Bohemian Dreaming : Eric Mandala

I met Eric in my twenties through some mutual friends, he was living in Indonesia then and came to Kuala Lumpur visiting some friends and we kept in touch ever since then, it's been so many years since I last saw him but, I always found his life and what he does for a living intriguing, exciting and amazing. He makes beautiful instruments from all over the world, sing and travel for a living. It takes quite a bit of courage to live a life off the mainstream, definitely not for everybody but, he made it work and practically living his life as he envision it.

For anyone interested in buying one of his hand-made African Harp, please don't be shy to get in touch with him.

Please tell us a little about what you do?

I am a Producer, Composer, Multi-Instrumentalist, Instrument Maker, Visionary, World traveler, Founder of "Mandala World Music" an international ethnic fusion world music group with people from all around the world.

Co-Founder of “Spirit Travelers” A Psychedelic Trance Electro Dance Tribal group. I’ve traveled around the world collaborating with 100's of artists under the name Mandala.

My focus is to bring sacred styles of art and instrument together for a new fusion in this multi-cultural world. I’ve played on, produced, and recorded over 30 albums around the world & played Festivals around the world in 6 continents.

When performing solo I do live looping & produce Electronica using Ableton Live. I play over 100 ethnic and modern instruments from around the world as I studied ethnomusicology in Indonesia.

I also have traveled the world studying with the masters in the villages. I sing in Universal Language mixing ancient tongues and ethnic styles of vocals with modern sound scat poetry as well as many languages. I build & play African harps like the Kora & Kamale N'goni.

Please share with us how did your journey begin to where you are today?

On my world travels I gave away everything, lived the traveling minstrel sadhu life. Oh what adventures I had! The stories go on and on… I studied art, music, language, religion, culture everything & found everywhere is my home. All are my family & I am just honoured to have the chance to meet them. I learned I didn't need anything; the universe serves you and all you have to do is learn how to serve it too.

I found the purpose of life and that is to spread love, bring positive unity, raise consciousness, spread peace and music is the way I can reach the most people. In this time of great change we have the blessing to live many lives. There has been so much war in the past and now the time of great peace has begun.

We have so much negative Karma to process and when we meet in sacred space our ancestors join us and through this harmony this ceremony we purify the energy of the universe. All paths lead to the same place. There are many names but we are all one. Lets sing and praise the holy names together in Unity!

What was little Eric thinking as a child? Did you visualize yourself to be who you are today even back then?

No. I was just an innocent pure being, chaotic and creative, sensitive, and filled with wonder can a seed envision the ancient tree it will become providing shade and shelter for the whole animal kingdom

You went to college/university in Yogyakarta, and you are Canadian, how did you find out about the college and what made you choose Indonesia to further your education in Music? Was it music you studied? Or was it a different major? 

I bought a one way ticket to Bali in the 90’s In search of real culture for I heard they believed in magic and It is real. I studied in the villages with the masters 1st then I met others who had gotten this scholarship to study art from the Indonesian government so I applied and finally got sponsored to study Ethnomusicology in University as a scholarship.

How do you find living there, what was your experience like?

I have lived in over 50 counties and love them all. Culture is so deep and evolving. I suggest for everyone to leave their homes and travel to return home once again with renewed appreciation and deeper wisdom. You have such talent in making traditional instruments from so many different cultural backgrounds, what captured your interest when you first started making instruments?it would have been a rite of passage to build your own musical instrument. All musicians would have had to create their own, like children, speaking art.  You have a partner in crime ofcourse, how did you meet Zu Zen? And how did you both start traveling and playing music together?I was sitting with an old friend talking about how their are no good women in Ottawa my hometown the capital of Canada when a carload of goddesses pulled up behind me. They were whistling waving but i could not see them until my friend got me to turn around and I realized that all is there for you we just have to look deeper. We are powerful beings. Manifestors of our own realities. At that moment I decided I am going out to the next Rainbow gathering in my neighbourhood and meet a beautiful goddess when is from area who shares the same loves and dreams and I did, a Didgeridoo, Violin playing Ariel Hoop circus artist & healer. 

From what I remember, you were always on the go from one place to the next, are you still traveling a lot or have you found a place where you feel more settled, a place you call home?

This year I traveled and played festivals in Panama, Guatemala, Mexico, USA, Hawaii, & Canada. I am building my studio to record and build musical instruments close to my hometown in a community called The Grand Barn in Vankleek Hill ON Canada. We have all we need there a permaculture community with old growth forest, pond, islands, pool, jacuzzi, workshops, old house, lots of land, and huge barn filled with couches and a huge stage. A great place for workshops & festivals. 

How many instruments do you design and make these days? Which would be your favorite instrument to build and play the most? 

I am very focused on building African Harps these days, Kamele Ngoni mostly, but I do build Koras too. I teach workshops on how to build and do custom orders. You go to many Rainbow Festivals, what attract you to these festivals? Is it as wild as people claimed it to be, is free love culture is still big out there?It is its growing in consciousness everywhere reinventing itself over and over. The kind of festivals I like to play are grassroots and community oriented. Transformational Festivals. Healing gatherings. A worldwide community.  What do you think is the world’s biggest problem or struggle? How could we solve it or heal our planet and people in your opinion?The political economic system is flawed. It spawns Greed, War & lack of trust that humans will share and naturally take care of each other. Violence is not ok anytime! We need to learn Forgiveness. Let go of what is not serving us anymore. Evolve. We need to practice trust, realize that all is perfect, take responsibility and actively pray together visualizing what we want for good of all beings for healing of all! Evolve our collective consciousness together, as one body, one light, one love, one tribe, one people, one earth! 

Where will you and Zu Zen go from here? What other dreams would you like to accomplish? Yes live your dreams! Manifest your Dreams! World Peace! Infinite Abundance Reality! One world community! 

We are going in the right direction we just need to keep doing more of the same.

 Trust, Practice the lessons, Allow, Be patient & put in the work, The good work. Its a joy!

When you travel, do you travel light? What are the essentials you always bring with you?

I used to travel lighter but now as a professional I have to carry lots of equipment, tools to do my art, to create, i carry as much as I can: A moving studio. Like a warrior I sacrifice for the people. To share with them what I have to give.

What inspires you and who is your favorite musician?I honour my teachers those who came before & have passed. I love so many beautiful artists and have had the honour to meet many of them and play with some of them: Ravi Shankar, Fela Kuti, James Brown, Bob Marley, The Grateful Dead, Toumani Diabate, Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita, Bassekou Kouyate there are too many to name… I have shared the stage with such diverse artists as Shpongle, Ott, Bassnectar, Micheal Franti ,Ganga Giri, Mamady Keita, EOTO, String Cheese Incident, Beats Antique, Desert Dwellers, Adham Shaikh, Shimshai, Rising Appalachia, Chris Berry, Jaya Lakshmi & Ananda, Entheogenic, David Starfire, Random Rab, The Human Experience, Kaminanda, Epizo Bangoura, Fantuzzi, Jah Levi, Dachambo, Delhi2Dublin, Androcell, Wild Marmalade & Richard Perry of Arcade Fire to name a few.

What advice or words of wisdom could you share with anyone out there whom would love to do what you do and live the life that you do? Especially for the younger generation.

Yes just do it! It's not an easy path! Do not search for money, popularity, success, the approval of others. Do not compare yourself to others! Just Be! Trust! Allow! Practice! Be pure! Meditate! Build! Play! Realize you are! Be a clear channel for the universe to sing through you! Realize your gifts and share them! Love unconditionally yourself and all things! You are beautiful and imperfectly perfect just the way you are!

Thank you so much for sharing your life with us all.

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