Chloe Pourmorady is an award-winning composer, multi-instrumentalist, and singer known for the versatility of her creative expression. Her debut album “Begin Majesty” by Chloe Pourmorady Ensemble won two awards this past year for music that is innovative yet influenced by tradition. With Iranian-Jewish roots and a global perspective, her style is dynamic and flexible. Chloe has comfortably sang in over 10 languages and often blends dialects together. She currently works as a music educator, an active performer and composer, and finds great passion in spiritual leadership and public speaking. Inspired by art, prayer, spirituality, and life, she hopes to leave her listeners feeling elevated through songs of hope, prayers of love, and words of truth.

In this wonderful interview with Chloe, we delved deep into subjects about music and spirituality, creative inspiration, and the world music genre. I’ve really been inspired by our conversation and trust that you will too.

Speaking with Chloe Pourmorady on 9.14.20

WM:
It’s great to have you here today, Chloe.
CP:
Thank you. Will, it’s wonderful to be with you.
WM: Well, to start off, I’m curious about your musical background. Was it a part of your household growing up? And do you remember some of your earlier memories of engaging in music?
CP:
So my father is very naturally musical, very naturally gifted. He has a beautiful voice and he’s known for his voice. So I have memories from a very, very young age of him singing to me lullabies before going to sleep at night. I have visual memories of the guitar in his bedroom. You know, he wrote a beautiful song for my mother for their wedding engagement. I have memories of hearing that as a child of him, you know, creating. So I had that in my environment growing up.
WM:
Beautiful. And was there a point where you really knew that music would be your path and your way of interacting with the world? You know, both as an artist and as a career path? Was there a specific time where you felt that realization?
CP:
That’s a beautiful question, Will.
You know, I started playing piano at the age of four and violin at the age of nine and from my childhood, I remember that I had a talent for singing, but I was always very afraid to express my voice in front of people. I see that with my students, too. You know, I teach a lot of children and I see that where there’s talent, sometimes there’s also a great amount of fear. Because it’s like, oh, I have this gift! Yet it’s too big for me, too. It’s too much for me to understand or I don’t know what to do with it. I see that with a lot of children, also. So, there was some spark of, I don’t know, some musical ability from a young age that I didn’t really know what to do with it until much later in my life. You know, it was there, but I had to go through some things in my teens that I was healing from you know, I was going through some actual physical ailments. I had to be homeschooled for a little while and around high school time, and in that time, I found a lot of healing in music. I started writing music in my teens. I found music to be a companion. I found music to be a source of healing, as an outlet for expression in a moment of time where I really needed it. So, you know, that was in high school, my late high school years. And then I decided, I found such inspiration and I said, “Okay, I’m going to declare a degree in music!”. So I went to college and studied classical music. And I still didn’t know exactly what I would do with it, but I knew that there was something there in music that I had to further discover. To see what is there? You know?
WM :
I hear you sharing that it was really a big part of your healing process and of your integration of yourself and your identity and that kind of came before the thought about career and what exactly you’re going to do with it. You were just following something that was resonating with you.
CP:
Yeah. That’s a very good point you’re making. It was absolutely that and I feel very lucky to have found that at a young age, you know and it’s not easy to create a career from your passion, but it’s very rewarding. It’s very, very rewarding!
WM: Yes. Yeah. There’s nothing to lose from going for that.
Well, I’m curious, Chloe, how many instruments do you play?
CP:
I play violin, kemanche, I sing, play some piano and some guitar as well.
WM: Beautiful. And I really enjoyed listening to your album “Begin Majesty”, a lot this week. And one question I’d like to ask is, what does this term “World Music” mean to you? In a time when so many influences can be brought together and the world is becoming more and more easily connected, I’m curious what that term means to you, world music? How do you relate to that term?
