Nahko Bear Talks "Creating Fires," "Bright Eyes" and Arise Music Festival.
The Arise Music & Arts Festival starts today and stretches well into Sunday afternoon for what can only be described as one of the most positive festivals on the planet. It’s a 5-day music, activation, co-creative camping festival that’s located just about an hour north of Denver at The Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO. There will be 5 stages with over 100 bands, DJs, artists, yogis and inspirational speakers.
The Rooster embarked on a candid back and forth with one of the festival performers, Nahko Bear, from Nahko and Medicine for the People, to dive into his perception of the Arise celebration, his daily life and what people can expect from the future of his band.
The Rooster: “Describe what it's like getting the opportunity to play all around the nation doing something you're so passionate about?”
Nahko Bear: “Humbling. To know where I've been and for all those who fight so hard to follow their dreams. I wake every morning so grateful to be a vessel for a new way of passing on oral traditions. A vagabond at heart, getting to travel this powerful country and abroad, as native America's representative is an experience worth writing about. Seeing the changes and hearing the first-hand accounts of how the music has affected and changed the lives of many – is fuel for our fire. This is a humanitarian effort and the sense of empowerment from our audience creates that deep resonating affirmation that this music is changing things in the world.”
TR: “You're on a fairly extensive tour right now, what is the best way to go about keeping your mind right amidst all the chaos?”
NB: “Keeping a fire. As often as possible we create fires to ground us and send our prayers beneath the ashes. The brotherhood has been strong recently and the sisters have kept us men in check with our integrity. This year has been full of growing pains, but the Aquarian in me lets go quickly and knows you've got to pay your dues. Push ups, throat coat tea, my dog Koda Bear, writing every day, coffee, fresh fish, songs of change, Macklemore, Conor Oberst, fires, rivers, surfing, Rising Appalachia, a bit of ganja, and my immediate family remind me to breathe and let it all happen as it's supposed to.”
TR: “Briefly explain how you feel playing a festival, like the Arise Music Fest here, vs. another regular show on the road?”
NB: “Festivals, at least they used to, are places for us to gather and create. The old way was to gather and barter, skill-share, celebrate, give thanks, etc. Certainly, our generation tends to party pretty hard – but I’d like to think we're moving into a place where we care more about partying with purpose, which means we gather for music and to meet other members of our global tribe. We create a sense of 'home' for many who feel like outcasts or rejects of society. We come to learn, teach, dance, sing, pray, share, recreate tribal living, and of course party. So, yeah, I'm way more excited when we are at a festival – where we gather in powerful country – rather than some of the usual bars and theaters.”
TR: “Who are you excited to experience while checking out other bands at the Arise Music Festival?”
NB: “Franti and Xavier are brothers, therefore I'm always glad to support and listen to their words. I've never seen Midnite– I believe in him – and am excited to see him for my first time. I love Freelance Whales – and I've actually been listening to a lot of them lately so I was excited to see they'd be there. Kn'nal is a group i'm really stoked to see too; I feel like we have a lot in common in who we represent and what we speak is what we walk.”
TR: “What was the inspiration behind the “Budding Trees” video and why was it important for you to include so many worldwide fans in the process?”
NB: “The first video we ever did was for our song “Manifesto” and I loved seeing other people sing the words. I always liked it better when it wasn't me singing the songs and my face in the whole thing. Like Bright Eyes's video for “First Day of my Life.” I love the idea of the story belonging to everyone. And that's why I chose to invite our “fans” whom I call our “family” to be a part of this story, visually, because I know that a lot of people resonate with the story of waking up and actually seeing things that don't serve you and cutting the bad fruit off the tree, so to speak.”
TR: “In a nutshell, how do you feel about the state of the music industry and the artists coming out of it?”
NB: “In all honesty, a part of me doesn't care. The music of our ancestors will always come through no matter what. The other part of me knows how involved we are now in it – and I see this generation coming forward and reinventing oral traditions. People like Xavier Rudd, Trevor Hall, Leah Song and Rising Appalachia, Tall Paul, Jacob Hemphill... young folks like that are reminding us that there's no time to wait for change and we are the ones we've been waiting for.”
TR: “What can people who have never seen Nahko and Medicine for the People expect out of a live show?”
NB: “Full throttle passion, the spirit of freedom loud and alive, shredding leads (haha), sing-a-longs, and a sense that you've actually heard these songs before.”
TR: “What lies in the future for you either in your personal life or professional life?”
NB: “Lots of laughter, horses, waves, jungles, recording another record this winter, hip-hop, fires, Indian stuff, Puerto Rican stuff, Filipino stuff, woods stuff, hand stands, prison visits, talks with elders, listening to babies, making dinner, write a book of lyrics and the stories behind them, sea kayaking, getting an acoustic piano to go on tour with, and burning down the house. Run with horses. Record it. Press it. Give it back to the people. Boom.”