LandEscape is an international art publication for established and emerging artists to engage in professional critique and artistic introspection, that aims to open the dialogue between artists and audience, between thoughts and their articulation.
Members / Instruments Christa Ebert, vocals and whatever I bang together for percussion
Years Active 2006 – present
Latest GROUNDED– released January 12, 2021
Favorite Local Artists Mourning [A] BLKstar
Current Album on Repeat Monster Rally – Castaways, Vol. 1
Currently ReadingReal Love, The Art of a Mindful Connection, by Sharon Salzberg
Favorite Venue to Perform I loved singing in the Superior Viaduct, the lower level of the Detroit Superior Bridge but that’s a rare occasion they let an art event happen there. Happy Dog feels like a second home so I love and miss singing there too.https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=917498454/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/minimal=true/
How is everyone holding up during this time?
I’m holding up alright. I cannot wait to hug all my friends this summer. I am used to recording and writing on my own. I craved time to create before covid and I have it now. It’s not the ideal situation nor inspiring but I’m doing my best to focus on the silver lining of this continuous catastrophe, stay safe, and fill my time with art. I have gotten better at giving myself permission to rest and move at a slower pace.
What do you think is the biggest lesson we can all take away from this past year?
Slowing down, we were made to collectively pause. The biggest lesson is reevaluating what is important in our lives and what is worth risking our health and happiness over. I think many people have a better understanding and recognize the impact our actions have on each other. Also, learning how to show love to family and friends without embracing each other.
I hope to find hand soap in every music venue bathroom moving forward.
Tell us about how this project got started?
I started recording as Uno Lady because I had to sing and create. Music is part of me. I wasn’t sure how to organize a band so I just started singing and layering into a music program and then people started to ask me to play shows.
Are you working on anything new / specific at the moment?
My latest project GROUNDED released in two parts: A short film aired December 2020 and the album released digitally through Bandcamp January 2021. GROUNDED is mindfulness mantras, soothing songs, and guided meditations. The sights match the sounds. Slightly modulated, natural layers of vocal and video to help find peace in the present moment.
I filmed mostly in my backyard. Stop-motion animations were created with homegrown flowers and sweet potatoes, drawings and paintings. The film depicts a busy mind and uses hypnotic mantras to retrain focus. Some songs are lyricless, ambient, and the visuals abstract – others pieces feature natural sounds and have breathing exercises intertwined. The first track, “Thinking About Thinking” is a stop-motion animation that shows my MRI images with stop-motion thought bubbles floating through. The animated bubbles dissipate to show these thoughts and emotions pass.
I’ve never had this much time to focus on a project and the quality is better than anything else I have made. I’m really proud of it and excited to share it.
Anyone you’ve collaborated with recently?
I’m grateful to work with a few talented friends on this release. Sequoia Bostick added the hypnotic animations to a few songs: Ways We Wish The World Was, Ditch Resistance, Chill Out For One Minute, and Here Now. I added modulated nature visuals behind her animations.
Meditations are guided by LaToya Kent and Erica Snowden-Rodríguez. LaToya is a meditation teacher and musician who performs solo and as a part of Mourning [A] BLKstar. You can hear her calming voice guide you through the meditations Breathe and You Are Love. Erica plays cello in the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra and is Principal Cello at Erie Philharmonic and Principal cello at Akron Symphony Orchestra and guides the beautiful breathing exercise, Meditación.
Both artists were approached with a breathing exercise idea but allowed creative freedom. Written separately but together, the recordings were sent to me and then I composed vocals and music around their words. I’m so happy with the results.
What’s the biggest thing that your band could use help with (Promotion, Recording, Merch, Booking, Touring, etc)?
Promotion and touring when it’s safe. I think Cleveland has so many wonderful musicians, amazing venues, and also manufacturing like GottaGrooveRecords, but we don’t have management services like booking, promoting, and labels. We’re stuck promoting ourselves in a town that takes pride in being an underdog. It can be challenging to get press or book shows outside of the local bubble.
Strangest thing you’ve heard from someone at a concert?
Too many to mention but I really enjoyed receiving a handwritten note that read, “Do you yodel?”
What has your recording experience been like?
I love the recording process and sometimes it is my writing process. I record my home studio and use Logic Pro. Some of my songs are 40-70 vocal tracks so going into someone else’s studio is not the best fit. I’m pretty meticulous too and re-record those tracks.
What’s the next move?
I’m going to keep doing what I do, chip away at recording an excel list of 100+ songs, and hope a fitting opportunity comes along. I’d love to compose songs for films and that is why I began working with video art. I know I have more meditation songs in me. I have some songs and videos from a residency in France I’d love to finish. I got a jingle business idea in my pocket. The possibilities are endless
For many, inner peace has never been more elusive than it is right now. So in a new video for “Meditación,” Christa Ebert–aka Uno Lady–wants to make mindfulness more approachable. The track comes from her latest album, GROUNDED, in which the Cleveland experimental artist blends art pop melodies and ambient soundscapes with the language and practice of meditation. It’s an hour-long experience based on mantras as choruses and breathing exercises as spoken-word lyrics.
