Band Of The Week // NOVA CHARISMA
Drawing an epic three-part debut to an end, Exposition III offers a glance into the glittering future that Nova Charisma will have in store for us.
Nova Charisma, formed of Donovan Melero and Sergio Medina, draw upon the pair’s existing expertise in their scene to create an unbridled creative flourish as they push at the boundaries of their own experiences. Dazzling with a spellbinding three-part debut in the forms of Exposition I, II and III, the final instalment sends a signal to the world that the duo are ready to tackle on even greater horizons. Composed of carefully curated harmonies, intricate instrumental work and an explosive innovation, their music is certainly a gripping journey that will leave you on the edge of your seat, in suspense about what’s coming next within the safety net that you will be delighted no matter what track they decide to pursue.
From the plunging opening of The Greater Cause, regular staccato beats stab through on off beats, creating a feeling of disjoint that is resolved as the soaring chorus comes around, roaring with emotion. Matched by an equally impassioned guitar solo in the bridge, the interplay between the different musical layers creates a cocooning listening experience, one that you never want to leave once you find yourself immersed within it. Hurt the Worst adopts a more curious and inquisitive tone, reflected not only in the lyricism but also in the ponderous guitar countermelodies that forge their own path in the background. Wrapping up their journey so far with Float up. Stay There., the twisting and unpredictable course of the track as electronics weave in amongst repeating broken chords aptly captures the limitless musical vision of the band and their fearlessness in shaping their own sonic universe.
We chatted to the pair a bit more about their reflections on the journey thus far, as they close the last chapter in their debut.
What’s a motto you live by?
Donovan: There are many, but one of them is “Whatever you do, do it with purpose.” For me, anything worth doing, I put energy into doing. If I’m doing something I love, I need to give it the focus and time needed to truly get the result I want. A lot of the times though, it comes naturally if I truly love what I am doing in the that moment.
Sergio: Always be learning. There are endless ways to educate oneself and I feel the constant need to be learning. Whether it’s a new musical skill to add to the artistic toolkit, cooking, or something rudimentary, I always feel like I should be learning.
If your sound had a colour, what colour would it be?
Donovan: I could never pin it down to one colour.
Sergio: I can’t pin this one down either. I have a weird mental reaction to new songs when writing them. Certain songs I listen to feel like a certain colour to me. All of the songs on Exposition III have a different colour to them. Overall Exposition III is blue, but the The Greater Cause feels amber/gold, Hurt the Worst feels blue/purple (as the track moves on it feels more purple), and Float up. Stay There. feels maroon. “Maroon” was actually the working title for track 3 on Exposition III.
How does it feel to conclude your debut EP series? What has been the most surprising thing to happen over the course of this journey?
Donovan: It feels incredible to me. One year ago, this was just an idea that needed more songs and a name. To now have the project out, comparable shows to our last band together, and music that we connect with feels very rewarding. The most surprising thing to me was releasing our first Exposition vinyl with no music out yet, and having that pre-order sell out.
Sergio: It doesn’t feel concluded, not quite yet. Especially since we haven’t decided if we will be doing more Expositions. Such as going onto IV and V, and so on. The most surprising thing about this journey has been how much we could get done no matter how sleep deprived we were. We did so much running on barely no sleep. Mostly because of time constraints, but also because we spent a lot of our waking time trying to put together the music.
What are your fondest memories of creating Exposition III? Are there any behind-the-scenes stories that you can share with us?
Donovan: Walking to Jet Black coffee every morning before we would start tracking is a treasured memory. When we arrived, we had another song prepared that we actually didn’t use in the end, and instead wrote a song on the spot. That song became Float up. Stay There.
Sergio: This one is tough to answer. Actually, I got really, really sick during the tracking of Exposition III. I was out for 2 days laying on the couch without really being able to move. The rest of my tracking experience was pretty tainted with the feeling of being sick. I’d say that working with Kris Crummett again was the highlight, even through the sickness I was dealing with.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in producing Exposition III?
Sergio: Having to write a song on the spot just a few hours before tracking it. We decided to bail on a song we had planned for the EP, so we had to write a new one right then and there. It was a little heated, but friction makes fire, so to speak. We got a song out of it and we learned to love it.
Can you explain the inspirations behind the EP artwork?
Donovan: The artist that did Exposition III also did I and II. We wanted to keep the style consistent, and each one is representative of what we hear on each collection. Exposition III incorporates a tree-like visual from Exposition I with the moon from Exposition II, all while being its own thing.
Sergio: Irie Wata did the artwork for each Exposition. That helped with the aesthetic uniformity of Nova Charisma. She uses a style known as digital collage. I think her artistic capabilities lent itself well to where we are in our collective lives with music, in regards to the digital aspect of her art. Visual abstraction in the digital space.
If listeners could only take away one message from the EP, what would you want that message to be?
Donovan: I’m not sure there is a message to take. I just hope they enjoy what they hear, and it resonates with them.
Sergio: I think the message that is conjured up within their own minds while listening to this music will be the appropriate message they could take away.
Which fictional dynamic duo would you say you relate to the most?
Sergio: CatDog from Nickelodeon
And finally, what does music mean to you?
Donovan: Language and expression.
Sergio: I don’t know if I have an answer to this that will ever personally suffice. Definitely not when I first discovered music, not now, and maybe ever.