By Kevin Alan Lamb
Michigan is sacred land protected by the beauty and fury of winter. It challenges each of us to slow down, recharge, and take an honest look at the truths we’ve been serving or running from. For an artist, the winter freeze prompts the necessity of digging a little deeper, and reflecting a little deeper in an effort to understand the notes our hearts are tuned to. When you find yourself in a familiar, dark, lonely place in the dead of winter, try to remember that you’ve been here before, you will be again, and begin to make a navigational map to help you retrace the best pieces of yourself when winter comes again.
The final days of February are passing, ice melting, and the seeds you’ve been sewing will begin to grow and flourish. It is a great time to recollect your recent journey, taking inventory of the people, practices, and places that helped you find your spirit along the way. Practice being thankful for the forests and trees that help you breathe; the friends and strangers who held your hand when you were in need; and the blessings bestowed in lessons when accidents left you to bleed. Be mindful of the food you eat, daily rituals that help or keep you from sleep, and what it feels like to be surrounded by people who believe it gets better, if we let it.
Joe Chamberlin sings and plays guitar in FlyLite Gemini and The Change, both of whom I’ve gotten to know over this winter. He believes making music is his greatest purpose, and hopes his interpretations of his perception can reassure or enlighten others to help make their lives easier. But a few breaths in the forest help connect him to his guide, he is conscious about the food he eats, and despite the music industry’s shortcomings, he has faith in the resulting beauty and opportunity it offers on the other side.
FlyLite Gemini is putting the finishing touches on their new album, Bigger on the Inside, and aiming for a spring release. Get a preview of the album this Thursday, February 28 at Tip Top Deluxe in Grand Rapids where FlyLite Gemini will be joined by special guest Drew Phoria.
Would you say you’re guided more by faith, or spirituality? Or do you perceive them as one and the same?
I would say I have faith in my spirituality. A sense that my spirit, or soul if you will, is connected to the IS, the everything, and through that connection I find inspiration that guides my intuition. It’s gotten me this far, so I have faith that my spirit will see me through.
Do you have daily/weekly practices that help you stay connected with your guide?
It’s more of a challenge in the winter, but walking in the forest helps me stay connected. Even just a few deep breaths while admiring the sky can help bring me back to center, and spending a few days with the ancient trees on the West Coast (which I do a few times a year) is the energetic equivalent to a month-long vacation for me. There’s a book called “The Education of Little Tree” by Forrest Carter, and though it is fiction, it helped me to feel at peace about the way I connect to this world . I don’t practice near enough but I find yoga calming and centering and try to at least fit a few sun salutations into my day. Also, what I eat helps me stay connected. Although I consider myself an omnivore (sometimes I eat fish, chicken, or eggs) for a while now, about 95% of my diet has been vegan. I try to eat food grown locally and organically whenever possible. We are literally, at least in part, what we eat. Food is an important part of feeling connected
Who in your life helps you stay on the right spiritual path?
My bandmates, blood and soul family for sure, and the beautiful beings I’ve been lucky enough to connect with deeply through love and shared experience. They continually help me to be present and be the best me I can be
What do you find most often disrupts or gets in the way of your spiritual journey?
I have a really hard time understanding how people can destroy nature without thought or how they can be cruel to animals, children and each other. I know most often cruelty is learned behavior that is handed down through generations but it’s still so hard for me to understand how it continues. Another thing is the apparent apathy of many wealthy people to the fact that we’re all in this together; some people have more than they could ever use and need, and to me the natural thing to do would be to share with the hopes that no one would be suffering for lack of basic needs like food, water, and shelter. Sometimes I get stuck in circles of thought about those things and other heavy things in the world and I feel that slows me down in regards to leveling up my soul.
Have you ever experienced a significant catharsis or “aha” moment as a result of your faith/spirituality?
There was one night as a child that I became consciously aware of the exchange between people and the plants. The carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange. We are all connected through it; I have had a much greater appreciation for everything after that
Does making music help you honor and connect with your greater sense of self, and purpose?
I feel like music is my greater purpose, to take what I see, feel, and experience and reflect it back for others to see. With the hopes that others sometimes find the reflections reassuring or enlightening, so their day or life path is a little bit easier. If there’s ever a day trusting my intuition is proving to be a challenge, playing my songs, which a lot of times are reminders to my soul of how to live, often restore my connection and faith in my intuition.
In what ways does the industry of music challenge your spirituality or faith?
A friend of mine who works as head of A&R for a major record label said that one of the driving factors for them to sign an artist and promote the music, is that it will sell to preteen girls. I find that bizarre and slightly horrifying, seeing that we all need music, and a lot of mainstream music seems devoid of morals or social and environmental consciousness. The growth of the internet and the fact that art can now be shared so easily is a great counterweight to big business trying to control art and music. I feel that there are still a lot of musicians and music related businesses that do care about the art of music, and the movement of the human race to greater things even if it’s just a mutual respect for one another and the enjoyment of life. The industry is still changing and I think it could end up in a beautiful place. Where everyone who puts the time in to master their craft and expresses their soul through their art can find success and support in making music
Are there any musicians whose spirituality/faith you admire, and feel empowered as a result of?
I really dig what Jimi Hendrix said about the appearance of extraterrestrial life being able to help connect Humanity, solely because of the fact, that if we meet other beings that are not from this Earth, it would help us to realize that we are all connected , we are all human beings. I also really appreciate Cat Stevens unwavering support for love and peace. Both of them inspire me to share my voice in the same way
Do you have the tendency to use the word God or Universe? Do you have different perspectives of the two?
I personally like to call it the IS. Because it all is something, on this side or that side, in my mind or your mind, it all just is. God is a word I like to use when talking to anyone who’s faith or spirituality are grounded in the traditions of Christianity or Judaism. I like to think of God as everything, all of the tiny balls of light (atoms) connected through a universal consciousness. I certainly don’t think of God as a male entity in the sky waiting to strike someone down or complicate their life because they got intoxicated, had premarital sex or dropped a few f-bombs. I think the condemnation of those things comes from certain humans interpretations of God and morality. We all make mistakes, that’s often how we learn. Whatever actions we take, if it’s not harming others, and we communicate openly and truthfully with the others we interact with in the world about our needs and desires, should be okay, we’re being the best we can be, and to each individual that can mean something different. I think that’s why we’re here: to experience and learn and help others do the same, with the goal being to find inner peace to help create outer peace.
Just in case you were listening for one, This Is A Good Sound. 7:00 PM Doors, $5 cover,