Photo Credit: Billy Eyers
Those with a friend like Jharna are luckier than most. See, Jharna realized they had two friends that needed to meet. Those friends were Takiaya Reed and Sylvie Nehill, “Our mutual friend Jharna told us we would love hanging out with each other and that we both play music. So within days of meeting each other, we began to play music.” And there you have it, the simple yet defining moment that brought two musicians together to form Divide and Dissolve.
We talked with Divide and Dissolve about not only their new album, ‘Gas Lit’ but also their social activism, creative pushes, and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: Social injustice is a huge factor that moves your creativity. With that, 2020 had to have pushed your creative juices to the limit and then some. Can you recall the first time you noticed the world was a mess and that you wanted to do something more about it?
Divide and Dissolve: As children, we each noticed things in our own worlds that felt wrong or unfair. The effects of colonialism and racism aren’t just theoretical to all of us. We did make a call early on to focus our music and band on speaking to the things we cared about, things that are a matter of urgency, and life and death. We want to honour our ancestors with our work, and uplift all Black, indigenous people and people of colour all around the world.
Kendra: In many ways, you are doing it with your music and your January 2021 release, ‘Gas Lit.’ You worked with producer Ruban Nielson on this record. Were there any notes he gave you that you’ll take to future recording sessions?
Divide and Dissolve: He didn’t give us any notes, but our lives are richer for having him in our life and a part of our music.
Kendra: You both have indigenous, tribal roots. How has that helped shape the direction of your overall sound on ‘Gas Lit?’
Divide and Dissolve: We imagine it would influence the heaviness of the album. It helps us to focus our energy, to ground ourselves in the earth and the music, to trust each other, and to create music in a very organic way. ‘Gas Lit’ came together organically. Our music is filled with heaviness and beauty.
Kendra: What I like about “We Are Really Worried About You,” is that on the surface it could resonate with just about anyone because we’re constantly having to worry about everything right now. In reality, though, this song was inspired by wanting to take down white supremacy. Do you think that we’re any closer to ending America’s oldest tradition?
Divide and Dissolve: We will get closer to destroying white supremacy. Many people have become more polarised this year and we hope everyone is ready to stand up against fascism, not just the people who have been resisting since colonization and slavery. It’s time for white people who have benefitted from white supremacist infrastructure to dismantle what their families created or have upheld.
Kendra: 2020 pushed people in various directions personally, financially, creatively. For you, how do you feel 2020 has shaped your creativity and drive moving forward?
Divide and Dissolve: 2020 reaffirmed our intentions. We are feeling invigorated to keep doing what we do.
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned but can you also share a song that never fails to get you through when the world around you feels like a mess?
Divide and Dissolve: We will be releasing our album ‘Gas Lit’ with Invada Records in the new year, and we like listening to anything by Bill Withers.