NASIMIYU

Activist, dancer, and one-woman band, nasimiYu busts out of her 7-year hiatus with a self-produced album that radically explores the life lessons she learned in that time.

The album, P O T I O N S, stands apart from anything she’s released before because this was an entirely solo effort.

Not only is there immense vulnerability in playing every single sound on the record herself, at home in her solo quarantine. But there is also a deep honesty in the personal themes she explores — secrets, witchcraft, heartbreak, psychedelic medicine, and the unwavering devotion to shining light on one’s innermost voice.

After spending 7 years trying to overcome a deeply rooted writing block, she ended up finding her way through it the same way she got into musicmaking in the first place — through dance.

“Dance is the only language that I speak fluently. Everything that I write and everything that I communicate in my daily life is just me trying to translate that.”

Having been a member of several music projects in New York and New Orleans, from fronting trap-pop duo Baeb Rxxth, to touring as drummer for the experimental Kalbells and punk trio Sharkmuffin, to working as a teaching artist for Carnegie Hall, Simi has saved her most personal deep dives for her solo work.

nasimiYu’s lifelong exploration of dance has taken her on many journeys — from the adults in her life noticing her as a lover of dance at the age of 3 and then taking it upon themselves to engage her in formal training in her hometown of Minneapolis, to later expanding her dance vocabularies through diasporatic traditions like secondline and voodoo throughout her 5 years working as an artist in New Orleans, to becoming involved in ‘conscious dance’ communities during her 6 years in New York.

Dance has been the through-line in her travels of 41 countries on 6 continents. From examining the spiritual invocations of rumba in Cuba, to partaking in 7-hour trance-inducing Lila dance ceremonies in rural Moroccan dunes.

Her multi-cultural half-Kenyan upbringing predisposed her to an early appreciation of culture.

“Musicmaking for me is both an anthropological study and an individual healing journey. It’s about tapping into all of the modalities of medicine that I’ve collected over the years to create a special prescription for what I’m facing at that time.”

This process reveals itself on P O T I O N S in the lush, technicolor production, which brings out its maximum emotional potency as it traverses the full spectrum of feels. It resists the temptation to hide its rawness behind an exoskeleton of overpowering outwardly “dance-y” beats.

 

It’s not club-dance music,

it’s interpretive dance music.

 

It’s not as much for having a party,

as it is for having a ceremony.

 

After spending every day of summer 2020 organizing BLM protest events and cross-community collaborations in Brooklyn, nasimiYu saw a need for ceremony both for herself and in the community that was springing up all around her.

“Someone once told me, ‘as artists it is our responsibility to create at the same rate that society has the capacity to destroy.’ I guess this year, artmaking as an act of resistance no longer feels like an option, it feels like a basic necessity.”

nasimiYu talks about how these songs were recorded in the context of ceremony that she would create for herself after protesting all day.

“To me, it’s about creating your own ritual that transports you from the earthly plane to a more connected one. For me, this meant getting fully into my body by doing dance meditations for hours before even playing the first note of a song. The dance and the buildup are as integral to the songwriting as the writing itself.”

She also talks about how rhythms from her all-female protest drumcore would end up seeping into her arrangements.

“This album was being made while the world was on fire in all the ways, and somet of the most loving ways found their way into these songs because that’s what I was overflowing with throughout the experience.”

After finishing the recording and producing process in her living room, she then enlisted the help of a musician she had always admired, Ian Hersey, to mix it.

Once it was mixed, she sent the finished product out to a couple close friends, one of whom brought it to the attention of the Brooklyn-based studio and record label, Figure 8, who reached out to her and offered to release her album exactly as is.

“One thing I learned from having done it alone is that, for the first time, I feel like I really have an album that just completely smells like me. That was my only goal when making it — I just wanted to make the ‘me-est’ thing possible, undiluted, and to find my own healing in the process.”


Nasimiyu by Amanda Picotte 29IMG_3883
Nasimiyu by Jordan Edwards 11
IMAGES: To download, click above. Press photo credit to Jordan Edwards.

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