This Friday, September 3, I’ll be singing at the Grog Shop with Herzog & Pharmacy Keys. This is my last show on the books for now, so if you feel comfortable coming, I’d love to see you. The new vaccination policy is in place so bring a photo of your vaccine card or proof of a negative COVID test within 48 hours of the show.
Impromptu Loops: Porch Performance, was recorded live from my front yard in Cleveland, Ohio.
These impromptu loops were the aftereffects of the interview and performance with LaToya Kent during the pandemic. Feeling creatively charged after our collaboration, with equipment ready to go, I hit record and started singing. These tracks are the result. The mosquitos were vicious so pardon my impulsive bug reactions.
In the following weeks, I’ll be releasing the songs LaToya and I made. Watch the interview: A conversation and creation with Latoya Kent & Christa Ebert at https://youtu.be/N42gNjurhJ0
Presented in partnership with Mahall’s. September 10, 2020.
Recorded, edited, and filmed by Christa Ebert, Uno Lady.
Watch the video premiere for “Don’t Break My Heart.” Filmed at the Little Rose Tavern by Diana Hlywiak, “Don’t Break My Heart” features Christa Ebert (Uno Lady) with Cleveland musicians Beth Hiser (Bass), Theresa May (Trumpet), and Roseanna Safos (Drums).
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.
I spent all summer socially distant, researching, writing, growing flowers and filming nature in my backyard. For GROUNDED, I researched the healing effects of sound and mindfulness and listened to dozens of audiobooks through the Library. To create some of the songs (Here Now, Awaken the Peace Within, Binaural Bees) I’d meditate in the garden, film flowers, capture nature sounds, and then go into my studio to record. Every song was sung in a positive mindset with loving and healing intentions. Every flower filmed was captured in the hope of making you smile. At the very least, I hope sharing these pretty sights and sounds will help you zone out for 20 minutes and share ways to show love to yourself and the people you care about.
The album is made up of mindfulness exercises, mantras, and meditations. For it, I wrote minute long mantras of positive affirmations to balance out the experience of negative thoughts—and I feel like it has worked. Some mornings I wake up with a song called “Good Vibes” or “Four-Square Breathing Box” as my first morning thought rather than a.m. dread.
LaToya Kent is a musician and meditation teacher. She radiates love and is so cool and calm. I asked her to record meditations, gave her creative freedom, trusted her expertise and then wrote music around her words (Breathe, You Are Love).
Free time to focus on art is what I craved most, pre-pandemic. I decided to make something good come of a tragic situation. When life is full of worry, it’s important to balance perspective. Even when chaos is overwhelming, there are beautiful occurrences still happening. I recognizemy privilege. I can stay home. I have a home. I have a garden. How can I share these privileges while social distancing?
My music has a hypnotic meditative quality. Over the years people have requested I make more meditations. The first one I composed, 5 Minute Meditation (Amateur Hour, 2014) poked fun at my fleeting attention span. I didn’t realize it was relatable. For years, I have meditated and assumed that I was bad at it. I thought my overactive thinking was a unique curse. However, I misunderstood the mechanics of the brain. Now I know that we are all constantly thinking—organic machines are made for it. It is the judgement we tie to these thoughts that cause our suffering. Fighting and suppressing these throughs is pointless and only increases distress.
I am not a doctor, but I am a self-proclaimed expert at experiencing worry and anxiety. I share my vulnerability and path to peace through my art in hopes it helps you too. Making this album has helped me articulate and find a path to self-acceptance. It has allowed me to acknowledge my overthinking brain and offer it kindness and love. Since making this album, I have experienced moments of mental silence for the first time.
In the past, I wrongly assumed I was too antsy to meditate. I sought out learning different forms and it tried running, sitting, and standing. Chanting is what made me realize that I have been meditating my whole life. And I’m good at it. Singing is my meditation. It is deep breathing. Vocalization sends healing vibrations into the various parts of my body. Singing and songwriting is where I find flow and can be in the present moment. I think back at times when I was unable to sing, and remember feeling miserable, in pain, and experiencing mental distress. Songs are my soul singing. My breath is my spirit. Music is my medicine.
I hope this film helps you explore meditation in whatever form works for you. Please sing or hum along if you so desire. If it brings you joy, please do it. We can all use more moments of happiness right now.
This film is only a fraction of the record. The digital album will release early January through Bandcamp. There will be more meditation videos released then too.
GROUNDED is supported by the SPACES Urgent Art Fund and by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.