WA’s favourite family camping festival, Fairbridge Festival is back for another year this weekend, 20-22 April at Fairbridge Village, Pinjarra. The festival brings together over 80 hand-picked folk, blues and world music acts, plus entertaining things to do for people big and small with areas dedicated to kids, dancing and African drumming workshops and car-free camping. One of the highlights of this year’s festival will see attendees wake up with Yoga Loves Music – an invigorating yoga workshop combining soulful grooves with traditional mantras featuring musician Tom Richardson and Canadian yoga teacher Kimberly Erin. We caught up with Tom to chat about this project and his nomadic, creative life.
Official job title: Musical nomad and love ambassador!
What do you love about your job?
Firstly, music still doesn’t feel like a ‘job’ to me! I feel very fortunate that music continues to open up so many travel opportunities, both nationally and internationally, and in turn offers the chance to connect with many old and new friends from all around the world. I’ve been lucky enough to share musical collaborations with Native American poets, Indian Kirtan masters, Fijian highland village choirs and Indigenous Australian icons. I’ve also recently stepped into the role of musical director for the Victoria ‘Find Your Voice’ All-Abilities Choir. As clichéd as it sounds, I am continually blown away by how music transcends any age, gender, ethnicity, ability, sexual preference or background.
What are the most challenging parts of being a musician?
While is it also one of the most exciting parts of this life, the travel is often one of the most challenging. It’s not uncommon to do nine hour drives between shows in Australia and North America, while maintaining healthy sleeping and eating habits. As most shows fall on a weekend, I have missed some pretty important milestones – friends’ weddings, family birthdays and so on.
Tell us about your career background and how you’ve come to where you are now?
My musical journey started as a 2 year old throwing a tantrum in a music store not wanting to leave without a little guitar. I started to pursue a full time career in 2008 and have been fortunate enough to enjoy a really organic growth. After four years of continuous touring in Australia I chose to head overseas, enjoying the freedom that being an independent artist offers. Over the past five years I have crisscrossed 15 different countries.
Who are your musical influences?
My biggest influences in life and music are most often my friends and peers. To meet and collaborate with friends like Benny Walker, Kim Churchill and Daniel Champagne in the first few years of touring has gifted mutual inspiration, wisdom and shared stages and those guys influence me more than more ‘famous’ household names.
How would you describe your musical style?
An MC at a festival who’d seen me perform a number of times once described my music as better categorised by emotion and experience, rather than genre. I suppose I would fall into the singer/songwriter folk category, with musical and non-musical influences from my adventures around the planet.
Kimberley and Tom collaborate on a project called Yoga Loves Music, which is coming to Fairbridge Festival this weekend.
What does Yoga Loves Music entail?
Imagine your uplifting yoga practice, merged with live music, humour, challenge and connection. Step into the most soulful blend of contemporary grooves, weaved with traditional mantras and paired with heart wisdom. A workshop combination of live sound and a yoga practice fuelled on waves of sound and collective breath, invoking the highest connection to self and awakening of mojo!
How did you and Kimberley [the yoga teacher half of Yoga Loves Music] meet, and how did the venture develop?
Kim and I met at a festival in Canada and enjoyed an immediate, inspired connection. We are both passionate in our respective lives and careers, mine musical and hers as a yoga teacher. We both believe in the power of connection to self and community in both of these fields. It was a natural progression that has led us to live, work and travel together for the past six years.
The Yoga Loves Music program been embraced around the world…
The response has been so overwhelmingly positive.
Why do you think it has been so well received?
Both yoga and music lend themselves to cracking people open and reconnecting to who they are at their deepest level. Both are also able to transcend any age, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference or ability and Kim is especially gifted at making the practice accessible to all. When people are receptive to that, the result is pretty special to experience!
We both trust in our respective ability to be of service and connect through music and yoga, I believe that our partnership in both life and career is reflected in the potency of this particular collaboration. I’ve also been able to practice a lot with Kim’s teaching and have a strong connection with her sequencing and flow in a yoga class, which helps me mirror and enhance particular postures and teachings.
What are you most looking forward to when it comes to Fairbridge Festival?
2017 was our first Fairbridge and we had an amazing weekend! We’d shared in the past at Nannup and Nanga Music Festivals so it was a magical opportunity to re-connect with old friends and make a whole bunch of new ones. Fairbridge attracts a really vibrant, receptive community so it’s a real privilege to share with such a crew!
What’s next for your after Fairbridge?
Straight after Fairbridge, we jump on a plane to Bali and prepare for our second Yoga Loves Music retreat. We lived in Bali for the most part of 2016 and 2017 and can’t wait to share the beauty of that island with a sold-out bunch of incredible yogis! Tom