Singer-songwriter Claire Mortifee's debut album, Medicines, offers perspective and inspiration for finding the power that lies within each of us. Which is why we weren't surprised to learn Mortifee also happens to be a certified life coach and reiki master. We got to chat with her about her inspiration and where she hopes her spiritual journey will take her from here. You can listen to our yoga playlist as well as all of Medicines on Spotify.
Yoga Journal: We know you've produced music in the past. Was there anything in particular that inspired this album?
Claire Mortifee: I went to Cambodia a few years ago and connected with a woman from there who shared with me her frustration with all of these love songs, when she was living in a society where she couldn't find a dude who would treat her like a genuine equal. I was like, "[T]here's got to be beautiful songs for you to listen to that you can resonate with!" So that was a big part of my inspiration for creating a group of songs that weren't about love. I wanted to create a body of work that would not only inspire [the woman] but would also inspire me and anyone who the music landed with to recognize their inner power. So it's kind of for her. It's kind of for me. It's for everyone.
YJ: That's awesome. Do you feel like music and yoga, in that way, can tap into that inner power?
CM: Yeah, of course. Yoga is medicine for the soul and the body and the mind and the spirit...and so is music! So is prayer and mantra! I'm so grateful that we have these tools in the west. Living on colonized lands, in colonized society, we're beginning to find tools to reconnect with the Great Spirit in a way that indigenous people have tools for. It's a journey back to self. It's a journey back to spirit. Yoga and music are definitely good medicines for that.
YJ: Is that what inspired the title, too?
CM: Yeah! The title Medicines just came to me. I was like, "That's what this is for me!" It was fitting.
YJ: Do you have any yogic rituals you use before you perform or record anything?
CM: I'm trying to incorporate ritual into my day-to-day. I've been listening to a lot of affirmations lately. Trying to keep up a meditation practice. I used to do 20 minutes a day. There was a time when I did 30 minutes, two times a day. Now I'm trying to get back to doing 15 minutes, two times per day, and it's pretty non-daunting. Just pop on a 15-minute timer. That's something that really supports me and [reminds] me who I am. Feeling good enough, remembering that my spirit is guided by the Great Spirit...therefore I can't go wrong.
YJ: Wow, that's incredible. Your mom's a yoga instructor. Was yoga always a big part of your life?
CM: Not always. But the first deity that guided me out of a really dark time in my life was a Hindu deity: it was Kali. And from there, developing a relationship with different Hindu deities as they live in me was and is the most empowering things that I have explored. I'm so grateful for the yogi philosophy and for these archetypes that I was able to develop strong relationships as they were in me.
YJ: Do you see another album on the horizon?
CM: Yeah, definitely! I've been writing lots of music. [For] the next project, I'm really excited to be exploring different parts of myself and navigating my own identity and spirituality. As I touched on, as a woman whose ancestors colonized this land and colonized Africa… it’s very interesting being raised in white colonial culture and trying to find a sense of self and a sense of spiritual self in a culture that doesn’t value spirituality and the self as much as many indigenous cultures do. Again, I’m so grateful for Indian philosophy and yogic philosophy for helping me to find my own divinity and validate my own divinity. How can we do this in a way that acknowledges colonialism as well? So, a lot of my music has been about just recognizing that this is a huge, complicated, and dark history behind how I’ve grown up as a white woman, still in a very racist culture. What I’ve been writing about is just acknowledging that, bringing light to that. Being grateful to the land and the people, animals, spirits and wanting to connect my spirit in a humble way. Just wanting to learn how I can decolonize my own mind and unlearn racist beliefs that we’ve been unconciously indoctrinated with, living over here in North America. That’s what I’ve been exploring. There’s definitely going to be content on the next project about that. Again, in the eyes of the spirit, we are all one. That is the greatest truth.
See also Yoga As a Religion?
Claire Mortifee's Soulfood Playlist
- “True Power,” Claire Mortifee
- “September,” Earth, Wind & Fire
- “Summer Sun,” Claire Mortifee
- “Seven Nation Army,” Ben L'Oncle Soul
- “I Want It All,” Claire Mortifee
- “Ring,” Laura Izibor
- “No Rollies,” Claire Mortifee, David Morin
- “Billie Jean - Remix,” Blackstreet
- “Shanghigh,” Claire Mortifee
- “Got To Give It Up,” Marvin Gaye
- “Ouroboros,” Claire Mortifee
- "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)," Michael Jackson