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Baker's Dozen

Ceremonial Worship: Gonjasufi's Favourite Records
Elizabeth Aubrey , August 17th, 2016 08:23

Before the singer, DJ and producer releases his third album, Callus, this week, he talks to Elizabeth Aubrey about the 13 songs and albums that have had the biggest impact on his life, emotionally and spiritually


Ben E. King – 'Don't Play That Song'
The first time I ever heard this song I stopped and I felt like I had lived in a previous life. I told my mum and she went and bought me the tape of this song. I just played it back to back, over and fucking over. This song is special because it reminds me of being young. I used to draw 1950s Chevrolets and listen to and sing Ben E. King. He was the first voice that really influenced me in my life. First it was him, then it was Bob Marley.

Did you consciously craft your voice around your influences or did it come naturally?

When I was eight, I was in an opera and I hit some fucking notes. It was my first time singing in front of people. As far as the range goes, it's been easy for me to sing the high notes – it comes naturally. The hard part was feeling comfortable about that shit because I was worried people would think I was a motherfucking soft-ass. The hard part was accepting that I could sing and that I just shouldn't give a fuck what anybody thought.

What's helped me is just kinda focusing on God. When I perform… like the first 20 or 30 seconds I am on the mic, I just try to make the most crazy dinosaur noises I can make and then when I close my eyes, I get into this quiet space to where I won't hear anything. You get in the space to where you're performing but you're actually witnessing yourself give a shit and you're witnessing yourself have a conversation with God, watching yourself do this shit and getting into this space is where you uplift the audience and I can see the audience float. I just wide-vision it: I perform from that point on with my eyes closed the whole fucking way.

Would you say your spirituality is central to your performance then? Does your background as a yoga teacher help you to reach this focused performance space?

Yes, definitely to both. To me, it's like a ceremonial worship. It's my duty to do this and to express this and to try and channel this higher power – exorcise the demon out of me, if you like. With yoga, it forced me to find one point of stillness and just completely stay in that fucking space. Everything around me may be spinning like a hurricane… I just found my place became the eye of the storm. That allowed me to go outside the room and deal with all the chaotic shit around me: it allowed me to silence all those voices around me and focus on my one true voice – which is like a silence in itself. It helped me to find the voice in my heart as opposed to the voices in my head.