WOMAN OF INTEREST: Sound Healing Practitioner Lavender Suarez Rides Transcendent Waves


Prior to the pandemic, sound healing – a practice that utilizes relaxing vibrations in the hopes of easing participants’ anxiety, insomnia, or other ailments – usually took place in person, on a blanket or a mat with a real life human being playing gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, tuning forks or other esoteric instruments right there in the room. Since March, sound healing has moved to the virtual domain, though its practice still hinges on vibrations and frequencies tuned specifically to help people emote and relax. If you’re new to the experimental world of sound healing and meditation, Transcendent Waves, the debut book from healing practitioner, meditation teacher, and artist Lavender Suarez, has arrived just in time for your new found exploration. 

Out December 15th via Anthology Editions, the hybrid how-to guide stretches beyond sound healing as a trend, and deep dives as an immersive artist’s workbook. Rooted in scientific evidence, the anecdotes and spontaneous writing prompts open up new perspectives listening can bring to our inner lives and creative bubbles. It also outlines how listening can unlock moments of creative spark, self-awareness, and mindfulness.

When asked about the transition from analog to virtual, Suarez commented, “I think it’s really great to experience a sound healing treatment from the comfort of your own home.” Certain frequencies can activate our body’s healing system, and increase clarity, energy, better sleep, focus, and tranquility. For that reason, says Suarez, some folks may explore sound healing right before bed, or at the beginning of their day. “You can cater it to exactly your schedule, avoiding any commute, which can be stressful,” she adds.

Photo Credit: Jenn Morse

Suarez’s relationship and connection to sound developed in early childhood. As an eight year old, Suarez serenaded her neighbors with her beloved companion – her saxophone. “I didn’t like the feeling of the neck strap, I just liked holding the saxophone,” she says. “I don’t have distinct memories of this, but my mom would tell me I would just walk around the street in my neighborhood playing the sax. I just had so much fun with it.”

Her study expanded from her passion for the tactile feel of the sax, into electronic synthesizers, and bass and percussion during her teenage years. “I just wanted to absorb sound in my own way. I’ve always had a very intuitive and therapeutic relationship with music,” she explains. “In school I was glued to my discman. Even if I had just 30 seconds between walking to another class in school, I would throw my headphones in and listen to part of a song before my next class.” 

During college, Suarez found herself studying psychology and art therapy, eventually configuring a way to fuse these passions with her personal connection to sound. “When I learned the methodology of sound being used therapeutically with people, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s exactly what I want to do.’”

 Suarez has hosted educational and meditative listening experiences and workshops at MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the Hirshhorn Museum, and the Rubin Museum of Art. The Rubin was one of the first major museums to approach Suarez to speak on sound and movement. Initially asked to lecture on how brain waves sync with sound and movement, Suarez decided to speak on how the power of sound specifically aids in relaxation. The event evolved into a 45-minute presentation about neuroscience and the powers of sound on the mind, closing the talk with an electro-acoustic sound bath (she felt it would be a tease to explain, but not offer, the experience). This became a stepping stone in her career, and opened the gates to the expansive world of museum programming. “A person may never think about walking into a yoga studio, but someone wandering through their favorite museum may see a free meditation class advertised in a space they already love visiting and give it a go,” Suarez says.


Suarez teaches an ongoing hybrid art therapy sound bath workshop called Meditation for Creative Expression. “I’ve always had a strong mission to help artists and musicians, particularly with my therapeutic practice. These communities are often uninsured, and don’t have access to certain health resources,” she says. “I had a lot of friends who were on extreme touring schedules, and suffered from anxiety and exhaustion. Not everyone is necessarily seeking out healing methodologies, but I really wanted to provide a healing service.”

It began as an in-person four week workshop at the Brooklyn Public Library in January, and has continued virtually at Pioneer Works. After a guided meditation, participants are given time to free write or free draw while Suarez creates meditative music in the background. At the end, people share what came through to them, and what they created.

“We feel more fluid creating art, when we can clear our minds,” Suarez explains. “I love it, because it’s for people of all levels of artistic practice. This book came out of teaching many workshops since 2014, it’s accessible, and catered to all creative people, age groups, and backgrounds, not just artists. Even if we don’t think that we’re artists or creators, we express ourselves every day. There’s always a creative process going on in our minds; this workshop is meant to let that process come through in the most fluid way possible.”

