Krishna Das gives a great hug.
Between playing a powerful, lavish and serene three hour show Friday evening and holding court in Saturday night’s All Star Jam, KD (as he prefers to be called) got together with us to talk music.
It’s the first ever Bhakti Fest Midwest in Madison, WI. On Saturday, June 30, everyone is waiting for KD to come through. Right on time, he strolls in to the Alliant Energy Center wearing sunglasses, a yellow fedora and his trademark red flannel. He’s accompanied by Nina Rao, his fellow band member and assistant. KD doesn’t shake hands, he gives us a warm hug hello. It’s easy to see why yoga’s rock star, as he’s often lauded, is so well loved. The godfather is in the building and heads are turning. He invites us inside the kirtan hall before his sound check. The Long Island, NY native who is renowned for his low, Greek godly, sonorous singing voice high fives musicians as they slip out to offer us a quiet space.
Hally Marlino: How does it affect you to know your music is being heard in possibly every yoga studio across the country?
Krishna Das: Certainly, I’m so grateful. Music’s a blessing for me and for everybody. What I connect to when I sing, in very simple terms is my Guru. My Guru is absolute pure, unconditional, never-ending and non-judgemental love. All the time. Twenty-four seven. I get lost during the day, running around, busy being me, but when I chant I connect. By grace, other people can connect to the same thing. The real guru lives inside our own true being. All that love lives within us. I don’t see it personally as, ‘look what I’m doing,’ it’s just wanting connection.
HM: I think you help us get there.
KD: Well, somebody’s gotta be the frontman, no question about it.
HM: You probably hear from a lot of women, “I’m a yoga teacher. I play your music in my classes.”
KD: (He smiles.) I think I do. I feel very blessed.
HM: What’s your guilty pleasure music? Maybe something we wouldn’t guess you’d play.
KD: Oh, there’s no guilt in pleasure. But the stuff I listen to on my own is Ray Charles, Van Morrison, Steely Dan, Springsteen, The Shirelles, The Crystals. I grew up with that stuff. I listen to Tibetan Chanting. I just bought all the Guns N’ Roses albums, after I watched them get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Everybody says Axl Rose is a head case but they say that about anyone who doesn’t fit into the normal way of doing things. In sound check I sing Paint It Black. I’ll put out a bootleg sometime. (He laughs.)
HM: If you had a day off, who would you like to see play live?
KD: Imogen Heap. I love her. It’d be great to see Springsteen on his new tour.
HM: How do you take care of your voice on the road?
KD: I pray. Constantly. I say, Don’t fuck up my voice God, please! I have a lot of issues with my voice. It’s a pain in the ass. But the music, the chanting itself dissolves that fear.