Opposite to the title of her new single, Adptd does not seem to be scared of anything when you hear her rock out on her new, banging track. From recording music in her bedroom to landing a record deal, Adptd is all set to release her debut EP in 2022.
The music is reminiscent of the best of early 2000’s rock; with its guitar driven, groovy melodies and catchy vocals (with some awesome and perfectly fitted screams). This protest song comes mindfully wrapped, and completely slays it for this holiday season.
The new single, exclusively premiered on Shouts, is a call to action against racism. Growing up as an adopted child to white foster parents, Adptd (real name Josie Randle) learned early on how to embrace herself and to not give a crap about what other people think of her or the color of her skin. She hopes that some people can relate to the things she sings about as she told us via email:
“I want every song that I release on this upcoming album to relate to someone else. I’m not the only one to experience loss, pain, love, depression, and anxiety. None of us are alone in our emotions, our thoughts, or beliefs. I want people to know that not just through me, and my music but at our shows, your family. Adptd is a community to feel welcome, and loved, no matter who you are or what you’re going through.”
Being a person of color in the rock music scene has had an impact on Adptd and she takes it seriously representing POC in this dominantly white surrounding: “I’d like to think it’s important for me and every other artist of colour in our music community to stand up and show that, yo we too can write some emo, pop punk, pop rock shit and rock out just as hard.
I’ve been to many shows where I very well may be the only black person there either on stage throwing down or in the crowd rocking out. So when you do see another person having a dope time listening to a metal band, a rock band, pop punk band, whatever it’s dope to see.
There’s definitely an unspoken stigma out there for sure. So when I see new bands popping up like, Meet Me at the Alter, Magnolia Park, and (not new) but Turnstile, to name a few, killing it in this dominant scene of white folks, then hell ya I’m stoked on it and to be apart of these awesome POC killing it in the music scene.”
Adptd’s debut EP is set for release in 2022 so stay tuned! Listen to the exclusive premiere of ‘Scared’ below and check out more of Adptd’s work via her webpage adptd.com.
There are some singers who invent a genre to suit their uniqueness. Yungchen Lhamo is one of those artists. Born in Lhasa, Tibet, Lhamo crossed the Himalayas to Dharamshala, India, with her son strapped to her back. She then moved to Australia, where she recorded prayers of meditation, which developed into her first CD, Tibetan Prayer, which won the Australian Recording Industry Award (ARIA) for best world album in 1995.
Performing throughout the world, Lhamo was then signed by Peter Gabriel to his recording company, Real World Records. She released her second album, Tibet, Tibet, on Real World Records in 1996.
Lhamo has since gone on to perform at Carnegie Hall with luminaries such as Philip Glass, Michael Stipe, Natalie Merchant, and others. Lhamo also performed at the 1997 Lilith Fair festival with Natalie Merchant, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, and Jewel. Around this time, she was invited by Laurie Anderson to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London, sharing the stage with Sir Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, and Lou Reed.
I had the honor and privilege to talk via Facetime to Lhamo at the end of March 2021.
“How did you learn to sing?” I asked.
Dressed in a traditional yellow Tibetan robe, holding prayer beads, smiling as she spoke, Lhamo described her earliest recollections.
“Where I grew up, life was extremely hard for all of us, especially being raised by a single mother back then. We prayed all the time. One day, as I was singing a prayer, my grandmother asked me, ‘where did you learn that song?’ The conversation went something like this:
What song, grandmother?”
“The song you’re singing,” my grandmother said.
“I just made that song up.”
Do you want to be a singer?” she asked.
“No, I want to grow up quickly and become either a nun or a man,’ I said. My grandmother’s jaw dropped upon hearing this. “Why do you want to become a man?”
“I want to be able to carry firewood and water, and help the elderly,” I said.
“If you want to help people, you must sing. This is your gift,” my grandmother replied.
Then one day, I was singing ‘Ari-Lo,’ which would be a song on my second album Tibet, Tibet. “How do you know this song?” my grandmother asked.
“This is a song I made up,” I replied. My grandmother and mother were now both in tears. This was a very moving and magical moment for all of us.
“You need to sing to the world,” my grandmother said.”
