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Nikkie McLeod Announces Single, “Quarrel”

The new single from Afrofuture artist Nikkie McLeod is a swirling storm cloud of trial and tribulation breaking into overcoming resolution. “Quarrel” is a ballad in the form of Parang music, a traditional folk blend from Trinidad & Tobago. Its steady rise and fall captures each breath McLeod pours forth from an aching soul. The title-track is off the upcoming EP, which is a dedication and tribute to their late mother and younger brother, whose birthday is September 8. Quarrel (EP) is out October 30 in honor of their mother’s birthday. 

“Quarrel” started out as a poem where McLeod used a nightingale as a metaphor for their experience and having a rising ocean of sounds that needed release. It attempts to resolve feelings of vulnerability that, at times, seem impossible to dispel. “For the most part, this song expresses how I use music and art to explain the unexplainable when words are not enough,” Mcleod says. Coupled with the rhythmic Parang cadence and swelling strings, “Quarrel” blends romanticism with traditional folk to fuse instrumentation. Where McLeod is from, quarrel is often used to describe a disagreement between friends and loved ones, which echoed their sentiment at the time. “Emotionally this song was the hardest to sing and work on, particularly the ending. It was so difficult that I kept avoiding it during rehearsals, and I knew that I had only one shot of singing it in the studio without completely breaking down. Ending with an overwhelmingly emotional vocal performance and a voicemail between Mcleod’s older sister and niece, the world seems to stop spinning just long enough to hear a pin drop.

There is a complex grouping of emotion that draws from global experience. “You’re Gonna Need This” brings irony to the forefront as it talks about the inescapable harassment of society’s dynamic. McLeod also relates their experiences being a queer/non-binary black immigrant to their mother’s own experiences as a black woman, as well as their brother’s as a black man. McLeod explains, “I cannot separate or compartmentalize my blackness from my queerness, from being non-binary, from being an immigrant and vice versa, as they are all intertwined and inform who I am as a human being.” Set among some instrumental steelpan pieces, Quarrel also contains a piece of their father in the form of a voicemail recording. The entire EP flows through the veins of McLeod’s heart and soul.

Born in Trinidad & Tobago, McLeod grew up listening to and playing the country’s national instrument, the steelpan. As a non-binary immigrant now living in Brooklyn, there is a wealth of influence behind their music. The pieces from the past combine with the influences of new to create a fusion of jazz, classical, pop, and rock, all represented on Quarrel. The EP’s depth spans far beyond the musical aspects. As a tribute to their brother and late mother, its nature is also a catharsis of dealing with loss.

About Nikkie McLeod:

Nikkie McLeod was born in Trinidad & Tobago and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Identifying as queer/non-binary and being an immigrant creates its own challenges. McLeod reflects on that in their music. Primarily a percussionist and specializing in the steelpan, they have released two albums with the woman fronted band Telenovela Star (2004 - 2008), one with The Meaning of Life (2011 - 2012), and one album with Maquina Supervium (2011 - 2013). One of Telenovela Star’s singles was also featured as the theme music for The N’s television show, Beyond the Break. McLeod is releasing a new EP, called Quarrel, this October as a tribute to their brother and late mother.

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Paul Corsi

When he’s not playing a show or practicing with his band Go Tiger, Go! he can be found at one of Detroit’s best new restaurants or taking in the sights and sounds that the area has to offer. He loves running, coffee houses, playing with puppies, and the occasional vortex of video games.

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