Vrindavan, 2017.09.26 (VT): A young man from California named Devin Lawrence has made it his mission to bring Hollywood-quality sound recording to Vrindavan. His new studio – “Vrindawood” – promises to provide excellent service at affordable prices.
The idea came to Devin and his business partner Nandu Joshi, after an experience with a local sound studio left them frustrated. After paying for a recording with live instruments, the studio gave them a track with synthesized flute, tabla and sarangi, apparently hoping they wouldn’t notice.
“In the United States we are all about customer service and giving people what they deserve; quality, and at the same time an affordable price. Having studied audio engineering and videography for the past 12 years, I wanted to offer my expertise to the people of Vrindavan.”
The new studio, which opens on October 1st, is called “Vrindawood” – both a synonym for Vrindavan and a hearkening back to Devin’s California roots. Vrindawood already has its first clients lined up, including the famous kirtan band “The Kirtaniyas” and a woman who wants to record a single as an offering to her Gurudev.
“We are here to promote Krishna,” Devin says. “To promote Krishna’s music… to promote Braj culture to the world. The Vaishnav culture is just filled with music; it’s beautiful. When I first came here I was shocked at the beauty of it all.”
Devin doesn’t look like your typical videshi devotee. Dressed in slacks and a button-down shirt, his arms are tattoed with symbols of his passion – music – and a large winged cross all but covers his throat. “Jesus is my Guru” he says with a smile.
His studio isn’t typical either. The ambiance is charming with low moody lighting, softened by the tapestries lining the walls. His demeanor is friendly and professional. You get the feeling that he will deliver what he promises.
I couldn’t help but wonder what brought Devin to Vrindavan in the first place. It turns out that Devin is the son of Gayle Lawrence, who works for The White Rainbow Project, an organization that provides vocational training and support for Vrindavan’s widows.
After the recession of 2008, the music scene in California took a dive and with the high cost of living, Devin found himself living in his car for six months despite being employed.
“I think the living in my car was a desperate time in my life, a real crossroads as to what do I really want in life? I was still making music in my car, sitting in the driver’s seat in parking lots studying and perfecting my craft. American life is so fake. Consumerism has eaten people alive, I feel I wanted to escape before I became too old. I love my country! I am a proud American, but there is so much tension between both political parties that it was just time for me to leave. I sold my car, sold all my possessions, traveled to Vrindavan and haven’t looked back since. Krishna has blessed me immensely since then.”
On the streets of Vrindavan, Devin fell in love with the cows he met, and empathised with their suffering. And so he joined Care for Cows (CfC) and began to serve them. It was on one of CfC’s “outreach programs”, distributing chara (green fodder) to street cows, that he met his friend and future business parter, Nandu Joshi.
Nandu soon realized he had a kindred spirit in Devin. A musician himself, Nandu already wanted to start a recording studio in Vrindavan, but lacked the technical expertise, while Devin had a similar dream but lacked the property and local connections. When the two joined forces, everything fell into place.
“Braj needs more people to record their music. If there is someone who is poor, like a Babaji, but who is really good and wants to record, I will not charge him a dime.” says Devin. “That’s my seva to him. I just want him to be able to have his voice heard. We also plan to give a portion of our earnings from the studio to Care for Cows and Food for Life.”
“We also offer accommodations to artists who are staying extended periods, and who may be coming from overseas, to record full length albums. We really want to make this not just a business, but a family of artists and like-minded people who just love music, coming together to channel positive energy to the world.”
The duo is open to recording everything from mantra rock to podcasts, and Nandu himself has written songs in Hindi about pollution and the environment, which he is eager to record. With a passion and a mission, the future of Vrindawood looks bright.
Contact Devin Lawrence at Vrindawoodstudios@gmail.com for booking inquiries and a free consultation.
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