nakho bear

Q&A: Nahko Bear

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Nahko and Medicine for the People are making their way to San Francisco with a show at The Independent on Nov. 9th. They’re currently on tour in support of Nahko’s debut solo album, My Name is Bear, which was just recently released on Oct. 20. Nahko also released the first music video from the upcoming album, “Dragonfly,” which features his close friend Paris Jackson, which you can check out below.

In preparation for the San Francisco gig, Nahko was kind enough to answer some questions for us. We went over how he finds inspiration for his stories, where he thinks his Native American heritage is heading and how he came to become friends with Michael Jackson’s daughter.

For someone that’s never heard your music, how would you describe it?
Alternative world music with a focus on social empowerment through poetry, action, and inclusiveness.

A big element of your songwriting involves storytelling. Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?
From life, baby! I write from experience, intuition, and heart. I am a constantly amazed by this life. Our path leads us to very interesting places and I do a lot more than play music so my intake is well rounded.

How did your band first come together?
In some pretty random ways! Horns met around a campfire. Guitar picked me up hitchhiking. Drums was the bartender at the tavern in Hilo. Bass I found in Bali. Violin found in Portland. It was organic and destiny!

What do you hope to accomplish with your music?
I hope to help people connect on a deeper level to themselves, their journey, and to pacha mama. To find service in the heart of the work.

You’re about to release your debut solo album, My Name is Bear. What was your main inspiration for it?
I’ve always wanted to get these older songs out. To give them life. It was only a matter of time. It is a perfect building block to a better foundation and understanding of how the past three Medicine records have been created. I like anthologies. I love prequels. This is just that!

You just released the first music video from the upcoming album, “Dragonfly,” which features your close friend Paris Jackson. How’d you guys meet and come to be such good friends?
We met in LA. We are kind of neighbors. She’s on my level or perhaps I’m on hers. We both really appreciate genuine people and are working on similar frequencies. It was super fun for both of us to get to create something together. We are very proud!

You’ve talked about your work with a number of Native American Tribes in different interviews. What do you think is the future for of Native American people and their traditions in this country?
Our First People’s in this country will continue to fight for their rights to live on their lands, practice their traditions, and preserve sacred sites. My prayer is that the majority of people in this country begin to respect and take notice of our people and realize that they too will need to stand up for clean water, air, and we all must take part in fighting for justice. Climate justice is where everything meets at a crossroads. Eventually, I see many returning to the old ways of the First Peoples.

There’s a lot of depth to your music. Where do you find the courage to be so open and intimate with your songs?
It’s taken years to come of age, but I suppose it has come from getting dragged thru the mud and finding the ocean to cleanse in. I tend to want to round out my struggles with big pats on my back and saying hey lil buddy it’s gonna be okay haha! I try to stay positive as possible. Life is a weird and wild ride. I’m just learning to hang on.

You’re playing The Independent on Nov. 9 in San Francisco. What do you like most about our city?
SF has some of the most diverse history in our country. My own time there has always been full of synchronicity and adventure. I love that I can blend in. It’s easy to be weird and look crazy. I’m just another unique being.

What’s one thing most people would be surprised to find out about you?
I’m super OCD? haha!

Nahko – My Name is Bear plays The Independent w/ 1,000 Fuegos, Christina Holmes // Thu, Nov 9, 2017 // Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm // $30 ADV – $35 DOOR

An avid drummer whose discography 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 many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for and, 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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