Since she made the record in part with grant money from the SPACES Urgent Art Fund and Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, she wanted to make it useful to as many people as possible. That’s one reason she approached Erica Snowden-Rodríguez, who lends their voice and cello to “Meditación.” “It was important to me to have a meditation in Spanish because GROUNDED is a public art project,” says Ebert. “I want the piece to be accessible and inclusive in a variety of ways.”
Ebert and Snowden-Rodríguez previously worked together on “Capacity of Love” for Osmosis, the previous Uno Lady record. For “Meditación,” they wrote together at a distance, working in their respective studios and combining their efforts virtually. “I asked Erica to guide a breathing exercise and said if they wanted to add cello, go for it,” says Ebert. “They sent back the most stunning eight-minute piece. I composed the vocals around their words and looped cello. I sang arias, added field recordings of crickets and cicadas, and learned how to polytonal sing for the recording.”
To accompany GROUNDED, Ebert released a short film of the same title, incorporating selections from the album, nature footage, and animations by Sequoia Bostick. The video for “Meditación” expands on that side of the project, pairing Snowden-Rodríguez’ deep, relaxing cello drones with clouds and sunsets filmed from Ebert’s backyard. “The visuals melt like watercolors and paint landscapes to get lost in,” she says. Watching it now, I like seeing the clouds merge into each other. I appreciate that it engages an added sense and gives the audience something to view while experiencing the meditation.”
Next time you need a quiet moment and a deep breath, you can check out the video for “Meditación” here.
Meditación is free to watch and listen to. Virtual tips are welcome. VENMO @Erica-Snowden VENMO @TheUnoLady
Uno Lady’s GROUNDED: Meditación, Guiado por Erica Snowden-Rodríguez y su violonchelo
Meditación es un ejercicio de respiración compuesta por Christa Ebert y Erica Snowden-Rodríguez. Meditación está en el nuevo álbum de Uno Lady, GROUNDED. GROUNDED es una película y álbum experimental ambiental inspirado por la consciencia.
Sound and visual artist Christa Ebert has recently released GROUNDED, a 20-track album and experimental film promoting mindfulness and meditation. Active musically since 2007, Ebert often uses effects pedals looped with vocals to create atmospheric and dream-like soundscapes. Her newest effort was created in-part through a grant from SPACES, which supported the creation of the 24-minute film that accompanies the album. Sonically, GROUNDED includes mantra, guided meditation, and binaural beats to promote deep relaxation. Composed using field recordings, synthesizers, bells, vocal harmonies, and polytonal singing, it is an invitation to relate at a deeper level.
We recently caught up with Christa via email to discuss the album and film. You can read the interview below. Additionally, we’ve included Uno Lady’s new video for “You Are Love,” a guided meditation led by LaToya Kent, as well as embeds for the album and film.
LETV: To those who aren’t familiar with Uno Lady, fill us in on what this project is all about. It’s not a “band” correct? What motivates you to collaborate and write music in such a unique style?
CE: My name is Christa Ebert and I’ve been performing as Uno Lady since 2007. Using my voice and effect pedals I loop and layer vocals to create a dreamy soundscape.
I am a one-woman band. I compose and sing all the parts. For the past few albums I’ve invited a few musicians that I admire to join me and write a few songs together.
My latest release is an album and experimental film series inspired by mindfulness that includes mantras, soothing songs, and guided meditations. Filmed mostly in my backyard in Cleveland, Ohio during the pandemic, I created stop-motion animations with homegrown flowers, sweet potatoes, drawings, and spliced it together with calming footage of nature. The music features mostly vocal harmonies, polytonal singing, field recordings of nature sounds, bells, binaural beats, and synths sprinkled throughout.
LETV: Speaking of collaboration, tell us more about LaToya Kent on this track; what is your working relationship like and how did they contribute to “You Are Love”?
CE: LaToya Kent is a Cleveland musician who performs solo and as part of Mourning [A] BLKstar. We became friends performing at shows on the same bill. In September, we worked on a project together and jammed on my porch. I recorded the improv performance and interview and shared it on youtube. I asked her to be the guiding voice on “You Are Love” because she is a trained meditation teacher. Her calm and cool presence is contagious. She wrote the meditation and I wrote the soundscape to match her words. The audio is reverb drenched vocals, field recordings of nature sounds from the French countryside, modulated space sounds recorded by NASA, and polytonal singing. The video features a timelapse of clouds and calming lavender from my garden.
LETV: Your new album “Grounded” seems to have quite a bit of support, especially by the SPACES Urgent Arts Fund out of the Cleveland area. Was this a COVID relief program that helped you create it?
