Art and dreams have a lot in common.
Both are capable of stirring emotions and transporting people to other worlds. Both are open to interpretation and can mean different things to different people. And both are deeply personal experiences for their originators.
It’s fitting then that dreams lie at the heart of so much of musician, poet, and all-around artist Jami Kali’s work.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of dreams, what they even really are and what they mean for our waking life, if anything at all. I read some (Sigmund) Freud and Carl Jung to see what their thoughts were, and I started keeping journals of my dreams when I was 12,” Kali says.
“The very first song I was inspired to write was about a different notion of a dream, a dream in the form of an idea we have, a perspective that we hold that informs the way we live – for instance, an idea like the American dream. … I just kept going with that idea of dreams, pulling the different connotations of the word along.”
Enter “Holy Drone,” a dream-themed concept album and Kali’s first solo release, recorded under the name Kali Ma and the Garland of Arms. Set to officially drop on April 23, audiophiles who attend Kali’s 6 p.m. set at Musical Energi this Saturday for Record Store Day will nevertheless have the chance to snag an early copy, as well as hear a few cuts performed live.
During the set, Kali will perform with Mock Sun, the Wilkes-Barre band she co-founded with Mark Wohl in 2011. As much as “Holy Drone” represents Kali’s own personal vision, she says she couldn’t have realized that vision without Wohl’s experience as a multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer.
Most importantly, Wohl’s contributions pushed Kali to expand her own capabilities. In the early stages of recording, Kali would occasionally enlist Wohl to perform certain instrumental parts for her.
“As time went on, though, and I was evolving as an independent musician, I realized I could do a lot of things on my own,” Kali says.
“Like bass. Even though Mark’s an excellent bass player, I would force myself to do it instead, because at the same time I’m doing it, I’m teaching myself. I’m learning and setting the stage for more growth for myself in the future.”
The trippy bohemian aesthetic of “Holy Drone” will be familiar to anyone who knows Kali from her work with Mock Sun. The beat-driven trance music style of Kali’s solo material, on the other hand, is something of a departure from that band’s more free-flowing, hippie-jazz-folk mash-up sound.
“I really like to dance, so a lot of the music has this inherent basic rhythm to it that just moves you. It gets you in this centered zone, the way you’d feel at a drum circle. It’s got a very tribal sound to it. Even though Mock Sun has elements of that, it’s not fully what we’re going for, so that’s kind of my vision behind a lot of what I’m doing,” Kali says.
“When I dance, I don’t really like to think about the fact that I’m dancing. I just can’t help but be moved by certain types of music. I’m just forgetting everything and getting lost. The music is taking me over. … It’s almost like a meditative state that you fall into. It’s a means of soul expression.”