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Mother

“Yet so many of the stories that I write, that we all write, are my mother’s stories. Only recently did I fully realize this: that through years of listening to my mother’s stories of her life, I have absorbed not only the stories themselves, but something of the manner in which she spoke, something of the urgency that involves the knowledge that her stories- like her life- must be recorded.”   Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens.

After reading this essay, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, I thought of my own mother obviously, and her stories she told me and my siblings. I remember how much it irritated me, since it was the same stories I’ve heard from the womb. But now, as I reflect on the stories that I’ve written, I’m reminded of those times she’d sit with us, and tell us about her life, like we were her recorder, documenting those times that were missed. I can’t help but see my mother staring back at me from my pages.

All my life, I’ve tried not to be like her, my mother. I’ve avoided experiences I believed would lead to one of her tragic endings. How sadly ironic, that the stories I was trying to forget are the stories that I’ve been unconsciously writing, that I can’t ignore because they make up who I am.

Walker also spoke about the lengths her mother took to transform their, shabby, home into something special, unique and warm, and how this act was her mother’s way of expressing herself. It was a manifestation of her mother’s love: planting an ambitious garden. It was, also, a reflection of her mother’s artistic abilities. This has opened my eyes to my own mother’s ambitious gardening.

When I was a kid, I never considered what my mother did in our home as a manifestation of her artistic abilities, mainly because it wasn’t something people celebrated, valued or respected. It was taken for granted, and considered something that women are expected to do. There wasn’t anything special about keeping a home, and raising five children.  Now, as I’m older, I regret that I never recognized and appreciated my mother’s ambitious gardening.

She knew how to make, and keep things beautiful, my mother. Even when she didn’t have the correct tools, she invented her own tools, and her own style which made everything even more special. She had the eye.

I miss her so much. And words can’t bring her back.  Nothing can imagine her back, or how much I miss her, my mother (My Imaginary Margin).  Especially since she can no longer share in my revelations.  Selfish, yes. Even now, when she’s dead.

I can’t remember exactly when I stopped celebrating Christmas, especially since it was such a huge deal for my mother. She’d go the extra mile, staying up all hours of the night on Christmas Eve, redecorating with new curtains and bed sheets.  The smell of freshly painted steps, and polished furniture swelled throughout the house, giving an exciting sense of newness, of home.

And of course the food, the food that was made with my mother’s hands, seasoned with all her love: baked fish, chicken, and stewed pork, macaroni pie, ham, callaloo and beans, and avocado salad; gingerbread, sweet bread, fruit cake, carrot cake, punch de creme (a Caribbean punch made of cream) and sorrel (a Caribbean drink made from the buds of the sorrel plant that grows in the Caribbean) that is boiled with ginger, and then sweetened with sugar, or if you like wine or rum.  Hmm, yum. The cooking was insane.  As a child, the kitchen was a garden of wondrous smells and deliciousness.

Mother is my substance, whose love I suckle upon
absent of thought to what she is.
Mother is my substance, whose skin is young as mine
even as waters sweeping along oceans and rivers
glowing brownish illuminations as the sun.
Mother is my substance whose personality
I mistakenly guise as funny, and foreign to mine

I’ve noticed in fact, the tendencies to hold my head like mother
my rear end suddenly resembles the roundness of her bountiful rump
and I’ve recently discovered a colony of moles on my neck like mother’s.
My laugh has changed as well into her scandalous octaves
which made you join in with joyous glee
I am reminded everyday of her presence and her legacy.
My mother, my substance, my ambivalent substance.

Second Single – “Quarrel”

Happy to announce that my second single, Quarrel, was released this week! You can stream and download on all platforms! Here are a couple:

SPOTIFY

BANDCAMP

What they’re saying so far:

The Autumn Roses
“Written soulfully in the Parang style native to their home of Trinidad & Tobago, “Quarrel” is a well of wisdom and the poetic, epic new single from Brooklyn’s Nikkie McLeod.”

SKOPEMAG
“The new single from Afrofuture artist Nikkie McLeod is a swirling storm cloud of trial and tribulation breaking into overcoming resolution. “Quarrel” is a ballad in the form of Parang music, a traditional folk blend from Trinidad & Tobago. Its steady rise and fall captures each breath McLeod pours forth from an aching soul. The title-track is off the upcoming EP, which is a dedication and tribute to their late mother and younger brother, whose birthday is September 8. Quarrel (EP) is out October 30 in honor of their mother’s birthday.”

Both “Quarrel” and “Deep Cry” are on this really dope playlist – CHECK IT OUT!

Finally, I’ll be starting off my three month residency at Williamsburg Music Center this Sunday, September 9th, 9PM.

QUARREL, the album, comes out October 30th, which is also the release show date at Rockwood Music Hall!