CP:
It’s such a huge umbrella term, you know, I feel oftentimes that genre is used to place music that is so broad that it in a way, you can’t really define it. So oftentimes, that genre is used for music that is globally influenced, that is not influenced by one specific thing. You know, it’s a very broad sort of genre. And for me, it means music that is influenced by the world, that is globally influenced, that is globally informed, is informed by something broad, you know, by many things, that is world music, but it’s also… It’s not only music that is informed by the world, but music that I feel the world can relate to that it has a universality in the quality of the music. So it’s not like okay, you may want to put Moroccan music under the term of world music, but world music can also be music that is a combination of things that the world can relate to. Does that make sense? Like a universality in the quality of the music like these melodies are not for one person, but for the world. You know?
WM: So there’s like an inherent universality in these musics that we find all over the world and people relate to from all parts of the world.
CP:
Yeah.
Which I think the universality comes from the fact that the music is, it’s roots music, right? There’s a purity about it that comes from the roots. You know?
WM:
That, yeah, I love how we got into that. That’s awesome.
And I’m curious on your album “Begin Majesty”, how many languages are present on that album?
CP:
Farsi, Hebrew, English. Ladino. I think just four languages on that album.
WM:
Just four?
(laughter)
I find that impressive to cover four language groups. And do you speak in these languages?
CP:
Yes. Except I don’t speak in Ladino. But I speak in Farsi, Hebrew and English. Yeah.
WM:
And I’m not familiar with Ladino, can you share with me where that language is from?
CP:
Yeah, Ladino is a Spanish dialect, the dialect of Sephardic Jews from Spain, and it’s not really spoken any more. It’s a dying language. Very few people still speak it. I mean, you’ll find a lot of Turkish Jews that still speak Ladino. I know there are some newspapers in Turkey that actually still have publications in Ladino but it’s kind of like the Sephardic equivalent of Yiddish, right? Yiddish, which is like German and Hebrew mixed together, Ladino is Spanish and Hebrew mixed together.
WM:
Mm hmm. Cool. I learned about a new language today!
Wow, and, you know, we talked a little bit about career and turning your passion into something, that is a way that you interact with the world. And I’m just curious, how do you balance all these different roles of your career, you know, as musicians today, we do social media, we have websites, we plan tours, we also teach and then we need time for our own creative process and practice. How do you keep it all together and what keeps you balanced with all these hats that we have to play? And you know, at the beginning, we were following just a passion and then it turns into literally a whole business with so many roles and sides. What keeps you energized and able to work on all these layers of what it means to be a musician?
CP:
Hmm, that’s a great question, Will. I’m constantly learning and discovering how to keep that balance. And I’ve definitely had periods of time where things have gotten out of control where there’s just too much happening at once and I’m not taking care of myself, you know, so I really, really value working on staying grounded and creating routines, you know, having a solid meditation practice, morning and evening before I go to sleep, a solid, healthy diet. Exercise- my yoga practice things like this, that help, that reflect in my life, you know, just taking care of ourselves will help also balance the music career. I get clarity about where to put my energy and where to not put my energy, you know, that you know more specifically. Right now in my life, I have a nice balance- afternoons I’m teaching students and the earlier half of the day I’m working more on my own stuff, you know, working on my craft, as I’m a teacher, I’m still forever a student you know! I’m still studying myself, still taking classes, it never ends. So it’s just about, about creating balance, and I feel that maybe a few years ago, I was pushing the career a little bit more. The performance career and now I feel I’m surrendering to it. I’m just creating for the sake of creating and putting my work out there for the sake of it being out there and sharing it with people and just trusting that it goes where it’s meant to go. And if people hear, whoever’s meant to hear it, will hear it, you know. So that’s kind of the path that I’m on.
WM: Yeah, I think it’s never ending, that balance. And yeah, I definitely relate to those practices that keep us grounded and able to show up at our best for our work and, you know, I feel like our culture can be kind of pushy sometimes. There’s so many things to distract us and we feel this need to always be putting ourselves out and it sounds like you found a way to keep that space for your own energy and, you know, balance that and that’s a very important thing to have. Not just as an artist, but anyone you know.
CP:
As a human being, we’re talking about human being-ness.
WM:
So Chloe, if you could disappear to any part of the world for one month, just to go and like, do whatever you want. I’m curious where that would be? And maybe it’s hard to pick one but just entertain me with one place.
