Govinda Your Own Way: Music as Religion

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Govinda is the alter-ego of Austin based producer/composer Shane Madden. He began studying violin and composition at the age of eight and went on to study classical violin at the University of Texas where he fell in love with electronic music production. It was in Madden’s pursuit of his gypsy roots that he opened his ears to music from around the world. Through his experiences learning violin with mysterious masters, on his journeys across the globe, and his passion for modern design and technology, the current sound of Govinda was born. The live show is truly a multi-sensory experience that features professional dancers, live projections, resonating vocals and a sensational sound-scape.

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Axiom-Nation (AX):  You’ve been playing violin since you were 8, and subsequently you were in metal and punk bands during your younger years.  What were some things that transitioned you away from that and into the electronic scene?

Govinda (SM): When I first heard Portishead I was converted to beat driven music. I have learned there is a divine balance that happens when the contrast of beats and violins come together. Yin and Yang.

AX: Any spiritual experience’s specifically that brought about this evolution?

SM: It was more that I had cool friends. My spiritual journey began to awaken in the few years to come. That journey has contributed to the sound and style of my music and connects to an ever-awakening audience.

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AX: Your home Austin, Texas has been known as a musical hot spot.  Which aspects of the culture there allowed you to thrive as a musician?

SM: I still live in Austin. I started playing live in Austin 18 years ago before there was any live electronic music in the city. I was a pioneer in a time and place that had no respect for the genre so it was hard and I definitely didn’t fit in. In the years to come other artists would help define this new sound as the city’s palate became more sophisticated. This combined with gaining respect in other cities from touring helped open the door for some healthy hometown love and support. I guess the biggest way Austin has been supportive is by providing so many venues and opportunities to develop my live show through the years.

AX: Where do you draw inspiration from currently?

SM: Everywhere. Spirituality, love, sensuality, art, beauty, travel, food, mountains, oceans but most of all…wine.

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AX: How has the connectivity of the Internet (e.g. sound cloud or sharing programs/producing ones such as ableton) allowed you to evolve and thrive as an artist?

SM: The Internet has allowed people to have easy access to more music. It has also helped expose people to new ideas, culture and sounds. It’s really making it easier to create art that people have an ear for. For example country folk in the heart of Texas know what dub step is now whereas 20 years ago they may not have heard anything except snaggle toothed fiddles and grits.

AX: Your last four albums have all been independent releases. How has self-releasing your albums impacted your music as opposed to the releasing via record-label?

SM: I parted ways with my label when my music started to grow more balls. The label’s target demographic was yoga mom, bookstore vibe and my inner grit was starting to emerge. I also wanted to see some actual money from the decent number of sales instead of a statement every quarter with a negative number owed to me. Being independent also takes the pressure off of any timelines and I don’t have to sacrifice artistic integrity.

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AX: You’ve recently done collaboration with the Blind Boys of Alabama, a 5-time Grammy winning gospel group. Tell me about the creative experience you had with a group that has a contrasting sound from your own.

SM: My manager approached them with an idea to do a collaboration with an electronic artist.  We discussed it and I agreed because I like to blend styles that haven’t traditionally been done before. I wrote a few lyrical ideas down and sent it to them. They chose one, put melody to it and recorded it while they were on tour.  I basically built a track around what they sent me.  It took me a long to find a balance between sounds and styles but I’m very grateful I got the experience and that people like the track.

AX: What kinds of new projects are in the works with other artists/producers in and out of the EDM world?

SM: I am working on another chill release and will put that out through my old label Intentcity Records next year. Perhaps the most exciting project I am working on is some sexy-dolphin-glitch-step with Britannia Born who is a singer from Cali. It’s fresh and full of silky bedroom eyes aural candy.

AX: What’s the creative process like when working on a new track? Explain the workflow behind your production. Does being on the road so often affect this in anyway?

SM: It starts with an idea or melodic line. Something that defines the song or presents an iconic motif. Then I will harmonize it with chords or textures.  I will then start to hear the implied rhythmic feel and create the beats. I’m sure this backwards from any other electronic producers but everyone has their process. I recently put together a mobile studio so I can write and produce on the road. It’s a brilliant shift that makes me much more prolific.

 

- Rey Alvarez