Hello, I have some really great news! Recently, I was asked to do a podcast for Break Through Radio (BTR). The show will air every other Wednesday and feature Black, queer, trans, non-binary artists, in the hopes of sharing and exposing their work. You can listen to the first episode HERE.
Twenty-eighteen has been both a really trying and surreal year! I’m so thankful to have released my EP, QUARREL, and to have worked with humans who continuously inspire me. This will be our last show of the year, but we’re looking forward to a brighter twenty-nineteen. We’ll be coming through shredding some intentional guts!
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!
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.
Next Sunday, we’re back at the Williamsburg Music Center. Come join us!
The Sea by Nikkiesha McLeod
Anna Wintour by Azealia Banks
You’re Gonna Need This by Nikkiesha McLeod
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!
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!
Drinking Again by Aretha Franklin
Leyendecker by Battles
What Would I Want? Sky by Animal Collective
Deep Cry by Nikkiesha McLeod
Nessun Dorma by Aretha Franklin
The Parting Glass by Mackenzie Shivers
Falling in Love with Love by Ahmad Jamal
On a Highway by Animal Collective
Lilac Wine by Nina Simone
Why Did You Separate Me From the Earth? by Anohni
But For Me by Ahmad Jamal
Atlas by Battles
Execution by Anohni
4 degrees by Anohni
Quarrel by Nikkiesha McLeod
Believe by Mackenzie Shivers
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!
Happy to announce that my second single, Quarrel, was released this week! You can stream and download on all platforms! Here are a couple:
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.”
“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!
Happy to announce that Nikkie & The Revivals will be playing a three month residency at Williamsburg Music Center: September 9th, October 14th & November 11th, 9PM
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!
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!
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:
Quarrel will be released on my mother’s birthday, October 30th. Thank you mommy!
Eyes On the Elbows’ debut album Decay is far from a state of festering decomposition, since on every track you see colors dancing in a sometimes fury escape of wild emotions, to a slow disappearance of a strange moss that is plantae. Maybe the idea is that, within decay there is growth, movement, since decay itself is organic matter. In which case, Decay, the album, achieves this process of transcendence, as it uses many popular niches of previous soundscapes, zeitgeists, what have you, and reinvents them. Well of course, the band itself is not even a band, but a very diverse community of musicians coming together by exact chance for jam sessions. This experience is possibly very reminiscent of the collective Broken Social Scene, the exception being, Eyes On the Elbows sound is taking, involving, not only the decay of indie music, but music that was once popular, that are now worn and cast aside into the ether.
Decay begins with Broken Country. A creeping guitar, nostalgic in its purposeful delivery, time travels to when punk and post-punk was a thing, and bands like the Gang of Four were rebelling against the superstructure. Broken Country enlightens and links this commonality of the social and political ills of society to as far back as when “civilization” began. This seems evident with the well placed medieval, grand opera, vocals mixed alongside tribal drumming. We return to the 20th century with the introduction of jazz saxophone, which not only marks a new and different musical direction for Broken Country, but as well demonstrates how much that has been learnt, “discovered,” but yet socially things are exactly the same. The presence of the accelerant nature of contemporary technology further amplifies how drastically behind social progress is against technological advancements.
This imbalance is sharply recognizable in Decay’s second track, Raise Your Heads, as the song’s usage of contemporary tools manically implodes, explodes, and finally collapses. Raise Your Head’s hinting of the musical genre Jungle and its derivative, Drum and Bass, demystifies, rejects, and welcomes the idea of the drum-machine. The ghosts of the past are rediscovered and are digitally dressed up in the song’s refraining chant: Raise your heads above your phones. The song passionately expresses extreme, dangerous anxiety, which is pretty much how we avoidingly exist. The suggestion in Einstein’s famous quote is immensely felt: I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots. His fearful posit exposed something far greater than idiocy, but more indicative of the growth of complex irrationality.
