By Nejoud Al-Yagout.
Once in a while, an album comes along that shakes our core and leaves us panting for more. The album in question is Galaxy Juice’s Crystal Dunes. The name of the band is apt, because I felt like I drank some cosmic elixir and was swimming in the confines of the universe. A higher state, which takes years of meditation to master, can be yours just by listening to it. In particular, the album has filled a niche in the Kuwaiti market for individuals who are feeling the global shift from conditioned thoughts to higher realms of being. Crystal Dunes whispers or shouts, depending on your level of consciousness…
The music and lyrics make love in a unifying state of ecstasy. How hot! This lack of distinction between the words and sounds makes it quasi-impossible to understand the lyrics. However, this is where the magic lies. Crystal Dunes is not about our lives, as is often the case when we focus too much on lyrics. It is about the collective field of open space. And, in case you are desperate to fathom the meaning, the lyrics can be found online. There are even three treats – Crossing Lakes, Mirage and Coral Maze – for instrumental aficionados who prefer no words at all.
At times, the music is reminiscent of The Beatles in their transcendental-meditation-Maharishi-Mahesh-Yogi days. But then, suddenly, we are catapulted to a futuristic era. In fact, assigning a fixed genre to this album – which can most closely be described as psychedelic rock – would defy its purpose. Galaxy Juice wants to lift you away from the paradigm of labels. They actually promise that they can catapult you to a higher realm as is boldly stated in their tagline: “A band from outer space to save the human race.” In “How Wide Is The Sun”, with lyrics such as “[o]pen your eyes. What do you see? The essence of immortality,” we are invited to awaken to eternal life. As for the track “Underwater Shadows”, an allusion is made to altered states of perception: “The sun is in my eyes. I see it brighter now.” Another teaching that promises to save us is evident in “Dream”, where it seems that the ego – aware of its imminent death – breathes its last words: “Please don’t wake me up now.” With lyrics as potent as these, perhaps Galaxy Juice is here to save us!
As if it weren’t enough of a treat to embrace my copy of Crystal Dunes, I was even luckier to have the blessed opportunity to interview the four members of Galaxy Juice – Salem Al-Salem, Fahad Al-Qubaa, Abdulla Asem and Muhamed Al-Owaisi. Their answers blew me away. This seems to be the effect of everything they say, play or do.
Galaxy Juice. Tell us the significance behind the intriguing name?
The word galaxy represents our openness to infinitely possible ways (and styles) to produce sound; while ‘juice’ represents the final sound-mixture produced by combining a variety of the styles we play. We are open to any form of music. Through the years we played many genres and experimented with a variety of instruments. We used many types of equipment, as well, which led us to shape the sound we produce – and, of course, it’s still changing.
Your tagline promises to save the human race. Do you think that your music will save them?
Yes, music can definitely save the human race! Since the beginning of time, humans have gathered in circles or groups to make music, sing and dance. This is a natural instinct that was there even before the establishment of civilizations or tribal societies. Most – if not all – people associate music with spirituality. Music even enables us to utilize rhythm to incorporate the group. As a result, we experience a sense of unity and strength.
This feeling of unity that music ignites makes people happier and more relaxed; it motivates us to go further and expand our creativity. We also get to strengthen our bond with other musicians. All these concepts will save the human race.
Is this your first album?
Yes. As friends, we have been playing music together for years, but then we decided to produce an official album. We wanted our fingerprint out there. Let’s be honest. It’s every musician’s dream to make an album. We did it and we encourage every musician to do so!
Which bands resonate with you in terms of music and lyrics?
Our musical influences are many. Each of us is influenced by different artists. Collectively, however, we are influenced by musicians such as Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Radiohead, Tame Impala, Jimi Hendrix and more.
Your album has a powerful message. Can you share some of your spiritual insights?
“Underwater Shadow” is about seeing your shadow when you’re swimming in water. We wanted to reflect the significance of the simple things in life. There are many things in our daily lives that we consider insignificant and too trivial to notice – such as a little flower growing between concrete plates. A weak, tiny plant can break the cement to grow, which is amazing!
We also realized the magnificence of the desert. In the middle of nowhere, you can enjoy the silence of a flat land covered by a blanket of stars. When you’re away from the many distractions of the modern urban lifestyle, you allow yourself to tune in to what’s within you. You also get to experience the joy of gathering around a bonfire – surrounded by loved ones – under an infinite kingdom of stars. The track “Crystal Dunes” is basically about this experience.
