Enter: Vajra. For those of you who have yet to discover this band, it is time to open your ears up and fill them with their music. Vajra’s music is a tapestry of hauntingly dark and hypnotic, melodic, progressive, foreboding and mysterious lullabies.
Vajra was formed by composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist, Annamaria Pinna during her self-imposed exile in India. The child of a former monk and school teacher, Annamaria was encouraged to learn about the world around her and to question her assumptions. She believes there is divinity in creativity. Annamaria has a neurological condition called synesthesia, where she attaches color and shapes to sound.
I recently had the unique opportunity to talk with Annamaria about her band, touring, and upcoming projects!
A-P: Hello! For those who don’t know Vajra, could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about the band name?
Annamaria: My name is Annamaria and I am the creator of the band Vajra. Vajra is a Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist (Dorje) symbol for the thunderbolt or the diamond. It is that which breaks through anything. It is the unbreakable or indestructible force that permeates all things-the ultimate truth of the universe. I had a powerful dream about this energy and later when I was brainstorming names for the band, the word kept resurfacing. I surrendered to it, and so it is.
You have worked with some pretty big names! Blake Flemming (ex-The Mars Volta), Sylvia Massy (Tool, System of a Down, Prince, Johnny Cash), and Tom Baker (NIN, Foo Fighters, Ministry Prince). Tell us what the experience was like and how much it has helped you develop as an artist.
Each experience was similar in that I was super thrilled to work with them because I respect their what each of them does tremendously. At times, I was a bit intimidated, but I had to stop myself from traveling down that path by just focusing on the music. Blake is a friend so it was both inspiring and fun to work with him. I love his choices (musically) and he is such an awesome dude. When I left Sylvia’s studio, I was overcome with emotion, and I didn’t want to leave. I had made a new friend, and we connected on that music level that only musicians can truly understand. Also, at that time, I was realizing that this was happening that the music I had heard and translated from the ether was now here in this physical world. It was something I had wanted to do since I was a child. So, part of the emotion I felt was also the acknowledgment of a dream come true. Tom was awesome! He is like the mad scientist tinkering with buttons that made it all sound even better. He had all these gold records on the wall in his studio and I couldn’t believe I was there. Working with each of them has challenged me to go deeper into my craft. They continue to inspire me today.
You have an upcoming EP, “Irkalla,” part 1 of The Trilogy Series. What is the story behind this series and is there a release date for “Irkalla?”
Irkalla is the Sumerian word for Underworld. We wanted to release an album but then I thought maybe we will do an EP. And then I kept getting signs telling me to do 3 related eps, and hence, the Trilogy Series was born. Each EP and possibly each single will be released on an auspicious day that is a derivative of 3 (numerology). Each EP will consist of 3 songs and 3 interludes and possibly a bonus track. Each piece of music will have a video component and after the release of the 3rd EP, we will release all the music and all the videos into one movie. The music and the videos will dictate how the movie turns out. It will tell us what it is.
No release date yet. We keep getting shows to perform and so the time we can spend on the new music dwindles. We are close though.
For Vajra fans, they enter “The Temple.” How did that come about and what is the meaning of “The Temple?”
I wanted to create the sense of community where our fans can gather. The best thing would be for The Temple to inspire one to dig deeper into their own lives and to do whatever it is she or he is gifted to do.
You have a neurological condition called Synesthesia, where you attach colors and shapes to sound. What have been the positive and negative aspects in how it has been applied to your music?
For me, it’s positive because it helps to physically express what I hear when I write. There is a visual component to the music. One negative aspect is that when I explain something to my guys and say something sounds yellow or I demonstrate the shape of what I hear, they look at me like I’m crazy. So I have to remind myself to explain musically as well. The communication is different with everyone.
You are on tour right now and are soon to be headed to Sweden! What has been the best experience on this tour? Of all the tours, which place has been your favorite to perform?
Yeah, we can’t wait for Sweden! We’ve been heading out on long weekends after our To The Ends of The Earth Tour in March/April to the West Coast and back. We had 29 shows in 32 days. It was exhausting but incredible. I love touring. Home is where you make it. I love seeing new places and meeting new people and experiencing different subcultures.
Some of the best experiences are, of course, great shows with large, receptive audiences but also playing great rooms like Viper Room in LA and The Chance in Poughkeepsie. Thinking of the musicians that have performed on those stages where my feet we planted was exhilarating. Also, the fans make the shows great. We had one fan travel to a few shows on the tour, gifted us some vino with a beautiful card that said we inspired her to follow her dreams. And another fan who made us individual jewel trees under the moonlight and presented them in labeled silver sparkle boxes because she wanted to thank us for inspiring her. These are beautiful moments that I will never forget.
I can’t say that I have a favorite place to perform. Favorites are tough for me. There are different things that I like/dislike about most places.
Lastly, I have to say I have become a huge fan, even joining “The Temple” myself. Is there anything you would like to say to aspiring artists looking to get to where you are at now?
Thank you so much!
Take some time to challenge your assumptions and to discover or rediscover who you are and how you want to spend your time here in the awareness of who you are. And when you know, do it! Focus on that truth. Don’t let distractions or people stop you from being who you really are. And be!
Make sure you check out Vajra on their upcoming tour that makes its way from the US all the way to Sweden! For more info, visit http://www.thevajratemple.com/