CP:
This is a great question, Will! Especially right now because we’ve been stuck in one place for six, seven months right? Quarantine. Right now, I’m feeling like I really want to go to India. I just would love to be in the mountains. I love to be in the Himalayan Mountains. I’d love to be somewhere that’s very green. Very quiet. That’s what I’m feeling right now.
WM: Yeah. Have you spent time in India?
CP:
I have. Yeah, I was in India for a Punjabi wedding actually, like, three four years ago, it was beautiful. Very nice. I travelled around Rajastan, it was very beautiful.
WM: Yes, I’m missing my annual trip to India this year. It’s probably not going to happen. And yeah, it’s challenging. My teacher was just like “don’t come.”
CP:
Yeah, I know you spent a lot of time there.
WM:
Well, now we’re talking about this pandemic that has really shifted so many things, especially as musicians who perform and do things in person. How has this pandemic affected your career and your workflow and how are you choosing to respond to such an uncontrollable change in the way that we interact with the world?
CP:
Well, the first part of your question, it shifted a lot in my career, and I’m grateful for it. You know, I released this album, I was supposed to have a big beautiful album release concert March 29, cancelled. At first I was really devastated about it, but then I saw the blessing in it. Because like I said, things were getting a little bit out of control. You know, I was doing a lot and had a lot of concerts all at once. And I wasn’t taking care of myself. So all of my concerts are canceled right now in 2020, everything. But not to say I haven’t done any performances, there have been some online stuff that has been happening. It’s not the same, but still, it’s an opportunity to perform. And you know, I have an ensemble of seven musicians and I haven’t been able to play with them since beginning of March, so, the good thing about that is it’s forced me to work a little bit more on my solo creativity because I’m normally in such a collaborative environment, which is beautiful, but I think it’s also very, very good to focus on how can I fully accompany myself? Can I create just by myself and get the same sort of powerful and complete sound? And I love exploring that actually and I see an opening from that. I’m very inspired, you know, to do a solo project, to create a solo album in the near future. That for me, I think, will feel like a really strong feeling of accomplishment. Can I completely accompany myself ? You know, on violin and voice or guitar and voice, whatever. A less is more sort of feeling.
WM:
That’s exciting.
Do you feel that is coming up in the next year or two, a solo project or album or release?
CP:
Yeah, I do see that. I do see that coming up. And I think it’s going to take some learning on my part in terms of like, how can I record myself? I’m not very technologically savvy. So I would want to learn, you know, how can I record myself? How can I layer my violin, you know, and voice, things like this, things to experiment with, you know.
WM:
These are some of the blessings we’re taking away from this time that we’re forced to not be able to work with our ensembles and other musicians and instead engaging in our core, our own creativity. And it can be challenging sometimes because you realize how much that energy is transmitted when you have other musicians you’re working with there becomes this kind of composite form of energy and to find that yourself is a pretty deep process. It is powerful to engage in that.
And you know, this kind of brings me to one of my questions on your album “Begin Majesty”, it features your ensemble of seven musicians and maybe more. So I’m just curious, that must have been quite a process to record that album with so many parts, so many instruments, four languages. What’s something that was kind of fun or funny about that process that you remember? In the process of just working with all these people and putting this huge project together? Is there any story or experience that kind of sticks out or maybe if it wasn’t funny, something that was extremely challenging?
CP:
Oh my god, there was so much it was a huge, huge project. Oh my god! I mean each person in my group is a character. They’re hilarious. Some of them are so funny, like in the middle of recording my clarinetist, he brought a yoga mat with him and he brought a foam roller with him. He had his own little corner in the recording studio that in between recording tracks he’d be doing downward dog and foam rolling his back! I don’t know… It’s just so funny. It was also Hanukkah during the time that we were recording, so itwas so beautiful, we did four days back to back recording and we recorded 13 tracks in four days and we were ready for it. You know, we’d already been performing for several years. So a lot of it was live and at the end of each day felt like a really strong sense of accomplishment. We would sit in a circle and we would light the menorah. It was so beautiful and it was a really spiritual experience, the whole thing. The recording process was the miracle itself.
