Agape with a Splash of DMT: A Walkingbird Recipe
Board of Directors
Love The Everglades Movement
the presence of so many lives,
monuments to joy, the tender traumas
of dreams abandoned, medicine sprouting from
guarded soils -- you can feel all that pulsating
in the early morning, you can feel all
that ensconced in the subdivisions, you can also feel
the spirits that these people care for according
to their own traditions, You just can't see it. Thick fog.
You can feel it in the thick fog.
You gotta go slow. A shattering contradiction after
returning from HyperReal Scintillating DMT-Space.
Walkingbird at The Shaman Lounge hosted a DMT smoke session earlier that night. She's the kind of Shaman Woman of Power who said she in-joys "Agape with a splash of DMT!" A Walkingbird recipe. When the artistic collaborators needed a safe space to re-calibrate their experience of the Universe, no finer spot existed in West Miami, or Turtle Island, or this quadrant of the Galaxy, than The Shaman Lounge.
In The Spiritual Ourstory of South Florida and the Greater Everglades -- which is already written in the celestial planes, glistening letters on parchment made of the sacred deer hide -- my favorite chapters celebrate the Set & Setting that Walkingbird continually re-created, remembering those choreographies of healing energy that catalyzed a spiritual renaissance. Hippie, seer, artist, mother, and so much more -- she conjured a cozy chamber dedicated to good vibes that always throbbed with the best music from across the Universe. "She Really Likes It."
Me say me wake up inna di morning and me drink a cup of tea
After mi say a little prayer to the Almighty
And I thank Him for the things of Today
And I thank Him for the things of Yesterday
WALKINGBIRD'S Heuristics for Psychonauts
and other Intrepid Joy Connoisseurs Operating in Psychedelic Realms,
which can also be useful in so-called
and in Temporary Autonomous Zones shapeshifting across the Space-Time Continuum:
What are you going to listen to?
You can choose!
Sentient geometry, arcane equations, and a pungent aroma blasting doorways open. And may we all have Sweet Dreams and Ever!
Fast forward a Year or Two ...
A small production crew organized by Miccosukee Magazine TV joined the creative nexus of Agape Featuring Nadia Harris for roadside selfies in the heart of the River of Grass, amidst the traditional homelands of the Miccosukee and Seminole peoples. The mission: to record the visuals for the music video.
It fascinated me watching Erick and Nadia create musical joy. Over time, we came to work together on a number of projects, not the least of which was for the 40th Anniversary of the United South & Eastern Tribes annual conference.
Miccosukee Magazine TV production offices were setup inside the Miccosukee Tribe's diplomatic building. The mansion is located along a tributary of the Miami River, across from the original Port of Miami at Sewell Park, a couple of blocks from Marlins Park stadium.
We loaded our production gear in the dark of that early morning, and drove together as a caravan across the built environment of Miami-Dade County, before leaving that veneer of civilization for the River of Grass section of the Greater Everglades. We met up at Tigertail Airboat Tours, and ventured forth into the moist sawgrass fields, poised to create portals between worlds.
In a series of articles, I'll be chatting with the artists involved in the music video production for ROW, a beautiful song created by Agape Featuring Nadia Harris. They've begun the process of sharing the video project with the world, so I thought it would be a great time to dive deep into their art, and the magic that infuses their music. We're gonna jump into a revealing conversation with them, to start things off.
In the next article, we'll learn more about the journey of the music video throughout the world, and the accolades it's received from some of the best film festivals in the world, including the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, held every October in Toronto, Canada. But, to really appreciate how this video popped into the world, I'm also gonna introduce you to the evolving nature of Seminole and Miccosukee film histories.
Wanna get to it?
Let's check-in with Erick and Nadia about their art, music-making, and the creation of the music video.
Houston R. Cypress:
Nadia, my sister, how are you?
All is well, brother. I AM here giving thanks for life, health, and strength. ❤️
We're living in interesting times, my friends, what's life like for y'all these days?
Well, life is transitioning and I AM simply allowing it to take shape and form. Many shows have been canceled for us but we are ready to adjust while practicing social distancing to protect each other in full.
How about you, Erick?
I been making the best out of the pandemic. It's given me time to reflect. I was working a lot previous to the shut down and was wishing for some time off to focus on much needed studio work. I just didn't anticipate having it be like this. But I'm thankful for that nonetheless.
Dub shines in so many ways, and I know it's a musical style that is central to your work as musical artists. Can you open my heart some more to what Dub as a musical philosophy celebrates?
I love Dub. Well, I love a lot of different styles. Kind of goes back to having a naturally eclectic nature and upbringing. Not seeing too many distinctions between all forms of Art. That goes for styles, too. I love all kinds of music. I love the fact that there is so much diversity and so much to discover always. But Dub to me really seems to embody that. Dub is so free. And it has this playful, no-rules, experimental nature at its foundation. It encourages fusion and blending styles. Plus, it has this Deep Psychedelic Nature to it. What's there not to LOVE? Dub is love. 😁
Your words sound powerfully in my heart, brother, just like your music. Some artists prefer to have the viewers from their own interpretations about the artwork. Do you feel the same way? Because I'm curious to learn what you'd like to share about the story within the music video.
I AM fine with both options. Yes, we are saying something, we are asking the world to remember Pachamama, to remember that we are living in a world that is filled with humans, animals and other living things that are filled with water.
If the waterways of the world are polluted we become that same polluted water.
In the video, we transitioned from living, dressing, and being a slave to power plants, living in the city while being and looking stressed simply to repeat our mistakes on a daily basis, adding to our carbon footprints on and offline.
The video then transitions to us being in nature, with beings who represent peace, love, unity, and a deeper connection with Mother Earth, while living off the land getting energy from the Sun.
