In some ways, Phoebe Hunt is just one among a sea of millennials, one who routinely submits herself to existential crises, bobbing and weaving however she can to enjoy her life and escape the “hook” of the corporate world. Like many of her peers she does yoga, goes on meditation retreats, lives with her husband in a Brooklyn house full of artistic and self-employed friends and dreams of a life successful in ways that have nothing to do with money.
“I want to be free,” she says. “Freedom is limitless. Within a social construct and within the capitalist society we are in, actually being able to be free means being able to connect to your deepest truth and owning it. It’s about trusting others enough to share that self, collaborating with them to come together in an authentic community. It’s about being totally vulnerable.”
Her ideation of freedom has a decidedly feminine quality, invoking notions of yielding instead of conquering. It’s a philosophy that requires her to forsake the license to do whatever she wants in the name of a more universal liberty. This is the ethos with which she leads her band and also the way she measures their success:
“Lately people have been telling me that my music opens their hearts. To spiritually release things is what we are here for and if my music can do that, well, I think that’s beautiful.”
It’s no surprise that Hunt is softening — she spent two months in the past year on spiritual quests, first on the Camino de Santiago in Spain and then at a Vedic meditation retreat in India. It was on that second trip that she spent time studying with master violinist and vocalist Kala Ramnath, who taught Hunt to play her instrument in the North Indian classical tradition.
Like the folk music Hunt plays, Indian folk has a rich history full of legends and stories, relying on Vedic myths that teach us to go beyond the boundaries of our own experience — but for years they were stories left for men to tell.
As the two women sat together in a transference of craft from master to student, the feminine aspects of the music became clear. The songs they played were composed of ragas — melodic structures believed to have the capacity to color the mind of both player and audience — and the music felt supple and womanly. The songs started off slowly, complicating as they went along, not because they wanted to but because the music itself called for such evolution.
Her latest album,…