We recently had the chance to talk with Erik from Light Warriors about his music, and being on tour these past few weeks. Down below is his next show, and if you live in NYC, make sure to check it out!
7/13 // Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1 // NYC
Interview by: Samantha Toy
You released your album, Raise the Frequency, a couple of weeks ago. How has the reaction been?
It’s been incredible. People are telling me it deserves focused listening for the lyrics, layered instrumentation and melodies and that it also plays well in the background. The professional reviews and blog responses have all been positive. I even was compared to Bob Dylan in one review for “skewering corruption” in the same way he has over his career. That’s the highest compliment you can receive as a songwriter. I’m still blown away by it. And Interestingly, before that review, I had been thinking about doing a Dylan covers EP. Now I’m going to have to do it.
How did you come up with the album name and what is the meaning behind it?
The title for the song Raise The Frequency came to me in the middle of the night…I’m a terrible sleeper and often am awake around 3am. The day I came up with the verses, I had been trying to tie it all together with a hook. What can overcome all of those issues from environmental destruction, longing for connection to incredible life struggles and stress? Love, selflessness, egoless commitment to producing something positive. Because to love is the highest vibrational and energetic frequency humanity can achieve individually and collectively. And to solve these global issues, we can’t come from fear and hatred and protectionism. We can only operate from the highest achievement of the heart and soul: Selfless Love. But we it’s vital to be based in reality and know when there’s a time to push back.
When I looked at the subject matter of the other songs like Rise Above’s take on gun violence, Industry Soul Killer’s war profiteering, our failed-decades-old middle east policy and the blind hatred of people in Maybe Some Day, the cry for unity of No More Division, the mass spiritual awakening of The Sounding of the Trumpets and so on… all of these songs ultimately come from love. Love with purpose, direction and strength. And sustaining that requires the discipline of a warrior.
Now, we know there are dangerous people and forces at work in the form of corruption, greed, manipulation, and mass distraction from the power elite. We can’t be blindly idealistic. Escapsim doesn’t solve anything. So, the practice of staying present and focusing on solutions that combat those forces over the long haul, gives me hope that we can experience the next era of enlightenment. All of these positive activist forces like The Women’s March to the light workers (Reiki, Harmonyum, and more) that are bringing spiritual healing to individuals, are contributing to the next era. Hopefully, at the worst point in our global community, and it seems like we are very nearly at that point, we can bond together and, quite literally, raise the frequency of humanity out of its current adolescence – which has placed emphasis on bullying, manipulation, reactionism, selfishness and demonstrations of strength by military force, in getting ahead individually, monetarily and internationally. These are concepts whose time has long past. It’s bankrupting us on every level. So, Raise the Frequency seemed to be the perfect title for these times.
How does this album differ from your previous music?
Production-wise, on Survival of Joy, I found my producer’s voice. Raise The Frequency is an evolution of that production style, capturing improvisational moments that give you a live feeling but produced enough to hopefully, in the ears of listeners, create something that connects on an artistic level.
Raise The Frequency also rocks harder and is more ambitious musically than Survival Of Joy. There are more guitar solos, more movements within songs, more blends of styles, sometimes with multiple genres in a single song. The choruses have sticky hooks.
I had a lot more help than I did on Survival Of Joy. All of my collaborators just went for it on this album. My co-producer was my initial set of ears that validated tempo, tone and feel. The musicians and artists – Alex Kaufman on drums, Kyle Conlon on drums and percussion and on select tracks with Ruff Scott and Miss Olithea on vocals, harmony and ad libs, Alan Ware on keyboards, Greg Coffey on bass — All gave me everything they had, feeding the energy in a way that I couldn’t have done by myself. The technicians, Jim Scott and Kevin Dean at PLYRZ Studios did an amazing mix. And How Kaufman, Alex’s dad, gave us the warmest mastering job you can get.
Why did you choose “Rise Above” as your debut single?
I’m just sick to death of decades of gun violence and nothing being done about it. We know a couple of things… overall, gun violence has decreased over the decades. And we know that some violence and crime is committed with illegal guns. But it’s all too easy to buy a gun these days. We have the NRA basically owning Congress, who is obviously only concerned about getting elected again and all too happy to take the NRA’s money to do so. You’d think they would take a positive position to stick up for someone like Philando Castille as being a responsible gun owner, before he was murdered. But, putting aside how racist the NRA’s silence was in the aftermath of last year’s killing, guns are big business and they create wealth. Wealth that’s held in the hands of the few. The NRA wants their gun companies to sell more guns so all their gun stocks go up and they can keep people in power that continues to support that wealth. They’ve created this distracting, false narrative, starting with Obama, that “he’s coming to take your guns” and it’s “an assault on our Second Amendment rights” and continuing through with “guns keeps us safer” to sell more guns. Which they did. Ironically, gun sales have apparently slipped with Trump in office. It’s all fucking bullshit. A manipulative game resulting in death.
Now more recently, with the shooting of Scalise and others in DC, you’d think these assholes in Congress would have a moment of introspective truth, that perhaps all of these guns are not a good thing. But, no. A Republican proposed a bill to let Congressmen and Senators carry weapons which puts more guns on the streets, even when legal. So, playing this out, let’s say another angry person goes on a shooting spree at the next Congressional softball game because they’re distressed about no healthcare or no economic opportunities. Are these guys good shots under that kind of pressure? How many innocent people will be collateral damage in an attempt at what will likely be claimed as “self defense”? So, what the song proposes is that this addiction is a shackle on our nation. It’s time to break free of it by refocusing our thoughts and energy on more important issues… and what’s implied is the issues focus on human rights, justice, equality and just being a good person. I’ll end my rant now.
You’ve been playing a couple of shows in Connecticut and New York in the past few weeks. Did your shows have a good turn out with fans?
The turnout has been really good. That’s partly because I’m playing places with built-in audiences like Sofar Sounds and Greenpoint Gallery. Of course, I’d love to sell out every place we play, but we’re just getting started. Whether I’m solo acoustic for Sofar Sounds, which puts more emphasis on the lyrics, or with the full band at the likes of a Rockwood Music Hall, which puts emphasis on collective energy, the fans are smiling and vibing. I can see when people are focusing on the lyrics, which are dense and rapid-fire in some songs and when they’re feeling the happiness of the energy in the way they move to the songs. The immediate and positive feedback is that people are hungry for positive commentary on the current divisive political and global climate. That keeps me going and helps us grow.
What are your plans for rest of the year?
I’ve been pushing pretty hard since recording began in October. We have a few shows this summer. But, I’ll be recharging, doing some writing and hopefully prepare for doing videos for a couple of tracks in September. Then doing some fall shows before beginning recording for the next album.