The Just Love Festival will be celebrating the various hues of Holi in Germany in June 2020, with colours and music. The venue is Bhakti Marga, Shree Pheeta Nilaya at Springern. Mantras con Amor, a duo comprising Demetrios from Flagstaff, Arizona and Vichitra from San Sebastian (Spain) will be singing here bringing their mantra music along.
Demetrios is constantly creating, not only in their music but also by expressing himself through painting and calligraphy. The CD artwork of their debut album “Love is” was created by him, along with many other designs.
Vichitra puts her voice at the service of “something greater” than herself. In this way the melodies are offerings to the Divine. The two met each other in 2011, but it wasn’t until 2013 that they started to explore the space that they create while singing together.
In this interview with CSP Demetrios and Vichitra, talk about their music.
Is there any audience for Kirtans and mantras in Europe and US? Can you elaborate?
Right now kirtan is becoming more celebrated by the west. More and more people have had ecstatic experiences and want to share these experiences with others so they bring their friends and the cycle repeats itself. We have westernized the sound a bit by using different melodies and different instruments but I believe that at the core the essence is still the same, and that's why those moments of bliss can be felt if one is open to it.
How was life for both of you before Mantras Con Amor? Was it connected to what was to come?
If you had asked us in 2011 I don't think we ever would have though our spiritual and musical project would have gone as far as it has. When we met each other we both had experimented with music but nothing serious. I (Demetrios) played the guitar but was still relatively new and Vichitra sang very well. We connected over our shared love for Brazilian music and normally would sing and play songs that we enjoyed listening to from that region of the world. Once we discovered the power that mantras had on the mind and our mental-emotional state, all else became secondary. Before starting "Mantras con Amor" we were also both quite spiritual in our own ways but we didn't have a shared practice. So to answer the question, yes there was a bit of connection to what was to come in that we were already convinced that we wanted more out of life than what the material world could offer us.
What do you refer to as mantras?
For us, mantras can be anything that you repeat over and over, whether that is out loud, singing, or internally. We understand there is a deeper meaning that comes from Sanskrit which is "protection for the mind, and protection from the mind" this translation I generally like because it depicts how your mind can be a great servant, but if you are not careful it can also be your worst enemy.
What is the content of your songs?
We try to stick with mantras that are easy for people to sing along to. When we get together with others we want it to be as simple as possible for them to join us in repeating the mantra so they can feel for themselves the power that these ancient sounds transmit. This way it can be your first time or your thousandth time repeating the mantra but we are all able to do it together and have the shared experience.
How does singing of these songs create positivity?
Energy flows where attention goes. By purifying the mind, singing mantras or hearing about the stories of saints, listing to the lilas of the Lord, all of this time we are focusing on this, we are not spending time or energy tangled in lower vibrations. It just so happens that for us it's easy to get a song stuck in our head and as we go about our day we are like a radio speaker, infusing these higher vibrations into all that we are doing while repeating the mantras.
Please could you describe the albums you have produced?
So far we have three albums that we have released and eight singles. Our first album took quite long to complete and we wanted it to be a journey. While on our trips around the world we took samples of sounds with our phone and later in the album production we tried to create one long song that was composed of many songs.
In our second album, we wanted to experiment with not being so attached to the guitar and find sounds that more unconventional for us. By doing this it gave us creative inspiration to try new things at the time of recording and look for different ways of expressing ourselves through sounds.
In our third release, we wanted to make an album dedicated to the great eternal yogi Mahavatar Babaji. We also had many songs that utilized the ukelele that we have been playing for years and were finally able to record and produce them. I remember toward the end of the album we thought we were just about finished and getting ready to release it but late one night we were experimenting with some chords at home when all of a sudden we began singing the Babaji Gayatri mantra. We sang for an hour letting the mantra impregnate our whole being and once we stopped, both of us were in a dream-like state, truly moved and inspired by what had just happened. From there we brought it into the studio and in the last minute added it to the album, it honestly felt like a gift given to us by Babaji himself and still to this day when we sing that song it produces such a calm and peaceful state inside of us.
Most mantras are millennia old. Why do you think they resonate with people?
I think if you are sensitive enough to feel what is contained inside of the sounds then it is very hard to deny those sensations no matter where they come from.
Have you been to India and experienced Indian culture?
Yes, we have and we enjoy going very much! Everything about the Indian culture is dear to our hearts, the first time going there I stepped off the plane in New Delhi and instantly had the feeling that I had been there before.
What do you mean by Divinity? There are icons in the background of your pictures. Do you worship these icons?
The Divine is that which is beyond explanation. Words do it little justice but then again it is in us and all around us. The icons and worshiping of them help us remember, help us build a personal relationship with the Divine, with that which is within us all.