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!