Q&A: Nabi Air

in SF Local Bands by

How did you come up with the name of the band?
Yoonha: The word Nabi means butterfly in Korean and bubbling up in Hebrew. They both have great symbolic meanings we vibed with and we coined the term Nabi Air since our sounds–vocals and instrumental–have an airiness to them.

How would you describe your sound?
Deric: We’re so early in the game that we almost don’t want to define it yet and put ourselves in a box. We would say a few common themes so far have been that they tend to be on the dreamy, sentimental electropop side of things with sultry vocals.

Yoonha: So far, people who’ve listened to our tracks have compared the sound to Purity Ring, Banks, and Odesza, so you get the idea of how it’s all over the spectrum. We’re okay with that for now since we’re still deep in the ‘experiment’ phase of our music career.

What are you listening to these days?
Yoonha: We both listen to so many different genres, but I’m currently obsessed with R&B and alternative pop and am listening to Billie Eilish, Jorja Smith, Kali Uchis, Frank Ocean, the list goes on.

Deric: I’m actually listening to a lot of acoustic music right now: Tallest Man on Earth, The Avett Brothers, Jose Gonzalez. Before that, I was listening to a lot of hypnotic, uplifting house – Shingo Nakamura, New Jackson, some old school Kaskade.

What does music mean to you?
Deric: For most of my life I fell into the trap that I was a logical problem-solver and meant to do technical pursuits like coding or math because I was good at them. Music taught me that this was wrong. The most important thing I’ve learned on this journey so far is that we are all creators. We are all artists who channel an underlying creative force. Our job is to unblock from the unhealthy mentalities holding us back from expressing ourselves – not to learn how to be creative, but to learn to help our inner artist release the creativity already inside us.

Yoonha: Once I stopped running away from acknowledging that music is what I love to do most, it empowered me to express myself more freely and connect with people on a whole new level. Even though we’re just releasing our first single, sharing and performing what we made and seeing people feeling it has been the craziest thing.

How’d you guys first get together to play music?
Deric: We started becoming interested in music simultaneously! I was going through a challenging period in the 30-person co-op I was living in, feeling super anti-social and purposeless. When Yoonha came over a couple of times and we started playing with beats, I felt that I had found something magical to help pull me out of my hole and guide me forward.

Yoonha: It was so fun to just create random stuff together and we got so into it! At first, we were both just focused on producing since I wasn’t sure if I should even suggesting using my untrained vocals, but one day I just decided to take Deric to karaoke to see if he’ll like my voice. He did.

What inspires you to write?
Yoonha: Honestly, everything in life is a source of inspiration as cliche as that sounds. I might be in the shower humming random melodies, reading a book, or even walking on the street and see a sign with a cool phrase. I have a running list of incomplete phrases and sentences on my phone which I find super helpful to come back to when I sit down to make them into songs. I also try to be more observant of my feelings nowadays and write them down which sometimes turn into good song materials.

Deric: There’s an inner energy, a deeply felt emotion that comes out in me when I hear certain types of music. For instance, uplifting, heavenly tracks give me a powerful sense of the experience of being human and connected to others, while hip-hop brings out the feeling of being on top of the world. Being able to experience those emotions through our own creations has been incredible.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?
Yoonha: Our debut single “I Already Judged You” just came out on all platforms, so we’d love for you to check it out. Listen and send it to all the fake people you want to call out.

Deric: I host a live music festival at the end of every summer called Solaura. It’s on the coasts of Mendocino with a beautiful private beach, a tight-knit community of San Francisco co-op members, and acoustic jams around the bonfire till early in the morning. If you’re interested in coming, you can find us at www.solaurafest.com. We’ll be playing this year!

With a discography that includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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