“Spirit might give you a grand vision – like a spiritual carrot for you to chase,” says Santiparro. “It leads you onto a straighter path, to the people who will pass on good and useful teachings for your life.” Santiparro means “the lens that sees many things not usually seen.” Alan Scheurman earned the name during a 2010 pilgrimage with a Wixatari (Huichol) family to Wirikuta, the sacred desert where Peyote originates. Originally from Detroit, his debut album True Prayer is the result of such useful teachings he has sought from elders such as Maestro Manuel Fufino, his teacher at Brooklyn’s Golden Drum. The album featured collaborations with guests such as Will Oldham (Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy), Kyp Malone (TV On The Radio), Adam Wills (Bear In Heaven), Melati Malay (Young Magic) and Ben Bromley (NewVillager).
We spoke to Santiparro about his debut album, cosmic meetings, and and ayahuasca ikaros.
AudioFemme: The debut album features collaborations from a lot of great artists – how did they come about?
Santiparro: Well, they’re all friends of mine. I recorded the second half of the record in the house where Young Magic lives and records. Adam Wills and I have been attending spiritual ceremonies together for years. There’s already been a history of collaboration with Kyp and I. I didn’t know Will that long before we worked together. I first met him in a dream while finishing up a plant diet in Peru. Two days later I went to his show in NYC and gave him some Palo Santo. It was a really brief but deeply cosmic meeting. He asked me if I was releasing any new music, as a mutual friend had already turned him onto my previous band Ka. I said that I was considering it, and he looked me in the eye and said something like, ‘You should be recording music, and releasing it prolifically.” So, needless to say, it lit a fire under me.
AF: The album invokes a lot of personal spiritual questions – will you brief me on your spiritual awakening?
S: Well, we awaken a little bit sometimes from the amnesia of life. Spirit might give you a grand vision – like a spiritual carrot for you to chase. It leads you onto a straighter path, to the people who will pass on good and useful teachings for your life. This happens to everyone eventually, in this life or in another. So it’s nothing new. I’m just another seeker following my path, fortunate enough to have the wisdom of elders guiding the way.
AF: How did you get turned on to music? Who are your biggest influences?
S: My dad played guitar and sang while I was in the womb. That’s the same guitar I play today. Artists that really made an impact on me in my youth were Paul Simon, James Brown, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin. All those guys have high voices, like mine. The past few years I’ve listened to a lot of drone music, African guitar music, native chants, and ayahuasca ikaros.
AF: A lot of effort went into producing this album, how does it feel now that it is finally being released?
S: It feels like i’m crossing a threshold but I know it’s only the beginning.
AF: Fun fact – I live a few blocks away from the Golden Drum and have attended many events there. How did you become involved in that community?
S: Brooke Gillespie, Matt Canale, and I once rolled a ceremonial tobacco and prayed with it together. The intention was to build exactly what Golden Drum has become. We went to Maestro Manuel Rufino with the vision which he also shared. He helped make it a reality as other students of his came to help with every single thing that was needed.
AF: What do you like best about community living?
S: I no longer live in community in the way that I did at Golden Drum for five years. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The purpose of living that way is to learn about your self, to heal, and to overcome your negative projections. A community is a hall of mirrors – a place to train yourself to handle life’s obstacles.
AF: Tell me about how Maestro Manuel Fufino impacted your life (and as a result, this album).
S: He saw in me from the beginning what I was meant to do and he challenged me through a process of initiation. He still challenges me, and will for the rest of my life. He’s a trickster and is very wise. His prayers and blessings have led me to many very profound meetings and realizations. Many of the lyrics are reflections of the teachings imparted through his vessel.
AF: You’re about to embark on a tour; does tour life suit you?
S: I have always been a man of the road.
AF: Do you ever get back to Detroit or feel any connections still to the city? Where do you consider to be “home?”
S: I go to Detroit about once a month to pass on the teachings that have been imparted to me by the elders. There’s a spiritual study group I work with there. They’re growing a lot. It’s very rewarding. I live in the catskills now. I love it there. But we are putting our things into storage for this tour, as we go to Peru right after. At the moment my home is the open road. My wife and I are using this tour to help gage where we’d like to really plant roots.
Listen to his new single “Total Freedom” below.
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