 

Three month residency at Williamsburg Music Center

Happy to announce that Nikkie & The Revivals will be playing a three month residency at Williamsburg Music Center: September 9th, October 14th & November 11th, 9PMWMC RESIDENCY FLYER

Interviewed on BTR’s Music Digest

Spoke a little about Deep Cry, and my upcoming album, Quarrel, on Break Thru Radio’s podcast Music Digest (click on image above for link). It was such a pleasure being on the show. It was also really hard discussing the story behind Deep Cry and the album… Give it a listen, as hosts JLM and BRYAN B shared some awesome music by artists new to me! Thanks again for having me Music Digest!

 

What They’re Saying!

Deep Cry, the first single off of my upcoming album – Quarrel – has been receiving really great responses (see below).

From Magnet Magazine:

“Nikkie McLeod’s emotional Quarrel EP debut is set to be released October 30. Coming to Brooklyn all the way from Trinidad, McLeod struggled with the feeling of being a black immigrant, as well as establishing an identity as being queer/non-binary. McLeod’s music expresses their emotions, discussing society and their own experiences with the uncomfortableness in it.

The six-song Quarrel also serves as a tribute to McLeod’s brother and late mother. On “Deep Cry,” McLeod expresses feelings toward their mom’s death through sounds rather than words. McLeod’s skills on the steelpan (Trinidad’s national instrument) come through in this emotional piece. ”

From Fresh on the Net:

“Nikkie McLeod’s song Deep Cry was one of the most popular tracks with voters and moderators this week.

Before reviewing I watched an interview titled ‘Gentle Lone Rider of The Masculine And The Feminine’ which tells the story of their childhood in Trinidad & Tobago and their move to Brooklyn, New York aged 18.

Nikkie McLeod is an inspiration, having grown up in a world that has been mostly unaccepting of their ‘beautifully singular androgyny’.

Nikkie is softly spoken and passionate, grew up a feet away from the Panosonic Connection Steel Band Orchestra, and spent nights listening from their bedroom to musicians playing steelpans. Following a move to the US, Nikkie learnt new instruments, and listened to R&B, Blues, Jazz, Rap/Hip-Hop.

Nikkie has distilled everything they have learned into their first album, which is dedicated to their late mother and brother.

Deep Cry is the album’s first single. The song takes us on a musical journey through Nikki’s life. Steelpan rhythms form the bones, and periodically new instruments accompany the arrangement, guitars, strings and beautiful harmonies. The resulting sound is unique to my ears and is a complete triumph.”

From Week In Pop:

“Brooklyn based rising star Nikki McLeod shared the powerful & vibrant single single “Deep Cry”…”

From Skope Magazine:

Afrofuture single from Brooklyn’s Nikkie McLeod

Born in Trinidad & Tobago, McLeod grew up listening to and playing the country’s national instrument, the steelpan. As a non-binary immigrant now living in Brooklyn, there is a wealth of influence behind their music. “Deep Cry” soulfully embraces a film-like reel of memories in each individual note. The first song McLeod wrote on the steelpan, its meaning wouldn’t become apparent to them until months later. They explain, “It’s a regretful song surrounding my mother’s passing, and not being able to say goodbye or make any reconciliations. I personally could not put words around losing my mother…all I had was the sound of it”.

From Diamond Deposits:

“Brooklyn based artist Nikkie McLeod gives us our Weekend Track titled Deep Cry–a haunting futurist pop composition with a lush dramatic instrumental rife with steelpan and deeply emotive vocals. Melancholic poetry with a future forward flair…”

From The Autumn Roses:

“Psychedelic and adventuresome, it leaps across genres and eras with a willing, thumping, hopeful heart.“Deep Cry” is the intricate, expansive brand-new single from Brooklyn, New York’s Nikkie McLeod.”

Download and stream Deep Cry!

Deep Cry

Last week, I released a single off my first album, Quarrel. The album is a tribute to my mother and brother whom have passed. The track released, Deep Cry, was particularly written for my mother. When she died I didn’t have words for what I was feeling, which was mostly a gamut of confusion, great sadness, an unbearable feeling of guilt, and an urgency to understand why? The only way I could express/communicate what was happening was through sound…

I still remember everything… I remember what I was wearing: a green striped button down shirt, tan khaki pants, and light brown leather shoes. I was sitting in my cubicle at work reading/responding to emails… At 1pm, I received the call on my work phone. I didn’t understand… I still do not completely understand… Because it was impossible. Still impossible! I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I had to get up. I had to go outside because everything was closing in on me. I remember what outside smelt like… Fresh like flowers… The gentle chill in the air was clean… But I couldn’t understand what was happening, what had happened – the impossible had happened. My mind kept playing the sound of your voice… It was alive and real! I can feel it! Impossible! The thing which still burns the most is our last conversation. We said regretful things to each other. You were always blunt, but I’ve always been aware of your enormous heart, as it is one of my many blessings from you! Your friends told us about the day this photo was taken… They said you treated yourself, spent the day pampering yourself, went and had your photo taken… It feels so good knowing this, and seeing your joy shine! Rest in Power 💕💕💕

You can stream and download Deep Cry at my bandcamp page:

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Quarrel will be released on my mother’s birthday, October 30th. Thank you mommy!