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Dharma Dan - Newsletter Interview: Dharma Dan

23 Nov 2018 // An interview by darryl baser

After many years of exploration in meditation and Dharma, Dharma Dan shares his journey and his thoughts through the art of rap. Darryl from muzic.net.nz spoke to Dan about Hip-Hop, meditation and the future.

How long have you been a Hip-Hop artist?

When I was 15, myself along with a group of friends made a rap album. That was my first time writing rhymes. We were just playing fictional characters and emulating what we heard in mainstream rap though. I didn't come into the art of writing personal lyrics to explore and express my experience until I was 20, when I was going through the process of dropping out of uni to pursue meditation.

What attracted you to the genre?

I never felt like I was particularly musical, but I always loved writing and words. Music could only move me so much as a teenager, but hearing ideas and concepts being emoted over music seemed to strike a deeper chord for me than music was able to.

Who in that field do you look up to?

Growing up my biggest influence was Tupac. Without many male role models in my life, he was probably the most conscious and aware male voice I had in my life, and I was inspired by how much of his life he gave to wanting to inspire social change at such a young age. I also feel that I learnt a lot from his mistakes as well.

These days I am inspired by Kendrick Lamar for similar reasons. His music provides the opportunity to empathize and to see the world through the eyes of a person whose life is vastly different to mine. I hope that my music is able to do the same for people.

Have you ever made music in other genres?

Nothing worth sharing. I enjoy jamming and trying new things with friends, but outside of my lyrical ability I don't feel I have much to share musically.

How long has the LP taken to come together?

The song Know Thyself was written back in 2012 before my first proper meditation retreat, so in that sense you could say 6 years.

But from the moment that I decided I was going to share my music as an album to the moment of release, it was probably more like 6 months. A lot of the material was already written, I just had to write a few songs to fill in the narrative, save enough money to buy a microphone (the meditation life is a poor one), and then learn all about how to mix vocals on a computer (An area where I still have a lot to learn).

...and you're touring to support it?

Not yet. I set a deadline to release the music because I'm a perfectionist and knew that there was the possibility of never releasing it because it would never be perfect. But I have other commitments this year facilitating retreats and working on a video project, which mean that I haven't had much of a chance to share and perform the music. This will be a priority for me in 2019. However, sharing the art of meditation feels more important to me, so the music is only a method of sharing to support with that.

How about work on a follow up...

Again, sharing the art of meditation feels more important to me. I have had people listen to the music and feel moved by it, then ask questions about how they could begin meditation. If that trend continues, I will feel motivated to continue to share music. If not, then perhaps there are other offerings that I am capable of that might be of more direct support to others.

What advice would you have young Hip-Hop artists?

Keep it real. If you write from your direct experience, then the process of making the music becomes a cathartic experience and gives the listener an opportunity to see new worlds. If you're emulating what you hear on the radio, then what are you really contributing with your music? The unique offering that you contribute to the world is your own life, so share that.

Why the interest in meditation/eastern philosophy?

I think meditation and stilling the mind is a great remedy for the challenges that our culture currently faces. If my aspiration is to live with compassion as a fully integrated human being, then I need to explore the aspects of the human experience that my culture doesn't readily create space for. We live in an environment where people are driven to madness by the crazy pace and intensity of our lives, so it makes sense to me to cultivate and develop the skills to allow the mind to settle.

While the West spent years learning about the external world and discovering great technological advancements, the East put more energy into exploring the internal world, and the depths of the mind and the human psyche. We are only just starting to get our heads around the great wisdom that the East has to offer us.

What's next for you?

I am facilitating a retreat for young adults in December and next year we begin the first of three international 3-month retreats bringing together young talented people with aspirations to make the world a better place from all over the globe. In the 8 months leading up to that, I hope to find a job where I can contribute positively to the Christchurch community, and share my music with as many people as possible.


About Dharma Dan

After many years of exploration in meditation and Dharma, Dharma Dan shares his journey and his thoughts through the art of rap.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Dharma Dan


Year: 2019
Type: EP
Year: 2018
Type: Album

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