Devendra Banharts cultural highlights

The musician on his favourite neighbourhood gallery, Cate Le Bons incredible new album and a heroic meditation podcast

Devendra Banhart was born in Houston, Texas, to a Venezuelan mother and an American father, both followers of the Indian religious leader Prem Rawat. He was raised in Caracas and Los Angeles, and studied at the San Francisco Art Institute, before dropping out to pursue music. To date he has released nine albums, beginning with The Charles C Leary in 2002. His music combines a wide range of influences including psych-folk and Tropiclia he has cited Vashti Bunyan, Caetano Veloso and Arthur Russell as musical heroes. Banharts 10th album, Ma, is released on Nonesuch Records on 13 September.


1. App

This app looks quite cute with its frog icon, but five times a day it puts a banner on your phone saying: Dont forget, youre going to die. When I first saw it, I thought it was going to be dark and intense and a source of anxiety, but what it actually serves to do is disengage me from identifying with my ego and the source of tremendous stress that is this entire existence. It helps me realise that the things that Im concerned about are pretty much insignificant. And if you click on the app, you get a quote from a famous physicist or novelist or Zen master.

2. Music
Reward by
Cate Le Bon

Incredibly sophisticated music: Cate Le Bon. Photograph: Ivana Klikovi

This album came out a couple of months ago and its a masterpiece. It feels like the most refined version of everything Cate Le Bon has done to date shes becoming more and more comfortable with her tools and her practice. Its as if youre at a furniture convention and everybody is displaying chairs with rusty nails sticking out of them, and Cate has made a beautiful chair with cushions on it. Its incredibly sophisticated, so full of references to different types of music and different moments in musical history that you can get an entire musical education just from listening to it. I particularly love a song called The Light.

3. Places
The Underground Museum, Los Angeles

Inside the Underground Museum in Los Angeles. Photograph: Brian Forrest/The Underground Museum

This gallery in Arlington Heights was co-founded in 2012 by a dear friend of mine, Noah Davis, a wonderful painter who died of cancer in 2015, aged 32. His wife, Karon,, also a fantastic artist, now continues it with the rest of the family. It was a storefront exhibition space that doubled as their home, and now its a legitimate gallery with incredible programming across art and music. Its a real hub in a neighbourhood thats not very happening, and its giving opportunities to emerging artists doing beautiful work.


4. Books
Narrow Road to the Interior and Other Writings by Bash

I picked this book up recently but it was written a long time ago. Bash is the great poet of Japan, writing in the second half of the 17th century, but his work is still incredibly fresh. Talk about packing a huge punch in a tiny space! He can give you an entire life story, an entire world, in just a few words. This book, a mix of haikus and prose, recounts his travels through the far northern provinces of Japan, and because I live such an itinerant life, its a wonderful comfort to be reading it. Hes been a huge influence on me.


5. Podcast
The Astral Hustle, with Cory Allen

Cory Allen is a meditation teacher, author and musician from Austin, Texas. On this podcast, he interviews some of my heroes, such as the Buddhist teacher Roshi Joan Halifax, the composer and sound designer Suzanne Ciani, and Dr Robert Thurman, who truly is my hero hes one of the leading Tibetologists on the planet. (Allen also did an episode with me, but thats the stain on his otherwise pristine record.) The podcast is a really fascinating perspective on consciousness, mindfulness and spirituality, as well as music, and Allen is a really good interviewer.

6. Art
Sex by Anne Imhof, Tate Modern, London

Like stepping into someone elses augmented reality: Anne Imhof at Tate Modern. Photograph: Kirsty OConnor/PA

Anne Imhof is a powerful artist from Germany making work that is totally interdisciplinary. My number-one hero in terms of interdisciplinary art is Laurie Anderson, but Ive always admired anyone who can think way beyond any one medium. Going into Imhofs live show at Tate Modern in March, you saw a bit of everything live performances, music, sculpture, painting, architecture. It was like stepping into someone elses augmented reality.

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