Mindfulness is having a bit of a moment. After the last few years brought the importance of mindfulness into public discourse, we now have apps to help with affirmations and retreats focused on meditation and unplugging. But achieving mindfulness doesn’t always necessitate spending money or time on your phone. Sometimes, it’s as simple as taking a seat and having a moment of pause. That kind of mindfulness is exactly what Chicago-based musician NNAMDÏ was trying to emulate on his sophomore album, Please Have A Seat.
When the world felt overwhelming, NNAMDÏ decided to write music as both motivation and mindfulness. The result is a genre-bending and eccentric 14-track album that fluidly moves from pop-punk to hyperpop, jazz, and everywhere in between. There’s even some hard-rocking moments on Please Have A Seat, like when NNAMDÏ rips through a guitar solo on “Dibs.” His clever artistry is also on full display throughout his songs’ lyrics, like when NNAMDÏ manages to include a line about Miley Cyrus and “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” in the same verse on “I Don’t Wanna Be Famous.”
Gearing up for the release of Please Have A Seat, NNAMDÏ sat down with Uproxx to talk Frank Zappa, embracing weirdness, and having the most fun he possibly can in our latest Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
Good, Bad, Ugly, Hot.
It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
Hopefully I’m remembered as an innovator who inspired people to be better than myself and also as a guy that had the most fun I could have.
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
Philly. For suuuuureeeee.
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
That’s a difficult question that could change depending on what type of work I’m doing. But I guess if we are talking all-encompassing, it’s probably Frank Zappa — his range, talent and work ethic. Not only him, but the folks in his circle. The web of musicians he worked with lead me to look up so many other dope artists and things. Being a strange child, a drummer, and wanting to compose when I was younger, it was like a match made in heaven. Also, the satirical content itched my funny bone and made me think about a lot of things perhaps other folks my age weren’t thinking about. I didn’t agree with everything, but his whole ethos was very inspiring… even though he was kind of an asshole. He was also ahead of the game on documenting and owning his own “content.”
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
I just had a really good meal that is one of the best in recent history with my friend Clay. It’s this restaurant called Jitlada in LA. We ordered hella apps and every single one was f*cking bomb. There were a bunch of original Matt Groening drawings on the wall also, which was neat.
What album do you know every word to?
Sum 41’s Does This Look Infected.
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
I like different shows for different reasons. I love seeing my friends and homies in Chicago perform. One of my favorite shows was Fest in Gainesville, Florida — I think in 2015 or 2016. My band Itto played. I saw Capsule, which is one of my favorite bands, and Braid and Masked Intruder. I may be mixing two different Fest experiences. I also just saw Blake Mills and Pino Palladino play recently and that f*cked me up. I really can’t pick one show. I have been to so many amazing ones.
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
I am usually more about comfort than style, so a tank top and some stretchy shorts (for high kicks) is ideal. I’m shifting though. I’ve been into the full-body jumpsuit lately. Look like a pilot from the ’60s.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
I love Jaboukie on Twitter. I don’t follow many people but I’m always checking his. He’s always doing something silly and fun. I also loved that Trump Regrets Twitter page which just showed people being like, “I shoulda never voted for you! I trusted you!” Rule number one, don’t trust any politicians.
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
“What I Want” by Cende or T-Pain’s “Booty T-mix.”
What’s the last thing you Googled?
What album makes for the perfect gift?
Please Have A Seat by NNAMDÏ.
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?
Oh boy. I’ve slept in a lot of questionable places. I think maybe cramming into my sleeping bag on the kitchen floor of a one bedroom in Brooklyn with 6 other people with my head right next to the kitty litter and front door was a memorable one. I stayed at a house in DC where everyone was on mushrooms but me and I walked in on an orgy. This was my first ever tour. It was then when I knew, YUP… tour life is the life for me.
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
I don’t have any tattoos. Maybe a tattoo that says that will be my first one.
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
Thin Lizzy and OutKast.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
I came home from tour and my friends surprised me with a party where we listened to songs they covered of mine. That sh*t was so cute.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?
F*ck it all. Yolo. Be less scared. Fully embrace the weird side of your brain.
What’s the last show you went to?
I saw this band called The Vuloptuals at Coles bar in Chicago. It was sick.
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
What’s one of your hidden talents?
I always know which drawer has the utensils in any kitchen.
Please Have A Seat is out 10/7 via Secretly Canadian/Sooper Records. Pre-order it here.