Virgo meets Libra – a Talk with The Ascendants
For many of us, music has a very deep and profound meaning. It carries spirit and magic and can take us to places we never thought existed. Today we bring you something a bit different, something special: a woman and a man, Virgo and Libra, chanting and playing the music of their souls. Kesheva and Shankari a.k.a. ‘The Ascendants’ are our very special guests. They’re on the right path to fulfilling their dream and releasing their first professional album. It is all made possible by the power of their Kickstarter campaign and the people who support them. Enjoy our interview! Namaste
Hey guys, tell us about how you met.
Kesheva: I was living in New Zealand for a year and was about to move to the UK. I have been moving around the world for the past 10 years on a bit of a personal journey. While I was in the airport hotel in London, I realized my heart wasn’t there…and it was calling me back to Satchidananda Ashram, where I’ve studied Yoga before in the past. So I flew back to the States and I arrived back at Yogaville in January of 2015, and that is when I met Shankari, who was working there. I got a job there as well…working in Audio/Video… and we would occasionally have lunch together. I caught a ride with her to Floyd Yoga Jam that Summer and it was the car ride to Floyd that we bonded and became friends.
What would you call your style? You say it’s a movement?
Kesheva: The original idea was to root it in the traditional Eastern style of transcendental music with Eastern scales and underlying Drones, and infuse it with Western Soul/Dance flavors. We see it as a movement because our intention is to introduce the meditative practice of chanting to a wider musical audience. We both feel that dance music is also very transcendental…and seems to embody the same spirit as kirtan, mantra, or chanting…So it seems like a natural marriage between the 2 styles.
Watch the Ascendants official Kickstarter video:
Tell us all about the album!
Kesheva: This past October I asked Shankari if she would be interested in recording a kirtan style album, she was all in and we started right away. The first song was Jai Jai Ganga Ma and I knew right away that we were into something special. It came easy and natural. Shankari’s voice impregnated me with divine inspiration. It has been the most organic creative process I have ever experienced, as well as the quickest… 5 months from the initial idea to the final product. The Album title is “Virgo meets Libra”…Shankari is the Virgo and I am the Libra.
You both have a musician’s background – what did you play before you created The Ascendants?
Kesheva: I started playing music at age 9, producing it at 14, I started my first band after getting out of the Marine Corps in 1993, it was a cross between Rock and Funk, I played guitar. The next band was a Speedy Hard Rock Biker band that I played bass in, and the 3rd band was like a cross between Frank Zappa and Electronic Dance in which I produced the music and my band mate handled the vocals.
Shankari: I have been singing in choirs and groups since the age of 7 years old. I vocally fronted the band Fair Minded Fools, based out of Richmond, VA. And I have been playing the guitar off and on since 2013.
Listen to Jai Jai Ganga Ma, the 1st Release from the Ascendant’s debut album Virgo Meets Libra
How are you two different from each other and what are the similarities that brought you together?
Kesheva: Shankari is, physically, a woman…and I am a Man. But we both seem to exhibit well-balanced characteristics of both male/female sexual energies. I noticed this right away during our road trip to Floyd, and we both discussed it as we have gotten to know each other better. Our taste in music, art, and film is very similar. The main difference is that I never really opened myself up to Dance music…and Shankari opened that door for me. She turned me onto Daft Punk which really transformed my perspective as an artist and opened up so many new possibilities as far as how I can express myself creatively.
How did you get into spiritual stuff in the first place? You say you both went through something you call a “spiritual awakening”?
Kesheva: I was always into it. I’ve had experiences throughout my entire life but it was in 2004 that things really changed for me. I started practicing meditation and one day while sitting in meditation I saw an amazing, brilliant blue light hovering in front of my open eyes. It was like something out of a Science Fiction movie. Absolutely Fantastic. It motivated me to meditate all the time…because I wanted to see the blue light again…I was intensely curious…and after about 3 months of meditating all the time, I woke up one morning and found myself in an altered state of consciousness. It was like I was floating 1 foot above and 1 foot behind my body…with a total quiet mind. The noise in my mind was gone and I felt nothing but Peace and Joy. Strangely, I then stopped meditating, and the altered state of consciousness lasted just a few weeks before the noise crept back into my mind. This experience compelled me to quit my job, quit my band, leave Cleveland and begin the journey of figuring out what it was that I experienced. This led me on a long journey which eventually took me to Yogaville…where I met Shankari.
Shankari: I never grew up with a religious background, but always considered myself a “Seeker of the Truth”. I began to realize that truth while traveling through India in 2009. While in Milan, Italy a month later after my India trip, I had a dream of a Swami or Guru (Remover of Darkness or Spiritual Teacher) coming to me in the ocean. This Swami spoke to me of finding my happiness through connecting with the higher divine spirit, and following his guidance and spiritual teachings. Months later I was guided to Satchidananda Ashram Yogaville and realized the Swami of my dreams was Sri Swami Satchidananda, the founder of Yogaville. This set in motion a life-changing course of spiritual openings and becoming a Certified Yoga Teacher.
What have you learned from one another?
Kesheva: I have been praying for purpose ever since the blue light I saw in 2004. My relationship with Shankari has been a big part of me realizing what I believe to be an answer to this prayer. The music we are making together is better than it’s ever been for me. It has a feeling of purpose that satisfies my soul.
Shankari: Patience, collaboration skills and acceptance of our higher calling to share this joy with one and all in the world, as more than just a hobby, but a career.
Listen to ‘Asato Ma’:
What do you think of Drooble?
Kesheva: To quote the website: “…music is a language which allows people to communicate with their souls and we, as humans, really need that right now” I feel the exact same way. Music is a language that can say things which words can not, it is a language that can actually transform reality, perspective, and consciousness. It is a joy to see this as your guiding inspiration. Music has done more for me in this life than anything else.
Shankari: It seems like an eclectic and user-friendly site, that allows up and coming artists to be recognized on a larger scale. It also feels like a universal space for artists to collaborate and network together. Not many forums of this scale out there on the web.
Each of you name one band or musician we’ve probably never heard before but is definitely worth listening to.
Kesheva: I don’t think I have any obscure influences that you’ve never heard of…but my biggest influences growing up who were not mainstream were Bootsy Collins and the Butthole Surfers.
Thanks, Shankari and Kesheva and good luck with your project!
The Ascendants, USA. Follow them at drooble.com/the.ascendants
Check out their Soundcloud profile where they have two songs free to download!
If you like what you hear and wish to support them, please make sure to back their Kickstarter project – it is much appreciated!