2010 was a turning point for Aïsha Devi. She learned to meditate, which changed her entire approach to life and music. She went from a crossover indie artist to a sonic alchemist, releasing abstract electronic music that employs special frequencies and alternative tunings, all touched with her incredible, elastic voice. Her voice, and the way she processes it, is her secret ingredient. "I learned how to extend the vocal chords' resonance," she said in an interview last year. "I produce multiple oscillations and poly-harmonies that combine with the frequencies of the music and induce an altered state of consciousness."
Devi's music has purpose. Her goal is to induce meditative states, to heal listeners and to seize on the communal potential of the nightclub experience. Through her releases on Houndstooth and her own label, Danse Noire, she explores the potential for deeper meaning and intention in electronic music, covering themes as dense as string theory. Her last EP, S.L.F., was one of her clubbiest, featuring brash and explosive drums, sweet rave melodies and, as ever, her inimitable voice, often pitched up or down into hyperreal tones.
You can dance to Devi's music, but it rarely conforms to any recognizable genre or expectation. Her RA Podcast follows the same pretzel logic. Sinuous and mid-tempo at one moment and violently percussive the next, Devi charts a path through outré club music and contributes plenty of her own edits. She invites Slikback, Amnesia Scanner and Tricky into her world, and mashes up Rage Against The Machine with Flowdan and Billie Eilish with John Carpenter. It's almost a production as much as it is a mix, as thoughtful as one of her records. It might put you in a meditative state, or it might get you ready for a night out. Either way, it'll make you feel something.
What have you been up to recently?
I've been on tour quasi-constantly, broke my voice and body but my spirit stays high gathering with amazing people around the world.
How and where was the mix recorded?
It was recorded in Berlin where I recently moved. My studio is not set up properly yet so it was put together in my living room, cats and plants watching over me. I always take some time to put things and concepts together, finding interesting acapellas and rare instrumentals to generate a precise entity.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I produce a mix the way I would produce a live set, explicitly narrative and personal. I like to set up atmospheres, locations, characters, drama and a bit of a teaching too. A kind of a Greek tragedy.
You've talked a lot about how meditation underlines your production work. Does it also influence the way you DJ and put music together?
Not meditation per se but there is always an intention towards elevation in my work. I like to collide aesthetics and I love anachronisms that reveal the pattern. The fundamental of human music is ritualistic.
The mix is full of your own edits, ranging from underground dance music to pop stars and rappers. Most artists make edits to make tracks suitable for club play—but that doesn't sound like what's happening here. What is your thought process or objective when doing these kind of edits?
Club music is changing, strictly 4/4 and high BPMs are not the core of a good rave anymore. When people are partying they are looking for that enlightening factor. I produce edits to built up a continuum, to provide comments on our cultural context and to induce altered states of consciousness via unexpected combinations.
What are you up to next?
More more more shows. And a new AR project with Pussykrew. I'm also super eager to get started on some new music. S/O to Gabber Modus Operandi, 33EMYBW, Varg and Equiknoxx. S.L.F. Versions coming out next month.
TracklistAïsha Devi - Superluminal (unreleased)
Philip Glass - Koyaanisqatsi vs Post Malone (Aïsha Devi Edit)
Exploited Body - I Was Never Enough
Gabber Modus Operandi - Trance Adiluhunxxx
E-Saggila - My World My Way (Aïsha Devi Vegan Edit)
J-Zbel - Riddim Du Bardouin
John Carpenter - The Fog vs Billie Eilish (Aïsha Devi Edit)
Tomas Urquieta - Dueños de Nada x Ariana Grande (Aïsha Devi Edit)
Iona Fortune - Xu ?
Kablam - DJ HAY!?
Slickback & Hyph11e - Shimian vs The Prodigy (Aïsha Devi Edit)
Racine - Quelque Chose Tombe II (upcoming Danse Noire)
Tricky - For Real (Aïsha Devi Edit)
Llanto - Raum
Aïsha Devi - I'm Not Always Where My Body is (Varg Remix)
Sign Libra - Outro / Oophaga Pumilio
Racine - Désordre Baroque (upcoming Danse Noire)
GIL - Swallow Ash
Amnesia Scanner & Bill Kouligas - Lexachast II (Aïsha Devi Vocaloid Edit)
Rage Against The Machine vs Flowdan (Devi Edit)