inroads into the world of New Age, ambient electronica and healing
meditation music for three decades, David & Steve Gordon are renowned
as visionary artists. David and Steve established Sequoia Records
back in the 1980s and they continue with a number of intriguing,
instrumental CD releases. High on the list is a 2013 studio CD entitled
Chakra Balance. Even if you discount the albums positive,
healing musical vibes, and know nothing about meditation music, Chakra
Balance is still a fantastic and powerful listening experience
in its own right. With Chakra Balance, the sound weaves its
way into the realm of ambient electronica and will find crossover
appeal among listeners of Brian Eno, Steve Roach and John Serrie.
Another recent release on Sequoia Records is the 2013 CD, Deep
Healing Elements: Music For Reiki & Meditation 4 by the artist
known as Shajan. A Reiki master and composer, Shajan mixes ambient
synths and natural sounds to great effect. Whether youre seeking
meditative music for health reasons or youre looking to chill
out with state of the art ambient / electronic World Music grooves,
David & Steve Gordon and Sequoia Records have the sound down to
mwe3.com presents an interview with
David & Steve Gordon
Recording Artists and Co-Founders
of Sequoia Records
Some artists prefer not to be called New Age but David & Steve
Gordon and Sequoia Records have embraced and helped define modern
concepts of New Age music for three decades now. In what ways have
you stayed true to your roots with your music and your label Sequoia
STEVE GORDON: When we started back in 1982, the term New
Age Music did not exist. There were only a few people making
meditation music and it was only sold in small metaphysical bookstores.
Brian Eno was exploring a concept he called functional music
which is called ambient music now. We had initially described our
recordings as environmental music, but after a couple
years, we stopped using that because it felt too limiting.
Since our original intention was to create music for meditation and
a peaceful environment, we didnt mind when people started calling
it New Age. We lived in Los Angeles at the time, and our concept was
that for people who lived in cities and were feeling stressed out
our music could bring the serene atmosphere of nature into their lives,
sort of a no-stress zone.
In the over 30 years since we started, the music we created and the
artists we released on our label have all fit within this idea. It
doesnt matter whether the style of the particular album is traditional
ambient or meditation music, world fusion, drumming or downtempo electronica
we always make sure the end result is one that makes the listener
Also, weve long been inspired by Eastern philosophy, meditation
and yoga, along with nature-based spirituality and Shamanism, and
we continue on this path today. So the music we create and release
from other artists has always expressed at its core an intention that
reflects this perspective.
mwe3: The 2013 CD by David & Steve Gordon is called
Chakra Balance. What is the concept behind the album and could
you tell us who plays what instruments on the CD?
GORDON: Finding balance is central to healthy enlightened living.
The chakras encompass all aspects of a persons energy and consciousness,
so when the chakras are in balance, that balance permeates the whole
being. We set out to create an album of ambient music that could help
attain that balance either though focused meditation or by enjoying
a peaceful environment for any activity, including sleep and bodywork
sessions. Since most people dont meditate for a full hour at
once, we divided the album into two half-hour musical meditations,
each containing one composition for each of the seven chakras, so
listeners can choose between either of the two shorter meditations
for variety, or use them both in sequence for a deeper longer meditation.
this album, we both play synthesizers, samplers and processed Native
flutes. I also played some treated piano and Steve played some acoustic
guitar textures and an instrument he calls infinite electric
guitar, which is a combination of very long reverbs and delays
with his volume pedal. Also, over the years weve developed an
extensive library of unique recordings of sounds and performances
that have not been previously released. For this album, we wanted
to move away from the usual synth sounds that are often heard in meditation
music, so we used our library of recordings as a sort of painters
palette to create an impressionistic soundscape of textures, melodies
and drones expressing the energy and attributes of each chakra.
As we composed the music for each chakra, we tried to evoke the attributes
of that chakra in musical terms. Its not that different that
other kinds of tools people have always used for meditation, whether
its a candle, incense, Indian drone instruments like the tamboura,
or a tribal drum. Music like Chakra Balance is a sonic tool
in this long tradition but it also has a specific purpose to heal
and align the chakras. By focusing the mind on each chakra and listening
to the corresponding tracks on the album, the combination of the listeners
mental focus and the music work together to align and balance the
chakras. The music can also be used simply as mood-enhancing musical
ambiance, with no effort at meditating required. And for those who
use it in both ways, they will be reminded of their meditative insights
as the music plays in the background during other activities.
Could you talk a little about what chakras are and how music, such
as the Chakra Balance CD helps balance chakras?
STEVE GORDON: The chakras are a system of seven energy centers
of prana or life force in the body that dates back to very early tantric
and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. They are often visualized
as radiant spheres, or spinning disks. To spin, the disks must be
balanced, and for the whole person to grow and prosper, the chakras
must be balanced with each other as well. Meditating on the chakras
can bring this balance, and can release stress, center the mind, increase
creativity and overall well being.
When we created the music on Chakra Balance, we used our own
experiences in meditation and yoga, along with the descriptions of
the various correspondences for each chakra found in the Vedic texts,
to express the qualities of each chakra through music. But this is
not a technical album of specific frequencies for each chakra
at its heart; its a musical exploration of the energies. You
don't need an understanding of the chakras to enjoy the album for
meditation or just as relaxing ambient music.