WM :
Yeah, I could imagine. That’s beautiful.
And, you know, going back to the time when we were performing more, what is one of your most memorable performance experiences as an artist?
CP:
Most memorable? So many, It’s hard to say…I guess the experiences of performing in different countries are always very, very memorable. I had a concert once in Tel Aviv a few years ago with an artist over there, it was a collaboration. So beautiful to feel the energy of another audience, the energy of an audience in another country. The energy of the audience in Tel Aviv is very different from the energy of the audience in Los Angeles, like they’re craving the music, you know, I felt that they’re completely supporting you on stage, you know. They’re more involved in a way, that sort of audience, not just sitting back and watching but with you, you know, supporting you while you’re on stage! Yeah, I loved it and I’ll forget that, actually.
WM:
Yeah, I definitely relate to that. When I’m performing in India there’s just such a tangible sense of the connection with the audience. And, and I mean, I don’t care if it’s five people, or 500. When you feel that connection, and transmission with the audience, that’s the most powerful part of performing. And so I definitely relate to that.
CP:
Yeah, it really creates a circular sort of effect, like you’re giving, they’re receiving, they’re responding to you, that gives you energy and you give more, right? It’s this beautiful circle, this cycle, this connection. I love that.
WM:
Me too. Yeah. That’s what’s hard about these, you know, the live stream. It’s beautiful to have this technology to keep us connected in such a time like this. But that was really not tangible to me when I do a live stream performance. There is the gratitude that you’re sharing and people are able to hear but what we just talked about for me, is very hard to feel in that space. And have you been able to kind of embrace that more? Have you seen any kind of unexpected, cool outcomes of being forced to be more online and connecting with people like that? Has there been positive outcomes of that? Because I would have never wanted to do a live stream to begin with! (laughs) But I kind of had to, so I’m curious, in your experiences of doing live streams, if anything, special or unexpected came out of that?
CP:
Well, two things that come to mind: The first thing – the experience of me internally having to create and visualize whoever is there. Just create the feeling that okay, even though I can’t see you, you’re there. I’m giving to you, I’m not pretending but I’m creating. Right? There’s a difference, like you’re just creating that audience and then the fact that you can’t see anyone is actually more like you’re playing for… you’re not playing for people it’s like you’re playing for the divine. Like the way that who you’re playing for you can’t see, it’s like this transparency about your audience. So that’s interesting. That moment. Your intention when you’re doing the live, getting past that and then what has come out of this that’s been very interesting is obviously like the breadth of the audience like your less limited, right? Because now people, friends in New York, friends in Paris, friends in South America… You can play for more people in a way that couldn’t hear you before. So that’s a beautiful thing about this. Right?
WM:
I love what you shared about creating the audience in your mind. I really resonate with that. I’m going to try to implement that because yeah, I just had this strange feeling of just- like the laptop is there and I’m playing and that’s a great kind of tool that you use there and thank you for sharing that.
CP:
Sure.
WM:
So I’m curious, you know, when you’re working on writing new music or tapping into your creative process, do you have a certain method to that or process or is it something that is a daily practice? I know for me, I have, you know, my upkeep of my instrument, my technical work. And then there’s also just a different process of writing and really specifically trying to bring something out and put it into a tangible form. And I’m curious how you approach the creative process and the composition process?
