In Conversation—with Lavender Fields

L.A.-based singer, producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Lavender Fields is both classically trained and completely free of artistic inhibitions.  Wide open to musical influences of all sorts (including sounds she encountered on a trip to India), she uses the Moog, the flute, and her own voice to create original soundscapes that soothe, heal, and enlighten.  She’s just released her debut album, Music Beyond Music, and plans to soon release an EP, Gravitude.  On her European summer tour she launched her “Light Up the World Project,” planting lavender in every city she visited.  Recently Lavender Fields took the time to tell us about her background and raison d’être.

What kind of childhood did you have?

My childhood consisted of practicing classical piano for three hours a day and attending music school and swimming classes.  It was a great childhood.

What role did music play in it?

Major part.  My mother is a piano teacher so classical music was always playing in the house and got ingrained in me early on.

What was your most precious childhood memory?

Probably watching a sunset at the sand dunes by the Baltic Sea.  I will never forget that feeling.  Something about watching the sun rise and set at the beach.  Still love it!

Who—or what—in your life was the best influence on you as an artist? As a human being?

I would say traveling and learning about different cultures, different music and spirituality and being free has influenced me the most as a human being.  And, of course, all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way, but there are so many of them.

Why did you choose to produce experimental music?

Good question! I started out my song-writing journey just playing acoustic music and making songs.  After I learned how to do that I started getting a bit bored with just one instrument and singing.  At the time I was friends with lots of musicians who were into beat music scene, artists like Flying Lotus.

My friend gave me a copy of Ableton [a music creation software] and I was so fascinated with the ability to be your own composer and experiment with different sounds that I learned how to produce.

Ultimately it was the search for new sounds, sounds I’d never heard before, that drove my passion for experimentation.  I’m still constantly looking for new sounds.  I love field recordings.  I have a Moog synth that has literally an infinity of sounds and you can actually create your own instruments by creating new patches on the Moog.  I love it!

How did you find your bandmates?

It’s just me.  Although, sometimes I do have a live drummer or a tabla player, which makes it super fun to perform live.

How did you come up with that wonderful name?

I had a dream about lavender fields about three years ago, while camping in a very beautiful location in Northern California, sleeping under an ancient oak tree.  I woke up under such a strong impression that it drove me to create this project.

Later a friend gave me a book called The Field about a quantum field surrounding all of us.  I started learning about the effects of frequencies on the human brain, producing some binaural beats.

Little by little I find new dimensions of the meaning of “Lavender Fields.” It’s like a mystery that keeps unfolding.  Now I plant a lavender plant in each city I tour in as well.

What do you like best about Music Beyond Music so far?

I love the diversity of the songs on it.  I love the saxophones that James Muschler from the band Moonhooch recorded on a few tracks.  During the making of it we traveled to India and spent two months there studying Hindustani music.  That influenced some of the songs.

Why did you choose that title for your album?

Because there’s a message that I try to convey through my songs.  It’s the wisdom I’ve learned, like music that’s beyond the music itself.  For example, “What makes you beautiful is your heart, what makes you beautiful is your soul —” I feel like it’s an important message.

“Like the Wind” has some deeply felt lyrical lines in it that always remind me of a particular lesson I’ve learned in life: “Look at nature, how it’s flowing, no anxiety . . . Winds are blowing, Leaves are falling, nature sets you free . . .” is one example.  The lesson is not to worry too much and take an example from the natural world, to let things flow naturally.

What’s the story behind the song “Ganga Puja?”

When I was living in Varanasi, India, earlier this year I would wake up daily around four in the morning and head down by the river Ganga, which is revered as very sacred among Indian people because its water comes from the Himalayas.

For the past four thousand years they’ve been having this prayer ceremony called “Puja” at 5:00 a.m.  Young girls from an ashram would come and sing ancient Vedic chants.  I was absolutely mesmerized by it; I sampled them on my little voice recorder.  Then when I returned home I used that sample, came up with a beat, and the song was born.

And “Like the Wind?”

I wrote it when I was spending a summer in the beautiful redwoods by the Pacific Ocean.  The energy of the ocean is so amazing to me.  I tried to imitate the cleansing and flowing effect of ocean waters in this song.  Then the second verse is about our true nature being light that’s inside of every one of us.  I would love all people to recognize themselves as that beautiful light, despite all their imperfections.

The third verse is my favorite.  I think it was a quote from a spiritual text I was reading about, pondering on the flow of things in nature.  Things just happen, without worries, without anger or obsession.  Seasons change and leaves change color.  It’s nice to realize that and apply it in our lives to give it more fluidity and less stress.  Because when you look at nature it’s always incredibly peaceful and flowing.

How do you regenerate after giving yourself heavily to the music?

Music regenerates me.  Every time I feel down all I have to do is start singing and I immediately feel 100% better.  Music is incredibly healing to me.

What conditions do you need in your life in order to maintain your creative output?

Peace of mind.  Peace in my heart.  A place to record too and unconstricted time.

Are there any books, albums, or films that have influenced your work?

I love reading spiritual literature: The Bhagavad Gita, The Alchemist, Bible, Rumi’s poetry, listening to Bob Marley, who’s my biggest musical inspiration because he was able to reach deeply into the hearts of people of all walks of life, anywhere in the world.  It’s powerful.  Uniting people though music is very powerful.

I also find Alice Coltrane’s work deeply inspiring and transcending.  Her album Journey to Satchinanda is such a gem, I can listen to it an infinite amount of times and literally never get tired of it.  A Love Supreme is amazing too! Some John Coltrane, but mostly Alice.

Do you follow a spiritual discipline that helps you stay balanced?

Absolutely.  Everyday.  I wake up and try to take some time to meditate, do yoga, reflect, spend time in nature, connect with the eternal part of my being where I think all of this music comes from.  When I’m on tour and have to drive long distances I always listen to spiritual talk.  Basically always striving to better myself so I can make the most of this life experience, to understand life more deeply.

If you had an artistic mission statement, what would it be?

To bring positivity and light into the world with my music.  #LightUpTheWorld has been my motto — it’s from a song I’ve written with the same name.

What’s next for the Lavender Fields?

I’m about to do my first East Coast U.S. tour.  Planning on touring in Brazil this winter, and Europe in the spring.  I’m opening myself up for all the world touring opportunities, to spread more light and also plant more lavender fields everywhere I go.  I absolute love doing what I do and am ever so grateful for such an amazing opportunity.