With Potato Head

A Morning with Ariel Kalma


"For me music is vertical, it is a meditation. When you play from your heart and soul, it is completely magic."

Last week's guest on Potato Head x Trippin 'Via Morning Ritual' was French composer, Ariel Kalma, whose evolutionary music has spanned multiple decades of space and spiritual invention. We speak to him about his creativity and how its evolved over the years, as well as how place and morning time has influenced his wellbeing and musical expression.

Where are you waking up?

To a beautiful sky. I live in the forest, so it’s very peaceful. I can walk out anytime - I’m so lucky.

Walk us through your typical morning routine.

First, I prepare a great breakfast. I love fruit salad and then I’ll eat some porridge, I’ve made myself with nuts, dates and raisins and cinnamon.

Watch Ariel Kalma's Performance Here

What does the morning mean for you?

It means to take my time and wake up slowly. Do some exercises, stretching and maybe play some didgeridoo or maybe the mini saxophone.

How did you approach this project/improvisation? What were your inspirations?

I always approach improvisation with a basic key tuning. Tuning is very important for me. Once we have the tuning right, for me, music flows by itself. I tune a lot to prepare myself. I have an instrument called the tanpura - an Indian instrument - and the tuning comes in so many stages before it starts to resonate. The last stage is called ‘the thread of life’. You pull a thin, silk thread through a large, wide bridge until it starts to resonate and only then, a cascade of harmonies start to flow. This is basically what I do for all my instrumental parts. The resonance is the most important part to a flowing improvisation. For me music is vertical, it is a meditation. When you play from your heart and soul, it is completely magic.

How has your home or place in general influenced your creativity?

It has a very big influence on my creativity; I’m very happy and lucky to have created an environment that is quiet, I’m in the forest so I can hear the birds, all the animals. I live in eastern Australia, which is very beautiful. I have a home studio that allows me to create any time, morning and night, and means I can learn and develop at all times, if it calls for it.

Has there been a journey or travel experience that has greatly affected you as a person/artist?

I wanna tell you a story. In the 70s, I was a musician and I went on tour all over the world with Salvatore Adamo. One time we landed in Mumbai - Bombay at the time - just for a few hours, to wait for the next plane. What I felt there was that I had to come back.

A few years later, I got a one way ticket to India, offered by a dear friend, and I landed in Bombay with my wild afro hair. He gave me one address of a musician for me to go and learn different types of music. India influenced me very, very much because I realised it gave me this idea of the ‘vertical’. I started developing my own music, but still I was very influenced by artists like La Monte Young and Terry Riley, because I didn’t wanna follow the classical way, I wanted to improvise, go inside and find my own sound. Little by little, I progressed. Find your own way, because when you go inside, there is such a vastness.

Tune in every Sunday for another morning spent with special musical guests curated by Potato Head & Trippin, shared on both Instagram channels.

Photography by Johann Rashid

Orchestrated by Pepper Keen


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