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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.

Searching for The Douen

I was so inspired by the The Sea I wrote this sort of sci-fi story. I’m hoping to adapt it into a short film for the song The Sea off my EP, QUARREL. If you’re an animator and you’re interested, or if you know an animator who would be interested, get at me! I’m aware of all the urgent issues we’re facing, and the environment is one of those issues for me. I think about what kind of world future kids would have to live in because of choices we make today. This is primarily what the story is about, and also these kids’ resiliency while facing great adversity.

In Spirit of Borges’s “Mutations”

After the collapse of the global empire, they are the children left. Descendants of the human race, whom survived the nuclear blast.

The nuclear blast destroyed all infrastructure and further poisoned all natural resources; leaving the land and the sea barren.

Affected by the toxic radiation, many living beings died immediately. Those beings whom adapted to the poison, became radioactive mutants; passing this gene onto their offsprings.

The life expectancy of anything became almost impossible to predict. As after birth, most beings experienced accelerated growth spurts. Aging exponentially in minutes, a baby can become an adult in a week; and if it survived the environment, dies from accelerated aging within a month.

The remaining scientists developed a vaccine which temporarily blocked the growth spurts, but they were still incapable of completely reversing the mutant gene which affected aging. So the life expectancy for any human is eighteen years, if that. They also were incapable of treating individual mutations; as the gene affected each human differently.

The human survivors live in the deep tunnels of once major hubs; creating underground shanty towns, or they populated caves until the rising tide flooded these temporary cities. The ever rising tide has drowned entire islands. The survivors are forced to return to an ancient practice of nomadism.

This is a tale of some of the survivors (approximated ages seven to fifteen):

Gus – because of their mutation they can only communicate through sounds. Their best octaves are those of seagulls: shrieking a soaring through the permanently blood orange acid rain sky, and their violent cawing when irritated. They are also twelve feet tall (and still growing), with almost elastic like limbs.

Beau – because of their mutation they absorb matter, and when agitated they become an enormous glowing mass of blue atomic energy. Their energy matter is a magnitude! Electrifying all the broken relics they and their siblings find discarded in the rising tide debris. They believe they were once the ruler of the sea: The Blue Whale.

Pen – because of their mutation, they have gill like openings around their neck making breathing the already toxic air difficult. They have an impeccable sense of smell which becomes overwhelming enough that they cannot see! Their hands and feet are webbed and flipper like… They are oval shaped, making walking and running difficult. So on days the children have to run from the acid rain or rising tide, Pen’s siblings take turns carrying them on their backs. Pen believes they could swim as gracefully as a penguin in the Sea.

Elie – because of their mutation their skin can easily create static. They can burn anything, so they cannot wear regular clothing, but a cooling skin like suit created by scientists. Because of their mutation they are capable of creating fire, which not only helps keep them all warm, but can heat and purify the toxic water for drinking and other purposes. They believe that in the sea they are an electric eel.

Buccoo – because of their mutation they can spread rapidly, changing and creating color and shapes: expressing their urgent emotion in branches of colorful reach, and mimicking their environment. Their most impressive and tranquil transformation is changing into a tree… The children read about “Trees” on a tablet they restored. With great meditation alongside Beau’s blue atomic energy, they discovered that their branches can extend and reach even further. Having the ability to create buds which blossoms into various fruit and vegetables which they all can eat! Buccoo believes that in the sea, they can become an entire reef where all can inhabit!

Scenes:

The children are performing a dance battle. Gus break dances at the start of the music. The musical instruments are from the relics, objects of the old world, which the children have collected and recreated to make sounds and to serve their needs for survival. When they are not scavenging for better shelter, the children perfect their instruments and dance moves.

With their elastic like neck, Gus interchangeably shrieks up to the blood orange sky, as their dance gracefully soars like a seagull in the shadows of the cave inhabited. They recreate silhouetted images of the dead animals who once roamed the land of the old world. They end with an infinity pose, while crying their best seagull.

It is an invitation, as Beau takes Gus’s energy and magnetically recreates their shadow. While Pen’s webbed feet and hands pulsates vibes and sustains this interaction, both Gus and Beau dance like the image frames from the broken cell phones, iPads etc. (relics) they restored.

Needing each other, the children look at each other with an understanding. As they perform the synchronized group part of the dance.

There is an old folk tale which they discovered on one of the relics. It was the tale of a mysterious sea creature – called The Douen – that bewitched children with the allure of the sea. This folk tale of The Douen was older than any of the worlds the children learnt of, as the tale was used as a cautionary example to scare children from venturing into the sea or else, “The Douen will have you for all of eternity!”

This old folk tale completely possessed them.

Gus, Beau, Pen, Elie, Buccoo were not frighten by The Douen. In fact, they wanted to find this mysterious sea creature, as none of them had ever experienced a “beach”! They have only read of the sea.

The sea of the old world was not what they’ve lived with.

They can all swim, but they could never swim enough to survive the ever rising tide!

With joyous giggles and wondrous glee, they all proclaimed their different stories of encountering The Douen.

They went to sleep searching for The Douen.