CP:
It’s so hard to give a solid answer to that question. And I’m sure for you It’s also a combination of so many different things that inform how you compose or create music. But I do agree with what you said. I think the first thing is keeping that foundational you know, upkeep of your craft, right? Because we’re the vessel. We are the vessel for the creativity that comes through us, right? It’s coming through us. So it has to be clean, has to be clear, it has to be strong, right? It has to be flexible, agile, musically, like my fingers can’t be stiff. It’s all, everyday we got to be working on that to make sure that vessel is ready to receive. So a lot of it is just, you know, sometimes practicing an etude on violin, getting in a state of repetition, repetition. And then, in the moment of repetition, all of a sudden like some melody will come and I don’t know where it comes from, but you just catch it. It’s like this moment of something comes and you catch it! You grasp that melody or the beginning, that conception of a melody, and hold on to it. Maybe in that moment where there’s this melody about to be conceived, you can’t finish the whole melody, but there’s something there. Okay? I’ll write it down or record it. Maybe I’ll let it sit for a few days and come back to it with a fresh mind, and then it will finish itself. So sometimes it’s like that is sort of spur of the moment, you know, when I’m not intending to write something, it just happens in a moment of practicing an instrument, you know, and then in other times if I’m actively wanting to compose something I’ll have an intention. I’ll visualize, maybe something…. Let’s say I want to write a song about the moon, right? Let’s say I want to write about the sun with the moon. So contemplate the moon. Visualize the moon. Think about how does the moon make me feel at night when it’s a full moon? Like, what is that feeling? How can I translate that? What key does that moon feel like? Does it feel like G minor maybe? You know, is it dark blue? Things like this right? And kind of just move off of that. Sometimes it will be from text. I’ll take a piece of text. I’ll pick a prayer in Hebrew and find the melody in the words, right? Because all of the words contain melody in them also. How can I bring the melody out of the text? Sometimes it’s that too. So many different things… Yeah, and sometimes it’s while you’re washing your dishes, right? Or doing laundry. (laughter)
WM:
I definitely relate. Sometimes it just comes out of just being with your instrument and making music and something emerges and then you think “okay there’s something there” and then it slowly embarks on the process. And also having an intention of something that you want to express and thinking about it in terms of music, I find that to be very fascinating to see how different people translate an idea or a concept, something from nature, like you mentioned, or a text, a poem and turning that into music.
Was that process used at all and “Begin Majesty”? Was there a song that you had a theme or idea that you wanted to put into music that came out like that?
CP:
Definitely. The whole album is a concept album actually. So it begins with the creation of the heavens and earth. The first song is an interpretation of Genesis, the creation “Bereisheet”, which in Hebrew is the Genesis, creation. So absolutely that was meant to be an interpretation on the Genesis, the creation of the world. And then, each song you know, the next is “Angels and Insects.” It’s talking about evolution, the evolution of man.
But the main one that sticks out, which, you know, I was talking about bringing melody to text is “Elohai Neshama” which is a morning prayer that we say when we wake up expressing gratitude for the purity of our souls. Simply it says “thank You for the soul that You created in me. It is just pure, You created it, You breathed it into me, You shaped it, You formed it.” So that one I sat I remember I sat with the piano and I wanted to see how I can express that sentiment with that text.
WM:
Yeah, I love the whole kind of framework that you created this album upon from the beginning through the evolution and how do you close that theme? Where does it leave the listener? I don’t know these languages, that many of the songs are sung in, so I’m just curious if maybe you can illuminate something that is underneath that concept that you put before it and just curious where that takes us at the end?
CP:
So it takes us into a feeling of “this never really ends”. “This is not the end.” This feeling of endlessness because the last track on the album is called “Requiem”, the end. And actually, it’s funny because that last track, I wrote that like, seven, eight years ago, and it’s very Mozart-ian. It kind of doesn’t fit with everything else. I guess it’s when I was more in my classical studies and stuff like that. But you know, the last words of the words of that song is saying, “awake, please awake. If it ends, awake, please awake. It might never end. It might never end.” So, that goes to say the intention of doing that album with “it might never end” is that this whole, everything that we’re going through in “Begin Majesty”, the creation of heavens and earth, evolution of man, discovery of the soul, “Elohai Neshama” that I said, discovery of love, you know, parting with love – all of these different sentiments (I have it written in the physical album, like the guide of how to listen), then ends with “it might never end!” Like this cycle, it just keeps going over and over again. You know, kind of defining the human experience, right? Creation, evolution, love and the discovery of the soul, all of these different sentiments.
WM:
Wow.
You know, one of the themes I want to explore with these interviews is that so many of us musicians, we experienced music as a form of meditation, devotion, prayer, and maybe even as a religion in and of itself. And I’m curious about your relationship between music as a spiritual force. You obviously grew up with music and a religious identity, how has that kind of shifted…? This is a very deep question I know, so many layers to it, but I’m curious how musicians relate to the force of music as also a spiritual force. And then how does that come back around to the different religions of the world and the different cultures?
