Onah Indigo is a woman warrior, producer, songwriter and performer who isn’t afraid to face an audience armed with only her accordion, Bella, and a heart full of song. The music she makes as noaccordion blends hints of classical, folk, downtempo, trap, crunk, glitch hop, drum ‘n’ bass, electro swing and house, but Indigo puts her own singular spin on the dizzying, electronic storm she creates with her jazzy vocals and lively accordion vamps.
“Since I’ve been playing accordion, everybody loves me,” Indigo says. “The instrument reminds them of their cultural heritage, especially if they’re from Europe. Something about the accordion makes people smile. They call me The Accordion Lady, even though a lot of the songs I create don’t have any accordion on them.”
On stage, Indigo is a colorful whirlwind of music and motion, incorporating elements of cabaret, circus-like antics and uplifting, transformational lyrics. “I call it Sacred Irreverence, a conscious choice to embrace the dark and the light, the positive and negative, the yin and the yang. Our current situation demands a shift in consciousness that will rebalance our relationship with other people, our planet, our universe and ourselves.”
The music on the noaccordion EPs, Wake Up and Mentals, was created, produced and recorded by Indigo in her home studio. “MFLS (Mutha Fuckin Love Song),” the second noaccordion video, was written, produced and directed by Indigo and the Belgian video artist Oliver de Lantsheere, who runs The Super Natural Factory production company in Oakland. The song is a vibrant blend of pop, hip-hop and electro that rides a simple bass line, punctuated with playful keyboard effects. The lyrics are sexually positive and uplifting, while Indigo’s singing is strong and confident, without any hint of coyness. The video’s stark black and white imagery, which includes a silent atomic explosion and fractured, eye-jarring digital effects, captures the aggression, confusion and ambivalent passion we feel in the first moments of infatuation, when desire and reason struggle for expression. “It’s a cathartic song about loving, letting go and not being attached,” Indigo says. “It’s not an angry song, despite the swear words.”
Wake Up and Mentals each take a different approach to electronic music. On Wake Up, the songs are bright and upbeat, perfect for clubs, car stereos and street corner dancing. “Never Grow Up” is a conscious hip-hop track that praises the child-like joys of creativity. A mellow piano track supports the vocals of Indigo and Taj Angelo, an Oakland singer and producer who adds his soulful harmonies to the proceedings. “We use our a cappella-like moments to frame my white girl rapping,” Indigo says with a smile. Sci-fi keyboards and spacey background textures create a huge sonic space for “Give it All Away,” an impressive mash up of electro, dub step, synth pop and 90s dance music that urges listeners to pare their lives down to the essentials. It’s a prayer for sustainability in a time of massive overconsumption. “If we give all of our unnecessary belongings away, we’d have room for the things that would help us regain our balance in the world.” The EP also includes the dark, subliminal funk of “You Caught Me,” the jittery call to arms “Wake Up” and “Mama Nature,” a buoyant house track that actually features the accordion.
Mentals is more contemplative, with a classical flair in the melodies and improvisations. “These songs were inspired by Eric Satie’s Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes,” Indigo says. “Some are abstract and only use Satie as a guideline, some are easily recognizable. This is as close as I’ve gotten to playing a cover.” Stand out tracks are “Gnoss,” based on “Gnossiene #1,” with the familiar melody played on glockenspiel-like keys against a background of warm, synthesizer effects and “Canter” which uses accordion and loops of hands clapping for a contemplative take on the changes of “Gymnopedie #2.”
Indigo and her noaccordion collaborators will be celebrating the release of Wake Up and Mentals with a Birthday/EP Release Party on April 3, at The New Parish in Oakland. Look for Muti Music and noaccordion present Good Friday on Facebook -