Living Light as ‘The Great Attractor’ – Interview & Review

Living Light, the project of producer Eartha Harris, creates entrancing dub, uptempo, and house with a psychedelic twist. Marked by glistening euphonic melodies, enchanting voices, and worldly beats, Living Light ignites listeners from across the country. Eartha’s music career started young. “I’ve been creating music professionally, in the sense of selling music and touring, since I was a teenager,” said Harris. Growing up, she played keyboards in high school, learning how to create tracks with a sequencer, and in college learned true electronic music production.

Download your copy of Living Light’s ‘The Great Attractor’ out now on Desert Trax:
https://deserttrax.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-attractor

After playing in a New York-based, touring industrial synthpop group, she moved to Boston and started a solo project called Project Sphere. “I guess you could say it had a sort of Madonna’s “Ray of Light” album feel to it (which was produced by the trance and house producer William Orbit). It was 1999, and raves were a big thing. I wanted to capture that big sound and blend it with all the world music I was also getting in to – tribal drumming and middle eastern scales and the like. And I then I sang on top of it, and put on crazy little theatrical productions where I would project nature clips on to me (which was novel at the time), or make it snow on stage, or use theater scrims and I’d rise up from the stage floor, covered in leaves and branches like a tree. Those were fun shows!”

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Then she joined the live electronic jam band Psylab as their lead keyboardist, where she spent 5 years behind 4-5 full sized keyboards playing live jams and covers of every electronic genre under the sun – from dubstep to drum n’ bass to house to psytrance. “Psylab was a completely opposite experience than Project Sphere, and it was with that group that I really got to learn the ropes of real practice, constant gigging, and a much deeper appreciation of music theory. But by late 2012 we were all going different directions, so I decided to start up Living Light.”

The origin of Living Light came from a vision on 12/21/12 where Eartha saw the rising sun and the trajectory of her new solo project. The name came from the biophoton, light emitted by all living creatures, meaning literally the living light. These photons react to and communicate with other living beings, creating a light language. “In that sense, we are actually living light,” Eartha says, “the name actually has quite a few different meanings, and that’s why I like it so much.” The obvious meaning is that we are all made of exploded star stuff. The next meaning is about light in terms of weight, as opposed to heavy. “When you look at Living Light that way, it opens up a whole new world of meanings. Living light as opposed to living heavy, to me, means living environmentally conscious, living non-materialistic, and most personally (as someone who struggled with depression when younger), living healthy and with a positive headspace.”

Living light is reflected not just in Eartha’s glistening, positive music, but in her other projects as well. She picked up yoga in the mid-2000s while she worked as a newspaper art director, while simultaneously touring with her band. “Yoga and dialing in my nutrition were the only ways I could keep myself healthy enough to be working such long hours and still making it to band practice and having the energy for the shows.” By the time the newspaper industry weakened and her job became obsolete, Eartha had studied enough nutrition and yoga to become certified and create a second career. Now, she’s been a yoga instructor for seven years and a professional nutritional therapist for three. Wanting to step into leadership roles and be in service to others, Eartha recently started running month-long online group immersive experiences of yoga, nutrition, life coaching, biohacking, and personal philosophies called Light Club (like fight club).  “We turn into these cool micro-communities of about 25-30 people all working together to help each other become kickass humans, and it’s been really effective and really cool! I plan to continue to develop and offer this program in the hopes of creating an army of happy, confident, inspired, vibrant, strong and healthy people to combat the onslaught of depressing politics, poor quality food, toxins, anxiety, opiate epidemics, and poor health that our country has been facing lately.” Despite the challenging and demanding task of running a business while being a touring producer, her projects synchronize to be extremely rewarding. Working remotely with clients and groups allows her to be in personal and direct service to others while traveling the world with her music, bringing living light sonically as well.

Now, Eartha has nearly 50 tracks under Living Light, including a chart-topping full-length album, a full-length remix album, two EP’s, and dozens of official remixes for Papadosio, Clozee, David Starfire, and more. Touring from coast to coast, she has made notable appearances at festivals such as Enchanted Forest Gathering, Envision, Sonic Bloom, and Burning Man. In 2018, she released her most recent album ‘The Great Attractor.’ Released on Desert Dwellers’ label Desert Trax, the album strikes a balance between uptempo dance and psydub focus, while maintaining the classic Living Light sound. For the album, Eartha says “my goal was to maintain the same melodic components, middle eastern influences, and dub influences of my previous releases, but give it a bit more edge. A harder kick, some harder synth tones, some stronger dance elements, and to just make it a little rougher and more driving.” She describes it as “lush, mysterious, challenging, with a feeling of triumph over adversity.”

The inspiration for the album came from an astrological discovery: at the center of our star cluster, Lanaika, there is a supermassive black hole. Eartha reflects that “right before producing the album, I started to really focus on repeated patterns throughout my life – those things that happen over and over again so much that eventually, you can’t blame anyone other than yourself. But the problem was, I had no idea what I was doing to create these repeated situations. It was a blind spot. It was almost as if I had a big black hole in my psyche that I could not directly see – just like how you cannot actually see a real black hole. But like the way a black hole affects the light around it, this blind spot was affecting everything around it in my life, too. The name of the black hole is “The Great Attractor”, which immediately sounded to me like the exact thing in my head that I couldn’t see that was causing the patterns in my life. So I decided to name the album ‘The Great Attractor’, and I threw my arms out to the universe and asked it to show me my to show me blind spots during the creation of the album…. which it definitely it did, big time.”

