Peace and Connection Through Music
An Interview with Larisa Stow
by Shannon Niles
Larisa Stow is one of many who will be speaking at the Leaders Causing Leaders Conference this November. She and other speakers will be sharing their incredible experiences, advice, and passion for the possibility of making positive changes in our world. It is about awakening the leader and visionary within ourselves. As one who is passionate about closing the bridge between different people and cultures, Larisa is a leader and visionary who will inspire others to follow her lead.
Here is the conversation that I had with this truly inspiring woman:
Vision Magazine: How does music really bring people and different cultures together?
Larisa Stow: Music is a vibration. It takes you into an energy, a vibrational energy. So when people listen to music, when they experience music together, it’s literally everybody getting on, let’s say, a space ship together. They’re going on a journey together because it takes you in a similar vibrational frequency. So it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter where you are on the planet; music is a vortex.
VM: Do you feel that there is really this special oneness of all humans, that deep down we desire all the same things?
LS: I totally believe with every cell in my body that we are one, this meaning that we appear in form, but at the deepest level, we are just these atoms that are held together by magnetism. And the whole universe is held together by magnetism. Those are all interconnected; there’s nothing that happens in one part of the world that doesn’t affect the other part of the world.
We’re all interconnected. Kind of like a tree, in a sense, like the banyan tree where the roots are going all over, underneath the earth, and connecting and creating other banyan trees. And they look like they’re all separate banyan trees, and yet they’re all interconnected. It’s the same tree. I truly believe that we are one organism and different expressions of one organism. Personality-wise, no, I think we’re very different. But on a soul level, I think it’s the same. We all want the same thing: we all want love. We all want to love and to be loved, and we all hunger for connectedness.
VM: How do you integrate other cultures into your music?
LS: There’s different ways. One is, bringing in the sounds. I have an affinity for the East, for India and also Middle Eastern sounds. But even more so than that, vibrationally. There’s a vibration of connecting to different cultures and feeling different cultures and bringing them into the music.
VM: Could you explain what “spiritual kirtans” are?
LS: Kirtan just literally means “call and response,” and the word originates from Hindu culture. And it’s a form of music. So if I sing something, then you sing it back to me. What I love about it is it just creates audience participation. It puts everybody in a place that creates rapport.
VM: How long have you been involved with music, and what got you interested in the kind of music that you create now?
LS: I’ve always loved music, ever since I was a kid. It’s the first thing I notice when I walk into supermarkets and when I go into other countries the first thing I notice is their music. I’ve always been drawn to it, really feeling that it is universal. When I was really young, my dad taught himself how to play sitar, and we had tablas in the house and my mom had a tambura. So I was exposed to those sounds, and my dad also played with Ravi Shankar, and I loved it. I just loved, loved, loved the sounds of India. I think my whole life I hungered to integrate those sounds into my songwriting, which I did eventually. In the beginning I was just a straight ahead pop/rock solo artist/singer/songwriter. I really explored that. I was in the whole club scene, won the Singer/Songwriter of the Year through the Los Angeles Music Awards. And then after 9/11, that is when everything shifted for me, and I was like that’s it, I’m incorporating sounds from different parts of the world because I wanted to create this feeling of connectedness within myself and also offer that up to those around me.
VM: On your website, your bio says that you have certain “peace projects.” Are those just your peace prayers, or do you have other ways of spreading that peace?
LS: The biggest thing that I’m doing that is really cool is I co-founded a non-profit called the Shakti Tribe Foundation. We go into prisons and jails, halfway houses, and detention centers and do peace concerts. I do follow-up workshops with the men and women after the peace concerts. It’s about tapping and touching into them and igniting that part of them that can make a difference in their own lives and the community around them. It’s so much fun. I just was there at Terminal Island prison last week on Friday, working with the men and sharing music, and giving them some tools to access the peace within themselves. And the whole band is going to go back. We have another concert on October 24 there. I feel very, very passionate about that. That’s one of the things that I’m going to speak about at the Leaders Causing Leaders conference, looking at where in your life you have suffering or you had suffering and something that you’ve overcome to a certain degree and then go out and lead from that place. My coach in life, Martha Beck, calls it “Go to Hell.” So wherever you went to Hell in your life, you end up using that to help others.
VM: What do you feel that currently needs to change in the world? How do you hope your music and your peace projects could help spark this, or at least contribute in some way?
LS: One of the biggest things is that people are not self-expressed; they’re not really expressing who they are. People for the most part don’t feel safe to fully express who they are. I think we need to give each other permission to live really full out, in our creativity, in our spiritually, in our sexuality on all levels, I think we need permission to really be who we are. I think when people are given that freedom and that permission it’s so much easier to feel a space of love and to open to that state. Because I think that’s really our natural state to love and to be loved, but it’s covered by our fear that we can’t really be who we are. To allow ourselves to completely, completely just be outrageously authentic. And that’s one of my missions, is to give people permission. Life is too short; from head to toe, I’m going to live as authentically as I can possibly muster, and then in doing so, give other people permission. There’s just so much fricking love, but we can’t access that love if we’re not being authentic.
VM: What are you going to share with the attendees at the Leaders Causing Leaders conference?
LS: I do believe I will be giving a talk there. For me, it’s really important to be just really aligned so that I feel very passionate about it. If I’m going to open my mouth and speak, I want to be very passionate and know that I am giving something that is of service to those who are listening.
VM: What do you hope people at the conference will gain from their experience listening to you?
LS: I hope that they are inspired to really tune in to the gift that they have within themselves to share in this lifetime. I really feel that most of us are only tapping into the smallest portion of what we’re capable of. I really hope that everyone walks away from that conference feeling like, yes, I can go out and share my gift and help and inspire others to do the same.
Larisa Stow is a singer/songwriter known for her soul-searching, engaging music which combines music and sounds from different cultures. Not only does she contribute to peace and unity between cultures with her music, but she also has various non-profit, charitable peace projects. To learn more about Larisa and her music, visit www.larisastow.com
The Leaders Causing Leaders Conference: For more information about the conference, please visit www.leaderscausingleaders.com.