Redesigning Revolution With Eriel Indigo

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” Eriel Indigo embodies this dynamic; pure, liquid strength. To accomplish her creative vision, Eriel wears whatever outfit is necessary. If you watch her music videos, you can see that some of those outfits are literal. On the contrary, some of her outfits are figurative. Vocalist. Dancer. Writer. Director. Provocateur. Eriel has become an artist in flux, refusing to stagnate in a singular role.

“I think I came out of the womb singing,” Eriel remembered. “My mother is a musician, an artist and a healer. My father is a political and spiritual writer. I grew up in a very creative, outlaw community. I’m definitely a product of my environment. I was always singing, I was always doing all kinds of art.”

When asked if she feels like her music has punk rock roots, Indigo says, “For sure. I respect the revolutionary spirit of both punk rock and Hip Hop. “I would say, in its soul, Hip Hop is super punk rock & vice versa. Both talk about things that people don’t want to talk about. Things that popular music and media don’t want to address.”

Eriel’s track “Renegades” accosts the listener like a prizefighter in a title fight. Eriel also wrote and directed the track’s music video, a haymaker to the conscious observer. With a static 90’s VHS aesthetic, the video depicts Eriel restrained to a chair with red tape. “Obviously, I wanted it to be provocative, but that was to call attention to what’s really going on,” said Eriel. “I noticed that if I post something sexually provocative on social media, it get’s more interaction than if I post something political, so I’ve learned how to take advantage of combining both in content to draw more attention to what matters. I do say ‘f–k your red tape ’in the song, referring to bureaucratic red tape, so there’s that too.” Eriel noted that filming the music video required her to be taped to chair, in the buff for over an hour. “I had to come to terms with with being really raw and vulnerable and allowing the public too see me like that for this one,” she said.

As an artist, Eriel Indigo invokes the essence of the heyoka. From the culture of the Sioux people, the heyoka serves as a sacred clown. “The social role of the sacred clown is to be a kind of spiritual contrarian,” Indigo said. “In part it’s someone who is always doing the opposite, in order to be a mirror, culturally and personally – to stir things up when people are too comfortable and complacent, or to calm things down when the world is going crazy. My intention is not to divide. My mission is to reflect, uplift, and empower. I point to deeper knowledge or observation, rather than programmed perception.”

With a mirror in hand, Eriel Indigo reflects our hidden social pathologies back at us. She compels us to take a hard look at unnoticed results and unintended consequences. For example, a recurring symbol in her artwork and music videos is the inverted triangle. “An upward facing triangle represents the masculine and is used so much in pop music, society media. It’s printed on our money for f**k’s sake. The inversion of the triangle represents the feminine. I don’t have a problem with masculinity, I don’t hate men, I love them, and I am quite fluid in my gender as well, but there is an imbalance of the masculine and feminine in our world. I believe that healing that is some of the most important work we have to do.” Eriel further employs reflection and inversion in the chorus of “Basics For Breakfast.” “I don’t say ‘basics ’and ‘bad bitches ’to tear anyone down,” she said. “Whenever I say “I,” it’s intended for the listener to be singing along as in first person. Basic, just like ‘bitch, ’are derogatory terms that we get to reclaim and reframe.”

On her unreleased album cut, Indigo’s song“ Little Women,” explores the threats of sexual predation that young women face. The track’s lyrics are dark and intimately vulnerable. According to Shared Hope International, the average age at which minors enter sex trafficking is 14-16. “The idea for the song came from an experience I had when I was walking with a friend of mine and this man and a young woman were hollering at us from a car,” recalled Eriel. “I didn’t understand what was going on but, my friend informed me, ‘that was a pimp and he was trying to recruit us. ’I have no problem with sexuality. There’s nothing wrong with being young, wild and free and exploring sexuality, but I don’t think it’s addressed or represented in a healthy way in media very often.”

As a contrarian, Eriel Indigo often expresses seemingly contradictory viewpoints in the same song. Vehemently empathic, she has an innate ability to feel the emotions of other beings. This attribute shows up in her songwriting. The track “Violent Streak” (release date TBA) includes bloody metaphors and gory, provocative lyrical musings. “I am a very compassionate, tolerant person,” Eriel reflected. “But sometimes I am also enraged and want to break things. Songs can be cathartic like that. There’s a time when it’s important. Some listeners need that song. I can’t be ‘Rainbow Bright ’all the time! I have my own journey, my own experience with anger and feelings of violence in response to injustice, inequality, and traumatic things I’ve gone through. Songs like ‘Violent Streak ’are definitely an exercise in catharsis. Hopefully for the listener too.”

Diogenes the Cynic was fabled to have roamed the streets in broad daylight, while carrying a lantern. When asked what he was doing, Diogenes would reply, “I’m looking for an honest man.” Like Diogenes, Eriel Indigo highlights social maladies. Hopefully, those listening will take note, examine themselves, and initiate a meaningful course correction. “I think the main sickness in our world is duality,” Eriel noted. “When I am pointing to duality or painting pictures about contradictory things, it’s not that I feel like something is‘ light ’or ‘dark, ’or that I’m ‘good ’and they’re ‘bad.’ I don’t even like these words. There are obviously things I believe, but that’s my own perspective. Even referring to ‘Light ’as good and ‘dark,’ as bad in my opinion needs to be removed from our description of things. I think it’s something that people with hatred in their hearts have used to create a subconscious racist narrative so I’m trying to take the words light and dark out of my vernacular. I prefer maybe, high vibration & low vibration instead. High vibrational qualities, to me are love, compassion, openness, tolerance and Oneness.”

Eriel Indigo’s new album Angels & Aliens will drop later this year. Look for a third single, “Wasted,” soon!

Listen to “Basics for Breakfast” here

Connect with Eriel Indigo

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