Featured Artist: VAANI and SOLON
April 21, 2016
‘The Jewel (SOLON Remix)’ is an emotional release. A posthumous single started by VAANI and released by collaborator SOLON six months to the day that Jo (aka VAANI) passed away from cancer. The Jewel (SOLON Remix) is being released to raise funds for the charity A Sound Life. We caught up with SOLON to discuss his involvement in the project.
You have recently released “The Jewel (SOLON Remix)” through Ditto Music; tell us a bit about that song and the story behind it.
Early in 2015, I worked with singer-songwriter called Jo Mall-Kahn (a.k.a. VAANI) to produce an electronic remix of her debut release 'The First Ray' - turning what was an acoustic ballad with a Norah Jones style, into a darker/sparser neo-soul track inspired by Portishead / James Blake / Nicolas Jaar.
Tragically a few months later she was diagnosed with cancer, and two months after that she'd passed away. It was a real shock to everyone - she was young, living healthy and also devoting her life to helping others through the charity that she co-founded 'A Sound Life'. It was one of those things that just doesn't make any sense.
After the funeral, Jo's husband Edo (lead singer of Gelbison) left me with the files for some of her unfinished tracks, one of which was the rough cut of 'The Jewel'. When I heard it, I instantly new that it was a magic song and that I could help bring it to life. While Edo spent a few months in India processing the loss of his wife, I got to work remixing the track and by the time he got back we had a version of the track ready to go.
How did you get involved with VAANI?
There were many ways in which Jo felt like a kindred spirit on a parallel life path. We both started our careers working in the corporate world... We both left to pursue our passions for music and yoga around 2009. We developed projects that were collaborations with our spouses (Edo & Jo, Future Sound of Yoga) and we both shared in the joys and challenges in doing so. We met on the yoga festival circuit in Australia. Jo had been planning a solo project for some time and she was interested to bring an electronic element to her sound. She played me some of her tracks and with 'The First Ray' something just clicked - I knew I could work with it and re-interpret it from an electronic angle.
What is the message you hope to spread through this release?
The message of the song lies in the chant in the chorus: 'om mani padme hum'. This is a Buddhist mantra which means 'the jewel in the lotus'. Jo's point was that at the heart of all of us lies something unique, something special, something that each of us has to share. Life is about finding it and realising it. Jo embodied this approach to life. She spent her last six years living an unconventional life - being a musician, running yoga retreats, founding a charity - but it was life where she was sharing what she had to share - with no doubt, no hesitation - just full commitment. "The Jewel" captures that spirit in which she lived and serves as an inspiration and reminder for all of us.
Do you have any plans to work on any more VAANI’s unfinished songs?
Yes - Edo is currently planning to create an album of her tracks by collaborating with a number of producers and artists that knew her. Luke Steele (Empire of the Sun), Ben Lee, Ohad Rein (Old Man River) and Ian Ball (Gomez) are just a few of the musicians who are involved. The release date is likely to be around the anniversary of her death in September - so watch this space.
The proceeds of this song are going to raise funds for charity. Please tell us a bit about ‘A Sound Life’.
All proceeds from 'The Jewel' are going to A Sound Life, the charity set up by Edo and Jo to help bring music and yoga to those in need (e.g. people in hospitals, aged-care, mental health and disability facilities). We managed to raise over $4000 in the first week from "donations for download" which was really encouraging for the charity as well as for the music. The organisation has managed to create a wonderful community of musicians and yoga teachers, and with Edo's network through his past life in Gelbison, a number of fairly high profile muso's have come on board - Sally Seltman (who wrote Feist's 1234) was at Sydney Children's Hospital last week with Edo, and Ben Lee has been volunteering for them for some time now. If you are a musician and want to make the day of somebody less fortunate than you by just turning up and doing what you do, check out http://asoundlife.org/give/
If you wish to support A Sound Life, buy The Jewel (SOLON Remix) iTunes
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