By now Michael Nhat has gotten off a plane, retrieved his two pieces of luggage, and found his way to an apartment in a sketchy part of Philadelphia where he is wondering what the heck happens next. I didn't make it to his last L.A. show, but I did manage to meet up with the indie rapper from Iowa yesterday to catch up before he split town. There are a lot of reasons for someone to leave a city as large and multi-faceted as Los Angeles, but being bored isn't usually one of them. When you've found your audience, which is also your social circle, and neither grow, even a big city can become claustrophobic, he explained.
Nhat's stint in L.A. was prolific. He played a ton of house parties, galleries, and storefronts, and seemed to be constantly releasing new music and videos. And with a handful of demos and three full releases, his latest cassette pairs his humble-but-sharp thoughts with seriously bombastic bass. (I especially like the song about the girl on the Green Line.) He was able to find fans who could help him make non-cheesy videos, which usually featured attractive, interesting women, but never hooked up with anyone that could get him bigger shows, better recording budgets, or expanded distro. That might not happen in Philly but at least he won't be bored. He told me that the neighborhood he's moving into is known for robbery and rape.
Nhat will return to L.A. in a few months to celebrate his fourth release in two years, pick up some more belongings, and also tie up unfinished projects including directing and starring in a short video providing the soundtrack to a full-length film. One video project will include ann all-Asian cast. He might not have roots, but he does thinks about race, and his honest thoughts and handmade music are worth hearing. Since he sold all his gear and is starting over in his new town, his next lo-fi, handmade sounds will depend on what he can find in thrift shops and Craigslist. Go back to the full-on interview in GR66 and then check out his music, videos, and updates here.