Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America

November 18, 2000 - Issue 23


Rockin' with Indigenous

by Vicki Lockard

I recently had the honor of interviewing Mato Nanji, of Indigenous. Mato answered my questions with honesty and humility that is a tribute to those who he says influenced him and the band the most ... his parents.
Here is part of our interview...
Q: Mato, I have to ask what it was like sharing the stage with Carlos Santana?
A: It was unbelievable, a dream come true. As a kids, we listened to Santana and he has always been one of our "legends." Playing with him, was awesome!
Q: OK, I have to ask, what were folks your ages doing listening to Santana? He wasn't really "hot" when you were younger.
A: That was my Dad's influence. He and my Mom were always playing that kind of music, when we were growing up, so we learned to love it, too.
Q: Who else were your heroes when you were growing up?
A: Our parents. They found a way to get us our first instruments and they encouraged us every step of the way. Without their guidance, who knows what we would have done.
Q: What's next?
A: Believe it or not, we're completely happy where we are. We take each day as a gift and don't spend our times wishing we were somewhere else. All of us are totally happy just writing songs and playing our music.
Q: You've had quite a ride, so far. Tell me about some of the highlights.
A: Well, besides playing with Santana, this past summer we toured on the Honor the Earth tour with musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, the Indigo Girls and Jackson Browne. We also opened for the Dave Matthews Band and last summer toured with B.B.King. We will also be playing a few songs for the Native American Music Awards.
Q: What advice would you give young people, on or off the Rez?
A: I must say hard and have discipline. We have been on the road for five straight years and continue to spend much of our time touring. When we're not playing, we're practicising. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. If you want something, work for it.
The blues-rock band Indigenous is bursting into the music scene in a big way. Their album "Live At Pachyderm Studio 1998" won for Best Blues Recording at this year's NAMMY's. They also performed two songs at the Native American Music Awards on November 11. They recently shared billing with Dave Matthews, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, The Indigo Girls, and jammed on stage with Carlos Santana.

Indigenous prefers earning a reputation for its music, not its heritage. But, says guitarist and singer, Mato Nanji, "We are Indian, and it's not going to change. If that's how people want to recognize us---'that's an Indian band'--that's fine, too. We're not ashamed of who we are."

Indigenous is a family affair. The four members grew up on the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota and were home schooled. They were heavily influenced by the music and politics of their late father, Greg Zephier, an activist in AIM and a member of the band called "The Vanishing Americans."

The group began playing music in their preteens and spent five years practicing before they performed in public. They have spent the last five years on the road.

Reviews of "Circle" the new release by Indigenous

"One of the truly pioneering blues bands today, Indigenous blends Texas blues, Seattle rock and Woodstock guitar solos into a heady brew, led by otherworldly singer-guitarist Mato Nanji".
-Thomas Conner, Tulsa World May 8, 2000
"All of these elements have combined to make Indigenous' brand of blues red-hot in the band members' native land -- and the musical world at large."
-By Marty Jones, Phoenix New Times
"Electric blues never sounded so good as on Circle, the newest release from the blues/rock band Indigenous. This world-renowned blues band toured with B.B. King last year, and this new album shows a lot of the influences they picked up on the tour."
-Circle Review, OCB Tracker
"There's a certain technical skill, yes, but every guitarist who has attained legendary status brings something else to the stage. It's too early to tell if the present crop of young, talented musicians will ever attain the prestige of Johnson, Waters, the Kings or Hooker. But if you had to anoint one guitarist as a possible successor to these legendary figures, it just might be Mato Nanji of Indigenous. His style is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn, but to hear his explosive, incandescent playing is to know one is in the presence of an original. To see Nanji writing out mind-bending notes, to hear and feel the intense, oft-times tribal percussive beat of Horse, Pte and Wanbdi, is truly a singular experience."
-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 14, 2000




Honor the Earth




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