Devendra Banhart’s cultural highlights

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Devendra Banhart was born in Houston, Texas, to a Venezuelan mother and an American father, both followers 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 influences including psych-folk and Tropicália – he has cited Vashti Bunyan, Caetano Veloso and Arthur Russell as musical heroes. Banhart’s 10th album, Ma, is released on Nonesuch Records on 13 September.




Devendra Banhart’s cultural highlights





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1. App
WeCroak

This app looks quite cute with its frog icon, but five times a day it puts a banner on your phone saying: “Don’t forget, you’re going to die.” When I first saw it, I thought it was going to be dark and intense and a source anxiety, but what it actually serves to do is disengage me from identifying with my ego and the source tremendous stress that is this entire existence. It helps me realise that the things that I’m 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




Devendra Banhart’s cultural highlights





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This album came out a couple months ago and it’s a masterpiece. It feels like the most refined version everything Cate Le Bon has done to date – she’s becoming more and more comfortable with her tools and her practice. It’s as if you’re at a furniture convention and everybody is displaying chairs with rusty nails sticking out them, and Cate has made a beautiful chair with cushions on it. It’s incredibly sophisticated, so full references to different types 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




Devendra Banhart’s cultural highlights





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




Devendra Banhart’s cultural highlights





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

I picked this book up recently but it was written a long time ago. Bashō is the great poet Japan, writing in the second half 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 haikus and prose, recounts his travels through the far northern provinces Japan, and because I live such an itinerant life, it’s a wonderful comfort to be reading it. He’s been a huge influence on me.




Devendra Banhart’s cultural highlights





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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 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 – he’s one the leading Tibetologists on the planet. (Allen also did an episode with me, but that’s 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 Imh, Tate Modern, London




Devendra Banhart’s cultural highlights





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