Can music bring us closer to the Creator? It certainly has for electronic dance music producer Vahid N’Dobe, known as EDUKE.
The BahaiTeachings.org interview with EDUKE continues, and in this second installment we learn more about his faith, what motivates his creativity, and how he combines the two to make his music and move his listeners.
Q: Does creating your music have an impact on your soul?
A: I often say to people that I truly feel closest to God when I am creating music. This is the honest truth. To me it’s a very spiritual experience. And it makes more sense to me that Baha’u’llah said that in this day God has raised the station of work done in a spirit of service to the level of worship:
It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of occupation, such as crafts, trades and the like. We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One. Ponder ye in your hearts the grace and the blessings of God and render thanks unto Him at eventide and at dawn. Waste not your time in idleness and sloth. Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and others. – Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 26.
Strangely for me, when I’m making music, I usually feel a blissfulness that is only comparable to saying a prayer. When others are able to feel that same positive energy in my music, it makes it all worthwhile.
Q: What inspires your melodies? How do they often start and develop? Could you walk us through this process?
A: Inspiration for me comes from different places. Many times I have found inspiration from the Baha’i writings. At different occasions when I have felt stuck and unable to complete a project I often meditate on the writings to help me get through the hurdle. Abdu’l-Baha said: “Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries.” – Paris Talks, p. 175.
Besides finding inspiration from the Baha’i writings, I often get inspired by the works of other creators and composers. A typical example is when I use loops in my music production process. In electronic music, apart from sound design, producers often use what are called loops as starting points or building elements to create a piece of music. Most of the loops that we use are created by other composers and sound designers, so in a sense, there is a weird form of collaboration that happens every time a producer uses a loop created by another composer on their track. To me, this is exciting, because it’s about working together and blending talents and skills to improve the ecosystem while making the world a little happier with fun tunes. Essentially, the concepts of harmony, collaboration and unity are all very real here:
It behoveth man to adhere tenaciously unto that which will promote fellowship, kindliness and unity. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 89.
Q: What do you think about the following quotation? It describes the difficulties of being an artist and how they often experience a lack of appreciation for their work—but the last sentence reminds us that “the arts are a powerful instrument to serve” others:
With the evolution of Baha’i society which is composed of people of many cultural origins and diverse tastes, each with his conception of what is aesthetically acceptable and pleasing, those Baha’is who are gifted in music, drama and the visual arts are free to exercise their talents in ways which will serve the Faith of God. They should not feel disturbed at the lack of appreciation by sundry believers. Rather, in knowledge of the cogent writings of the Faith on music and dramatic expression …they should continue their artistic endeavours in prayerful recognition that the arts are powerful instruments to serve the Cause, arts which in time will have their Baha’i fruition. – Written on behalf of the Universal House of justice, August 9, 1983
A: The work of artists is often overlooked or sometimes viewed as unimportant in the world today. However, imagine what a DJ does. He or she curates and creates an uplifting mood by playing music that makes people want to dance. Let’s face it, life can be tough. There are so many problems in the world. Like the great Bob Marley once put it …“So much trouble in the world.” With that in mind, a DJ’s role begins to take a whole new level of importance in society. DJs cheer people up with music, while they create a happy uplifting mood in contrast to the gloominess that can sometimes characterize the challenges of modern day living. Think of what the Baha’i writings say about our work, when it’s done in a spirit of service:
All effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 177.
This is what keeps me motivated. If I can make a tune that can uplift someone, put a smile on their face, make them happy and want to dance, I feel like I’m on the right track.
Q: What aspects of the Baha’i Faith inspire your music creation and service to the community?
A: I think the center or core of all Baha’i teachings is unity. I see the same correlation in music. Abdu’l-Baha said that:
The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord. If you meet those of different race and colour from yourself, do not mistrust them and withdraw yourself into your shell of conventionality, but rather be glad and show them kindness. Think of them as different coloured roses growing in the beautiful garden of humanity, and rejoice to be among them. – Ibid., p. 53.
To me, music plays an important role towards the attainment of what I believe to be at the core of God’s plan for humanity today: universal unity. In the realm of creation, nothing brings people more together in harmony and friendship than music does.
Q: What are your plans and aspirations for the near future, creatively, spiritually?
A: Musically, to continue creating and hopefully collaborate with as many artists as possible.
Spiritually, I just want to be a better person each day and to sincerely love all people deeply and unconditionally.
Q: Before we end this interview, can you share how the combination of music and faith shapes your inner spiritual development?
A: My faith has given so much more meaning to what I do. The writings of the Baha’i Faith categorically emphasize the vital importance of music and the role it plays towards both an individual’s spiritual growth and the spiritual development of society as a whole. These numerous writings are, for the most part, what have kept me on course over the last 20+ years of my journey as a music artist. I know I’m doing something important because Baha’u’llah said so. As such, it is my duty to carry on no matter the obstacles or challenges faced. When I’m in the studio for countless hours creating beats and melodies, I know it is the same as worshipping in a temple, church, mosque or synagogue. Hence the studio becomes a temple, and the DJ booth a house of worship. How liberating that God has made it so. It gives it all a whole new meaning.