Nikhil P. Yerawadekar and Low Mentality make some of the best music coming out of NYC. Not the best Afrobeat, not the best post-highlife, not the best South African psychedelic disco. Some of the best music, period. – Saxon Baird, Afropop Worldwide
After reading a testimonial about a band like that, I can’t help but have a desire to check them out for myself.
Nikhil P. Yerawadekar, the multi-instrumentalist and producer best known for his nine year tenure in the Afrobeat juggernaut Antibalas, has set off for new musical horizons with his exciting, eclectic and funky Low Mentality project. Over the years Low Mentality served as the backing band for Ethiopian keyboard legend Hailu Mergia (Awesome Tapes From Africa), created music for an educational video executive produced by Morgan Spurlock, and has released a smattering of propulsive, personal and original songs, including the hit single “Six Shooter AKA The History Of Dance” (1.3 million plays on Spotify and counting) from the 2016 LP Everything Lasts Forever.
This spring, Low Mentality will make a rare trip out of NYC for a pair of live appearances in New England– Friday March 22nd at Zenbarn in Waterbury, VT, supported by one of my favorite bands that has ever existed, Nina’s Brew, and Saturday March 23rd in Northampton, MA with Noura Mint Seymali, as part of the World Music Collider concert series.
These shows will be the first travel dates with the band’s newly reformed lineup consisting of Yerawadekar on vocals, guitar and keyboard, Mayteana Morales (Pimps Of Joytime) on vocals and percussion, Carter Yasutake (Midnight Magic, LCD Soundsystem) on trumpet and keyboards, Jeremy Wilms (Chin Chin) on bass and Andy Bauer (Twin Shadow) on drums. Audiences can expect an active, inviting dancefloor powered by Low Mentality’s kaleidoscopic approach to global grooves and melodic styles, the band’s stellar musicianship, and Yerawadekar’s Queens, NY perspective.
When I get into a band, I like to get to know all about them so I asked Nikhil some personal questions. Here they are!
Taraleigh- If you could compare the band’s sound to a food, what would it be and why?
Nikhil: We’re very eclectic and refreshing, but also nourishing and hearty– I want to say gumbo, but that’ll make us sound like we’re from New Orleans instead of NYC. So I’ll say gumbo with Pastrami, washed down with some green juice.
Taraleigh: Sounds like food for the soul to me. What’s your favorite healthy snack, breakfast, entree, dessert?
Nikhil: I have become addicted to eating green bell peppers like they were apples (just biting into whole peppers without cutting them up first, and avoiding the seeds). It’s as refreshing as chugging water, but fills your stomach up more substantially.
Taraleigh: I do that too!
Nikhil: Also, I really like starting the day off with a smoothie consisting of Greek yogurt, frozen berries, almond milk and maple syrup. Extremely easy and nourishing.
Nikhil’s Smoothie Recipe:
Fill up a cup 1/3rd of the way with Greek yogurt, then another 1/3rd of the way with the frozen berries.
Pour in almond milk up to the top of the berries, drizzle some maple syrup and blend with a hand blender.
Taraleigh: Thank you!! Makes sense to me because I believe that you are what you eat. Your smoothie is like a whole lotta love served straight up in a glass. What is your band’s biggest message?
Nikil: I have noticed over the years that all kinds of different people have compared Low Mentality positively to bands they love– and often it’s bands I’ve never listened to, that I never intended to be compared to. An audience member once said “one minute I feel like drinking a Margarita on the beach, and the next minute I feel like I’m smoking a blunt,” which I thought was great.
I am trying to put different styles together in a way that feels recognizable, but still unique, because I want people to feel that there are possibilities beyond what is immediately in front of us– that our own individual experiences do add up to something special, but only because we are connected to so many different sources of inspiration.
Taraleigh: We are just specks of glitter on a ball of dirt hurling through space, which makes it seem like we can’t make an impact, but we can. Like you said, our own individual experiences add up to something special because we’re all connected and that connection is what influences everything we create. The ripple effect is real! You’re making waves! Since music is medicine, in what way does yours heal the people who listen to it?
Nikhil: I like to build songs around unique grooves that create a trance-like feeling. When I listen to artists that employ super deep grooves, like Fela Kuti, Jil Jalala or James Brown, I feel like I’m being transported to a better place, so I try to do my own version of that sort of feeling in the music I write for Low Mentality. I also like writing lyrics that express a feeling that I have, in a way that wouldn’t be understood in any other form of communication. I can talk about things that might be painful or upsetting and integrate them into a song that actually feels good to listen and dance to.
Taraleigh: Music is a universal language. Even when you don’t speak the language of the words in the music you’re experiencing, you can still get the message. That’s my favorite kind of magic. What are you most excited about right now?
Nikhil: It’s still a work in progress and I haven’t technically announced it yet, but we are making a follow-up to our 2016 album Everything Lasts Forever, and as it takes shape, I’m starting to see that I’m really gonna like the finished product. I am currently loving the process of mixing and refining all the sounds– highlighting the lead elements, and tucking in the supportive ones– and just trying to be patient so that by the time the world hears it, it’s as strong as it can be.
Taraleigh: I’m super excited to listen to your album baby when it’s ready to come earth-side. I’m grateful for this glimpse into what makes you tick. Thank you!!! For those of you who’d like to check out Nikhil and Low Mentality, here’s all the ways:
See them live!
Friday, March 22nd
Nikhil P. Yerawadekar & Low Mentality with special guests Nina’s Brew
9pm at ZenBarn Waterbury Center, VT
Get tickets HERE.
Saturday, March 23rd
World Music Collider 5 featuring Nikhil P. Yerawadekar & Low Mentality with Noura Mint Seymali and Turning Jewels Into Water
7pm at Williamsburg Grange Williamsburg, MA
Get your tickets HERE
The light and live music lover in me sees and bows to the light and live music lover in you,