Meka Nism

This is Mark Matson with Grande-Rock ezine sitting down with Meka Nism today. Meka Nism is a female fronted five-piece group out of Orlando, Florida. Made up of Bobby Keller the lead guitarist, Chris Lane on drums, Jay Adkisson the keyboardist, bassist Jarret Robinson, and Ms. Meka the vocalist. Formed in 2010 when Ms. Meka returned from a three year stay in Japan, she wanted to continue to build upon what she had already established. This all lead up to their first EP “The Dance at the End of the World”. Which was followed up with “The Shift: Anthems for a Revolution” and finally their latest effort “The War Inside”.
Meka Nism band pic

How did you come together as a band?
 
Ms. Meka: I started the band before I went to Japan as Meka Nism and her Rusty Tears. So, I was coming up with music and concepts back then. But then I moved to japan for 3 years and played 150 shows over there. I got back at the end of 2010 and I met Bobby Keller. We decided to turn Meka Nism into the metal band that I always wanted to create but with the spiritual themes, the enlightenment, and the empowerment. Then we shortened it to Meka Nism. Not only was it my name, but its also representational of how we’re a well-oiled machine, all working together as the perfect crazy metal band that’s awesome!! I’ve known Jay for a long time and I always wanted him to play keyboards with me. He listened to a Meka Nism and her rusty tears album and he listened to “The Shift” and he knew everything because he knows everything by ear. Then we were lucky enough to pick up Jarret Robinson on bass, he brings so much energy to the stage and James Lane has been playing with us. We all went and wrote an album, then took it to Germany last year, recorded it and that is “The War Inside”.
 
 
So, what prompted the trip to Japan?
 
MM: I had a feeling. I was dreaming about it. I knew I had to go there. I was in search for the perfect band. I did have a band over there called “The Origami Girls”. We toured a lot. I also played my solo project over there and I played with a lot of different friends. I did performance art and Japanese Butoh dance. It was a culture that was safe but completely different from my own. I think it made me grow spiritually quite a lot. My compassion, courage and my heart grew for sure. Playing 150 shows I saw a lot of bands from different areas and they’re so good. They are so completely dedicated to their art for life. If they choose a passion, they stick to it for the rest of their lives. They make all the sacrifices necessary and I feel the same way. I am going to do this for the rest of my life and I’m never going to give up. It’s gotten us this far to be here talking to you, sharing soul connections with some great people. Japan was awesome! I can’t wait to take the boys there. I was called all sorts of names like Meka Godzilla because I’m tall. 5’ 9” isn’t tall here, but in Japan I certainly was a beast with red hair (laughing)!
 
 
I imagine that must have been a bit of a culture shock for them.
 
MM: It was. I mean it was a culture shock for me. I did notice that people having to look at me. People don’t always look at each other in Japan. So, when I walked around, they would stop and look at me. It was like they had permission to look and notice. They try to give people their space by not noticing them too much. But with me they totally had permission to be awake and present in the moment and make soul connections. In that moment. Wait until you get all these crazy tall tattooed crazy dudes over there rocking out. So, I think they will be really struck by that.
 
 
So, do you plan on getting to Japan to tour?
 
Bobby Keller: At some point yes. We are trying to soon.
 
MM: One of our friends DJ Metal Queen, one of the promoters in Japan came to one of our festivals last year. But she has been dying to get there and working with the promoters in Japan. I can’t wait to tour the world, but definitely to my second home town of Kyoto Japan.
 
 
I would imagine that makes it easier having contacts already there.
 
MM: Absolutely! The world is smaller than we realize. All of us have been touring the United States together. We have friends all over. We were making a joke about Minot; we have friends in Minot that message us to this day. Where ever we went, you pick up… that’s why we call it the tribe. Because you’re not meeting these people for the first time internationally, like Flensburg, Lubeck, and Cologne Germany...
 
BK: Kopparburg Sweden.
 
Jarret Robinson: Avatar!
 
MM: (singing voice) Avatar! Wasn’t that a great tour?
 
BK: It was a great tour!
 