CP:
Beautiful question, Will and I’m glad you’re asking this because this is something that actually, I have some experience with, this question and trying to understand it. I think we have to be very careful to not worship music, not bring a sense of space of worship, to music, to music itself. Or to the music that we create, you know, we have to be very, very careful about that. That as musicians, we understand that we are really just the vessel you know that it’s coming through us. So the only thing on the altar of our souls is God, the divine and that what we are creating is an expression. You know, we’re gifted every time we create a melody! It’s a gift from the source. You know, it’s coming through us and that our music is really directed vertically, right? In a vertical direction
rather than horizontal. And as long as we remember that, what does that mean? First of all horizontal is, you know, if you’re creating music horizontal, it’s totally fine by the way, if people want to create music for man. Horizontal is like, the direction of your music is more for man. But I like to always remember that my music is directed upwards, is more vertical. And when I think that way, it also comes to me from above, rather than from a horizontal place. Does that make sense?
WM:
Yeah, so it’s almost like you’re kind of creating a channel that is informing your art and also directing the intention of it and where it’s going. And it kind of becomes like a loop per se. It’s coming from above and it goes above.
CP:
Yeah. Yeah.
And I think that when it comes from that pure place that you’re, you’re really just channeling it. It’s gifted through you and then you also just give it as a gift. It’s coming from a pure place, and it really is. Then it becomes world music, as we were saying at the beginning, is something that hopefully, the world can relate to, or respond to, or feel, because it’s coming from a pure place of soul. You know?
WM:
Wow. Yeah, these are some just beautiful, deep topics that I’m so glad we could get into today. And it’s just been such a pleasure speaking with you and hearing about you as an artist and a person. And I’m curious for our listeners, what is a project that you’re currently working on or something we can look forward to from Chloe Pourmorady?
CP:
Thank you, Will.
Well, I’m going to put out a music video very soon in the month of October for the first track of this album “Begin Majesty”, and like I mentioned before the first track is an interpretation of the creation of the heavens and earth, the first sentence of the Genesis.
Visually in the music video it’s also going to be a visual interpretation so it’s a very very interesting music video.
WM:
That sounds very exciting. Yeah, like imagery to that concept of the birthing of creation, it’s exciting.
CP:
Birthing, yes and it’s very, you know, not too much there. We’re working mostly with dark and light, dark and light. So I’m excited I’m gonna put that out in October. I’m happy to share that with you and with everybody.
WM: Exciting.
And for anyone who might want to study with you or find more of your music, what’s the best way for people to reach you and what you offer?
CP:
Very easy, on my website on Instagram, on Facebook, just my full name you can easily find me. Chloe Pourmorday.
WM:
Awesome. Yeah. And lastly what what is just one message to share with our listeners in the world as we’re kind of moving through some challenging times. You know, I’m up here in Northern Cal and our air quality is really dangerous and we’ve been inside for such a long time kind of missing connection and now it’s like, Mother Nature really feels like it’s testing us here. Maybe just one message that you have, as you’ve been going through these times as well?
CP:
Hmm. Well, the keyword is tested, like you just said “testing”, we’re constantly, the physical world is constantly testing us constantly, constantly testing us, can we keep going? Can we keep going or are we going to be affected by it? Right? Are we going to be affected by it? I just, I pray that everybody has the inner strength, inner strength in their spirits that in spite of what is happening around them. They can find peace inside of themselves, find creativity, inspiration inside of themselves and find ways to spread light and to be light, even, even when it seems like there’s a lot of darkness around you. I think that is the greatest test right now. It’s really really, oh my God! So much, so much. One after another, a lot of darkness right? But such an opportunity for an equal amount of light to shine, right? So, yeah..
WM:
So let’s bring in the light, and thank you for sharing your light with us, and it’s been wonderful speaking with you, Chloe.
CP:
Thank you. Will, such a pleasure. Thank you for your beautiful heartfelt questions. I really appreciate that.
WM:
It’s been a pleasure.

 

 

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