New Music: From Enemies to Allies: noaccordion transmutes pain into transcendent, glitchy electronica on Surrender

New LP Surrender

When noaccordion’s Onah Indigo threw herself into writing music for her new LP she was hurting, physically and emotionally. She titled one track “Nemesis,” then “Enemies.” As the balm of creating music and collaborating with friends healed her hurt, she gave the track a final title to signify her new state of mind: “Allies.”

The Oakland-based electronic musician and accordion maverick was reeling from a soured relationship and the lingering pain of a back injury when she created the music on Surrender (self-release May 18). “The best way for me to work with pain was to make the music,” she explains. “It was a dark, heavy winter, and I just had to plug myself into the studio and focus on songwriting. I’m driven to process my emotion, and music-making transforms it into beauty.”

Surrender is the result of this alchemical process: transmuting the emotional energy of that leaden winter into glitch hop-infused electronic tracks. At the heart of each track, eclectic beats are juxtaposed with the unexpected samples that are typical of noaccordion albums- if anything about noaccordion can be called typical.

For one thing, there is accordion on Surrender. Despite her initial ambivalence about the unwieldy instrument that gives her act its name, Onah has embraced the accordion in the studio and on stage. On the downtempo meditation “Another Way,” she spins a thread of melody with the accordion akin to how some other electronic artists use violin, while on “Mars,” it takes on an aggressive, distorted edge that Onah describes as angry “Aries energy” in response to the current political climate.

“Grow” encapsulates the mood of the album. Onah builds a lush undergrowth out of layers of piano, heart-thumping beats, and operatic vocals. After she created the achingly beautiful backing track, Onah invited Aleksandra Dubov to lend some extra sweetness with her classically trained voice. The sonic landscape has a range reminiscent of Phaeleh’s cinematic electronica, but it’s charged with feminine energy that testifies to Onah and Aleksandra’s close collaboration on the vocals and lyrics. “After rocky relationships, where is it safe enough to let my garden grow?” Onah asks. “We both related to that.”

Onah’s alchemical quest for transformation takes her through a spectrum of personas and moods. On “Ready,” Surrender’s first track, Onah twines her voice with other singers to celebrate femininity and many forms of love. Onah sampled her own voice and pitched it down to play with a male persona on “Lessons,” the glitch hop track that closes out the album.

This sonic and emotional range is extended further by the artists that allied with Onah on Surrender, many of whom are also part of the East Bay’s wildly creative, deeply weird, highly collaborative experimental music and art scene. Trumpeter Eric “eO” Oberthaler ties together the cumbia-flavored beat medley of “Quick Time,” the sweet-sounding flow of Michaelah Miraculah overlays the heavy beats of “The Cure,” and a Reggae chorus by Spencer Garret Burton of the Indubious duo funks up “Goodness Rise Again.” Under Onah’s guidance, all these elemental energies feel at home in Surrender’s amalgam of sounds.

“That word surrender is a big deal for me,” Onah muses. “I want to surrender into the feminine, but most of the time I don’t feel safe. I’m trying to look at surrender from a more powerful point of view. Surrender isn’t giving up, it’s learning about when to yield, being more mindful, and accepting the moment with grace. Surrendering can be empowering.”

New Music Creates a 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/

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.

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love warrior pre release party

New Music with Freak in C: noaccordion’s Polyrhythmic Dance Tracks, Goddess-Loving Hip Hop, and Beautiful Contradictions New album Love Warrior releases Aug 18, 2016

Love Warrior LP cover
Love Warrior LP art

 

Freak in C: noaccordion’s Polyrhythmic Dance Tracks, Goddess-Loving Hip Hop, and Beautiful Contradictions

New album Love Warrior releases Aug 18, 2016

When multi-instrumentalist Onah Indigo first picked up the accordion, she had to put it down. It was heavy, awkward, annoying.

 

Yet eventually, she found an idiosyncratic stance 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.

