Nahko and Medicine for the People: Music For Change

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Nahko and Medicine for the People is a world music collective on a mission to inspire global transformation. Salt caught up with the man behind the movement after a recent performance in Camden Town, London.

IMG_5501WHO ARE THEY?

The band, formed in the US in 2008, creates and performs songs brimming with environmental and political issues, while working with various organisations involved with climate change and keeping corporations in check.

The music promotes a tapestry of different topics from the protection of salmon populations, mustangs, and wolves, to forgiveness and community building. A movement, or ‘medicine tribe’ is growing, with fans creating community Facebook pages in almost every state in America.The frontman wants to slow things down and reconnect people with nature, he’s even planning a tour that will take place purely on horseback. Nahko wants to teach people what’s possible.

IMG_5451HOW DID IT ALL START?

Lead singer Nahko Bear found his Puerto Rican mum on Google when he was 20; “She lived 15 minutes from me, I didn’t even know it.” He had previously been adopted by a white, conservative family: “It’s all I knew,” he said. His rich cultural heritage unveiled itself, and what followed was a journey of self-discovery.

Nahko has Puerto Rican, Phillipino and Apache blood, and after he had uncovered his roots, he started his mission to connect with cultural ancestors, encourage positive change and harmony with nature, and bridge cultural divides.

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WHAT’S THE GRAND PLAN?

According to Nahko, the band’s music, its ‘medicine for the people’, aims to inspire people to protect and preserve – whether it’s their local community, the global community, the planet, or just their section of land; “as long as there’s a prayer happening through what I’m saying. It can be that simple I think”. The movement aims to see nations and cultures coming together. Seeing his personal community go from being primarily white to something much more varied is what inspired this.

IMG_5521AND DO PEOPLE DIG THEM?

He explains that the response has been phenomenal: “It’s not about the band, it’s about the ideals and morals in the songs that people are taking, and they’re doing what I couldn’t even imagine, which is creating community. That is really special in these trying times. What we need most is community. Music speaks to the soul.”

He wants to go as “deep and wide as possible – you follow the wave, and you watch it with your eyes, you ride it as long as you can, and hopefully you get spit out the other end”.

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  • Erin

    Discovered Nahko at Reggae on the River 2015. My sister and I were in tears halfway through his first song without even really knowing why. The music and is voice just touched our hearts that much. When I got home I immediately looked up where he would be playing next. A month later, my sister and I were road tripping it to Dry Diggings to see him (and others but mostly, it was all about Nahko.) Again, overwhelmed with his incredible music. Caught him again in Los Angeles a short time later which may have been my favorite show so far. Smallish venue and EVERYONE was singing along with smiles. A good number of people had brought their children, too. To see those young faces singing along with every word brought me so much joy. His music is mood changing, life changing. It truly does bring people together in the most magical way. If you have a chance to see him live, GO. Don’t hesitate, GO! It’s medicine for your soul.