Progressive and healing artist Matthew Jaidev Duplessie is interviewed about family vacations to the Bahamas, yoga teachings, discovering his voice, and much more.
My earliest musical memories take me back to the first time I heard the steel drums on a family vacation to the Bahamas. It was at this time that I realized I loved the sound of Reggae music and discovered my early favorites of Inner Circle, UB40 and Bob Marley. Years before that, I found I naturally enjoyed making sounds with my mouth and listening to music at night to help me fall asleep.
My musical inspiration is vast as music has always been a sense of comfort, escape and a feeling of ‘home’ for me. Before I realized I had any musical talent, a girlfriend of mine turned me on to the French language recordings of Céline Dion. There was something about the traditional folk music and the foreign language that I was drawn to. When I first learned how to play guitar when I was 20 years old I loved learning the riff’s of Creed’s guitarist Mark Tremonti. From there I explored the many veins of rock, alternative and grunge music.
Some of my favorite groups were the pop bands from England, The Cure, UB40, U2, Radiohead, Muse – there was something about the English accent that I was drawn to. Over the years, I continued exploring world sounds and was inspired by the chants of kundalini yoga. Movie scores probably offer me the most consistent inspiration and I would say the work of Hans Zimmer is my favorite. Some of my current influences are from my mentor Brazilian live-loop world soul artist Poranguî and singer-songwriter Trevor Hall.
There was something about the English accent that I was drawn to
My spiritual and philosophical influences are probably as wide as my musical influences. I’ve loved the words of Celestine Prophecy author James Redfield, the kundalini yoga teachings by Yogi Bhajan, which I am trained in, and the words and perspectives of Alan Watts. Reading the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass was a great paradigm shifting book for me and the belief system of the Law of Attraction by Abraham Hicks still speaks to me to this day.
I moved here in 2008 to go to to SCAD to study “sound for picture” and the making of soundtracks/scores for film. SCAD had a sound design program but only one class about music, so I switched my major to Motion Media Design and made music my ‘in my free time” passion. I began connecting with local musicians, jamming and going to open mics. This was back in the days when the Wormhole was just coming into inception. From there, I joined an 8-piece band of creative artists called Word of Mouth, an ensemble with as many unique genres blended into one expression of multi-layered, uplifting sounds and conscious lyrics. From there I wrote and mixed an electronic pop album with my fiancé at the time Electric Grandma. All the while I was working on my own creations under the guise Clandestiny – dark, moody, atmospheric, acoustic-driven ballads and instrumentals.
Everything changed for me when I discovered the book “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield that local songwriter Lauren LaPointe gifted me when I first moved to Savannah. The book introduced to me the ideas of synchronicity and the idea of a web of energy that guides us in our path through life and unites us with others we are destined to meet and play out karmic unfoldings with. A few years after that, a friend turned me onto Kundalini Yoga and I was fascinated again about discovering deeper levels of energy awareness in the body that could be harmonized and explored through breathwork, chanting and yoga. I went very deep into the path of kundalini yoga and practiced it daily for years. From the practice I discovered more about the power of mantras and enjoyed connecting with other friends locally and regionally to chant together.
My personal philosophy about my music is that it is my medicine. It is what keeps me going and gives me a chance to express my emotions. Growing up I was a very shy, sensitive and introverted child. I realize now looking back, it was easier to hide myself away then to feel the complete dynamic range of the human experience – bliss, suffering and everything in between. Many years of keeping quiet had bottled up all my emotions and when a significant relationship ended, I was taken to a very dark and depressed place within where I had thoughts of taking my life. Within that dark place was the fertile seeds for the birthing of my first album The Introspective Year. I was able to carthart the pain, suffering and emotional confusion that was within me through singing, playing guitar, writing and producing songs.
The most consistent thing I’ve learned through my journey with making music is that it has healing powers, because it gives us a safe place to feel the fullness of being human. All the beautiful highs and joys, and the dark and “dirty” emotions that society has easily made shameful for us to express fully. In particular I have found that singing, emoting and toning sound has been a huge part of my healing journey … One that I realize is universal.
Because of this I have become a self-appointed ambassador of the healing power of the voice. On the app Insight Timer, an international community for mediation and mindfulness, I have had over 7,500 students worldwide attend my course The Power of Sound Healing with Voice, where I guide listeners through 10 days of exploring how the voice can be used to release emotional energy and help us remember who we are.
Over the years I’ve had fun watching Nico Chasty of The Mercers grow to become a talented frontman of his band. Over time we would consistently run into each other in town and at shows and share our mutual respect for one another. He has become a good friend and I am looking forward to the potentials of collaboration with him in the coming weeks.
I have also always admired from afar the persona and image of James Lee Smith. There is something about his drive, professionalism, and his decision to make music his life that gives me an innate sense of admiration and respect. When I see him, I say there is a man who is owning his role in society and to his soul.
I just got my first piano in my new home, and after playing it first thing this morning, I exclaimed out loud, “I’m a songwriter!”
For many years I loved going to the Wormhole for the sense of close-knit community that has been forged through their open mic nights. Their sound engineer Jeff is one of the most talented in town, and I have always respected his passion and talent for sound and for making a great venue for music. Performing on the Forsyth Stage and in the park for Earth Day has always been enjoyable because I love being outside in the fresh air, and making music on top of it for others to hear is always a gift.
I would love to get to perform at the new venue Victory North as I feel it would be a great venue to have an album release party of my album Victory that came out this year.
To be honest, with all that has been going on with covid-19, I feel a little out of the loop, but I feel a good momentum from many musical friends who are consistently exploring the DIY scene to keep things alive. I would love to see monthly or seasonal concert series in the park at Forsyth. I feel like the stage and lawn are highly underused for concerts, and it could be a great way to highlight local bands while giving touring acts a memorable place to perform as well as remind the locals of one of the gifts of living in this beautiful city.
I have had a lot of significant life changes over the past few months and my music has been on the back burner. However, I have been quietly piecing together songs for what has the makings of what would be my 12th self-produced studio album. This one would continue in the direction of my last album Victory, exploring the singer-songwriter/folk music thread that I have been turned onto from musicians like Trevor Hall.
A friend of mine Alex Seccombe and I have had opportunities to create healing sounds events at the Savannah Cultural Arts with didgeridoo, gongs, singing bowls, drums, and other world sounds. We are hoping to get back on schedule once the Covid restrictions lift.
I have also been invited in the future to collaborate with a San Francisco sound healing group called Sound Meditation Presents, to offer monthly sound healing live stream concerts virtually to their ever growing online audience.
I just got my first piano in my new home and after playing it first thing this morning, I exclaimed out loud, “I’m a songwriter!” – as I easily forget with all of life’s obligations the power of honoring who we are at a soul level. That being said, I look forward to continuing my musical journey to express the depths of who I am, while creating spaces and events for others to do the same.