Laraaji Explains Why He Only Wears the Color Orange

For those well-versed in the history of New Age music, Laraaji’s origin story is elementary material. The account goes something like this: Brian Eno, walking in Washington Square Park one day in 1979, came across the Philadelphia-born, Harlem-based multi-instrumentalist hammering away on his signature instrument, the zither. Captivated by Laraaji’s celestial sounds, Eno tapped the artist, born Edward Larry Gordon, to contribute to his ambient music series. The following year, Eno produced and released Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, which has perhaps become Laraaji’s most widely recognized recording and a fundamental piece of New Age music.

Since then, Laraaji has continued to release seminal recordings—just last week, he launched his second album within the span of two weeks. The first, Sun Gong, is composed of two extended gong and electronic drone pieces; the second, Bring on the Sun, finds Laraaji crafting hypnotic, swirling ambient sounds alongside more straightlaced numbers like album standout “Change,” which crystallizes certain poetic phrases that have been percolating in his mind for years. Though there has been much renewed interest in Laraaji’s music of late, far less attention has been paid to one of his most visible quirks—his penchant for the color orange. His Harlem apartment is filled with orange garments on hooks, orange tapestries line the walls of the room where he experiments with his wide collection of instruments, and a quick Google search verifies his longtime habit of donning the surprising shade.

Photographed by Jacob Ferguson

At the root of Laraaji’s fascination is a spiritual practice that deepened over time. In the mid-’70s, he started to devote more time to studying Eastern philosophy and meditation, in particular. “My questions about life started to get deeper and I started to pay more attention to anything of a spiritual nature,” he says. Back then, he was already in the habit of wearing all white, which he…

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