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When the duo of Nostalghia (Ciscandra Nostalghia and Roy Gnan) released their album “Imago” in late 2018, bright things where on the horizon. They had just played a sold-out show at the Moroccan Lounge, and there was plenty of buzz surrounding the album. And, just like that, it almost went sideways, as misfortune and economic hardship due to the Pledge Music bankruptcy set them back substantially.
After a period of self-imposed exile, they’ve returned with a four song EP, “Wicked Woman.” The duo, contributors to the 2017 “John Wick” film, have been difficult to pigeonhole, drawing blood through various phases of indie, goth, cabaret, darkwave, electro and ambient over the course of their four releases.
||| Watch: The video for the new song “Heroin”
In the Buzz Bands LA interview, Nostalghia spoke about her inspiration, evolution, animal rights activism, purged dreams, goals set and bringing the band back from the edge.
Buzz Bands LA: You seem to have moved into a new emotional chasm for this batch of songs. What was the inspiration for that?
Nostalghia: I suppose we are always in flux, are we not? Dance with the angels to sing like the devil. Light pours through the fissures. Every batch is purged from some space preoccupied with some overtone that speaks to something not yet born. Songs dressed to kill. And though I’ve never been much of a mother, I do manage to care for the wounded that come through. I hunger for her gently, but I’m comfortable with the light off. Long talks with my shadow and smoky summer nights, I’m inspired by the absence of small talk.
You and Roy moved away from some of the ethereal dreamscape back into darker territory of your earlier work. Can you comment on that?
Nostalghia: Well, I’ve certainly not been one to remain static. Every day is like living with a brand new woman, and I love them all just the same. Sometimes she is dreamy and sometimes she’s a serpent. What a bore to allow only one woman at the dinner table. Where are our manners?
||| Stream: The new EP “Wicked Woman”
You’ve recently become a certified hypnotherapist. Is there any crossover between that and these new tracks?
Nostalghia: Certifiable! Certainly in that, I’ve always been a hypnotherapist guiding people on a shamanic journey through the trials and tribulations of life. The intent has always been healing what is sacred to me. Honoring what is sacred within me. And showing others that it’s OK to have all of these aspects and nuances … it’s OK to embody the yin and yang. I revel in it.
You are a militant animal rights activist and vegan. How does your stance on these issues intersect with you art?
Nostalghia: The sensitivity laced through much of my art is the same sensitivity that colors the lens through which I observe the world. I see and sense the destruction that is factory farming, and I see and sense the way we desensitize ourselves on a daily basis simply to carry on with the way things are. We call dead cows “beef.” That “beef” had big heartfelt eyes and a heartbeat. I recall the first time, as a young girl, making the distinction that the precious cows I’d see in large pastures were also the bloodied food I was fed with ketchup. It didn’t feel right then, and it certainly doesn’t feel right now. They don’t have a voice. We are their voice. And I stand against injustice. At this point, with all the progress we have made as far as food options go, there simply is no excuse. I foresee a world re-sensitized. We are too far along as a species to not transcend the barbaric. And I am more than happy to be amongst the first wave to catapult that change because when I say “I love animals,” I mean it. Too often we throw around the word love casually without understanding the weight. Love isn’t based in convenience. Love is unconditional.
I understand that you’ve just had a really close call with your dog children.
Nostalghia: A few days ago my preciously greedy pups managed to down an entire bottle of Advil (130 pills) which is completely lethal for dogs in even low doses (40 can be lethal for large dogs, and 10 for small dogs). My chocolate Lab happened to see an apple slice on the back kitchen counter and in an attempt to get the apple, he also managed to pull down the bottle of Advil and open it. Because the pills are coated in sugar, he ingested most of them, while Luna mostly sat there and watched. We do not know how many she ingested. Luckily, I caught them in time and rushed them to the vet pushing past giant service trucks (the power went out) and the local fires. Right when we arrived they induced vomiting on both dogs and immediately began treatment. I completely emptied my bank account, to the point where I have had to scramble and make a GoFundMe campaign to keep them alive. They have taught me what unconditional love truly is. And through them, for the first time in my life, I found love for myself. There is no greater gift. See, species doesn’t separate the energetic tethers of our hearts. Nor does it point to hierarchy simply because we are built differently. Animals are one our greatest teachers.
You released a terrific album late last year, despite great reviews it, It’s almost as if you guys had made a conscious decision to depart from the scene for a while …
Nostalghia: Roy and I removed ourselves from the hunt and chase to remember the purity of why we ever began in the first place. And then we completed an incredibly successful campaign through Pledge Music where fans were able to fund our record, and just days prior to getting paid out, Pledge announced bankruptcy. We put the record out regardless on our own dime. It was a daunting amount of work for nothing. I needed a break to mend my heart and regain the necessary energy.
Where are you guys currently with the Pledge Music fiasco?
Nostalghia: 1873. Floating dead in some river long forgotten. I have heard from various victims that Pledge Music nearly ruined them and almost caused them to shutter their projects.
I’m a cat, and this ain’t my ninth life.
Was that ever a consideration?
Nostalghia: Yes, I know of many successful artists who were attempting to pave a new path, void of labels, who had successful campaigns that got shot to hell. Many went under. I’m a cat, and this ain’t my ninth life.
Was this part of your decision not to follow up the album with a tour?
Nostalghia: Oh I don’t know, I suppose it all boils down to wanting to put food on my plate and live a long healthy life. Absurd, isn’t it? If you find us a tour that can do that for me, I’m in. Otherwise you’ll find me sipping tea in the forest, writing, writing, writing for the trees and the sky and the virtual web. And if you really want to see me in the flesh, well you’ll just have to come on down to California where the girls are pretty.
Tell me about the lead single “Heroin.”
Nostalghia: How can you ask me to choose a favorite? Don’t you know I’m a mother (things change) and I hate them all to varying degrees? Such is love! … You tell me about the lead single. … You know that feeling when you hunger for something so deeply, and you know it only means that you are dangerously close to not wanting it at all? The desire is an illusion, an addiction, a fill for the void. In fact, it is there to illuminate the void in hopes that you’ll heal it. The tragedies of love and viewing it as a drug. If it’s never enough, chances are it never will be.
The video is simply symbolic. Thirsty through a desert, truth concealed, my “self” as the serpent; transformative, sloughing off layers of skin, immortality and healing. I would imagine that would be the only reason to embody it after all.
||| Live: Nostalghia performs Dec. 7 at the Severe Dream AfterParty at Corazón Performing Arts in Topanga. Tickets.