World music artist and singer-songwriter Ajeet dropped her new single, “Water and Sky,” not long ago. From her upcoming album, Let It Breathe, set for release on October 14, the song features Sam Garrett.
Currently working on her master’s degree in music production and engineering at Berklee, Ajeet writes, produces, and engineers her own records.
Ajeet started releasing music in 2013. Since then, she’s dropped a series of singles, EPs, and seven albums. She’s amassed more than 70 million streams on Spotify and has performed around the globe, as well as collaborating with artists such as Trevor Hall, Snatam Kaur, Woven Kin, Rising Appalachia, Seamus Egan, Nessi Gomes, and Peia.
A multi-instrumentalist, Ajeet utilizes guitar, Bodhrán, piano, whistles, and flutes in her music, which has landed on the pinnacle of iTunes’ World Chart, along with appearing in the Top 10 of Billboard’s New Age Chart.
Guitar Girl Magazine spoke with Ajeet to discover more about the inspiration for “Water and Sky,” her writing process, and working with Sam Garrett.
What inspired your new single, “Water and Sky?”
Many of the songs on this record follow the theme of letting go, and this one is very much following that same thread. I wrote it shortly before my grandmother passed. The words came to me after talking to my mother one night, and the lyrics came in my grandmother’s voice as if she were speaking to me. I was an ocean away from her, but I felt close to her in that moment as we moved through such a big liminal moment in both our lives, and such a big letting go. Shortly after I got to fly home and sing this to her before saying goodbye. While this song is a very personal one for me, it also feels universal and like it speaks to so many moments when life asks us to trust and move on. When I showed the song to Sam Garrett, he told me about the stories from his own life it spoke to, and it was clear to us both that it was a perfect one to complete together. It speaks to vastness and closeness, cherishing a moment but also trusting the next step.
Walk us through your mindset as you entered the studio to record the song.
My studio is at home and one thing I love about that is I can really capture ideas or feelings in the moment they come to me. I recorded my parts to this song immediately when I wrote them, and I chose to keep those original takes and not re-record them because it was a very tender and special moment that felt right to keep.
Shortly after we recorded Sam Garrett at a hotel in Porto after playing at a festival. We came across a stairwell with incredible natural reverb and ended up recording the backing vocals there. I love to approach music this way — to embrace what’s unexpected and constantly look for ways to make sounds I’ve never made before. I always find collaboration very inspiring this way and it always brings something unexpected and fresh.
You have a new album, Let It Breathe, dropping October 14. What can you share about the album?
I wrote and recorded this project during a global pandemic, so there was a lot of quiet and reflection which sets it apart from any musical project I’ve been part of in the past. It was also the year I turned 30, and I feel myself exploring different emotions and themes at this point in my own life. Astrologically I was going through my Saturn return which is a big time of change and individuation. I experienced a lot of loss and shifts in my own life, but also a new inner strength or groundedness in myself that has been made concrete in this music. These songs are about finding endless spaces, riches, and color in my own inner experience, and also about allowing the world to change me, shape me, and teach me. I hope it will be a sanctuary for others as they move with the waves of life.
How did you get started in music?
I grew up in a musical and artistic family where I was constantly surrounded by creativity. My grandfather played the fiddle, my dad played the piano, and my dad always filled my house with instruments because he hoped maybe we would pick them up and be inspired. I also grew up around a lot of yoga and meditation music and experienced how it could be supportive of healing and relaxation. I also grew up around a lot of Irish music and my first times singing live were as a child, singing in pubs or relatives’ homes. I also went to Waldorf school where I learned many instruments as a child.
Where are you from?
I was born in Boston and grew up mostly in New Hampshire and spent some of my childhood living in Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. I currently live on the west coast of Ireland.
Did your hometown impact your sound?
Both of my parents are artists, so we traveled constantly. My hometown was spacious and wild, but most of my childhood was spent surrounded by poets, artists, and musicians which had a huge impact on me. I’m sure that my mother’s relatives in Ireland had a big impact on my sound as they sang Sean Nós songs whenever we were together which are old songs, often telling stories, without accompaniment. These voices of my older relatives singing songs from memory and connecting me back to a long lineage of songs feel important in what I do now. I also went to many types of schools from Waldorf to Irish Catholic school to homeschooling and eventually to a liberal arts college in Boston. I got very lucky with my medley of schools that they really nurtured my musical and creative way, and I felt the space to explore music at every stage of my life.
Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction?
Very naturally and over the course of years. I see value in many ways of creating but for me, it has to be what comes naturally and excites me at each stage of life.
What kind of guitar do you play?
Admira, called ‘Juanita,’ a nylon string Spanish classical guitar.
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?
Stories, poetry, visual art, and conversations with other artists are absolutely essential to me, not only in order to create but in order to feel engaged in life. I love that by reading a book or sitting with a painting it’s like we can have a conversation with the presence of other artists who spent their whole lives deepening their work. I can’t imagine not choosing to embrace that to support my work.
A few favorites at the moment are:
Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector
The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde
Poetry Unbound Podcast
Some Kind of Peace by Ólafur Arnalds
What can you share about your writing process?
My process is very sporadic and has its own rhythm. At times I’ll feel deep in it and have multiple song ideas per day, and other times I go months without a single melody or lyric idea. I try to nurture my creative process by making space, both in my day and in my house, but honestly, it’s completely dependent on whether or not the inspiration is there.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
So many! I adore Leanne La Havas. I’m very impressed by the incredible creativity around me in Ireland currently from Susan O’Neill, David Keenan, Ye Vagabonds, Lisa Hannigan, Síomha, and so many more… I also love the genre-bending and absolutely breathtaking work from Arooj Aftab. There are so many names I could say but there are a few to start.
How do you define success?
I feel successful now. I get to do work I love, say no to the things that don’t sit right with me and make a living doing something I find a lot of deep meaning in. I also get to work with and hire people I admire and together we have so much fun while also creating something we believe in and making a creative contribution.
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs?
I’m in an intense time of touring and releasing music now which feels so incredible after such a long pause! I’ll keep at it through the fall and then I’m planning to hibernate and rest in the winter.