Trailblazer: Hannah Thiem
Today we debut a series that we will bring you every Tuesday: our Wanderlust Trailblazer spotlight, where we give you the chance to learn more about the inspiring figures that make up the extended Wanderlust family. For our inaugural post, we introduce you to Wanderlust performer Hannah Thiem - a violinist whose otherworldly mix of strings and beats has been rocking yoga classes for years.
Hannah has opened for the likes of The Rolling Stones, Kanye West, and Shpongle, yet still has an accessible kind demeanor and a passion for sharing her talents with everyone. She understands the importance of creating beautiful space, and the power that crafting sounds tailored for the moment can hold. Hannah has worked extensively with Alex Grey at both his CoSM gallery in Chelsea and at his new community space in upstate New York, playing violin and mixing her own version of dubstep alongside painters and dancers.
Top B/W photo by Cameron Jordan // Photo by Lauren Silberman
On top of being an inspiring musician and artistic muse, Hannah has a huge heart for volunteering. After Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast last year, Hannah cancelled her gigs to join with Occupy Sandy providing aid to the areas hardest hit, and organized a small crew with Amanda Taylor of Yoga Gives to bring flashlights (via a lower east side flashlight drive), hot food, and supplies to the Rockaways. Hannah then took her volunteering a step further by creating a yoga + live music fundraiser with good friend and teacher Aarona Pichinson to raise $1400 for Power Rockaways Resilience, going to help fund solar powered generators in the Rockaways.
WL - How did you get involved with yoga?
Photo by Aarona Pinchinson
HT - My mother introduced me to yoga many many years ago via a gorgeous yoga video by Ali MacGraw and Erich Schiffman "Yoga Mind and Body", which is visually and audibly stunning: clean white sand and a cool predawn sky are the backdrop, with a soundtrack including Dead Can Dance. I've been hooked ever since. My first yoga class I accompanied was with Haj Ji for a special Yoga Soundscape in NYC with Aarona Pichinson, about 6 years ago. That was the beginning of our project Nyxyss, and has served as an inspiration for the cinematic music we write/produce together (Memories of Dystopia, released January 2013).
During and following an intensive electronic music production course at Dubspot in NYC, I've been composing soundscapes for yoga flows. I'll then arrange these compositions and craft a very specific soundbed over which I improvise on violin, depending on the teacher's structuring of the class and the energy/pace of the students. My favorite part is savasana, where I can really tap into the spirit of the moment, allowing music to be channeled through me to float and carry everyone's spirits on inspired sounds. I especially enjoy taking classes (such as Aarona Pichinson's Yoga Soundscape series where I get to practice to other musicians. And getting to do 10-15min of savasana to live music in NYC is a rare treat!
WL - What aspects of yoga / meditation / spirituality do you bring into your art?
HT - I try to practice yoga on a weekly basis. I always feel more musically inspired, energized and alive after a vinyasa flow or deeply meditative restorative class. When playing for a class or composing a new piece for yoga or my compositions in general, I tap into a creative inner flow that's connected to a higher spirit. Practicing yoga helps me be more connected to that voice. If I get out of my head and connect to my heart, I can access a whole causal body of lifetimes of melodic experiences.
Photo by Lina Jang
WL - What's your favorite pose?
HT - Tree pose! Especially doing tree pose random places while traveling, I can relate to the beauty around me and blend in with nature (at least in my mind)--it gives me a sense of centeredness and zen.
WL - What's feeding your wanderlust today?
HT - Traveling is one of the most inspiring things in my life. I would not be the artist I am today, nor would I experience as much continual growth, without a constant wanderlust on my horizon. Traveling allows us to be more aware of ourselves and the magic surrounding us--synchronicities abound, and because we're taken out of normal everyday patterns, we're more aware when seemingly random things happen that steer us in a particular direction with astounding outcomes. I like the constant challenge of communication in other languages, the sometimes uncomfortable feeling of being lost in a new land, while communicating in a universal language of music that can stir emotions and souls that everyone can understand. Lately, I've been doing more traveling and wanderlusting directly connected to yoga + music, which is so inspiring! I performed at two of the Wanderlust festivals in 2011 (Vermont and California). I gained so many new inspirations, contacts, connections, and got to enjoy a very high-level conscious spiritual body-mind centered gathering where people still know how to get down.
Photo by Marc Fong
WL - If you could leave one legacy for your community what would it be?
HT - A collection of music that is so moving, that would awaken sleeping people and allow them to get back on their divine path to accomplishing their mission. The music would work similarly to how Audrey Tatou did in the movie Amelie (2001)--as the somewhat invisible imp connecting dots and bringing an awareness of magic into peoples' lives.
Thank you Wanderlust for bringing me on board for all FOUR Wanderlust Festivals this year! Cannot wait to share and revel in the beauty - it's going to be an unforgettable summer!
For more info on Hannah, please visit her website: hannahthiem.com