SAORI KANDA SP Interview English version part2
--It seems that our worldview has been changing drastically in recent days given what has been going on. I’m with you- it’s necessary to be with and share the positive energy.So during this kind of climate, you just formally released a special print product of [LIGHT], an artwork you created at SHPONGLE's concert a year ago. I would love to hear your thoughts on the timing of this product’s release and the meaning of this artwork for yourself.
I chose this timing to release this product based on my hope of sending the light to everyone. After a year passed from that concert, I have been talking with staff members and artists that we can’t believe it has been a year since we had that whole experience. Meanwhile, due to Covid-19, it has become much more difficult to see people we want to see, hold concerts, or get together in a large group to enjoy each other. In this kind of time, I heard someone saying it feels as if experiences at SHPONGLE’s concert were dreams, like we were just having wonderful dreams.
I deeply and strongly feel “It wasn’t just a dream!”
Whenever I remember the memories of that day, I notice positive and kind energy arising from inside. The event was a “super positive gathering” that was created by the full presence of all the artists, staff members, and the audience- truly appropriate for the name of the event “THE GARDEN OF UNEARTHLY DELIGHTS.” I sincerely respect SHPONGLE who gave a birth to such amazing space and time for all of us. The event was more than just a concert- it was a ritual of celebration.
“Light will never disappear.”
It is my deepest hope to release the print of [LIGHT] with that message.
--I personally feel as if it was a dream when I was able to meet Rajaram at Solstice party in Japan, thanks to you. I will continue to dance while looking forward to SHPONGLE's LIVE in the future. I understand when I hear someone says their experiences at SHPONGLE's artistic and imaginative stage felt like a dream. The experience was so incredible that it almost felt like it was a fantasy. I sincerely respect them- there is no other artist like SHPONGLE.
I completed this artwork [LIGHT] while intensely being moved to dance, by many elements that were present at the stage: artistic expression combined by multiple talents encompassing music, performing arts, movies, and lighting, mystic energy of the Red Rocks, joy of 10,000 audience, a burst of pure love, as well as psychedelic and ecstatic energy that was lighting my whole body.
I feel encouraged every time I see this artwork, and says to myself- “it really happened that the light was born.”
I would be so happy as an artist, if someone who doesn’t know about SHPONGLE, RedRocks, or myself would feel positive, or receive the power when they see this artwork.
It is my desire that my arts can play such a role in this world- I am committed to work on that goal throughout my life.
--I feel this artwork embodies the energy at SHPONGLE's live concert. It would be so neat if this painting [LIGHT] can introduce someone to SHPONGLE's music too. You are the only Japanese artist who performed at SHPONGLE RedRocks concert, so I feel that your sharing of their live performance in the Japanese language is also valuable. I would love to hear more about your experience at concert.
I experienced that at SHPONGLE's live, artists and staff members from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds were respecting and inspiring each other without any walls. I feel it is wonderful that every person who works with SHPONGLE brings their light to the space, and each person’s light blends together around SHPONGLE's music at its core. I believe this is how they are able to offer one and only performance arts as an end result. I felt so honored to be part of their team as a Japanese artist. This is why I chose a costume that has a theme of “Amenouzume,” a goddess of art that appears in ancient Japanese myth “Amanoiwato.”
--I see, it’s great to know the background story about your costume! Did you think about how you might perform or approach your painting prior to the event?
No, I didn’t have any specific plan. SHPONGLE's Simon or Raja didn’t give me any direction on what kind of art they wanted either. We were united with the hope of “creating the light of joy together.” So with that common hope, we each prepared for the stage individually until we gathered. I am so honored for the amount of trust they gave me, and grateful for their letting me freely be myself while performing my part. I also feel so happy how they welcomed me as a member of their “soul family.” Of course the structure and organization of the stage were meticulous and professional, involving over 100 performers and staff members. They still let me handle my part after confirming the timing of stage appearance.
--That sounds so amazing. I feel that it is so powerful that there was no set rules around the performance, because there was a strong trust between you guys. How was the atmosphere of Red Rocks amphitheater?
