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Grammy award-winner Ricky Kej’s new album is an ode to earth

CultureGrammy award-winner Ricky Kej’s new album is an ode to earth

‘Divine Tides’ is a gentle reverie into unique sounds. Its nine songs and eight music videos encapsulate a diverse musical canvas of sound scapes, melodies, pulsating rhythms and lush ambient textures.

Grammy award-winner Ricky Kej is dedicated to music, and saving Mother Earth. His music, and the principles he lives by resonate this larger ideal. He launched his latest album Divine Tides this June 2020 which echoes the heart and soul of Kej’s musicology. For the album, Kej strikes chords with five-time Grammy award-winner and legend Stewart Copeland, the founder and drummer of The Police.
An ode to the Earth, its natural beauty and the inherent resilience of our species, Divine Tides is a gentle reverie into unique sounds. It’s nine songs and eight music videos encapsulate a diverse musical canvas of sound scapes, melodies, pulsating rhythms and lush ambient textures. The videos are set to be released from July 7, 2021 until September28, 2021 while the album will be on audio streaming platforms by July 21, 2021.
“One day during the Apocalypse, I got a call from Ricky Kej about making an album. He had an amazing collection of deeply traditional musicians in the exotic context of his inspired production style. The flow of ideas soon became a torrent of recording and music. The spiritual ambience (notsomething that I’m generally known for) infused my aggressions upon inanimate objects with loving passion. The timpani was ringing! The crotales were singing! Making this record has been a unique adventure in both music and divine awareness,” says Copeland who got that unique opportunity to experiment with the storehouse of musical instruments stacked in his studio for the first time.
“Stewart is not just the founder and drummer of one of the biggest selling bands in history The Police, he regularly composes for operas, orchestras, and over 50 Hollywood movies including the Oscar award-winning Wall Street. Despite his pinnacle of success, he is constantly evolving and learning by exploring new sounds, traditional music instruments and rhythms,” says Kej who had been working on a follow-up to the Grammy-winning Winds of Samsara, which was delayed due to the pandemic.
Incidentally, Kej had collaborated on a song with Stewart Copeland with the help of RalphSimon and Tarquin Gotch in 2016. Sitting in his studio during the pandemic, Kej mustered up the courage to ask Copeland. Of working with Steve, he enthuses, “It was one of the best and most fulfilling personal and musical experiences I could have ever asked for. It was like attending one of the best masterclasses imaginable.”

Copeland whose is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and ranked at 10th on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time has been Ricky’s musical hero. Already ecstatic, Steve’s humility, knowledge, wisdom and positive energy, stirred Kej forward.
“When Ricky sent me some ideas, my first thought was – this is already extremely cool. How can I not screw this up (sic)! But, he insisted that I screw this up. I miked up my crotales, spin gong, and Chinese bells, and all these peculiar little instruments that I had never been called to actually record before. The elements that Ricky Kej has put together are all deeply steeped in tradition and classical music language. But the way he has pieced them together is utterly unique. The emotional impact of these mixes of culture is very profound. I myself am moved to tears by the beauty of this music,” says Copeland.
The album also sees music by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra UK, superstar Indian duo Salim-Sulaiman, Vietnamese American Opera singer Sangeeta Kaur, Indo-American flautist and singer Rasika Shekar, etc.
Kej, who has always been at the forefront of activism, feels the album is a culmination of his efforts to create a better Earth.
“Nature is my muse and my music is very often a celebration of our natural world. All the songs in Divine Tides reflect this. I have always believed that we only protect what we love. That is what I hope to achieve by showcasing the magnificence of our natural world. Despite what we have done to our planet through our unsustainable ways, humans are an incredible species who have survived wars, pandemics, persecution, extreme natural events. I believe that if we celebrate our differences instead of letting them tear us apart, and if we learn to live in harmony with nature, all living beings on our planet will thrive. Divine Tides illustrates these musings through its diverse soundscapes and music videos,” says Kej.
The gentle unique soundscape is intrinsically healing, as the videos feature glimpses of Spain, Himalayas, Leh, Tamil Nadu, The Western Ghats, North-East India, Thar Desert and Los Angeles. Shooting amidst the pandemic was difficult, but a blessing in disguise as it captured glimpsesof Mother Earth in all her glory.
Kej’s repertoire has always hinged on spirituality, “Every piece of music that I compose is the closest I get to a spiritual experience. I believe that we are all constantly flowing, shifting, and evolving in each of our lives like the tides,” he adds.
During the pandemic, Kej performed three online concerts in April and June 2020 (around 200 million viewers). He also released a remix of his original theme composed for India’s first blue-chip natural history film, national award-winning Wild Karnataka. Then came a music video supporting the ‘Make A Mark’ project with gold-medalist Olympians, Niccolo Campriani of Italy and Abhinav Bindra. “They trained refugees from war torn regions such as Afghanistan in the sport of professional shooting. These refugees who had never picked up a rifle before have now qualified to compete at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in the 10m Air Rifle Event, it’s fantastic,” reveals an inspired Ricky, who has been working on several other campaigns for UNICEF, UNCCD, UNHCR, too.
The music virtuoso is also a professor at IISC. Deeply inspired by late professor Dr Baldev Raj, an eminent scientist, former Director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research and an IISC alumni, it was Dr Raj who suggested that Kej combine his two great passions – music and environment to promote a message of environmental consciousness with lectures and music compositions, and Kej donned a teacher’s hat.
From the exhilarating days of the Grammy award, Kej looks back at his meeting with SouthAfrican flute player Wouter Kellerman in 2012, and then later in Los Angeles,“It was a huge coincidence that Wouter was working on a piece of music inspired by Nelson Mandela. Through discussions we realised there was a whole lot of cross-pollination – Mahatma Gandhi spent his formative years in South Africa, so he has South African-ness in him while Nelson Mandela was heavily inspired by Mahatma Gandhi so there was an Indian-ness in him. Wouter started to add south African’ness to my music, I started to add Indian’ness to his music,” says Ricky, who is ever grateful that in their travels across the globe they became fast friends.
The principles of environmental consciousness are deeply entrenched in Kej’s life as well. He works with a company that audits his carbon footprint (for every project – live concert, album recording, studio sessions, travelling, talks) which is then offsetted through collaborations with organisations focusing on reforestation, renewable, etc. Yet, there’s more. “I do not own a car and use only public transportation. I am also a vegetarian (and aspiring vegan), thus consciously use products manufactured by environmentally sustainable businesses. At any given point, I only have 11 sets of clothes. I have no qualms about repeating my outfits (as can be seen at all his events). There are tools available for each individual to calculate their own carbon/water footprint and work towards being carbon neutral. Such conscious actions will have a ripple effect and greatly contribute to the well-being of our planet,” he says.
As Divine Tides fills the air with its message and graceful musicology, Kejis also working ona documentary Who is Baul which showcases the mystic lives and music traditions of the Bauls of India, to be premiered at the London Film Festival 2021.
The calming soulfulness of the exquisitely composed album exudes positivity, and Kej hopes that people can reflect upon their relationship with the natural environment. “(Let’s) putsustainability at the forefront of everything we do. If our leaders, corporations and individuals can work together as a single species like we are attempting to during this pandemic, we can negate the current climate crisis – that gives me hope,” he concludes.
For more information about the release schedule visit www.DivineTidesMusic.com

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