Crashing into the atmosphere: Interview with local D.C. band NAH.
Updated: Jun 8, 2018
It had been the windiest day in Washington D.C. since 2012's Hurricane Sandy. That didn’t stop us from looking for our very first tale of musical whimsy. We initially heard of “Nah.” a few months back at the Adams Morgan festival in Washington D.C. Nah.'s flair and style were perfect for the first local band to dig into. We arrived at Nah.’s house, where four of the five band frontrunners live, around 8 pm. There were fallen branches everywhere, a small tree had cut their neighbor's fence in half, and the street was deserted entirely due to the high winds.
We grabbed the two six-packs from our back seat as Emma Bleker, Nah.’s lead singer, waited on the front porch. When we stepped into the house their gray cat with a dog complex, Bacon, greeted us while Brendan Ra Tyler (Base), Stephen Rodriguez (Drums) and Chris Smith (Guitar) hung out in their massive living room couch. The house seemed to mimic Nah.'s vibe, elaborate protest signs telling of political stances, psychedelic artwork, bottles and caps strewn across most surfaces — all typical signs of a proper band house.
Nah. was founded in 2015 by Ra Tyler and former band violinist Christina Marie. Shortly after, the two went drummer-hunting and discovered Rodriguez at "Fat Tuesday’s" open jam session. Now with a third member, all that was left was a band name. Nah. came about from a relentless onslaught of creative thinking on Ra Tyler's part.
“One of my favorite things to do is to come up with band names just in general,” Ra Tyler said. “So I kept pitching names, and Christiana was not feeling any of them. So this conversation went on for a full 10 minutes of me pitching name after name, and her not liking any of them, but there was one common thread in the conversation, and it was the word 'nah.'"
Following a small hiatus, Nah. picked up right where they left off but a significant change was in the works for the band. Unknowingly, they were about to find their voice where they least expected.
Ra Tyler met Bleker on Tinder, the first time they hung out they realized that they were both musicians. Bleker elaborated on how the first day they met, Ra Tyler and Rodriguez started playing "Flying." Bleker loved the song so much and was just about to ask for the artist’s name when Rodriguez mention to Ra Tyler that they should record the song next time they played it. Bleker was blown away to learn it was an original.
After attending a few of their show's as an audience member, they asked Bleker to play with them. “Music doesn’t have to sound the same to feel the same,” explained Ra Tyler as he opened up a beer. They asked Bleker to join the band after it became evident that she was the puzzle piece that was missing and that would shape Nah. into what they are today.
Nah. released their first EP, Social Meteor, in August 2016. Social Meteor plays on constructs of social media that present themselves in their lyrics and the space rock vibe that defines the band. "A lot of our content focuses on things that are tough to deal with right now," Bleker said. "As someone who experiences anxiety a whole lot, being in a space and feeling like you're going to blow up but not knowing how to interact with people, went in hand with the idea of being social, being a rock flaming in space."
Nah.'s primary objective in their music is to make their audiences feel identified with the struggles of life. "Art is love, and love is survival," Bleker explained. "If we are going to purport to be putting love out into the world, a lot of that exists in talking about difficult things that some else may feel peace from listening to."
Everyone involved in Nah. sleeps, eats and breathes music. They are incredibly passionate and determined in their respective fields as they are talented. However, they are not immune to the trials and struggles that come with trying to make it as an artist. Each of Nah.'s members are continually sacrificing to make it all work.
"It's funny because Stephen just quit his full-time job due to music," Ra Tyler said as we all cheered for Rodriguez new step forward towards being a full-time musician. "I had a job making eighty thousand dollars a year, and I was unhappy, today was my last day, and I'm going to do this full time. I don't care if I'm poor. I always felt that music was something that I wanted to do," Rodriguez said.
Much like Rodriguez struggled with his daily job, Ra Tyler and Bleker are faced with working in the service industry to be able to sustain their living expenses. "Serving is soul-sucking, and music gives it back," said Bleker. Chris Smith is the only band member able to enjoy music full-time teaching guitar lessons. "If my thirteen-year-old self, knew what I'm doing now I think he would be pretty excited! I got to remember not to take that for granted," Smith said.
As a collective, Nah.'s objectives are evident. Rodriguez and Smith elaborated on their plans on the artistic spectrum, on writing, recording and perfecting their music. "There are no monetary goals; we want to be able to affect as many people we can with our music," Rodriguez said. "It’s reaching people," added Smith.
Since our interview, Zack Be who plays the keys & synth joined the band full time. Nah is taking the next month off to record their debut album. Make sure to be on the lookout for these resilient and psychedelic dreamers!