Red Rocks Amphitheater is built among natural red rocks in Colorado. Red rock walls surrounding the stage serve as a natural sound board, producing high quality sound in a mystical atmosphere. This place has so much power with the legacy of historical concerts by legendary artists including Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Grateful Dead, U2, BJORK, and more. Inside the rock tunnel behind the stage, there are so many signatures by the artists who performed there over the years—it felt like a sacred space. I felt so excited to leave my own signature there!
The view from in the audience seat—the stadium seating that starts from the higher part of the rocky mountain is so amazing. During the live performance, you can feel the energy from the audience as if it is pouring from the sky- I feel that this is very special to Red Rocks, I doubt you can experience this feeling anywhere else.
My canvas was placed in the back center of the stage, so I was painting while absorbing all the energy from the audience and performers into my body. That energy was phenomenal- I didn’t feel tired at all after dancing and painting for about 1.5 hour. I felt energized even after the entire performance that lasted for 2 days.
--What did you feel while painting with all the energy you were absorbing for 1.5 hour? I would love to hear the view or sensations you remember.
I remember feeling the breeze the whole time because the stage is outdoor. Right in front of me, there was Simon Posford and Jamie Grashion’s booth. I remember seeing a Jamie’s light brown hair moving in the wind, shining in rainbow colors with the lighting- it was so beautiful- while I was painting we would sometimes make eye contact... smiled at each other...it felt like I was floating in the wind, moving in slow motion.
One of the things that left me a strong impression was that depending on the lighting, artwork would change its looks drastically. It seemed as if the artwork I was painting in front of myself was changing and moving on its own, responding to UV light and colorful spot lights, bringing out different expression. Yes, the artwork was alive. I felt like I was dancing with a large, living art.
--Wow so interesting to hear! What you mentioned just now gives me an impression that you were feeling calm and serene rather than excited, while being on the stage. I wonder that is how you might feel when you are truly focused.
Of course there were moments when my excitement became so strong- I felt goose bumps while listening to Hari Om, Micheru Adamson, Durga McBroom, Sussan Deyhim- all SHPONGLE DIVA. Also felt extremely exhilarated and moved to dance more intensely, while listening to Joe Russo’s drumming in a close proximity. Including these moments, I felt I was held by something that is very kind, throughout the time on the stage. It felt like there was so much love and joy, circulating among artists and the audience. These feelings come back even in this moment as I recall the experience. One of the things that is so beautiful about SHPONGLE’s concert is that the audience is an important part of live energy.
I heard the audience exchanging the messages with one another- “I feel so proud to be a part of this!” “We are so great to experience this together, we did it!” I feel so happy to hear things like this. I admire SHPONGLE for being able to create such an amazing level of joy!
--I imagine the audience who gathers at SHPONGLE's concerts are also very talented. It sounds like they have also become one with artists at a ceremony, rather than simply being the observer.
Yes I completely agree...!
The way staff team organized the whole event was very sophisticated too. During the pink sunset, Deset Dwellers started playing, and there were appetizers available for everyone there- the atmosphere was similar to a outdoor party. Eventually the audience uniquely dressed in SHPONGLE's style started gathering, while greeting and enjoying each other. There was such a great energy in the space. In the moment finally SHPONGLE appeared, all of 10,000 audience stood up with cheering, and throughout the performance everyone was dancing. It was an incredible view. In the very first row there was a handicapped seating section for people with disability, elders, and children, everyone was enjoying themselves...which was also wonderful to see.
--Sounds like an incredible scene! Even imagining the scene can give me goose bumps. During the time you were painting on the stage, did you feel there was any inspirational image came to you?
I was painting as I was under a spell of magic, while receiving everyone’s energy. I was present, fully enjoying SHPONGLE's music, painting while following what I felt inside and how my body danced. I felt like the inside of my body was shining during the stage.
I also felt being held by a kind light even during the rehearsal and when I was at the backstage. Everyone involved in creating this stage seemed to be proud that they were there. Every staff member in any role was fantastic. At the backstage, we were offered organic buffet meals in a variety. I was receiving the light from all of these, and just kept painting in a clear mind. So I was very happy. Everyone was enjoying the art that was born as is... the space was filled with celebration.
