Every now and then a band comes along that stands out from the rest of the pack and for all of the right reasons. The band Meka Nism first crossed our musical radar in 2015 with release of their album The Shift: Anthems for a Revolution. We were on sensory overload as we found the band to be both visually and sonically stunning. The band is fronted by Ms. Meka who is not only the lead vocalist, but also a psychic, a shaman and a spiritualist. Her look alone is quite captivating, but just wait until she begins to deliver her message. Visuals in this industry can only get you so far because without the goods to back them up, you are just another flavor of the week. Ms. Meka is far from that.
She doesn’t come to the table alone because she has four incredibly talented guys delivering the soundtrack for her to deliver her message to. Guitarist Bobby Keller is a beast on the axe as he takes you on a journey rather than just seeing how fast he can play. Drummer Chris Lane, bassist Jarrett Robinson and keyboardist Jay Adkisson round out the band and prove that this is truly a group effort. Their music and message is very positive, uplifting and needed today more than ever. The band has new EP entitled The War Inside that is scheduled to drop on May 10 and we had a chance to sit down with Ms. Meka Nism and Bobby Keller about the EP and much more!
To start off with, I want to make sure that I have my date right on this. Bobby, you joined the band in 2010?
Bobby Keller/Meka Nism: Yes I did.
So, how did the two of you connect?
Ms. Meka/Meka Nism: Bobby and I have a different perspective on this story (laughs). He came to a show of mine with a mutual friend. I am, of course, a psychic, a shaman and a spiritualist, so I felt the spiritual connection. I knew that we had this awesome journey to go on, but he saw it in a different way.
Bobby: Yeah, as Meka was saying, we met through mutual friends and I had heard about her before. I was also freshly learning how to play guitar back in 2009. We went to a show that Meka was performing at and I met her at the end of the show. She told me that she was looking for a guitar player and I told her that I played guitar. Then, she looked at me and walked away; I really didn’t know what that meant.
Ms. Meka: I remember saying ‘that’s nice.’
Bobby: I think she was actually going to meet some friends of hers that had just walked through the door.
Ms. Meka: I had searched the world, literally, for the right person. I had played 150 shows in Japan on my own. I had a band called Origami Girls and I had an interesting journey over there, but I had been looking for the right people and band. Bobby has a really good spirit and energy and I really love the way that the plays. When we first started playing together, I played guitar as well, but not the way that he rips it. He told me that he could see the way that I used storytelling while playing the guitar. He understood my approach to the music; he completes what I do and then we create this world together through our combined energies.
It’s almost like putting a puzzle together; you can force a piece to fit that looks like the piece you need. As time goes on, you suddenly realize that it’s not right and, if you’re lucky enough, you find that right piece and the magic happens.
Ms. Meka: Exactly and you should really hear the story telling riffs that he has on this new album. The melodies and feelings behind some of these things that he wrote are incredible. He plays technically extremely well, but he is also a storyteller with his melodies and you can’t find that in everybody. His skill is well earned because he plays his ass off every day but he also cares about the energy and the story that we’re telling.
You guys have definitely come out of the gate blazing because the response to the single and video for “The War Inside” has been pretty amazing!
Ms. Meka: People have been coming up to us and telling us how they have been touched by the song and it’s an emotional and spiritual response. The stories that we get are pretty touching. We hear of people dealing with depression, dealing with addiction, dealing with the death of a loved one and dealing with all of these issues that we deal with, the war inside literally. They’re telling us that this is the first thing that they’ve heard from us and one week ago we changed their life. We saved their life and this is the answer that they were looking for.
Bobby: This is kind of the tip of the iceberg right now right now and there’s so much more stuff coming that I didn’t think people were ready for. Now, since they’ve got a taste of what is to come, I think the response will be even bigger. We knew there was going to be a response, but we didn’t know that it was going to be this astronomical as it has been.
This is your first new studio album since 2015’s The Shift: Anthems for a Revolution. I’ve always wondered when a band knows that it’s time to go back into the studio.
Ms. Meka: That’s an interesting question.
Bobby: I remember after we did The Shift back in 2015 that we immediately played a bunch of shows and we were riding that coat-tail for a while. I think you just get to a certain point to where you know it’s time to start the next thing. I know certain major label bands have a certain amount of time to tour and go through an album cycle.
Ms. Meka: For us, the vibe is very authentic; we feel a certain responsibility to be as professional as possible. We have to keep on creating that wave because we are all on this journey together. You have to keep the momentum up in the right way so that it’s not forced. We make the message and the music a priority in our lives and we do make many sacrifices because of that. We do sacrifice a lot of the normalities that people have in order to make ourselves have the freedom that we have created for ourselves to be available to offer the love and art that we create.
Are you worried that if you sign with a major label that they may try to control and change parts of that art?
