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Mantravine
Photograph: Mantravine

Interview: Mantravine, the local band fusing psychedelic sounds with wellness rituals

Get to know Singapore's own sound healers and cosmic shamans.

Dewi Nurjuwita
Written by
Dewi Nurjuwita
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Those in the underground music scene would have been to Mantravine gig back in the pre-pandemic days. The world electronic music group is known for its live sets fuelled by other-worldly tunes, endless dancing and good vibes all around. From local music festival Neon Lights to intimate parties at Kult Yard and overseas gigs in Germany, Japan and New Zealand, Mantravine's music has mesmerised music lovers all around the globe. 

Call them sound healers, cosmic shamans, or psychedelic musicians; the artists behind Mantravine individually and collectively set themselves apart from other musicians in the local scene. But what happens when local festivals have been put to a complete stop and virtual shows reign supreme? The band's signature music is then fused with wellness rituals such as yoga and meditation sessions that help listeners escape the daily grind. Rupak George, the driving force behind the band, tells us. 

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Hi Rupak, tell us more about yourself.

I’m the music producer for Mantravine and also teach music production. On the side, I distribute music and organise events with Chill Sessions Records

You started Mantravine as a solo project – how did the idea come about?

In 2012, I came back from a music festival in Australia and my friends from Starlight Alchemy invited me to compose for their production at the Flipside Festival. It was an incredibly psychedelic show featuring dancers, crystal balls, visuals, musicians and voila… Mantravine was born. 

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Who is Mantravine made of?

Currently, we have Farhan Remy on trumpet and keys, Isuru Wijesoma on a double-neck Indian classical and electric guitar and our singer ArunDitha (FKA Deborah Emmanuel). Over the past few years, we also had talented musicians like Eriko Murakami, Karen Denise de Silva, Eddy Fleitas del Sol and Tolga Sezer. 

What does Mantravine represent?

Mantra is a Sanskrit word that is a sequence of sacred utterances repeated in full presence with the intention to change an outcome. 'Vine' is a Latin word that is a climbing plant that grows on the bodies of trees and buildings, facing the light and dark, seeking to reach the sky. Mantravine is an expression of love through sound to experience divine connections with people, planet, consciousness and positive transformations. Check out what happens on planet Mantravine in our video here

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Why is music important in these times?

Music has never been unimportant. Consciously and unconsciously, it has the power to connect people with each other and themselves. Over the past two years, I saw lots of people interested in learning, creating, collaborating and healing with music. I believe people connected with music more deeply for healing during the pandemic.

Mantravine's known for its shows and festivals, which all have had to come to a halt during the pandemic. What were your initial feelings?
Photograph: Mantravine

Mantravine's known for its shows and festivals, which all have had to come to a halt during the pandemic. What were your initial feelings?

Initially indifferent, not realising how intense it would be. Over time, it’s been challenging to understand why music has been victimised for so long and only select venues have the honour to put up live shows meaning certain genres were effectively diminished.

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How has the band pivoted during these strange times?

We've been blessed with opportunities to create music for poets like Marc Nair for his book “Handbook of Daily Movement,” a series of Tamil poems put together by Sing Lit Sounds. We also worked with Arunditha (FKA Deborah Emmanuel) to create a radio show for Singapore Writer’s Festival and musical poems for the Arts House.

Additionally, we had online concerts that helped raise money for humanitarian projects like the Ocean Purpose Festival and the World Food Program. Recently, we pulled off some live medicinal collabs with The Moon and performed at some insane crypto music art show with Mischief Makers and Radarboy at UltraSuperNew Gallery. 

Recently, you've started fusing music with wellness rituals. Can you tell us more?

Last year, we collaborated with yoga teachers and musicians to create online yin yoga and kundalini yoga classes where proceeds went to support humanitarian projects in India such as Karwan e Mohabbat and the Gyanada foundation.

I also run healing meditation sessions where I use the “love” frequency to help people connect deeply with themselves and expand the love vibration. Because of the online nature of these projects, it's beautiful how it continues to have a long term impact where people can access the medicine on YouTube whenever they want. 

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How do you think music can heal?
Photograph: Gaetan Boisson

How do you think music can heal?

Music has the power to heal the self and unite communities. Sounds affect the atoms vibrating on our bodies and as such can heal our physical and mental states and increase our ability to feel love. Music can also heal by bringing people together to serve projects.

What are your plans for 2022?

We're releasing our first odd time album called Asama. I’ve prepared an exclusive video for Time Out here. At the end of January, we're sharing music with the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity to support kids in Poland who lack medical facilities. In March, I’m looking forward to presenting a live show with one of my favourite photographers Gaetan Boisson for his sick photography and generative AI art exhibition 'assassiner la magie' at UltraSuperNew gallery.

Every year, we explore a new musical theme and this year is going to be looking at ancient tunings and shamanic tribal grooves. We have more shows planned for this year and hopefully an overseas festival but with evolving rules, it’s tricky to announce early because of unpredictable rules. If you’d like to catch us live I recommend joining our mailing list where we share the inside scoop on live shows, music, videos, meditation sessions and more.

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