We are brought back to the breath on Subterfuge, as the song invites everything that is ignored. The breath existing in this sound waits, allows for gills to respire, for photosynthesis to be discovered. The patience held in every motion, alive in each phrase as subtlety flutters, are the whys we want to communicate with each other. In the simplistic vocal phonetic of Subterfuge’s initial tum tum tah, it describes the wonders of internal beauty, small galaxies under-discovered. Larger than the confusing guile of what is presented, these small galaxies in tum tum tah are given realization, to acquaint themselves, dream even expansively further than a passage of the allowed kind of acceptance that is “journey.”
Subterfuge’s sudden ending destroys the found cohesion of the breath. The introduction of the thickly synced riff of the horns with the heavy bass on Thirteen (when I Was) nomadically drags an uncertain travel. Uncertainties that are richly layered, hypnotically romantic enough for intrigue. The bass’s wide-reaching risk of a recurring evocation reveals an existing foreboding in its distorted melodies. There is nothing safe about this wandering. It is perspicuously suspect, even in the voicing of the horns’ fleeing mirth; there still is devastation.
California Chill is comforting, especially with its wanting to relieve that hunger for reciprocity. Lampooning its glee, the song plays upon the bright shimmers of appearances, while there is a sickening buried deep within. Its rhapsody is almost a Shakespearean soliloquy, a scene of falsehoods displayed as cinematic fashion that is a mirage, a “vision.” The lethargic dream like guitar riffs déjà vus an action to wake up, but its repetitive executions is a defeatist attack against a consistent sleepwalking, a chemically altered state. California Chill expresses an addictive want for a panacea, as it liquidly glaze effortless ease.
The parody does not end with California Chill, it continues in the less sophisticated track Ptandr’usk. Ptandr’usk’s lack of sophistication has everything to do with the song’s deliberate efforts at expressing buffoonery. What better way to do this, but by listening in on a conversation between two teenage boys speaking in German about their exploits at a party. The seriousness of their account is the butt of the joke, as the song’s instrumentation indulges and teases this dialog, while simultaneously snickering on the side. The use of droning techno give rise to this experience, as the environment slips from being in a video arcade to a club, where the walls are a living pulse; where all inhibitions are abandoned, and one cannot help but lose themselves in a wild dance.
Responsive to Ptandr’usk’s buffoonery, So What Do You Want returns to Decay’s unchanging narrative: the search for clarity. It moans a very human condition; the experience of loss resonates from the onset of its introduction. The barrenness of its instrumentation spotlights a core of soulful longing, which the bass and drums drives forward. Their rhythm and blues riff patterns maintains a grounding for the vocals and other instruments to delve into and investigate. So What Do You Want begs for answers in its tonality, and its lyricism portrays this predicament.
Decay ends its kaleidoscopic undertaking with the instrumental track Not The Best of the Evenings. The track attempts to thread a closure for all the avenues, alleys, vestiges existing in the album. Even though Not The Best of the Evenings’ jazz fusion style is an intellectual endeavor for closure, it does not pretentiously reconcile Decay’s conundrum. It however brings about more ceaseless questions, but it appears that there is a level of placidity with this acknowledgement, which is completely satisfying.
You can stream the entire album here:
Uncommon to commonplace trends, Passenger Peru‘s self titled album subtly dismantles the norm, and engages with teases, licking a familiarity only when necessary. You are a passenger on their quest. For sound that will rearrange thought processes for listening to and discovering devotion and discipline, I learned so much from this record.
I remember the night I first was introduced to these guys. They were Pet Ghost Project then, and I was so enthralled by their attempt to create something exceptionally special, that I bought all of their cds. The delicate attention to detail that I was waiting for back when they were Pet Ghost Project is now fully expressed in this new direction, where it’s just the two core members of Pet Ghost Project: Justin Stivers, and Justin Gonzalez.
With just Justin Stivers on bass, and Justin Gonzalez on guitar, they eliminated the need for a live drummer/percussionist with great success. You’ll understand what I mean, if you ever go to one of their shows.
Anyway, I’ll be playing Passenger Peru to its entirety on the next Broad Strokes hour with Calypso Sally, Wednesday, August 29 at 8:00pm on Washington Heights Free Radio (WHFR). The band will be present to answer any questions I, or you may have.