MM: I think that was Jay’s favorite tour.
 
 
I can’t blame you Avatar is an amazing band.
 
BK: Every night, they did not let up. It was like night after night, after night, head banging, hair swinging. They never messed up. It was amazing. They taught us a lot. I think we took a lot from them. I think that was an important tour for us cause we saw how they worked. That’s the way we need to do things. They were very humble.
 
MM: Mad respect!!
 
Jay Adkisson: Super sweet, very generous, but at the same time monsters on the stage every night.
 
BK: Once it’s show time, it’s time to activate.
 
 
So, you learned a lot from going on tour with Avatar?
 
BK: Oh ya. They kind of put us under their wing. They took a couple of shows because we were a new band on the tour. After a while they were like “You guys got it, you guys got it going on. We really love you guys and its been a pleasure to tour with you. You didn’t cause any issues”. We did stuff the way we do things and they were very impressed. They kept telling us they were very happy to have us on the tour and that we were no problems at all and you’re doing your thing. That meant a lot to us. It boosted our confidence for sure and took our playing to another level. Just seeing their fans adapt to us because they’re theatrical and we try and do the same thing in our own way. So, it was really awesome to see their fans so receptive to us and really started to like us. So, it was awesome.
 
MM: It really does feel like we are building a tribe. It’s making these strong friendships for life where people start feeling like family all around the word; It’s really special. Like tonight, you feel people coming together. Even the first meeting, because of the music, we can come together and have this instant friendship it’s really nice.
 
 
I noticed during your meet and greet with the fans, it wasn’t just a meet and greet it was more like a family affair.
 
BK: It’s like that all the time, every time.
 
MM: The words that people say. Really it’s more; we put a lot of effort into the show. But it’s more. People thank us a lot for the message. The message comes through with what we are doing. It means a lot to us. It gives me chills every time. People are saying “thank you for saying that” or “my daughter feels like she’s going through a war inside. It’s something she is connecting with and thank you” or “we played this last week for my uncle and it helped him get through a time of depression”. Sometimes it’s “You’ve helped me when I am lost, alone and suicidal. It really helped me get through”. We all had music that did that for us. We are so grateful that this music carries that message and that power to the people that needs to, or it’s available to connect to. We love watching that happening. It’s touching to hear.
 
 
As a Shaman and a healer, how do you think that influences the direction of your songwriting?
 
MM: We just let it happen. Like it comes out of us. Each person has their energy.
 
 
Music can be this transformative place that helps people feel better. Do you think that power helped steer you towards a career in music?
 
MM: For me definitely. I’ve had a calling my whole life to be a musician. I know I could have done something more stable. But I can’t survive without music. I am not the same person. I would shrivel up and fall into a hole if I didn’t play. I think we all feel that way. It is a spiritual thing for us. This is our sacred space. We say tribe for a reason. This is our community. This is where we find support where we are able to go through… we can make mistakes together and find solutions. This is where we are authentic. We can show up angry at a metal show and feel welcome. You can’t show up angry at a lot of places and feel welcome. You can’t go to work angry and feel welcome. You can’t show up angry at a pop show and feel welcome. Here you feel a sense of camaraderie and I think that’s why were drawn to metal. You always feel like there is a friend at a metal concert even if you’ve never met. It’s like “Dude you’ve got that Pantera shirt on. We are friends for life”. I think that there is a spiritualism to that. I am the esoteric spiritual one, but we are all about the community. It all means something to us. Like when was your first metal show, when did you feel welcome to metal.
 
JR: I’m trying to think of my first metal show. Ahh now I remember... Cannibal Corpse. I think I was fourteen and all it was, was dudes just throwing down. Drinking beers and having a good time. I had on my little Cannibal Corpse shirt on from Hot Topic. I had no idea what I was walking into. I was like this is the greatest thing I’ve seen in my entire life. But it really is a universal language. The first night we landed in Germany there was a local show, let’s go and hang out. We were barely inside, and we were talking to people. Everyone was a friend in a different country where we were expected… we didn’t speak German. We thought we were gonna be screwed. We have to make friends who speak both. Ninety percent of the people spoke English well enough to communicate with us. They made us feel welcome in a different country. Six thousand miles from home, being a metal head unifies that many people. It doesn’t matter who you are; Metal is metal. You are part of the family.
 
