Monday, March 29, 2010

A Conversation with SpaceJunky Lead Singer Shakti Cianci

SpaceJunky Lead Singer Shakti Cianci

I had recently become acquainted with the publicist of SpaceJunky and had been invited by her to one of the band concerts on their island in Second Life. Impressed with the sound, the lighting, staging and the overall performance I asked if she could arrange for me to meet lead singer Shakti Cianci. A few days later, an instant message invitation and teleport request arrived from Bella Dutton which took me to directly to Ms Cianci’s residence. We had a short visit where we exchanged pleasantries and arranged for a date and time for an interview. In the time in between, I read through a press package along with a visit to the band’s web site where I was able to listen to a selection of their recordings. Besides having been featured in CNN and in the Sony Acid Remix Contest, there have been many articles written about the band. Both the web site and press package told me that Shakti is also starting her very own TV show called Virtual Life and that the band is working on a soon to be released music video, “Star Tribe”.

On the appointed day and time, the teleport request arrived, as did I after I clicked on accept. Ms Cianci first came into view and we chatted while the site rezzed for me.

"Good to see you again." I said and added a smile.

"Hi Nazz … you to … Would you like to do the interview here, it’s nice and relaxing. Nazz this is Izzy." She said.

"Sure ... where ever you're the most comfortable." I said and then turned slightly to my right and added; "Hey Izzy, nice to meet you."

“Hey Nazz … .good to meet you." Izzy replied.

"Izzy is our photographer ... let’s go over here." She gracefully moved her avatar across an open space of water, toward several cushions. Both Izzy and I waited until she selected a cushion before we pointed, clicked and sat. The cushions contained meditation animations and we each begin to move according to the scripted pattern.

I'd moved my camera view to check out the immediate area and liked what I saw. "This is a nice area ... your build?"

"Yes this is part of SpaceJunky Island ... this is the healing area." She replied

"Meditation as a spiritual healing process?" I asked

"Yes … we have meditations here. I am a light worker in real life too, I do energy work and I am a hypnotherapist … spiritual healing." She answered and then added a smile.

"By the way I really enjoyed your playing on the song 'Chrystal Silence'. I listened to it several times yesterday morning on the web site." I commented as my avatar cycled into the next iteration of the animation.

"I had just come back from Tibet and was researching an ancient Tibetan symbol that came to me in a vision while I was working on the CD that Crystal Silence is from." She said.

“What was it that brought you into second life?” I asked her.

“It’s all inspired by my trip to Tibet and I kept coming across this blog called the flying monks with a picture that looked like a cartoon monastery and one day after discarding it on several searches, I decided to have a look and found it was a group in second life that were creating Tibetan monastery's that had been destroyed in the cultural revolution. I found it fascinating and so I came into second life to see what they were doing and then decided to bring my band in here to promote our CD.” She said in reply

“Can you tell me about why you chose the name ‘Shakti’?

“Shakti is divine feminine creative power. I wanted to be creative here and it felt right … plus it is a very spiritual sacred name … I am very spiritual … Shakti is responsible for creation.” She replied.

“Is it a Tibetan name?” I asked her.

“An Indian name … but a Dakini in Tibet is a form of energy which is also Shakti.” She replied.

“Since being in second life has that influenced any changes to your music?”

“Not really … just allowed us to expand our vision and what the music is actually about … bring it to life. A Spacejunky is one who searches for cosmic truth and seeks to lengthen the space between thoughts … so we have created a community here for our fans based on that concept.” She said.

“Bringing it to life … is that a visualization of the music?” I asked her.

“Yes it’s allowed us to create the world that I live in my mind.” She answered.

“How long has the band been together?”

“Hmmm … I first started working on the project in 1993. It was a solo project then … and then later brought in the other two members.

“What do you see as the differences in performing live in real life as compared to a second life live performance?

“Well in some way not much difference ... both are performances just the delivery is different … one of the great things about second life is that you can interact with people here live in a way you can't in a real life concert. So that's very interesting … to have that real time connection.” She said in reply.

“I've spoken to performers and musicians who've said they miss the energy of a live crowd while on the second life stage, but enjoy that real time connection.” I commented.

“Well most of the musicians here perform differently than us, they are playing and singing. We perform a ‘virtual concert’ using our CD so we are concentrating on providing a visual experience here along with the music we have already recorded. So we approach it differently. So in that way I don't miss the real time crowd because we are not trying to emulate a live performance … here it is more like performance art to us … so again a different approach. Second life is great for that lets you use your music in different ways.” Shakti commented.

“The TV show ‘Virtual Life’, how did that come about?” I asked.

“Stretch Mayo is a friend and had asked me some time ago about doing a TV show … so we talked about it and we share a similar vision … so we did a pilot episode.” She replied.

“Has Spacejunky performed in any other virtual worlds?”

“No ... this one keeps us too busy.” She said in reply and then added; “But we have been broadcast out of second life to the web in real time.”

“After the video ‘Star Tribe, what comes next for Spacejunky?”

“I’m thinking about doing a grid wide tour … we need to get out amongst the people again ... spread our wings a little. The island has been great but it has kept us a little insulated. Also, I work with a Tibetan real life foundation and I am going to India soon, we are building a school there. So I’d like to do something to help raise some money for it.” She said in reply and then added; “I need to talk to them about having their blessing to do something in second life as I work with a real Tibetan Lama.”

“How soon do you think the grid wide tour will begin?” I asked.

“I will start work on it in April after I go to India … we will begin planning.”

“Do you have any closing thoughts or comments you'd like to share with my readers?”

“I’d just like to say that Second Life is an amazing place and congratulate the people who create beauty here sometimes in spite of challenging situations.” She responded.

We chatted for a few minutes longer before I departed and I wished her good night as it was the end of her day in Australia while only the beginning of mine in the US. Several days after the meeting, I received a link from Bella with pictures taken during the interview by photographer Izzy Cole.

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