The Douen – with its broad brimmed hat made of colorful straws which hid its eyes and most of its face, and its just as brightly colored clothing – discovers their dreamings. Dancing hypnotically into their dreams, it visits their blood orange sky that rains acid. The Douen sings a song, and with each melody, it sounds fresh air inviting them into its sea, where the children become what they are:

<This is at the climax of the song, nearing the end where the guitar explodes alongside the piano’s garden forming flowers>

Bucco transformed into a entire reef garden, with ever growing green vegetation and algae, while Elie sailing along sporadically electrifies this hiddenness, while Beau gloriously spews blue through their vibrating magnitudes, while Pen swirls, somersaults gracefully through the currents, while Gus keenly looks from above, gently walking barefoot, as they squeal a joy unimaginable.

The Sea

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT

PHOTO BY ELIZABETH MANEY

Next Sunday, we’re back at the Williamsburg Music Center. Come join us!

WHAT: Nikkie & The Revivals
WHERE: Williamsburg Music Center, 367 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
WHEN: Sunday, November 11th, 9PM
WANT: $10

QUARREL THE EP IS OUT NOW!

It was a big week for me, as on Tuesday, October 30th, my debut EP, QUARREL, was released. It is available for download HERE!!! It is also available on all streaming platforms like Spotify! Click HERE!!!  Stream it. Share it. Download it. Put it on a phat playlist. Tell your favorite DJ to play it. Okay? Okay!
Also, I wrote a short story about a queer interracial couple navigating a world that really isn’t set up for people like them, and it is in Curve Magazine. Please read about it, as I really think it is important and it does matter. Click HERE!!!
Also, also, in celebration, I made a PLAYLIST. Here is one listing order:

QUARREL EP RELEASE SHOW (OCTOBER 30TH)!

I’ve been really torn about promoting my EP release show, since the world is becoming darker and darker, and posting about a show seems sort of frivolous. If not, just completely dense! But, I really believe in this album and its message. As it is sort of a fight against the crude maliciousness we are facing. The songs came from a place of seeking hope; finding another way out of despair. I truly believe art and music saves us. It has saved me time and again!
A week a go made it a year in which I went into Spin Recording Studio and recorded my debut EP, QUARREL. I didn’t sleep the previous night, as I was both extremely excited, and completely terrified! I was sitting on these songs for at least six years prior to taking that huge leap of, YES I AM GOING TO RECORD THIS EP. It was a long process getting to the place of YES, and many obstacles stood in my way, including believing I can do this.
Once I made the decision, everything came with such clarity… Even during moments of doubt, I walked through them with a flow which felt right. It was as if I was meant to do it, or I made myself to be meaning to do this! I knew what it should look like, how many songs, how they would unfold into each other while standing as themselves.

That said, although I was 100% sure this was what I needed to do, I did have moments where I felt I was losing my mind, for real! But I wasn’t walking into this fire alone. I could not have finished QUARREL without my co-producer and dear friend Mackenzie Shivers, and as well as the seriously gifted musicians/artists on the EP.

How I ended up working with Mackenzie and these musicians/artists was serendipitous as well. As QUARREL couldn’t be possible without another dear friend, Kenyon Phillips! I’m so grateful I’ve found these amazing humans who I can say is my extended family! Thank you family! Thank you Universe!

Anyway, the night of October 30th will be so very special on all levels! It is the last installment of one of my favorite humans and co-producer’s, Mackenzie Shivers, residency. If you’ve never seen Mackenzie perform, you’ll be immediately swept away by her generosity of soul (no lie!).
I’ll also be sharing the stage with some seriously inspiring and magical beings who have been consistently giving me life. Whom I righteously call The Revivals.

 

WHERE: Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3, 185 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002
WHEN: October 30th, 8:00 – 10:00PM
WANT: $10

Finally, as QUARREL is a tribute to my mother and brother, I felt it would make for the best birthday gift to my dear mother, Bernadette McLeod.


QUARREL
is available everywhere on October 30th! You can stream the singles, Deep Cry and Quarrel on all platforms!
In the interim, I made a PLAYLIST for Fall. Which is kind of an assorted – get ready for Winter – sort of list. If you’re not on Spotify, below are the tunes’ title tracks (with links) in one possible listening order:

Quarrel EP Release Show & More!

I’m very excited as my debut EP, Quarrel, release and show is happening in a month (October 30th). The release show will be at Rockwood Music Hall, where I’ll share the night with the brilliant and wonderful Mackenzie Shivers. The night will be dedicated to my late mother, as it is her birthday!

Also, Quarrel the single is making waves. Here is a thoughtful review from If It’s Too Loud:

“The second single from Nikkie McLeod’s upcoming EP is a more traditionally structured song than [their] first, “Deep Cry,” was. “Quarrel” moves towards more familiar instrumentation for mainstream American listeners, but there is still plenty of originality for us all. McLeod constructs a song that starts off as a laid back singer/songwriter track, but that simmers with this undefined intensity right below the surface. That lasts for almost four minutes, and then the song restarts as an almost orchestral song. It’s an over six minute song that feels both familiar and experimental.”

Lastly, I made this super dope SPOTIFY PLAYLIST, which includes music by my favorites!

Follow me on SPOTIFY for more music listings!

 

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