I envisioned collaborating on a music video with Nahko & Medicine for the People almost 5 years ago. The message behind their music is what inspires us– to join a movement to live harmoniously with Mother Earth, feel more connected with spirit, and to “find our medicine and use it”. They’ve been the soundtrack to our own spiritual journey, and a major influence in us launching Greenheart.TV. Above all, their manifesto is a compass for following your creative calling. And there’s nothing more exciting than sharing that mission.
What an adventure! We followed the “medicine tribe” this past Summer along the Wanderlust Festival tour. And the best part? It all culminated in the creation of an ambitious acoustic recording through the woods of Squaw Valley.
But it was the video that almost never happened. Nahko had to leave the next morning, so there was no way to reschedule when the mountain weather turned for the worse. Right when everyone gathered, a formidable hail storm forced us all inside the nearest hotel lobby. Just when all hope seemed lost, Nahko busted out his guitar and turned the sad situation into a jam session. Nahko has a knack for miraculous moments. The last time I had filmed with him (Wanderlust 2012), his set closed with a huge swarm of bees hovering over the crowd. Everyone was mesmerized. Welcome to Nahko’s world.
Finally, the hail storm passed! Although it was foggy, we decided to begin shooting. Along the path, Nahko told me the story of a feather that was recently given to him by a tribal elder. Apparently, this feather was dedicated to help him as a “water bearer”. A funny side effect, everywhere he goes it rains when he arrives. True story. That brought new meaning behind his band’s “Water is Life” tour.
My chief collaborator (and lovely wife), Kelly Greenheart organized the shoot and choreographed where everyone would emerge to follow Nahko through the woods. What a wild bunch: acroyogis, hoopers, and winged dancers joined the tribe along the trail.
We filmed the anthemic song “Aloha Ke Akua” only three times. What you see in the video is take two–right after the fog cleared and the sun came out. It was incredible how well Nahko could play guitar and sing while skipping on boulders bare foot. He never stopped and asked to start over, he just went for it. You’ve gotta admire that.
I filmed one long glidecam shot, and I love how it makes my camera look like it’s floating on a cloud. Believe me, it’s a yoga practice itself keeping that thing steady–walking backwards, balancing the weight, and keeping everything in frame!
We played with leaving it as one long steadicam take–but we wanted to include more of the tribe and share all the beautiful footage we shot at the live shows that summer.
Rewind to 2010, when Kelly and I first met Nahko. We had brunch together with his bandmates at JJ Hope Medford’s place in Portland, OR. Kelly and I had been vagabonding for over a year at this point, and found in him a kindred spirit. Nahko Bear was also living nomadically at the time, sleeping in his tour van parked out front. That morning we promised we would collaborate together one day down the road. And I’m so happy it was in true Medicine for the People fashion– inviting the community, and celebrating in the cathedral of nature.
The lyrics “Aloha ke akua, kuleana” translate as “breath of life, responsibility (in life)”.
Nahko describes his songs as prayers or ways of living that we aspire to embody. From my view, he does so with integrity and an incredible work ethic. With that he has become the voice of a social movement that we can all participate in: to tap into our purpose on this Earth, and truly “be the change”.
Watch the Aloha Ke Akua full music video below!