Wednesday Jun 28
Mar
11/16
The Pier: A Divine Spark with Natty Nation

Madison, Wisconsin’s own Natty Nation is celebrating the release of their new studio album Divine Spark that drops today, March 11th, via their own iNatty Records. On the day of their release, Natty Nation’s own JAH Boogie & Aaron Konkol stop by The Pier to give us a track by track breakdown of their new album. Read about and listen to each new track from the perspective of Natty Nation…

Natty-Nation-PR-Photo-2013-Hi-Res

The Pier: A Divine Spark with Natty Nation

Since its inception in 1995, Natty Nation has issued five award-winning and chart-topping studio albums along with a string of live albums. The group describes themselves as hard roots rock reggae & dub because of their embrace of soul, rock, and funk. Natty Nation has a fluid membership of esteemed and visionary musicians. Currently, Natty Nation is led by JAH Boogie – bass & lead vocals (also percussion & drums in the studio), and musical director Aaron Konkol – keyboards, vocals, & melodica. The collective also features mainstays Richard Hildner – guitar, and Olen Franklin – drums, as well as frequent players Francisco Martinez – percussion and vocals, Mike Daum – guitar, Harjinder Singh – guitar and vocals, Eric Kummer – drums, and Louka Patenaude – guitar.

Natty Nation’s new studio album, Divine Spark was mixed entirely by legendary Bob Marley recording engineer Errol Brown on his makeshift studio he built in the back of Rebelution’s tour bus. At the time of mixing Divine Spark, Errol was doing live sound for Rebelution. He came into the picture after Aaron Konkol attended a Rebelution show, and discovered he was the engineer behind the band’s pristine live sound. Errol worked humbly and consistently with Aaron to fully realize the elusive sound Natty Nation envisioned for Divine Spark, and features a guest verse from acclaimed South Side, Chicago-via-Madison rapper F. Stokes.

“This release is inspired by the physical and invisible forces of the divine within all mankind. The divine spark is the higher self within everyone,” explains frontman JAH Boogie. “I’ve learned that through raising your vibration, and opening your chakras, you are able to tap into your divine spark. Our music is for the mental, spiritual and physical expansion of the human family. We are spiritual individuals who express our spirituality through the frequencies and tones of the music that we play.”

Initial tracking for the album began in 2010 at the band’s home studio. Through the next six years the band worked in spurts on the album, taking time away to get fresh ears and also to be sure the collection of songs would be one of the group’s finest. “This is the first time Aaron and I wrote all of the songs together for an album since he entered the band in 2002,” JAH Boogie reveals. “This is definitely a step up in songwriting, production, and overall vibe.”

You can purchase Divine Spark on iTunes by clicking HERE!

1.) Balance

JAH Boogie: “This song is about the balance between the masculine and feminine principle within each human being. The idea comes from ancient Egypt pertaining to the goddess Isis and the balance scale of Maat. And also dealing with duality in the physical world. We become complete humans when we balance the masculine and feminine aspects of ourselves.”

AK: “We really let Errol go crazy on the mixing for this track, pulling out a lot of the instruments and adding delay & other effects to the instruments and vocals. I wrote the intro in the pre-production rehearsal a day or 2 before the tracking session, and the outro lick literally right before we hit record. Also it should be noted that Louka’s solo was the one he played during the live tracking session. No overdubs necessary. This groove was written way back in 2004, so it’s nice to finally get it out there!”


Credits:
Lyrics: D. Wainwright
Music: A. Konkol, D. Wainwright
JAH Boogie: vocals, bass, percussion
Aaron Konkol: Rhodes, backing vocals
Phillip “PJ” Hill, Jr.: drums
Louka Patenaude: guitar (solo)
Richard Hildner: guitar

Listen: Natty Nation – “Balance”



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2.) Meditation

JAH Boogie: “ealing with all types of meditation practices such as Kriya yoga and kundalini yoga.

The first verse deals with being in the present moment type meditation, the second verse deals with listening in a meditation, to your inner voice or frequency, and the third verse deals with the result of meditation which is peace, bliss and enlightenment.”

AK: “I finally got to play melodica on a Natty track! Woo-hoo! I wrote this at a practice we had with a couple of the guys from Nama Rupa (Jason Himebauch & Paul Renke) who were playing with us during that period (2007-2008). We had a lot to do, but the intro just came to me, and then the rest of the song pretty much wrote itself, or at least it felt like that. That night we recorded a demo version of the instrumental, and a few days later Boogie Boogie recorded a rough demo at his crib with Garageband & sent it to our emails. That was most definitely a first! Since then pretty much every new song has followed that same protocol.”


