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Chatting with Vajra!

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It could be a shocking name for all Arabic-speaking people; it is mostly known here in Egypt, that Vajra means a whore*. But, the American rock band chose it on purpose, and they have a completely different point of view on that name. We decided to chat with the band front-woman Annamaria Pinna to find out.

1. The logo, the name and the motto are very unique. What is the story behind Vajra, and is the term Vajra related to the Arabic meaning? 

Vajra is a Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist ritual object that translates into the thunderbolt or diamond. It is: that which breaks through anything. It is the ultimate truth of the universe manifested in a symbol that we can understand. I came to know the term from my Hindu and Buddhist studies and selected the name after I had a dream about the concept. I had no idea what the Arabic meaning was until now. I’m gonna talk to some of my Arabic speaking friends and ask them why they didn’t tell me that earlier! Lol.

As for the logo, the design came to me in that space between waking life and sleeping life. I had closed my eyes, and I saw it. I always keep a pad and paper by my bedside table so I sketched it with my eyes still closed (because I didn’t want to wake up). In the morning, I was pleasantly surprised.

 

2. I’d like to mention that I admire your website and social platforms arrangement. Do you handle such stuff by yourselves or do acquire a team for that?
Thank you so much. Both Dave and I do all of that ourselves.

 

3. “The Mirror” is your high ranked single so far, and you did a great video concept for it. Tell us the story behind this song and how you were seeking for a change from your other work.
Thank you. Generally, we were looking to go in a heavier direction musically. I had just broken up with my boyfriend, and I was depressed. So, I came upstate to get some space to process what had just happen and to be in nature. I find that it is best to channel that energy into my art, so I started writing. I brainstormed like 10 pages of what was on my mind and then I left it. Later, I revisited what I had written and morphed it into lyrics. 

 

The song started out as a conversation with him. I basically wrote what I felt I didn't say or what wasn't heard or understood. The song is about living a lie. It's about confronting our demons so we can be comfortable with who we are and so we can live as honestly as possible in our own skins. In order to do that, we have to look at ourselves in the mirror. We have to sit in an uncomfortable space and shine a light on those dark, ugly spaces that we don't want to look at. Once we see them, we can take steps to heal them. Like knots, we can find the best way to unravel them and let them go.
A lot of this process involves a separation from the social norms or social assumptions we are taught. Meditation, art, being in nature, travel, and new experiences all help to facilitate that separation. After separation, we can observe. We observe a deeper sense of self and we learn to see what experiences keep us the most truthful to that deeper sense of self.
In thinking and writing about my ex (and telling him to look in the mirror), I learned that I was also learning to look at myself in the mirror. So when I say, "I know you hate to look at me cause I'm your mirror, and you don't like what you see," he became my mirror. The song then morphed into an infinity mirror where I was his mirror and he became my mirror, and the mirror mirrors the mirror, ad infinitum.
That's what so awesome about the writing process. As artists, the more we can dissolve and get out of our own way, something greater than what we consciously conceive of has the chance to manifest in the material space. We basically become conduits for the great knowledge to enter the material realm.

 

4. To me, your music is like an alternative fusion with some old school heavy metal influences, but I noticed that you don’t want label yourself as metal or rock band. Let’s say; you don’t want to be categorized? Why is that?
I think the labels are limiting. The labels are a box with clearly defined lines, and I like to color outside the lines. With music, sometimes words and descriptions don’t capture what is really there. Things are blurry. Lines disappear. There is movement in every thing. No thing is fixed. 

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5. You recently mentioned that you want to tour in the MENA region, like; Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Morocco. However, many bands are worried to do such more recently. Tell us about your plans for such or is it something related to your lyrical themes?
Yes, I would love for us to tour over there. The music, people, culture, dance and history in your part of the world has always captured my attention (and I love the food). I’ve been to Morocco before, and I absolutely loved it. I would especially love to go to Egypt and visit some of the historical sites. We have to plan a trip over there-we just need the right opportunity, and we will come!

 

6. I was very shocked with what happened to you in Las Vegas! Tell us about that incident and what about that woman?
Yeah, we were shocked as well! When we got to Vegas, the air was thick with residue trauma from the recent shootings. I looked up at the sky and I made a promise to the energies that we would do our best to channel the connection to love and healing energies. I said to one of the opening acts that we were gonna conjure souls. When we went on stage and lit the incense to begin the show (and I learned about this after the show), a woman in the audience apparently said that we were all demons on stage. She then proceeded to come on stage when we started playing. She lied down on the floor near Shu and rolled around. She then approached Dave and was kind of dancing. We all thought she was a stage hand or a member from one of the other bands. And I actually was annoyed. She then approached me kind of dancing and said something like “this is the devil’s music”. I knew then that she was someone from the audience. She then put one of her hands on my throat. I kept singing and thought that that was odd behavior but I wasn't scared. She then put her other hand on my throat and started to squeeze tighter. That’s when I had had enough, and I bent over and yanked her off of me. I kept singing through it all. Immediately thereafter, four security guards came on stage and pulled her off of the stage and out of the Club. She appeared to be on something. Paramedics then came to take her away after she collapsed on the sidewalk. It all happened so fast, and I am glad we weren’t hurt. If she had a weapon, I might not be here.

 

7. Oh, glad that you are okay, well, you just finished your Shadows North American tour. What are the band preparations for a tour and how did it go?
There is so much involved in prepping for a tour. I am usually slammed, and I went into this tour with 4-5 hours sleep a night for the entire month before it started. There is booking, correspondence,publicity, advancing, artwork, tour posters, merch, t-shirt art, radio dates, social networking, van repairs, costumes and tour themes, etc. But, once we head out, everything is mostly done and I can focus on performance.
Aside from the strangling incident in Las Vegas, and the SWAT Team incident in Tucson, the tour was awesome! I love being on the road. We got to commune every show night with our fans, made a bunch of new fans, visited some cool places, played in some awesome venues and ate delicious local foods.

 

8. It’s rare when I find a band that have EP series, tell your fans more about the concept of Trilogy Series especially the forthcoming CD Irkalla.
The Trilogy Series is a series of three related EPs. Each EP will consist of three songs and three interludes. Each piece of music will be released on an auspicious day that is a derivative of three (in terms of numerology). Also, each piece of music will have a video component. After the release of the third EP, we will combine all of the music and all of the videos into one movie to be released thereafter. The first EP is called ‘Irkalla’, which is the Sumerian word for the Underworld. ‘Irkalla’ will be released in Spring 2018 and the second EP (title TBA) will be released in Fall 2018.


We would like to thank you for this interview and certainly we cannot wait for your upcoming releases.

Thank you so very much for listening and supporting us. I deeply appreciate that. 

Vajra 03

 

*As in Arabic it means a whore, prostitute or a woman who practice adultery.

 

Interviewed by: Mena Ezzat.

Edited by: NJ Bakr


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