--It is very interesting to hear bodily experience on the stage! How did you meet SHPONGLE and end up joining them?
I initially didn’t know anything about psychedelic or rave scenes. I first listened to SHPONGLE when a friend of mine played his song on our drive to Fuji Rock Fest in 2003- the first outdoor fest I participated in. I strongly felt resonated with their music right away, even though I was not familiar with the psychedelic music scene. After this encounter, I looked SHPONGLE up on Youtube, and was strongly drawn to the movies of DMT’s psychedelic live concerts- I was tweeting then “one day I will perform with SHPONGLE ” Some time passed, and when I found out that SHPONGLE was coming to Japan, I definitely wanted to see them in live, so asked my friend Miyuki at SolsticeMusic if I can get a ticket. To my surprise, she ended up asking me if I wanted to perform with them! It sounds like a dream, but thanks to SolsticeMusic, I was on the stage for SHPONGLE's live concert [Twistval] at ageha in Shinkiba on 3/19/2013.
--I saw the stage. I went to experience and dance at SHPONGLE's concert for the first time. I still remember that event. All the tickets were sold quickly, people were lining up to get in, and I was so excited as I entered the venue. I of course remember you performing on that stage even though we had not met each other yet. I found out only later that you were a Japanese artist.
At that time, they decided to include my performance 4 days before their stage! 3 days before the stage, I went to ageha for the first time in my life, and introduced myself to all the staff members, being so nervous. In the normal circumstances it is unthinkable to add a new element to the stage so close to the date of the performance.
Everyone there- SolsticeMusic’s Chika, Akira, stage director, lighting director, sound director, however, listened to me sincerely, then accepted the idea of including me, saying “Let’s try it, if this idea can make the stage even better!” So they built a mini stage for me last minute.
On the day of the performance we didn’t have a rehearsal, and the stage director told me I can decide whenever I want to appear on the stage. I got ready with all my love for SHPONGLE,and waited until the right time came. I knew that the right time will come, while dancing and listening to the audience’s cheers at back stage. Then I felt in my gut “this is the time!” When I opened the drape and posed on the stage, my favorite song “Doreset Perception” started playing, ageha was shaking with the loudest cheers from the audience, I couldn’t believe how perfect the timing was- I started dancing while feeling the goose bumps.
One moment, I looked to the side and noticed Raja was seeing me- we exchanged the love energy, expressing to each other “it’s wonderful to meet you..’
From that moment, I was welcomed to SHPONGLE's family. The opportunity to meet them and join their journey has been a miracle for me.
--That’s such a great story! So that was the beginning of the journey with SHPONGLE. And [LIGHT] was born in that process.
After Twistval, they invited me to Red Rocks concert in 2014, followed by the adventures I was able to be part of such as the stage of SHPONGLE live in concert Tokyo "Museum of Consciousness", O.Z.O.R.A. Festival in 2016, Oregon Global Eclipse Gathering in 2017, then finally the "last concert" with SHPONGLE at Red Rocks last year. Simon and Raja created one of a kind spectacular stage by pouring all of SHPONGLE’s history on that stage at Red Rocks... I am celebrating their accomplishment from the bottom of my life. The artwork [LIGHT] contains all of my feelings for them.
--Thank you so much for all your sharing. I feel like dancing now, after listening to you and hearing about the sensations you felt on the stage. I hope we can dance together again soon. Before we go today, is there any message you would like to share with those who are reading this interview?
Thanks to read it.To meeting Shpongle, I feel that my authentic self has been further liberated. I would like to continue to share the light with everyone through my art.
I would like to give special thanks to Simon Poford, Raja Ram, artists, staff members, audience, and all of the people who have been there to support.
I look forward to exchanging our energy again after moving through this tough time.
“Trusting the light revives upon any darkness”
LOVE & LIGHTxxx
Concert photos by
Dave Vann & Silky Shots & B.Hockensmith