Are you looking for ways to create positive energy with people? You can start by looking at the people you surround yourself with and asking yourself if they help you elevate your frequency.
Jay Shetty and his wife, Radhi Devlukia-Shetty, recently sat down in their first interview together with singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer Willow Smith and Kirtan musician and BBC radio host, Jahnavi Harrison, to discuss their recent collaboration on the EP “RISE”.
Smith and Harrison met while attending an event at Jay Shetty’s home last year. They hit it off, and once Smith heard Harrison’s music, she knew it was the kind of music that she wanted to make. Smith admits that she was nervous when they decided to collaborate.
“I was super nervous the first time we got in the studio together,” Smith explains to Radhi Devlukia-Shetty. “Listening to Harrison’s music and seeing her do Kirtan was on a level of channeling that I have never seen another musician have. I just wanted to be worthy and able to make music with her.”
Harrison agreed, saying that she felt the same way. A lot of pressure can come from being in the studio, which had her nerves on end. When they found the time to get together in the studio, there was a special energy.
“We didn’t have a finished composition or anything,” Harrison tells Radhi Devlukia-Shetty and Jay Shetty. “But I think both of us were just feeling excited to work together. We decided to just have fun with it, and it was just flowing. It was around midnight when we finished. We listened to the whole thing, and when we came out of the studio, we thought, ‘What was that? What just happened?’ It was so beautiful, and it was just so natural.”
Smith and Harrison compare the ease of their collaboration to an old friendship. Even though they are different in so many ways, there was an easy feeling and an understanding that made things flow and feel comfortable. It is the kind of connection that artists hope for in all collaborations.
Rahdi and Jay Shetty agree that Smith and Harrison were meant to meet.
“You guys were meant to meet. Whether it was through us or another way, this was meant to happen,” Radhi Devlukia-Shetty shares. “You’re both such special people that you attract wonderful souls all around you. I think it’s probably going to happen throughout your lives that you’re making these beautiful connections.”
Learning from Each Other
They say opposites attract, and that holds true for Smith and Harrison. Harrison admits that her approach and process is far different from Smith’s in terms of pace and creative direction.
Smith has more experience as a composer and recording artist and exudes confidence in her ability. Harrison still struggles with confidence in her recording ability and gets nervous about it.
Their style of creative energy differs as well. Smith is well known for her hits on the pop charts, while Harrison is better known for her Kirtan music. Harrison confesses that she tends to be a slow decision maker, but Smith’s fast pace pushes her to learn and grow in a creative, wonderful way.
“Willow’s approach is the ideal artistic approach,” Harrison explains to Jay Shetty. “She is curious but not overly controlling of the end results. It is about discovery, and the studio is a space of exploration rather than trying to do a specific thing. It’s a very playful and curious approach. By the end of it, I felt like I was ready to be more fierce, creative, and more open to what I could discover.”
Smith tells Jay Shetty that she often found herself getting lost in the moment while collaborating and that Harrison was instrumental in keeping her grounded throughout the process. Harrison excels at keeping the focus behind the intention, motivating Smith to move in the right direction too.
“Harrison may feel that her intentionality is a hindrance, but I think it’s a blessing,” Smith shares with Jay Shetty. “She knows in her heart of hearts what every single instrument and every single lyric means to her. She is not just throwing things at the wall to see if it sticks.”
Smith and Harrison agree their opposite approaches complement each other in a way that works.
The Intention Behind the Collaboration
Finding time to collaborate is difficult, and even more so in a pandemic world. Thankfully, the limited ability to communicate through only phone calls and long-distance creative sessions didn’t stifle the passion and intention behind Smith and Harrison’s efforts.
“I always want my music to bring people closer to themselves, make them feel like they’re learning something,” Smith tells Jay Shetty. “There’s a thought that’s planted that grows over time, and listening to Harrison’s music made me feel that.”
Because Smith had never made a devotional album, she was excited to explore that part of herself. She feels she’s found a new path in life.
“I want to keep nourishing that,” Smith tells Radhi and Jay Shetty. “Through this music, I’ve found such a deep love for the Bhakti tradition in general. I’m just so excited to just dive deeper into that and learn more and broaden my horizons in that devotional sense.”
Jay Shetty adds that the intention behind Smith’s and Harrison’s collaboration is very pure and that both artists feel it so profoundly.
“You’ve experienced it in different ways,” Radhi Devlukia-Shetty shares. “You’re trying to share that experience with other people, but you can only share an experience that you’ve had yourself.”
