Illuminertia is an umbrella for music releases & audio visual collaborations created by Eric “Modean” Mantras (DJ Mantras), who has been a resident DJ for Ecstatic Dance events in the Bay Area, CA. For two years, he performed at the monthly Zodiac events held at Guava in Emeryville, CA. The music itself is global bass music layered with soothing, hypnotic melodies.
DJ Mantras has two distinct styles: one tribal and rooted in festival culture and healing sensibility, and another side that includes Hip-Hop and rap overtones. We appreciate the dichotomy of Illuminertia, as they aim to bring together 2 worlds that find ways to compliment each other. There’s an array of drumming didgeridoo and Electronic beats, an alchemy of sound that invites the listener to explore Illuminertia’s unique soundscapes.
Keyframe caught up with DJ Mantras to discuss his music background, his new album Activation Station, and several exciting ongoing and upcoming projects.
Keyframe Entertainment: What first motivated you to pursue Electronic music? And why your specific style?
DJ Mantras: Firstly, experiencing the visionary art and music at concerts, festivals and underground shows was a major motivator. While attending shows, concerts and festivals as a youth I witnessed first hand the power that music has to bring people from various cultural backgrounds together under one roof. It’s a truly potent and inspiring thing. I moved to San Francisco in 2004 to immerse myself in the Electronic, Trip Hop, Dub, and World Music scene because I felt it was a higher calling and part of my soul contract here on earth. To be honest it was the audio visuals coming of San Francisco that got me excited to dive into the world of west coast Bass music. I was listening to Dan The Automator and wondering how he was producing such tight beats. I also went to Burning Man for the first time and played my djembe along with some of the electronic musicians there. Even seeing the flyer for the “Electronic Awakening” film was an inspiration for me at the time. Almost every Sunday for a year I walked over the Dub Mission Elbo Room to feel thousands of watts of Bass frequency wrap itself around my body. On Tuesdays I’d check out the phenomenal world music being transmitted by the legendary DJ Cheb i Sabbah at SF Underground on Haight Street. The music coming out of the Six Degrees record label was completely enchanting to me. I had been playing keyboard and guitar in rock bands and Hip Hop groups for about ten years prior to all of this so I was already in love with music creation itself. However, as soon as I experienced this otherworldly Bass music coming out of SF, I just new it was something I wanted to figure out how to create. I wanted to be the one delivering these life-changing frequencies to the people of planet earth.
Who are some of the artists that inspire you? Who would you like to work with?
As a producer & musician all of the artists I’ve already worked with are an inspiration to me.
As a keyboard player/vocalist/guitarist and sound engineer, I’ve performed on and engineered tracks with Bubba Jones bassist of the Digable Planets, Earl Harvin the drummer of Air, Seasunz founder of S.O.S. Juice, Earth Amplified, Legend of the Uber Rapper, vocalist for Bassnectar and Dogon Lights, Bongo Sidibe master djembe player who is also a member of Dogon Lights, Angelo Bundini producer of the current smash hit Celebrating David Bowie Tour, Salar Nader the world’s most sought-after tabla master and protege of the legendary Zakir Hussain, Tommy bassist of Jazz Mafia out of SF, Liquid Love Drops and Rob Schrock, a hugely accomplished pianist who’s played on countless hit records we’ve all grown up listening to; from Frank Sinatra to Stevie Wonder and Elton John.
Other inspirational artists I’d love to work with are Tool, Faith No More, Cheb i Sabbah, Jurassic 5, Kalya Scintilla, Saqi, Emancipator, Govinda, Tor, Dissolv, Shaman’s Dream, David Starfire, Beats Antique, Dirtwire, Liberation Movement, Desert Dwellers, Thievery Corporation, BioLumigen, Midival Punditz, etc.
Tell us about your new album Activation Station. What was the vision behind it and how did you go about selecting the collaborators? We’d also love to hear about the ‘World of Color’ and ‘It’s Time’ feat. Terence McKenna.
Activation Station is a name that reflects the power music has to motivate us to be the best version of ourselves in a world where we are currently experiencing both extreme breakdowns, as well as incredible breakthrough scenarios. Activation Station is really just one component of a larger project that involves music, film, television and activism. Macroshift Media is a multimedia production company formed in 2016 that houses all of these audio visual creations designed to upgrade the world that we’re living in. It is an offering and a catalyst for change. For me music, film and art is more than just a fun thing to do on the weekend, although that can be enough sometimes. I also believe visionary art, music and festival culture is a spiritual vehicle for transformation and the delivery of vital paradigm shifting information. Its transmissions are a way to break down walls and I believe it is an important part of the evolution of our species. Much of my identity has been shaped based on the music and art I’ve consumed in my life. It’s a way to connect the dots and cocreate with others so that we can then, as an activated community, move forward collectively in an effort to build a more sustainable way of living. Activation Station is designed to be something that helps us come together to move our bodies, expand our consciousness, activate our cells, experience joy and ultimately to share creative solutions to the problems that we’re faced with as a humanity. I think that Terence Mckenna’s message was one designed to expand consciousness as well. He’s a pioneer and key contributor who helped shape visionary culture as we know it today. That’s why I decided to include him in this legacy that I believe he was very instrumental in starting. I believe it’s important that we give thanks and praise to the ones that paved the way. He was a brilliant thought leader who emphasized the importance of not blindly consuming the negative media that is being force-fed to us. He encouraged us to utilize our creative powers and utilize all of the tools available to shape the culture that surrounds us.
For the Activation Station music video production itself we pulled together an outstanding group of Bay Area performance artists, belly dancers, altar builders, flower mandala designers, body painters, henna specialists, headdress designers, wardrobe and theatre people.