 

On Love Warrior (release date: Aug 18, 2016), noaccordion’s first full-length album in five years, Onah digs deep into the polyrhythms and quirky phases of the heart. She taps MCs (Sunru, Chatterbox, Delwin G), beatboxers (Mastah Lock), and musical mavericks (guitar wizard Eenor) to get the party started–and to celebrate the glories of womanhood, from the elevated to the sensual.

 

“The tracks on this album mark a major milestone in my movement toward greater confidence and joy, something I think a lot of women can relate to,” muses Onah, speaking of her journey through motherhood, divorce, renewed sexuality, and artistic transformation. “I feel I’ve grown musically stronger and set aside all my obsessions as an audio engineer. I’ve become a lot more open and playful. For me now, it’s about juxtaposition, yin and yang. It’s the light and the dark. We need to embrace both.”

 

Embracing wide ranging influences comes naturally to noaccordion. Onah got hooked on club music during the first big wave of techno, drum ‘n’ bass, and jungle that swept Europe in the early 90s. She later turned to beatmaking after the death of her second child, as a way to cope with the grief. It became a musical fascination, one she honed over the years, in response to changing sounds on the electronic music scene, sounds that come through loud and clear on the trap-inspired instrumental “Frey”.

 

Rhythmic experiences from other traditions and genres, from samba to jazz, have infiltrated her beats, expanding the 4/4 tendencies of many club tracks. “I want to feel the internal pulse in my body,” Onah explains. “When you’re in a samba band, you dance as you walk to the beat. You internalize the pulse and then lay your polyrhythms on top,” an approach that creates intriguing tracks.

 

Like the club music and hip hop that inspired the album, noaccordion’s music is made to get people moving, while delivering a message of liberation, self-love, and sheer delight. “I’ve got a huge connection with movement and sound,” she says. “I can’t sit still when I’m playing. I’m going to embody that pulse in some form of movement.”

 

Hence the accordion, which, despite the project’s name, pops up on several tracks (“Trouble” and “Mama Nature”): It allows a keyboard player to move. But the instrument has a charisma all its own, one that Onah does not want to overshadow her work.

 

“I call my project noaccordion for a reason. People have strong reactions to the instrument. Most people love it; it often reminds them of their cultural past. But some people can’t stand it. It’s a particular sound, designed to be played outdoors and loudly,” she says. “I may not play it a few years from now. It may not appear in my repertoire. I don’t want to be defined by it.” But of course, sometimes noaccordion includes accordion: “I like to break rules,” laughs Onah. “Even my own.”

 

Though Onah’s songs, performances, and engineering are the heart of noaccordion, she brings friends and kindred spirits into the mix, fellow musicians from the Oakland underground with distinct voices and visions. They include vocalists like Sunru, featured on Love Warrior’s opening track. “He’s phenomenal. I needed someone who could pull off a Rick James-style vocal. He was the only one I could think of. We had a blast. He has to be one of the most unique guys, and his freestyle ability is amazing, hip hop meets metal.” Or Chatterbox, a puppeteer, MC, and environmental activist who connected instantly with Onah, thanks to his love of accordion. (He shines on “Mama Nature.”)

 

There’s a musical thread tying the tracks together, a harmonic choice that reinforces Onah’s call for self-discovery, for finding extraordinary strength and new insights in the ordinary. “Conceptually, these ten songs were all written in C, but the modes are each different,” she explains. “It adds to the strange harmonies that might sound a little unusual to some listeners. I’ve always had this weird relationship to C; I thought it was boring. But there are endless possibilities in each key. I’m finding the freak in the key of C.”

 

Finding the freak in plain sight is part of accepting freakiness and growing in love. “I had a huge heart opening a few years ago,” Onah recounts. “I’ve learned to that to keep my heart open I must maintain a fierceness. A warrior’s love. Even if people are knocking me down, I fight to stay in that place of love, starting first and foremost with myself.” It’s a fight worth fighting, and one that resonates beautifully on the dancefloor.