And singing to the world is what Yungchen Lhamo has done.
“Where did you meet Peter Gabriel?” I asked.
“I met Peter in London after I toured Australia when I was performing for the Dalai Lama. I hadn’t yet made an album. But I was told that I needed to make a CD. I didn’t have the concept of singing something to then sell it. Even now, I don’t believe myself a singer. For me, singing is an offering. A prayer. However, listening to my manager, I quickly made the album Tibet Prayer, which, to my surprise, won the equivalent of the Grammy in Australia for Best World Music album. But this also meant that now I had to travel the world to perform. I would be representing Tibet and bringing our music around the world. And so, I went. And since then, it’s never ended.”
“Why did you decide to go with Peter Gabriel’s label?”
“I chose Real World because Peter insists on having music from around the world. Because of Peter, people know about other cultures. Peter looks beyond the music, to the culture, and the story behind the song. Peter cares deeply about the world. Not just about making hits. And he’s a good friend. He’s made the impossible possible. I had every obstacle in front of me. I am a woman, I don’t speak the language, I don’t have a big band, I perform spiritual songs and I don’t have a stage show. But Peter believed in the music and this has made all the difference.”
“Do you consider yourself a Tibetan artist?”
“There are two main types of Tibetan music. The first is the traditional Tibetan folk songs and operas, which I learned when young, but my own music is not Tibetan in that sense. The other type is the Tibetan Buddhist chanting of prayers and mantras and my songs tend to reflect something of that tradition.”
“The industry labeled you World Music?”
“You know, when I first heard this term World Music, I thought it sounded silly. Isn’t music something that’s meant for all of the world?”
“It’s a term that describes how narrow the music industry can sometimes be,” I said. “I hear everything in your music. That’s what makes it so special. I hear blues, jazz, classical and folk. Yes, I hear prayers too, but sung like I’ve never heard before. Besides, isn’t all singing a form of prayer?”
“I sing for the world – not just Tibet. I don’t look for the music – sometimes you make connections – you make creative contacts. I play with people, not just the instruments or styles from which they originate. I mostly sing acapella but since I’ve worked with musicians from other cultures, each of my albums after Tibet Prayer has a different feel. For instance, on Coming Home, I worked with French producer Hector Zazou. My second album, Ama, was produced by Jamshied Sharifi, an Iranian American. My third album, Tayatha, was produced by Anton Batagov, a Russian pianist and post-minimalist composer. And finally, on my current album Awakening I worked with Spanish producers Julio Garcia and Carmen Ros. No doubt each album reflects the culture and musical traditions of the different producers and musicians that have worked on them.”
“How did you meet Peter Rowan?”
“I met Peter Rowan in 2015; we were playing on the same bill at the Leaf Festival in North Carolina. Peter then asked me if I wanted to play with his Bluegrass group at the Lake Eden Arts Festival, also in North Carolina. The Lake Eden Arts Festival is traditionally a Bluegrass only festival, I was told. ‘They might resist something new,’ Peter said. I must tell you; we were a hit. People gave us a standing ovation. Then that autumn I toured with Peter for his new album, The Old School, and we have collaborated on and off since then. I am working with him again right now on a new song and plan to meet up with him in California in April. One can say that Peter sings Bluegrass, but his music transcends that category.”
“You’re a true World Music composer,” I said.
We both laughed a little.
I told Lhamo that I’ve been a huge fan of Peter Rowan since his collaboration with Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, and Vassar Clements on Old & In the Way and have continued to be a fan.
“Your new LP, Awakening, is spectacular. I love all the spiritual aspects of the songs, but I hear so many emotions and influences. “Home is Wherever You Are” for instance, reminds me of an Appalachian song. I hear that high, lonesome sound in your voice. It’s layered with longing and sadness. What inspired this song?”
“I hear music and it finds its way into my music. I don’t try to copy. It just happens.”
Perhaps Peter Rowan’s influence found its way into the feel of “Home Is Wherever You Are.”
Like all Yungchen Lhamo’s albums, the songs on Awakening are incredibly varied. And while the title song “Awakening” is a prayerful invocation, Lhamo’s ribboned voice winding around a violin, the song “Monkey Mind” comes more from the blues tradition.