CE: The Urgent Art Fund through SPACES is a project based grant that supports visual art that is “socially, politically, and culturally responsive.” The grant program existed prior to the pandemic and is not COVID relief. However, I did apply to create a meditation project to respond to the stress we were experiencing due to COVID. Having a positive project to focus on helped me stay hopeful. I wanted to create an enchanting environment we can experience safely. The film GROUNDED is a socially distant alternative to a record release show. The videos add another layer to get lost in, mesmerizing the senses. You can watch the film GROUNDED on Youtube, stream the soundtrack on all platforms and buy the digital album through Bandcamp.
LETV: Does your hometown or the surrounding area have any influence on what you’re doing musically?
CE: The scene in my hometown has been supportive, and in part, shaped my sound. Music is the center of my community. I grew up going to punk shows, so when I started playing live, DIY and punk venues are where I performed. I like Cleveland because the music scenes intermingle. We appreciate all types of sounds. We make music because we want to and the output is authentic and raw. Having that as an influence and incubator has allowed me to embrace my creativity as an explorative and evolving process.
I miss the music community. I made GROUNDED as an album and the videos to experience something together while we’re apart. I wanted to reach people in their own safe environment and offer a moment of relaxation when they are ready to receive it.
LETV: Last question; I’m sure you’ve got a lot of plans for 2021, especially with the possibility of things returning to normal, what can you share with us?
CE: Before the pandemic, I had planned on touring to promote my 2019 LP release, OSMOSIS. I’d love to hit the road and share songs when it is safe to do so. I’m looking at this forced pause as an opportunity to write and record. I have a long list (100+) of ideas that are nearly complete that I am chipping away at. At an artist residency in France, I wrote dozens of songs and recorded improv performances in cathedrals around Europe. I’d love to finish and release that project this year.
Christa Ebert, better known as Uno Lady, has been meditating for years. Yet, like many of us, she felt like she couldn’t pay attention for long stretches and never had the time in her busy schedule to stay consistent.
In fact, on her 2014 album Amateur Hour, she wrote a tongue-in-cheek song called “5 Minute Meditation Guide,” in which she pokes fun at her inability to quiet her thoughts for more than five minutes. “Picture all the crap in your life,” she whispers. “Just poop it out.”
“Even though I would try continually, I did think I was bad at mediation,” she says. “Then I was given the knowledge that it’s OK that you’re still thinking when you’re meditating. That’s just what our brains do. It’s just the judgment we tie to those thoughts that can cause distress.”
This breakthrough allowed her to deepen her meditation journey — along which she brings listeners with her January release Grounded. Ebert’s new record is a much-needed hour of peace in a chaotic world. Recorded at home while self-isolating and often right after meditating, the piece, which features the classic, layered Uno Lady vocals as well as field recordings mostly taken from her backyard, works as well as a guided meditation as it does an ambient background listen.
On Grounded, Ebert positions herself more as a well-read facilitator than a mindfulness expert. Expertise is instead pulled from simple books like 101 Meditation Tips or those in the Buddhist canon or local authorities. “Breathe,” for example, features Mourning [A] BLKstar singer LaToya Kent, who works as a meditation teacher. Meanwhile, cellist and practitioner Erica Snowden-Rodriguez offers an inclusive voice on “Meditacion,” which offers Spanish guidance, that is as comforting as their cello playing, even for non-Spanish speakers.
“I’m not trying to say I’m a healer or that this album is going to cure people of anything,” she says. “Music is just a really great communication tool, and there are these practices that have been around for thousands and thousands of years that you can learn from.”
The sonic elements, though more ambient and less structured than her typical pop heartbreakers, will feel more familiar than the lyrical themes to Uno Lady fans who have enjoyed 2014’s Amateur Hour and 2019’s Osmosis. These lush tracks make Ebert one of the area’s most singular artists even amongst Cleveland’s diverse pop music landscape. Grounded’s “Open Your Heart,” for example, features 69 vocal tracks layered, harmonized and manipulated with effects such as reverb (think singing into a cave) into an unrecognizable wall of sound. Only the occasional synthesizer, bell and meditation bowl flourish the 54-minute album.
“These are some of the biggest songs I’ve ever written,” she says. “It was such an exploratory process. They might have been bigger if my computer could handle it.”
The project, which was supported by Spaces Urgent Art Fund and by a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, was also accompanied by an experimental film of the same title, which Ebert shot mostly in her backyard. The film’s animation was created with the help of illustrator Sequoia Bostick.
”I left my one full-time job a few weeks before the pandemic to promote another record and go on tour,” she says. “So, I wanted to stay true to my mission of, you know, having creativity is my core value and my purpose in life.
In making the record, Ebert realized that she was actually pretty good at meditating — even if some of her versions of the practice looked a bit different from tradition. The hypnotic flowstate she reaches while singing (which she compares to traditional chanting) and making music does much of the same things to her brain that meditation sets out to do. She hopes Grounded can be a similar bridge to mindfulness for music fans.
“[Making music] is when I am able to disconnect and process my emotions and thoughts constructively,” she says. “People think meditation is one thing, but really it can be anything that helps you disconnect from worry for a brief moment.”