Sonic Sanctuary: noaccordion Turns South Indian Chant into Blissed-Out, Minimal Trap on Gurukula

It took years for noaccordion’s Onah Indigo to realize that the crickets chirped at just the right BPM for a great trap track.

The Oakland-based electronic musician and accordion maverick had made a slew of recordings during an extended trip around South India. Her journey took her to several schools and to Gurukula, the nature preserve that gave her latest album its name. Balancing trap’s gritty edge with serene vocals and dubbed-out accordion licks, Gurukula ripples with energy, yet radiates calm, as the sound of bhajans and songs in Kannada entwine with the atmosphere of an untouched paradise, with its organic beat.

“I love juxtaposition,” explains Onah, “whether it’s the accordion and club music, or children’s voices and 808 bass. When you put these samples into a trap framework, it changes both and says something new, something that’s both raw and contemplative.”

Onah has spent a creative lifetime working in juxtaposition. She wrangled with the awkward but fascinating potential of the accordion, leading to her project’s quirky name. She’s made electronic beats in service and praise of nature, and explored bass music as a way of coping with complex, tragic circumstances in her life as a mother.

Gurukula flows from that same impulse, but with the trip shaping the overall vibe of the tracks. Onah taught at Oak Grove, the school in Ojai founded by philosopher and spiritual teacher Krishnamurti. The school’s student-centered approach was decades ahead of its time, and art, Onah’s subject, was a central part of the curriculum. So was an annual trip for seniors to India, to visit sister schools, also founded by Krishnamurti. “We stayed in 3 different schools, all boarding schools,” recalls Onah. “We’d live with the students for a week, in a very contained environment. I recorded a lot of the voice lessons and the chants the students sang in assemblies.”

The natural world, one of noaccordion’s guiding inspirations, wound up on Onah’s recording device as well, especially as the group moved to pick coffee and tea in the botanical sanctuary of Gurukula. She recorded the wonderful cacophony of the Kerala forest, home to orchids and air ferns–and lots of buzz, hum, and song. “Rainforests are SO loud,” she laughs. “I got a lot of amazing birdsongs and, in one track, crickets. When I got back, I realized they had a perfect BPM! I created all these samples, and used them a bit, but then I shelved them for years.”

When Onah went back through the samples, she hear something unexpected: Trap. “What’s happening with trap has happened with a lot of club music styles, like dubstep,” she explains. “It was a very specific sound at first, very grimy and edgy, without a lot of vocals. Now it’s an underlying approach that’s being embraced by more of the electronic music scene. A lot of us musicians producing electronic stuff love some of the sounds trap have to offer, but don’t hear all the intense elements on every track.”

Onah did like the style’s lower BPM, with its double and triple-time potentials, its crescendos. She stripped the style down to what she connected to most, added lush choral samples, and salted the tracks with live percussion, tambura and electric sitar, thanks to Benny Langfur. (“Response”)

She also heard how, in her sleeker, gentler version, trap overlapped with another favorite sound: Jamaican dub. It was the perfect approach for adding accordion. “I have a lot of dub influence, especially producers like Augustus Pablo,” she notes. “Melodica and accordion are similar and have a similar sound. I’m doing those offbeat skanks that you might hear on one of Pablo’s dub tracks.” (“Mellow”)

The effect renders trap in a beautifully minimal, organic way, something akin to what Cologne’s producers did to the roar of techno, especially on tracks like “Tampani.” “I’ve worked with all sorts of sounds and ideas, but I never expected to create something this soothing. There’s something undeniably uplifting about the sound of children singing and chanting together. It was lovely to record such a large group of people singing. It ended up being one of the calmest albums I’ve created,” with the perfect grounding of dynamic beats.

The Album “Gurukula” releases this October 19 with a Celebration Party happening at The Kava Lounge SF.

http://www.kavaloungesf.com/kava/

This is an official PSA (Puppet Service Announcement) Watch and Listen to Music Announcement

This is an official PSA (Puppet Service Announcement)

Mama Nature Sing-A-Long new music video releases on Earthday

Onah Indigo, the joyful troublemaker behind the electronic/accordion-expanding project noaccordion, was plotting a video for her latest release, Love Warrior. The Oakland-based artist knew she wanted to do something uplifting and fun. The answer: Puppets.