Another 2013 CD release on Sequoia is Deep Healing Elements: Music
For Reiki & Meditation 4. Can you provide some background
on this CD and the artist Shajan?
DAVID GORDON: Shajan is one of our most popular artists. This
is his fourth release on Sequoia and might be his best yet. His work
as a Reiki practitioner gives him a unique perspective when he composes
his music. There is a natural flow to his own style of ambient music
that evokes the natural world. His use of nature sounds is also very
different. The nature sounds drift in and out at the perfect points
in a very subtle way.
When you listen to Shajans music you feel an almost instantaneous
change in your body and mind. No matter how stressed out you are or
how busy your mind might be, when you hear his music, relaxation becomes
easy as the music permeates your being. His music is very ambient
which makes it good for everything from meditation, yoga, Reiki sessions,
massage, sleep or just as a soothing background.
We dont release music from other artists unless we find that
it has something very special. In the case of Shajan, we were right
to believe in him since his audience continue to grow and he has fans
all over the world.
How has the New Age music market and scene changed since you started
way back in the 1980s?
STEVE GORDON: There have been so many changes over the last
30 years it would be difficult to describe them all here. In some
ways it has come full circle. At the start, most New Age music was
ambient, very relaxing and soothing. Over time it expanded to include
more upbeat world fusion and then electronica. Currently the trend
is back towards more ambient music with the majority of albums being
released in the less rhythmic more meditative direction.
Also there are now some styles such as electronic music that blend
aspects of ambient music with more rhythmic genres such as downtempo
electronica chill out music and even alternative rock such as Hammock,
Mystical Sun, Marconi Union, Saxton Shore and The Album Leaf, or ambient
dub such as Bill Laswells Divination project. People who enjoy
Meditation Music and New Age music might not even be aware of these
kinds of artists but the music has similar qualities and encourages
explorations of consciousness. And the fans of these new hybrid Ambient
Music groups would very likely enjoy music such as our new release
there is a real expansion of what styles you can include in all of
these different genres. Sometimes the only difference between what
might be labeled New Age Music, or Space music, or Ambient Electronic
Music is the type of album title or artwork. One of the positive things
about people having so much access to music online now is that it
allows them to discover new music they would not have otherwise.
mwe3: David and Steve Gordon have roots in the rock music world.
In what ways did the rock sound and vision of YES as well as other
bands like Genesis with Steve Hackett impact your music?
DAVID GORDON: One thing that all the great progressive rock
bands of 1970s had in common is that they created a big sound
that enveloped you. The bass and drums were often heavy and deep with
lush keyboards that created a universe of sound. It could be described
as a deep and cosmic sonic landscape that evokes an almost spiritual
While our ambient meditation music such as Chakra Balance, Music
for Meditation: Inner Stillness or Celestial Zen do not
include drums, we have always used keyboards and other instruments
to create drones and atmospheres that were influenced by these progressive
rock styles. In some ways YES was one of the first New Age music artists
with the introduction and middle section of Close To The Edge
(I get up I get down) that features ambient music and
even nature sounds...
When we created our world fusion albums such as Sacred Earth Drums
and Drum Medicine, we used tribal drums differently than other
world music albums. Instead of lots of upbeat fast drumming, we used
the tribal drums to play slow, heavy hypnotic beats that combined
with the low ambient drones to create a large cosmic sound and evoke
the feeling of Shamanic awareness. Many of the tracks include electric
guitar in the style of progressive rock guitarists such as Steve Hackett
or Steve Howe.
There were some albums by YES that explored this kind of future tribal
sound such as Tales From Topographic Oceans (Ritual
/ Nous Sommes Du Soleil). We were inspired by those sounds
and and set out to explore in that direction, but adapted to our goals
of creating peaceful environments for awareness expansion. Our combination
of these elements pushed beyond the boundaries of New Age and became
a sort of World Music / Progressive hybrid, while staying with the
meditative entrainment aspect of the Shamanic drumming we used. Its
been rewarding to have received emails from fans who have noticed
and appreciated these influences in our music.
What other artists inspired you when you started playing and recording
music? There is quite a lot of history of the early classical music
but then Brian Eno came along in 1975 and turned the world on its
ear with his early ambient music album Discreet Music.
STEVE GORDON: Its important to mention Peter Gabriel.
His visionary approach to music has been a huge influence on us. His
music has a shamanic mood to it that we connect with. He also combines
world music with progressive rock. His soundtrack to the movie The
Last Temptation Of Christ uses world drums and percussion and
drones to create hypnotic trance textures that are unlike anything
anyone has done before. Its an amazing album that we have returned
to again and again for inspiration in creating our world drumming
albums like Sacred Spirit Drums, and our Drum Cargo
Another big influence on our world fusion music is not a musician
but a writer, Carlos Casteneda. His books along with our visits to
Death Valley and other deserts of the Southwest combined to give us
experiences that we expressed in Shamans Vision Journey
and our other shamanic drumming albums.
Thanks to David & Steve Gordon @ www.SequoiaRecords.com