“Loving Kindness” has a Flamenco influence and features singer Carmen Linares. The song “Sun and Moon” is sensuous romance. Lhamo’s voice whispers through mysterious landscapes, taking you on a visionary journey. Flung far across the globe, closer to Lhamo’s roots, the song “Four Wishes” is reminiscent of Chinese music.
Lhamo is like a sponge who takes everything she hears and incorporates it into her music. You will hear her voice sound as delicate as the wind; but you’ll also hear her voice boom like it can carry across mountains. At the heart of all her music is prayer, but tuneful prayer.
“At One Drop of Kindness Foundation, people can volunteer, bringing their specific talents. Whether they’re writers, designers, or teachers. We’re just asking for people to give their time. Elderly people willing to teach Tibetan children. One week, thirty minutes. In the future we will have a place so that children can go to learn dancing, singing and prayer. This is open to everyone. Like the One Drop of Kindness water signature logo suggests, all it takes is one drop of yourself. My wish is that if we human beings appreciate the world around us, this makes us healthy and makes the world a better place. One drop of water accumulates. Many drops of water make an ocean.”
Since it was established in 2004, the One Drop of Kindness Foundation’s projects have brought music, hope, health, and happiness to many people in Tibet, Nepal and India, in the USA, and in Ireland. Initial projects included providing single mothers, children, and the elderly in Tibet with clothing, shoes, prosthetic limbs, and educational supplies.
In addition, Lhamo has brought her music to countless homeless shelters, classrooms, retirement homes, and community spaces throughout the USA, Asia, and Europe. For example, her 2015 show in Kingston, NY, “You Are Beautiful, I Am Beautiful,” was reviewed in Newsweek Magazine.
Lhamo also makes jewelry, which she started doing during the pandemic. “If you purchase my jewelry, it goes towards the foundation.”
“What’s next for you?”
“While I’m trying to find a label for Awakening, I’m working on another album now called In Grass Valley.”
We talked for a while longer, discussing the importance of trying to do the right thing in life, to be a good person. I really didn’t want to hang up. I showed Yungchen my guitar and we even played a song together. It was delightful. I told Yungchen that she’s like water, and can fit into any shape.
If Yungchen Lhamo is considered World Music, it’s because her music contains the entire world.
I met the rapper Intikana through a series of mutual connections; some from a New York based Taíno community and some from musicians we both know. Born and raised in the Bronx, Intikana went to P.S. 76, M.S. 135, then to Dewitt Clinton High School.
As a professional recording artist, Intikana has collaborated with legends such as Dead Prez, Keith Murray, Murda Mook, Chris Rivers, Abiodun Oyewole (The Last Poets), Vaughn Benjamin aka Akae Beka (Midnite), Dinco D (Leaders of The New School), and Vordul Mega (Cannibal Ox). His EP “Native Eyez” was nominated for three Native American Music Awards (“Best Music Video”, “Best Rap Recording” & “Best Historical / Linguistic Recording”).
I had the fortune to speak to Intikana on a Saturday in mid-June.
“You have a long family history in the Bronx?”
“My grandparents moved from Puerto Rico to The Bronx in the 1950s. My Mom was born and raised in The Bronx. My dad was born in Queens but raised in The Bronx,” said Intikana. His voice was gentle. A born lyricist, you could hear the wisdom in his words.
“I know you are of Puerto Rican descent. Have you ever been to PR?”
“When I was a kid, I spent summers in Puerto Rico. Borikén is actually the original Taíno name of Puerto Rico. When translated, Puerto Rico means ‘rich port’ which is how the colonizers viewed our island. A port that was rich in gold, natural herbs, and spices.”
The Taíno were the first Indigenous people to encounter Columbus. The Europeans have had a long history of committing atrocities on the island. Intikana often writes about the island’s history of social injustice. He also acknowledges the experience of social injustice on other Caribbean islands and extends this awareness to social injustice found around the globe.
“What town or city did you stay in on the island?”
“I spent my early childhood summers in Cabo Rojo which is a small town on the west side of Borikén. When I was there, I stayed with my grandparents. Their home was right next to the hills or what we called los montes. My early experiences there taught me a lot about the importance of the natural world.”
