The Intriguing World of Nostalghia

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Ciscandra Nostalghia from the LA-based avant garde electro-acoustic musical duo Nostalghia. They have been called “post-apocalyptic gypsy punk,” which is the best description I have heard of their intensely creative music. Nostalghia is the brainchild of recording and performing artists Ciscandra Nostalghia and Roy Gnan. The musician and visual artist pair blend beautiful, mysterious romantic visuals with passionate music and avant garde performances.

At times, Ciscandra’s unique, raw, and expressive use of her voice is reminiscent of Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, and even Bjork. A beautiful example of this can be heard in their intense song “Cool for Chaos.” Visually, comparisons might be made between Lady Gaga’s avant garde look and Ciscandra’s dress and performance. Admittedly I am a Lady Gaga fan, yet I always wanted her music to be less pop and match the creative intensity of her visuals. Instead, Nostalghia does this brilliantly with Ciscandra’s music, performance, and adornment seamlessly going hand-in-hand. Yet, all comparisons aside, Ciscandra is truly a fascinating performance artist who stands alone. Already with the successful releases of their “Cool for Chaos” EP and “I am a Robot Hear Me Glitch” album, Nostalghia is brewing up a intriguing musical world all their own.

Interview:

1)    Did you have a childhood moment in which you knew you wanted to be a musician and performer? Or did you fall into it later?
I’ve always been drawn to the duality of distant intimacy. Performance art is like vulnerable nudity beneath the thinnest of sheer, untouchable, somehow still close. I think as a child I wanted to silently explode, and art was the only way I could accomplish this without blowing my body apart. I did not begin writing music until about 3 years ago. 3 is a good number.
2) What inspired you and your bandmates first to start making music? How long have you been writing music?
I’ve been writing music for 3,285 days. It doesn’t sound so impressive when I map it out. 78,840 hours. It only gets worse. Music is the magic combination. Everything is triggered, every sense, every atom, every everything. It’s hard not to be inspired by something so wholesome. I want to use every cell of my body, I want to live my life, I want to beat on the walls of my skin until they realize how porous they are (when read fast, porous sounds like precious, both work). It’s hard to describe my relationship with music, words are pretentious. Roy told me his life changed when he sat behind the drums. Then his life changed even more when he stood up from behind them.

3) How did Nostalghia come together as a band?
Magic. Voodoo. Jack Daniels. Craigslist. Luck.

4) Does your cultural heritage and personal or family history influence your music in anyway?
Yes. Very much. I have a very eclectic family. Persian, French, Jamaican, Russian. The United Nations lives in my backyard. I’m very thankful to have grown up with all these beautiful languages and accents, I am heavily influenced by voices, tones. It’s also pretty nice to know that my blood has come out of a culture so deeply embedded in stealing women of their rights, to know that I have stayed true to what I am is a blessing. Others will call it a curse. I’d question their happiness.

5) How does the collaboration with the band work? Do you write the music together or contribute separate parts?
Both. Freedumb. Sometimes I write songs, and we orchestrate them. Sometimes Roy writes music, and I write and sing over it. I write often, and very fast, so poor Roy can’t even get a breath.

6) How do you fund your music recordings, videos, and shows?
Mainly hooking. And…some people believe in us, I like them.

7) Both members of your band are visual artists. Does your own personal visual art or the art of others influence your songwriting? When you create visual art and music, do both expressions come from the same creative place for you?
I paint when I have nothing to say. Songs are very visual for me, it is a cinematic, slow moment in time. A channel that won’t budge, wants to make me see it, wants to let me know. Visual art, though inspiring, does not influence Roy’s songwriting.



8) What is the ultimate goal for Nostalghia as a band?
To accomplish everything we have set out to do. To rep magic, truth, to give other aliens something to believe in, to land the mother ship on the biggest terrain. And ultimately, to keep my waves of insanity funneling through something productive. I want to make people feel loved, understood, connected. It makes me happy.

 

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