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Low Leaf's DIY Music Merges Eclectic Sounds with Spirituality

Low Leaf | Jacqulyn Whang
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Low Leaf | Stephanie Dandan
Courtesy of Stephanie Dandan

Head over to Low Leaf's website and you might get a pop-up for her mailing list. But, the L.A.-based singer/multi-instrumentalist isn't asking you to sign up or join anything. Instead, you're invited to "align." For Low Leaf (real name: Angelica Lopez), every word tied to her promotion is specific and thoughtful. She asks visitors to peruse her site "with an open heart and mind." 

Low Leaf, who performs on KCET's Studio A August 29, 10 p.m., emerged from Los Angeles's famed beat scene as a do-it-yourself artist with a clear vision of spiritual and cultural exploration that extends far beyond her soulful vocals and ethereal beats.  

A classically trained pianist, Low Leaf is actually better known for her use of the harp in work. She uses an electric harp, which she taught herself to play, and the instrument lends an angelic quality to her collection of unusual rhythms. 

Between 2011 and 2013, the prolific artist released four EPs that showed a knack for electronic experimentation. On "Drink It Up," from the 2012 release “Giga Gaia”, Low Leaf composes a strangely compelling jam with vocals that are cut up and spit out over a beat that could push a person onto the dance floor and then cause them to stumble. Meanwhile, "Made of Stars," released that same year on the “Alchemizing Dawn” EP, is a modern folk song, as earthy as it is spacey. 

Low Leaf's penchant for bringing together eclectic influences came together on her first full-length release, “Akashaalay”. Upon the album's release, Low Leaf told L.A. Record in an interview that the album's title is a combination of Sanskrit and Tagolog words and that the album itself draws from pre-colonial Filipino spirituality and a tradition of folk songs. Low Leaf herself is of Filipino heritage — her parents had immigrated to the United States — and explained in the same interview that she visited the country a couple years before the release of “Akashaalay,” which ultimately influenced the album. On the album, she sampled Filipino instruments and performs one traditional song from the Philippines, "Bahay Kubo," which she remakes with electronic flourishes and minimally effects-laden vocals that find a balance between songs of the past and sounds of the future. Elsewhere on the album, Low Leaf excels at looking back into history while pushing music forward. Tracks like "Ascension" and "2b1wd Eternal" are the sound of time travel, of reflections the past contextualized within a present-day journey.

Last year, Low Leaf returned with "Palm Psalms: A Light to Resolve All Darkness," a continuation of her spiritual and artistic journey. On the opening track, "Space Foreva," she sings "my heart is a shrine/I am divine." Lyrically, she takes an introspective look at the role of God in her work. In an interview with L.A. Weekly, she spoke about the influence of Alice Coltrane, the famed jazz musician who embraced Hinduism in the 1970s and became a swamini. 

On "Palm Psalms," Low Leaf digs deeper into ideas surrounding creation with humility on "Pupil of the Universe." She lends a soothing voice to listeners with "Cleansing Incantation." She assumes the role as a "vessel for love" on "Sun Psalm." 

Before the release of "Palm Psalms," Low Leaf began hosting sound bath sessions that incorporated crystal bowls with the harp and voice during full moons in what was called Vibratory Healing. "I witnessed some people truly tapping into the divine within, and shift their life paths," she writes on her website. However, Low Leaf ceased these larger gatherings in favor of conducting private or small group sound bath sessions in order to tailor the experience to the needs of the individuals. 

Low Leaf's dedication to spiritual healing and her DIY work ethic goes beyond her ability to create sounds. She has a "holistic beauty blog," that's less concerned with selfies and make-up tutorials than it is with discovering and enhancing one's inner beauty. Her merch shop includes items like custom-blended flower essence and an organic mix of smokable herbs. She's become an all-around bearer of good vibes, but at the center of her persona is the music.

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