“I’d seen the Sustainable Living Road Show at a lot of festivals, and eventually I got to work with them,” Indigo explains. “When I was thinking of concepts for the video, I knew they’d be perfect.” Indigo chose the puppet crew’s handmade puppets, picking out characters that resembled natural creatures and plants. Their personalities inspired “Mama Nature,” a goofy romp with a serious message: Love your Mother, our planet.

The track, with its happy house vibe and light-hearted accordion lines, features one of the puppeteers, Sirraum Nash, a long-time friend and collaborator. His contribution to the original track made the video concept come together.

Putting unexpected pieces together comes naturally to Indigo. A reluctant accordion player, she’s discovered an idiosyncratic approach that puts the instrument center stage, while defying its limitations. Like the push and pull of bellows, this tension generates a quirky blast of energy. Add club beats, underground MCs, freaky variations on deceptively familiar keys, a bit of surrealist wit, and a rebellious fight for greater openness, and you have noaccordion.

Indigo has always pushed herself to understand and master more of the production process. She taught herself beatmaking, she had flirted with video production, and she decided her next skill was green screen. “I wanted to play around with green screen, and the puppets were a good fit for that,” continues Indigo, allowing nature to speak (and sing and play accordion) for itself. Together with her collaborator, Jonathan Youtt, Indigo figured out how to sync the puppets’ performances to the background footage, and how to have some fun. Eagles sing as they fly over mountain ridges. Lettuce and Cabbages chill in the desert. And a charming turtle plays the accordion.

“The video is meant to feel really retro, old school. The technique is akin to what you might see in that 70s vintage Muppet feel,” says Indigo. “We’re using this crude method, but it feels really unexpected. These hand puppets have this motion that nothing else has. I didn’t realize how much I’d like the way these puppets move.”

The innocent, raw feel is very intentional, and a perfect match for the song itself. “It’s a bit childlike. This is the happiest song I’ve written, and it’s even in C Major!” exclaims Indigo. “It’s got a positive, happy message that really works with the visual side we created. It’s light and silly and fun, just like the experience of making it.”

Mama Nature Sing-A-Long Video will officially be released on Earthday, April 22, 2017.

noaccordion will be performing at and screening the Mama Nature Sing-A-Long Video at the PLACE Benefit show in the Bay Area on Saturday, June 10 2017

PLACE is a Berkeley, California based public-serving, experiential learning center that showcases and fosters regenerative design, community resiliency, social justice and artistic expression. PLACE needs donations to bring the building standards up to safety codes which are being aggressively enforced in the East Bay Area due to the Ghost Ship Fire Incident.

Participate here: https://www.youcaring.com/placeforsustainableliving-722110

 

BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE MAMA NATURE New Music VIDEO SHOOT

Onah Indigo from noaccordion and Jonathan Youtt from The Sustainable Living Road Show/The Big Tadoo Puppet Crew joined forces this summer at Puppet Plex in Berkeley, California to film the Green Screen puppet portion for noaccordion’s Mama Nature music video.  Jesse and Sirraum Nash hopped aboard as well to help with puppetry, filming and editing.  Jonathan and Onah co produced the project while Onah and Jesse worked on the editing.  This is a fun, playful video that should appeal to a wide age range.  It packs a loving and potent message so true to our current times and encourages us to respect all mothers especially mother earth.  Mama Nature video will officially release on Earth Day 2017.

 

Listen to Music from Noaccordion’s latest LP out now, distributed worldwide

Noaccordion’s LP “Love Warrior” just came out and is available at online stores worldwide.  One of the best ways to support this LP is to purchase the music thru Bandcamp because they take very little commission and most of the money goes directly to the artists.

Support Us with Bandcamp

love warrior pre release party