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/

The story behind the Title of noaccordion’s latest upcoming LP “Gurukula”

 

by Onah Indigo

For a month during December 2009 to January 2010 I traveled to Southern India accompanying 12 highschool seniors from Krishnamurti’s Oak Grove School based in Ojai, California. I had been a highschool art teacher there for 8 years and was chosen to lead the annual sister school senior trip to India.

Highschool Seniors plus two teachers

We visited 3 Krishnamurti boarding schools each for a week and then we finished up our trip at the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary in the rainforests of the far southern state of Kerala.

Oak Grove and Rishi Valley students
Oak Grove students performing at a school Mela

At the sanctuary I was entranced by this paradise, enticed by the concept behind saving plant diversity and during my visit I took many pictures and recorded bird and insect sounds.

air ferns

The name and place have always stuck with me and when I had finished the new LP this Spring I began to search for it’s name and the sanctuary came to mind so I decided to research what Gurukula meant.

Supi Seshan, co-director at Gurukula Botanical Santuary

I discovered that gurukula (teacher/family) was a type of residential schooling system in ancient India with shishya (students) living near or with the guru, in the same house and that this was the common form of education in India before British rule. For centuries India had been scattered with small intimate gurukuls. I thought the meaning of the word tied into my educational experiences at Oak Grove School and its sister schools in India so I decided to take it on as my newest LP title. I will give any profits made from the selling of this new music to the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary.

 

This is the beginning passage of Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary’s Story:

For forty years we have been observing how habitats and species of this mountain biome can be nurtured to health from conditions of devastation. It is clear to us that forests and grasslands and other habitats of the Western Ghats can return.

Our story is a simple one. There are two strands to it: a why and a how.

Briefly, the Sanctuary is a small community that nurtures rainforest beings.

This requires first of all: a living rainforest (living habitat). There can be no rainforest beings – plants, animals and fungi – without an actual rainforest, be it large or small. Furthermore, there can be no sweet water, rain or cloud, without primary rainforest (primary habitat).

Second, because rainforests have been so horrifically and massively destroyed, it is those very same rainforest beings that can help to heal decimated areas around standing forest, so that the whole forest can grow outwards again.

Forests need their beings. Beings need their forests. Our work, as ecosystem gardeners, forest restorers, plant protectors and educators, draws its inspiration from this conversation between living beings and their environments, and the fact that they are inseparable. Moreover, gardening, anywhere in the world where it is practiced as a conversation, works with the seemingly dual nature of life: its fragility and its resilience.

Third, there can be no human life without the forests of the planet. There can be no atmosphere or biosphere or hydrocycle or steady state climate without the great forests of this earth. Despite this incontrovertible fact, more forests have been destroyed than ever before, since the dawn of the new millennium. Soon there will be no forests if human beings continue with their destructive ways.

This is where people like us come in: gardeners. Because of what we have seen (on a very small scale), forests can return – in fact they do return. But they will do so only if certain conditions are met and only with the right kind of help. This is critical: with the right kind of help, the whole forest, and all its beings, grows outwards again.

We are gardeners who have worked for forty years in the Western Ghat mountains, protecting primary forest on a small piece of land, and restoring bit by bit, adjacent areas that had been completely devastated, to forest cover. Where there used to be one or two species of exotic crop plants, or barren hillside, there are now several hundred plant species growing in abundance. In fact there are over two thousand species growing here, an example of how a small part of the biosphere can be nurtured with a magnificent diversity of native plants……..  

 

Visit http://www.gbsanctuary.org/ourstory.html to learn more.

 

what is noaccordion?

onah destroy accordionbooking:noaccordion@gmail.com

 

CONSTANT CREATIVE COLLABORATION

“embracing both the darkness and the light”

DiVine ParaDox

saCred  irreVerenCe

Noaccordion is what happens you take a Classical pianist, Jazz vocalist, and Latin American percussionist combined with a love for Electronic Dance Music and 20 years of UK/US Festival Culture. Noaccordion is the music produced by Onah Indigo(singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist) and her collaborators. Onah is a sonic and visual artist who has been based mainly in Italy, Britain and California. Noaccordion is a cross over project between acoustic and electronic instruments and features effected accordion, analog synthesizer, keys, electronic beats and bass, beat box, Latin American percussion, MC’s, trumpet and trippy female vocals. Noaccordion’s music has been described as “retro yet futuristic” and “full of hooks” that sounds as if Gogol Bordello, Gotan Project, Portishead and Nina Hagen all joined forces.

Noaccordion represents the Divine Paradox(the precious duality we navigate during our lives) that sometimes manifests as Sacred Irreverence. Often we are told not to do something that can spark our interest and frequently drive us even more to act upon the things that we have been prohibited from doing. Why are there so many signs telling us what not to do? Why is the media obsessed with bad news? Aren’t bad and good just two opposite ends of a descriptive scale and the point where good begins and bad ends is constantly shifting?

