From New Age to One Tribe
by Shayne Locke

The term “new age” has a lot to answer for. The least of which is cultivating a concept within our minds of elevator music in shopping centres or nature sounds mixed with wind chimes. Is it any wonder the countless number of musicians under the title of new age have always struggled to have a voice in mainstream media.

Nearly two years ago when we started Soul Traveller Radio, we began digging into a genre that was at that point unnamed. The best label we could come up with was positive music, but was it all positive, especially when the songs had a hard hitting message about war or the environment?

A discussion with one of our first contacts within the unnamed genre, Murray Kyle, uncovered a term that was to form the backbone of the station and open us up to a whole world of varied forms of music, not just the new age style. The term was “conscious music” and it is time for conscious music to step out from the “new age closet” to stand on its own. It is time for the rise of conscious music.

Just over twelve months ago, we published an article on “The Rise (and Rise) of Conscious Music. It explained that in order to be defined as conscious music it had to adhere to the core fundamentals or what we called the “Pillars” - songs about love; songs about the Divine; songs about social impact; and songs that come from a place of pure energy.

These four pillars form the cornerstones of a foundation that is becoming stronger and much larger as the level of consciousness in the world is being raised. Whether it is personal change or changes in our spiritual/physical environment, the fact remains that with change comes a new awareness, an understanding that we can no longer live by hard and fast dogmatic rules. This is the essence of change itself...pushing boundaries and challenging our rules.

Likewise conscious music is going through a growth, evolving into something much more transparent and in touch with the four pillars. And it isn’t going to stop.

I had a rather heated discussion with one of the “new age music” promoters who was adamant that conscious music was just a fad and new age music would always survive. At about that point I began to ask her what she would consider new age. Granted there were artists who could definitely be considered new age like Lia Scallon, Terry Oldfield, Paul Avgerinos or the Grammy award winning album Samsara by Ricky Kej and Wouter Kellerman however I then quickly rattled of a whole range of music (that I knew wouldn’t be defined as new age) like:

• Kirtan/mantra artists (Simrit, Deva Premal & Miten, Jai-Jagdeesh, Sacred Earth, Edo & Jo, Krishna Das, Jai Uttal & Dave Stringer);
• Folk Rock (Trevor Hall, Nahko, Dustin Thomas, Michael Franti or our very own Leo Drioli);
• Reggae (Bob Marley, Ziggy Marley, Soja, Blue King Brown)
• Folktronica/Electronic Digital Music (David Starfire, The Polish Ambassador, Ayla Nereo, Deya Dova, Solon)
• World Music (Peia, Coloured Stone, Rocky Dawuni, Sika, Playing for Change)

The change has occurred. New age music is merely one facet of the diamond that is now known as Conscious Music. What was restricted in the minds of the public to Enya, celtic music and whale songs, has grown into something much bigger and a whole lot more exciting. One music encompassing so much more. One tribe all dancing to the beat of a new drum.

Equally exciting are the festivals that are developing around a culture that is suddenly demanding change. From Bhaktifest to Bali Spirit Festival, Lightening in a Bottle to Uplift Festival, the spotlight is focusing on Conscious Music as the new standard - even if we don’t know what it is called yet. A perfect example was this year’s Bluesfest that featured no less that 12 conscious music artists and Woodford Folk Festival who dedicated a whole tent to conscious music.

But does it or should it stop there. It is the deepest desire of Soul Traveller Radio to not be one of the only stations that plays conscious music. Just this week we had a discussion with several conscious music artists who expressed the desire to go mainstream – not just be heard in new age stores, yoga studios and mind body spirit festivals, but rather be readily available everywhere, heard on every radio station.

Already we are seeing the rise with community stations airing shows like Accentuate the Positive, college radio stations playing kirtan music, it is just a matter of time before we see conscious artists with songs on the charts, selling out concert halls around the world.

From the gentle tones and healing music of artists like Wah! to the rock of Travis Caudle...This is the music we want, we just haven’t known what it was....until now.