Monday, November 15, 2010
Interview: Will Blunderfield on Tokyo, Yoga, Music, and His New Album, “Hallelujah”
Interviewer: Dylan Robertson
Through the encouragement of his yoga students, Will Blunderfield has embraced his dream of a career in music. His album “Hallelujah” debuts in March 2011. I had the good fortune to hang out with Will during his recent visit to Tokyo. After listening to his album, I decided to ask him about his trip, his music, and yoga practice.
How would you describe your music?
I call my music yoga-inspired pop fusion. If Enya and George Michael had a baby that LOVED yoga, I would be it!
What have been your greatest musical influences?
I was a choir boy for most of my childhood and teenage years, so a lot of my influences and singing style come from classical musical training in voice. I later studied theater in New York and became heavily involved in rock musicals such as Rent and Taboo by Boy George. Once I discovered yoga and Kirtan Chanting there (traditional call-and-response singing from India), I had the idea to bring my passions together into my own style. I love Devotional Chant/Sacred Song/Kirtan. It’s what’s moved me through the rough times. It was important for me going into this album to have one foot stay in that world and the other in the world of Pop/Rock music—fuse the two together, old and new. While I am nodding to traditional Kirtan Chanting on this album, I wanted to write songs that people would hum and wouldn’t be able to get out of their heads, that are accessible, that people from other countries will be able to understand—songs that are far-reaching generationally. It’s about getting more people exposed to yoga through the universality of pop music!! Something modern and kind of original!
Describe your yoga background and influences.
My love for yoga began in 2003. It was a feeling of stability, freedom, and a powerful “plugging-in” to myself that got me hooked on this practice. I went on to explore many forms of yoga while working and studying in New York and Tokyo and completed my Yoga Alliance teacher training in the styles of Hot, Yin, and Power with Dan Clement, Eoin Finn, Bernie Clark, Wade Morissette, and others. I continue to explore many forms of yoga, including recent workshops in Yoga Trance Dance with Shiva Rea, Anusara Yoga with Ross Rayburn, and Core Yoga with Nico and Chloe Luce. Yoga, for me, is about connecting my physical practice to my higher intentions and the world of spirit. My background as both a musician and student of comparative religion and psychology has been a strong influence in my teaching style. My biggest inspiration, however, are my students, who remind me to keep an open heart in the midst of whatever arises, both on and off the mat.
What is your new album “Hallelujah” about?
There’s a lot in my classes and my album about moving through insecurity and struggle. A lot of my students and fans are really troubled, as I still am to some degree. I guess you could say I relate to my students in that way and I choose not to hide from it. I’m not interested in being a perfect, placid yoga teacher who pretends that everything’s great. I’m not interested in teaching my students how to contort themselves into a pretzel. I’m more interested in helping my students and music fans to LOVE who they are and rise above pressures from society that have lead them to not like themselves.
Here’s a YouTube clip of me in the recording studio!
You recently visited Japan—what were your impressions?
I absolutely loved it. It’s such an inspiring place. Everyone puts so much passion into what they do, and the fashion is off-the-wall! I feel at home when I’m in Japan.
Are you vegetarian or vegan? Could you find anything good to eat?
I like to call myself a “conscious eater,” meaning that I do my best to eat organic, local produce and meats. However, I enjoy trying foods from different cultures and loved all the delicious seafood Japan has to offer! My favorite Japanese dish is domburi and my favorite drink while in Japan is Grapefruit Sour!
Did you have a chance to attend any yoga classes or workshops here?
Not this time around, as I was only there for four days. I do plan on attending some classes at Yoga Tree and Fab Academy when I come back to Tokyo in May!
I understand you’re planning to visit Japan next year. What would you like to offer Japan in the way of workshops or performances?
My “Shake Your Asana Tour” is a fusion of yoga, dance, live performance, and mindfulness meditation, providing a challenging and fun workout based on traditional postures to create internal heat and develop strength, concentration, and core-stability. I aim to cultivate a sense of playfulness while maintaining a safe and invigorating atmosphere. I invite my students to find lightness as they play their edge, remembering to nurture their inner child. I plan on bringing my tour back to Tokyo in May 2011 for Yoga Aid and to YogaFest Yokohama in September. My song “Long Time Sun” has been chosen as the theme for YogaFest 2011 and something’s in the works to stage the song with dancers and actors for the opening ceremony!
What is the mission and central theme behind your musical and yoga work?
Through Kirtan Chanting, Pop Music, and Devotional Yoga, my mission is to touch and open hearts and to empower others on their path. Simply put—to spread the Love! The music I write and the yoga I teach is designed to connect me—designed to heal me. That’s what you get when you listen to my album or come to a class, somebody healing themselves. If you heal yourself, that energy is available to everybody. I hope everybody looks to my messages in my classes and music and who I am as a person as an encouragement to feel good about yourself, and to take chances, and to just be real. That’s what I’m about.
Is there a place you are generally based where we can experience your music and yoga?
I am based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and lead local classes and workshops at Yyoga, Westcoast Hot Yoga, Yogapod, and Hollyburn Country Club.
What did you perhaps hear about but miss out on trying or seeing during your last visit to Japan that you’d like to try next time?
I would love to visit Okinawa and sip tropical drinks on the beautiful white sand beaches! I plan on going there after I perform at Yoga Aid Japan and YogaFest Yokohama next September!
Will’s album “Hallelujah” debuts globally in March 2011 on Nettwerk/Nutone Records, Canada’s largest independent record label, and home of such eclectic artists as Sarah McLauchlan, Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, Ron Sexmith, Tiesto, Jay Brannan, Jars Of Clay, and Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star), as well as renowned chant artists Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Donna de Lory, and more!
For more information on Will Blunderfield, his music, and yoga, please see www.willblunderfield.com.
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