We each have our own unique drum to beat across the glowing sky from our dawn until our dusk and ever after through the stardust of the universe and beyond this is why being able to talk exclusively with Meka, lead vocalist of Meka Nism, meant so much to myself personally. There has been great enjoyment watching and getting to know a little more about Meka since connecting with her a few months ago. Her ideals are wide open, her passion is more than just a flame, and her zeal for living catches you in her music. Thank you for the opportunity Music Matters and especially thank you Meka.- Song River
Hey Meka Nism thank you so much for talking with us at Music Matters! We hope this is okay but we wanted to direct our questions over to mainly Meka.
Hai, yes, arigato, so happy to talk to Music Matters!
MM: Meka you seem to have a unique background. What is your association with the Far East?
Meka: Sometimes you have an unexplained calling to go somewhere. I was looking for musical inspiration, life inspiration, to experience something different. My heart was drawn to Japan for so many reasons, though I am sure I was unaware of most of them, so I just started talking about wanting to live there. A girl in a coffeehouse called Stardust told me about how she went and I followed the clues that she laid out for me. Everything clicked in place and I rushed to finish my acoustic album “Mad to Love,” as project name Meka Nism & her Rusty Tears. I released it the same week that I moved to Japan and it was with me all over the country as I played over 150 shows as I solo artist, Ms. Meka Nism and with a band that I created with Japanese singer/songwriter/bass player Yukari Ikeda called Origami Girls. We recorded several singles with 2 songs each and even made a zombie movie for our Halloween release Zombie Grrrls! Japan is such a special place that is quite dear to my heart, as a second home. I enjoyed many cultural experiences and had the chance to study some Butoh dance with Ima Tenko and be exposed to some Shinto traditions and Buddhist philosophies.. The depth of respect and rich content of every interaction will be with me for life. Went back recently for Yukari’s wedding to her visual kei rocker husband Chu, and they now own and run Rock Bar Chu in Osaka. Got to play there and a few other appearances at Hide Ultra Bide’s studio (where I recorded some experimental punk inspired songs, still to be released) and a live house called Urbanguild where the performance art community thrives. Very much looking forward to taking Meka Nism with our new release, “The War Inside,” back to Japan to unite my tribes, my fam from both countries and have lots of onigiri (rice balls) and green tea.
MM: What influences from your time there do you think stayed with you?
Meka: The deep connections, deep appreciation for detail, constant respect and awareness of others space and comfort. Everything was cared for, there is no trash on the ground, extreme train etiquette, there are social rules for everything, so it’s more predictable to know how to behave in some situation, like a script has been laid out for many interactions, so there is a feeling of comfort and safety in daily activities. I really admire this. I could never understand or maintain these qualities fully, but I do have a huge awareness for things that I would have never noticed before. There is a zen to every moment, there is a sacred way to interact with all the mundane tasks in life. Being more present in cooking, cleaning, painting, singing… is a new goal of mine because of my time in Japan. I like to eat seaweed and sour pickled plums now. No shoes on inside the house, I eat miso soup when I am sick. The gentle feminine qualities influenced my fashion; I wear more flowers in my hair and more girly clothes, well, sometimes, lol. I still watch Japanese televison, bow at everyone and use Japanese words for things I can’t express as well in English. Yabaii desune (Isn’t that a little dangerous?!)
MM: How have you integrated them into your song-writing?
Meka: The first song that I wrote when I returned to the states was “Bring the Sun Back,” a tribute to my sorrow of leaving the land of the rising sun, and asking that light that it filled me with, to return to my soul. Some of the lyrics are in Japanese, and the imagery of the music video is inspired by the Japanese mythology of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu and the art of Butoh dance. The song “Mouth of God,” from our second EP, “The Shift:Anthems for a Revolution,” was originally titled “Kamikuchi,” which translates to god mouth, talking about the Japanese female Shamans who healed by speaking directly to spirit. Now, the band has continued it’s evolution and I write lyrics that are intentionally charged with the messages of self- empowerment, manifestation, spiritual healing and having the courage to face your fears and challenges while allowing them to become your blessings. I definitely learned many things in Japan that sparked my continuous desire to learn even more. I believe that everyone should live someplace outside of their “hometown,” to expand their minds, hearts and comprehension of the meaning of being human. Sometimes when you can’t physically travel, though, you can use the music to spiritually travel. I study Shamanism, and this is exactly why I use the music that I create to be a journey past the previous limits of understanding and the sound medicine for the dis-ease caused by the difficulties of our lives. Taking listeners to the energies that I experienced in Japan, Hawaii, Brazil, Dublin, New York or Germany is the way I share my passion and healing. That’s why “The War Inside, ” is very important to us, because it is the expression of heightened experience of sound that relates to our cultural, mental and spiritual travels. Looking forward to seeing where it takes us next. 🙂
MM: How about your performances and even more importantly your lifestyle?
Meka: Many artist in Japan dedicate their entire life to perfecting a single style of art. They sacrifice everything for it with most impressive discipline imaginable. My strengths are very different, I am much more of an emotional and intuitive artist, but I have given my life to my music. My parent’s taught me the value of hard work, family and problem solving. From all of these sources, I have found that dedication, sacrifice and commitment are treasures in life. I will never stop singing, writing, painting or performing. The musicians, butoh dancers and other artists that I become close to in Japan showed me the intensity of devotion that they put into their craft, like a personal religion of their our creation. To witness their gift and know their motivation at this magnitude was one of the most awe-inspiring and humbling experiences of my life. I know that each of the members of Meka Nism have made sacrifices for the music that we are creating and the life that we life in order to stay dedicated to our passion, and like the creatives in Japan, we are just getting started.
