Music

Red Steppes Paints an Emotional Landscape on "I Did Not Speak It" (premiere)

Nika States takes on the red steppes moniker to paint an emotional landscape with tender vocals and evocative instrumentation on her brand new folk release.

Bay Area folk artist Nika States has been garnering a name for herself through her alias, red steppes. The singer-songwriter has become particularly skilled at crafting masterfully evocative songs that provide a mental lens for listeners into a special time and place. She's one of those individuals who have an innate, heartfelt connection to the work that she develops, and is often able to bring her audience with her miles away to places they may have never been to before without leaving their seat.

Such is the case with her newest tune, "I Did Not Speak It".

Nika tells PopMatters, "'I Did Not Speak It' was one of the first songs we tracked for this record, and it's one of maybe a handful of songs I've ever written in under a week. I usually sketch and revise songs for a very long time, but during that time I needed a means of framing and refocusing some very strong but improvident attachments, and this song arrived very quickly and brought me a lot of peace throughout that process. It's one of two songs on the record that heavily references Alviso, California (and the adjacent ghost town of Drawbridge) as an emotional landscape. This is a place to which I often return for comfort and clarity and new connections, full of buried bird bones and sinking-long abandoned houses and sometimes, when the time is right, immense blooms of mustard and new life. There are so many things that can be reconciled in its salt and its dust and its weedy marsh."

"Cooper Kenward (who directed this video) seemed to have an innate understanding of the thematic core of this song, and that he was able - with no spoilers from me about the song's origin - to come up with a story that still felt just as true for the music as my own did. We shot over a weekend in Big Sur - one of the most beautiful I've spent anywhere. I learned to drive stick for this shoot and borrowed a family friend's old Toyota - that's me with about half an hour's experience driving small stretches of CA-HWY1 and trying my best not to stall the car. With projects like this, little things also gratify me; that images from a sinking town in a salt marsh ('all those houses falling waterward') might apply just as well to the many cliffside dwellings in this unsettled state pleases me to no end. I'm always hoping that people can invent or relate their own stories when listening to something I've written and it was really exciting to see that happen for this video and to see still that new story retain an emotional thread or center I could recognize."

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