Challenging himself and others to make a change in the world, Nahko Bear is creating music with a purpose. Frontman of Oregon-based musical collective Nahko and Medicine for the People, Nahko returns to the scene with Hoka, the band’s third and most tribal album yet – with a stronger voice and a stronger mission.
“It’s a collection of songs that were written a while ago, and half of them have been with me for quite a few years, and the other half were sort of newer over the last three years. It’s kind of mixed. I think that there is a lot of things covered in it and some of those songs we got to see really become anthems for social movement over the last year that the record’s been out.”
Their third album however takes a different approach to previous releases in terms of the way it was created, this time recording with the entire band, as well as working with Grammy award-winning producer Ted Hutt. “It has kept the same dimension, but we got to work together as a band for the first time. The previous two records I had done on my own, and so it felt like a very mature chapter in the bands life.”
Well known for their real-talk lyrics, contagious and influential messages, as well as their catchy melodies, Nahko who is of Puerto Rican, Apache, and Filipino descent, is greatly influenced by his mixed heritage and religious upbringing, with the bands primary goal being to bridge cultural gaps and unify diversity with their music.
“I think it’s a pretty safe umbrella to go by as an overarching theme. There’s a lot of different themes in the songs because life is full of themes, but it’s also reflected in the many different genres that we can exist in in the styles and music we play.
“I think that with roots, folk, hip hop, reggae and even rock and roll, there’s something that comes out of all of those genres, all the time-frames, and all those historical backgrounds, of where that music comes from, to look at world music and the way that when everyone throws their two sense in there – you get this sort of social movement music that comes from it.”
Along with creating social movement music, Nahko acts on his passions and beliefs, spending the end of last year at The Standing Rock protest site where many gathered to halt the construction of Dakota Access Pipeline. Here, Nahko met and worked with the elders and activists, along with performing for them and filming their newest video for ‘Love Letters To God’, which ended up becoming a theme song for the people there.
“That was genuinely one of the most interesting times in my generation in my country, the unprecedented coming together of so many different tribes since never, never has that happened. It was a powerful time, it still is. We learned a lot, we saw a lot of positive things and we saw a lot of really negative things. There’s a lot of social issues.”
With lyrics that strongly encourage acceptance, sustainability, and healthy living through music, Nahko and Medicine for the People really are the soundtrack of the movement for a better planet.
Written by Talia Rinaldo
When & Where: 170 Russell, Melbourne – April 12 & Byron Bay Bluesfest, Byron Bay – April 13 – 17