Eartha had a vision of the album artwork featuring a person with an internal black hole, symbolic of the blind spots in our psyches. She came across the piece “Temple of Swans” by one of her favorite artists, Hans Haveron. “I immediately felt like the entire image summed up the album in one picture,” she says. “The face, I suppose in this case representing me (or anyone in search of their blind spots), looks like the face I imagine behind the female vocal samples I used. I also wanted this album to have the feeling of undertaking some deep and epic hero’s journey and felt the samurai aesthetic represented that well. And the lotus, to me, represents the sanctuary from life that I feel when in deep yoga savasana while I had been on this journey for the past year plus of album creation. But the black gateway in the center of the lotus at the girl’s heart was what really brought it all together for me. It was like looking at a picture of everything the music on the album is all about, which is the way an album cover should be.”

‘The Great Attractor’ was pretty intense. I really wanted to level up my game on it, production-wise,” she reflects. The album was created while living in the woods of North Carolina with vast stretches of time alone.  “Being completely alone in the woods for months on end is a pretty amazing experience as an artist, but can also start to make you a little crazy.” The album took her a year to produce, allowed by the Kickstarter she threw six months in. “The Kickstarter allowed me to really focus on the album’s creation for a couple of months instead of having to be in the constant money hustle…I basically locked myself up the first chance I got and feverishly produced music every waking hour from morning until I fell asleep at the computer at night. Then when I went to lay down in bed, right as I was dozing off a new piece of the song would come to me and I would shoot right up and run back to the studio to get it down. Other parts of the songs would come to me in dreams and I would wake up still singing them and immediately record them.”

‘The Great Attractor’ certainly takes the listener on an intense, sonic journey. An ethereal, spacious soundscape with rippling synths and reworked voices glimmers, dancing with a driving bassline, chiming synths, and repeated melodies. It’s not all beauty, however, as there are points in which the production turns gritty with turbulent breaks and drops, pounding psy-hop percussion and a low wobbling bass. Each song is a unique experience, yet the album holds together with melodic, textural, and dub elements repeated and expanding like sacred geometry. The complex layering of the sampling of Eastern drums, sitars, flute, and incantation-like female vocals in driving yet evolving loops, creates a multi-dimensional effect. The album feels like a journey through realms, with warps and turbulence and change, like the music itself is compressing and responding to different atmospheres and celestial bodies.

Eartha produced the album (and all of her work from 2003) using Cubase. “ I think it’s a beautiful DAW and haven’t ever felt the need to use anything else,” she tells us. She also uses a Nord modular keyboard for richer tones. For plug-ins and other tools,  “I actually like the challenge of making good use of super basic stuff, like creating psytrance squelches with a TAL Elektro plugin,” Eartha says. As for synths, she uses Massive and Uhe.

With her streaming rates increasing 50% in 2018, Eartha tells us about her experience: “Streaming is definitely a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s great that my music can be heard all over the world on demand without anyone having to pay a for it, or if they do, a very low subscription fee. It’s also great to be able to see immediately when someone plays my music. And when those play counts shoot up, it feels awesome! There’s really no greater feeling as an artist than to have your art received and experienced. And I’m sure streaming has perhaps allowed a much greater audience to experience my work then might have been the case in the olden days. On the other hand, streaming sites still have a long way to go when it comes to supporting artists. On average, streaming sites only pay .0006 of one penny per play to their artists per stream – some a bit more (like Spotify) some a bit less (like Soundcloud). But that’s less than half of a half of a half of one penny per play. This means that it takes somewhere around 10,000 plays on one track just to make $6. To put this in perspective, this past month I’ve had an evenly split 33,700 plays between Spotify and Soundcloud combined (the two main streaming sites that I use), which would equal around $20.22 – half of which goes to my label and distributor leaving me with $10 at the end of the month.”

With tracks taking at least two or three intensive weeks to compose, mix, and properly master and this time not creating a direct income, producing is difficult when tracks are not being purchased. To counteract the lack of built-in financial support, Living Light has done several Kickstarters and uses a Patreon site for music. For $3 a month, she offers free tickets to all her events, access to tracks as soon as she writes them, personal and studio videos, and many exclusive sets. “I’ve been so thankful for the support I have received from my listeners, and would truly have not been able to produce even a third as much music as I have without their help!” Eartha says,  “If even half of my Facebook followers or Soundcloud followers pledged $1 a month on my Patreon, I would be making somewhere around $7,000 a month and would be able to put out so much more music, spend so much more time on production, create fantastic stage show experiences, and bring my music to so many more places in the world. Eartha herself currently supports ten musicians, writers, thinkers, and awesome creators on Patreon.

Despite the need of support to be a touring musician, Eartha says “even if no one ever streamed another track of mine again, I would still keep creating music. To me, it’s my only real form of true prayer and connection to source.” When asked about the most valuable lesson learned as a music producer, Eartha answered: “If your art is your antidepressant, or connects you to your flow state, to god, or to source, or the energy of creation, do not walk away from it just because it’s not making money, or not popular, or not understood. Trends come and go and not everyone will understand and love what you make. But, while little lights me up more than seeing a smiling raging dancefloor to my tunes, in the end, I am making this music just as much for myself as I am for everyone else. I once walked away from my music, and I never will again. While we can do many things, a musician is in their soul a musician and nothing can take that away.”

In 2019, we’re looking forward to experiencing more Living Light. “I can’t give away all my secrets yet,” Eartha says. But, we do know she will be supporting Desert Dwellers on many lineups around the country, bringing her music to Panama for the first time in five years, and traveling overseas for a European appearance this summer.

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1 Comment

  • Mark McNulty says:

    EXCELLENT writing and subject matter. The thoughts Eartha shows are PROFOUND and educational, and they’re contextualized so well by this great writing.

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