The next Broad Strokes episode on Washington Heights Free Radio (WHFR) is scheduled for next Wednesday, June 27 at 8:00pm with special guest Fables. The electric duo Fables will be playing a live acoustic set in WHFR’s studio.
Also, last month’s Broad Strokes was a blast. Listen HERE, see below for the playlist.
Intro by Gary Clark Jr.
Fitta Happier by Quakers
Dark Horse by Other Lives
Rise to the Sun by Alabama Shakes
Outro by Gary Clark Jr.
Blood by The Middle East
Hustle Bones by Death Grips
Black Fractal by The Netherlands
Alternative Power to the People by The Dandy Warhols
Other People by Beach House
Disparate Youth by Santigold
The Night by School of Seven Bells
Deeper by THEESatisfaction
No Hands by Mirel Wagner
Steamship Authority by Father Figures
Bringing you stories, live events, and much more, WHFR tries and remains independent of any corporate sponsorship. So, if you like what WHFR is doing, you can donate by contacting us at email@example.com. DIY forever baby!
I haven’t been posting as regularly as I use too… Things change, again and again, but anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to:
It has been awhile since the last Broad Strokes broadcast… Broad Strokes is still alive and kicking it! In fact, there’s a show this Wednesday, February 29 at 8:00pm on Washington Heights Free Radio (WHFR). The first show for the year! And what better way to start your Broad Strokes listening off with a First Listen of new music.
This first show of Broad Strokes will test the waters of 2012, featuring new music by the band The Catskills. Presently, a nomad Americana band that you may have known as Object. Nomad, because after the release of Object’s EP, Tomorrowland, band members Eric Kramer and Maria Schettino decided to flee the out of control high stress, and accelerating rent of New York.
They freed themselves of their Brooklyn home, equipped with a practice and recording space, for the open air and more room to truly reflect. A reflection that translates a simplistic longing, that doesn’t beg for approval. Their music now, as Catskills, expresses the generosity that you’d find gripping you at night. Love exists between them, that a lone wolf wanders, and hopes to find in a howl.
Calypso Sally will be your conductor, as we travel and ask hard questions about putting out a record outside the Mecca of record making New York.
Bringing you stories, live events, and much more, WHFR tries and remains independent of any corporate sponsorship. So, if you like what WHFR is doing, you can donate by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org. DIY forever baby!
The gorgeous vocals, the bass with a voice of its own, the lonesome guitar that is perfect for winter, and the precise drumming makes you want to listen to Let Fall the Sparrow on repeat. I know I did. This post-punk trio elevates what it means to play an instrument, and also what it means to be a songbird.
The well balanced experimental structure of Let Fall the Sparrow‘s self titled EP makes you think differently about music today. If you ever stop playing the track, For Those Things That Are Past, you will feel exposed to a grandiose conviction that musicianship can mingle with raw passion. You wonder if is it now you will experience what it truly means to delve in the mist of composition… Composition that is unlike many of the bands today. Let Fall the Sparrow is clearly not beggars wanting to be listened to and validated, they’re about the negotiation of sound and how even in its chaotic sense can formulate a pattern, if one just listened carefully.
Broad Strokes with Calypso Sally on Washington Heights Free Radio (WHFR) will bring you a first listen segment of the band Let Fall the Sparrow‘s self titled debut. We will also have a chance to talk to the band’s bassist, Lilly Pritchard, live from San Francisco. So tune in next Wednesday, November 16 at 8:00pm.
Also, if you missed last month’s broadcast when Teletextile brought the house down to silence, completely (first time for everything), you’re still in luck, since you can listen to the broadcast HERE.
Bringing you stories, live events, and much more, WHFR tries and remains independent of any corporate sponsorship. So, if you like what WHFR is doing, you can donate by contacting us at email@example.com. DIY forever baby! Broad Strokes’s Schedule:
- November 16th, a first listen/live interview of the west coast band, Let Fall The Sparrow.
- December 28th, Glass Anchors
- January 25th, TBD
If you’re in a band or you know a band and or singer/song writer that would like to do a show, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.