“I know music is a very powerful force; one that was believed in the ages of antiquity to have the ability to make or break entire civilisations.”
Asi Martyr of the Sacred Sound Tribal Collective is a Cardiff-based artist making some truly exceptional music. Here he speaks with DISS. about his inspirations, motivations, and the active power of music to change the world.
You really do create an exceptionally diverse range of different tunes. Your sound is unique, incorporating Hip-Hop and bold, emotive Rap with beautiful, Eastern inspired break-beat-trip-hop-chant-trance (yes) – underpinned with elements of rock and we are very excited to speak with you about it all! What music have you grown up listening to, enjoy listening to now, and what do you usually draw upon musically as inspiration?
“The music I grew up listening to was always varied but I was particularly drawn to Jimmy Hendrix. I felt that magic existed in the way he played guitar. I’ve been trying to introduce that type of same magic into my own music.
What I enjoy listening to now predominantly depends upon my mood in the moment, but almost always I put on reggae first thing in the morning. I also like to listen to a lot of underground hip-hop, psychedelic rock, classical music etc… the list goes on.
I like to taste the flavours of all music because the world is sound.
I draw upon many genres for musical inspiration; it gives me a greater source of ingredients to put into the soup that is my music. I also like to look at different sounds and musics from many indigenous people from around the world to incorporate into my overall sound, and then apply that to musical genres that I feel more comfortable in producing and have more experience with, like hip-hop and rock among others.”
Do you actively set out to combine so many diverse avenues of sound within a tune, or does your music just so happen to naturally develop into such multi-genred tracks?
“I like to experiment freely with music and I am more than happy to mix it up. Often times there is a route idea to the music I’m creating but once that has been established it’s completely free form and it’s come what may. Although I do adhere to the different production techniques and strategies that I’ve learned over the course of my studies. I find them very effective.
All my productions are collaborative and would be nothing without the creative and technological input from those who I’ve worked with.”
Please tell us a little about figures who inspire and influence you as an artist and why that is.
Can you select any specific artists or albums who you would say are at the foundations of your relationship with music?
“As mentioned above, Jimmy Hendrix had a great influence on me in relation to me being a guitarist and a creative. In all truth there are too many to mention! I’ve deeply absorbed the works of many musicians throughout my life and I know that through my love of all music there has been a profound influence in the way I make it. The academia that I’ve pursued relating to music and sound has given me a vast amount of knowledge and insight into the power of music and sound, and I try to apply that into my creative process always.
Artists that try to use music to heal are the ones that most inspire me, like Bob Marley for example. But there are many others!
So many artists have followed this sacred stream to bring more light to humanity and the world through music and I’m trying to flow through that same sacred stream with my own music.”
Tracks like ‘World People March’ and ‘Money’ and ‘Ominous Force’ are pretty heavy in their political, social engagement. With a clarion call for rebellion against corruption, injustice, inequality, and the right for true freedom at the core of all of your lyrics, can you tell us a little more about what you see in the world around you which inspires these kinds of lyrics and the whole nature of the track itself ?
“This is going to sound intense but here goes…
What I see in the world around me is a lot of corruption and insidiousness by a few ruling powers. There is a battle for liberation from the forces of darkness and illusion that pollute this world by those who wish to return to a state of living in love, simplicity, light and truth.
I see this as the true states of being for humankind. I see very sinister and ominous forces working to corrupt and pollute the human spirit and I feel that a very real, tangible and powerful resistance against this is necessary. I’ve chosen my side and music is one of my weapons. I walk with the light of the Divine; I and the collective I’m with work tirelessly for the liberation of the human spirit in our own way.
I know music is a very powerful force, one that was believed in the ages of antiquity to have the ability to make or break entire civilisations. The great philosophers Pythagoras and Confucius knew a lot about that. I see those that are trying to make the world worse also using music to do so – I use music to do the opposite, and try to make the world a better place. This is what inspires me and the collective I’m in to create music, and a certain type of music which we hope can heal and awaken people.”
You are based in Cardiff – please tell us a little about the city and what the music scene is like there. What and where are your favourite venues and nights?
“I am based in Cardiff, and it’s a nice city to live in and to be a part of musically. It’s like a family: one that squabbles and bitches but also one that supports each other greatly. The music scene is lively but small like the city itself. The energy of the people is high and the devotion to music here is beautiful. I can only talk from my own experience and perspective though.
I mostly frequent the types of venues and events that play underground hip-hop, drum and bass and live music. In those settings I see a very lively atmosphere and great music being played and a lot of support for the artists.
Clwb Ifor Bach, The Full Moon, Gwdihw and Buffalo Bar are amongst my favourites. Revolution Solution and The Hold Up are good nights out if you want to see spoken word poetry and underground hip-hop.
Cardiff is a very friendly place and you’re guaranteed a good night out!”
Are there any other artists, collectives or musical communities you have connection with or close ties to who would recommend readers to keep their eyes and ears out for?
“Check out The Magi, The Hold Up, Applied Science, Potent Whisper, Mikey Holden, Baby Queens, Young Black Americans, Chew, Misled Truth. There are many more to mention but I can’t remember all right now.”
What drives you most in creating more and more music?
“It’s what I’m naturally good at, something that I was designed for. My mission on earth I feel is to help to liberate people through music and this is the core driving force to why I keep creating. But also I truly love it and enjoy it greatly. It brings connectivity, unity, love and friendship into my life. Only good things have come out of making music for me so I know it’s the right path for me to be walking.”
What are you working on at the moment or has been your most recent musical project ?
“I’m currently working on mixing, mastering and finishing off the vast amount of music I’ve created with the Sacred Sound Tribal Collective. I want get all that ready for release. I’m also working on new music and collaborations. I’m going to also be re launching a music and poetry event that I’ve been running since 2013 called Revolution Solution and that will be back up and running by February hopefully.”
What is the writing process like for you ?
“In terms of my lyrical content I often just get hit with a sudden blast of inspiration and then I start writing. It doesn’t all just flow out though, once the balls gets rolling it slows down and then I start being meticulous in what I’m trying to convey with the lyrics I’m writing. I really try to dive deep and bring as much truth into what I’m writing as possible.”
Can you tell us a little about fellow producers of your music – Khalon Tacari and Ezkay? – and any other artists you work with ?
“These guys are my tribal brothers, the Sacred Sound Tribal Collective.
We’ve been working together on making music and planning various other projects for a while now. We had a studio where we would make our music together and it truly was a place of beauty, freedom and of spiritual and musical expression. We operate and vibrate at a very similar frequency and that is why we are so compatible in making music together. Also, we are very different too as individuals and that diversity really brings a magic into what we are doing. Khalon Tacari and Ezkay are the key ingredients and main driving force behind almost all of these productions. We’ve got very big plans together!”
How would you describe the Sacred Sound Tribal Collective to someone who may not have heard of you before?
“We are a collective of musicians and mystics that combine a variety of creative methods in order to influence positive change in our environment.
I feel that this quote by the book The Secret Power of Music by David Tame sums up the nature of myself, my collective and the music we make: “…this timeless flame of ageless wisdom preserved in that small minority of musicians who still today have combined academic knowledge and the practical experience of music with a genuine and earnest inner spiritual development.”
What are you looking forward to in the near future?
“Putting on big shows with the Sacred Sounds crew, making a lot more adventurous and greater musical productions than ever before. I would love to one day make music that would be played to a large audience through an orchestra. But it wouldn’t be a typical classical piece but a more tribalistic ancient sounding piece filled with all sorts of instruments from around the world. I have a lot of plans, not all of them I want revealed just yet.”
words and interview by Hannah Dixon