conference where twenty scientists sat around in a circle with the Dalai Lama. And they would tell what they found in their science and they could also ask the Dalai Lama questions. There was this very beautiful moment when the Dalai Lama said to one of the scientists who was Brazilian, “I remember you from this conference we met at just a few months ago, and I remember your talk and it was about attachment always being a hindrance, like attachment to scientific ideas. It makes you not open. Attachment is always destructive and since then I’ve felt that I’m too attached to Buddhism and I’ve been practicing non-attachment to Buddhism.
Miten: It brought tears to my eyes and tears to Premal’s eyes. Somebody so humble and honest and so innocent who could be looked on as a world leader. It gave us such a warmth, because he is innocent, he is warm, at the same time he is involved in a lot of political maneuvers, and for him to come up and say this was really something beautiful.
Premal – Also that he would take every possibility to learn and expand, that he would be always open to growing.
Miten – So a woman asked him, she said she would like to know how many hours a day he meditated and what postures? What he did in his meditation and he replied again very warmly and simply, and he said “Oh you know I’m lazy, I’m lazy now, I used to be, I think he said something like that, that now I am lazy and only do five or six hours a day.
Heera : Were you guys nervous to sing for him?
Miten – We sat there in a circle and when the last person had spoken and it was time to finish the Dalai Lama goes, okay that’s it. And then the organizer jumped to his feet and said, “Your holiness we would like to offer you a mantra before you go from these singers” and he’s like “oh, very good, very good.” And so that was our moment and we stood up. Everybody in the room was focused on us. So we walked over there to him and I think we said to him something about what an honor it was for us to be there and be able to sing his favorite mantra to him.
Premal – I was nervous, the first few lines were a little wobbly.
Miten- And as we started to sing a silence started to come and then we just got into it, we just sang. We closed our eyes and we sang it in harmony and it was beautiful and we carried on singing it for awhile. You could feel the energy in the room start to take on a different quality and then we came to the end and we could feel the room starting to happen, everyone was quiet. We had our eyes closed and we knew it was the transmission was happening. At the end of the thing – we just finished like this and nobody moved and nobody spoke – just silence. And then the Dalai Lama said, “very beautiful, very beautiful.”
Heera: What is your core spiritual practice?
Premal – For me my life is – just me, every moment expressing it as I can, seeing God in everything and every moment, and that’s all the time playing music. Playing music is the easy kind of fun part.
Miten – I see music differently too. I feel like there’s a whole religious and deep connection around the music
Premal – Yes, but I feel my whole life is the music, everything I do is because of the music
Heera – What is your vision for your music?
Premal – He’s the visionary.
Miten – Well I think when we started out with Premal’s album, the essence, we happened on what producers call a sound. It was a certain sound that illustrated in nobody else had put together at that time and we were looking for it, but we weren’t consciously aware of making a new sound. We just had a feeling that the mantras, with a certain kind of musician, could make a warm and friendly sound that would assist our friends massage techniques. So that’s why we did it. What happened was we happened on a certain identity, Premal’s beautiful voice and a certain sound which had not been put together.
We’re always looking for that sound - that sound is the sound of a temple. Somehow you feel like you’re walking into a temple, and you’ve settled into a temple, and what we now call Deva Premal we look for that sound when we’re recording so that we feel like yes this is sacred. We do our best to create an ambience around it that supports that feeling of the beyond where there’s something very real and sacred. And that’s what we do with the music, we try and create that around her. My job is to create a space where she is felt and where the music is not felt but its there and it’s a good quality but its just there not as a personality not, Wow what a great sitar, what a great flute –and then everything stands to support that energy, that voice.
Heera leads the Valley in Bliss Ball and Active Meditation and is Spirit’s Advertising Goddess. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Deva Premal & Miten at Redfish Lake