The book’s remarkably relatable tone sets it apart as a dynamic, accessible and enriching read. It guides the reader to discovering their sonic sanctuary, where the sound quality of the space provides you with the emotional state you desire within that moment. “A sonic sanctuary might be a quiet park that you return to when you need to clear your head. Or a bustling coffee shop if you want that caffeine energy bustle to finish a term paper,” Suarez says. “During the pandemic, a sonic sanctuary for me has been riding my bike through Prospect Park. I love riding the trail, and the sensation of hearing little bits and pieces of all the different things going on. There’s the element of nature, but then you catch people talking, or a jazz band in the distance. I love the sensation of riding my bike straight through, hearing the ducks, birds, sometimes small private parties. I’m moving through so much sonic stimulation that I otherwise don’t necessarily get when I’m at home.”


Too often, wellness providers set the tone of having secret knowledge that they’re going to share with you, as a form of gatekeeping. This book shares knowledge, with a friendly, open-minded approach. Suarez effortlessly displays the interconnectedness of clinical science with inquisitive philosophical ideas. “I wanted to create a book that really appreciates how much goes into what happens when your ears hear a sound,” she says. “I wanted to spark inspiration to give options for people to go down their own rabbit holes and paths with sound – what happens when you’re standing in a certain building, and you can hear a whisper from the other side of the room? Those phenomenon are fun, and bring us into the listening world in a way where we’re really understanding what’s happening.”

Suarez found narrative inspiration from Yoko Ono’s book grapefruit, deriving from The Fluxus movement, an avant-garde art movement of the late 1950s which emerged from a group of artists who had become disenchanted with the elitist attitude they perceived in the art world. “These abstract poems are about the ways you interact with your art. They could be taken literally, or they could just be philosophical. Make a painting, leave it in the moon overnight, the next morning, burn it,” Suarez says. “I wrote this book to counter the visual-centric world we live in. I wanted to share my belief that all artists of all types can be inspired by sound and listening. A lot of the time, sound likes to stay in the corner of music, and then visual art is in a different realm. It doesn’t have to be that way. I would like readers to walk away with a deeper connection to the impact of listening in their lives, and listening to themselves and the world around them, and how that can open up creative possibilities for them.”

Follow Lavender Suarez on Facebook and Instagram for ongoing updates.

RSVP HERE: Safer Plays Our Wicked Lady+ MORE

Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.

photo by Kevin Condon

My first impression of Mattie Safer, bassist/frontman of the new disco-punk project Safer, is that he has a much calmer presence than you would expect from someone who has been living and working as a musician in NYC for 20 years. Along with pursuing his solo project, he’s the bassist and singer in Poolside (who recently toured with Kasey Musgraves), and was a pivotal member of the The Rapture from 1999-2009, in which he played bass and shared vocal duties with founding member Luke Jenner. Safer released debut EP Sleepless Nights earlier this year and their latest single “Countercultural Savior” came out last month. He will be celebrating his birthday on the rooftop of Our Wicked Lady on Wednesday, December 11th with The Wants, Godcaster and Extra Special, and we got to chat with him about what he would want to hear on his ideal birthday party playlist, craziest moment on tour and what’s next for him in 2020…

AF: Who are your favorite bassists? What are your favorite dance moves? Favorite style of hat?

MS: Favorite bass players are James Jamerson, Verdine White, Tina Weymouth, Robbie Shakespeare, and Deborah Scroggins. Favorite dance move, I keep it to a simple two step for the most part, but if could do the Harlem Shake or had a sturdy milly rock I would definitely break them out. With hats it’s really the bigger the better. Why stop at ten gallons?

AF: What’s been your craziest moment on stage? Craziest moment on tour this year?

MS: I mean, there have been amps that blew up and stage invasions, but the craziest thing that happened to me on stage happened this year, playing at a festival with Poolside in Mexico City. We finished “Harvest Moon” and the crowd just kept cheering and getting louder, and we let it run for couple of minutes, not really sure of what to do, but it wasn’t letting up and we had one more song to play so Vito just started it up. It was an incredibly touching moment, to feel that kind of connection and joy with a crowd of ten thousand plus people. Transformative.

AF: Someone throws you a surprise party — what’s on the playlist?

MS: I want to hear some Earth, Wind & Fire, some Marvin Gaye, Cymande, Janet Jackson, SWV, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan… Basically a lot of things that make me want to put my hands up in the air and sing along like a diva. Oh, and who doesn’t love the B-52s?

AF: What’s the saddest disco song you know?

MS: The Donna Summer version of “MacArthur Park”.

AF: What are your plans for Safer and any other projects in the next decade? Lastly, if you could choose any brand of coffee can as an instrument, what would it be?

MS: There is a finished Safer album that is looking for a home. I just want to keep making music, performing and connecting with audiences. More touring – there’s still a lot of places I haven’t been, and a lot of cool cities that have changed a lot since I was last in them. As far as coffee cans go, some people like Café Bustelo, but I really feel like the resonance on a Chock full o’Nuts can is something magical that deserves more shine and attention.

