American word-of-mouth sensations Nahko and Medicine For The People are currently making a brief tour of the UK with a series of shows which culminates with a gig at Bristol’s Fleece on January 24.
Nahko and Medicine for the People already have a Top Ten hit to their name in both the Billboard Top Alternative Albums and Top Heatseekers charts. As well as garnering a rabid following across the globe, the band’s profile has also exploded online, amassing over 150,000 Facebook fans and millions of video views.
Nahko, an Oregon-born citizen in service to the planet, is descended from a mixture of Puerto Rican, Native American, and Filipino bloodlines.
Disillusioned by the world around him and inspired by vagabond, Americana musicians and storytellers like Conor Oberst and Bob Dylan, Nahko left home as a teenager in search of adventure and self-discovery. Armed with stories, a guitar, and a fierce set of ideals, he set out to bridge the cultural gaps dividing his own psyche. His self-branded ‘Real Talk Music’ is a tribal/folk take on rootsy American pop, serving as a beautiful and uplifting exercise in connecting the mind, body and soul. Lyrically exploring meditative, spiritual and political themes such as indigenous youth freedom, sustainability, healthy living and direct action, Nahko describes his music as a mix of hip‐hop and folk rock with a world message. Andy Howells recently put questions to Nahko
How did the band come together?
Each member of the band has come from a different time and encounter. One was a bartender at our local tavern, one picked me up hitchhiking, another we met at a house jam rehearsal space in Bali, and yet others were met around community fires in Portland, Oregon. The resounding wisdom here is that you just stay in your flow and the right people will show up at the right time!
How would you describe your style of music?
The roots are acoustic folk story telling. sort of a throwback to a style of Americana that Rodriguez was playing. political, spiritual, autobiographical, and simple. Now, throw in some huge guitar licks, horn solos, electric violin, and a whole lot of rock and roll and you get us. The songs I write have influences from reggae, rock, funk, even jazz and classical elements… There’s something in there for everyone.
What has been your best live experience as a performer?
Too many to name, but the way I connect with my audience will always be my highlight. The knowing I see in their eyes. The language of no words. It’s so powerful.
Can you tell us about Dark As Night?
DAN is a record I know will have many more years/decades of life to it. We released it three years ago and since then it has gradually picked up speed. I marvel at witnessing its journey. The songs still teach me lessons on the daily within each chapter I journey through. That is the power of music and poetry. You’re always learning new things from them. The songs are personal accounts of life and lesson. Love and heartache. Mantras and reminders.
Who are your music inspirations?
Back in the day, it was a spectrum from Neil Diamond to Third Eye Blind. In my twenties, it was Bright Eyes to Broken Social Scene. These days it’s Edward Sharpe to Drake. How’s that for juxtaposition?
What was the first record you bought?
It was probably The Green Album by Weezer, Ha Ha.
Are you looking forward to the UK tour?
In general, I’m really excited to come to the UK and spread some more good vibes and love. We haven’t been to Bristol before, but judging from our last visit, I can imagine it’s going to be full power. Ya’ll are passionate about music as I am!
- Visit Nahko’s official website: nahko.com
- Andy Howells is a freelance writer. A version of this Q&A appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on January 22, 2015.