Credits:
Lyrics: D. Wainwright
Music: A. Konkol, D. Wainwright
JAH Boogie: vocals, bass, percussion
Aaron Konkol: melodica, clavinet, organ, & backing vocals,
Phillip “PJ” Hill, Jr.: drums
Louka Patenaude: guitar
Jason Himebauch: rhythm guitar

Listen: Natty Nation – “Meditation”



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3.) Intimidation

JAH Boogie: “This song deals with bullying and people who try to intimidate through mental, physical, and any other means. If we are secure within ourselves there is no need for intimidation of others, and intimidation by others will have no affect on us.”


Credits:
Lyrics: D. Wainwright
JAH Boogie: vocals, bass, percussion
Aaron Konkol: organ & piano
Phillip “PJ” Hill, Jr.: drums
Louka Patenaude: guitar
Richard Hildner: guitar

Listen: Natty Nation – “Intimidation”



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4.) Suffice

JAH Boogie: “This song deals with relationship issues when one person doesn’t feel the other is doing enough in the relationship. This song also deals with trust issues in relationships.”

AK: “We recorded the initial tracks to this on March 10, 2010(!) We released that as a single that year because we wanted to get something out to our fans since we hadn’t had any followup recordings after 2008’s Reincarnation. Boogie played the drums, bass, percussion, and vocals on that one while I played the organ, piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, & melodica, though the melodica didn’t make it onto the track, but did make it onto the dub (She Cries Dub), which is also on the digital & CD version of Divine Spark, though not on the vinyl due to per-side time constraints. Almost all of the tracks that Boogie & I laid down other than vocals were done together, so kind of live, but just 2 parts at a time. Then we added guitars after the fact.”


Credits:
Lyrics: D. Wainwright
Music: A. Konkol, D. Wainwright
JAH Boogie: vocals, bass, drums, percussion
Aaron Konkol: Wurlitzer electric piano, organ, piano, & backing vocals,
Louka Patenaude: guitar (solo)
Jason Himebauch: rhythm guitar

Listen: Natty Nation – “Suffice”



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5.) Purpose

JAH Boogie: “This song deals with asking yourself what is your purpose in life. Some have a purpose of peace and prosperity while other people have a purpose that is destructive or harmful.”

AK: “I first wrote this initial riddim in about 2003, just after I joined the band and we released Inatty In Jah Music. It was a very creative time in Natty history. During that period we wrote this song, Violent War Games, Blind, and revamped 4 songs from Boogie & Paulie’s fist band, Fruit Salad: Safiya, Smelling Salts, False Prophet, and If I Could in a more reggae style. Anyway, I was upstairs in the Natty house on Willy Street in Madison, and Tropical Riddims was on pretty loudly downstairs. I thought I heard this progression, but when I got downstairs realized that it was actually something completely different, but was still excited about the bass melody I thought I heard, so I sat down and wrote the whole song around that. The heavy break in the middle was an addition I came up with after we brought it into the band setting to get ready to perform, and I just thought it needed something big to build to. Also, I doubled the bass on the Moog, and Errol decided to use the Moog bassline in the choruses instead of the string bass, which I took as a compliment since I always like the way Boogie puts his stank on the basslines and never consider myself able to compare, but Errol objectively liked the Moog better, so I guess I nailed it! One last thing: we forgot to record the heavy guitar in the aforementioned instrumental break in the middle of the song, so when we got the first mix back from Errol it was pretty… not heavy! So we quickly set up a session at Francisco’s house to record Richard rockin’ out (which at that point was not necessarily his forte), but we knocked it out, sent it to Errol, and of course he dropped it in and it sounded great right away.”


Credits:
Lyrics/melody: D. Wainwright
Music: A. Konkol
JAH Boogie: vocals, bass, percussion
Aaron Konkol: Moog Prodigy, clavinet, organ
Phillip “PJ” Hill, Jr.: drums
Louka Patenaude: guitar
Richard Hildner: guitar
Heavy guitar recorded by Francisco Martinez

Listen: Natty Nation – “Purpose”



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6.) Prophecy

JAH Boogie: “This song deals with going within yourself to find out who you really are or what you really are. I talk about some of the ways you can work on divining such as Crystal gazing and deep meditation. I make it known that we all have spiritual guides or angels who reveal certain things to us. The song is also about the process of using your intuition which can be a long drawn out process.”