“What was it like growing up in the Bronx?”
“It made me who I am. I will always love my city. Someone once told me where you’re from feeds you. Growing up in the Bronx fed me. It taught me survival. Taught me about life.”
“What was the neighborhood like?”
“We lived in the northeast section of the Bronx. Between the 5 train on Gun Hill Road and the 2 train on Burke Avenue. My mom and I resided in the basement of my grandmother’s house. It was a very family-oriented neighborhood. There were many Caribbean people, Haitians, Dominicans, Jamaicans, Puerto Ricans, many of whom owned homes. Our neighborhood bordered the Eastchester projects.”
“When you say, the neighborhood taught you how to survive, what do you mean?”
“It taught me how to be strong in challenging situations. I experienced a lot in The Bronx. When I was a kid, my father was in prison. I was thirteen when he came home. On the weekends, I used to stay with him in the Mill Brook Projects in the South Bronx. One day, we went to the park with my family. While there, a little boy had hit my sister in the face and made her cry. My dad was upset and confronted the boy’s father. The guy said something threatening to take things to another level. In response, my father punched him. The guy dropped to the floor and we walked away. When leaving the park, the guy got up and pulled out a gun. Then he started running at us claiming to be a cop. He pointed the gun at my dad, my uncle, and then aimed it at my face. Suddenly, the officer emptied the entire gun, shooting multiple bullets. Luckily, I was only grazed on my arm. It wasn’t a direct shot. However, the man shot my dad. One bullet struck my father in the leg which thankfully went in and out. The guy with the gun turned out to be an off-duty corrections officer. He was sentenced to a year in jail for reckless endangerment. Not a year for shooting my dad but rather a year for endangering the lives of everyone else in the park.”
“I can only imagine how traumatizing that was.”
“That’s why I say The Bronx taught me about survival. I’ve known friends who were murdered and have witnessed a great deal of senseless violence. Every year in my middle school, we used to paint new murals dedicated to students who got killed. There was one friend of mine who I went to class with. One day, he was late to school and, unfortunately, never made it. He and his entire family were murdered early in the morning. I remember showing up to the wake. There were about eight closed caskets.”
“Did these experiences inspire your interest in rap?”
“Definitely. But let me take a step back. I was close to my grandfather. He was a deep-thinking man. He taught me how to play chess and reflect on my approach to everything. He got extremely sick from diabetes when I was twelve. When I went to see him in the hospital, he didn’t recognize me at first. Slowly, he began to remember who I was, but the nurses forced me to leave the room. This was an immensely powerful experience for me. My reaction to the emotion was to start writing about it. Also, when I was going to high school, rapping was a way for me to verbally defend myself. At first rapping was a way for me to find my voice, but then it grew into something that helped me to discover myself. Music also kept me focused. Eventually, I started to get more into poetry. I also learned more about theater and film. I wrote a play called Penumbra, which included music, poetry, and monologues. Penumbra also had dancers and live musicians. I toured the play around the country in places such as Alaska, California, Chicago, New York, Utah, Colorado, and as far as Ecuador. My friend Bamboo MC helped me find the title Penumbra. Penumbra means a shadow of a shadow.”
“Who were your inspirations? What kind of music do you listen to?”
“When I was younger, I was engrossed in Hip Hop: Nas, Tupac, Biggie, Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes and many others. I did my homework. I studied all the artists. Then I checked out older albums. At seventeen, I interned at BMG, the record label. There I helped with promotions for “The Neptunes present… Clones” album by Pharrell and Chad Hugo. I spent a whole day with both managing the line for autographs at their in-store event. For a young kid, these moments were life-changing. This would all prove to have a positive impact on my networking and collaborations.
I also spent time at the Apollo Theater. That’s where I got to meet Sway. I broadened my interests, studying jazz, blues, soul, roots reggae, and bomba, which is a form of Afro- Borikén music. I was so hungry and kept growing and learning. There was an artist named Vaughn Benjamin who founded a group called Midnite and later changed his name to Akae Beka. He was a significant inspiration for me. His intelligence, style, and overall mission was powerful to me. We collaborated on a song called “Meditation” which features Stic of the legendary Hip-Hop group Dead Prez as well as Aza Lineage from Kingston, Jamaica. Only months after releasing the song, he sadly transitioned (died) in 2019.