RSVP HERE for The Wants, Godcaster, Safer, & Extra Special @ Our Wicked Lady. 21+ / $10

More great shows this week:

12/6 Twin Peaks, Lala Lala, OHMME @ Webster Hall. 16+ $25 RSVP HERE.

12/6 Pet Rescue 6th Anniversary with Shelter Dogs, Desert Sharks, Venus Twins, Colin Leeds @ Pet Rescue. RSVP HERE

12/7 Lez Zeppelin @ Gramercy Theatre. 16+ / $20-$59 RSVP HERE

12/7 Lightning Bolt, USAISAMONSTER, Animental, Baby; Baby @ Pioneer Works. $20 RSVP HERE

12/7 Jelly Kelly, Whiner, Cindy Cane, Pink Mexico @ Trans Pecos. All Ages / $10 RSVP HERE

12/8 Oceanator, Calyx, Frog @ Alphaville. 21+ / $11 RSVP HERE

12/9 Bass Drum of Death, Brion Starr @ The Broadway. 21+ $15 RSVP HERE

12/10 Battles, Guerrilla Toss @ Music Hall of Williamsburg. 18+ / $25 RSVP HERE

12/12 GRLwood @ Alphaville. 18+ / $10 RSVP HERE

12/12 The Nude Party, Native Sun, Dropper @ Sultan Room. 21+ $20 RSVP HERE



Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.

Providence, Rhode Island rockers GYMSHORTS join Dune Rats on a couple dates of their tour, including this Tuesday 11/12 at Rough Trade. Frontwoman Sarah Greenwell formed GYMSHORTS with guitarist Devin Demers in 2012. They’ve been heavily touring ever since, bringing their stoner punk goodness to the world. We chatted with Sarah about how they spend their time on tour and the best ways to spend your extra daylight savings hour…

AF: How do you pass the time in the van on tour?

SG: We play the coolest game ever!! It’s called “cows on my side!” Basically you just yell out when you see cows! And when you see a cemetery you say “ghost cows.” It gets super competitive and we’ve made some new rules along the way but it’s pretty much the best tour game I’m pretty sure.

AF: What’s your favorite city/venue to play in?

SG: I love playing anywhere in California – it’s so fun! And Fort Wayne! The Brass Rail rules!! Honestly, I love playing in New York too. We played in Bangkok back in May too which was very sick!

AF: Daylight savings just happened last weekend, what did ya’ll do with your extra hour?

SG: This question is the best!! We actually have a song about daylight savings and how it’s so cool cause you get an extra hour of hours!! I think I was probably sleeping this daylight savings but there was one daylight savings where we were driving overnight from Detroit to Chicago and there is a time change of one hour and then also it was daylight savings so it was like 2 am for 3 hrs or something crazy like that! It was wacky as hell! That was a good daylight savings!

RSVP HERE for GYMSHORTS with Dune Rats, and Sonny Hall @ Rough Trade Tuesday 11/12! 18+ / $15
More great shows this week:

11/8: Smock, Priestess, Wicked Willow, Animal Show @ Our Wicked Lady (Rooftop). 21+ / $10  RSVP HERE

11/8: Junglepussy @ Pioneer Works. $15 RSVP HERE

11/9: Hard Nips, Lockette, Eliza and the Organix, Onesie @ The Gutter. 21+ RSVP HERE

11/10: New Myths, Wet Leather, Caravela @ Baby’s All Right. 21+ / $10-12 RSVP HERE 

11/11: Black Midi, Onyx Collective @ Warsaw. All Ages / $18 RSVP HERE

11/12: Maneka, Lost Boy ?, Sonny Falls, Groupie @ Alphaville. 21+ / $8-10

11/13:  Charly Bliss, Chloe MK @ Webster Hall. $22 RSVP HERE.

11/14: Tom Tom Magazine Ten Year Anniversary Party @ Baby’s All Right. 21+ / $10-12 RSVP HERE

11/14: Karen O / Danger Mouse @ Kings Theatre. $49.50 RSVP HERE

INTERVIEW: Ziemba Extends an Invite to Parallel World of Ardis with “Veritas in Terra”

all photos by Megan Mack

René Kladzyk has made it her artistic purpose to merge various media since the very beginning of her musical project Ziemba; her debut LP came with an incense made from flowers in and around her childhood home, and her live shows frequently feature the diffusion of scents she’s created to go along with the specific experience. Now, inspired by singing collectively with Colin Self’s XHOIR, feminist science fiction, Nabokov’s treatise on time, and the neofuturistic architecture of John Portman, Kladzyk has launched the first phase of Ardis, a high-concept three-part album that explores utopia from a human perspective.

