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How Indian-American artist ShiShi is Fusing Music, Meditation and Metaverse in a Single Project

The New York-based electronica artist is building a unique live act as part of his album release

Rolling Stone India Mar 03, 2022

Setting a foundation of wellness and art, ShiShi is rolling out his second album 'Chrysalis.' Photo: Courtesy of Artist.

For Indian-American electronica artist Aasheesh Paliwal aka ShiShi, electronic music alone did not make the cut. It’s why he began fostering a community with an aim to put mindfulness first. “If I look back over the last 10 years of my life and think about the most meaningful experiences and moments, they’ve often been in the context of a really sacred spiritual experience – whether that was the first 10-day silent meditation retreat that I attended, psychedelic experiences I’ve had, or all the different healing modalities that I’ve worked with,” he shares. These events led the artist to found CASHIR, a community of restorative musical traditions for listeners. Setting a foundation of wellness and art, the musician then began to focus on his upcoming 14-track album, Chrysalis

ShiShi describes ‘Chrysalis’ as “shadow work for the dancefloor.” Photo: Courtesy of Artist.

A dance album with a difference?

Born out of the agonizing and cathartic period of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Chrysalis is a record that ShiShi claims people won’t typically associate with party music. He calls the LP, which explores difficult emotions, “shadow work for the dancefloor.” The artist says, “It’s a much more intentional album than my debut album ShiShi. There is a clear purpose to explore dark, difficult emotions as a way of transmuting and alchemizing them. This was inspired by my experience working with my own shadows over the last two years.”

While past offerings have seen ShiShi meld Indian classical elements with Latin influences, as well as dembow rhythms with dancehall, hip-hop, ragas, afro-beat, and more, the electronica artist wanted to tap into the darker aspects of the human spectrum with his upcoming album. Through singles exploring feelings like lust (“Wishing Well”), fear (“Mahadev”), anger (“Ritual”) and shame (“Not Enough”), as well as the artist singing and playing guitar on the upcoming record, ShiShi is aiming to make a conscious leap from the identity of a DJ/producer to that of a hybrid electronica act. As a result, he merges the worlds of music and wellness in Chrysalis which releases tomorrow. “I feel like combining my musical intentions with my spiritual experiences is the best way that I can serve my unique medicine to the world as a human being right now,” he says.

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NFTs, the metaverse and incentivizing fans

The artist is particularly getting bullish on blockchain technology through Chrysalis NFTs. With the four lead singles, ShiShi opens the floor for bidders to receive customized and personalized meditations, as well as alternative album covers. “[NFTs are] going to create a whole new world of possibility for creators, and is going to make it a lot more feasible for artists to make a living. There will [also] be so many opportunities for artists to sell and communicate to their audiences,” ShiShi says. 

In the run-up to releasing his second album, ShiShi is also introducing Oasis – a virtual concert space in the metaverse. Here, fans can go listen to different songs, interact with ShiShi’s avatar and experience guided meditations. Those who buy an NFT will also have access to the Oasis. ShiShi says, “Nothing in my life has more consistently and positively impacted my emotional state than music. Through music, I have felt less alone, and more empowered to be my true self. And I want to be able to have that impact on my listeners with the music I am creating.”

Consciousness and community

As he gears up to release Chrysalis, the artist is also hoping to foster a sense of community by bringing CASHIR Full Circle events to audiences. ShiShi claims these acts are designed to take people through a conscious journey of stillness and movement. He explains, “We typically begin with a guided meditation or embodiment exercise to get everybody out of their heads and into their bodies. Then we have a musical performance in the style of an Eastern spiritual tradition, followed by an ecstatic dance DJ set, in which people are able to fully express whatever needs to come out of them, whatever needs to heal through them – in a safe, sober, conscious container. Finally, we close the event with a sound healing to ground everyone back home within themselves. So it’s a ‘Full Circle’ experience in the sense that we are bringing people through the full range of the human emotional experience, and also taking them on a little journey around the world by introducing them to different spiritual traditions and cultures.” After a positive stint in Tulum, Mexico, the artist now hopes to take Full Circle all over the world, particularly to destinations that have an appetite for both spirituality and dance music such as Mykonos, Ibiza, Goa, Thailand and Bali.

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ShiShi hopes to bring the Full Circle tour to India. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist.

The artist has also expanded his roots in the medium of audio through The Sacred Giggle podcast. This show sees ShiShi engage listeners in emotional insights. “The purpose [of the podcast] is to get together with people who inspire me and are living true to themselves, and understand more about their path, what makes them tick, and what they value – and to transmit that wisdom to the audience,” he says. 

As the artist prepares for the release of Chrysalis, he is also getting ready to drop one new song bi-weekly as a commitment to his artistic process and his fellowship of fans. Up next, ShiShi is also starting a Patreon subscription service and will be creating an online course to help people tap into their authenticity as humans and creative beings. Music, wellness and NFTs, it seems, are just the first three destinations in a novel, live world being brought alive by the artist. “After the release of the Chrysalis, I would love to bring a Full Circle Tour to India, in which I’ll include local musicians and perform the album as a piece of the experience,” he says.

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