Through music, I’ve been able to travel and see the world. Which is such a huge blessing. In South America, for example, I participated in important Indigenous ceremonies. It was during this time that I received my spiritual name, Intikana.”
“Can you tell me about your songs that involve your Taíno origins?”
“I wrote a song called ‘Native Eyez’ which is also the title track for a project I did in 2013. It was created to raise awareness of native culture and its connection to the street. How the arriving conquerors replaced the nature world, the jungle, and the forest, with the concrete jungle. I then did music videos for this project. The mission was to showcase and highlight our global interconnectedness as Indigenous peoples. Not just for Taínos but for Indigenous people everywhere. I also did a music video with an artist from Australia named Provocalz. The song is called ‘Survivors’ and is part of a native music project called ‘Only Built for Koori Linx.’ The song speaks about how much Indigenous people had to endure simply to survive. My interests in social justice have inspired me to keep learning, to remain a student.”
“What other Indigenous songs have you written?”
“I also wrote a song called ‘Crouching Gallo Hidden Coqui’ which was produced by Xen Medina. It has a very direct, strong tone.”
Gallo means rooster in Spanish, symbolizing masculinity in many Caribbean/Latin American cultures. The coqui symbol is particularly important to Taíno people. It is a singing tree frog native to Borikén. Both roosters and frogs appear in Taino stories throughout the Caribbean and are recognized as major symbols in Borikén culture.
“In addition, I recorded a song called ‘El Pueblo Esta Muerto’ which is on my album ‘Sovereignty.’ I originally wrote and recorded the song for News Beat Podcast which is produced by Manny Faces. In this song, I talk about the history of Borikén and about the island post-earthquake. I wrote another song called ‘Culture Shock’ featuring M1 of Dead Prez. It was filmed in Africa, Cuba, Guatemala, Borikén & The Bronx. These songs are very revolutionary in nature. They’re concerned with oppression and with the suppression of the original cultures of our people.”
“What has your Taíno culture taught you about your perspective of the world?”
“My culture motivates me when there’s no motivation. I remember why I’m doing the work. It’s not for some artificial purpose. I have a bigger mission. My work inspires me to learn about history. For instance, when I read Columbus’s journal, it made me want to cry. Columbus wrote in his letters that the Indigenous people were gullible and naive. In his letters to Spain, he wrote that the Taíno were easily able to memorize prayers and could easily be conquered. And, because of the Taínos’ generous nature, the Spaniards were able to colonize the island fast. It hurt me to read this. The impact of colonization still affects Borikén today. Since the time of the Spaniards, foreign anthropologists have selectively filtered what we know about our own history. We are conditioned to see ourselves through the eyes of people who hate us.”
“What are your future plans?”
“I am working on a book. The working title is Native Eyez: Lyrics & Curriculum. This will be the first in a series of books. This book will serve as a resource for educational institutions, professors, teachers, students, and families. My intention is to raise awareness and understanding of native history within the Afro-Indigenous diaspora. The idea is to have it exist as a teaching guide that can be used in the classroom. I hope it will inspire people to think deeply and explore issues concerning injustice, struggle, and movements of resistance. I pray it can assist in liberating minds and help those interested in reclaiming their own identity. This book is a culmination of many years of hard work, research, study and learning. I am hoping to sign with a major publisher who values and respects the vision. I have a few in mind. If not, I’m willing to self-publish. Either way, I intend on leaving my mark in this world. I believe that this book will exist long after I am gone.”
“Are you working on a music project?”
“Not at the moment. I have a lot of music that I’ve recorded and would like to release a new project soon. However, I’m in the process of reinventing my own soundscape. So, I’m remaining patient with this next release. No name as of yet. Nonetheless, I will more than likely release a few new singles as well as music videos to keep feeding my audience.”
“It’s exciting to imagine what kinds of projects you’ll be working on twenty years from now.”
“My goal is to keep moving forward, to speak up for oppressed people everywhere. Every day, my vision gets bigger. And I’m grateful for that.”