Published on November 12th, 2016 | by Gareth Allen0
Age of L.U.N.A Interview
Interview by Gareth Allen and Lewis Allen
Sonic Bandwagon sat down with NK-OK, Butch Arkas, Daniella Thomas, and Kyote Noir from Age of L.U.N.A, shortly before they played a stunning gig at Glasgow’s iconic King Tuts venue. This London based group of musicians play an incredibly inspiring mix of socially conscious hip-hop and soul, that once heard you will be unable to resist. That they believe passionately in the power of music to impact positively on people’s lives, comes across in a wonderfully engaging interview.
Sonic Bandwagon: How would you describe the music and words you create, to someone not familiar with the band?
Daniella: Generally hip-hop, but we all have different influences. So NK-OK has a lot of blues and jazz influences. The boys, the two rappers Butch and Kyote, have more rhyme and hip hop influences; and I bring a more alternative influence, like you said with the Sonic Bandwagon show. Altogether, I think it’s a concoction of different styles that come together to make a soulful hip-hop sound.
Sonic Bandwagon: Your new track ‘Freddie’ has a very edgy talking loud feel, while still retaining the core elements of your sound. How did that track come about?
NK-OK: I really started off with just the backing track. Mainly the drums first. While making it, I was really annoyed that day, because I couldn’t get into a club because of my age. I came back home so vexed and angry. I felt I just had to let it out on this track, and I just let it out in the music. I found this sample, that I am surprised no one else has used yet; and I made the beat in about an hour.
Daniella: We reacted to the vibes NK-OK put on the track, and wrote something angry and expressive.
Kyote: Our tracks are normally dance based, and happy, with good vibes. This track, we wanted to have that in your face feel. So that’s what we brought to the table. With our music people can dance to it, and with this track ….well the generation today like to mosh-pit, and with this track we gave them that. You want to mosh pit you can mosh pit, you want to dance you can dance; and it was lyrical too.
Sonic Bandwagon: The Sonic radio show is going to play ‘Six Feet Deep’ to coincide with the gig review. It’s a stunning track, and we wondered if you could say something about what is going on musically and lyrically with the song?
NK-OK: The drumbeat we made two years ago now. We had a multitalented musician; we got to jam on the track. Got him to play some chords. A twenty minute jam, and just in the last minute of the jam, it was like, “that is the one”.
Butch: Lyrically we got the beat, and it was a very soulful beat. We wanted to incorporate and capture the vibe that they created for us. Most importantly Daniella wrote the hook ‘Six Feet Deep’. And mine and Kyote’s interpretation of our lyrical side of it, was really getting lost into something. Getting as the song says, six feet deep lost into it. Yeah man it was a very fun track that we did. People appreciate it a lot, and we are glad it’s done what it has done. And you guys love it yourselves.
Sonic Bandwagon: We noticed you posted a photo on your Facebook page from a Black Lives Matter event, together with a new beat ‘Power Part 2’. For us it spoke to the socially conscious nature of your lyrics, words and music. It seems to us that the band really cares about what it is saying. Could you tell us something about what you want to communicate through your music and lyrics?
Kyote: With me when I am writing, I like to make people think. I like to elevate minds. I don’t like to write simple stuff. So I guess that’s why you hear that. You can hear it in the music for sure. With Black Lives Matter, I felt it was important we should attend. We are all about that, a rebellious lifestyle. It’s wrong for the police to kill people. Our slogan is “Live Under No Authority“, so it was only right that we attend it.
Butch: When I write, I write stories. The songs have conscious meanings to them. It’s in every word that I write. And it all comes from the stories I have lived myself. We have all been through trials and tribulations. A lot of rappers have opened my eyes, or made me feel like, yes I can actually relate to that. That’s what I try to do when I write my stories. We wrote tracks like ‘Memory Lanes’, where we talked about very deep things in our lives. It’s hard for us to release things like that. But knowing that we can inspire people in the same way we have been inspired ourselves, is very important to me. We have had people come up to us saying the same thing about that song. Conscious rap is very important to us.
Sonic Bandwagon: The bands driving philosophy seems to be summed up in ‘Live Under No Authority’. It reminded us of Gil Scott Heron and Brian Jackson’s song ‘It’s Your World’. Gil Scott Heron would introduce that song by saying that whatever the limitations placed on us, or the freedoms taken away; in our heads and creativity we are still free. Is that something of what you are aiming at in ‘Live Under No Authority’?
Butch: I think it’s very important, feeling free in whatever you do. In today’s society we are boxed in to thinking what’s right and what’s wrong. Particularly, in how we have to approach careers and our dreams. Because of that not everybody pursues their dreams. An important thing to us was to stick to what we love doing. Kyote and myself have been making music since we were little kids, but we always believed in ourselves. Even when other people doubted us. The whole concept of ‘Live Under No Authority’ and the band name, arises from the idea of the moon being free from this world, and not constricted to us. So we can do whatever we set our minds too…with good morals. We can live and pursue any dream we think of.
Sonic Bandwagon: When you play live what is the emotional connection you feel with your audience?
NK-OK: Its like power and excitement. When you have a good audience, it’s like the best feeling ever!
Butch: Even when there is not much of an audience, to know that we can get everyone dancing in the room and connecting with us is brilliant. There are times when people are singing back our lyrics to us. It’s a great feeling to know that people appreciate us. It’s still quite a new feeling for us.
Kyote: Something that I have newly introduced to our performances, is that I like to do a little chant at the end and see how many people chant it back. And that gives me a good feeling to know that they enjoyed the show. It’s more than just clapping.
Sonic Bandwagon: To know that they are with you.
Sonic Bandwagon: What plans do you have to release more tracks? Is there an album in the works?
Kyote: We have an EP coming out next month. Its called….I can’t tell you the name right now (all laugh). Its four tracks, and I think people are going to like it. Its deep stuff man. There’s an album in the works for sure. I can’t talk too much about that. What I can say is, to look forward to the EP, because it’s definitely different.
Sonic Bandwagon: A final question, for Daniella. We noticed amongst the music you mentioned you have listened too, that metal was there. We love metal and wondered what you listen too? And whether you feel it has any influence in your music and creativity?
Yeah, I think because I have a massive variety of different musical things I like, it all plays a part. I went through a skating and heavy metal stage, and I listened to a lot of Slipknot. My Dad loves Pantera. Does it have an effect on what I do now? I think in my solo stuff it will show more.
Sonic Bandwagon: Thank you it’s been a real privilege.
Band collectively: Thank you.
Photograph by Lewis Allen