Why Shivasongster?

 

My original site, MINDSPEAK.COM, was launched in 1998 as my central music and event site. Over the next 10 years, the site branched out considerably to incorporate everything from community events, essays, and travel journals to restaurant recommendations and CD/Book reviews. Eventually, more interactive web technologies such as blogs, RSS and wiki came along, making it almost impossible to keep up in a pure HTML-based environment. While I remained computer savvy over the years and have made a living as a software developer, the time to maintain my own site began to eclipse the time I was spending creating content (musical or otherwise).

From a technical standpoint, it was time for a redesign. A change was needed to take advantage of some of the newer time-saving and content-rich tools. I was not taking advantage of the many dynamic content technologies that became more prevalent in 2009-2010.

Thus the move to Word Press. Two years in the making, and two designers later, I finally came full circle to doing my own coding and design after realizing that absolutely no other options existed for executing my vision. Even high-paid programmers could not pull off even the most basic enhancements I wished to achieve. Or maybe they weren’t really that basic after all. Whatever the case, it was an expensive lesson. Anyone interested in learning more about the pros/cons of a Word Press installation, and why you should probably do it yourself, contact me.

But why Shivasongster?

For starters, the name Shivasongster is much more “musical.” That characteristic is something MINDSPEAK.COM lacked. Those that are familiar with the breadth of my work should “get” the reference to the many arms of Shiva, in a sense a reflection of the many hats I wear as a singer, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, etc.

Image from www.dollsofindia.com

On a deeper level, Shiva has the role of the destroyer in Hinduism, but also the transformer. Shiva dances upon Maya, the demon of ignorance , something I personally think that art can do, and something my musical work continues to do whether people “get it” or not. Shiva is also depicted as both an ascetic yogi – he is known as the great yogi (maha yogin) – and as a householder – roles which are mutually exclusive in Hindu society, but have become integrated in my own life. I have constantly walked the fine line between a complete material existence and a less materially-attached life of spiritual study.

Let me be clear – I am not comparing myself to a Hindu god. I am not a yogi. I am not Hindu. However, I am using the imagery and symbolism within Shiva as apt representations for the many directions that my creativity has taken over the years. I’m also heavily influenced by the work of Joseph Campbell and have thought about this carefully, so to those Hindus out there reading this, please understand this reference is being used with highest respect to Hinduism in general.

The Graphics
The original graphic design of the blue character that you see in some places on Shivasongster.com was done by Adam Lunger from Crazy Ant Studio of Elysburg, PA. He’s did a great job turning my vision into reality. However, over time the image itself was problematic and didn’t scale well for use in the more modern Word Press templates. Thus, in late 2013, I retired the header and most of the appearances of the image, though it is still in use on my business cards and in a few select places like SoundCloud where it fits a bit more with my electro persona.

Around 2015 or so I considered moving away from the Shivasongster name completely – and grew a bit frustrated – because a few people had approached me with confusion around “Shiva” as it “sitting shiva“. One of them, via email, was very insulting about it. Of course, the Judaic meaning is a completely different connotation of “shiva” (lower case S). And sure, it could be said that much of what I produce has a mournful quality. But it isn’t music for sitting shiva. I never claimed it was. As I understand it, music isn’t even allowed during the days of shiva.

Eventually I decided it wasn’t my problem if people were confused by any of this. There are far more bizarre names out there. And far stranger music!

What’s happening to MINDSPEAK.COM?
MINDSPEAK.COM Around 2013, I felt it was necessary to separate my musical persona from other activities. Very often I am interested in topics that have little to nothing to do with my music and I didn’t want people to be confused about this. The fact is that music is a great medium, and still a large part of my life, but it is not always the best medium to tackle certain subjects. It’s difficult to bring music out of its exploitive history and into a pure form of dialog free of market concerns and hype. Many people see music as mere entertainment, and do not take it seriously. In many ways, I can’t blame them.

So at first, MINDSPEAK.COM housed my own commentaries on several topics that I am passionate about: Education, technology, spirituality, small business, and community. For a brief time in 2013-2014 I included some writing from others, but for the most part it was my own. From about 2016-present, the site is undergoing new development, though I am not ready to disclose further details at this time.