We sat down with one of our favorite people, Nyoh, to get her perspective on the being a musician during shut-down, what gives her hope, procrasti-baking and delighting the senses:
JM: Where are you from?
NYOH: I was born in Worcestershire, UK, but moved to Aotearoa (New Zealand) at the age of 3.
JM: Where does it feel most like home?
NYOH: New Zealand for sure, i'm very grateful for my childhood there. I feel a connection with the earth that i think can only really come out of learning from, and listening to indegionous Maori and their relationship with this 7D reality situation we're in. That being said, I have spent the last 8 years based out of London and my affinity with England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland is strong.
JM: Where are you living now?
NYOH: I'm currently living in Echo Park, Los Angeles. I made a lot of changes over these pandemic years, it's taken me a while to make this one happen!
JM: What is a typical day like for you?
NYOH: I'm writing, writing and doing all the things that can keep me in a space of awe at the world. I love Baking, I call it procrasti-bake! Most days I'm down at the Park with a book and a notepad. Listening to music always!
JM: What project that you’re working on now most excites you?
NYOH: I'm getting stuck into my solo stuff finally and properly. Learning more about sound is also really interesting to me right now. I feel very privileged to be working on lots of wonderful things, it's a secret sauce on a happy life I reckon.
JM: Who did you look up to when you were growing up?
NYOH: As a wee kid, an eclectic mix of female sailors, Aqua (the band), anything Spice Girls, anyone who had a motorbike and every Kiwi songwriter under the sun!
JM: Who do you look up to now?
NYOH: Now, it's just the same. Joking. I'd say i look up to those who make time to nourish all parts of themselves.
JM: What is the song or band you go to when you’re feeling sad?
NYOH: Mine would be something super depressing and acoustic. Neon Gru's would probably be a Daydreaming, Radiohead kinda sad.
JM: Where do you find inspiration?
NYOH: In delighting the senses.
JM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
NYOH: I've had so much good advice in this life so far, i'd say one that runs like a vein through my life is from an Eden Abhez song "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."
JM: Do you have a piece of advice for any young artists setting out in this world?
NYOH: To be an artist is a constant process of trying to figure yourself out in order to be clear to let flow through you what needs to. I guess i would just strap yourself in and enjoy that process, because it never ends. Oh, and you make some art sometimes.
JM: Is there an event or moment in your life that has had the most impact on shaping who you are today?
NYOH: Probably when I ended up homeless in Camden Town, London. It was a really freeing moment for my spirit. For the first time in my life I had a chance to construct my world from the ground up, i was struck by how elated i felt.
JM: What challenges did you face as a musician during lock-down?
NYOH: Well, the live music industry completely coming to a halt has been so bizzare. Some people are bedroom composers and some aren't. I'm not, but i've tried to be, (gives myself points for effort). Either way, I think all musicians can attest to feeling like they can only really operate at 60% or something. It's been a great time to practice my instruments, rest my vocal chords and remember that music is a way of life baby! FLOW!
JM: What are some silver linings you see that have come from the past year?
NYOH: Damn, it was deep, can I get an Amen?! For the first time in my life, I found myself financially stable, which was a miracle. Because of that I had the time to really face some things I'd been putting off looking at within myself. I'm proud of that.
JM: How do you see the music industry changing?
NYOH: By embracing a sense of who we are at all times, no matter the environment. I look at it from a viewpoint of 'I need to do this thing, whether I'm running it or not, how can I help make the environment the most open, comfortable space for everyone' The industry and the way music is viewed and received in general would change for the better I think.
JM: How would you like to see the music industry change?
NYOH: Have you got 5 hours? Hahah. Look, I'd say the industry has many different tiers and there's structural damage at every level. People make up an industry, people are what we are. Be nice.
JM: When did you first become interested in sustainability?
NYOH: Growing up in Aotearoa, you're taught from a young age how to care for the wildlife and nature around you. My parents had a roaring fruit forest and vegge patch growing up. I was so spoiled in Aotearoa with good food and pure nature that I was shocked when I first moved to London. I've always believed there are simple solutions to making your impact more environmentally friendly. I was lucky to be brought up in an environment where it was the norm. But I made a commitment when I first left home to live with nature in mind. I think making that personal commitment is the crucial first step.
JM: What are the main daily actions you take to try and live in more of a balance with nature, and to mitigate your negative impact on the environment?
NYOH: I make sure first and foremost, that what I'm putting in and on my body is as close to natural as possible. How can we be eco warriors for our greater communities if we're not looking after ourselves? Some people think that means buying expensive products and brands with plastic packaging. All it really means is shopping more local, buying from the market or getting organic deliveries. I love those bulk shops that let you bring your own packaging. Spending an extra 10 minutes the night before making sure you've got a water bottle, cutlery, a spare bag etc. As a musician, I take more flights than I'd care to. So I feel it is my duty to speak up about it more, weave it into my work, into my being, uplift people and their creative endeavours if they have ideas of sustainability.
JM: What do you hope to achieve with your art and music?
NYOH: To leave this world a little better than when I found it.
JM: How do you feel the music industry can play a role in shifting cultural consciousness towards more respect for the planet?
NYOH: It's a portal to the soul, if art doesn't lead, then we're fucked.
JM: How do you think the way people choose what they wear in New Zealand is different than in the mainland U.S?
NYOH: I don't think there's much difference to be honest. Fast Fashion has truly reached all corners of the globe. There is a wonderful culture of 2nd hand clothing and upcycling things in Aotearoa, and in general, I'd say a lot more space for eco brands to grow as businesses. But percentage wise, probably no more than anywhere else. People forget they're voting every time they pay for something. Who do I want to give my money too?
If you could get everyone on the planet to agree on one thing...what would it be? That if it's not good for one, it's not good for all.
JM: What are you reading/ watching/ listening to right now?
NYOH: I'm reading a book called 'What am i Doing Here?' by Bruce Chatwin. Listening to mostly everything I've put on that Jung playlist!
JM: What gives you the most hope for the future?
NYOH: Hiatus Kaiyote's forthcoming album haha!
JM: Can you think of a moment, any exchange/ situation or experience that left you with the most hope for good in humanity?
NYOH: I met a dude a couple years younger than me from Afghanistan, we'd both ended up sleeping in a train station in Brussels. He protected me all night, he didn't have to. He was searching for a better life, and the things he's had to endure to even make it to sleeping in the train station were abhorrent. He didn't have the privilege of fighting for the planet, because he had to fight for himself on the daily. All this shit and he still had the capacity to protect and serve the environment around him. If we who are privileged enough to make changes to the way we live, can do so, then the knock on effect of that ripples through the world in unimaginable ways.
Listen to Nyoh's playlist on Spotify here