AK: “I first heard this riddim while we were doing the initial tracking for the “Inatty In Jah Music” album in 2002, which was ~2 weeks after I started playing with the band, which looking back is pretty crazy! Anyway, the parts were all there, but it wasn’t really arranged at all, just kinda laid down so they’d remember the parts and maybe put something together in the future. We still have about 20 of these laying around that sometimes rise to the surface when we get in songwriting mode. At the time Boogie called it “Can’t Fool The Youth,” but never took it any further than that. I insisted on including it on this album, and he eventually wrote a completely different song called Twin Flame, then revamped it into Prophecy after some profound personal experiences. This track kicks off the 2nd half of the vinyl version, which was no accident. The intro is strong and grabs your attention right out the gate, kind of like some of my favorite Natty songs when I was jsut a fan back in high school (like “Come Home”, “Glorify”, and “Music” to name a few iconic Natty pieces with this same type of iconic big rock intro.”


Credits:
Lyrics: D. Wainwright
Music: D. Wainwright
Arrangement: A. Konkol
JAH Boogie: vocals, bass, percussion
Aaron Konkol: organ, clavinet, & Moog solo
Phillip “PJ” Hill, Jr.: drums
Louka Patenaude: guitar
Richard Hildner: guitar

Listen: Natty Nation – “Prophecy”



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7.) I’m Willing

JAH Boogie: “The song deals with the many 12s that permeate throughout the universe. Such as the 12 disciples, 12 zodiac signs, etc.
The song also deals with the zodiac in general and how we are somewhat trapped within the 12 zodiac signs. The goal is to use our spiritual will to break out of the spiral of the 12s which is why the song is called I’m willing. The deeper aspect of the song is that the holy Bible deals with the physical body and the nerves and chakras etc. in an allegorical sense.”

AK: “I wrote this bassline while on the road at a soundcheck in Fargo, ND. We were playing with Mark Joseph Grundhoefer on guitar, and after I started playing that initial line on the moog in bass mode to try to figure out where to take it next (which is pretty common for how I write songs), he got really excited about it, especially the tritone interval between the 3rd & 4th measures (which I think I got from listening to a bunch of OK Computer-era Radiohead at the time), so I knew I was onto something. Because of that initial reaction, I made sure to keep playing it a bunch of times so I wouldn’t forget it (this was before I had a smartphone and can easily record any musical idea I have- which I do almost daily now). That was in 2011 I think, so by March of 2012 when we went into the studio to lay the foundation tracks for this album I had to come up with an intro, outro, other parts, and how to tie them all together, so I just wrote out some chords I came up with quickly to see how they would fit together, gave lead sheets to Louka & Boogie, we messed around with it a few times, and then I got the idea for the intro & outro, and the chords created a nice kind of happy lift in the middle of the song, which Boogie turned on it’s head by singing the same vocal melody from earlier on top of the new chords, creating now a LOT of tension, which bothered me a lot at first, but when i started to absorb the lyrics a bit more I realized that it worked really well to illustrate the tension and struggle it takes to break out of the pre-determined roles and tendencies we all have based on our zodiac signs. Then when he goes into the “It’s all about the constellations” part there’s a real harmonic release which feels amazing, like when you finally do break free of the constraints of the bodies our souls are dwelling within. It turned out to be one of my favorite songs on the album, and not like any other song I’ve ever heard.”


Credits:
Lyrics: D. Wainwright
Music: A. Konkol, D. Wainwright
JAH Boogie: vocals, bass, percussion
Aaron Konkol: organ, backing vocals
Phillip “PJ” Hill, Jr.: drums
Louka Patenaude: guitar
Richard Hildner: guitar

Listen: Natty Nation – “I’m Willing”



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8.) Civil Rights (feat. F. Stokes)

JAH Boogie: “This song deals with the issue of civil rights and always remembering the civil rights leaders who have sacrificed their lives for the people.”

