I’ve been super fortunate to be given the opportunity to preview SONODA’s latest release, as well as have a small chat with the musical lead, Lisa. Following are a few thoughts, as well as some insight to Lisa’s creative processes in crafting ‘meditative pop’ into a genre.
Based in Los Angeles, SONODA consists of group members: Lisa (vocals and synth among many other instruments), Adrian (guitar and synth), Jacob (bass and synth), and Eddie (drums). I was initially introduced to them by Zach from Very Nice Massage (the group I interviewed a couple of weeks ago, which you can read here), he told me that they toured around North America together, which led me to anticipate something that would similarly exhibit an array of innovative and expressive musical qualities.
SONODA’s latest film Here We Are Now provides a soothingly melodic, and calming visual journey that takes the listener into an almost trance-like state of mind. With the release of these live songs and film (Here We Are Now), they showcase an angle of ‘meditative pop’. Through this genre of music, SONODA are endeavouring to bring positive, and healing intent to their music whilst simultaneously keeping pop sensibilities embedded throughout. I admire their work in making this genre more prolific and widespread, as well as their attitudes in desiring to create music to be consumed in this way.
Meditative pop has layers, the purpose is not solely focused on creating melodies, but is crafted and visually aided in a way to transport the listener entirely. The short film that accompanies the music in Here We Are Now, allows a soothing narrative to unfold. It begins as if it were a new day, starting with a morning meditation, a lit candle, and the melody floats in. The undulating tune helps guide one’s mind and body towards a place of solace.
SONODA intends to help soothe people’s souls during times of uncertainty. They endeavour to inspire their listeners, and for their music to help others find their own suitable daily practice or meditative routine. In keeping with a philosophy that with dedication, each day can aim at helping to bring people a step “closer to harmony”.
Lisa heavily incorporates meditation and other healing activities into her life through journaling, singing bowls, crystals, energy work, as well as prayer in a spiritual, non-denominational way. In fact she often describes her music to be ‘omni-denominational’, a term she has coined to describe how to make the spiritual healing aspect of SONODA’s music diverse and applicable to any religious beliefs held by the listener.
In LA where SONODA is based, they have endured a time of lock-down and unrest which have created chaos and uncertainty in the future. Consequently, in turning to their musical practices and meditative processes, it helps them find calm. Lisa’s spiritual teacher taught her a prayer which she participates in daily – you can find the ‘Hold The Light Prayer’ here.
Another important aspect of SONODA that I want to underline, and something I personally resonate with as well, is seeing an Asian American musician and front-woman. Lisa has underlined to me that it is rare to see female musicians or find role models that she can identify and relate to. By putting herself in the forefront, she aspires to give a face and inspiration to other women, and Asian Americans in general.
Furthermore, Lisa is part of the Safe Travels Presents booking team in LA. They have a work practice that aims to book people of colour and others of diverse backgrounds for shows, to give a fair and welcoming environment to all genders. SONODA did a live quarantine performance for them to raise funds for AfroRack, an arts organisation in Chicago that gives African American youth education and access to audio/modular synthesis. Watch it here!
Here We Are Now is a short film featuring SONODA’s live performance and ambient scenes written, recorded and filmed by themselves (!!). Initially released on 8 September, it is now available for viewing on Youtube, watch it now!
Don’t be a stranger, click on SONODA’s socials to keep up to date:
– Rachel Wong