in: Wellness

On the Joys of Musical Discovery: The Black Swan Theory Series

We love music. We especially love music that floats us through our day. Joel Davis just delivered the mother of all playlists (and we can’t wait to share).


With essentially all the music ever recorded just a click away, it can be tricky and time consuming to find new sounds well tuned to your tastes. Pandora channels are trustworthy but soon tired. The same is likely true of your mp3 collection, and somehow the same six songs to which everyone else is listening arise again and again from the otherwise bottomless depths of Spotify.

Musical magic exists; it really is real. In fact, it’s already out there just awaiting proper appreciation. But where?

Here (hear): The Black Swan Theory (released in October on Black Swan Sounds).

For adventurous ears that ache for ever-fresh inspiration through music, Black Swan Sounds presents a series of masterfully curated, digital-only collections designed to cut through the noise and deliver impactful tracks selected with the intention to overcome even the deepest musical rut.

I’ve carefully chosen songs for each volume of The Black Swan Theory. I’m the Black Swan Sounds’ Minister of Music, Joel Davis, an 18-year veteran of the music business (including long-term label manager posts at Sounds True and White Swan Records) and a music programmer at Boulder, Colorado’s KGNU Community Radio for nearly 25 years (and counting). ­

I departed White Swan Records—a leading label in the yoga/kirtan music scene—to focus solely on Black Swan Sounds, the imprint I launched while still at White Swan. My intention for Black Swan is to build a bridge between that community and the wider, more adventurous and somewhat obscure music world in which I’ve been immersed for so many years.

bstThe “theory” behind The Black Swan Theory is to help people discover new sounds they may not otherwise encounter in their musical wanderings. I can’t tell you how many times someone has commented to me that they’re “in a musical rut” or don’t know where to look for new things to listen to. I know that finding new music can be a time consuming thing, and unless you’re really dedicated to it, it’s easy to fall back into those familiar listening patterns. The Black Swan Theory—and, really, the Black Swan Sounds mission in general—isn’t about playing you what you already love; it’s about turning you on to music you didn’t know you’d love.

When considering tracks for the 5-track, digital-only EPs in The Black Swan Theory series, I have just a few basic criteria: first and foremost, it has to be an absolutely great track; “pretty good” doesn’t make the cut.

From the Black Swan Sounds artists included in the series, I ask for unreleased tracks, B-sides or remixes; I’m not looking to simply pull songs from already-released albums. Freshness is key. For non-Black Swan artists, I’m still looking for that freshness factor, but I also think about how widely heard a particular track may be, and especially how likely it is that someone in Black Swan’s core audience of yogis, conscious dancers and “cultural creatives” might have heard it somewhere—I’m looking to present the Black Swan listener with something new and exciting, and also to expose artists from outside this niche to a whole new community of active, enthusiastic listeners.

The only other requirement is that all of the tracks in a particular volume fit well together. I like to mix it up, but there has to be a certain organic unity that brings a sense of cohesion to the selections.

I still like to acknowledge the nostalgia, comfort and pure joy that many of us derive from those well-worn favorite songs. Like everyone, I’ve got plenty of personal classics and “guilty pleasures” to which I often return. You never forget your old favorite songs. But inspired by the theory that informs the series’ name, with Black Swan I’m offering sonic attitudes and techniques you never saw coming.

One of my greatest joys in life is discovering a new song, artist or album that catches me completely off guard and changes the way I think about or listen to music. But for me, the bigger joy is found in offering that sense of discovery to others.

Employing The Black Swan Theory and Black Swan Sounds to deliver a potent blend of ancient soul and futuristic soundscience, I believe it’s high time we let loose to our new favorite music.

Investigate The Black Swan Theory now.


The first installment in The Black Swan Theory series is now available on iTunes, from the Black Swan Sounds store and most digital music retailers.

This edition features:

Nistha Raj is emerging as a fresh voice in creative and world music. Her self-released debut album, Exit 1 (described as “edgy, innovative, and clearly awe-inspiring…Indian fusion at its best” by Inside World Music). Nistha pursues new horizons by melding tradition with contemporary innovation, collaborating (thus far) with artists from hip-hop, jazz, classical and rock circles.

Blending yesterday’s roots with innovative beats, DJ Drez is recognized as one of the top underground hip-hop turntablists and producers in LA. As the go-to DJ for major yoga festivals and studios, Drez spins the perfect flow to accompany classes before lighting up the dancefloor with his eclectic, organic mixes.

MC/DJ/percussionist/producer Srikalogy (aka Srikala) has established a solid following through hip-hop rooted in confidence without bravado, devotion without preachiness. Emanating from the center of a vibrant, socially conscious, Brooklyn-based scene, Srikala’s sound expresses a message of hope and inspiration, reflecting his deep appreciation for the beauty of life.

Sheela Bringi sings and plays harp, harmonium and bansuri flute. She studied with Cecil Taylor and Meredith Monk, as well as Indian masters G.S. Sachdev and Aashish Khan. The result is a unique, sound encompassing India’s classical music and mantra traditions, and a groundbreaking exploration of American jazz and blues.

Maga Bo connects organic and electronic, traditional and avant-garde, local and global. Inspired by sound system culture and hip hop and dub philosophy, his music is a recontextualizion of riddims and sounds enriched by live vocalists and percussion. Juxtapositions and textures give his work a depth uncommon in electronic music.

[image: via Michael Heigl on flickr]

About the Author:

Joel Davis

As founder and Minister of Music at Boulder, Colorado-based Black Swan Sounds, Joel Davis dedicates himself to connecting artists with audience, assisting musicians with sharing their unique expressions. Since 2002, Joel has produced TerraSonic, a weekly global freeform mix show airing on KGNU Community Radio in Boulder and Denver. When he's not involved with music, you'll find “Joelie the Goalie” at a local ice rink, tending to his bees or performing custom wedding ceremonies as Poetic Justice of the Peace.

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