UPDATE: We made it, with 13 days to go. My album is yours. Thank you.
STRETCH GOALS: If we make it to the full amount, €13,371.22 ($16,071.40), I can pay the entire production in full. I can also hire someone to edit the mountain of footage we've accumulated for music videos. But I can't really think that far ahead right now. All I can say now is thank you.
UPDATE: Dear all, thank you so much for your love and support. We have 40% of the goal in 7 days. But, please note that Kickstarter is not giving me your names! If possible, please send us your names to aikyam [at] ganavya [dot] com, we really would like to thank each of you personally and keep in touch. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Here's to hoping we make it after all.
About two years ago, Ganavya recorded an album titled Aikyam: Onnu in Madrid. It's been sitting on a hard drive until now, and it's ready to be released.
The songs are the result of having come from a different musical world and finding a way to be in the dark, welcoming, and smoky corners of European jazz clubs. They are many pieces of a fragmented self, stitched together to create an ease that otherwise does not exist. Centuries-old spiritual poetry co-exists with Appalachian and American folk songs and Tamil anticolonial songs. When initiated into the world of jazz standards and creative music, Ganavya began translating them into her mother-tongue of Tamil, so that she could make them her own and sing to her own. The album holds many of these different worlds she has passed through.
"Aikyam (Sanskrit: ऐक्यम्) means – oneness, unity, harmony, unanimity, identity or sameness or identical."
Aikyam is a word both in Tamil and Sanskrit that Ganavya heard many times in childhood understanding it to mean "union," suggesting a merging with the divine. Over time, she has come to associate it with a merging of worlds; if divinity is in us all, then we are all the same. When we tell the stories of many at the same time, we realize the similarities in them all.
Here's a rundown of the songs:
Panel from artwork for Aikyam: Onnu by Clara Ares, inspired by the many setlists performed at Jimmy Glass Jazz bar in Valencia, Spain, where much of the material was performed.
The first track, "Ōm namō jį ādhyā," is an old Invocation asking the spirit older than creation to instill light and love into our hearts. The second, "Nithākam," is Ganavya's version of Gershwin's "Summertime." Here's an early recording of her rendition of this song:
The third song, "Kilī," is Ganavya's translation of Johny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark." Next is a combination of an abhang, "Runō junō" and Miles Davis's "Nardis," presented in a flamenco setting. "Runō junō" describes the sound of a bee (a "Bramarā") driving the poet Sant Gnyandev crazy (hence the onomatopoeic "runo juno"). The poet asks the bee to instead seek a more permanent happiness in the nectar of a flower, than buzz around their ears hopelessly. The poet likens this to one's idle mind, asking it instead to seek the permanent nectar of knowledge.
"Indo Blue" is a combination of Mongo Santamaría's "Afro Blue," alongside an abhang "Vittoo," by Kanhopatra. Kanhopatra's story is particularly poignant when placed near the narrative of "Dream of a land my soul is from / I hear a hand stroke on a drum / dancing with joy / elegant twirl."
"Black, Brown & Beige Are The Colors" is a song born from wedding Bharathiyar's poetry (Pārukulle Nalla Nādu) and an old Scottish / Appalachian folk song (Black is the Color). Stitched together here are two songs, both pleas of love rooted in the acceptance of one's inherited body. We go to the spectrum of Black, Brown, and Beige as a nod to the master musician, Duke Ellington.
"Vāzhkai, En Rose" is a translation of "La Vie En Rose," It wasn't meant to be on the album, instead meaning to be a soft private ode to Albert's then to-be-born son. "Oru Paiyan" is a translation of eden ahbez's "Nature Boy," translated with help of Naresh Ramarajan.
"Anu Raniyā" is a beautiful abhang by Sant Tukaram, where one ponders: are we not as small as an atom in the face of the world? But then, would the largest of skies exist without atoms? Are we the atom, or the sky? Or both?
"Nido Del Aire" is a special work composed by one of Ganavya's most cherished teachers, Perico Sambeat. In Spanish, one is asked to protect the crystal child within us all. This recording has the honor of featuring Sambeat on saxophone.
"Anju Kadal Thāndi" is a translated version of the American folk song, "500 Miles." When expressed in Tamil, it tells the all-too-familiar tale of the immigrant: having traveled this far, how can we go back home empty-handed? "Lord I'm five hundred miles away from home," in Tamil, becomes "Lord, I have come; I have crossed five oceans and come."
The album features beloved Spanish musicians: Albert Sanz (piano), Bandolero (percussion), Borja Barrueta (drums, percussion), Michael Olivera Garcia (drums and percussion), Pablo Martín Caminero (bass, producer), and Perico Sambeat (saxophone).
It is titled Aikyam: Onnu, as in Tamil, "onnu" is "one." Ganavya has been writing her own stories and songs, but in the traditions she has been trained, you learn the stories of those who came before you first. This is her first offering of the retelling of those stories; the hope is to continue this series, as she continues to weave these many stories into, as, her own.
The album art is designed by Clara Ares, and includes Ganavya's own handwriting. Photography and videography by Noah Shaye. The co-producer and engineer is the award-winning Jose Luis Crespo, with additional engineering by Nicolas Tsabertidis.
Jan 1, 2018
A note from Ganavya.
As you may know, I recorded an album called Aikyam: Onnu almost two years ago. I promised myself I wouldn't go to sleep today without trying to put this up, so here goes.
I'm not sure what else to say except that the project had a path that it didn't end up taking, but there was an incredible amount of love and hard work that went into it. I haven't been comfortable releasing it—admittedly I should have, given that fate has been kind and I've toured a little bit with it since— but I just couldn't until those who orchestrated its creation were given something back. So here we are.
These songs were my coping mechanism to existing in a musical world that was still foreign to me— to make the sounds seem more organic to me, and to make them more mine, I started translating them to the language I grew up speaking with my family at home.
The total costs were at €13,371.22 ($16071.40), and I'm hoping to get some of that back for the production team. I'm not sure about raising all of that, but for starters, I thought we could start with $10,000— especially because Kickstarter has a raise all-or-nothing model. All additional raised funds will continue to go towards compensating those who contributed for this project.
Anyway, to fulfill my promise to myself I'm releasing this Kickstarter now. I'm going to come back and flesh it out soon. But for now, and to send to near and dear ones, it's a start.
Happy New Year. I wish you love and clarity.
Risks and challenges
The album is already done; mastered and ready to go. If this campaign gets fulfilled, there isn't much of a risk involved. If it doesn't get funded fully, Kickstarter will cancel it.
Part of the challenge in this project has been that it started off with a lot of infrastructure that is no longer in place, so forgive some clumsiness as I learn to navigate it by myself. I don't foresee being late, but it's worth letting you know that I'm in grad school again and plan on releasing it independently now.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)