Essentially, Ardis is a parallel version of Earth, with “necessary changes” having been made. Its creation was a direct response to Trump’s election, Kladzyk explains. “I felt really devastated by a lot of what I was seeing in America and I wanted to talk about it but in a way that didn’t just perpetuate me feeling devastated by it,” she says. “How can I talk about this in a way that’s not just dwelling on how upsetting it is, but instead thinking about possible alternatives and mobilizing in a way that’s fantastical and fun and uplifting? If you believe that cultural change is fueled by art and creative work, which I do, then people who are making work that envisions possible alternative futures can have a real material impact on the world we live in here.”

The first five songs from the LP, which comprise Part One, were released in February, along with a video for “Veritas in Terra” that brings Kladzyk’s concepts into the real world via John Portman’s architecture. His buildings have served as the inspiration for Delta City in Robocop, and appeared in sci-fi classics and recent blockbusters alike, from John Carpenter’s Escape From LA to the Divergent series. Kladzyk first encountered his work on a trip to New York City (which she now calls home) during her teens, when she ventured into the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. “Veritas in Terra” was shot in three Atlanta hotels; Portman’s architectural thumbprint is everywhere in his home city, characterized by the multi-storied arrangement of floors overlooking a towering atrium, often with a glass elevator that traverses it like a an electrical impulse running up a human spine. Indeed, this is the intended visual allusion, one which Kladzyk mirrors in relating humanity to the sprawling scale of a futuristic cityscape. “It’s an inter-scalar thing – it’s like, if you look at a building like a body, and a body like a song, you find the commonalities in the way we structure ideas to the way we structure our world on the macro level,” she explains.

The video was co-directed by Kladzyk, Megan Mack, and Allison Halter, and it wasn’t an easy shoot, considering they were forcibly removed from the Portman-designed Hyatt, Westin, and Marriott hotels. “We filmed in [the Hyatt] and almost immediately got in trouble… then I was like, okay, we have to be a little bit more careful. And then we got kicked out of another place,” she says with a laugh. “We were very cautious with the Marriott Marquis. We mostly filmed from like 4-6 in the morning. We got kicked out while shooting the last shot; I knew we would because it was right in front of the concierge desk.”

That shot became one of the opening scenes in “Veritas” – Kladzyk looks up through the atrium, wearing a bright yellow jumpsuit. Throughout the video she’s “simultaneously exploring but also a little hunted, but then also realizing that there are all these different versions of me.” She says that Portman’s buildings support an almost voyeuristic tendency that she wanted to highlight: “[The atrium] changes how you look at other humans – you can see people so far away and they look so tiny. They often aren’t aware that you’re looking at them, but you can’t help [it] because the nature of the space encourages you to look.” Overall, it was the fact that Portman’s buildings are like parallel universes unto themselves that attracted Kladzyk to his work, which has been both credited with revitalizing formerly desolate downtown areas as well as criticized for being too insular.

The two remaining segments of Ardis will appear in April and June, each with their own specific fragrance accompaniment. This March, Kladzyk begins a month-long residency at Red Hook artspace Pioneer Works, which will culminate in a musical version of Ardis on April 14. It will expand upon the excerpt she performed at MoMA Ps1 at the end of 2017, which featured herself and her sister Anna discovering, then destroying, a fragrant utopia before rebuilding it. “One of the narrative arcs [of the project] is me as a human, trying to open doorways to Ardis, failing and trying again, and in the process finding it in all these different places,” she says. The Pioneer Works performance, she adds, will feature “a number of other performers, there’ll be a large choir, and other musicians… I’m working with a really incredible set designer, and there’ll be wild costumes, but it will largely be the music interacting with visual signifiers of the world.”

Ziemba will also perform a handful of more straightfoward shows on the West Coast with Teeny Lieberson’s solo endeavor Lou Tides in the coming months, as well as some dates throughout the Mid- and Southwest. She’s performed some of the songs from Ardis in a live setting before – “Ugly Ambitious Women,” in particular, appeared on a 2015 EP, and Kladzyk says she has more material she’s interested in reimagining – and will do so again at Secret Project Robot next week. Ever prolific, she’s currently writing songs that are a little more grounded and personal, but whether she revisits Ardis in the future remains to be seen. “We’ll see what path it follows. Some of that may depend on how people respond to it, and the way that I learn from it after touring it,” she says. Though she hesitates to say that she makes therapeutic music, she does hope Ardis will offer others some catharsis, as it has for her to imagine such a place.

“[Someone asked] ‘What does Ardis look like? What’s it like there?'” recalls Kladzyk. “In short, I don’t exactly know. I’m still looking for it and I’m still learning from it. But that’s kind of the idea – maybe we need to reject this idea that we as humans can be certain, and instead focus on expansiveness, and listening and connection.”