AK: “My main contribution to this track was bringing in my friend and amazing emcee Rodney Lucas AKA F.Stokes. We both attended Madison West High, though I was a year ahead of him, and we never crossed paths until much later in life when he came back to Madison from NYC in about 2009. I’m way into hiphop, and was particularly active in the scene at that point being in Know Boundaries and on the verge of the inception of Star Persons, so I always knew about who was dope in the scene. We did a show together at the High Noon Saloon, which solidified our working relationship. When I heard he was in town while we were in the early stages of recording the album, I asked him if he would be down to drop a verse, already knowing full well that he rarely–if ever–does guest verses, so I wasn’t expecting much. This was in fall of 2012, so Obama was slated to give a speech on the UW campus, so Rodney said if we could pay for to change his flight out of Madison so he could stay an extra day to see the president speak, he’d drop the verse. I was pretty pumped on that, so we cleared some space on Civil Rights, & the next day I picked him up after the rally and he came in and knocked it out before Boogie could even get over to the studio. The verse got the Boogie co-sign, and we were out. Rodney did bring up that he did use (the N word) twice and “shit” (which I was kinda trippin’ on since I already knew that if we kept it in there and the song made it on the album that the whole album would get the dreaded “E” for explicit, even though that was the only word on the whole album), but we made a quick decision that we weren’t gonna censor him (especially on a track about civil rights), and we figured the use of the N word would be a good conversation starter, because we love that topic. FYI, we fall on the Michael Eric Dyson side of this debate as opposed to the Cornell West side in regards to the use of the word (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should seriously look it up!).”


Credits::
Lyrics: D. Wainwright, R. Lucas
JAH Boogie: vocals, bass, percussion
Aaron Konkol: organ, backing vocals
Phillip “PJ” Hill, Jr.: drums
Louka Patenaude: guitar
Richard Hildner: guitar

Listen: Natty Nation – “Civil Rights” (feat. F. Stokes)



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9.) Negus Negast

JAH Boogie: “The title of the song means king of kings. The title given to the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie. This title was also given to many prophets throughout time including Jesus the Christ. The song also deals with the current racism and misunderstanding of race and culture. The song stresses that we learn our history and live our culture to the fullest.”

AK: “This track was produced by one of our drummers, Francisco Martinez & features our guitarist, Louka Patenaude, and the bass player from dumate, Nick Moran. He submitted it to us for consideration back in 2008 when we were putting the “Reincarnation” album together, but Boogie only got around to writing the lyrics for it in 2011, then AK put some clavinet, organ, & melodica on the track in 2012 and it made it on this album. An earlier version of the song actually already won a Madison Area Music Association award for world song of the year in 2011, but this version is pretty different, and quite a step up in my opinion.”


Credits:
Lyrics: D. Wainwright
Music: F. Martinez
Produced by Francisco
Francisco Martinez: drums, Rhodes, percussion, production
JAH Boogie: vocals
Louka Patenaude: guitar
Nick Moran: upright bass
Aaron Konkol: organ, clavinet, melodica

Listen: Natty Nation – “Negus Negast”



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10.) Divine Spark

JAH Boogie: “This song deals with the spiritual essence of each human being. The song also expresses that when you open your heart chakra it helps to open up the many other chakras within the spiritual body. When these energy centers or chakras are open then many other dimensions are open as well. The song also hints at the ability to astral travel using your divine spark or essence.”

AK: “This is the first track that Errol sent that really got me to understand his genius. Tears literally welled up in my eyes as I heard it. I always knew we could sound like this, but we never did until that moment. Thank you Errol Brown!”

Credits:
Lyrics: D. Wainwright
Music: A. Konkol, D. Wainwright
JAH Boogie: vocals, bass, percussion
Aaron Konkol: clavinet, organ, & backing vocals,
Phillip “PJ” Hill, Jr.: drums
Louka Patenaude: guitar
Richard Hildner: rhythm guitar

Listen: Natty Nation – “Divine Spark”



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11.) 5th Dimension Dub

Dub version of Divine Spark mixed by Natty Nation

“This wasn’t the easiest to dub, which is why it was one of the ones we wanted to try. We’re eventually gonna have a full dub version of the album, so we knew if we could do this one we’d be golden for the rest!”

Listen: Natty Nation – “5th Dimension Dub”



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12.) She Cries Dub

Dub version of Suffice, also mixed by Natty Nation

“This was our first ever foray into dub mixing, so we went a little crazy (notice the backwards guitar solo), but we were going for more of a Lee “Scratch” Perry type of dub as opposed to a King Tubby style.”

Listen: Natty Nation – “She Cries Dub”



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You can purchase Divine Spark on iTunes by clicking HERE!


Related Links:
Natty Nation Website
Natty Nation Facebook


Article By: Mike Patti


Natty Nation – Divine Spark Track List:
Divine-Spark-cover-2000x2000 1.) Balance
2.) Meditation
3.) Intimidation
4.) Suffice
5.) Purpose
6.) Prophecy
7.) I’m Willing
8.) Civil Rights (feat. F. Stokes)
9.) Negus Negast
10.) Divine Spark
11.) 5th Dimension Dub
12.) She Cries Dub








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