We had the pleasure to interview and spend time with Nahko Bear, of the musical collective Nahko and Medicine for the People. Musician, activist, magical being and earth warrior, Nahko and his Tribe are voices of unity, equality and positivity, promoting oneness with all of Mother Gaias’ creatures. Portland born, with an eclectic ethnic background, Nahko uses his creative and awe-inspiring voice, both spiritually and physically, to bridge cultural gaps. Together, we enjoyed a bottle of heart-opening jun mixed with some of our scrumptious House of Citrine approved tinctures and talked about a range of topics from inspirations, music, animals, to the current state of our government and life.
Where do you feel your music transcends from? Does it intersect with your spiritual beliefs? What message would you like to promote through your activism and creative?
The music transcends from another dimension, one that exists within our own but perhaps undetected to most. It's a layered question that is hard to really answer, but I definitely feel as though there are channels connecting us to those dimensional spaces. There's a lifeline or a chord that plugs us into the creator's hard drive. We each download at our own rate. Some of us write songs. Some build cities. Others hatch babies or make delicious food. Different works for different birth times under different moons. So, yes I believe the music I write comes from a very special place.
You are so positive. But you are also human and must be faced with challenges – how do you deal with adversity?
It's different every time. I problem solve a lot in my brain before I speak it out. There are certain folks in my life that are perfect sounding boards. When it comes to the movement, music, and road, I usually just breathe through the challenges. Kind of all you can do. With family and friends, it's a lot of talking and processing, I suppose. In my life, as with all of us, I tend to climb the mountains and valleys and just get through it, y’know?
You are very enthused by and appreciative of nature; where is your favorite place in the world to be alone with your thoughts? Where is your favorite place to be with the people you love?
The ocean. Surfing is one of the most meditative practices. She doesn't judge you, but will punish you if you are not humble and do not respect her. There are so many gorgeous places in the world that I have shared with loved ones...and so many yet to discover. One particular magical place that comes to mind in Turtle Island is Mt. Shasta. I've been going back to this place for many years now and each time it shows us a new facet of her beauty.
How would you describe your lifestyle?
Weird, wet, and wild. Unique, abstract, and void of anything boring. Colorful, chaos, but always cultivating cool creations.
They say that you are a combination of the people you spend time with, so to choose them wisely. Who do you surround yourself with and how do they inspire you?
I believe that to be very true. The people I've surrounded myself with have all been teachers to me. In life, you lose people along the way to various life happenings or a million other reasons...but, it seems you always call into your field the right people at the right time. That is magic. No way to explain it. My squad is very unique. Everyone has a different role they play, but the key is that we all look out for each other. There's a sense of gratitude and balance that follows us everywhere. Kindness is cool, y'know?
What are your essentials before getting on stage to perform? Do you have a routine?
There's a general movement that happens with all of us. It's actually really funny from an outsider’s perspective. There's a lot of jumping around, push ups, animal sounds, laughter, and then we circle up and pray. There's a round of water and tea and then we have our Sandlot moment and hit the stage. Ritual is important for all of us in our different ways. Quiet moments before getting loud are also precious to us.
What is your favorite song of yours to sing...what is its significance?
Usually, it's the newest song, however we normally don't play those ones yet. So, for the set we've been playing over the last year my favorite is a toss up between Dear Brother and Love Letters to God. Both take you on a journey and I go through SO much in the delivery of these poems. To me, they speak to the heart, the planet, and the world in a way I cannot find words for. It's a beautiful mystery.
What is your favorite (not limited to your own) song?
Let's talk records. Paul Simon Graceland is an all time favorite. Bright Eyes I'm Wide Awake It's Morning. K'naan: The Dusty Foot Philosopher. Those are three of my all time favorite records. It's too hard to name a song that is my favorite. But, I'll give you one for fun: Led Zepplin: Since I've Been Loving You.
We read somewhere that you and your band eat paleo? Can you tell us about what foods nourish you and any challenges you face in finding them on the road?
Well, none of us are strictly one thing or the other! We've all tried different diets and such over the course of our working together, but at the moment we're all doing our own things. Most of us are meat eaters, but who knows that may change tomorrow! Our horn player, Max, is in charge of making sure our fridge is filled with the best of the best! Each tour we switch things up with lunch and snack items. Each dinner night we are often on our own. Options can be super limited in certain parts of the world, so you do your best to find healthy grinds!
Do you take any supplements?
What plant medicine resonates with you the most?
I don't use horsetail, but I love its purpose and its name. I wrote a song about it over a decade ago...still one of my favorite songs. I'm also a huge fan of Osha. We use it a lot in ceremonies. There are so many plant medicines that I adore so I'll leave it at that.
Photo credit: Brett Morrison