Ms. Meka: You have to trust the music and if the music wants to advance, it’s really taking us along for the ride so we are willing to grow. Our message and our spirit are behind us no matter what a label tries to portray or show. It’s who we are and they can’t white wash that off of us. I think people know and will connect with that no matter what because it comes with the package and isn’t erasable. I think the fears that we’ve had about that in the past, or at least that I have had because I have such an eccentric approach to this, are gone. I am not what you would think of as a typical front person of a metal band. Bobby could fit into any band in the world, but I am lucky enough to have him rocking by my side and helping me deliver a message that is a little bit more out there for some people. It is a little more risky and something that people haven’t seen before, but it’s still accessible because it wants to connect with people. If a major label gets that, and I know they are, I think that it’s going to be part of this journey. We’re excited for the growth and the changes and for the journey that the music has us on.
Bobby: I know a lot of people have had fears about that in the past because you hear all of the horror stories, but I don’t think that labels today are the bad guys anymore. I think they’re just trying to look at different ways to maximize their business aspect of it. They’re trying to help you help them.
Ms. Meka: It has to be mutually beneficial; we want everyone to win. We want the audience to benefit because it’s for the tribe. If it’s not a win, win, win, then we’re not going to do it. I think that’s how business should be handled. I used to resist being mainstream for that very reason, but now I have a completely different understanding of trust. I trust this music, I trust where we’ve been; we got to go to Germany to record this. It’s really great how all of the pieces have fallen into the right places for this album.
Speaking of which, what made you go all the way to Germany to record this?
Bobby: The idea came about because we had heard of Lasse Lammert from some mutual friends of ours and we had a video conference with him. He was in Germany and we were here in the states. He was ecstatic by what he heard of our past stuff and the ideas for the new album. That was awesome because when you work with someone who is as excited about a project as you are, then that makes things even better. He could have come over here and we could have done the recording in Florida. I think the idea of taking us out of our comfort zone and away from all of the distractions and putting us in a place that’s very inspirational was the best thing for us to do and you can hear it.
Ms. Meka: Bold moves make bold music makes bold art. You can’t play it safe and you have to do things that push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Do you have a release date?
Bobby: Yes we do! We will be releasing the EP in its entirety on May 10 with pre-orders starting on April 1. We will be releasing it on vinyl and CD; we got the test pressing back the other day and the vinyl sounds better than the CD.
Isn’t it funny how CDs sounded better than vinyl and now vinyl sounds better than CDs?
Ms. Meka: They turned the tables…….. turntables (laughs).
That was good one! Is there anything on your radar that you’d like to mention?
Bobby: We’re in talks to do another music video and it will be for the song “Trail Blazer.” It’s one of the heavier songs on the album, but also has an emotional chorus that’s very catchy.
I have two more quick questions before we wrap this up and these are more about you guys. Do you remember the first money that you bought with your own money?
Bobby: At the time, I was living up north in Massachusetts and the first that I bought with my own money was Metallica’s Black album and I bought the cassette. At the time, we had those Walkman that played tapes and I walked everywhere with that thing, rollerbladed with it and did just about everything with it.
Ms. Meka: Mine is totally different; all I wanted to listen to was PJ Harvey and I wanted some of her music. She goes all over the system, but my first PJ Harvey album was Rid Of Me and it was very, very passionate, expressive, but beautiful music and very beautiful. She’s very raw; I love how she designs melodies but also how she designs insanity to tell her stories.
We’ve lost some iconic artists over the last year or two. If you could bring back any artist to sit down and have a long chat with, who do you think it would be?
Bobby: There are so many that I could name because I am such a huge fan of Lemmy from Motorhead and Randy Rhoads and Dimebag, but I think I would have to bring Dimebag back because he was such a positive person. You never hear any bad stories about him or someone say ‘oh Dimebag fucked me over.’ You hear that he was like a brother to me or we drank a lot and he killed my liver or he gave me a new guitar. I would definitely pick him and I am pretty sure that my liver is quivering with that response.
Ms. Meka: I’m a shaman and I talk to dead people all the time. I really admired Prince a lot; I am glad that I got to witness his art because he really put a lot into what he did. Janis Joplin made me who I am today because when I was little my dad was like ‘everything you’ve been listening to is ok, but listen to this.’ Not quietly either because he blasted that when I got my first record player, so it’s partially my dad and Janis Joplin’s fault that I am as loud as I am. I’d like to talk to the enlightened masters of the world and learn how to bring the light through. I’d like to talk to any one of the Dalai Lamas but he’s reincarnated now, so I guess you’d just have to talk to him now. I believe that we’re all connected and even the ones who have passed, I think they do fuel anyone who is creating today. I think we all have been enriched by the ones who came before; we have Bowie’s spirit pumping through our veins and our keyboardist’s veins. I know that the reason that I wail is because of Janis Joplin. I know the reason that Bobby got into the guitar was because of Randy Rhoads and Dimebag. It is part of us and of anybody who has been inspired by the music and the message. I think it’s something that we really should tap into and honor the masters. Yeah, cool question dude; I got to go deep on that one!
Pre-order a copy of The War Inside HERE
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