In Kuwait, many people listen to hip-hop and rock music. Was it hard for you to fill a niche for your music here?
Not really. Our style is relaxing and we have gotten positive feedback from different age groups and social backgrounds. Also, since there is no competition in this genre, it made it easier for us to be in the spotlight of the music scene here. But at the same time, we’re starving to see other psychedelic rock bands compete with us, because it would enhance our motivation to improve our music.
There are many prohibitions on public concerts in Kuwait. Does this affect your ability to reach wider audiences?
Lately, there have been many events that include music acts, and we have played in some of them. We know it’s not easy to administrate musical events, but there are many movers and shakers that are organizing culturally-inspiring activities around Kuwait. Fortunately, we got to know some of these wonderful people and they hosted concerts for us. We are so grateful!
How have people reacted to the message in your music and videos?
Surprisingly, people have reacted very well to the album! Everyone who hears it explains it in a different way. If you have something that evokes different viewpoints and feelings, then your work is successful.
The ideas you convey are a delicate blend of ancient and futuristic concepts. Do you see time as illusory or linear?
Time is an illustration of your position in space, and it bends based on your location. In other dimensions, there is more than one string of time and it goes in different directions. And, as we said before, we present the juice of infinite ways to make music. That’s why we combine styles such as organic acoustics and electronic music.
Everyone has a gift. We may work hard to succeed in the matrix, but when it comes to our gifts, it should be easy. In fact, it is something that flows intrinsically. Do you agree?
Yes. Anybody can achieve success, but some need more time than others based on their experience and natural skill.
What would you tell aspiring musicians who want to share their gift with the public?
Get out and show the world your best! It takes hard work to produce your first album; but, with the right marketing, chances and opportunities will just rain upon you.
You seem to have transcended identity and culture in your songs. Does this apply to your real lives as well or does this part of you only come up in the music?
People nowadays have easy access to knowledge of various cultures and ideologies because of globalization. Everyone lives this way now, not just us. Our thought systems have blended. If you look at any household you’ll find items from various countries around the globe.
Because of your label-free lyrics, do you have fans that span various nationalities and cultures?
Yes. Most of our fans in Kuwait are from different cultures. Through the people we know, we got to distribute the album in many countries such as the UK, Australia, a few Gulf countries and other places.
Plato says that music “…gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and everything.” The latter section of the quote implies that music can bring happiness to our world. Bob Marley reiterates this when he says that a “…good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Do you find that music helps us to transcend our suffering?
Yes. As we stated before, music makes you feel good; it relieves the negative energy in your body and you feel connected to other people through it.
Which is more cathartic to you? Playing music or listening to it?
Both. A good conversation has equivalent amounts of talking and listening.
You utilize symbolic imagery in your videos. Is this an artistic endeavor or are you trying to send a visual signal to your fans?
We try to make our production as colorful as possible, with a few scenes that blend together even though they are not necessarily related. The way we do it is based more on how the imagery looks and feels. So, pretty much at the beginning of the video-making process, we have no idea where we are going with it. We just enjoy the process.
Are the videos always related to the lyrics? Or do you merely enhance the sensual experience by adding a visual element to your music?
Visuals help the receiver to make sense of what is being delivered. In the video clip of “How Wide is the Sun”, we created scenes in stop-motion to illustrate our trip to the sun. We were just playing around with pieces of paper and random objects and one thing led to the other until the final clip was done. Also, in “Underwater Shadow” we illustrated a shadow swimming in coastal water along with colorful visuals.
What’s next for Galaxy Juice?
The best album in the world!
Finally, is there anything specific you would like to tell your fans?
We were just a bunch of friends who nobody knew before the album. After working hard to release it, we made it a mission to spread the good vibes to everyone around us. We collaborated with many talented people and made many friends along the way who helped us to achieve success. If it weren’t for them, Crystal Dunes wouldn’t have seen the light of day. The best part is that everybody is happy, including us. We would like to tell our fans that if they have a dream, they can reach it, and it will turn out better than expected. Just work hard, find the right people to share it with and collaborate!
How cool is this band? Rock stars indeed! Now that the interview is over, do I want another glass of Galaxy Juice? Heavens yes! (Pun intended, lovers)!
Crystal Dunes is available on iTunes, Soundcloud, YouTube, Spotify and other sites. Please don’t wait until you reach the fifth dimension to get a copy of their album! Get a copy NOW. You can follow Galaxy Juice on Instagram @galaxyjuiceband.