Artist Spotlight: At Cali Roots with Iya Terra
Iya Terra has made a name for themselves, among fans and musicians alike, as one of Los Angeles’ most promising and cult progressive reggae acts. Their dedication to roots music and releasing a conscious message has launched them into recent popularity, supporting Arise Roots on the nationwide Rootsman Summer Tour as well as numerous festival appearances this summer and a second album in the works.
I ran into them last month at the RootFire merchandise booth and we chatted for a few.
AA: Thanks for sitting down here with me on the last day of Cali Roots! You’re leaving at the end of the June for the band’s first national tour with Arise Roots and Ital Vibes. Talk to me about it.
NF: We’re stoked … we’ve been waiting to get to a lot of these states we’re heading to, it’s going to be some really good exposure for us and we’re really looking forward to traveling with all our best friends and the Rude Entertainment squad.
AA: I know you guys have been working on a lot of new music, will you be playing any of it on this run? When can we expect an album?
NS: There are a couple songs we play in our set right now like “Love and Respect”, and a few of the other newer ones. There are fifteen that were working on recording and we hope to get them done by the end of the year. We’re stoked.
AA: What has inspired this wave of new music?
NS: A lot of different artists … and we draw from things that happen in our own life. We’re all just growing together as a group and the sound is changing and evolving and we’re so stoked to hear it come back through the speakers after we make it.
LT: We’re lucky that we are able to record and share our ideas pretty immediately; me and Nick [Sefakis] live together so we have that chemistry and all of us are always sharing files of our ideas and collaborating. It’s a very collective effort. What you’re hearing is the fruit of all of our input. Lyrically, Nathan takes the cake there; that’s his baby. But when it comes to the music, we all have a really solid foundation and work really hard to bring together all of our ideas.
AA: You guys have grown a lot in the last year, how are you handling the challenges you’ve faced?
NF: It’s been really good, all positive. Every time we get to see a little bit of recognition for the work we put in we’re all smiles. In a scene with so many bands, it’s great to see your name out there and to see the growth of your band. It’s a nice reward. We work hard, we don’t do anything besides make music so to see rewards from that is a really blessed thing. It feels really good to be able to share our message with people.
AA: You guys have a very uplifting and real-world message delivered within your lyrics; do you think this is part of the beginnings of a new sub-genre of conscious music?
NF: Definitely, I think the conscious message is really what the world is in need of. We get a lot of people singing about a lot of different things and positivity is always great and everything, but when you look at the world we’re actually living in, it’s a harsh reality. There are a lot of really terrible things going on right now that need to be brought into the light to invoke change and make people stand up and fight for what they believe in. it’s not the prettiest thing always, and I think you’re going to hear a lot of that in our new music … a more militant message. There’s a lot of wrongdoing going on in the world and to feel fulfilled at the end of the day, you have to be fighting to make a difference and to make the world a better place. So, we’ve been focusing on not just uplifting people, but enlightening people. Together we can make the change.
AA: Cali Roots! What makes CR so special? Why are you stoked to be here?
NL: Because of all the amazing people it brings together! People you only know from Cali Roots, you might not even know their name, just their eyes and the experiences you’ve had with them. There’s something special about coming here and feeling the family vibes … but, it’s a different kind of family. The music brings you together.
AA: It’s the family you get to choose!
NL: Exactly! Well, maybe the music chooses the family for you.
AA: Touché. Okay, last question for you all. If you could see anyone play Cali Roots, dead or alive, any genre, who would you choose? You can’t pick Bob, sorry.
NF: I’m going to go ahead and steal the whole band’s answer and say Midnite right now [laughs]. Also Kevin Kinsella of 10 ft. Ganja Plant.
LT: Dead or Alive? Pink Floyd and Michael Jackson.
NS: Pressure, a big Virgin Island name and So Roots from Hawaii, the bros. They have a really heavy set.
NL: The Grateful Dead would be really cool to see here. And House of Shem! Definitely House of Shem, they deserve to be on a huge stage like this. They work really hard ♥