MM: The message comes through us. We aren’t aware of it half the time. When Jay played that riff, he used to call it “Belladonna”, I was like oooh this is about manifestation, how we direct our thoughts or take aim or shoot for your goals. It became “Arrows of Alchemy”. So, I think metal is surprisingly the most empowered communities that you can possibly connect to. You could feel that out in the crowd tonight. We were an opening band for a national act that’s been loved for decades. The audience connected, supportive and cheering for us. As if they new us. They made us feel so welcome tonight. That’s the way we feel. I’ve gotta do this for the rest of my life. What about you guys?
 
BK: Ya, I’m in it!
 
JR: I’m not going anywhere else.
 
MM: I’m not gonna survive without it. Where else can you get permission to be your entire authentic self? Where else do you have permission to emote, scream, and be aggressive, passionate, excited all together. This is sacred space. We are gonna keep going and see what comes out of us in the most authentic way.
 
 
Why Germany? Why did you make your record there?
 
BK: When we made that decision to go to Germany it was based on the fact that we wanted to take ourselves out of our comfort zone, and put ourselves in a situation where we had no choice but to focus on the music. Being at home is great. But we have distractions. People want to come to the studio or this or whatever. It can distract. Everything just lined up for us. When we got to Germany we played a festival on our first date in another country which was phenomenal in Flensburg. Working with Lasse Lamert was phenomenal. He welcomed us and treated us like we were family. He took us in and made us feel very comfortable. He helped us order food and take us to grocery stores. He showed us everything that Germany had to offer. We were all really excited about it. Being there by ourselves and with just our core group, we were able to focus on the music and turn it into what it is now. I think it really shows on the album. You get that full potential that we had. We are taking everything to the next level.
 
 
Each release of yours deals with a different internal subject. Whether it’s dealing with your inner demons or how to change your life, how do you come up with these subjects?
 
MM: You have to speak from your higher self. It has to be the most urgent messages at the time. Like the most important thing to say yet at the same time seems the most natural thing to say. This is the way we talk. I talk about these types of issues all the time. I try to do the work and learn the way of the shaman, the way of meditation, the way of all these things. So, I can have all these tools to deal with the crap of life. One thing I’ve noticed is we all need reminders constantly. We program ourselves with what music we listen to. So, we might as well take advantage of that opportunity to allow messages for empowerment, for encouragement, for creating the life you want, and feeling a sense that you aren’t alone especially in this digital age. There are so many ways to connect with people now. But there is nothing more beautiful than that musical anthem of your life. I think the themes are whatever we are talking about. Whatever we are going through just comes out. I definitely want it to be as purposeful as possible. But these are the things I am dealing with and all my friends are dealing with. So, I think it is exactly what I need to be talking about. Why waste time talking about things that to don’t need to be talked about. I’m going to take every second I have to talk about the important shit. We have a music video coming out in the next week or two called “Trailblazer”. Which you heard as the opening song tonight. It’s about this is our one and only chance to live so we better take it. Just one hundred years ago, imagine all the things people went through. A woman couldn’t get on stage and scream and not be put into an insane asylum. Or get my brain cut out for having these revolutionary speeches or intentions. But we are allowed to be on stage. Think about all the regrets people have in their lives. This is the chance; you might as well live life while you’re here. It isn’t that long we are here. So, do the best you can. Create as much art or whatever it is that your purpose is. But we program ourselves with music. We might as well choose some good themes to program ourselves with. I want this to something positive in all our lives. Whomever it reaches that’s awesome. It’s the journey of the music. It’s out of our hands now. Hopefully it goes far and touches all the right people now and encourages people to keep breathing and take advantage of the life they’ve got.
 
 
I’ve noticed that you’re making EP’s. Do you intend to make a full-length album?
 