ILLUMINERTIA LIVE with MOTHERS OF PEARL:
The album features:
Cliff Tishman (aka Emani), an internationally charting reggae artist. We met at a Guava event I was performing at. We hit it off and started playing live shows together. I found out he played the hand drum and a couple of different types of flutes, which we utilized for this album.
Marc Gelfo. We played music together at the Center SF and afterwards I approached him about putting some of his amazing horn work on the album. He’s an amazing French horn player who has recorded and toured with San Francisco Symphony and performed 6 seasons with the Hong Kong philharmonic.
I worked with Fllow on a couple of tracks because he’s a lyricist from SF who also leads Ayahuasca retreats in Peru. We align in many ways so the synergy was just there for a musical collaboration.
Many of the tracks on Activation Station have Eastern vibes with occasional indigenous samples, as well as more Hip-Hop influences. Tell us about your creative process.
I’ve always felt a deep connection to Middle Eastern and Indigenous sounds which is why I listened to Cheb i Sabbah’s albums religiously for some 20 years. His music alone attracted me to the Bay Area. I honestly have him to thank for me being here at all. I wanted to know where this amazing sound was coming from and so I embarked upon a soul journey to find it.
I feel that Electronic music is at its best when it blends these ancient sounds with deep booming Bass frequencies. This is when the music transitions from just being another beat to something that actually speaks to my soul. I also studied Ethnomusicology in college as well, so I explored remote regions of the earth and discovered some of the amazing sounds that have been blossoming out of various cultures for thousands of years. Our collective musical heritage here on earth is a magnificent one and I love the way that these ancient sounds are showing up in the festival culture of today. Also, the midi sound libraries we have access to are just astounding these days. It’s like a massive archive of all of the amazing instruments and sounds that have existed on earth through time. I’m grateful producers have taken the time to sample some of these rare instruments because I could never collect all of the instruments that I now have at my fingertips in a lifetime. I just hope that the cultures that the sounds originate from are honored when they hear it woven into this type of modern Bass music.
What do you hope to achieve through your music?
So many things. Ultimately I hope to build bridges, inspire, activate and realize a deeply meaningful life by sharing my gifts with others. I also want to continue to build community and provide a space where people can be free to contribute their own unique gifts to the world. I want it to continue to be a mode of living where synergy and co-creation are the norm. As things unfold I want to continue to make connections and build specific teams of people that are accomplishing amazing things here on earth in the realms of recording projects, tours, music videos, visionary art, permaculture, activism, and sustainability.
On another level, I really hope to work on more scores and create soundtracks for cutting edge filmmakers and transmedia professionals that are dedicated to the art of telling stories that will help us all evolve towards the breakthrough scenario. I feel like audio visual elements are even more powerful when they come together in order to tell a compelling story that helps our collective evolution here on earth.
What are you currently working on? What are your upcoming projects?
Filming and Animating the Alive and Awake music video entitled I Love Nature by Aaron Ableman. It’s a movement out of the East Bay designed to inspire the youth and adults to understand the importance of living in harmony with the nature world our us. Currently we’re sending animations and edits from the Macroshift Media studio here for the Alive and Awake music video trailer. It’s a very unique musical project in that the album itself is plantable. You can literally grow a tree out of it! The Alive and Awake production in its entirety is a musical story, animation and music video that’s being created in support of the album which at one point reached number one in its category on Amazon. The green light has been given on a broadcast television series coming out in early 2018, teaching the youth about the importance of preservation and sustainability. We’re partnering with some amazing organizations like Dhana which is an ethical fashion brand out of the Bay Area.
“Sound of Tao,” a meditation album for the healing arts produced by Illuminertia & Emani
A few weeks ago we finished an album entitled Sound of Tao for the Taoist Temple in Oakland. It was successfully performed live and was very well received at the Taoist Convention that took place at the end of October. It’s a meditative production specifically designed for the healing arts. Descendants of Lao Tzu himself purchased the album. All available copies of the physical CD sold out immediately. At this time, when stress levels are reaching an all-time high, we felt it would be a beautiful offering. People need all the tools they can get to optimize and harmonize the mind, body and soul in today’s world.
After playing a show together in the East Bay, Illuminertia was invited by Jocelyn Agloro (aka Liquid Love Drops) to do a remix of one of my favorite tracks of hers entitled “Serpent Medicine” feat. Amrita. Collaboration is one of the most exciting aspect of the music creation processes for me. That’s what I like to fill my calendar up with because I feel that we’re stronger when we work together in this world.
It’s Time Music Video, an exciting upcoming music video that’s going to involve many Bay Area activists coming together to inspire others to boycott corporations that are no longer serving us as a species. If it’s not in the best interest of the collective good then we shouldn’t be supporting it. This audio video concept is designed to reinforce the idea that we can be empowered to work together and support organizations that are founded on the principles of being a socialpreneur. An organization that serves the best interest of all of the earth’s ecosystems while they turn a profit as well.
Shows are currently being booked for the Activation Station tour coming up this spring, which will feature live musicians, dancers, and other audio visual elements. We will be partnering with many outstanding sustainable organizations, making it a movement as well an musical tour. Here is Illuminertia Live w/ Mothers of Pearl @ Gemini.
Shooting an Interview with Bob Duskis, founder of Six Degrees record label.
I’ll be interviewing Bob Duskis about Karsh Kale and his career with Six Degrees. It will be broadcast on an Indian network.
STAY IN TOUCH WITH ILLUMINERTIA:
*Get the ACTIVATION STATION album: https://illuminertia.bandcamp.com/album/activation-station
*Illuminertia Bandcamp: https://illuminertia.bandcamp.com/
*Illuminertia on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/illuminertia/
*Illuminertia on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/illuminertia/