Noaccordion’s debut EP, entitled “Noaccordion” and described as if “the B52s meets Portishead”, was released in April 2010. Sean Ingoldsby(musician and sound engineer) co-produced the EP and hundreds of people attended the CD Release Party held in Ojai, California. A few months after the release party Onah moved to San Francisco to complete her Music and Architecture Degree at UC Berkeley and graduated in December 2011. Having lived most of her life in small towns, upon moving to the Bay Area she finally entered into a much larger and more vibrant music scene than she had ever experienced. Through local stellar jam sessions she met most of her new amazing musical collaborators who have helped add a whole new dimension to the Noaccordion sound. The second EP, entitled ”Almostallaccordion”, was produced in Oakland, California and released in April 2013. This EP, described as “gypsy electronica triphop”, takes Noaccordion’s sounds to another level as it blends electronic beats and bass with live Latin American percussion, tango with hip hop, punk with trip hop and gypsy with drum and bass. The second EP embraces new musical collaborators including Evan Fraser(master percussionist), Mastahlock(beat box), Taj Angelo(MC), Abai(electronic music producer), Chatter(MC), and Danny Cao(trumpet). As opposed to the debut EP that had one song with a dash of accordion, the second EP features the accordion on four out of six songs. Noaccordion was also featured on two compilation CDs last year: The single “Little Birdies” was released on the SG13 [Symbiosis Gathering Compilation CD Vol 1] and the single “Bella” was released on the Accordion Babes Pinup Calendar 2013 Compilation CD.

Noaccordion is currently in the final stages of producing a third EP entitled “Community” that will be released in April 2014.  This new EP embraces a “time traveler, tribal, triphop” vibe and features heavily effected vocals, peculiar harmonies, local MCs and many elements of Electronic Dance Music.

Noaccordion’s main musical influences have been British Electronica, Chopin, Debussy, Satie, Jazz, Lamb, Massive Attack, Tricky, Cocteau Twins, Propellerheads, Portishead, Drum n Bass, Trip Hop, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Tom Waits, B52’s, Bill Withers, X, Stevie Wonder, Thievery Corporation, Air, and Dan the Automator.

Although Onah has been playing keys and percussion for decades it wasn’t until she started playing the accordion that people began to have distinct opinions about one of her instruments. The accordion and its cultural heritage mesmerize most people but a few abhor its piercing tone and have asked her to disappear. She struggles with the fact that everybody wants to hear only the accordion, including her musical collaborators, and they seem to have lost interest in her other instruments. Her accordion is taking over her life at the moment and many times she has to stand her ground and say “No accordion today, I’m gonna play the keys instead!”

Onah was classically trained on the piano from the age of 5 yrs old but she quit studying in high school when her teacher refused to let her play pop music. She took a break from the piano and began writing songs on the guitar. While living in Britain, during most on the Nineties, she was formally trained as a sound engineer and began producing her own Electronic Music. During this time she also studied Latin American Percussion and performed a few years with Jam Samba “10 piece Brazilian Percussion Group” and Tommy Rhumba “6 piece Cuban Percussion Group”. Upon her return to the States in 2000 she started her study of jazz piano/vocals, became comfortable with improvising and began writing songs for keys and voice. In 2009 she was given her first accordion and taught herself to play. After years of practice, personal work, meditation and study, Onah has finally accepted her unique voice and has relaxed into a vocal channel that ranges from deep soulful sounds, operatic highs, and gritty mids.

 

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Onah Indigo-producer, keys, accordion, vocals, backing tracks

 

CURRENT COLLABORATORS

Mastahlock-beatbox, drum kit

Taj Angelo-MC

Chatter-MC

 

PAST COLLABORATORS

Mcat Spoony-bass

Evan Fraser-percussion, bass

Abai-beats

Joel Elrod- drums

Ander-bass/keys

Kashia-DJ, percussion

Danny Cao-trumpet

DJ Vader-backing tracks

Sean Ingoldsby-co-producer, guitar, bass

Brad Buley-drums

Dave Anter-bass

Greg Weisman-drums

Joel Doswell-drums

 

GENRES

world, gypsy, tribal, electronica, hip hop, trip hop, downtempo, punk, rock, nu wave, electropop, time traveler

 

DISCOGRAPHY

2010 EP “Noaccordion”

2013 EP “Almostallaccordion”

2013 Accordion Babes 2013 Compilation (featuring “Bella”)

2013 SG13 [Symbiosis Gathering Compilation Vol 1]

(featuring “Little Birdies”)

 

Noaccordion returns to play the deer lodge tomorrow after 3 years

noaccordion returns to the Deer Lodge in Ojai tommorrow to play a featured set at Brad Buley’s Ojai Jamboree.  At 10 pm Onah will be doing a set of all original songs, many which have been written in the last 6 months.  She will joined by Sean Ingoldsby, local Music Producer and Musician who co-produced noaccordion’s first EP entitled “noaccordion”.  A second EP entitled “almostallaccordion” was released in April of this year and features many guest artists from the Bay Area.  Onah is currently lived in Oakland, California and is super stimulated by the vibrant art and music scene.  Last show that noaccordion played at the Deer Lodge was noaccordion’s First Ep CD Release party in April 2010.

HERES THE FACEBOOK INVITE

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/546351428782342/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

HERES SOME PICS FROM THE CD RELEASE PARTY IN 2010

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