BK: Yes, as soon as a label picks us up. Right now, we do the EP’s because it’s affordable to us. It’s better for the fans because they can pick their songs. We feel that we are putting our energy into making those five songs the best that we can instead of putting in songs to just fill a space. We do want to do a full-length album. Hopefully one of these days you will see a full-length album.
 
MM: People are paying attention. These songs are reaching peoples ears and eyes. So, keep on spreading the love. You’re helping us to help spread the word, the connection and hopefully the right people will line up and we’ll create more music, go out and meet some more tribe.
 
 
There are people that prefer albums over EP’s because with an album you can create a journey. What are your thoughts?
 
MM: I always saw these three EP’s as a continuous journey. They all relate conceptually. They are a different chapter of the journey. So, from the beginning, we are going to do EP’s because that’s what is accessible to us, but they will all connect and tell a journey. The first one was “Dance at the End of the World”. It’s like everything is falling apart around you. What are you going to do? The next one is “The Shift: Anthems for a Revolution”. The world is still here, you have to change something; change from the inside out. Now we’re at “The War Inside”. Well, the battle continues. What tools or weapons do we have to fight and win. Everyone struggles with shit, depression, anxiety, addiction issues. We need tools. Hopefully these songs are those tools.
 
 
If there was another artist from another genre that you could collaborate with, who would it be?
 
BK: I would have to with Emperor, ihsahn. I would love to do something like that. I prefer the heavier of the metal. I would love to do something with Metallica, but that is in the same genre. (laughing) Iron Maiden would be a good one too.
 
JA: Depeche Mode, Mark Gore. Robert Smith for sure. Bruno mars, Portishead.
 
MM: I think working with Butch Vig would be really cool as a producer. He is one of my top producers. Maynard would be a great person to sing with. Anything he sings is gold. Vocally he is incredible. Bjork, PJ Harvey, like really creative song writers that aren’t afraid of mixing genres themselves. I’m a big fan of things you probably don’t know too much. Like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum out of San Francisco. Some of the most creative musicians that I’ve ever seen. They make their own instruments. I would love to create a rock opera for Meka Nism someday with that type of community. Like people not afraid of not only collaborating outside of their genre but out of their medium. Like creating performance art. Some of our music is being used in the local fringe festival. So, our songs are being used in some theater in the coming weeks. So that is pretty cool. There are a lot of people that we would love to collaborate with. Even lady Gaga or Florence and The Machine. (laughing) We could turn all the pop stars metal!
 
BK: Funny story, when I saw Iron Maiden a couple of years ago in Tampa. I didn’t realize it or recognize who she was. I had heard the name and I saw this little blonde-haired chick standing behind me with all these body guards. I was like who is that? Someone said that is Lady Gaga. She is a huge Iron Maiden fan. I was like no kidding. I turned around again, and she was going” wooohoo” with her hands in the air. It was really cool to see for sure.
 
MM: I love that question. I love people collaborating from different genres. It inspires us to think even more. I have respect for all genres. I know we are metal heads and we really feel our kinship in this scene. But musicians are great. We need them to breath and survive in this world. We need all genres for sure. So maybe we can branch out and do some crazy stuff (laughing). What’s up our sleeve next??
 
 
What does the future hold for Meka Nism?
 
BK: Right now, we are focusing on the album we just put out right now (“The War inside”). We want to put it into as many hands as we can and as many ears as possible. We are also looking to tour as much as possible. Hopefully something will happen, and we will get picked up by a label and expand, keep pushing, go overseas and do festivals, and really push the name out there for sure. I think that is the overall goal to make Meka Nism a household name. I think we want to put our message out there and try to help our fans as much as possible. Everything seems to be going good right now. I don’t think we can complain right now. We want to take everything to that next level, then the level after that.

MM: Keep on rising. Nothing is solidified. But we can feel it coming. The momentum is beautiful. It’s the fans, the friends, the tribe that is making it all happen for sure. You can see the enthusiasm that fuels us. We love it. We are going to keep going as long as it takes.
 
 
Thank you for your time and I wish you the best of luck!!
 
MM: Thank you for coming tonight!

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