Pic by Nalina Kaufman

Hi Dhanya, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi! Thank you! I’ve been great! Busy and excited to share my new album with you!

Can you talk to us more about your song “Lesson”?

“Lesson” is a song I wrote right in the middle of making the album, and it was an exciting way to bring a lot of collaborative production ideas between myself and co-producer Robin Livingston, who is a total genius. It also features Mayapuris’ drummer Bali Rico on the ghatam (water-pot drum) and  the incredible Jahnavi Harrison on violin, and it all comes together to create this really haunting, driving sound. Growing up listening to classical Indian music, I became familiar with  complex rhythms and uncommon time signatures, so it was challenging but really fun to do this one in 7-beat.  It’s essentially a song describing the ‘dark night of the soul’, and how certain lessons in our lives are relentlessly appearing, time and time again, until we actually do the work and learn what we have to learn.

Did any event inspire you to write this song?

The words for the song came long before the music. It was a poem I wrote reflecting on how life lessons can seem like a horror movie sometimes, and the descriptions ended up being really graphic: “my lungs will sift the soil, filter water through my bones. All my organs like an organ with a hundred sacred tones”, which gives that visual of being swallowed by the earth and being pulled underground to be sort of re-worked and healed in the dark. So the chorus is that acceptance of, okay, let’s do this. I need to learn this lesson and it’s going to chase me relentlessly until I work through it, and it knows just how to bait me to get me to fall into it again. So instead of trying to outrun the lesson, I choose to go underground, into the dark and really do the healing I need to do to resolve it.

Any plans to release a video for the track?

I would love to work on a video for this track. I have video ideas for all my songs! Nothing is in the works at the moment, but it would be a dream to bring this song to life with a video.

The single comes off your new album Dhanya – why naming the album after this track in particular?

The album is self-titled because I feel it represents my inner world. This is me. Each song is different and unique, yet it all comes together with the thread of who I am, the messages I want share, the questions I have, and the challenges I have encountered in my life. It’s an exploration of every aspect of my inner creative universe.

What made you want to do a concept album?

This album has been a dream of mine for many years. Growing up with influences from the East and West, practicing an ancient,  mystical spiritual tradition yet living in the modern world; it all needed to be expressed, explored and brought to life through my music. I also really resonate with the growing generation of music listeners who are totally underwhelmed and bored of vapid, superficial messages in music. Sound is a powerful medium, and conscious sound has the capacity to uplift people and change the world for the better. I wanted to stand firm in my belief that conscious music is what people are hungry for.

How was the recording and writing process?

Some of the songs on this album were written almost a decade ago, and other songs, like “Lesson”, were written literally while I was recording the album, so it’s a sonic journey through my maturing as an artist and as a woman. As a songwriter, this record allowed me to explore so many of my influences and so much of my capacity as a singer and composer. I really gave myself room to sing all throughout my vocal range, and in different styles so that I could explore what my voice can do and have it be it’s own instrument. That kind of freedom of expression was scary, but also taught me so much about my voice as an instrument. Recording this album, almost all the collaborators are artists were long-distance, so it was definitely a challenge to not be physically present during some of the work, but it helped me learn how to communicate my creative ideas more clearly and stick to my creative work ethic very closely. I feel much more confident in my songwriting now that I hear my compositions fleshed out and alive on the album. And I definitely feel I have grown in my confidence in the vocal booth, where I can really get into the meditation of each song and allow my voice to express what I’m trying to communicate. Also, because it’s an independent release, I’ve learned a lot about what goes into a music project and how to put together a team that will help me bring it into the world. Being an independent artist was a crucial part of the process for me, because I wanted to be creatively free and involved in all aspects of the project.

What role does Venezuela play in your writing?

Venezuela is my homeland, and the place where so many of my formative experiences took place. It is an incredibly beautiful country, with vibrant people and unimaginable natural wonders. I lived there during a time of great political and social unrest, which taught me to think critically, to be educated in important issues, to have informed opinions, and most of all, to stand my ground on what I believe in. I protested the corrupt goverment in the streets of Caracas, along with students, as we were being bombed with tear-gas and shot at with rubber bullets. Caracas got to be so dangerous, we had to leave. But I am grateful to have lived there, because I believe it toughened me as a person, and gave me street-smarts I don’t think I would have developed otherwise. Growing up as the daughter of “the musician of Venezuela”, Ilan Chester, it was a very valuable behind-the-scenes view of how the music industry works, how a musician works, and the power of music. I got to see the good, the bad and the ugly, and I am very grateful for that.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

My life, my experiences, and my dreams are the inspiration. I wanted to have complete vulnerability in the writing process, and I feel that by hearing these songs, the listener is getting to know the deepest parts of my heart. It’s got everything, from my most treasure spiritual teachings all the way through my most wrenching self-doubt and everything in between. My musical influences range from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to Bjork to the Beatles, so I am constantly inspired and stirred by these artists to create new and innovative music.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! I will be touring throughout 2018, sharing songs from the album, along with new, unreleased songs as well. I’ll be in Los Angeles in February and in New York in April. I’m hoping to travel far and wide to share my music with audiences all over.

What else is happening next in Dhanya´s world?

I am thrilled to be releasing the album on February 2nd, and touring on my own, as well as a supporting artist on the Mayapuris’ 2018 tour. I’m constantly writing and already looking forward to releasing more new songs for the world to hear! You can keep up with what’s happening at and following me on social media (FB/IG/Twitter) dhanyamusic.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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