ROW is a blessing. A reminder of our journey. About the real journey. The inner journey. We are guided by nature and spirit on this journey. Our ancestors are present in our very Being, Breath, and DNA. Nature speaks to us at every moment. Its beauty is present at all times. We just need to be present also. Sometimes we forget that and that gets us in trouble individually and collectively. But it's not that complicated in reality. It's self-evident in our very existence. That's some of what I can say it means to me. it's about realizing and letting go. But the primary intent with ROW is that the viewer is free to interpret it however they like.
How does music-making fit into your artistic practice in general?
Like canvas and paint, bees and pollen, we exist together and we are not balanced alone. We are the practice that produces the songs that heal together or not so, we are music and the music is us.
We are creative beings living in "creation." With that being said, what is not art? I would say art is our very nature.
It's my therapy really. I notice that if I'm not making music I go through ruff patches. I get a little depressed and feel a little off. I only noticed this because the moment I start to make music again after being away from it for a bit, all of a sudden, the Sun will seem to shine brighter and I start to feel whole again. It doesn't matter what's going on in my life. I can be broke, in physical pain, or everything may be going wrong around me, but if I can tap into that zone and create something I vibe with ... I'm transported and forget all my problems and pain for those moments. I will feel like a billion dollars! Ancient wisdom says that music in its purest form is medicine. I agree from personal experience 100%.
How did this musical journey get started for y'all?
My love for music and writing started when I was 3 years old. I also started reading and writing at the age of 3, but my introduction to music came through Chanting Nyabinghi and playing Kete Drum.
When I met Erick, I started watching him make tracks with Logic and ProTools. He sat me down one day and explained the importance and freedom producing gives. I only produce and record myself at the moment but if he ever needs me to write a song, riddim, or record some vocals, I AM capable and ready.
I got into production from dancing. When I was a child like 5 years old, I used to put on John Travolta / Saturday Night Fever dance routines at family parties. Then, of course, I took to breakdancing like a fish to water. It's all I would think about and do.
One day when I was around 14, I went to the house of a notable graffiti writer YANO who had infamously bombed the neighborhood's school walls. When I got to his house it was the first time I was exposed to a proper DJ set up. I think he had those early Technics 1800's, not 1200', a Radio Shack mixer, and mic with reverb. It was also the first time I was properly exposed to cutting, scratching and beatboxing.
I think it was at that moment that I realized that what I really loved was music. It was the love of the music that whole time that was making me dance. It wasn't long after that I started to collect my own records and gradually had my first makeshift studio. Turntables, a mixer, and then it was a little drum machine. From there it progressed to synths, etc. It all took off organically.
I feel you, brother. In my experience, and experiments, I'm always curious to see what comes of the ways we bring energies, communities, concepts, and rhythms together for projects and art. I've been really appreciating how you and your musical family have been able to share what successful collaboration grooves like, as encoded in the music that y'all emit. My friend Gustavo Matamoros is a badass sound artist and he always reminds us that "sound is the evidence of life." Can you tell me more about the project known as Agape Featuring Nadia Harris?
Agape Featuring Nadia Harris is the flagship project and production for my label Sustainable Music. It started upon meeting my amazingly talented partner Nadia Harris around 2004. It's primarily her and I, but we have a large rotating body of band members and collaborators that we have worked with through the years.
It's a very free project stylistically, where we explore many styles and fusions of styles. The unifying thread among all our music I would say is Dub. So, let's just say it's Dub to keep it simple. Add to that a soulful and conscious approach to the music and subject matter and there you go. That starts to describe Agape ... as I see it anyways.
It's Nadia's and I's baby. We both approach this project with a lot of respect and integrity. It seems like the music and what comes out will have it no other way. Like it has its own life and we are just on the ride. It's a beautiful and amazing ride. But not without its trials and tribulations. The music seems to demand certain love and respect at its own time. And lessons need to be learned in the process.
When the process of creation makes you a better human being. I love that! It takes a bold, playful, and hopeful spirit to be able to blend worlds together in a groovy, ass-shaking kinda festivity. Which is what you've done by integrating ROW with your other video projects. The opening of the music video indicates that this is part of a trilogy. What can you share with us about the other parts of this overall project?
Yes, it's part of an upcoming trilogy and short film. We have had the blessing to have hooked up with very talented people such as yourself and a slew of other collaborators and friends through the years to make the music videos possible.
I always wanted for the videos to express a larger story when viewed together. Kind of how the songs and subject matter create a bigger story as an album. In this case, there is a narrative and conceptual movement between the 3 videos.
The first video "She Really Likes It" is The Illusion. The second video "If Love" is The Realization, and "ROW" the third video is The Letting Go. It's about waking, realizing the game is rigged, and dropping the game and heading towards The Real.
The videos are interlinked by recurring characters and specially made interlacing segments that tie it all together. This whole process has been a labor of love that has been moving at its own time ... very slowly. But I been feeling this tremendous urge to really push the release of this at this time due to recent events. I think the time for these videos to finally be released was always meant to be now.
I'm reminded of the concept of entrainment, which I understand to be the synchronization process of aligning with a higher frequency. When 2 frequencies overlap, the rhythms tend toward the stronger signal. What sorts of vibes would you like to leave us with, understanding that in the Miccosukee Universe, departure is never truly final ...
Hopefully we can inspire the human spirit at this time and by the way bring some awareness to certain issues such as water and ecological emergencies in South Florida and around the world during these very special and trying times.
We are living in the repeat of mistakes we have been making for ages so, the time has come for us to take a deeper look within, for we would exist because of Mother Earth and Water. All in all, I hope the viewers will share their views on what ROW means to them, because what we did is only the beginning of a great movement. We have done our part. Now I AM humbled to see and hear what the world has to say about ROW.