Music for the People

Mandy Nolan

Nahko and Medicine for the People dazzled all on their inaugural tour of Australia in February, and have just finished a USA and across-Australia tour opening for Xavier Rudd!

Owing to popular demand, they’ll perform one show only on Thursday night, launching their new CD Dark As Night, and playing their anthemic hits, with a little help from some talented local friends.

A mix of Apache, Puerto Rican and Filipino heritage, Nahko’s journey to self-expression and healing through music was a long and winding road. With training in classical piano, and a gift for performance and connection, Nahko’s built a reputation in the USA, Canada and Europe for intensely inspiring, passionate shows of original music with something to say.

Don’t miss this only chance to see their full show before they leave the Antipodes!

Seven spoke with Nahko on the eve of his show.

nahkoYou are a unique artist – your approach isn’t conventional. How hard has this made to break into the mainstream industry?

Not very hard at all, apparently. I never set out to break through, but with the honesty and rawness in these stories, and in how we/I present them, it made it a natural thing for the songs to travel and to create the connections needed to move deeper into the thick of it.

Do you actually want to break into the mainstream or is there a story to be told on the fringe?

Rebel music will always be rebel music wherever it travels; redemption songs will always go farther than we’ll see; beyond time and space and dreams.

Think the ‘mainstream’ will break us, haha. It’s going to get picked up and work its magic – it’s like a secret weapon, y’know, catchy tunes that are actually teaching you something and opening something – you’re going to hear it – it’s going to find you – and all of a sudden you’re into it… haha! There is something to be said for independent artists that speak strong words of shifting and idealisms. We can’t all be silenced.

What are the artistic values that you hold most strongly?

The power of poetry. The language of music.

What would you say is the essence of a Nahko show?

High vibes. True connection. Massive energy. Crazy dance moves. It’s like a revival meeting.

Your band is called Medicine for the People. Is that how you perceive your music, as a kind of medicine? Can you elaborate a little?

Our ancestors used to pray and chant. I think in this new way we’re reminding each other that we have to combine the old ways with new ones. Our band name is a great example of what our intention is – walk with integrity… know it’s okay to make mistakes… but learn from them… use your words. Be your poetry. Yeah, so medicine is healing no matter how you look at it. I know I’ve been ‘healed’ by the songs, poetry, and music… so it has become no surprise to me that others have as well.

What are the values or understandings that you think the general community has lost sight of?

Personal power. The ability to make your dreams realities. What is actually at stake. Blind to destruction, eyes wide open to greed and desire.

There is a strong sense of creation, and I guess ‘God’ in your music. Is it possible to find a place for this in a world of fractured belief?

Many of us have; for a long time. Yes, it’s possible. You decide your connection with ‘god’, ‘creator’, ‘great spirit’ – for many of us structured spiritual ways of devotion are not our thing – we create our own prayers, our own meditations, our own ways of worship – and many of it stems from learning and revering many walks of spirituality.

What should we expect for your live show here in Byron Shire?

A lot of excitement – high energy – positive prayers – big open arms of love!


Byron Bay Brewery – 8pm

Tickets: $25 in advance at or $30 at the door.


Find this and many other great gigs in Echonetdaily’s North Coast Gig Guide.




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Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

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