Harrison agrees and explains that their desire for this collaboration is to capture the essence of what it is like to experience a mantra with a sacred sound and share it in a way that is more accessible to people who have not experienced it before.
“It’s conveying something from this deep, authentic tradition,” Harrison explains. “I think it’s very natural that when something profoundly affects your life and touches your heart and offers a space of shelter and upliftment, you want to share it with other people. So that’s what we want—to give it as a gift if we can. I treasure the fact that we both had that same intention, and it makes working on anything just a complete joy because you feel so aligned.”
Harrison grew up in the Bhakti tradition and attended school at a nearby temple. Chanting was something they did together every day before they started classes. Her father is a well known Kirtan musician and is a hero in her eyes.
Harrison enjoyed hearing her father sing and loved music but was very shy as a child. Harrison explains to Jay Shetty that she felt the pressure growing up to be like her dad, but It was not until she went to a regular school that she started to find her voice.
“I was always timid, and the end of the year school play was the Wizard of Oz,” Harrison tells Jay Shetty. “My teacher cast me as the Cowardly Lion. I think she knew that it would be good for me to play a role that would bring me out of myself. I remember I had to sing a song on my own on the stage and swing my tail. It was that moment where I realized I was singing in front of people, and it was nice.”
Around the age of 19 or 20, friends started to encourage Harrison to lead Kirtan. She began to feel more connected to the deep tradition of this form of prayer and worship but didn’t consider it a music genre or performance. While the journey has been long, Harrison is grateful for the fulfillment it brings her.
“It came bit by bit,” Harrison explains to Jay Shetty. “I think one of the significant catalysts for me feeling confident enough to embrace my creativity and engage in service of spreading this type of music is the fact that yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, over the last ten years, have become more mainstream than ever before.”
Smith adds that her mother introduced her at a very young age to a lifestyle of integrity, spirituality, and meditation.
“I would just sit on the floor of her meditation room and look at these beautiful photos and read about the sentiments of these gods and goddesses,” Smith tells Radhi and Jay Shetty. “From a very young age, I was so encapsulated by that and so inspired by that.”
Fast forward to her pop star years. It took Smith awhile to realize that the content she was putting out was not reflective of the person she wanted to be. Her friends were living in the moment and having experiences with the pressure of the whole world knowing if they made a mistake.
“That kind of made me wonder if this is truly the life that I want to be living,” Smith explains to Jay Shetty. “I want to live and not just be a caricature for the world to look at. It took a lot of courage just to say, ‘I’m not going to continue.’”
When her pop star career abruptly ended, Smith found herself confused, and the spiral into depression and desperation took over her life.
“I was just in the darkness,” Smith tells Jay Shetty. “I was self-harming. I was hanging out with people that were just wrong for me. That lasted for about two to three years. Then I started realizing this is psychotic, and I have to stop doing this. This is not the person I want to be either.”
Creating music took a backseat during this time, so Smith did not have a creative outlet. When she started to come out of the downward spiral, she got back in the studio and had a spark of creative inspiration.
“I just realized that I want to be in service,” Smith tells Radhi and Jay Shetty. “It is the only thing that makes having this lifestyle worth it. To feel like I have a purpose and not fall back into that dark spiral, l was making music that I felt would inspire people and serve others. That’s the only reason I feel like I got out of that dark place because people would come to me and tell me that they were in that same dark space and that my voice brought them out of that. That brings me so much joy and makes me feel like I have a purpose.”
Smith and Harrison attribute their daily practices and habits to staying uplifted and encouraged to face the day’s challenges. For Harrison, mantra meditation is something she practices daily.
“I see the mantra meditation as this chain to hold on to in the rushing current of life,” Harrison explains. “It inspires me. It gives me a sense of connection. It’s a meditation of the particular mantra that I recite daily. It is a prayer for service, asking for allowance to be of service in this life.”
Smith explains to Jay Shetty that she incorporates yoga, meditation, and reading into her daily habits.
“Whether it’s literature, yoga, or meditation, one of those things is happening every day,” Smith explains to Jay Shetty. “I truly believe that consistency and repetition are what I need to get into a state where it is second nature, and I don’t have to think about it anymore.”
Finding daily practices that inspire you and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals that push you to grow into the best version of yourself are instrumental in paving the way for you to achieve and live your purpose.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode with Willow Smith and Jahnavi Harrison on “How to Raise Your Frequency and Create Positive Energy with People” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.