MM: Were you the child around the house growing up who was always singing?
Meka: Absolutely, I would even put on mini concerts on my front porch and invite the neighbors. My mom was involved in technical theater arts, so I was always backstage pretending to be the understudy for all of the parts. She also threw me fancy tea parties and made sure I had a treasure chest of costumes to become a new character everyday. I took many dance classes including ballet, jazz, tap, International Folk Dance and that helped me develop my passion for travel. My aptitude for fantasy may have encouraged me to exit reality a little more than anticipated, but I am still very grounded, just don’t expect me to dress like a normal person, or the challenge may baffle me. Good thing I have fashion designers like AshRock Art making me magical head pieces and such for my Live shows!
MM: You seem naturally comfortable in front of a camera and with a mic in hand- do you still get the jitters before a performance?
Meka: It’s more nerve-wracking doing regular life tasks, but yes, sometimes, I do get nervous. I see the stage and camera as sacred space to deliver my energy and message while connecting to an amazing group of kindred souls in the audience. It’s important to me, and now my band to offer something special on stage, something with meaning. We have so much love for what we do and commitment to it. The reason WHY I perform is probably why I forget to be nervous about not being perfect, or not being something someone wants me to be. My uniqueness is what I have to offer, and because I sing and scream with as much intensity as I do, and have bright red dreads to wear my courage, and dress in Shaman inspired garb, I instantly give permission to everyone else around me to be their most unique self. I may not fight into categories very well, but I do expand the boundaries of what previous limitations where held before. There aren’t a lot of women in heavy genres of music, or spiritual themes in metal, but maybe its time there is, and that makes me very confident to take all of my qualities and imperfections on stage at full blast at every opportunity.
MM: The music video certainly conveys the power of our own mind. How much of the song is actually your own personal story Meka?
Meka: It was such a pleasure working with Jim Doughtery and everyone to bring, “The War Inside, ” to life. The video takes place in 2 worlds, 1.Conscious Reality when we are dressed clean in all black and 2.) The Underworld/ Subconcious, the place where the Shaman does her healing work where we are all more dirty and post apocalyptic looking with the presence of the Chakra/Butoh dancers as our fears and our solutions. It shows me as myself, my own displaced crown chakra, and my own healer/ Shaman rescuer. I practice the healing arts of Reiki, Shamanism, spiritual advisement/tarot reader and energy work. This video is the expression of a Shamanic journey and a reiki healing. We all have so many issues that we face on a daily basis, like addiction, depression, anxiety, insecurity and other fears. This song and video for “The War Inside,” represents the struggles and path to recovery, by facing what we are afraid of, and letting it heal us, we are set free from disease and limitations. It shows my own personal healing journey, through my experience lens, but it relates to everyone going through similar challenges. The story is timeless and universal for those who wish to relate.
MM: Struggles come with the frailty of being human, from where do you draw your strength? Whether it be writing, performing or simple daily tasks of just cleaning house, or driving to the store?
Meka: Struggles are your opportunity for blessings, chance to get uncomfortable and make changes. Everything can be so hard, but, somehow, we do it. I find myself being afraid of simple things, but extremely brave in the most terrifying times. I am at my best when working with others, and giving to others, but I need a lot of alone time to recharge in silent mediation (and lots of naps, lol). I can give encouragement to others easier than myself, but I know that they only way to help others is to fight to be my best self. Not sure what that is, but I learn a new strength everyday. I draw a lot of strength from my close friends, strong family, and focusing on a higher purpose in life, even when I forget to get an oil change or need to go to the horrifying grocery store to survive. lol.
MM: What does your creative space look like, describe it to us.
Meka: My home is a funky, creative, abstract collective art gallery. I have a dressing room covered with photos of inspirational female singers like PJ Harvey, Janis Joplin and Siouxie Sioux, my paintings of witches burning at the stake,waterfalls, faces, etc, vintage hats, crazy jewelry and costumes. There are alters for my meditation, tarot cards and spiritual tools, too many books, records, CDs, and instruments. I love to cook healthy, flavorful food, and drink tea or my signature coffee Meka Nism Shaman Blend from Breyting Community Roaster (www.communityroaster.com
) I love doing yoga or dancing in my living room, though it is a creative use of space, good thing living in Japan taught me how to “Tetris” everything. lol.
MM: If you had one gift you could pass onto humanity would gift would you give?
Meka: Enlightenment, not that I have it to give, but at least the quest for it. May I sing to “wake up,” inspiration and courage in others, may I live to see us all elevate to the next level of human consciousness. May everyone know that they don’t have to be like anyone else, but they are not alone. May I give the gift of the awareness and tools to battle “The War Inside,” to those will need it. May one song give you confidence to live your best life, create your own miracles and face another day.
We all want to thank Meka of Meka Nism for taking the time to chat with us so we can learn more about her and her creative side, and how she appreciates and views life. Be sure to check out the music video below for “The War Inside” and leave a comment with your thoughts!
“The War Inside” is their single off their upcoming EP which is still to be named. More details regarding their debut album will be released and Music Matters will bring you that info soon as we can!